Screambook (1984)

Joseph Zaso did better than make a whole bunch of shot on video films in his childhood. He made all of them available on his YouTube channel.

Made when he was just 14 years old, you can see the skeletal hands of Creepshow all over this horror anthology, which even has handdrawn panel intros to every story and the first one, “Family Reunion” is completely “Father’s Day” except that instead of being made in Pittsburgh, it’s shot in a muddy backyard in New Jersey. That said, there’s even an attempt to put the Bava-esque colors into this scene and yeah, maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty fun. Also: instead of Ed Harris and Viveca Lindfors, this is performed by a cast of teens with the big haired girls significantly further along into young adulthood than the boys.

The dead body back from the grave keeps saying, “Come to my renunion” and it makes me laugh every single time. There’s also a preponderance of people reading cue cards which is equally charming, as are the giggles that the maid keeps having as we approach the end of thee first story.

In “Tommy,” we’re introduced to, well, Tommy, a kid who gets locked inside a cardboard box for years and emerges as a monster. Props to Zaso for obviously shooting some of this segment in his high school.

“Secret of the Bottle” uses the pause bottom to give a great bit of exposition over footage as a scientist gets the gift of whiskey that transforms him into a monster. Also: prank calls and because kids are interchangeable with adults, it’s difficuly to determine the age of anyone within this story. This story is amazing because it has a Ben Cooper masked monster that looks kind of like the cover of Dr. Octagon’s first album who is slow motion moving toward a child victim who merely deadpans, “Oh, my God.” This segment has a total murderdrone of a car driving first person over piano music before  a jump cut to a girl getting yelled at by her mother.

It also has a visit from grandma right in the midst of it, which is the kind of casting I love in SOV. This  is followed by a young girl being beyond annoying as the old woman tries to read and oh man, the slow motion is astounding in moments as this moves outside and gets distorted and is distortion never not amazing?

“The Toy In the Window” has a drawing to SOV match cut, which is pretty wild, followed by a living room turned into a toy store with blankets and drapes, as well as Cyndi Lauper showing up on the soundtrack. I love that this segment has adults that were roped into this madness. This segment also has prank phone calls which is totally on-brand for the teenage years.

“Worms” has kids in a classroom listening to 38 Special’s “If I’d Been the One” and torturing their teacher with worms which are really just pasta. I mean, this dude gets put through worm upon worm. Then his stomach explodes and worms pour out of him, accompanied by tracking and static and I don’t think I’ve been this happy in probably months.

You have to enjoy a filmmaker who names his company Splatter FIlms and has ads for future projects throughout this movie. Zaso is still making movies and has grown from these humble beginnings, but I think it’s great that he’s shared them. I’m certain that like me, he was drawing and writing in every class and barely paying attention to boring high school classes that in no way help him today in what he does for a living.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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