The Merits of Sin: Chills Down Your Spine 2020 USA Dead Lantern Pictures ****1/2 NSFW

There’s some things I don’t recommend slipping back into. Heroin addiction, last week’s unwashed Brazilian flag speedo, collecting candid snaps of Mark Wahlberg on the toilet…you know, the usual. I once believed that picking up on your anthology wraparound five years later fell into that category but I’m happy to say that I was so fucking wrong because if CDYS does one thing well it’s continue the adventures of our everyman hero Jeff (Steve Eaton returning to the roll and further endearing himself to my heart) and the world’s greatest genie Sabiah (Megan Garcia back at it and owning every scene she’s in). Luckily, it does a lot of other shit right. It’s bigger, bloodier…badassier(?) and boobier than the prior entry and sets it’s wraparound to the template of the ultimate story; that Ancient Greek poem The Odyssey…but with a likable hero/heroine combo, funnier dialogue and way more bewbs but far less dong.

Nothin wrong with some dong

Sabiah finds herself in the clutches of a masked psychopathic killer (whose delivery of his origin story almost killed me) she has to call master while Jeff gets his hand on a another lamp (just one million tickets at an arcade) and releases Sabiah’s little sister Mahktoonah (also Megan Garcia but blonder and bubblier). Together they go on a quest to find the Oracle and figure out where Sabiah is.

Sabiah withdrawl

Stories of mostly strong quality are told by various characters and we even get some callbacks to the original as we wait for the reunion of the two greatest smartasses in anthology history to reunite.

Mahktoonah memories

I’ll keep the synopsis of the short features minimal due to the freshness of the film. First off is The Devil’s Corkscrew, a fine western involving some greedy and needy folks prospecting for gold in a valley haunted by a black clad gunslinger who doesn’t take kindly to the intrusion. Isabelle Returns is an awesome animated slasher featuring a cool killer resurrected by some grave robbing idiots. The Ditch is the perfect example of how to craft a cool monster story with limited funds. Bed and Breakfast finds a stranded motorist forced to spend the night in a Victorian hotel watched over by a creepy butler. Hysteria! mixes Agatha Christie with OnlyFans when a group of fetish girls are invited to perform at a seemingly empty home. Blood Model has a class of art students vanishing one by one with all evidence pointing to a creepy kid obsessed with the figure model. The noir infused The Whirlpool of Night puts a female spin on the male dominated genre and pits a thief paying off a debt against the supernatural. Finally, The Calling of Things Beyond has a playwright under pressure and lacking ideas traveling down a path familiar to any fans of Lovecraft but without the author’s fear of females and a larger amount of ickiness. For the most part the tales of terror are pretty great. The only one I didn’t care much for was Bed and Breakfast but that had a likable and lovely heroine wandering around nearly buck naked with a candelabra for most of the runtime. No complaints here.

I walk around strange places the same way

Whore-cheese, the return of my favorite child eating couple, a foul mouthed dummy, a double dose of Megan Garcia, familiar faces and the same rampant insanity prevalent in the first one all work to charm the hell out of me. It’s not often that the wraparound is the best part of an anthology but those glorious weirdos at Dead Lantern Pictures somehow pulled it off. Yes, three hours is a long ass time to spend with one film but luckily it’s an anthology, so you’re never that far off from something completely new and those angels had enough foresight to provide an intermission featuring another cute genie and fucking Robo-Mummy! Now that is how ya do things the right way.

Robo-Mummy is love

I was provided a screener by those delightful deviants at Dead Lantern Pictures, you can (and should) support them over at http://www.deadlantern.com/


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