(Message to readers: Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is a prequel to Claymation Zombies. In writing these reviews I watched them in chronological order and the opinions in the reviews reflect the order in which I watched them.)
Abigail(Kenna Coy) has a special set of powers. After being brought to Dr. Molder’s(Jim Gloyd) research facility she begins a series of tests. Dr. Molder is a leader in the field of telekinesis and believes that he can help Abigail reach her full potential. Unfortunately for Abigail, Dr. Molders latest experiments haven’t gone as planned and he needs funding to continue his research. Emilio Andswarth(Gabriel Kirk) is now bankrolling Dr. Molder’s work and is especially interested in the Chromatron Conductor, a device that, in theory, should focus an individual’s telekinetic powers. The device’s results have proven disastrous in human trails but Emilio Andswarth isn’t concerned. If left unchecked, Emilio might cause an outbreak of claymation zombies.
Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is a comedy/sci-fi horror short directed by Jake Jolley. Wildly inventive and original, CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles really shines in being consistently captivating due to Jake Jolley’s imagination. The deadpan comedy is a star of the film as we get combinations of wacky and serious characters that play off of each other beautifully. A scene with a special investigation officer taking long sips off her absurdly large water thermos is a great example of this humor. Gabriel Kirk is a standout in the film and does a fantastic job as the bumbling antagonist Emilio Andswarth. The claymation effects also deserve some recognition as they are hard to pull off and commendable when attempted in any film.
A criticism I have with CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is with the overly complex story. It feels as if to many elements were chaotically packed into the short runtime. During a first watch I had only a vague idea what was going on. I was more interested in the character portrayals then I was in what they were doing. Upon a second and third viewing I started to piece together what was going on, but still was pretty confused. I realize this is a comedy and the plot is purposely wacky on a certain level. However, among the craziness, I would also like clear motivations and reasons for when things happen which I feel the film could have worked on.
Overall, Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles was a decent comedy/sci-fi horror short. While the plot was confusing I did appreciate the work put into the character development, the comedic performances of each actor, and the claymation animation put into the film. I would recommend CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles to anyone who enjoys B movies that have a creative take on the zombie sub genre.
I give Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles 3 out of 6 reels.
(Message to readers: Claymation Zombies: The Dr. Molder Chronicles is a prequel to Claymation Zombies. In writing these reviews I watched them in chronological order and the opinions in the reviews reflect the order in which I watched them.)
Dr. Molder(Jim Gloyd) wants to expose the dangers of his experiments. While his intentions where good, the negatives far exceeded the positives. During a meeting with local reporter Ted(Bill Jolley) an accident occurs and a claymation zombie outbreak starts to spread. Meanwhile, at a nearby comic shop, Jack(Jake Jolley) is handing out free comics. He runs into his buddy Cassidy(Justin Little) who is running from the zombie hoard. They soon meet up with Sheriff Locke(David Ogrodowski) and his small band of survivors. Together they must travel through the woods to the sheriffs pickup truck and hopefully escape the claymation monstrosities.
Director Jake Jolley is back with another installment of his apocalyptic claymation tale. Claymation Zombies is a survival comedy/horror short that continues the exploits of Dr. Molder and his ill-fated experiments. This short takes everything from CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles and shapes it into a more coherent whole. It accomplishes this without losing any of the imagination and creativity of the first film. The comedy is still deadpan and funny, with everyone delivering great lines during the absurd situations they are in. Sheriff Locke, portrayed by David Ogrodowski, is a standout being consistently funny throughout. The claymation effects are back and more prevalent than ever as zombies explode across the screen in showers of blood and clay.
A criticism that I had with CZ: The Dr. Molder Chronicles was the complicated plot that was hard to follow. Claymation Zombies sticks to a simpler story that focuses mostly on the survival of the characters as they make their way to the sheriff’s truck. This plot structure works for me better, as I would rather focus on the comedy and claymation elements of the film. At the end of the day, Claymation Zombies is still a low-budget B movie comedy horror. These types of films are quite polarizing with audiences. Simply put, you either love them or hate them. Claymation Zombies, while being creative and imaginative, doesn’t really break any new ground and is still for a specific type of audience.
Claymation Zombies is a quality entry in the Dr. Molder storyline. It simplifies the plot while maintaining the laughs and absurd moments from the prequel. Claymation Zombies is for a specific type of audience, however, with opinions of the short being divided. I recommend Claymation Zombies for anyone who enjoys a funny apocalyptic zombie flick filled with great clay animation.
