A Slice of Fright 2019 Reel Reviews Part 3

This is the 3rd and final set of short horror films review form A SLICE OF FRIGHT Film Festival 2019.

Horrorscope

Sick with a mysterious illness a girl(Claudia Trujillo) is experiencing some strange side effects. Curious noises, physical ailments, and random occurrences are plaguing her day-to-day life. Then her mother(Miriam Marcet) visits the family physician(Morgan Symes) and gets a wacky diagnosis.

Horrorscope is an excellent satirical horror/comedy short directed by Pol Diggler. The acting, writing, and direction are all on point and work together to create a film that is fresh and funny. Some may claim this film seems unfinished but those critiques are missing the point. Without giving any spoilers, Horrorscope is made with a certain style intentionally, to further the goal that it achieved. A huge recommendation for anyone who loves comedy and horror alike.

I give Horrorscope 6 out of 6 reels.

Fresh Start

A woman(Emily Roszatycki) finds the house she’s renovating has some interesting decorative features.

Sometimes realizing one’s actions is horrifying. In Fresh Start, directed by Michael Welborn, we get a clever horror short that delivers a nice build up of tension, leading to a disturbing conclusion. What’s impressive is the audience views this all in a little over a minute. Some may find the minimalistic approach lacking, but that means more is left to the imagination. It’s what you don’t see that makes Fresh Start a frightening watch.

I give Fresh Start 5 out of 6 reels.

Neptune

An autumn storm is rolling in as a woman feverishly works to finish her yard work. Suddenly a mysterious object comes hurdling out of the sky, crash landing on her property. She then fearfully begins to slowly step toward the glowing orb…

Playing on our fears of the unknown Neptune is a micro sci-fi/horror film directed by Sen 3 Productions. A mundane activity, in this case raking leaves, lulls the audience into a sense of calm familiarity. The scenario is then turned completely upside down. A maddening conclusion unfolds, one that is difficult to describe with words alone. Despite being more of an introduction to a larger film Neptune still demands being seen, to find out what horrors lie in the orb.

I give Neptune 4 out of 6 reels.

Very Real

A boy(Tobin Welborn) invites his caregiver(Faith Damian) to try some cool virtual reality technology. She soon finds the world she has entered seems very realistic. Maybe too realistic.

Very Real, directed by Michael Welborn, is a short horror film that leans heavily into its main premise. In the past we controlled technology not allowing it to take over our everyday lives. As more and more innovative devices are invented, that line blurs. Very Real takes the concept of something we mostly believe harmless, virtual reality gaming, and turns it into a horrifying nightmare. While some aspects are a bit confusing, particularly the motivations of the boy in the film, Very Real still is a very scary watch.

I give Very Real 4 out of 6 reels.

Death Cleaners 

Two cleaners(Jason Scarbrough, Gloria Bueno) arrive to clean up the scene of a messy homicide. Weird things begin to occur when it’s apparent everyone hasn’t left the scene of the crime.

True crime has been popular for some time now and in Death Cleaners, directed by Isaac Rodriguez, we get some true crime themes mixed with horror. The setup is interesting because we see the aftermath of a crime scene investigation, which is rarely explored. It’s easy to relate with the main characters. They are there to do a specific job, but they can’t help being curious. We’ve all been there and Jason Scarbrough and Gloria Bueno are excellent in portraying this. Also, Kandie Garcia is perfect in the horrifying conclusion. Death Cleaners is a frightening tale and recommended to anyone who wants a fictionalized twist on the true crime genre.

I give Death Cleaners 5 out of 6 reels.

Lilith

Being enamored by her beauty a man(Raavian Rehman) is willing to do anything for his new girlfriend(Celeste Blandon). Her name is Lilith and she hopes to mesmerize him, mind, body, and soul.

A poetic take on a classic tale, Lilith is a chilling horror short directed by Aly Hardt. The writing is fantastic, showing the time and care put into the script. Lilith combines elements of films from the past while also maintaining a sense of modernism. This creates an intriguing mixture of filmmaking styles, new and old. The cinematography is excellent with some great panning shots that build atmosphere and tension. The camerawork doesn’t feel forced and forms organically around the script. The dreamlike quality of the film may turn-off some, but it’s this artistic quality that gives Lilith a uniqueness all its own.

I give Lilith 4 out of 6 reels.

The Boston Maniac

Pedro(Pedro Caxade) finds himself in the most horrific of nightmares, trapped in the house of Luger(Bill Hutchens) AKA The Boston Maniac. 

Directed by Judson Vaughan, The Boston Maniac is a horror short described in one word: Brutal. Luger is a villain that would scare anybody out of their mind and Bill Hutchens plays him excellently. The cinematography and lighting add to the film by creating shots that are gruesomely beautiful. The gory practical effects are just icing on the cake. For fans of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hostel, The Boston Maniac is wholeheartedly recommended.

