Friday, September 24, 2021

Fear-filled Phantasm: The Wolf and Red Riding Hood

 There's been a celebration of the Little Red Riding Hood tales going on over at our sister blog Shades of Gray, and it's spilling over onto Terror Titans! After you've taken in Richard Sala's colorful illustration below, click here to see a variety of monochromatic takes on the tale!

Red Riding Hood and the Wolf by Richard Sala

Monday, September 13, 2021

Terror on the Thirteenth: Red

Next month is October, and we'll once again be bringing you short horror films along with commentary, music videos, art gallery posts, and perhaps one or two other things to get you in a proper mood for Halloween. As in years past, there's going to be Halloween material at the Shades of Gray blog as well, but today, the cross-over is going the other direction.

September is Red Riding Hood month at Shades of Gray, and each week there will be a post featuring commentary about an included song, animated short film, or artwork inspired by the famous fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood". Click here to see those posts at Shades of Gray.

Red (2008)
Starring: Sadie Franck and Shawn Jennings
Director: Shawn Jennings
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Red Riding Hood (Franck) is on her way to Grandma's house with the intent of bringing her some desperately needed medicine. The Big Bad Wolf (Jennings) has other plans.

Sadie Franck in "Red" (2008)

"Red" is a well-staged and expertly executed adaptation of a familiar story. It probably goes without saying, but there's a couple startling twists along the way that end up pushing a mildly creepy film solidly and chillingly into the horror genre (even if you can almost hear the Crypt Keeper cackling in the background as the film comes to its conclusion). The gimmick of having the film be in shades of gray except for things that are red is surprisingly effective--and grows increasingly so as the film unfolds. And if you're really paying attention to what's going on, you'll have a "what the heck is going on here?" moment just as the film gets really good.

Bor all the things that was done right in "Red", the few things that were done wrong caused me to knock it down to a Six Rating instead of a High Seven. The biggest drawback is the Big Bad Wolf costume; it's big and rather bad. It's not terrible, but the film would have been better served if it had been hidden in shadows, or only caught in glimpses. While the visual effects on the fangs were interesting, the overall impact of the costume detracts from an otherwise stylish film, because it's not at the same level of quality as everything around it. Secondly, the film could have benefitted from a more effective use of the black-and-white medium. Things are lit to brightly and seem a bit flat because of it. Further, the scenes as Red Riding Hood is being chased through the forest and the climactic moments at Grandma's house would have been far better served if they had featured more and deeper shadows than they do.

All-in-all, though, this is a highly entertaining spin on a familiar tale, and it's well worth spending the six or so minutes it'll take you to watch it.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Terror on the 13th: Nightmare at the Beach

There are many reasons why you don't want to fall asleep while sunning yourself on a public beach. Filmmaker Alex Magana (with ample help from actresses Jenly Crespo and Courntey Rotz) demonstrates a couple of them with this bit of summer-time creepiness.

Nightmare at the Beach (2020)
Starring: Jenly Crespo and Courtney Rotz
Director: Alex Magana
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

October 2021 will be the 7th annual 31 Nights of Halloween horror short film festival here at Terror Titans. The featured films are chosen from the thousands of tiny chillers available on YouTube and elsewhere online, but we've done the digital digging so you don't have to! We plan on featuring several of Alex Magana's efforts, so if you liked this one, be sure to check back in a couple months, after the shadows have grown long and the beaches have emptied...

Courtney Rotz in "Nightmare at the Beach"

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Terror on the Thirteenth: Transfigure

A scene from "Transfigure" with Hannah Clark

Horror stories and films have always been on the cutting edge of technology--not just when it comes to cinematic special effects, but also the technology that is commonplace in our lives. Partly, this is necessary because how can characters be isolated and stalked by a scary killer when all they need to do is use their cellphone and call for help? It is also necessary because part of what makes horror stories horrific is how they invade and corrupt our everyday safe existences.

Computers, smart phones, the internet, and all manner of instant messaging and video-chatting has been the fodder for horror films of varying lengths for quite some time now. It's natural, because over the past 15-20 years, our lives have grown increasing centered around them. This month's Terror on the Thirteenth selection is one of those, being brought to us by talents who have emerged as favorites here at Terror Titans--writer/director Dylan Clark and his frequent star Hannah Clark.

We love everything about how this is executed and we also love the fact that the main character doesn't just sit around and wait for doom to befall her, but we also wish that there was more to this film. There are so many unanswered questions by the time it ends that we want to see "Transfigure" developed into a longer piece. (More often than not, we're satisfied with having unanswered questions by the end of these short films, but not here! We want more!)

Transfigure (2021)
Starring: Hannah Clark
Director: Dylan Clark
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Terror on the Thirteenth: Overly Possessive

If you think you're having relationship troubles, you might feel better after watching this little tidbit.

