Cellar Dweller (1988)

Cellar Dweller (1988)It’s a dark and stormy night when comic book artist Colin Childress (Jeffrey Combs) works on his horror series “Cellar Dweller”. He sets his final drops of ink on a sequence where a young, half-naked damsel in distress runs through the woods and ends up trapped by a satanic, hairy monster. After Colin randomly quotes some obscure phrases from a book of witchcraft, he unconsciously manages to summon both the monster and the damsel who emerges right behind his back. While Herbert West..uhm, sorry, I mean Colin, runs frightened out of his studio, the monster kills the damsel off-screen. Since the monster was summoned from the drawing paper, Colin gets the brilliant idea to set the artwork on fire, which escalates into an inferno that kills them both. The rest of his artwork manage to survive, though.

 

Then, we jump 30 years ahead in time. Colin’s house has now become an art institute, where young cartoonist Whitney Taylor checks in to continue the Cellar Dweller series. Miss Briggs, who manages the place, is not thrilled about this, and tells her that the basement where Colin died is a no-go zone. Of course, Whitney still goes down there anyway, and she comes across an old chest which includes the same book of witchcraft we saw at the beginning. The can of worms is open again, and as soon as Whitney starts drawing Cellar Dweller, a hairy monster begins to terrorize the house’s students in the middle of the night. It’s just too bad that the killings happen off-screen, and makes me wonder if the monster costume was so heavy for the poor person inside that he was almost unable to walk properly.

 

Jeffrey Combs is only featured in the opening scene before the film goes full amateur hour. To top it all off, one of the actors, Brian Robbins, has obviously used Smilex as he has the most absurdly, psychopathic grin that is just completely out of place, to a certain point where he almost overshadows the monster. A bit impressive, though. Aside from a quick decapitation scene during almost a full hour of play time, there is not much gore to find here. The drawings by the comic book artist, Frank Brunner, are gorgeous and got its time to shine, and is actually more impressive than the movie itself. John Carl Buechler (RIP) also directed “Troll” two years earlier, which explains some of the similarities. And if you haven’t already, then check out “Troll 2”, and you’ll have a perfect schlockfest of a trilogy to enjoy and laugh at.

 

Cellar Dweller

 

Director: John Carl Buechler
Country & year: USA, 1988
Actors: Yvonne De Carlo, Debrah Farentino, Brian Robbins, Pamela Bellwood, Miranda Wilson, Vince Edwards, Jeffrey Combs, Floyd Levine, Michael Deak
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094850/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATERBORNE – Zombie Kangaroo Short

When a local ranger in a small country town finds an unidentified algae overwhelming the town’s water supply, he knows something’s not right. But it’s not until the sun goes down that he discovers the true extent of the danger – it seems the town is about to experience the effects of a mysterious infection that turns not only humans – but animals too – into zombies.

 

“Waterborne” is a fun little Australian horror short, with Kangaroo zombies!

 

WATERBORNE - Zombie Kangaroo Horror Short

 

Director: Ryan Coonan
Country & year: Australia, UK, 2014
Actors: Martin Blum, Don Bridges
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3735706/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possum (2018)

Possum (2018)Philip (Sean Harris) is a middle-aged man returning to his hometown in Norfolk with a population of probably ten people, which looks like a depressing place to live in. With him he’s got a brown bag containing a puppet called Possum. A terrifying thing with a human head made of rubber, and with spider feet. Philip turns out to be a totally fragile, traumatized man, trapped in a severe life crisis, who constantly seems be on the verge of blowing out in full panic attack at any moment. And  the nightmare fuel provided by Possum clearly doesn’t makes it any better. Time to watch some cat videos on YouTube, I would say. Anyway, he goes to his decayed, filthy childhood home where he meets his stepfather Maurice (Alun Armstrong), a greasy old man who probably hasn’t taken a shower in years, and likes to preach stuff that doesn’t make much sense. They turn out to have as much of a resentful relationship with each other as Philip has with Possum, which he repeatedly tries to get rid of by dumping it in the river, burying, burning, and beat the shit out of it to a point where you almost feel more sorry for the puppet than for Philip. But just like a cursed Ouija board, Possum always reappears.

 

If you expect a traditional creature-feature here, you can just give up right away. This is a really slow melancholic and feverish nightmare, stuffed with metaphors, cryptic symbolism, and open to being analyzed to death and beyond. Is Possum some sort of a manifestation of Philip’s untreated trauma, or is the guy just crazy? Is the pale, empty, decaying surroundings a reflection of the eternal hopelessness that constantly consumes his head? Who knows. Several scenes seem to last forever without going nowhere, but competent camera work, strong wide-shot visuals and good acting saved the movie, for my part at least. So yeah, a strange little indie film that can be a chore to sit through for sure, and fans of art-house will probably find it more appealing.