Joe(Joe Covarrubias), his wife, son Landen(Landen Covarrubias), and family dog Bailey finally escaped the house that terrorized them for weeks. They believed that they had left behind the sadistic Larry Adams and his ever-present walking cane. Unfortunately, Joe slowly began to realize that this wasn’t the case. He saw Larry Adams everywhere he went, continually being haunted by his presence. When Bailey dies under mysterious circumstances Joe decides that he must go back. Deep down, he wants to go back. Joe has to learn more about Larry Adams and the demonic presence that seems to surround him. Once again Joe must enter the Unwelcoming House.
Joe Covarrubias, director of The Unwelcoming House, is back in this superbly creepy sequel, The Unwelcoming House 2. Done in the same found footage/documentary style as the first installment The Unwelcoming House 2 ups the ante in a few key areas. First off, the pacing of this film is better. Joe goes back to his earlier home for a week and the nights are clearly delineated for the viewer. This layout makes the move forward fun for the audience as the tension and scares build throughout the movie at a brisk pace. Secondly, the mystery surrounding the house and Larry Adams is better explained giving the viewer context as to what’s going on. The pacing and detailed back story lead to scares that would impress any fan of the found footage horror genre.
A couple of criticisms I have with The Unwelcoming House 2 are ones similar to that of the previous installment. Once again, the story has plot holes that could have been better explained. One is the fact that an entire house filled with valuable items is abandoned. This is barely addressed and no matter how scared Joe was it’s hard to believe he would never try to retrieve some of these items. Another unfortunate problem is with the ending. A tactic that Joe has previously used throughout the films now seems to get him results, without explanation. Because of this the final confrontation feels anticlimactic to a certain degree.
Overall, The Unwelcoming House 2 is a successful sequel in The Unwelcoming House saga. It’s better paced, delivering well crafted scares that range from unnerving to horrifying. Some plot holes still remain but are fewer than there were in the original. For these reasons I recommend The Unwelcoming House 2 for fans of the original film wondering what ever became of Joe and his son Landen.
Joe (Joe Covarrubias) is a typical, run of the mill family man. He lives in Mount Pleasant, MI with his wife, son Landon (Landon Covarrubias), and Bailey the family dog. There’s only one problem plaguing this idyllic family. Something or someone has started to haunt their home. What started as harmless noises, such as footsteps and eerie creaking, has escalating into something much more sinister. Joe now has to protect his family by diving into the houses history. A history that has the potential to violently harm not only Joe but also the ones that he loves the most.
Directed by Joe Covarrubias, The Unwelcoming House is an intensely creepy and unnerving found footage horror film. Some notable aspects of this movie are the methods of filming and the superbly scary scenes that arise from this style. Found footage is the coined term for this type of movie, but it would be better described as a fictional documentary. Joe is shooting footage to document his ghostly findings and nobody is really “finding” his work. Due to this you get a more steady and deft hand guiding the camera. This gets rid of the distracting and sometimes annoying “shaky cam” style. Another appreciated aspect of this film is the way the delivery of the script. A natural way of speaking lends to more believable dialogue in found footage films and Joe really nails this performance.
One criticism of The Unwelcoming House is the strict adherence to the found footage horror formula. The film stays true to this blueprint and, in doing so, makes things a bit stale in terms of plot. Characters get explained away in convenient ways, a MacGuffin explains the demons ties to the home, and a few other elements echo popular found footage horror movies. None of these are deal breakers, however, as the film overall is impressive and technically well made.
The Unwelcoming House is a horrific and terrifying look into one chapter of a family’s struggle with a demonic entity. The story is an homage to found footage horror films of the past almost to a fault, but is technically proficient and the dialogue is expertly delivered. The Unwelcoming House is definitely a welcomed edition into the pantheon of found footage horror.
Cindy’s(Maddie Giorgio) big day has finally arrived. She is excited about her birthday and her mother(Merri Field Giorgio) has a special event planned. It’s a birthday party and the guests are starting to arrive. Jonas(Dylan Busch), one of the guests, gets out of the chauffeured limo and Cindy greets him at her front door. Jonas soon notices that no other guests are at the party. His suspicions further arise when Cindy tells him to go down to where the party is being held. Down into the basement.
Cindy’s Birthday Party, directed by August Aguilar, is a technically proficient and incredibly well acted horror short. The direction and writing are noteworthy due to the use of child actors in the film. It’s clear that Maddie Giorgio and Dylan Busch knew exactly what they were performing and that they had a full understanding of the story being told. The planning, along with some improvisation mixed in, seemed to work well as the children moved and talked very naturally in the environment. This fine acting along with an excellent buildup of tension and suspense in the plot are clear strong points in Cindy’s Birthday Party.
