Well, it’s getting closer to Halloween, so I figured I’d toss in a bonus scary short film (since I can’t really say there are TWO “Scariest Short Horror Films of the Week”). This was in my private stash I save for future Scariest Shorts; I like to have a few lined up in advance for security, plus I set the bar kind of high and now it can take me sitting and sifting through a dozen of them until I find one that’s nightmare-worthy. Shit, I’d post one a day up until Halloween if I wasn’t worried about running out.
This bonus film is also from the old Daywalt Fear Factory, and it’s called Suicide Girl. No, not the trashy kind who looks like she fell down a flight of stairs carrying an open tackle box (sorry, not a fan), the kind who is just sad and had all she could take. It’s also always nice to see someone in one of those shorts get what he or she deserves… turn the lights off, the sound up, and check this out…
This is not only creepy and scary as hell, but could also work as a nice anti-bullying public service message! This was written and directed by Drew Daywalt. I need to start checking out his ongoing web series, Camera Obscura.
The stand-outs so far (according to several sources) were Xavier Gens (who made the brutal Frontier/s and The Divide; his name always gets dropped, and rightly so, when people mention ‘New French Extremist Horror’) and his segment called “X to XXL”, where a woman, “takes the ultimate action to reduce her body size”.
“T is for Talk” (2011), directed and co-written by Peter Haynes, was a top vote-getter in the “26th Director” ABCs of Death contest. Of course, that was back when the voting window for the contest was still open, which I managed to totally miss, thus this series to share the best other shorts with a wider audience. I’m pretty sure you’ll see why; it packs a hell of a wallop into four minutes. This is definitely one of the most intense entries, and isn’t something you should watch if you’re NOT in the mood for something dark, nasty…and very original. Oh, and if you have a pounding headache, I recommend waiting until your head’s back to normal (you’ll see why pretty fast). Check out the very NSFW, intense “T is for Talk”, from New Zealand, below!
Damn! A prequel to that short could be interesting in the right hands. Anyway, that’s eighteen down, seven to go (I think. I’ll do the math later). You can go back and read the first three posts, each with five picks either embedded or linked–some were only on Vimeo or the official voting contest page via the ‘related’ links below, or you can watch the first five entries (plus the introduction) here, the second batch of entries here, and the third bunch of five entries—which has one of the sickest entries in the series– here. I also went and posted a link (I couldn’t embed it) to one that I meant to post, but missed, a couple of weeks ago back in September, which you can check out here. Enjoy, and expect the last eight entries by the time of the full-length movie’s release, which should give me plenty of time since the release date got bumped way the fuck back to January 31st for VOD, and motherfucking March for a limited theatrical run (sigh). I read three reviews from sources I trust, and they said it was kind of a mixed bag; some were more toilet humor/gross-out* than scary or gory (or worth four minutes of your time).
Anyway, now that reviews are coming in, the reviewers said there were some great segments that made The ABCs of Death worth sitting through. The stand-outs so far (according to several sources) were Xavier Gens (who made the brutal Frontier/s and The Divide; his name always gets dropped, and rightly so, when people mention ‘New French Extremist Horror’) and his segment called “X to XXL”, where a woman, “takes the ultimate action to reduce her body size”. My guess it she does a little whittling down at home, taking matters into her own hands by using a sharp blade.** Another standout is supposed to be “L is for Libido,” dealing with (I am not making this up) a psychotic masturbation contest (worse than a biscuit party, I assume) –gee, how could THAT go horribly wrong in an unrated horror movie?–that ‘ends with sick and deadly results.’ I’m not proud of admitting this, but …SOLD!
Right now, I really want to see what Banjong Pisathanakun (half the team from Shutter and Alone ) does with his four minutes …and with what letter of the alphabet and title. N is for Natre? S is for Siamese Twin?
Well, that’s seventeen down and eight to go! More to come, definitely before the holidays (and probably sooner).
