The first episode, Hit and Run, is the slightest. It seems a rerun of the The Hitchhiker segment of Creepshow II (1987) of a hit-and-run driver who flees the scene and is thereafter haunted by his victim. It unfolds predictably. The ghostly appearances of the doll come with mechanical contrivance each scare feels like it being fired at you one after the other by an automatic ball-serving machine rather than a series of twists that should keep you on the edge with their unexpectedness. The dolls in themselves are not that scary.
The second episode, I Aint Got No Body, despite the vernacular laxness of its title, is a good deal better and in fact emerges the best of the three stories. Rather than a conveyor belt of shocks, it is an unusual and original astral projection story. Hoffman and Cassinelli tell it as a character-driven story the interplay between Cassinellis poor schmuck and manipulative Lindsay Horgan is well drawn. The astral projection effects are simple but highly effective. The only fault might be an ending that one can be seen coming far too obviously.
The third episode, The Death of ..., is in some ways the most ambitious of the three. The scenes with Bill Cassinellis wannabe scriptwriter racking up callously delivered rejections are delivered with a wry amusement that one can see clearly holds more than a little personal experience upon Hoffmans part. The tromp loeil effect in the Edgar Allan Poe illusion (even if the actor involved doesnt look much like Poe at all) is cleverly conceived (although I was never sure at the end why the hero decided to kill Poe). The characterisation between the hero and his girlfriend is credibly drawn.
The films main fault of the film is one shared by many other anthologies a weakly connected wraparound segment. While the bizarre employment agency concept is pulled off with an appealingly akilter sense of discomfort, most of the episodes are only loosely connected to employment. The first has a vague connection at the beginning about the hero getting a job with a catering firm and supposedly occurs when he is driving home from work but is otherwise unrelated. The third with its down-and-out scriptwriter is not about employment certainly, one has strong doubts if sending people out to peddle their own scripts is something that employment agencies would ever do so much as it is about a character who fails to become employed. That said, Joel D. Wynkoop, a director in his own right, has a suitably threatening presence as Mr Longfellow.
On the whole, the film is one of promise. Hoffman and Cassinelli write intelligent and well thought-out stories. The delivery is hampered sometimes by low-budget and a need to polish the directorial style but what they are capable of shines through clearly.
Michael Hoffman Jr returned with a sequel, Scary Tales 2: The Return of Mr Longfellow (2003). He has gone onto direct Sigma Die (2007), Reunion of Terror (2008), Spring Break Massacre (2008) and Girls Gone Dead (2012)