Some criticisms of Cindy’s Birthday Party are a lack of originality in the premise of the film and some unanswered questions which left a few holes in the plot. The celebratory atmosphere of the birthday party counteracted nicely with the ever-present creepiness of the story. Unfortunately, it also felt like a fancy dress being put on a basic “lambs being led to the slaughter” scenario. Perhaps if some questions were partly answered, like where are the birthday guest’s parents and who is the chauffeur bringing them, this may have livened things up. The mystery behind the thing in the basement, however, was fantastic and correctly was left to the imagination.
Cindy’s Birthday Party is a suspenseful and wonderfully acted horror short. It maintains the creepiness throughout and rarely relies on cheap jump scares. The plot is a tad basic which a few answered questions could have fixed, but the overall product is only slightly effected. A big recommendation to anyone who enjoys horror that slowly chills you to the bone.
Dad(Smithey Smithiggins) just brought home something special for his daughter(Whitney McRiverbottom). It’s a doll named Twinkle Daddy(Elmer McRiverbottom), designed to help the family get ready for Christmas. In reality, it’s a game intended to get children excited for Santa’s arrival. When mom(Darla Duodenum) notices that Twinkle Daddy seems to be moving on his own, however, the parents begin to wonder if it actually is “just a game”.
A surreal mix of comedy and horror set during the Christmas holiday, Shelf Elf is bizarre in all the best ways. The film is a unique and creative take on the popular Elf on the Shelf game. Director Brett Smith maintains a grounded feel to the film that counteracts nicely with the more fantastic elements. The actors also do a great job staying in character, considering the wacky premise. Kudos goes to the dad in the film for having to carry Twinkle Daddy around, which looked like an impressive feat.
I give Shelf Elf 6 out of 6 reels.
Kris Kringle(Matthew Sams) has fallen on hard times. After changing his name to Chris Bowdoen he now spends his time drinking beers and eating snacks. Even his buddies T-Spoon(Jazzy Jackson) and Re-Mote(Shane Egan) can’t seem to drag him out of his slump. It may take a Christmas miracle to get Kris back to his old gift delivering, bad ass basketball playing self.
Director Matthew Sams delivers a dark comedic gem in his holiday short Crushed Kringle. We have seen multiple versions of Santa Claus in movies over the years, but Matthew’s take is still unique. By being creative it allows the absurdist elements in the story to shine, making them all the more hilarious. The character work is excellent and pairs well with each actor’s great performance. The plot moves quickly, however, and may lose some viewers’ attention do to the crazy story. Despite this Crushed Kringle is still a hilarious look at the sometimes depressing Christmas season.
I give Crushed Kringle 5 out of 6 reels.
A family has decorated their house for the Christmas holiday. They also took the time to synchronize the lights in time with a classic holiday tune. Enjoy experiencing the sonic and visual spectacle they have created.
Delightful, clean, and well choreographed are some descriptors that come to mind when viewing House Music by animator Joe Doll. By blending two Christmas traditions, holiday music and house decoration, Joe has created something special. The build up in intensity is a nice touch, as it keeps the viewer interested until the end. While there is no story to speak of House Music is still entertaining, nonetheless.
I give House Music 4 out of 6 reels.
Sophia(Kelly Aston) and Adam(Nathan Oesterle) have a problem. Their son Hans(Samuel Gagliardi) has been an absolute terror and it’s only getting worse. That’s when Adam decides to tell Hans the tale of Krampusnacht. The night when Krampus(Brandon Despain) comes to get all the bad little boys and girls.
We have seen the legend of Krampus told in many films over the years. In Krampusnacht, directed by Pete Talamo, we get another version of this horror classic. The set design and cinematography in Krampusnacht are exceptional and gives the film a traditional Christmas flavor. The creature design is beastly and horrifying. The story falters, however, when it comes to the boy Hans. Samuel Gagliardi gives an amazing performance as Hans, but is given some over the top dialogue. The boy is amazingly rude and disobedient, which may distract some viewers while watching. Despite this Krampusnacht is still very scary and is another great entry in the Krampus lore.
I give Krampusnacht 4 out of 6 reels.
Last year Santa Claus(Kurt Salgat) didn’t give a certain little boy(Tobin Welborn) the bike he wanted. This year that boy has something in store for Santa.
In Naughty List, directed by Nathan Smith, Cindy Gaul, and Micheal Welborn, we get an interesting take on the naughty/nice list that Santa Claus uses when delivering presents. What would happen if a child didn’t agree with Santa’s assessment? Naughty List, although quite short, accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is unsettle the viewer. Naughty List is recommended to any horror fan that would enjoy seeing Santa having the tables turned on himself.