*I wonder if any of them had to (or needed to for the purpose of rating them, no-one held a gun to my head making me watch all of them, it was just too late in my project to back-pedal by then) sit through “T is for Testosterone Replacement Therapy”, “T is for Tentacle Rape“, or “T is for Tampon”? Those weren’t anywhere near scary, they didn’t have a plot, two out of the three were so misogynistic I felt like punching whoever was responsible for them in the teeth, and they didn’t even try to be entertaining –on any level. I got the feeling they only made the films because they had some serious issues and/or really filthy sexual fetishes to work through. Through the years, I’ve picked up on the fact that self-indulgence usually doesn’t make for an end product entertaining for anyone but the artist. Consider yourself warned if you’re somehow still compelled to watch them …especially if you’re eating at the time.
**For a while now, I actually have been fleshing out (no pun intended, I should get of my tired ass and take a stab at grabbing the thesaurus before half my comments sound like The Cryptkeeper introducing a story, boils and ghouls ) an outline for a short horror story, where a woman with some serious issues hates her body –and doesn’t have the money to go pay for lipo or another medical procedure. At the end, she really goes over the edge and tries the do-it-yourself approach with craving knives and maybe a vacuüm cleaner or other suction device. The scariest part? I’m afraid if I Googled or otherwise researched this, there will turn out to be not one but a ton of cases of people who already tried to do it. Self-surgery, not writing a short story about it, I mean. There’s no way that’s going to end well…
I was considering posting this Argentinian blood-curdling short film as “Scariest Argentinian Short Film of The Month” or “Scariest Exorcism Movie of the Month,” but decided to use it this week so there’s some variation on the ones I post.
Many people who’ve been wowed by the short movie say they didn’t want it to end. Other common reactions are versions of viewers asking, “what the HELL did I just watch?”
Here’s the official plot description: A fragile border separates our world from the realm of darkness, where nightmarish creatures await in the shadows. Only one thing is standing in their way: a secret order of priests, who devote their souls to protect this border. They are the ‘Deus Irae’.
OK, I had no idea how scary and batshit-crazy this short film would be. I was also floored by the writing, the effects… and how it made me want to turn all the lights on and worry about just what might be under my bed —even though it was still light out. This one is definitely worth watching full-screen; the lighting, atmosphere, and stunning cinematography by Lucio Bonelli are off the fucking hook on this 13-minute short!
All I knew about Deus Irae (from Nerdhaus Films) going in was that it was very, very scary, had a graphic content warning for violence and gore, and was centered around the following plot: a mother and her little girl are preparing for her exorcism, waiting for a team of three expert priests to arrive. I was caught TOTALLY off-guard by the blood-curdling practical effects (courtesy of the sought-after award-winning Rabbid EFX, who utilized a five-member special effects team to create the horrifying sights for the short). They’re almost a little too memorable –especially when you are having a restless night. The movie had a low budget, but you’d sure as hell never know from watching it.
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the digital effects sequences (do NOT watch before the short!) from the film’s producer.
Many people who’ve been wowed by the movie say they didn’t want it to end. The latest word is that a feature film is in the works (you can also read more about that on the film’s official website, right here). Other common reactions are versions of viewers asking “what the HELL did I just watch?”
I highly recommend checking out Rabbid Effect’s amazing, awesome website– there’s at least half an hour’s material from various sizzle reels, trailers, galleries, and digital art there, and the presentation is stellar. You also, as I did, may end up jotting the names of several movies they’ve done effects for, just from the demo clips, to look into and hunt down. Hell, I spent over an hour exploring.
Very creepy dolls are SO the least of the character’s problems in this short…
Pedro Cristiani wrote and directed this show-stopper of a short, and Lucio Bonelli was the DP and cameraman. If you’d like to know more about Lucio Bonelli’s work, here’s a link to more movies he’s created cinematography for. Sadly, this is the only film he’s done in the horror genre, but hopefully that will change with the feature-length film!
