Fear is Evil. “A Taste of Phobia” review!


“A Taste of Phobia” brings together 14 international directors to the fold, executing their creative version of terror of various fears. From the fear of the dark to the fear of feces, each short compiled into this feature length film delves into what it means to be afraid of something that an average person regularly encounters on a daily basis. No ghouls, no monsters, and no ghosts stories here; “A Taste of Phobia,” or otherwise known as “Phobia,” explores the inherit human element, the everlasting internal struggle, and the mental conjuring of demons and the anxiety of the unknown that fabricates by and into fear itself. The psychological terror of phobias plagues each and every one of us and is never exclusive to a particular group or race of people, and that’s a haunting reality, especially in an time and age where suppressed personal emotions and issues lead to unfortunate suicidal circumstances. Some of the directors include Lorenzo Zanoni, Alessandro Sisti, Alessandro Redaelli, Alessandro Giordani, Rob Ulitski, Sam Mason Bell, and Davide Pesca.

A number of these filmmakers I’m not familiar with, but I do recognize a few names from the bunch by examining their previous work. Somniphobia is a sleep anxiety disorder which is the basis for the short written by Sophia Cacciola and directed by Michael J. Epstein, who also steps into the lead. “Blood of the Tribabes,” a vampiric melodrama, was my last experience with the Cacciola and Epstein duo, who have a passionate dynamic and chemistry when it comes to horror. Somniphobia is a whole different animal that’s more on a compact scale in comparison to their vampire feature and doesn’t necessarily tackle the perpetual fear of sleep; instead, Epstein portrays a contractor pushed to the limits, practically threatened by an employer, to finish coding a project to the point where he hasn’t slept in days. The lack of sleep and the various methods to try and stay awake by the power of suggestion have fried his brain to the point of self-inflicted harm. The writings good and the dark humor direction is a nice touch. Another recognizable filmmaker that stands out to me is Domiziano Christopharo. The “House of Flesh Mannequins” and “Red Krokodil” director has always exhibited a thirst for body horror and the Italian director places his talents in the kitchen with Mageirocophobia, aka the fear of cooking. Christopharo continues his brand of body-manipulation motif by telling a story of a woman, whose seemingly very good at putting together a tasty and savory fish dish, into a deeply disturbed woman who contemplates and nightmarishly fantasizes herself being the sliced, diced, and cooked to a crisp main dish.

Then, there are many filmmakers I’m not familiar with at all, but did enjoy their short entries. Sunny King’s Nyctophobia, aka fear of the dark, is hands down one of the best entries despite the slight ghost-like manifestation, but the Nigerian director fosters a tangible evil constructed by fear and his version of Nyctophobia is classic, very timeless, sans blood and shock to the point where the story plays out like a simple spook film. Very enjoyable, subtly powerful, and basically classic in tone, King reigns “A Taste of Phobia.” Now, that doesn’t mean Nyctophobia stands alone; UK’s Jackson Batchelor and his fear of politics, Politicophobia, has to be one of the more honest entries and, certainly, one of the more timely. The political undercurrent of two-faced politician is a phobia we can all get behind with their scummy, repetitive, and subliminal messaging campaign ads. Batchelor polar extreme sheds light on what a fear invoked person might experience when viewing just one of the hard-hitting, lying through the teeth campaigning juggernauts. The previous examples pinpoint heighten the emotional aspect of fear, but what if fear perpetuated madness, such as in Poison Rough’s Mysophobia, or fear of germs. The idea of bugs, dirt, or even microbes, crawling in the hair or on the skin gives one very particular man the creepy-crawlies to the breaking point where he’s forced to self-remove his own skin in order cease the sensation.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some shorts didn’t make muster. Fear of feces, or Coprophobia, was just bizarre, daft, and, well, not even that gross for the titular phobia. The approach by churning schlock director Jason Impey was more juvenile than expected with a feces covered stuff animal rising out of the depths of a shit covered toilet and have actor Martin Payne portray a fight of physicality in a small bathroom that ends with Payne naked stabbing the metaphorical stuff animal. Dustin Ferguson’s Mazeophobia, fear of mazes, was another that flared out with a hispanic man driving around lost in America’s unforgiving conservative countryside. He eventually winds up in the hands of a pair of Trumpian wing nuts and the climax becomes a little fuzzy from there into editing shambles that hesitates to make sense of how the series of events play out.

Artsploitation Films, a Philadelphian based distributor seeking the dark and desolate corners of the world to bring to light international entertainment, releases horror-anthology “A Taste of Phobia” onto DVD home video. The anthology is presented in various ratio formats due to the different styles of filmmaking and, thus, a range of image qualities stand out to some that’s suffer from aliasing and blotching atrocities to others that surprising peak in picture value. The 2.0 stereo audio track, mostly English with some Italian and Spanish, have varied ranges, depths and balances as well. Bonus features include a bonus fear mini-movie entitled Achluophobia from director Jason Impey, a behind the scenes look at Michael J. Epstein’s Somniphobia and Chris Milewski’s Pharmacophobia, an interview with producer and one of the 14 fear directors Domiziano Christopharo, a little inside on the special effects for Pharmacophobia and Mageirocophobia, and a theatrical trailer. “A Taste of Phobia” pushes the limits to extremely visualize the niche fears in us all by packing 14 deadly phobias up into an anxiety-riddled anthology released by the good, but probably psychologically insane, people at Artsploitation Films!

