Set for release to DVD, Digital, and ‘limited edition VHS’ as of Tuesday, June 10th, 2019 through Wild Eye Releasing, Hi-Death is a compilation film of nightmarish proportions.
Featuring five short Horror films all written and directed by different filmmakers, its an exploration into the concepts and creatures dredged up from each creator’s mind. That said, Hi-Death brings in elements from all over the spectrum of Horror and Thrillers, resulting in a viewing experience that has something for everyone… if they are brave enough. There is sex, drugs, Rock-n-Roll, strange creatures along with all the violence and gore one could possibly hope for in an hour and forty-two minutes.
Offering a retro feeling, it opens with suspenseful ’80s synth as the title credits read’s Hi-Death in teal and red lettering. Furthermore, VHS static rolls across the screen before clips of two girls walking around the sights of Hollywood take over along with the opening credits. However, the real troubles begins once the pair discover a flyer for an attraction called the Hi-Death Terror Tour. Jordan (Kristen Adams: Voodoo Barbie 2016, The Reason for Living 2018) is decidedly the more curious and morbid of the two but manages to convince Lexie (Kate Durocher: Keys 2018, Ham on Rye 2018) to partake. The premise of the tour is simple, for every chilling, macabre film watched a special location is unlocked.
Of the five short films within the ‘Tour,’ the first two are the most memorable and comedic. The acting, especially in the second film, is superficial and the characters almost represent their own non-existent stereotypes. The first film, dubbed Death Has a Conscience, begins in a cramped club, a Rock band plays to its tumultuous crowd, and Erin (Jensen Jacobs: Tri 2016, No Footing 2009) is questioning anyone who will listen. Erin is rather quickly revealed to be a junkie when she gets high in the sordid restroom of the bar. Then the scene cuts between Erin in the midst of her delirium and eventually being dropped off at a dark, disreputable motel where everything comes to a head.
The second movie, Dealers of Death, is the story of thieving and murder memorabilia gone wrong. Here we have Marty Lustig (Todd Martin: Deadly Dares: Truth or Dare Part IV 2011, Nowhere to Turn 2017), a man who moonlights as the Switchblade Bandit in order to feed his insatiable intrigue towards all things homicide. However, when he steals from the wrong cowboy drug dealer, Rockoff (Thomas Kindler: Chasin Warren 2012, Intrusion 2015), his payment insatiably sardonic. There is Night Drop taking place in a DVD rental store, and playing off of the snuff film and haunted DVD trope in a solid manner, with unnerving visuals and revolting audio. Lastly comes Cold Read which drawn out over the course of an actress in her audition. The final story, while the acting is of better quality than the rest of the shorts, it falls somewhat flat once it reaches the climax.
In theme it is adjacent to 2012’s ABCs of Death, Hi-Death is a movie that does not take itself too seriously in some aspects, but is genuinely creative, whether such creativity prompts disgust or thoughtful consideration varies. Under the direction of Anthony Catanese, Amanda Payton, Tim Ritter, Todd Sheets, and Brad Sykes, each section is to each its own and does somewhat manage to come together.
Overall entertaining, the repeated appearance of cheesy acting and cheap practical effects will either be amusing or off-putting. Additionally the audio in times of distress can become jumbled as there is just too much going on. All these aspects in mind, certain characters are decidedly memorable, but not always redeeming, which is all part of the charm. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Hi-Death 3 out of 5 stars.