Unsurprisingly, Deus Irae made the rounds at the festival circuit– almost every single one, including Fantastic Fest. The film was shown at the Toronto After Dark film festival, where it took home the well-deserved Audience Award.
“It doesn’t matter how it happened or what’s the logic behind it: the demons are among us. And the only people with enough knowledge and strength to face them are the Deus Irae, a strange militia of gun-loving priests. But every battle is different. As well as every possession. And every priest. The short film Deus Irae shines as a particularity work that has a much larger build-up behind, suggesting this horror adventure is the beginning of a project that will surely change the way horror films are made in Argentina.” You’ll get no argument from me on any of THAT.
Deus Irae also roughly translates to “The Wrath of God” in Latin, as Wikipedia tells me, anyway. Perfect.
Goddamnit! Yep, thanks to those who alerted me, I checked with Vimeo and it’s not so much that my link doesn’t work (it doesn’t) but that someone, I assume Richard Bates Jr., took down the 2008 short film from Vimeo. I scoured Vimeo for about 20 minutes and it ain’t there. I could describe it, but I’d just be parroting the Wikipedia description of the plot (which you can read if you want to). This sucks and I’m sorry I took so long to look into it. I’m not taking this piece down, though, because other than not having a link to the film, it’s relevant. Only thing that’s changed is that I’ve seen the movie (and heard the feature-length commentary) Excision. The short film has the same plot, just with added scenes (some of them really, really nasty), and a slightly different reaction by the mother at the ending. When I watched the 2012 film, I realized the ending and several other points had been totally spoiled for me, and wished I’d seen the movie first, then the short (though they were really, REALLY hard to wait for). I’m picking up the Blu-ray if it goes down in price. I will keeping poking around online to try to find the short film, and also see if it’s on the Blu-ray (which, in a rare occurrence, Netflix actually got in on the official release date, not months later). By the way, the feature film-length Excision is also much dirtier and gorier, to the point where I had to look away a couple of times.
If I find a legal link to watch either film (short or feature-length) online I’ll put it up. Until then, I highly recommend the Blu-ray, which is jammed with bonus features. Also, I’ll try to keep you updated on my search online.
I could only feel growing dread as and horror as I watched Pauline’s already slippery grasp of reality dissolve. By the last scene, exactly what I was afraid was going to happen …happened.
I was happily surprised to be able to locate the 18-minute film of the same title available to watch. Right now it can only be found on Vimeo—or at least that’s the only place I could find it. I watched it, and I recommend it …if you have a strong stomach. If the short movie were rated, it might be able to get an “R”, depending on what kind of mood the MPAA was in the day they watched it. I’d better not get started on the shitty way the MPAA treats indie films VS. mainstream films or this piece will transform into one long rant. Anyway, I’d definitely feel uncomfortable (at best) watching it with anyone besides my husband (and a few close friends who also love the genre and whom it takes a lot to offend —they know who they are). It’s not just the copious amounts of blood that make Excision twisted and sick; for instance, calling Pauline’s sexual fantasies and dreams ‘kinky’ is a laughable understatement. We’re also not quite sure if she can draw a distinction between reality and fantasy …though I’d definitely decided the answer to that by the time the credits for the short rolled.
The short film is just as sick and twisted as I’d hoped, but also had a strong emotional core. High school student Pauline definitely is, as John Waters says in the trailer, a VERY troubled little girl. Delusional, yes. Disturbed, most definitely. A budding psychopath? Probably.