I give The Boston Maniac 6 out of 6 reels.

I Know You

While casually reading a book Mike Fischer(Kyle Blair) gets interrupted by a complete stranger(David Waldman). “I know you,” the stranger replies.  Mike, however, does not and is getting concerned as this stranger seems to know him exceptionally well.

Problems in our lives always seem to catch up to us and in the dark comedy I Know You directed by Nic White, things are no different. A problem has caught up to Mike and he deals with it in a hilarious fashion. The physical comedy in I Know You is enjoyable, and will leave you laughing despite Mikes dire situation. We also get some descent gore in and the special effects are very well done. The low-budget is noticeable but with solid acting, creative direction, and plenty of laughs I Know You rises above.

I give I Know You 5 out of 6 reels.

The Nervous Breakdown

An odd creature gets trapped in the confines of a hotdog bun. If that got your attention then continue on into the mad world of The Nervous Breakdown.

Excellent audio and visual artist MCR Electric Otto brings his brand of chaotic animation to life with The Nervous Breakdown. Stuttering hand drawn visuals accompanied by aggressive electronic beats create something stunningly unique. Some will love it, some may hate it, but none can deny the artistry and creativity in this animated short.

I give The Nervous Breakdown 3 out of 6 reels.

Thanks for tuning in, Slicers!

Night of The Living Dead – Reel Review

On a trip into the countryside to place flowers on their father’s grave Johnny (Russell Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O’Dea) are attacked by a strange man. Barbara flees for her life and takes refuge in an abandoned farm house. Ben (Duane Jones) arrives and announces more creatures are coming. While shoring up the house against the creatures other survivors emerge. Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman) and Tom (Keith Wayne) begin the argument about what should be done. Helen Cooper (Marilyn Eastman) and Judy (Judith Ridley) respond by contributing their views. Everyone arrives at two undesirable options: to remain hold up with a growing horde of cannibals outside or to take the Cooper’s wounded daughter and make a run for a shelter miles away.

Romero instills in us a sense of isolation with his use of distance in his shots. The opening shot is a long winding road with a car in the far distance. Inside the house Barbara is commonly shot in the background alone as she suffers through shock. The dialogue has plenty of sharp back and forth which feels authentic and maintains high tension. It is interesting to see how a movie monster so iconic was first imagined compared with what it has evolved into today.

The movie does show its age, as of this writing it is 51. The organ music seems more in keeping with films much older than this. Despite lower production values the movie remains relevant because of the ways it can be interpreted. For instance, zombie bites cause infection and zombies can be killed by destroying the brain. Does that symbolically mean speech coming from the mouth converts a person and it’s an idea in their head that motivates their actions? Regardless of interpretations…

I give this enduring classic 5 out of 6 reels.

A Slice of Fright Film Fest 2019 – Mini Reel Reviews – Pt 2

Back with part 2 of 3!!

Patina

John’s(Matt Kelly) order has finally arrived and he’s beyond excited. He has bought a robot named Patina(Alan Maxson) and can’t wait to show it to his wife, Alexa(Annabel Barrett). Alexa isn’t amused, however, as Patina is malfunctioning and it’s getting worse as the day goes on.

Sci-fi has always been a good companion to horror and Patina, directed by Alan Maxson, is no different. The genres blend together seamlessly with a dash of dark comedy added to the mix. While we’ve seen rouge artificial intelligence stories before it’s the overall execution that pulls Patina together. The acting is exceptional with all three actors playing off each other nicely whether it be for laughs or for scares. The sound design is also terrific with Patina’s movements sounding both prehistoric and futuristic. Patina is fantastic on all fronts and is highly recommended for any lover of the sci-fi/horror genre.

I give Patina 6 out of 6 reels.

The Soul Collector

The hunter(Michael May) is collecting souls when he happens on the home of his next victims. As the hunter approaches a wife(Tierney Michon) is preparing to shower while her husband(Travis Cox) is watching television with their children. A surprise awaits when he finds this family isn’t as helpless as they seem.

With The Soul Collector director Nick Peterson has made a sci-fi/horror short that is absolutely oozing with style. The art direction stands out and it’s this uniqueness that gives The Soul Collector a memorable quality. The story, which begins as a standard slasher movie, goes places that are certainly unexpected. Some may question the use of the art style for the entire film as it creates some mild confusion, but it doesn’t take away from the quality of the film or the excitement it elicits.

I give The Soul Collector 5 out of 6 reels.

Verso

A deranged man(Nicholas Badamo) is attacking the poor patrons of a bar. No. . . wait, now he is dancing seductively with a woman(Christi Perovski). Watch as an intriguing story unfolds that is unlike anything considered normal.

