Fright Fest Review #29: The Willies (1990)

This movie may be jarring for younger viewers.
This movie may be jarring for younger viewers.

Subgenre:  Anthology / Children’s

Summary:  In this horror anthology, three kids camping out tell each other a series of scary stories.

Review:  The Willies begins with our three main characters huddled together in complete darkness, trying to light their tent’s lantern.  After they succeed, they begin to tell each other the scariest, grossest stories they can think of.  It’s an evocative opening, one that recalls the universal childhood experience of trying to scare your friends with a spooky tale.  It’s too bad, then, that the stories themselves are such a letdown.

The first few shorts within The Willies are over so quickly that they fail to make any sort of lasting impression.  After those, we move onto the main events: two episodes of horror that last about one half hour each.  The first tells the story of a monster that haunts a school’s boys’ bathroom.  It’s not a bad premise, but it’s squandered on a story that’s completely predictable and lacks a strong punch-line.

Then we come to Fly Boy, The Willies’ final segment.  It’s the charming story of a fat, antisocial boy who spends his spare time catching flies, pulling off their wings, and arranging them in dioramas.  I have a pretty strong stomach, but found myself absolutely disgusted by this short.  The sheer amount of dead flies I had to look at, along with one particularly awful sequence in which our “protagonist” feeds a fly-filled cookie to a classmate, left me feeling nauseated.  I wouldn’t have a problem with this if Fly Boy was clever, funny, or well written, but it’s none of these.  It’s a boring, plotless ordeal with no redeeming features whatsoever.

It’s too bad that The Willies ended up being such a disappointment, because I really did like the idea behind it: a horror anthology for kids whose PG-13 rating allowed it to be darker than its television counterparts.

The Verdict:  Slight at its best and vomitous at its worst, The Willies isn’t appropriate for anyone.  I give it two-and-a-half anathema-arousing anthologies out of ten.

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