If I said it once I’ll say it again. Great horror anthologies are hard to come by. However, the VHS franchise has always delivered. Even VHS Viral, which was seen by most as a let down, is still head and shoulders better than the absolute garbage we tend to sit through with horror anthologies these days.
VHS 94 takes its viewers back into the 90s when VHS reigned supreme, the internet was only something being discussed about, and infomercials always snuck into recordings.
The film originates from a screenplay by David Bruckner, with segments directed by franchise returnees Simon Barrett and Timo Tjahjanto, in addition to newcomers Jennifer Reeder, Ryan Prows and Chloe Okuno. The overarching plot follows a brutish police SWAT team who stumbles upon a sinister cult compound and its collection of VHS tapes.
Let me just get this out of the way, the wrap arounds in all the VHS films are the weakest parts of the franchise. It usually involves some punk kids or here some overbearing SWAT guys. But it’s the stories in between that always come through and here they are all great.
Things start off with a bang with “Storm Drain” that follows an overzealous reporter and her cameraman into a storm drain to report on an urban legend. Things quickly go south when the two come face to face with the inhabitants of the sewer and come face to face with the creature they thought was just a myth. Eerily shot and directed.
“The Empty Wake” is more of a slow burn horror story with a batshit crazy ending. A young woman working at a funeral home is overseeing a wake while a horrible storm is raging outside. Needless to say something in the coffin isn’t completely dead. Now the young woman has to contend with a hellacious storm and something evil that has been reanimated. The ending is the stuff nightmares are made of.
“The Subject” is by far the best entry in VHS 94. A mad scientist has captured two individuals and is performing horrific experiments on them. Replacing body parts with mechanical appendages. This is probably the most action packed and disturbing of the entries here.
“Terror” sees a group of redneck militia men looking to start a race war by using a secret weapon that is highly deadly and explosive. However, when the weapon turns against them all bets are off! This was both oddly comedic and action packed. Something would you expect to see show up on the dark web for sure.
Finally “Holy Hell” which sees another squad of police exploring what appears to be the site of the mass cult suicide. It clumsily functions as connective tissue between the film’s interior segments, but is mostly distracting for the amateurish performances of seemingly every actor involved, especially as it builds to its absurd conclusion. What is meant to be a grounding story to thread the film together instead becomes borderline embarrassing. But like I said earlier, this is an issue with all the VHS films and really the only negative here.
All in all VHS 94 is a blast with crazy segments you would come to expect from the franchise. If nothing else just watch it for The Subject segment. VHS 94 is now streaming on Shudder and HipsterZOMBIEJoint Experience highly recommends checking it out.
VHS 94 will have you streaming it on repeat on Shudder!