THE PENNY DREADFUL PICTURE SHOW
The Penny Dreadful Picture Show was one of the also-rans in this fad and does not appear to have been widely released. (It should not be confused with the popular tv series Penny Dreadful (2014-6) featuring a crossover between figures from Victorian horror fiction). The film is a collaboration between Leigh Scott and Eliza Swenson. (The IMDB insists on crediting Nick Everhart as one of the co-directors but his name is not listed on the credits in any other capacity than as producer). Leigh Scott is a prolific low-budget director who has made a number of films for The Asylum and in more recent years has started to work as an independent (see below for Scotts other films). Eliza Swenson has been an actress in most of Scotts films since 2005 and has branched out to work as writer, producer and composer on some of these. The Morning After episode here is her directorial debut.
I have never been much of a fan of Leigh Scotts usually cheaply made films. I was surprised with The Penny Dreadful Picture Show as it seemed above average in some respects. The Penny Dreadful wraparound features Eliza Swenson in front of the camera playing a gothed-out girl who lives in abandoned movie theatre with broken toys and two strange creatures as companions while she invites various dates over to watch films, the men not realising that sinister fates are in store for them. These sections did nothing much for me they come at a giggly pitch and all the twists seem obvious. There is an even briefer opening piece with a couple receiving a malevolent jack-in-the-box.
The first full segment is Eliza Swensons The Morning After. You are not sure where the episode is going at the outset as Samantha Soule wakes up and goes through her day wondering what happened to her the night before. Swenson shoots everything with a retro-1960s vibe, particularly in the costuming department. Just when I was wondering what direction the piece was taking, Swenson turns it on its head and reveals that we are watching a vampire film. This works rather well and comes with an undeniable dark relish. What is standout is the performance from Ramona Mallory as the vampire predator who enters the film with a sizzling seduction scene and holds the show considerably thereafter.
Leigh Scott makes the other full segment The Slaughter House. This appears to have been intended as a twisted take on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). In the same way that Swenson goes for a 1960s look in her segment, Scott goes for 1970s retro here. He winds the episode up to a certain manic tone, aided by Jeffrey Combs performance as the imbecilic member of the family and various other lunacies. That said, the segment is only predicated around reversing the sympathies of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This works up to a point but Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) did similar things far more cleverly.
Leigh Scott started out making low-budget films at The Asylum with the likes of The Beast of Bray Road (2005), Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers (2005), Frankenstein Reborn (2005), King of the Lost World (2005), Dragon (2006), Hillside Cannibals (2006), Pirates of Treasure Island (2006), The 9/11 Commission Report (2006), The Hitchhiker (2007) and Transmorphers (2007), as well as several other genre items for other companies with Draculas Curse (2005), Flu Bird Horror (2008), Chrome Angels (2009), The Dunwich Horror (2009), The Witches of Oz (2011), Dorothy and the Witches of Oz (2012), The Lost Girls (2014) and Piranha Sharks (2014).