In the horror genre the turnover to produce the next blowout project at the lowest cost, has led to multiple entries into the sub-genres of paranormal stories (ghost-tales), found footage, and now anthology, however HI-8 brings a tribute to films that many older fans will remember more clear than those of today. Those that recall the video stores such West Coast Video to the average Mom n’ Pop stores, where the VHS tapes lined the shelves promising demons, blood and girls in skimpy outfits, 3D covers, to those that make sounds if pressed and of course the legendary clam shell boxes, this film is what you seek. Many of the low budget directors deliver nameless tales to feed the nostalgic mind. Therefore, eight stories from eight directors, and as customary the wraparound story that normally book-ends an anthology flick.
We start with a wraparound tale, directed by Brad Sykes (Camp Blood ), featuring the talented stage actor Andre Martin giving his impression of Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th homage, warning amateur filmmakers in Griffith Park, California, at an abandoned zoo location of mysterious tales and a faceless corpse. As always the wiser and sane folks ignore the warnings and proceed onward, and sadly a slight downside as this story plays no connection to the eight short films included in this DVD. The first tale, directed by Tim Ritter, a history of directing since 1984 with Day of the Reaper, presents “Switchblade Insane” that takes the high risk of breaking the fourth wall of acting, similar to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) involving a serial rapist (Ford Windstar) and his wife (Kristine Renee Farley), who discovers his hobby. Needless to say she truly honors the vows of marriage, in both the regard of ‘sickness and health’ and ‘for better or worse’ with deep-rooted love taking them both to new directions. Next the series, “A Very Bad Situation from the hands of Marcus Koch, known for 100 Tears (2007) though primarily known for special effects work in over 55-horror films, depicts a world saturated with aliens, after a meteor shower, a recently known transportation method of the creatures. Herein Marcus uses a small space to bring tension and gory aliens all right up his capable alley, along with brief appearances of Kristin Avery (Die Die Delta Pi (2013) and Olivia Blake. Continuing into the next story, entitled “The Tape” from visual effects maestro Tony Masiello who coincidentally sits behind the camera for the first time, in which laid-off clerk Travis Hoecker as Tim receives a box of tapes with one called ‘Bloodgasm’. After viewing the film, that appears unfinished, Tim begins the hunt to find the filmmakers and discovers Chester Koz (David S, Hart). The tale makes a clear swipe at VCI the maker of many DTV horror films, such as Blood Lake (1987) but it all has dire consequences. The following film marks number four on the severing platter for a cheesy retro film, and face it the genre of this flashback movies would not be complete without Ron Bonk’s “Gang Them Style” involving a zombie tale about one man’s quest to rescue if Na from a nurse home. The entire tale involves ample 1980’s references especially They Live and Escape from New York. Hence MacReady (Wes Reid (Night of Something Strange )) set out the quest with buddy Childs (David Royal) to his Nana (Anne Fitzgerald) it reminds one of very recent horror-comedy Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), and pays homage to John Carpenter often.
The last four of the films in this package, contain Chris Seaver’s very offensive “Genre Bending” involving a stalking and overweight girl who does outdoor chores and then relaxing for just moment if not permanent, this piece will leave a bad taste in one’s mouth; then again everyone’s palate is different. Todd Sheets (Bonehill Road )) storms in with “The Request” involving a radio DJ who receives the most bizarre call from one of these regulars, and the entire piece brings tensions and has an eerie sense that finds itself familiar to Dead Air (2009) with Bill Moseley and hint of the famous broadcast of the War of the Worlds. One of these legendary classic would be very remiss if it overlook a contribution from Donald Farmer, with over 20 horror directing credits, most recently Grindsploitation (2015) takes the audience into “Thicker than Water” which starts with a couple watch a horror film, before pulling the rug out under them and the audience; too. This sadly might a shocking tale if not for the time constraints, yet still a worth wild view. Lastly, comes Brad Skyes once more who is most known for his Camp Blood films, gives the audience “The Scout” with a couple heading to remote cabin to scout a film shoot only to have a broken down car cliché set in motion the horror for some nasty delicious horror fun, involving Alexis Codding.
This film truly works very well for those that remember searching for the more obscure horror films to rent for a weekend, and the filmmakers of this project includes “8 Simple Rules for Hi-8” featuring the rules for this style of films. As for the sound effects and off kilter acting one can assume everything as intentional, as the rules state no excessive take permitted all adds to the humor of the production.
Basically, Hi-8 is for those fans that recall the VHS movies, of long forgotten, the defunct companies, the true artwork, and just the more insane the concept the more a horror fan wanted to view it. If that is not one’s style, and they prefer everything perfect then, move along, for this a gory low budget paradise to bask in the glory of this horror.
This review was originally on the Rogue Cinema website in May 2015 and accumulated a view count of 2,074.
IMDb Rating: 4.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10