Overly Possessive (2017)
Starring: Jon Robben and Colleen Kelly
Director: Russell Hansen
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

(For more short films, make sure you're back in here October for the 31 Nights of Halloween. We'll try to get something up once a month until then... but only the October festival is a sure thing!)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

In Observation of International Dance Day

The Ballerina (2021)
Starring: Valeska Miller
Director: Aaron Fradkin
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

A late-night rehearsal turns into a nightmare for a young dancer (Miller).

Valeska Miller

Since mid-2020, Aaron Fradkin has been putting a short horror film onto the Social House YouTube Channel every month. We came upon his excellent work while preparing for the 2020 31 Nights of Halloween, and we suspect his name will come up quite a bit during the 2021 Halloween festivities around here; his output has only gotten better over the past year. (Selections are already underway, but we start getting serious around late August.)

Fradkin released "The Ballerina" early in the month of April, and as soon as we watched it, we knew it had to be featured here on International Dance Day. (We'd already added a picture of star Valeska Miller to this year's observance at Shades of Gray, so this couldn't be more perfect!)  

And speaking of perfect, there isn't a second of wasted time in this film's 8-minute running time. It stars by establishing the lonely emptiness of the dance studio late at night and continues building the tension and mystery as the horror really starts. That said, there were a few moments at about the halfway mark, where I feared Fradkin might be losing his grip on the horror-mood as I found myself increasingly reminded of a famous scene from "Duck Soup" starring the Marx Brothers... but that ultimately made the horror more intense when it exploded in full-force.

The curiously long-limbed Valeska Miller is the perfect actor for this brief excursion into weird horror, especially because she is a classically trained dancer. The genius of the casting is even clearer during the last few minutes of the film and the end credits sequence.

"The Ballerina" is almost a Ten-star film. It misses perfection only because of a special effect near the end that doesn't quite come off as well as it needs to. Otherwise, it's spot-on technically, and brilliantly performed by its star. I encourage you to take a few minutes to check it out right now, by clicking below.

And when you're done, you can visit Shades of Gray for more celebrations of dancers and International Dance Day by clicking here. You can also see more Valeska Miller by clicking here

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Terror on the Thirteenth: Devil's Door

 Today, Terror Titans brings you a public service announcement with an object lesson attached: Don't be stupid and play one of those "mirror games." Bad things always happen.

Devil's Door (2020)
Starring; Victoria Fratz
Director: Aaron Fradkin
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Fourteen on the 14th at 14:14

"The Deli-very" is only 14 seconds long, but it tells a complete story and provides a twist ending! This is an amazing little film! How it came in 15th in the competition it was made for I'll never know--the other 14 must have been Platonic Ideals, each and every one!

The Deli-very (2018)
Starring: Anonymous Actors
Director: Jason Michael
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Fear-filled Phantasms with Richard Sala

What happens if you mean to write a letter to Santa but accidentally send it to Satan? Richard Sala conjures up an artist conception of this terribly festive day!

Richard Sala's Christmas Evil

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Terror on the Thirteenth: Jamie

Writer/Director Dylan Clark was one of our featured creators during 2020's 31 Nights of Halloween celebration here at Terror Titans. We couldn't fit this little masterpiece in, but that's why we have the bi-monthly Terror on the Thirteenth posts! (We started these earlier this year, and we're going to continue them into 2021!)

Jamie (2018)
Starring: Ramzi McFarland
Director: Dylan Clark
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

A teenager (McFarland) performs an occult ritual to contact a spirit from Beyond.

"Jamie" is one of those short films that relies almost entirely on the plot-twist to work. That's pretty common. What isn't common is that the twist is perfectly executed, as is everything leading up to it... and that comes after. The only reason this film isn't getting a Nine or perhaps even a Ten rating is because the creature in it is a bit underwhelming in its appearance--Clark and his ensemble of actors and technical crew have some along way in the two years since this film was made. (Although I loved the way the creature communicated.)

Watch "Jamie'" for yourself and let me know what you think!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Fourteen on the 14th at 14:14

The 31 Nights of Halloween may be over for now, but Terror Titans isn't going to go complete dormant until next October. Instead, we hope to bring you tidbits of terror at least once a month, starting today with this 14-second horror flick, posted at 14:14 on the 14th day of the month.

We plan on doing this every other month until the forces of Halloween are back in full force in late 2022! We're kicking this series off with "Sandman"!

Sandman (2015)
Starring: Chance Monahan
Director: Joseph Monahan
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Saturday, October 31, 2020

It's a Nightmare on My Street!

Enjoy this Halloween classic (inspired by a Halloween classic) from Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince!

31 Nights of Halloween: Happy Halloween!

Sadly, Halloween may be basically cancelled throughout the United States and possibly the world--why I can't figure out, since wearing masks is what Halloween is all about!--but I hope you have some candy on hand, just in case some trick-or-treaters come knocking. And if you don't... well, I hope you fare better than the subject of this tale.

Happy Halloween! (2020)
Starring: Victoria Fratz
Director: Aaron Fradkin
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars