A Taste of Phobia is a new anthology comprised of 14 segments from 16 directors. It’s being distributed by Artsploitation, which has brought us films like Cub, Toad Road, Der Samurai, Horsehead, and Bunny the Killer Thing, to name a few. The label is known for putting its stamp on some seriously outside-the-box films, and A Taste of Phobia is no exception.
As with many anthologies, there is a gimmick involved. The ABCs of Death franchise utilizes letters of the alphabet. V/H/S uses its titular video format as s storytelling vehicle. Each segment in A Taste of Phobia pertains to a different fear. As this is an Artsploitation movie, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re not dealing with the typical phobias that come to mind. No, here we have things like Chaetophobia (Fear of Hairs), Parthenophobia (Fear of Virgins), and Coprophobia (Fear of Feces). See the end of this review for the full list of segments, along with their corresponding directors and countries of origin.
After an opening credits montage, the film doesn’t waste much time with the wraparound before jumping right into the segments. Each one begins with a title card complete with what fear the technical term represents. The wraparound is essentially a woman watching TV, and we see glimpses of this throughout the film and in the end, when it kind of leads to something.
The whole thing is wrapped up in a cool 91 minutes, so despite the number of segments we’re dealing with here, you’re not in for an overly long affair. It also means none of them really have time to wear out their welcome, so if you don’t like one, you get to start again fresh soon enough. And given that each segment comes from a different director (and from a handful of different countries) they mostly feel pretty different from one another.
Just to be clear, you’ll need to go into A Taste of Phobia understanding that this is a microbudget anthology, and it very much feels like exactly that. Pretty much across the board, the production value makes The ABCs of Death look like a Hollywood blockbuster. The best segments in this movie get their points more from their concepts than from any real directorial or storytelling flare. The worst are muddled and confused and lack the style that could make them more appealing in more capable filmmakers’ hands. Some seem to be crafted with interesting messages in mind, but perhaps don’t have the runtime to get these across very effectively.
Ultimately, the concept of the entire anthology – a look into rare, but real phobias – is pretty interesting. Unfortunately, the execution leaves a great deal to be desired, even if one can see past the budgetary constraints. A few of the shorts wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome playing at a festival, but as a whole package, A Taste of Phobia is an underwhelming experience.
Generally speaking, the acting is decent enough for a movie of this caliber. The quality of special effects varies greatly from segment to segment, ranging from decent practical to especially poor CG. The electronic theme music that begins and ends the film isn’t bad.
A Taste of Phobia is now available on DVD. Artsploitation has also re-issued 2015’s underseen (and unflinching) anthology German Angst on Blu-ray. That one, while uncomfortable, is worth your time.
A Taste of Phobia segments:
Caetophobia (Fear of Hairs) Lorenzo Zanoni, Alessandro Sisti (Italy)
Pharmacophobia (Fear of Medication) Chris Milewski (USA)
Partenophobia (Fear of Virgins) Alessandro Redaelli (Italy)
Coprophobia (Fear of Feces); Jason Impey (UK)
Mysophobia (Fear of Germs) Poison Rouge (Italy)
Mazeophobia (Fear of Mazes); Dustin Ferguson (USA)
Astrophobia (Fear of Stars) Alessandro Giordani (Italy)
Mageirocophobia (Fear of Cooking) Domiziano Cristopharo (Italy)
Gerascophobia (Fear of Ageing) Rob Ulitski (UK)
Politicophobia (Fear of Politics) Jackson Batchelor (UK)
Somniphobia (Fear of Sleep) Sophia Cacciola, Michael J. Epstein (USA)
Oneirophobia (Fear of Dreams) Sam Mason Bell (UK)
Nyctophobia (Fear of the Night) Sunny King (Nigeria)
Hemophobia (Fear of Blood) Davide Pesca (Italy)