Last weekend Shriekfest 2005 kicked off with a fantastic festival filled with horror/sci-fi shorts and feature films. We had the chance to check out Sunday and watch tons of great stuff including the amazing KatieBird (review). Inside you’ll find our mini-reviews for the short films that played- and don’t forget this upcoming weekend there is still two more days of fun at the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood California!
Shreikfest 2005Shriekfest 2005
By: Spooky Dan
Last weekend was the first batch of this years Shriekfest short films and features, and as like the past years there was a lot to be seen and praised! But, let me start off by saying, that I was only able to see some of the entries over the past weekend, so, not all of the films are reviewed. Kudos to all the filmmakers who got their stuff screened this year, it’s a great bunch of people and films. Now lets get onto the reviews, but be forewarned I personally have no attention span, so the reviews will be quick and hopefully to the point.
All scores are on a scale of 1-10 skulls
This was a personal festival favorite of mine. It’s more thriller than horror, but man does it pack a punch. Five Australian dudes decide to take vigilante-ism to a new level by taking out the city’s biggest drug dealers and scumbags, and videotape all the acts of terror they unleash on the city. Very violent, very bloody, very unapologetic. Richard Cawthorne plays Zack, the fearless and remorseless leader that shepherds the gang through their acts of brutality. Cawthorne is a name to keep your eye on, as he basically steals the show with his energy and charisma. One part American History X, two parts Natural Born Killers, a dash of Man Bites Dog, and throw in a heaping scoop of a Blair Witch feel for realism, and you have the recipe for this very cool and intense film.
Welcome To Pleasant Acres
One of the things I like about seeing short films is when it makes me feel like I, myself, can make a better film and get it into a film festival. This Jumbled and poorly edited films premise follows Mr. Malone, played subtlty by Michael Welte, who has entered into a dreamlike world where he has just bought a house in Pleasant Acres. He watches as his house gets built, gets burnt and still gets completed. I have the feeling that it was supposed to play out much funnier than it did, but never quite figures out how to get laughs or scares. Overall the story is a cute Twilight Zone style short that would have been really cool at 5 minutes, but just felt overlong and quite repetitive at its excruciating 17 minutes. I will give it 2 skulls for the effort and potential, but keep the grade low because I just plain didn’t like it. I hate giving negative reviews to new filmmakers but I just want to stay honest… sorry dudes.
Confederate Zombie Massacre
Now this is what I call an achievement in low budget filmmaking. A definite crowd pleaser that I can’t wait to get a hold of on DVD to show all my friends. Director Devi Snively has created nothing short of a masterpiece of comedy horror. Please, please, someone give this man a gob of money to make a feature! Here we have the (allegedly) very true story of a civil war battle that happened where a group of guys use a chemical weapon on the enemy and inadvertently turn them all into zombies. It’s a gore fest filled with cheesy silly humor that kept the audience laughing from the opening credits through to the end! The reason this movie is so successful is that it knows not to take itself seriously, and just moves you along this fun ride. My favorite scene is when our hero gets his head bashed, a zombie eats his brains, he gets up all pissed off and says “No one eats my brains and gets away with it!” It takes me back to the good old days of Peter Jackson making Bad Taste and Dead Alive. The Standout show of the Shriekfest! Buy this film… you wont regret it.
The Last Piece Standing
This film is well shot, well acted and a pretty clever premise. Set in the near distant future, a terrorist virus goes wrong and kills most of the female population. Two strangers meet and strange secrets unfold about each of them. One looking for a cure to the virus, and the other longs to bring his dead wife back from the grave. Through twists and turns the film plays out effortlessly with a some well made FX work and even a little nudity thrown in for good measure. While I liked the film, it was a touch predictable once you were involved. An overall good short that has a lot of potential to be picked up and turned into a feature. It looked expensive with a cool style to it. What’s next for director Eric Dapkewicz? I don’t know, but I for one will be watching.
This Spanish language short looks like it cost a bundle to make! Shot on film, the story starts as a guy hangs a hot chick on a meat hook to torture her, when a small boy accidentally stumbles upon the act. Not knowing what to do, he runs away, but not before being seeing seen by our main bad guy. A chase, an attempted escape, and a sort of twist ending. Now here is what I found to be a bit confusing about the story, it implies that the older bad guy and the child might be the same person, but never quite reveled it in a way that I understood. This is one of those movies that you watch and feel like you weren’t in on the joke, and left me feeling dumb and frustrated. Maybe I am not deep enough to get this film, so I will just give it 7 skulls for looking really great and having a great amount of tension throughout the short.
A quickie short that uses a great and simple premise to get to the payoff. A man stuck in a room with no windows and no doors and a hook hanging from the ceiling. Not knowing where he is or what to do to get out, he tugs on the chain and opens a hole in the wall. But the hook isn’t close enough for him to open the hole and get out. Try after try he goes about his attempts to escape, but to no avail, until he devises a gory way to get out. Nicely shot, and finished, it reminded me of alot of many shorts that have a simple premise and payoff, and do the best possible filmmaking within the confines of the story to get through it. Where many other short are just plain boring and dull, this one keeps you going through to the end and simply keeps you entertained for its duration.
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