A film difficult to critique due to how it unfolds, Verso is full of charisma, attitude, and mystery. Directors Ryan Russell Steele and Joseph Victor have created Verso in an interesting way that not only progresses the story, but also uniquely shifts the genre of the film. Morphing the genre not just in the moment, but of the film in its entirety. Verso has interesting art house decisions that may turn off some viewers, but the choices made were for the overall vision and enhancement of the film.

I give Verso 5 out of 6 reels.

The Reapers

Razaphel(Tanner Sells) is having terrible dreams. Nightmares of a group that call themselves the reapers. Razaphel tells his grandmother, Marion(Jami Cullen), about the nightly terrors hoping for an explanation. Marion’s sympathy soon turns to excitement as she knows exactly what Razaphel’s dreams are prophesying.

Directed by Gin Wills, The Reapers is a fantasy horror film that is full of rich lore. On the surface, The Reapers is your standard “I’ve had a bad dream” tale where little info is given about what is going on. In The Reapers, however, you receive an explanation for the nightmares. The audience gets answers for many questions, but also leaves enough mystery for future installments. The overall quality of The Reapers is rough, but the imagination and creativity remain unaffected. This should help in the making of future films should they be made.

I give The Reapers 3 out of 6 reels.

Apollyon

After locking up for the evening a janitor(Jimmy Doom) begins the job of cleaning the local church. After a while he finds that he’s not along when he finds a mysterious woman sitting among the pews. Politely asking her to leave proves dangerous when a devastating chain of events begins.

Apollyon, directed by Bret Miller, is a horror story that delivers a strong message about issues in today’s society. It’s a slow burn, but the tension builds perfectly as Apollyon leads to its last act. The story that Apollyon conveys builds nicely, weaving perfectly with the building tension. It’s societal message comes across unobtrusively, not being thrown in the viewers face. The suffocating tension melding with the intense plot leads to a conclusion that is a deafening crescendo of horror.

I give Apollyon 6 out of 6 reels.

Arcanus

Everything is perfectly normal in the household of a father(Jesus Andres De Dios), mother(Virginia Nolting), and their son(Felix Martin Lobato). Sure strange events are occurring in the neighborhood but nothing to be really worried about, right?

Sometimes people are so fixated on daily activities that they don’t notice the world around them. This is especially true of children and in Arcanus, directed by Fernando Ruiz, we get exactly that. A film that is extremely jarring in it’s scary moments, Arcanus has some very unique jump scares. Through the use of electronic music (think Aphex Twin and Squarepusher) and quick camera cuts to disturbing imagery, Arcanus delivers us these creative scares. Though the story could give us a bit more answers about what’s going on, Arcanus still delivers a slick presentation with plenty of style.

I give Arcanus 4 out of 6 reels.

Long Overdue 

The cabal leader(John Creedon) is finally ready to resurrect the long dead king. All he needs to do is recite some phrases from the sacred texts. Now where did he put those stubborn sacred texts?

A micro comedy/horror directed by Emmet O’Brien Long Overdue takes a moment we’ve all had, realizing we’ve lost something, and turns it into a hilarious short. The amount of lore and world building packed into Long Overdue is impressive, seeing as it’s only a minute long. The film relies solely on one premise, however, and it would have been nice to see a few more quick jokes thrown in. This doesn’t distract from Long Overdue’s quality and by the end of the film any audience will be laughing out loud.

I give Long Overdue 5 out of 6 reels.

Bequeathed 

Michael North(Cliff Beverly) is having a very stressful day. He has just skipped his fathers funeral and the reading of his will. Micheal is soon visited by Phil Carter(Steve Ledyard), a representative of his father’s affairs. It seems that Micheal’s father left him an important item. An item that will change Michael’s perspective on life forever.

In the first minutes of Bequeathed we get what many horror movies are unable to do in an hour by establishing a gripping plot that hooks the audience. Both director Michael McCallum and actors Cliff Beverly and Steve Ledyard are able to create a story that is rich with potential. When the scares begin to take hold not only are they terrifying but they also work to further the lore. In the end a few to many questions are left unanswered, which may cause some confusion. A minor criticism though because Bequeathed still leaves the viewer with an eerie sense of suspense and unease.

I give Bequeathed 5 out of 6 reels.

Midnight Visitor

The past few nights a woman(Janissa Saracino) is plagued by a stranger who is attempting to enter her locked apartment. Her doorknob turns back and forth as she is stricken with fear. Upon seeing that her neighbor(Dre Soule) is experiencing the same phenomenon, she lets the stranger inside. . . 

What begins as a straightforward horror concept of attempted home invasion turns toward the mysterious and weird in Midnight Visitor. Directed by Abby Brenker, Midnight Visitor has one of the more interesting ideas you’re like to see for a horror movie antagonist. The film creates a otherworldly setting that imbues a lingering sense of creepiness in the viewer. Questions about the Midnight Visitor will be with the audience long after the film has ended.