I give Naughty List 3 out of 6 reels.
A man(Ian Kevin Scott) enters a mysterious interview and starts an impossibly long questionnaire. A woman(Angela Pietropinto) tells him he must answer, accurately and thoroughly, the complete form before leaving. When the man is later locked in his testing room will he escape or forever be trapped in this place of perpetual limbo?
Alchemy, directed by Brandon Polanco, is a film that asks many questions while answering very few. That is left up to the viewer and, in many ways, is the point of the film. Alchemy is technically very well done. The acting, direction, cinematography and sound design are on point and help the viewer in forming their own meaning of the film. In the same way the man struggled to find a way out of the room, the viewer must struggle with finding their own explanations of the material presented. Alchemy can be a difficult watch, but you’ll find it stays with you long after. This is what makes it an important watch.
I give Alchemy 6 out of 6 reels.
Santa Comes Tonight
Santa Claus has arrived at one of the many stops during his Christmas Eve deliveries. It seems he has run into a pretty serious problem. He can’t get down the chimney!
Who doesn’t like a Christmas cartoon during the holidays? In Santa Comes Tonight you get exactly that. Animator Joe Doll does a fantastic job in taking Jolly Ole’ Saint Nick and giving him a distinctive personality during the short. This is impressive considering Santa has no dialogue, every movement being very crucial to the plot. Although it would have been nice to see more of Santa’s exploits Santa Comes Tonight will still delight fans of holiday Christmas animation.
Christmas is about to arrive and Brie(Gigi Henderson) is worried. She believes she has been naughty. Her concerns are soothed, however, by Santa Claus(Jamie Landau) himself as he is delivering her presents. When she discovers that Santa isn’t who he says he is Brie decides to take matters into her own hands.
Horror has a history of being paired with Christmas stories and in Naughty, directed by Shawn Driscoll, this pairing is pulled off to great effect. A cleverly written story, which keeps you questioning what’s coming next, combined with a creepy performance by Gigi Henderson makes for a horrifying Christmas film. Humor is also added to lighten the mood just enough to make the horror elements more digestible as some may not appreciate the gore.
I give Naughty 5 out of 6 reels.
This Present Situation: A Dark Christmas Comedy
After a freak accident during his Christmas Eve deliveries, Santa Claus(Kyle Vesey) has gone missing. He was last seen at the house of Little Jenny Lou(Ruby Doubtfire). So gather round the fireplace and listen to the rhyming narrator(Andrew Protopapas) as he tells us the tale of what befell Ol’ Saint Nick.
Directed by Alex Caperton, This Present Situation: A Dark Christmas Comedy is exactly what the title describes. It’s a dark comedy with a twist, as it’s also a musical. Well, a musical in that the narrator is reciting the entire story in rhyme. Like some musical inspired films this rhyming element can be polarizing. Since the comedy leans towards the fantastical, the rhyming element fits in perfectly. Similar to other Christmas classics like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, This Present Situation is a dark but delightfully funny watch.
I give This Present Situation: A Dark Christmas Comedy 5 out of 6 reels.
A woman(Haley Webb) struggles with feelings of pain and loss during the happiest day of the year, Christmas. She goes through the motions, contemplating her thoughts. How does one cope when the anniversary of a tragedy lands on a day of widespread celebration?
A dramatic short taking place during the Christmas holiday Joyeux Noël, directed by Haley Webb, takes a serious look at the joyous holiday. Beautifully narrated by Laettitia Guyot, the story of Joyeux Noël is relatable for many who have had tragic events happen during the holidays. Haley Webb’s performance is understated and helps the viewer to see her struggles and emotions. This great performance along with the wonderfully narrated story make for a powerful film.
I give Joyeux Noël 6 out of 6 reels.
The Green Jello Song from Thanksgiving: The Musical
It’s time for the grandest meal of the year. Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks for our blessings and the delicious food we are about to eat. What happens, however, when the meal has ended and the leftovers are ready to be put away?
Short and sweet, The Green Jello Song from Thanksgiving: The Musical is an amusing look into the life of a neglected side dish. Animators Sam & Allison are able to make you interested, laugh, and ultimately care for an untouched plate of food. It would be interesting to get more than a brief visit to this world. Despite the short time, however, The Green Jello Song is still highly enjoyable.
I give The Green Jello Song from Thanksgiving: The Musical 4 out of 6 reels.
Roger Blackstone(Robert Ellis Smith) is extending the olive branch to his estranged son Frank(Nick Gifford). He has invited Frank and his girlfriend Trisha(Lanecia Edmonds) for a Thanksgiving dinner. Things quickly fall apart as secrets revealed lead to some embarrassing and hilarious situations.