Buy Artsploitation Films’ “A Taste of Phobia”

Bathor’s Battle of Evil Melodramatic Vampires! “Blood of the Tribades” review!


Bathor, the great vampire conqueror and provider of peace, had established a serene vampire village, driving out disorderly vampires from impeding conventions and rules. After two millennia, civil unrest has stricken the village. A plague has struck the male population, leaving nasty sores that disfigure their faces. With a religious and superstitious, power hungry megalomanic named Grando exploiting the plague and the name of Bathor, an uprising cult of desperate men seek to destroy all Bathor’s female vampires thought to be the cause of the mens’ ill misfortune. Lovers Élisabeth and Fantine survive brutal attack after brutal attack with the aid of banished vampires and the hunted vampires attempt a last chance endeavor to quickly preserve their once lost belief system instilled by the great one, Bathor, and rid the lands of Grando once and for all!

“Blood of the Tribades” is the 2016 homage powered, melodramatic social commentary vampire film from co-directors and co-writers Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein. As much as a micro-budget film as “Blood of the Tribades” is on paper, certain important attributes surface through the money constraints and convey a larger footprint such as elaborately classic locations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York that bring out the beauty in penny-pinching productions. Another notable quality from “Blood of the Tribades” is the large cast that exemplifies the scale of the story by tenfold and with an abundance of roles, there will follow a plentiful of deaths in a vampire film. Truth be told, Cacciola and Epstein’s film doesn’t have one single human in the bunch. That’s right, “Blood of the Tribades” is 100% vampire casted. Which, come to think of it, do vampires drink their own kind? In this film, the answer is yes and, as well as, staking their own kind.

Associate producer Chloé Cunha stars alongside another associate producer, Mary Widow, as the lesbian vampire couple Élisabeth and Fantine who seek to thwart Grando’s unwitting and cultish coup d’état. The characters represent two different, and well crafted, styles of vampiric women that are the dream-like, wanderer, such examples are pulled from films by Jean Rollin (“Fascination”) or Jesus Franco (“Female Vampire”), as well as the hard-nose, dark seductress from Hammer films that channel some great actresses such as Ingrid Pitt or Barbara Shelley. Cunha and Widow perfectly capture the essence of the distinctive styles more so than I could have ever thought possible. Élisabeth and Fantine are pitted against one of the more over-the-top performances of a villain I’ve seen in a while. Grando’s presence amounts to every inch of the screen from a very talented Seth Chatfield, who not only becomes a clear cut antagonist but does so with infectious enthusiasm. Topping of the main characters comes Bathor, who only receives a handful of screen time minutes. Tymisha Harris meshed well with the outlined characters, being equally extravagant in her own manner, and delivering the power Bathor must bestow upon her children. Kristofer Jenson, Zach Pidgeon, Stabatha La Thrills, Sindy Katrotic, Simone de Boudoir, and Dale Stones, plus many, many more, round out the cast.

Actually, “Blood of the Tribades” is a feminist movie that just happens to have vampires. Male oppression to keep the women from being themselves, from being outspoken, and from being open with their sexuality is clearly combated through the social commentary symbolism. Plus, touches on the suppression of sexuality and the outward projection of a society forbidden love, but however exposed the feminist versus complacency and closeted angst message might be, the script’s dialogue, despite the film’s 78 minute runtime, is extremely long winded with an unapologetic amount of exposition to explain the messages in various scenes where dialogue is not needed; one of the early scenes, with a man peeping outside the window of a very naked woman bathing before shooting an arrow through her bloodsucking heart, had the right message with that actioned a tone conversing the unspoken subplot of men against women. There’s also no telling which time period, or even universe, the story is set with various era styled garments from conservative nightwear, to bright red band-leader tops, to skin-tight, scantily night club outfits. The latter felt really out of place with Sindy Katrotic’s fighting wear.

Production company and distributor, Launch Over, presents “Blood of the Tribades” on high definition Blu-ray and is available for pre-order before the April 30th release date! Image quality of the 1080p picture, despite the number of filters used, still manages to pull off balanced and vivid hues of the forest and castle rooks, skin tones look too good for the plague makeup’s own well being, and thick black tones highlight the right amount of mise-en-scene without much aliasing or compression issues. Bonus features include a theatrical trailer and an in-depth behind-the-scenes with interviews from the directors, cast, and crew. Chock full of nudity and delivering a high body count, “Blood the Tribades” is an adoring, beautiful, and slightly satirical homage to the multifaceted 1970s female vampire by way of dogma masculinity and righteous fanaticism that isn’t far skewed in reality’s present day!