I give Midnight Visitor 4 out of 6 reels.

El Bano 3

A woman(Freespirit_Mace) is out for a walk when she stumbles upon some skeletal remains. Instead of contacting the authorities she gets entranced by a jewel that she finds on the body. A jewel that is both precious and deadly.

A horror short directed by Studi Yo Bless, El Bano 3 plays out like a classic fairy tale. Similar to old horror stories told around the campfire, El Bano 3 will send shivers down your spine. Most people have had the urge to take abandoned items of value and in this way El Bano 3 is a cautionary tale. The film is a modern take on this story, done with a style and grace that makes it more approachable for a newer audience. While the low-budget may turn off some viewers El Bano 3 still has a nostalgic old school charm.

I give El Bano 3 3 out of 6 reels.

Stay tuned for PART 3 of 3 – A SLICE OF FRIGHT Film Fest 2019 Mini Reel Reviews!

A Slice of Fright 2019 – Mini Reel Reviews – Pt 1

Mark Kelly is BAAAACK with more mini Reel Reviews! This time Mark’s reviewing all of the films showcased at A SLICE OF FRIGHT Film Festival 2019!

Ding. . . You’re Dead

A man(Trevor Larson), who is dog sitting for a friend, decides to enjoy a nice microwave lasagna. It’s after retrieving his delicious dish that he realizes strange things are occurring. 

As scary as it is funny, Ding. . . You’re Dead is an excellent addition to the horror/comedy genre. Jay Salahi does a great job directing by setting up frightening set pieces, while adding bits of humor in just the right places. Also, Trevor Larson’s very expressive performance is priceless and really adds to the laughs. Ding. . . You’re Dead does tend to land on the goofy side of comedy, but that doesn’t take anything away from the quality.

I give Ding. . . You’re Dead 5 out of 6 reels.

The Animator

Little clay men are at the mercy of their creator. . . The Animator!

A delightful dark comedy about the claymation process, The Animator is a really fun watch. Think of being a kid and the joy of toppling over a tower of blocks you’ve just constructed. Now think more gruesome, as you’re destroying things you’ve made out of clay. This is The Animator. Also, director Trent Shy deserves a round of applause as any foray into the world of claymation can be very work intensive and tedious.

I give The Animator 6 out of 6 reels

In Good Health

Marshall(Bryan Landon) has just gotten back from vacation with his girlfriend Val(Rachel M. Beck). As usual with seemingly every vacation Marshall has become very ill. Val leaves and wishes him well but all seems hopeless as he calls sick into work. That is until along comes a spider.

Directed by Jerrod Rachow, In Good Health is a little light on the horror but makes up for that by telling a truly bizarre tale. In the beginning we get some nice aerial shots, which sets the proper mood. The acting, while not outstanding, is good enough to set up an investment in the characters. What follows is a story that is strange and unique. While the ending could have used a little more explanation, In Good Health definitely leaves the audience a sense of unease and dread.

I give In Good Health 4 out of 6 reels

Watch Out

A boy(Ayman Boulahrouz) goes to his grandfathers (Fred Van Der Hilst) after school. As he waits for his mother to return home the boy begins to notice that his grandfather is acting strangely. He doesn’t seem himself and the odd behavior is rapidly escalating.

A look into the world of a real fear that we all share, Watch Out is a horror film directed by Shariff Nasr. The fear of finding a loved one isn’t who they say they are is relatable and makes Watch Out all the more horrifying. The pacing in this film is incredible, giving little morsels of scares along the way until the big feast at the end. While we’ve seen most of these scares before Shariff Nasr puts a personal touch to each scenario, making each unique.

I give Watch Out 5 out of 6 reels

Vanishing Point

Abbey(Gwen Marcello) is having a hard time going to sleep after being tucked in for bed. She’s hearing strange noises and both her mother(Andrea Zenovia) and father(Andrew Mitakides) don’t want to believe she’s crazy. Maybe there is some truth to the claims, however, as an evil begins to slowly spread.

In Vanishing Point director Michael R. Shea introduces us to a world that, at first glance, appears small and fairly simple. Quickly it opens up into something that is much more large and terrifying. Relying on scares that are otherworldly rather than practical, Vanishing Point frightens viewers with thoughts of the unknown. Even though the overall production is rough around the edges it’s the unsettling feeling that Vanishing Point leaves us with that matters most.

I give Vanishing Point 4 out of 6 reels.

Grave Sight

Two grave robbers, Tanya(Holly Stevens) and Preston(Craig Gunn), are looking to get rich quick by scoring some precious jewels. It’s soon clear they are not professionals as they begin to flub up every step of the process with hilarious results.

