Directed by Doug Evans & Jeff Lee
Produced by Jono Adelman & Anwar Floyd-Pruitt
Written by Doug Evans & JJ Shebesta
Director of Photograpy David Dreckmann
Music by Michael Hawkins-Burgos
Cast: Bobbie Jo Westphal, Michael Hawkins-Burgos, Jeff Lee & Angela Kane
2004/90 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
1.85:1 non-anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
An anthology is defined as a series or group of stories which contain a common link or which are presented in a similar format that are contained in a single volume. Many of us are familiar with anthology films such as CREEPSHOW or DEAD OF NIGHT. I consider myself an educated person as well as someone who knows a great deal about movies, so I assume that I could spot an anthology with no problem. That was until I watched HEEBIE JEEBIES, which is the first movie that I can ever remember seeing which is sort of an anthology.
As HEEBIE JEEBIES opens, we meet Cassie (Bobbie Jo Westphal), a young woman who is clearly disturbed by her nightmares (as evidenced by the way in which she destroys her room). She invites four high-school friends to join her for a reunion at a dilapidated farmhouse. When her friends Tony (Michael Hawkins-Burgos) and Casper (Jeff Lee) (who brings his girlfriend, Cindy (Vanessa Yuille)) arrive, we learn that when Cassie was a teenager, she had a nightmare about her mother dying and her mother soon died in the exact manner of Cassie's dream. Cassie reveals to Tony that she has recently had nightmares about her friends dying horrible deaths and she felt that she must get them all together in order to warn them. Soon, Alice (Angela Kane) arrives, leaving only Kelly (Reaca Pearl) absent from the party. However, because of Cassie's odd behavior, everyone becomes restless and wants to leave. In order to get their attention, Cassie begins to talk about her dreams.
This is when the film suddenly becomes two or three different movies. Each of Cassie's three dreams is shown in detail, creating an anthology-like approach. In the first dream, Alice's prank-playing brother goes to far, leading to a murder. In the second, Casper's brother is involved in a museum robbery which unleashes an ancient evil. And in the final dream, Kelly experiences an accident on the highway and with the help of a good Samaritan, must make a moral decision. However, while Cassie is revealing her dreams, a masked killer is attacking the inhabitants of the farmhouse. So, it seems that Cassie’s dreams won’t come true if the group can’t survive the night.
In my experience, low-budget horror films typically fall into two categories. There are those that keep things very plain and simple, and those which bite off far more than they can chew. Strangely, HEEBIE JEEBIES falls somewhere in-between these two groupings. The movie utilizes the familiar trappings of the anthology film by setting up a wrap-around story (Cassie’s nightmares and the reunion) and then unveiling the three unique stories which fall into this format. The stories are all fairly brief and are self-contained. But, we also have a slasher film happening at the same time, as someone is trying to kill the attendees of the reunion.
The result is a film which appears to be trying to do too many things at once. At the 8-minute mark, Cassie describes the first of her nightmares. But, it’s not until the 32-minute point in the film where she talks about her second dream and I began to realize that HEEBIE JEEBIES was an anthology...sort of. As I was watching the movie, I felt as if I was seeing four short-film ideas which had been patchworked into one movie. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the stories were well-done. The first problem is that the first two dreams don’t feature recognizable characters right away (or at all) and this is very confusing for the viewer, and secondly, they lack in originality. The prank gone wrong story is very similar to one found in the anthology AFTER MIDNIGHT. The second dream, in which the museum artifacts run amok, is akin to the “fetish doll” segment from TRILOGY OF TERROR. Only the third dream, the one involving Kelly, is interesting, as contains a shocking gore effect and a nice twist ending. The wrap-around story, involving Cassie and the killer, never feels fully developed, although, I must admit that I did nod approvingly when the final twist to the film was revealed.
Co-directors Doug Evans and Jeff Lee, along with co-writer JJ Shebesta have clearly attempted to make a well-rounded horror film with HEEBIE JEEBIES (which was originally entitled THE OAK HILL PICTURE SHOW), but they miss the mark. The film is hampered by unoriginal stories, a bizarre structures, and the usual low-budget hazards. (The farmhouse looks like a condemned building that the filmmakers took over for themselves.) There is some good camerawork in the film and the last 15 minutes is entertaining, but the overall package gave me neither heebie nor jeebie.
HEEBIE JEEBIES hits DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, but the transfer is not anamorphic, an odd decision which Lions Gate makes with many of its releases. The image is sharp, but the image is somewhat grainy, especially in the daytime scenes. While the colors are good, the overall effect of the image is very flat. The picture is also noticeably dark at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio track which provides clear dialogue and music. The stereo effects are certainly present, but they are never overly impressive.
The HEEBIE JEEBIES DVD features 2 “Deleted Scenes”, which total 4 minutes. One of the scenes, taken from the museum heist segment, does offer some new info. The only other extra on the DVD are “Bloopers”, which last for 10 minutes.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©