 

Possum

 

Director: Matthew Holness
Country & year: UK, 2018
Actors: Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Simon Bubb, Andy Blithe
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6081670/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. FRIEND – Horror Short

Home alone at night, a young woman is about to discover the other side of social media.

 

“A. Friend” is unsettling and creepy in a more realistic way, as it plays with the idea of a darker side of social media and how it can be used.

 

A. FRIEND - Horror Short

 

Director: Erwann Kerroc’h, Amaury Dequé
Country & year: France, 2015
Actors: Amandine Boulet
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5246798/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEAR FILTER – A Snapchat Horror Short

Leah is looking for the perfect filter to send her crush, until the app detects an unknown face in the darkness.

 

“Fear Filter” is a horror short that’s using one of our typical modern activities (at least a typical activity that’s popular with a younger crowd): Snapchat filters. This horror short, albeit very simple, manages to use its rather simple concept in a creepy way.

 

FEAR FILTER - A Snapchat Horror Short

 

Director: Tracy Kleeman
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Lou Lou Safran
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9853246/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse (2019)On a remote New England Island in the 1890s, two lighthouse keepers have to stay there for four weeks. Thomas Wake, the oldest between the two, has been watching over the lighthouse for a long time and is used to the unfavorable conditions. His new assistant, Ephraim Winslow, does not settle in with ease however. Ephraim is getting more and more frustrated by the older man’s fussing and complaints, where he is being bossed around constantly. When the four weeks are over, and the boat still doesn’t come to pick up Ephraim due to very bad weather, they both realize they might be stuck on the island for far longer than anticipated. Plagued by bad dreams and hallucinations (or are they hallucinations?) Ephraim tries to keep his sanity on the forsaken rock – but this proves to be difficult as deeply sunken secrets are about to break the surface.

 

“The Lighthouse” by Robert Eggers (who earlier gave us the very haunting and creepy film “The Witch“) is a very atmospheric black & white film, and is actually loosely based on a real-life tragedy that happened in 1801. Two Welsh Lighthouse keepers, who were in fact both named Thomas, became trapped due to a storm. That incident is referred to as “The Smalls Lighthouse Tragedy”. The movie was also shot on 35mm black and white Double-X 5222 film, and due to this, they needed a lot more light, so they put up flickering 500-800 watt halogen bulbs in period-correct kerosene lamps. These lamps were just a few feet away from the actor’s faces, so the result is a lot of imagery that simply looks stunning, especially with the facial expressions and grimaces being heavily toned due to the contrasts. Plain and simple, it is beautiful to watch.

 

There is a good amount of claustrophobic dread to appreciate from “The Lighthouse”. And with Ephraim’s dreams and visions (or are they all just dreams and visions?) with mermaids and giant tentacles, we get a dose of some of the old and classical myths and legends from sea folk. Thomas tells supernatural tales of sea gulls and bad omens, but while Ephraim tries to ignore the old man’s ramblings, it’s evident that there are certain things laying under the surface that causes him to become vulnerable to the tales. It doesn’t take long before Ephraim is slowly descending into madness…whether it be from the isolation, Thomas and his bossy demeanor and tales, the past…or maybe a mix of it all, who knows. When the men realize they are stranded, possibly for a long time to come, they both start drinking their senses away, somewhat easing up the tension for a little while as the drunken men starts dancing and singing sea shanties – but it doesn’t take long until the songs turn into insults and aggressive behavior, and a battle for dominance as the cabin fever starts to creep in.

 

“Nothing good can happen when two men are trapped alone in a giant phallus”, is the line Robert Eggers have used to describe this film. And he has done a very good job of portraying just this concept!

 

The Lighthouse

 

Director: Robert Eggers
Country & year: Canada | USA, 2019
Actors: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman, Logan Hawkes, and a lot of sea gulls
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7984734/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FRENCH DOORS – Horror Short

A man installs a set of French doors during a renovation. What he doesn’t know is that the doors harbour a secret. A dark secret…

 

“The French Doors” is a chilling horror short that may seem a bit on the simple side at first, but soon delivers a good amount of creepy atmosphere.

 

THE FRENCH DOORS - Horror Short

 

Director: Steve Ayson
Country & year: New Zealand, 2002
Actors: Brett Stewart, Andrew Kouacevich, Barnie Duncan, Neill Duncan
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0343687/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Ben (2016)

Bad Ben (2016)Tom Riley has just bought a house at a price that is way below market value. With intentions of “flipping” it (a term for buying a house and selling it later for a profit) he goes through the house while filming the entire process with his iPhone. After residing in the house for a short while, however, he notices strange happenings, and decides to set up a bunch of surveillance cameras both inside and outside. At first he’s convinced that people are breaking into the house…but soon, he realizes that he might be dealing with something paranormal.