Directed by Angus Swantee and Walter Forsyth, Grave Sight is a dark comedy that is funny while also containing some pretty disturbing gore. The script is well written delivering plenty of laughs with the constant bickering between the two grave robbers, Tanya and Preston. The situation gets even more hilarious and we get some great physical comedic bits in the process. The ending is something to behold when an evil character enters, spectacularly performed by Dale Bellefontaine. Grave Sight is a little light on the scares but it definitely shines in terms of its comedic and entertainment value. 

I give Grave Sight 5 out of 6 reels.

The Scarf

A grandmother(Margaret Elsesser) and her granddaughter(Shannon Grant) are enjoying each other’s company by knitting some scarves. When the conversation turns to problems she is having at school, the granddaughter gets some grandmotherly advice. Remember, grandmothers always know best.

The Scarf, directed by Neil Willoughby, is a unique film in that a full description of the genre would be best left unheard by a first time viewer. However, saying this is a horror tale doesn’t give much away as very early on we get some quality scenes of all out terror. It’s the ending that needs kept under wraps, as it puts a nice bow on the entire short. The acting is a little over the top at times, which makes the story a bit confusing, but it all comes together nicely at the end.

I give The Scarf 4 out of 6 reels.

Hypnosis 

A man(Damien Reynal) is chasing a woman(Flore Vannier-Moreau) down a deserted street in the middle of the night. At least that’s what it seems. We soon find that there is more to this story that what meets the eye.

Directors Gregoire Vaillant and Charles-Edouard Dangelser take a different approach to the “damsel in distress being chased by a male assailant” horror troupe in the thriller Hypnosis. The chase scenes are well done as they build high tension in the action portrayed on the screen. Previous story bits are woven nicely throughout the chase, giving the viewer a back story to what’s going on. The ending is satisfying, wrapping up the immediate questions that need addressing while leaving others unanswered. Hypnosis is a great short to watch multiple times, as you catch little things in each play through that you may have missed before.

I give Hypnosis 6 out of 6 reels.

Siren

A woman(Denise Hill) goes to investigate some music being played in her attic before going to bed. What sounds like a soothing tune quickly becomes something much more sinister.

Directed by Jess Vande Zande, Siren is a micro horror short that answers the question, “What is that weird noise in the attic?”. It delivers an ending that is enjoyable for any fan of old school creature features. What Siren lacks for in budget it makes up in the creative design of all the frightening features found in the creepy attic.

I give Siren 3 out of 6 reels.

Bump in the Night (Jason Interview)

Hosts Da Boogie Man(Johnny Zuko) and The Crypt Keepers Mistress(Ginger Snap) are back with another captivating interview. Today’s guest? The one and only hockey mask wearing terror of Camp Crystal Lake himself, Jason Voorhees!

Bump in the Night, directed by Mizz Moist, is a film that plays out like a dark horror comedy sketch. Something that could have been on Kids in the Hall or The State, we see a premise that is hilarious to watch due to its absurdity. The star of the show, Jason Voorhees, was done exceptionally well and looks like he is ripped straight off the set of one of his cult films. Laughs, horror, and gore we get it all in Bump in the Night.

I give Bump in the Night (Jason Interview) 4 out of 6 reels.

STAY-TUNED FOR PARTS 2-3!

Knoxville Suds &Cinema – Mini Reel Reviews Pt 2

We’re back with Mark Kelly’s mini reel reviews of the remaining SUDS & CINEMA – Knoxville short film selections!

Cheeto

A man(Cody Lovorn) encounters a major dilemma. Should he or should he not eat the delicious snack he has found lying on the floor?

Directed by Cody Lovorn, Cheeto is a comedic micro short. What Cheeto lacks in terms of story it makes up for in quality and entertainment. A hilarious look into a moment that everybody has probably experienced, 

I give Cheeto 3 out of 6 reels.

Don’t Die

After an evening of browsing the internet, doing some research on purchasing a home security system, a man(Cody Lovorn) decides to call it a night. As he heads for bed, however, he soon realizes that his decision to install a security system may have come to late.

A film directed by Cody Lovorn, Don’t Die is a frightening look into the horror sub genre of home invasion. Close attention is payed to the setup of specific shots, which leads to an authentic feeling of fear without resorting to jump scares. Due to the high quality of the filmmaking and the subject being highly relatable, 

I give Don’t Die 6 out of 6 reels.

Foreword

Novelist Jared Draybeck(Michael McCallum) is going through a rough time. He’s got a bad case of writers block and the relationship with his partner Jalynne(Rachel Mender) is crumbling. Jared plans a long session of writing at his friend Davids(Wolf Hogan) house where he reads the most important piece of fan mail he’s ever received.

