A Suds and Cinema Christmas Part 2 of 2

Shelf Elf

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. 

Crushed Kringle

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.

House Music

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.

Krampusnacht

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.

Naughty List

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.

Alchemy

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.

I give Santa Comes Tonight 3 out of 6 reels.

A Suds & Cinema Christmas Pt 1 of 2

Naughty 

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.

Joyeux Noël 

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.

Thanksgiving 

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’s Rap

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.

I give O’Tidings of Joy 4 out of 6 reels.

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!

The Monster with 21 Faces Reel Review

Hello, Slicers!

Mark Kelly here and I’m back with another Reel Review. I’ll be reviewing the crime documentary The Monster with 21 Faces (かい人21面相) , directed by Michael Welborn. The film recently had its world premiere at CinemaSlice.coms A Slice of Fright film festival. The movie is part one of an in depth look at the real life incidents surrounding a wealthy Japanese businessman. It details the attack on his career, friends, and family by an unknown assailant calling himself the monster with 21 faces.

In Japan during the spring of 1984 president of Hashiba Homegoods, Sotara Hashiba(Bruce Falcon), is taking a shower at his home one evening. Unbeknownst to him, 3 individuals dressed in dark clothes and white masks have broke into his residence. They have tied up his wife and daughter and are planning to kidnap Hashiba himself. What follows is a decent into mayhem and mystery. Hashiba struggles to protect everything and everyone he holds dear against multiple unknown attacks.

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Meet the Slicer: Michael Welborn

Sup Slicers!?

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to a driven filmmaker, and co-owner of CinemaSlice.com, Michael Welborn! Michael has produced numerous films and videos for the ‘Slice since the very begining os the Slicer-verse. Michael is motivated to create new content that is both cutting-edge and socially relevant– and is an all-around bad ass.

Each project Michael releases further solidifies his foundation as an auteur, and CinemaSlice would not be around without him!

I’ll let Welborn introduce himself… take it away!

I’m from LA.” That’s what I tell people to sound cool. It’s true! But I was moved to Michigan when I turned two years old so I’m not as cool as I lead on. Now fast forward to the important part, myself and movies.

I don’t recall being overly fond of movies as a child. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t watch or like them:

Guess my parents favorite movie!

I just guess I’d expect someone like myself to be in that movie nerd group, but I never have been. Ask me if I’ve ever seen your 5 favorite movies and chances are likely that I’ve only seen 2. I’ve always enjoyed movies but my overall love for them is based on one simple aspect: Storytelling.

It took me most of my childhood to come to the realization that I wanted to tell stories in video form. First possible occupation I remember being enthralled with was Paleontology. I loved the shit out of dinosaurs when I was a kid. I read books on fossils and dug adult human-sized holes in my backyard. Continue reading “Meet the Slicer: Michael Welborn”

Under the Radar

On Halloween, 2017, CinemaSlice‘s Michael Welborn released a short film clip paying homage to the 1940 film The Devil Bat (starring Bela Lugosi) – also called The Devil Bat. I asked an old college friend (an avid film fan, and a classmate in Andrew Jefchak‘s Literature and Motion Pictures class at Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, Michigan) for his input on the film before I wrote this.

Talking with Welborn, he mentioned that his intention was to cover what he felt was the main scene(s) in the original film – explaining the short length (a little over three minutes) of this project. He also had some ideas he’d like to try for an expanded homage – though to my knowledge those are still in the concept stage.

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One For the Show, Two For the Money

This will be a review of the CinemaSlice Short Film Double Feature, covering two short film releases by Michael Welborn: Sleep / Humans

The first entry is “SLEEP

A horror film with a mix of humor and sadism. I feel this film is a lot longer than it needs to be. The opening itself running a slightly-past-tolerable 2 minutes, plus. I’m not sure if the background images really do much for setting up the story itself (rather, justifying the amount of time spent on them). It’s possible there’s some key element among them, but after a couple of viewings it still eludes me – other than establishing a medical-theme. The one nice thing though is the opening soundtrack (by AVZTN), which has a special creepiness to it – the classic haunting sounds do produce a chilling effect, causing uneasiness in the viewer (or at least to me).

The first shot is a close-up of an anesthesiologist (played by Michael Welborn), explaining to a patient who he is and what his duties are suppose to be. We then see the patient (Mr. Covington, played by Brandon Guiles). We quickly learn this is suppose to be an appendectomy. However the bedside manner of the physician is disturbing Covington a bit.

Continue reading “One For the Show, Two For the Money”