Thursday, October 17, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Clap Clap

During the 31 Nights of Halloween, even simple things--like house-sitting--can lead to dire consequences, especially if you fail to follow instructions....

Clap Clap (2017)
Starring: Aaron Burt and Andrew Burt
Director: Brandon Piskorik
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

As far as I recall, this is the second short film we've featured here that revolved around "The Clapper" (or similar devices). Click here to see how another filmmaker treated this subject during the 2018 season of the 31 Nights of Halloween.

Pet Sematary by Hatchem Social

This eerie, jazzy version of "Pet Sematary" may be one of the most undeservedly obscure, most creative, best executed, and creepiest renditions out there! It was recorded for a 2014 limited edition EP.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: My New Cellphone

When you get a new cellphone, should you make a clean break, like you do when upgrading from one lover to a new one? Will it be easier when replacing the center of your universe? The young woman in tonight's offering should have asked herself those questions.

My New Cellphone (2018)
Starring: Yoon Joo
Director: Inchun Oh
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

31 Nights of Nights of Halloween: The Slashstreet Boys

We're about halfway to the Big Night of Monsters, so we're celebrating by presenting this song performed by the only super-group that matters during the 31 Nights of Halloween.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuneful Tuesday with Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is a teen-aged singer/songwriter who burst onto the pop music scene in 2017, and has enjoyed a number of Top 40 Hits over the past couple years. (She first began to grow her following with a song she released on SoundCloud.)

Among her hits is "Bury a Friend", which is a spooky song that has a supremely creepy video directed by horror film director Michael Chaves. If you're looking for something to stir the Halloween Spirits, then this is it! (I give it Eight Out of Ten Stars!)

And it's a sign of how out of touch I am with popular music these days; I hadn't heard of this young lady until I went looking for short films and music videos to showcase during this year's 31 Nights of Halloween celebration. (If you're old ad out of touch like me, you can learn more about Eilish and her debut album--"When We Fall Alseep, Where Do We Go?"--at her website by clicking here.

Monday, October 14, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Dual

While it's the time of year when ghoulies and ghosties wander the land, it is also the time when imaginary friends may manifest themselves. That could be good or bad... depending on where you are on the friend scale. We present tonight's short film as a case study.

Dual (2018)
Starring: Jack Scaggs, Julianna Drajkó, Anthony Rocco Kraft, and Troy Antoine LaFaye
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

(This film is ultimately predictable, but it presents this well-worn subject expertly, and the cast all give great performances. What's even better, the director seemed to understand his budget and technical limitations, so we aren't subjected to bad computer graphics or other lamely executed special effects.)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: The Whistle, Chapter 2

We led into this year's 31 Nights of Halloween short film celebration with the introduction of a mysterious creature and the even more mysterious whistle that is heard when it is near, in The Whistle. Now, the creature returns in a direct sequel... with the mystery deepeing and the story expanding in many different directions. This saga is one that is worthy of telling in the every-deepinging shadows of October, and Chapter 3 will be found in this space on Sunday, October 27. Be sure come back for it!

The Whiste: Chapter 2 (2018)
Starring: Klaus Quirin, Vanessa Sacco, Laura Welter, and Kai Bost
Director: Klaus Quirin
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

One particularly noteworthy thing about the first two Whistle films is that they're essentially silent pictures. (Yes, we get some horror movie sound effects, but I think these would be just as spooky if all we had were the visuals and the music.)

Pet Sematary by Midwinter

I'm not a fan of the speed-/death metal where the lyrics are growled in a fashion that almost always puts me in mind of the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Nonetheless, Midwinter turned out an excellent cover of "Pet Sematary" and included it on their 2010 CD Between Wisdom and Lunacy.

(I can't really fault a band for their chosen style and genre, but I think that the lead singer of this band has more potential than is heard here. There seems to be a really good voice shining through every now and then.)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Hello

Sometimes, I watch a short film and wish it was just the beginning of a feature. "Hello", a tale of mysterious phone calls and serial killings, was one of those! (And even if you don't find yourself imagining where a story might go if the action continued past the end credits, I'm pretty sure this will help stir the Halloween spirit within you, as the 31 Nights of Halloween continue!)

Hello (2013)
Starring: Claire J. Foy, Hugh Sweeney, and Iggy Roddy
Director: Hugh Sweeney
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Friday, October 11, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: NoEnd House

Haunted House attractions are popular this time of year, and they pop up everywhere; some of you may even attend one or three to enjoy some safe Halloween scares. Just be sure they really are just safe scares, or you may end up the hero of tonight's short film.
While there are a couple missteps in "NoEnd House", it is generally tense and creepy... and great use of sound design, lighting, and some very subtle visual touches crack up the tension as David (Keene) tries to make it through the house's scary rooms.

NoEnd House (2018)
Starring: Connor Keene
Director: Ethan Lindner
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Feature Review Friday: 'The Head'

The Head (1959)
Starring: Horst Frank, Michel Simon, Karin Kernke, and Helmut Schmidt
Director: Victor Trivas
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A mad scientist (Frank) keeps the head of a brilliant doctor (Simon) alive so that the doctor can consult on an operation to transplant the head of Brandt's beloved--a hunchback nurse (Kernke)--onto a sexy body.

Writer/director Victor Trivas's greatest claim to fame is that his directorial debut--"Hell on Earth" (1931) was outlawed and destroyed by the Nazis in 1940, with no copies known to have survived. His second greatest claim to fame was being nominated for an Oscar for the script for Orson Welles' "The Stranger". And then there's "The Head".

"The Head" is an extremely cheezy, intentionally schlocky film that surprised everyone involved (except maybe auteur Triva) by becoming a hit across Europe and in the United States. But for all the melodrama and dodgy scripting and the prerequisite for big-time suspension of disbelief for the film to even work (but if you're not already planning on doing that, you wouldn't be watching this film to begin with), it's got stylish visuals and it delivers its story with a high degree of tension.

Unfortunately, as the film builds toward what should be a weird, over-the-top, insane climax, it starts to sputter and lose steam. It doesn't quite stall out, but the final act drags to a conclusion instead of roaring toward it, giving this otherwise dark and fun ride a slightly disappointing in. It's still worth your while if you like movies with mad scientists doing mad things.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

31 Nights of Halloween: Lilith

Tonight's selection is a sharply focused and spooky tale of a young mother, her baby, and a baby-stealing demon. It's strong effort that, sadly, doesn't end as powerfully as it should. Still... it's well worth the five minutes it will take to watch it.

Lilith (2019)
Starring: Andrea Gilder and Aria Gilder
Director: A.M. Borbón
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Pet Sematary by Helalyn Flowers

In 2013, Helalyn Flowers included a cover of "Pet Sematary" on their White Me In/Black Me Out CD. This Italian rock duo put their original spin on the song while still maintaining the spirit of the Ramones throughout. My only complaint is that the mixing seems off; I wish the lead vocalist was a little clearer.

Still, it's an excellent version that should have you nodding your head to the beat as the October shadows grow darker during this Halloween season...