Foreword is a mind bending tale of jealousy and revenge directed by Michael McCallum. The plot and excellent way in which the director leads us through the story are what makes Foreword intriguing. Some questions were purposely left unanswered which supports a sense of mystery and suspense. The acting is not a strong part of Foreword, but doesn’t distract from the film. 

I give Foreword 5 out of 6 reels.

Voice in the Radio

Kevin(Vince Hobart Smith) is trying to find meaning in his life and of a voice(Haydn Wolfie Koeller) that he hears. A voice that has reassured in the past, but is now asking more of Kevin. A voice that comes out of an old, static filled radio.

Voice in the Radio is a drama directed by JW Cox. It’s a moving look at a mans search for the meaning behind a mysterious voice he hears on an old radio. Effective acting is an essential element to many dramas and Voice in the Radio doesn’t disappoint. Vince Hobart Smith does a terrific job as Kevin and he goes to incredible places with the smartly written script. While the film does walk the line in being overly dramatic in delivering its message, 

I still give Voice in the Radio 4 out of 6 reels.

Papa

A father(Curt Willis) encounters a strange being(Kristin Cochell) in the woods. A strange being that threatens to destroy his wife(Chloe Zeitounian), daughter(Ava Culpepper), and his own sanity.

Papa, a folk horror film directed by Brain Peery, is a terrifying look at a mans mind slowly disintegrating and the destructive relationship with his family. In nuanced fashion we see how a variety of relationships, whether it be man/nature, wife/husband, or daughter/father, can begin to crumble. The acting, the writing and the cinematography were all done with great care in furthering the disturbing story. 

I give Papa 6 out of 6 reels.

Self Checkout

At the grocery store a customer(Tyler Broadway) walks to the self checkout, ready to ring up his items. As we all know, sometimes these machines do some pretty weird things. It’s almost as if they have a life of their own.

A hilarious comedy directed by Hanson Devil, Self Checkout is a slightly off kilter look at the self checkout process, in which most of us know the problems. Self Checkout is an absurdist take on one of these scenarios. The jokes are well written and come at a brisk pace. Tyler Broadway’s over the top delivery also contrasts well with Megan Jones’s dry humor as the self check automated voice. 

I give Self Checkout 5 out of 6 reels.

Suds & Cinema Knoxville – Mini Reel Reviews – Pt 1

CinemaSlice is proud to have showcased so many awesome short films at SUDS & CINEMA – Knoxville! Join Mark Kelly as he writes a mini Reel Review on each of the official film selections for this event.

Hunted

A young woman, who is walking through the woods, suddenly notices that someone is following her. Who is following her and will she be able to escape?

A micro horror film directed by Seth Young, Hunted is an effectively scary thriller. Based on being chased by an ominous danger, it plays on our real fears. Hunted feels lacking in story due to the length but in doing so it leaves the viewer haunted by the questions it leaves unanswered.

I give Hunted 3 out of 6 reels.

Tennis

A game of tennis turns into an epic battle for the ages as Jordan(Chance McDuffy) faces of against his overly eager buddy Nick(Greg Collins).

A comedy directed by Logan Solana, Tennis is a hilarious look at two buddies in a “friendly” competition. Jordan and Nick are instantly likable characters that play well off each other due to their contradicting personalities. The writing is fine, but what really shines here is the physical comedy and timing. The joke delivery is spot on and the level of absurdity is appropriate.

I give Tennis 4 out of 6 reels.

Drop Frame

While working on a nature program a producer(Forrest Ferguson) and an editor(Jamie Hickman) encounter something strange. Is it a glitch in the equipment or is something more otherworldly occurring.

Drop Frame is a suspense/mystery film directed by Philip Tatler IV. Although some might classify this as horror, Drop Frame is different. Instead of bombarding the viewer with jump scares and gore, it leaves the viewer with a sense of unease and dread. You’re never quite sure exactly what is going on and just when you think you do Drop Frame gets even weirder. Playing out like a classic episode of Twilight Zone, Drop Frame doesn’t disappoint.

I give Drop Frame 6 out of 6 reels.

Back to the Drawing Board

Using their newly acquired ability of travel time a group of friends, Hannah(Hannah Riddle), Nicholas(Nicholas Mariano), Justin(Justin Simerly), and James(James Maines) try to change past events for a better future. What actually ends up happening is something more hilarious than heroic.

A sci-fi comedy directed by John Queener & Gabe Hobbs, Back to the Drawing Board is a hilarious look into the world of time travel gone wrong. The comedic writing in Back to the Drawing Board is great with the jokes coming at a fast pace. Even with the unrealistic elements of time travel, the script remains grounded and relatable. Although the delivery and timing could have used some work and we’ve seen time travel done in this way before, Back to the Drawing Board is entertaining nonetheless.

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I give Back to the Drawing Board 4 out of 6 reels.

