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on 7 October 2012
"Shrek's Thrilling Tales" is the latest entry into the "Shrek" franchise. Much like earlier releases, such as "Shrek the Halls" and "Merry Madagascar", it is a collection of short films featuring the popular film characters, plus one film, "Night of the Living Carrots", featuring some of the cast of "Monsters vs. Aliens".
The DVD begins with a clever and funny parody of the music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller", with special cameos by the villains of all four Shrek films and one dance routine that proves just how talented the animators are. This is followed by the real gem on this DVD - a compilation film called "Scared Shrekless". In this film, Shrek dares his friends to come with him to the ruined Castle Duloc (Lord Farquad's home from the first "Shrek" film) to tell the scariest ghost story. Among the offerings presented are "The Bride of Gingy" - which is both spooky and entertaining at once; "The Shreksorcist" - a not-so-subtle take on "The Exorcist" with elements of Disney's "Pinocchio", and "Boots Motel", which is by far the funniest story in the lot.
Next, the three little pigs get their own outing in "The Pig Who Cried Werewolf", in which, in a new twist, a wolf turns into an over-hospitable human being at the full moon. Whilst not a long story, it is certainly a nice change to see a "Shrek" spin-off that focusses on supporting characters other than Puss-in-Boots, Gingy, and Pinocchio.
What a pity, then, that the final two films in the line-up were such a let-down.
"Night of the Living Carrots" was underwhelming for me, as I was expecting a zany parody of monster movies in a similar vein to the 1977 film "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes". As a spin-off of "Monsters vs. Aliens", it is inferior to the original. "Monsters vs. Aliens" was just about acceptable because its chief protagonist, 50ft-tall Susan Murphy, was so believable and likeable. By contrast, B.O.B. is nothing more than a gelatinous version of Homer Simpson, and whilst the Dreamworks team might like him, I am sorry to say that I failed to see his charm. After a brief Hitchcock-style intro, we watch an army of zombie carrots - aided by B.O.B. - take over a single, solitary house in a largely empty suburb. Dr. Cockroach and The Missing Link are also present, but Susan and Insectosaurus are curiously absent, and as if to add insult to injury, we are given a disturbing flashback scene which is as unsettling as it is unnecessary.
The final film in the selection, "The Ghost of Lord Farquaad", was also a let-down, but for a different reason. Where "Night of the Living Carrots" seemed to have been made to satisfy fans of B.O.B., "The Ghost of Lord Farquaad" seemed to have been made purely to cash in on the craze for 3D films. The film is loosely structured around Lord Farquaad, now returned as a spirit, seeking to make Fiona his spirit queen. The 3D element is quite obvious in the fact that everything keeps flying towards the camera every three seconds, but without the 3D technology, the whole thing comes across as frenetic and perhaps a little bit rushed.
Still, the good points of this DVD far outweigh the downsides, and I can happily say that, despite its shortcomings, "Shrek's Thrilling Tales" is an entertaining addition to the ongoing "Shrek" saga.