A short comedy about the craziness that occurs during family functions Thanksgiving, directed by Mike Messier, is an amusing look into these issues. The situations presented are funny although, at times, they do get over the top. This makes the events all the more quirky, but this style may not be for everyone. With every character being fleshed out and well acted it gives the audience a clear picture of their personality and motivations. Thanksgiving is recommended for anyone who enjoys a well done, dramatic comedy.
I give Thanksgiving 5 out of 6 reels.
A Geechee Christmas
Paul(Matthew Myers) has started a new life, one away from his ex wife Kandi(Denia Hamilton) and their children. Paul’s new family(Paula Walton, Teron Legare Taylor, and Damya Hamilton) are settling in for Christmas Eve unaware that Paul’s ex wife, Kandi, has a plan. It seems Paul hasn’t been the greatest father and Kandi’s scheme is set to give Paul a truly dysfunctional holiday.
Stressful situations can sometimes dominate the holidays and in A Geechee Christmas, directed by J. Paul The Demigod, we get a darkly comedic take on these problems. Setting up a dramatic scenario that wouldn’t be ideal for the holidays makes for a very interesting plot. It then gets even more engaging when a solution to this issue is made. This is when A Geechee Christmas brings the laughs although some may not see the humor due to the children in Paul’s new family being effected in the fallout. A Geechee Christmas is hilarious watch and would be recommended to fans of similar films like Bad Santa.
I give A Geechee Christmas 4 out of 6 reels.
Cookie the alien has a crazy Christmas tale for all the good boys and girls. It’s not your traditional holiday yarn as it’s being told from the moon and in the form of a rap video. Enjoy!
More of a music video than a traditional film Cookie’s Rap, directed by Alan Maxson, is a one of a kind experience. It’s a funny, totally absurd take on Santa Claus lore as rapped by Cookie, an alien from the moon. Obviously this description alone will make a lot viewers skeptical. If given the chance, however, Cookie’s Rap can be a highly entertaining watch. The creativity, character work, and storytelling are inventive to watch which makes Cookie’s Rap extremely original.
I give Cookie’s Rap 3 out of 6 reels.
O’Tidings of Joy
Santa Claus(Kurt Salgat) is giving a rare look into his workshop during the holiday season. Mrs. Emerson(Tonia Carrier) is finishing her tour and is wondering if her son is going to get his favorite video game. They decide to go to the back room and have a look. Santa’s elves, Pixie(Emily Roszatycki) and Mixie(Bruce Falcon), tag along seeming very excited. Maybe a little too excited.
O’Tidings of Joy, a horror short directed by Nic White & Micheal Welborn, is a frightening look into Santa Claus’s mysterious workshop. The film, similar to the Christmas classic Elf, embraces the Santa Claus lore by treating it as a factual element in a normal, realistic society. What’s intriguing about O’Tidings of Joy is the horror tinge it brings that most of these films lack. Santa’s home is unexplored and it isn’t that far-fetched to believe that something strange may be happening there. Although the overall quality is a little rough around the edges the creative plot alone is worth the watch.
A woman(Stella Ryan-Lozon) is concerned her life’s purpose may be in jeopardy. Eerie apparitions are tormenting her on an increasingly consistent basis. Will these ghostly visions impede her progress or will she break through these mental instabilities and continue her good work.
Playing like a greatest hits of horror sub genres Good Works, directed by DJ Remark, is a successful short film on many technical fronts. By combining great direction with a mysterious story written by Jason Orr the viewer gets suspenseful tense moments that will please fans of supernatural horror. Great cinematography by Adam Kurtz entwined with gory practical effects by Elizabeth Defelice will delight fans that crave a more realistic feel to their horror. These elements make Good Works an effective piece of scary cinema.
Some mild criticisms of Good Works are a main character whose personality falls a little flat and a storyline that is a bit confusing. Stella Ryan-Luzon plays her character very calmly to protect a revelation during the end of the film. Adding more emotion to the character, though, wouldn’t have ruined the ending. Also, some might want a second viewing due to a slightly perplexing conclusion. Neither of these critiques, however, affect a viewer’s enjoyment of Good Works.
Overall, Good Works is a short horror masterpiece. The ability to mix different sub genres of horror so effortlessly is impressive. Great direction, writing, cinematography and practical effects all helped to make this possible. The main character is a little dry and the ending can be confusing but these don’t disrupt the overall quality. I recommend Good Works to anybody that loves a truly scary movie.
This is the 3rd and final set of short horror films review form A SLICE OF FRIGHT Film Festival 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…