I Will Not Disappear

Alan(Merrit Brakebill, Paul Smith) is reminiscing of past experiences with his wife Victoria(Heather Arnwine, Sarah Smith). In their golden years, Victoria’s memories are slowly disappearing as she struggles to remember the past.

I Will Not Disappear is a heartfelt and emotional drama directed by Jared Sutton. A relatable film for those with loved ones dealing with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, I Will Not Disappear will tug on the heartstrings. The cinematography and direction are on a top-tier level and the acting is phenomenal. While many films of the past have covered this same topic, I Will Not Disappear is certainly among the greats.

I give I Will Not Disappear 5 out of 6 reels.

The Workout

During a rigorous Zumba session at the local YMCA tragedy strikes when a man goes into cardiac arrest. Never fear as there is somebody magical in the class to save the day. 

An absurdist comedy directed by Chris Rodgers, The Workout is an enjoyable film that relies heavily on its core premise. The writing and acting, while not outstanding, are woven expertly to serve this premise. Though not really relatable in any way to everyday life, The Workout is still a fun and entertaining watch.

I give The Workout 3 out of 6 reels.

Stay Tuned for PART 2!!

The Rise of Valhalla – Reel Review

It’s the last months of WWII and Germany is in shambles as the allied forces are closing in on the country. The Nazi party is desperate and willing to do anything to turn the tide of the war. German soldiers are ransacking the entire country and after a few alterations with the locals that end in tragedy, a group of German resistance fighters is born. They begin to track a group of Nazi soldiers lead by General Wolff. General Wolff, however, has been busy with much more than looting German homes and killing Jews. The resistance soon discover General Wolff has attempted to raise the dead by opening the gates of Valhalla.

Directed by Daniel Konze, The Rise of Valhalla is a feature-length horror/war drama. Due to the subject and genre that it encapsulates, The Rise of Valhalla isn’t exactly a comfortable film to view. It, however, is definitely a well executed one. In terms of cinematography and setting the mood, The Rise of Valhalla is a masterclass. Careful attention is shown to the location, costuming, and sound design. It feels as though you are actually experiencing the horrors of war. The resistance fighters form a fantastic ensemble. Hermann (Thomas Binder), Wilhelm (Mario Kaspras), Ludwig (Fabio Sorgini), Paul (Marc Bluhm), Leopold (Armin Barwich) and Gustav (Javier Wolf) all do excellent jobs in the tough setting given and the challenging emotions they portray. Without any spoilers, the last act of the film has some top-notch practical gore effects that are stunning to behold.

Some criticisms I have with The Rise of Valhalla have to do with issues in the pacing of the film and its script. There are many scenes in the middle part of the film where we are traveling with the resistance. It’s during these scenes were the film slows down to an uncomfortably slow pace. To help reduce this slower pace, more dialogue for the characters could have helped. The resistance don’t seem to connect much during their journey, and it’s during these slow moments that more bonding could have occurred.

The Rise of Valhalla tells a great alternate history tale that mixes in moments of suspense and horror. At times the pacing felt slow, and with more dialogue the resistance could have developed more emotional bonds. Despite this the cinematography, costuming and sound design work together nicely bringing a convincing portrait of WWII. The finale is a riveting and harrowing portrayal of all out madness.

I give The Rise of Valhalla 4 out of 6 Reels.

A Slice of Fright – Season 2 DVD NOW AVAILABLE!

It’s finally here, Slicers!

CinemaSlice has produced a DVD including all 30 episodes of A Slice of Fright (short horror anthology series), AVAILABLE NOW on DVD at CinemaSlice.com/Store!

Season 2 DVD!

This DVD is PACKED full of short horror films! A collection of 30 short horror films on 1 DVD:

Season 01
• Death
• Encouragement
• The Glitchening
• Hell to Pay
• The Naughty List
• Prize Inside
• Splatter Up!
• The Cave
• The Driver
• Trash Day
• Trick-or-treat

Season 02
• Doppelganger
• Missed Message
• Tradition
• Jackpot
• Confession
• Stranded
• Soothing
• Sirens
• Love Sick
• Chivalry’s Dead
• America’s next top
serial killer model
• Passing Through
• AM/FM/H
• O Tidings of Joy

Head over to CinemaSlice.com/Store NOW to order your piece of CinemaSlice history NOW!

Investigation:Death – Reel Review

Gary Cowden (Mike Neider), AKA: The Bicuspid Killer, is the next subject examined in the hit crime series Investigation: Death. In this episode, titled I Dated a Serial Killer, they look into Gary’s techniques as a murderer. He enjoys luring women on dating websites in order to meet with them. Meetings in which Gary has murderous intent. On one date he meets Karen Davies (Dawn Marie Hughes), a woman whom Gary plans to take home. He has noticed that Karen has beautiful teeth. Gary soon finds out, however, that Karen Davies isn’t like his other victims. In fact Karen may be much more disturbed than even Gary himself.

