We celebrate Day 2 of the virtual Nightmares Film Fest by handing out more Morbidly Beautiful Golden Doll Heads to nine must see horror comedy shorts.
Welcome back to Day 2 of Nightmare Film Festival: Masquerade, where the thrills, chills, and giggles keep on coming in petrifying pint-size packages! We previously had a chance to check out the stellar lineup of ten killer shorts in the Horror Comedy Shorts Block A. Afterwards, we couldn’t wait to go back for more. So, for day 2, we dove into the Horror Comedy Shorts Block B, featuring nine new films that are small in size but big on fun.
As before, each of these gems deserves its own special shout-out. So, we’re proudly continuing with our very own awards ceremony!
For Comedy Shorts B, the GOLDEN DOLL HEADS go to:
FRIEND CRUSH (Best World Building)
CLAW – From the first driving montage, I knew I was in the hands of someone who knew how to make a movie. As Kiran’s band prepares for their first big show, she notices her anxiety is resulting in a unique-and disturbing condition. The color palette of muted blues and greys, with vibrant pops of life, somehow complementing Kiran’s casually rebellious attitude and the genial apathy of her bandmates. CLAW began its life as a Seattle Tourism ad. While it absolutely works as a legitimate horror short, I must say I did find myself googling housing costs in the Seattle area. This is Freaks and Geeks, with a dash of Community — where naturalism meets balls-out bizarre. Watching Claw makes me want to move inside the mind of director and co-writer Lael Rogers. And if I can’t get there, maybe Seattle is close enough?
FUCKING GHOSTS – The length of a short gives a filmmaker a great deal of leeway. It allows the opportunity to expand and elaborate on concepts that start off as silly puns and end up freewheeling into full on, elaborate parodies. Fucking Ghosts is one such short. Blending a traditional haunted house story with some strong primal urges, these randy ghouls torment one innocent young family into an orgiastic exorcism. Will these tortured souls see God? Was that yogurt on the couch? Short enough to not to out stay its welcome, the sketch is enhanced by a perfectly-voiced narrator and a clever choice to show the ghouls complete with full white sheets and large black Sharpied eyes. Those practical effects added an element of bizarre charm that made everything work. Cumming to a theater near you.
IF YOU CAN ONLY PICK ONE (Best in Show)
LITTLE WILLY – Adam Castle is a former child actor known for the “Little Willy” evil doll horror franchise. While signing photos at a convention, the lonely, embittered Castle experiences a bit of a mental break. Little Willy has everything you could want in a horror comedy. There are horror legends, in the form of supporting actors Adrienne Barbeau and Zach Galligan. The acting all-around is phenomenal. The story is a unique blend of horror tropes and psychological tension. It births a new horror icon as uniquely horrifying as any classic in the genre. Little Willy is relatable and heartbreaking, witty and bizarre. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode directed by Alexander Payne, but funnier and scarier than either. I can’t say enough about the film. Suffice to say, if you can see one horror short in the bunch, it’s got to be this one.
BEST WORST JOKE
CROP DUST – When cornered by a horrific scarecrow killer, two women dig deep, and one finds the answer was inside all along. This tiny short is just a concept really, and one that you can’t help giggling at while recognizing how stupid it is. The chemistry between the two leads helps build up hilarious tension, and the slick filmmaking creates a great contrast to a piece that is much funnier than it has any right to be.
THE GREATEST HORROR FILM EVER MADE – While horror is no stranger to the meta, this writer takes it up another notch by brainstorming the horror film while we’re watching it. Wes Craven, eat your heart out!
GREEN COBRA – For an indie film, Green Cobra boasts some impressive creds. With the involvement of post houses such as Skywalker Sound and Company 3, Green Cobra certainly looks and sounds amazing. As someone who’s produced several indie shorts, getting a location like that, plus a professional crew and the clearly talented lead takes either serious money or serious connections. Kudos to everyone who works their butt off to wrangle that kind of high-end talent for their personal project!
BEST SLEIGHT OF HAND
TALL BETSY – Having just moved in with his best friend Riley, Daniel tells her all about his childhood fear of Tall Betsy, a bit of hometown folklore where a mysterious ghoul would tap on the windows of all the children still awake at night. But Riley has a tale of her own, one that took place right in the room Daniel just moved into. This short is the movie equivalent of a con man stealing your wallet while you’re busy guarding your phone. I knew the title. I heard the story. And yet I was still staring like a moron at the exact wrong place when the lights went out. That’s the mark of a great storyteller. (Additional prize for Best End Credits Song.)
EXTERMINATOR – Allan McLeod plays an emasculated husband that gets his groove back after an encounter with a mythic, hideous creature. I understand that there’s some need to focus on emasculated white men in Hollywood, particularly because we’re coming out of the #MeToo movement — and WHITE GUYS ARE SAD TOO SOMETIMES. And sure, there’s a market for people who thought Joker was worth making. But come on. Don’t tease a rat king and not show it. That’s just mean.
CLAIRVOYANT – We think we know where this is going. The trope of so many stories is to punish the naïve, to teach people to be wary, certainly to not go looking for the dead. And when this grieving daughter seeks the help of a clearly crooked mystic, I winced to see what trick of man or demon would befall her. The twist in this short is based on those years of conditioning. Lucy’s holding the football, and our foot flies up anticipating the slip. Vulnerability is punished. No one is there. When the twist does come, it’s sweeter than we could have imagined.
Join us next time when we go in for some of the real scares The Masquerade has to offer!