Still, Pauline has feelings, and we discover she wants her mother Phyllis’ love and even some understanding. Her passive father knows she exists, but makes no attempt to bond with her and talks at her, not to her. Phyllis lavishes all of her maternal love and attention to Pauline’s little sister Grace, whose health is frail due to her cystic fibrosis. There was one scene, during which Pauline happens to overhear her mother’s casually heartless comments to her husband about her older daughter (though she says some cold-hearted things to her face at the dinner table, too) where she reacts with such utter devastation that I almost felt like giving Pauline a hug, or letting her cry on my shoulder. She’s definitely hurting. The actress playing Pauline in the short film, Tessa Farmer, is fearless and utterly convincing. AnnaLynne McCord had her work cut out for her, but from even the small amount I’ve seen of her performance, she rises –or descends, depending on your POV, I guess– to the occasion surprisingly well. Apparently (according to the director in this SFF 2013 interview) she also shaved her head for the role. That takes serious balls for any actress to do, let alone one who usually is cast as a sex-kitten. (Update: I have since discovered, by listening to the commentary, that McCord did not, in fact, shave her head but wore a bald cap. She’s still great in the film, though.)
However, I could only feel growing dread as and horror as I watched Pauline’s already slippery grasp of reality dissolve. By the last scene, what I was afraid was going to happen, happened. This might be a good time to point out that the feature film’s plot will probably be close to the plot in the short film. The ending to the feature film is hinted at with some of the moments in the trailer—hell, even some of the art and stills released give you a hint. I think a key character is going to have a very different reaction to a horrible fucking turn of events in the feature film. There’s plenty of bits and dialogue from the red band trailer in the original short. If you want to go into the full-length movie absolutely, totally 100% squeaky-clean when you watch it, you may want to reconsider watching the short film version of Excision. Though again, if you’ve been following the movie closely in anticipation of the release date, there probably won’t be any huge shocks in the first place.
I’m looking forward to seeing the full movie flesh out (so to speak) the short film, adding new characters (I’d personally see it just for John Waters), more dark humor, and more of Pauline’s …um, vivid fantasy life. Yes, the above image was from one of her happy daydreams in the 18-minute short. In fact, if the short is any indication, the movie is going to be even more disturbing, intense, and horrifying. I wouldn’t be surprised if the short film is included in the DVD extras, but if you can’t wait (I couldn’t), or want to get a stronger feel before you decide whether or not to see the feature film, now you know where to find it…
Also, they released a second clip from the film, and I found it on Dread Central. This is a short clip, but it features John Waters, PLAYING A CHURCH MINISTER, doing his best to ‘counsel’ Pauline. Check it out here!
Real Urban Legends — AKA Corin Hardy —brings us this from the UK. Of course, I went ragging on found-footage this week, then a bunch of cool shit worth passing on to you pops up. Urban Legends always get to me …and this is a nice, tight, scary re-telling.
OK, normally I would probably assume this was a ‘jump on the found footage bandwagon’ type of short. Instead, I admire him for setting the account up on You Tube and remaining anonymous in case of the possibility some people might think it was real. So there’s that …added to the fact this five-minute short freaked me the hell out! Enjoy…
On Corin Hardy’s Blog (definitely worth checking out here) — he’s got an interesting, well-put together gallery including a showcase of some amazing artwork on there– has this filed under 2010, though it was uploaded to You Tube in 2012, so I honestly don’t know what year to credit it with as of this writing. Let’s say 2010 until I hear differently.
I’m guessing horror fans didn’t need this to remind them to check the back, but just in case it slips your mind every once in a while, this should keep you at a 100% back-checking rate!
OK, it’s actually 13 minutes long, but a minute of that is end credits (not that the cast and crow don’t count), plus I’m one of those irritating people who avoids the number 13 if at all possible.
Remember the short French film The Red Balloon? Released in 1957, cute little boy follows a red balloon to see where it leads him, written and directed by. Albert Lamorisse. I recall seeing it on a local PBS station from time to time in grade school. A couple of times it was played for us in junior high (always in a Liberal Art-oriented class). Maybe you remember seeing it on YouTube, if you were born in the 80s or 90s; it was about a blonde kid found a red balloon that brightened up his life. The 1957 movie suitable for all ages was beautifully shot with an upbeat finale. Official IMDB synopsis: a red balloon with a life of its own* follows a little boy around the streets of Paris.
