If you like blood, woods and happen to enjoy anthologies, this one’ll keep you occupied

With this week’s flick, I again stumbled upon an anthology. But this one’s from Maryland, so it’s different.

Terrortory consists of five story segments and its framing narrative, meaning this review’s going to be chock-full of pictures and the careful, ruthless frame-by-frame analysis you all have come to expect, nay DEMAND, from yours truly.

But first, if you want to read my thoughts about horror anthologies and how they can be risky business from a filmmaking perspective, then go back over to my review of the three-and-a-half-star Hi-Death. I don’t like repeating myself because, contrary to popular belief, pixels cost money, but the same idea applies here — there’s always a weaker segment when you’ve got a number of collaborators working on the same endeavor. It’s nobody’s fault that it happens. It just happens. You just have to hope that you have a receptive audience and that the weakest segment ends up being the shortest one and it doesn’t torpedo the audience’s enjoyment of everything else.

A map of the Terrortory of the flick, left, and then what I got when I Googled the f—-r on the right. Not to scale. (Screen capture and Google action by reviewer Ben Nagy).

So the first thing that is cool about Terrortory is that it establishes its own regional folklore right off, which I find intriguing as heck. The premise is that all these stories take place in a spooky region of west-central Maryland that has a bunch of woods and spans about a 10-square-mile area, at least according to some dialogue in the film. When I Googled the f—-r, it looks like a lot bigger area to me, but you can check out the image above and make your own geographic calculations.

Within the area, according to the sinister minds of writer/directors Kevin Kangas, Dan Doran and Mark Wenger, are some supernatural entities. They’re referred to a couple of times in the flick as “urban legends,” but can they really be urban legends if all this stuff happens in the woods? Discuss among yourselves, if you wish.

Anyhow, these supernatural entities/tales Kangas and Co. have come up with have vivid names such as The Demon Truck, The Whispering Cadaver, The Howling Darkness and The Prophetic Vulture, and the opening credits sequence pans over an old map of the Terrortory showing the approximate locations where you’d run into these things if you happened to be wandering around.

Unfortunately, none of the ones I mentioned up there are in this flick, but kudos to the filmmakers for coming up with that fertile concept. If I lived in western Maryland, I’d damn sure be inviting some folks over and hold screenings of Terrortory out in the Terrortory just because it’s got that neat-o regional feel by being based on a real location. After watching the flick, you can go out and get hopped up on popcorn and Mountain Dew or other stimulant of choice and then look for the Two-Headed Torso supposedly southeast of Wolfsville, and it adds a little something extra.

Carly (Laura Kiser) and Trey (Brad Masters) have the corn popped, the son to bed and just argued about the merits of Aliens vs. Twilight. Then the lights go out.

So, as in all anthologies, we start with the framing setup: Two young parents — Trey (Brad Masters) and Carly (Laura Kiser) — are on a vacation in this secluded region and have just put their son, Davey, to bed. They’re about ready to settle down for a movie and some snacks when, right before they press play, the power goes out.

Well, you gotta pass the time doing something when the power’s out, so in between efforts to get in his wife’s pants and get her plastered, husband Trey tells Carly five stories about the area that he heard from a pal, unaware that they are actually participants in a sixth one.

Here Marshall Trager (Ryan Thomas) meets an unusually garbed and hungry denizen of the woods (Meadow Bosworth) in the first segment, “The Siren.”

The first story he tells her, “The Siren,” involves a guy out deer hunting in the woods who encounters a really hungry carnivore dressed in a chiffon dress and she needs some meat.

Then Trey tries to get in Carly’s pants and there might be someone watching them from outside the house because there’s a creepy guy out on the patio.

The second story involves a low-budget film crew that goes out to the woods to shoot a slasher movie.

Then Trey tries to get into Carly’s pants and they find out that the patio door was not locked.

Meet Smiling Jack (M.T. Smith), who wears a trick-or-treat receptacle on his head during the third segment. No spoilers on what’s inside… (Screen capture by reviewer Ben Nagy)

The third story involves a couple that go out to the woods in pursuit of the infamous Smiling Jack, a guy in a jack-o-lantern mask who carries a big-ass knife.

Then Trey gets Carly stoned so he can get into her pants and we find out there’s a guy with a knife and he’s in their son’s room.

The fourth story involves four hikers who go out into the woods and they get followed by some drones.

Then Trey takes a break from trying to get in Carly’s pants to go to the kitchen instead and we see that things might not have ended too well for Davey.

The Midnight Clown (Frederick Cowie) is showing a) how many people he’s going to allow to survive or b) how many spots away the song “99 Luftballons” by Nena was from hitting No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1984. (Screen capture by reviewer Ben Nagy)

The fifth story involves a low-budget film crew that encounters the Midnight Clown who stalks the woods.

Then Trey and Carly find out that they too have a date with one of the terrors that give the region its name and Trey continues to fail to get into his wife’s pants although there is hope at the end.

The throughline, of course, is that all this stuff happens in the woods, so there’s some repetition. Two of the five stories (actually three, if you count the motives of the people looking for Smiling Jack) involve film crews going out in the woods to shoot a horror flick, but as filmmakers you have to go with what you know to get the thing done.

Out of the five, the most unique and the one with the funnest title is “The Drone Collector,” where the people are getting attacked by the drones in the woods. The plausibility factor declines as the story buzzes toward its conclusion, but if you get hung up on that, you’re missing out on a lot of fun in a lot of things. The weakest one is the first one, “The Siren,” because the narrative didn’t quite hold together. The other three are variants of the old slasher-in-the-woods deal with “Smiling Jack” standing out for its score and gore effects, “Midnight Clown” having the best ensemble performance and some clever characterization and “The Prowler” having some good gore effects (and one intentionally bad one) and a couple of gallons of blood spilled. Speaking of…

Horror movie mistake No. 20/20: Taking the word of Cindy (Season James), the woman who seemingly had her eyes gouged out when she tells you to watch out behind you. Holding her at left is Sidney Allen, who played Russel the director in the segment “The Prowler.”
Even with the power of his goatee and his agility, Eric (Andrew J. Davis) cannot escape the drones of “The Drone Collector.” (Screen capture by reviewer Ben Nagy)
Here we see Darla (Nadia White), who has had just about enough of the Terrortory in the closing story after encountering “The Midnight Clown.” (Screen capture by reviewer Ben Nagy)

After watching this one, I learned that Kangas and Co. did a Terrortory 2 and there were plans for a third one. Not sure if Numero Two-o fills some more spots on the map that they used in the beginning, but if they want to send it along for me to check it out, get in touch because I wouldn’t object. Until then, in my eyes, this one shall stand as the all-time No. 1 horror anthology classic for Frederick, Md., and points west in the Old Line State.

Three stars.

Check it out streaming on Amazon or buy it straight from the source on DVD from the filmmakers’ website www.kangaskahnfilms.com where they’ll appreciate it more.