 

“Bad Ben” is an odd little horror film. With “found footage” horror movies being all over the place these days, it feels like everyone with a camera and some video-editing software can make their own addition to the genre. While the majority of these movies have a very limited cast and budget, they still manage to (sometimes) turn out as quite decent films. And it kind of feels like Nigel Bach once joined in a discussion about this topic, simply said “Hold my beer”, and went and made a found-footage movie in his own home with himself being the only person involved. Yes, you read that right. This is a 1-man movie. Filmed with an iPhone and the rest consisting of security camera “footage”, with a budget of only $300.

 

Now, an idea like this sounds like the perfect recipe for a disaster of a movie, which could only be appreciated by close friends and family. But to our surprise, we found that it’s actually quite decently made for what it is. And since nearly every single found footage horror movie includes a cast with teens/young people, it was actually a bit refreshing to see a grumpy, middle-aged man who is more pissed off at the goings-on than afraid of it. The movie does have a tone of humor in it, and it manages to keep you captivated throughout the protagonist’s exploration and experiences. It is also kinda fascinating and somewhat inspiring that the entire movie was made as a one-man-show, and part of the entertainment value comes from keeping this in mind.

 

“Bad Ben” is not a horror movie that will be appreciated by everyone, but for those of us that watch horror movies on a regular basis and has trudged through a ton of various indie horror, it’s easy to see why Nigel Bach’s “Bad Ben” found a fan base. “Bad Ben” has turned into a series of a total of 7 movies (so far).

 

We watched this movie on streaming at Amazon’s “Prime Video” (one of the few streaming sites that has a nice selection of horror movies for us Norwegians…as compared to for example Netflix, where the “selection” for non-US customers is so limited that it sucks sweaty donkey balls).

 

Bad Ben

 

Director: Nigel Bach
Country & year: USA , 2016
Actors: Nigel Bach
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6269810/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SELFIE – Japanese Horror Short

A man comes home from work, and is so tired that he falls asleep on the couch. His partner begins filming him, finding his snoring funny… but then, strange things start happening on her phone camera…

 

“Selfie” is a simple, yet still effective, horror short from Japan.

 

SELFIE - Japanese Horror Short

 

Director: Nari
Country & year: Japan, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polaroid (2019)

Polaroid (2019)Bird Fitcher is a teenage girl who loves old things, and is working a part-time job at an antique store. When a co-worker brings in an old Polaroid camera, she’s really excited, and starts using it, snapping pictures of her friends. She soon realizes that something is not quite right with the camera, as the photos show a shadowy figure looming over the persons on the photo…and very soon it becomes apparent that the photos taken with the Polaroid camera has a very deadly effect.

 

This is based on Lars Klevberg’s horror short from 2015, by the same name (you can watch it here: Polaroid Horror Short). And while this movie has been released just recently, it’s not really new…it was originally set to be released in 2017, but due to the Weinstein Company bankruptcy it was almost like the entire movie had been flushed down the drain as a result. However, in 2018, Lantern Company (which had acquired a lot of the Weinstein Company’s assets) and an international distribution company called “13 Films” decided to have the movie released in 2019. In the meantime, however, Lars Klevberg more or less “debuted” with his “Child’s Play” remake, which received a fair amount of positive reception as well as doing quite well at the box office. So…a happy ending after all, it seems.

 

Now, while I personally think that Lars Klevberg’s “Polaroid” short is well made and quite creepy, I’m afraid to say that I didn’t quite get the same feeling from this feature film. Now, horror shorts have the advantage of keeping things subtle, and not necessarily giving away the “why’s” and “how’s”. This is something that often gives them a more creepy vibe since the mystery is kept, the boogeyman isn’t revealed and is kept in the shadows. In feature films, however, viewers are more likely to be pissed off by things being too vague or questions not being answered…in movies, as opposed to shorts, we more or less expect answers to what is happening. And sadly, this is what can turn a creepy concept into something that ends up more or less like a typical “run-of-the-mill” horror movie. Unfortunately, “Polaroid” does end up in this category.

 

That being said, Lars Klevberg does manage to build up the tension and atmosphere in some of the scenes, and while lacking any real scares I’m going to judge it as what it’s clearly intended to be: a teenage horror flick, meant for a younger audience. Those of us that have already seen a fair share of horror movies will probably get a Déjà vu all to quickly (we’ve seen it before, done better…but also done a lot worse). When getting closer to the final act, the film also does offer up an interesting twist to the Polaroid’s reason for being cursed/haunted, which was a welcome surprise.

 

So: just consider this movie an easy-going teenage horror, and bring some popcorn, and you might find something to enjoy here.

 

Polaroid

 

Director: Lars Klevberg
Country & year: USA | Norway, 2019
Actors: Kathryn Prescott, Tyler Young, Samantha Logan, Keenan Tracey, Priscilla Quintana, Javier Botet, Mitch Pileggi, Davi Santos, Katie Stevens, Grace Zabriskie, Madelaine Petsch, Erika Prevost, Shauna MacDonald, Rhys Bevan-John, Emily Power
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5598292/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul