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WEIRDO FLICKS: 'Tales from the Quadead Zone'

by Eli Kroes

You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe... 

'Tales from the Quadead Zone' - 1987, Directed by Chester Novell Turner

Before we get into this film, let's just look at Mr. Turner's brief career. He did a straight-to-video and SHOT on video flick called 'Black Devil Doll from Hell.' It's as exploitative as you'd think, and it's ranked up there with the worst movies of all time. Then, 3 years later he did this. Then nothing else.

For the record, I found 'Black Devil Doll' to be fairly dull, and yes it was bad, but not in the glorious way that flicks like 'Troll 2' are. It was just kinda dumb. This one, on the other hand, was pretty incredible. It's also shot completely on camcorder and has almost the exact same Casio keyboard score as the first movie. No fancy things like boom mics or actors, either. 

It's a TRILOGY of short horror stories (which makes the title all the more baffling) set up like 'Tales from the Crypt.' Well, I mean, it's short horror tales like that. I don't think the producers of 'Crypt' would ever come up a setup as baffling as a woman reading tales to the ghost of her dead kid.

The writing might be bad, but I can't really tell because it's so weird. In the first segment, some redneck family are eating sandwiches, and they consistently have one too few for how many people are in the family. We know this because we see at least a handful of meals, all poorly shot and confusingly written. Then, one of them eats his family to solve the problem. Or that's what would've happened in a normal, poorly made horror film. Instead, the one who misses out on dinner most decides to shoot a family member, then we get a bizarre freeze-frame account of each family member's life AFTER the 10-minute segment.

There's also a story about a guy who's mad at his recently deceased brother. See, he wanted to poison said brother, but the brother died of natural causes before he got to. Therefore, he hires some friends to steal his brother's body out of the coffin so he can dress it up like a clown and make fun of it. You with me so far? Then the brother comes back to life and yells at him in a COMPLETELY indistinguishable toilet-water-sounding voice. 

It's pretty wild stuff, and I certainly couldn't call it bad because it's so completely unique. I mean, sure, you can only hear about half of the dialog over the crappy keyboard music (also played by Chester) and everything about it is wrong, but it feels sooo....wrong, I guess. It's good, though.


VHS photo by Toby Hudson.