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TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE

A 3-part anthology flick from crap movie auteur Chester N. Turner, which given his pedigree is every bit as astoundingly horrible as you might expect.

The Package
     Chester N. Turner made the appalling anti-classic BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL in 1984. The present film, like the earlier one, was shot on video and headlined by actress Shirley L. Jones. It was evidently intended as the first entry in a QUADEAD ZONE series (it’s promised in the end credits that “TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE will return”), but it now seems that series will never happen, as Mr. Turner was reportedly killed in a car accident in 1996.

The Story  
     A black woman is talking with the ghost of her long-dead son Bobby, whose presence is discernible only from the indentation his ass makes in a chair. The woman promises to read him some stories from a book called “Tales from the Quadead Zone.”
     We see the three tales dramatized (poorly so). In the first a family of pious white folk are sitting down to dinner; one of them, a burly dude, goes mad and shoots several of his dinner-mates with a rifle, then puts down the gun and the survivors chow down. Later we learn that the nut eventually shot the rest of his family members but for his mother and father, both of whom are now “living high on the hog in witness protection” (?).
     In the second story two black miscreants break into a funeral home. Venturing into the dark basement, they find what they think is a corpse--but which turns out be a trouble-making pal. The three convene at the home of one of the miscreants, and before long the other two leave. The house’s owner takes to talking to a recently murdered corpse he keeps in his bathtub. The guy dresses the corpse in a clown suit and retires to his basement to bury the cadaver, only to have it spring back to life and attack him.
     The final segment takes pace in the “real” world with the woman and her ghostly son Bobby. Before she can start reading Bobby another story the woman’s abusive husband shows up and smacks her around. She responds by stabbing the asshole nearly to death. The guy phones the cops, who show up and try to take Bobby’s mother away. Before they can do so she slashes her own throat--and so joins her son as a ghost.

The Direction
     Unlike BLACK DEVIL DOLL, which took place largely in a single setting with just a few characters, this one contains four separate narratives and a large cast--which only underlines the fact that Mr. Turner can’t tell a story!
     What exactly are the reasons for the textual intertitles that conclude the first segment? Wouldn’t it have been better to show what happened to the characters? On a related note, why are there so many “20 (or however many) Hours Later” titles scattered throughout the film? Is it really that important that we know how much time has passed from one scene to the next? And what’s up with the whiplash change of tone in the wraparound story, which begins as a supernatural account but concludes with a sentimental flashback and eventual suicide? Was Turner trying to make some sort of statement about life in the hood? Only he knows the answers to these questions, alas, and he’s no longer around.
     As in his previous film, Turner proves himself thoroughly inept in all conceivable areas, from cinematography (which is uniformly wobbly and unfocused) to sound design (with wailing synthesizer music frequently drowning out the dialogue). Yet this film is nothing if not unique: it is literally impossible to predict where any of these tales will lead, as all are so completely outré--a definite plus in my view!
     In fact, taken together, BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL and TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE demonstrate a wholly distinct and idiosyncratic filmmaking sensibility. In other words, Chester N. Turner’s films had personality, and had he lived I’m certain he would have eventually created a legitimately good film.
 

Vital Statistics

TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE
Erry Vision Film Co.

Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Editor: Chester N. Turner
Cast: Shirley L. Jones, John W. Jones, Tommy L. Miller, William Jones, Lawrence R. Jones, Larry Jones, Keefe L. Turner, Ronda Rider, Jeff Miza, Tammy Nichols, Kim Nichols, Chris Calloway, Johnnie Tanguy, Doug Daverport, W.J. Rider
 

     

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