Portmanteau-a-go-go #11 – The Willies

tw1The Willies is a 1990 horror/comedy anthology movie that uses a campfire setting as the device for the telling horror stories.  It features Sean Astin (of The Goonies) as Michael the main story teller who is out camping with his cousins and the movie has a comedic feel that puts it on the Creepshow side of the portmanteau spectrum.

What sets it apart slightly is the fact that The Willies only has two main stories which is pretty rare for the genre so to pad things out, the open with three very short tales.

The first is Tennessee Frickasee, a very short tale about a woman who eats a rat at a fast food restaurant.  That is followed by Haunted Estate, a very unremarkable tale of a man getting scared to death by an fairground ride.  The last short is Poodle Souffle which is about a woman who attempts to dry her dog by putting it in the microwave.

These shorts fly by though.  Quickly enough to not make you question the quality of them, or lack thereof.  After that, Michael gets into the main stories, promising that they’ll give you ‘the willies.’

The first is Bad Apples, a tale of a kid being bullied at school but is helped out by the janitor.  The only problem is that the janitor is an alien – a pretty scary-looking one to be fair – who has a thing for eating people. 

tw4The only legit actor in this part is Kathleen Freeman, who plays a frustratingly impatient teacher who refuses to believe young Danny’s panicked pleas when he witnesses the janitor’s true form. 

It’s actually a pretty good tale even if the acting is particularly bad.  The creature looks good and the tale is pretty gory but it’s not a classic portmanteau segment by any means.

That is followed up with Flyboy, a story that features the charmingly-named Gordy Belcher, a fat kid with a bad attitude who spends all of his free time taking the wings off of flies and posing them on models of rooms. 

tw2He’s so stunningly dislikable that you’ll spend the whole time wishing for a horrible death.  The story takes a while to go anywhere and again is plagued by some pretty bad acting but ultimately the pay off, which isn’t quite what you’ll expect, is pretty good.

The film wraps up back at the camping scene with another interesting flourish but overall the whole thing is quite unsatisfying.  The humour is the wrong side of being goofy, the acting is piss poor from nearly everyone in it but the scares are occasionally alright.  It’s no Creepshow though, which was clearly what it was going for, and with just two main tales, there’s just not the variation we expect from the genre.


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