Written and directed by Jeremy Allen, Investigation: Death is a short horror/dark comedy. Leaning into both genres, Investigation: Death will have the viewer grimacing one minute and chuckling with laughter the next. Switching genres is also Investigation: Deaths strongest element. It subverts the audiences expectations of what they are watching, moving from genre to genre with an exceptional directorial hand. The writing is well done with the comedic bits being a highlight. The acting is also noteworthy and the entire cast does an exceptional job. Mike Neider is outstanding as Gary Cowden, a creepy villain that will stick with the viewer long after watching.

Not many criticisms come to mind as I had an entertaining time with this film. With such a creative team it would be interesting, however, to see this idea revisited with a larger budget. This may not be possible, but it would be neat to see Investigation: Death with an overall polish that a larger budget could bring.

Overall Investigation: Death was an awesome watch. Both deeply disturbing and funny it hit all the notes of a good short. Although a little rough around the edges, it was fantastic in terms of direction, writing, and acting. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys serial killer horror and hilarious dark comedy.

I give Investigation: Death 5 out of 6 reels.

https://youtu.be/hZu5c6GRLcA

Tales of Frankenstein – Reel Review

A portrait handed down through the generations. A portrait of a doctor who is widely known across the globe. A doctor obsessed with giving life to his own creation. His name was Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his family tree has grown large. His legacy has spidered along the branches of this tree with certain family members continuing his vile experiments. Each believes they have perfected the techniques of the past. However, can the perfect solution be found to a question that was never intended to be asked?

Directed by Donald F. Glut, Tales of Frankenstein is a collection of four short horror tales. Done in the style of great anthologies such as Creepshow and V.H.S., Tales of Frankenstein connects each tale with a through line. All of the stories were interesting, because each was done in a unique style that represented the location and time period where the short takes place. The through line is the weakest element of Tales of Frankenstein, but I’ll get to that later. First we’ll visit each story and I’ll give my reaction to each.

First is My Creation, My Beloved which tells how Dr. Gregore Frankenstein (Buddy Daniels Friedman) attempts to bring back his former love, Irma. With Irma’s brain and the additional help of local morgue worker Herr Hussman (Tad Atkinson) and prostitute Helga (Lilian Lev), Gregore hopes to carry out this task. I felt like this was the weakest story of the four tales. It wasn’t as unique as the others and seemed to stick to a more traditional storytelling approach. It was well done technically, however, with good direction and great gore effects. Also I felt this had the strongest acting ensemble, with a very creepy performance by Tad Atkinson as Herr Hussman.

Second is Crawler from the Grave where Vincent (John Blyth Barrymore) becomes obsessed with his neighbors, Lenore Frankenstein (Tatiana DeKhtyar) and Helmut Frankenstein (Len Wein). Vincent’s obsession stems from his love of precious and rare gems. A recently deceased Helmut owned such a gem, which he wore on his finger. Vincent then proceeds with a grave robbing plot that may give him problems due to Helmut’s experiments. Experiments intended to give himself everlasting life. With a strong story, awesome special effects, and very creepy visuals this was my favorite of the anthology. No criticism for Crawler from the Grave as it was solid from start to finish.

Next up is Madhouse of Death. Private Detective Jack Anvil (Jamisin Matthews) takes shelter at an old house when his car breaks down right before an approaching storm. It’s there that he meets Dr. Mortality (Mel Novak) and his butler, Mogambo (T.J. Storm). Dr. Mortality has a plan for Jack, a plan that may involve Jack losing his mind. The most funny and absurd of the four shorts. It was a delight watching as the characters came out, each more odd and eccentric than the last. The serious noire style really worked and was a great juxtaposition to the craziness. The mixing of crazy characters and different genres won’t be for everyone, but was very effective nonetheless.

Lastly is Dr. Karnstein’s Creation in which Dr. Heinrich Karnstein (Jim Tavare) recruits local bar fly Carl (Justin Hoffmeister). Carl needs money and will do anything for Dr. Heinrich. Even if that involves creating a bloodthirsty unstoppable super soldier. Like the last three tales Dr. Karnstein’s Creation is a quality short in all departments. What makes this one stand out, however, is the ending. For all the creature lovers out there this short is for you. The abomination at the end is a sight to behold.

As mentioned earlier, my biggest criticism with this anthology is the lack of a more substantial through line. Essentially the Frankenstein family lineage and the handed down portrait are all we get. While this is in no way a deal breaker it was a bit of a letdown. Each short was really good though, with a great mixture of different genres and film styles. I love a good anthology and I believe this one stands right along with all the classics.

I give Tales of Frankenstein 5 out of 6 reels.