Shockingly, the piece is NOT about that wholesome, upbeat movie above. Well, I guess they both created a great work of film-making with what they had excellent production values with the money they had, a small cast, beautifully shot, not an abundance of dialogue, but I think similarities end there*. I think there’s only one red balloon in a brief shot, but I was too busy scraping myself from the ceiling to say with 100% certainty.Nelieve me, you’ll the moment when you see it. The tagline (if that applies to a short film, but hey, it’s on the poster art and I think it’s cool) gives you just the right amount of information, no more. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE. IT’S ABOUT A COUPLE WHO HIRE A BABYSITTER FOR THE EVENING…
This thirteen-minute horror film is an absolute blast. No gore, but scary enough so that every other comment on You Tube (where I first discovered it) makes some kind of comment referencing their wish for a box of Depends adult diapers. This movie is scary as hell, carefully crafted and shot,.and deserves recognition. I was lucky enough to discover this hidden gem of a short on you Tube a week or so ago. It’s tightly edited, the acting is above-average, flawlessly directed, and you can bet your sweet ass it delivers on the scares well before the time it roars to a finish. Writers/directors Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot make their debut, and I can’t wait to see what they’re cooking up now. Like many of the best horror stories, it takes a simple concept and focuses on making that concept simply terrifying. I recommend that you watch the movie first (with the sound up and the lights down, especially if you’re feeling cocky in a yeah, right, whatever, I guess I’ll watch this candy-ass short movie way). So find thirteen minutes and give The Red Balloon a well-deserved watch. I highly recommend it …but not if you happen to be baby-sitting in an unfamiliar house at the time, or are sensing you may be on the verge of a panic attack. Here it is! Come on, you can find 13 12 minutes free to check it out…
OK, now that you’ve seen it (do yourself a favor and don’t read further until you do – go in clean, you’ll thank me later) I dug up a little more info on the film-makers, and have some for you.
The official site says it was shot with Red Cam (I have no idea what this is, other than the fact it’s something you can use to shoot footage). It was also an official selection of over 20 international film festivals-not rinky-dink ones either.The movie was nominated to numerous festivals (including Festival international de Clermont-Ferrand, Palm Springs International ShortFest , Festival International Du Film Fantastique de Gerardmer , Festival De Cannes Short Film Corner, and more. The short’s won the Directorial Discovery Award at Rhodes Island film Festival and 12 selections in others. Here’s a little more about awards/selections on this page of the official site. Check it out!
It draws a little on an urban legend (one that not everyone has heard), yet puts an original spin on it that I didn’t see coming. I didn’t quite catch a minor plot element the first time, but it wasn’t due to any flaw with the movie, more to the fact I had the sound turned down as low as possible and since it was after dark, lights off, decided not to watch it on full-screen. Oh, and that I was a little freaked out. The second watch filled in any blanks for me, and the third watch I decided to just quit while I was ahead if I wanted to get to sleep at a decent hour, and wait until daytime to revisit the film (which I did). If you’re interested in any of the FX, here’s something from You Tube where the writers/directors discussing the. Their accents are strong enough that I wish there were closed-caption, but it’s still fun (and you can see the duo is having fun, too, better yet).
*Goddamn, I’d sure hate to see the results if someone in an Elementary school AV department got their wires crossed and showed THIS Red Balloon by mistake to an elementary-school classroom of hyperactive kids as one of those post-reccess/lunch “quiet time” activities. You may remember those –and I recall this from kindergarten myself–where the point is to get the kids to simmer down, relax, and calm the hell down after 30+ minutes of charging around the playground. If say, the teacher went out for a smoke and put this on the projection screen, I’m fairly sure someone present would end up in therapy, and someone would definitely have to make an apology to parents. This movie doesn’t have a calming effect on MY mood, and doubt it will with other adults, let alone jumpy kids, unless they are very, very mellow.
** Describing anything without a brain as ‘taking on a life of its own’ sounds sort of ominous, even if the object in question is a balloon.