This horror short follows Lucy, as she struggles to survive an increasingly bizarre and horrifying night. Lucy’s most secret fears begin to manifest and attack her, and she must fight for control of her mind…and ultimately her life.
“How To Be Alone” is a weird horror short starring Maika Monroe (It Follows) who struggles with being alone when her husband (played by Joe Keery from “Stranger Things”) is away working the night shift. She tries to get through the night by making plans and keeping herself occupied…but it’s just not that easy.
A young girl (Melissa) is playing nearby the pond close to her family’s residence, and finds a cute little crab whom she names Pee-Wee (yeah, you could probably make some STD jokes here). She decides to keep it, and starts to feed it some of the weird fruit from her father’s laboratory where he’s experimenting on a formula to make things grow larger. Soon, Pee-Wee starts to grow much bigger (I’m talking about the crab, of course). After an accident that kills both of Melissa’s parents, she lets Pee-Wee back into the pond and goes to live with her uncle, the town sheriff. Many years later, Melissa is still caring for her secret giant crab pet (who is, despite the name, actually a female). All is well until “Pee-Wee” gets some huge crab babies that start to cause trouble all over town…
“Queen Crab” aka “Claws” is a low budget ($75.000) creature feature with old-fashioned stop-motion effects, that can easily be considered a homage to the monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s written and directed by Brett Piper, and while this movie was actually our first introduction to his work, the guy has been going at it since the 1980’s. Some of his earlier work includes titles like “The Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell”, “Drainiac”, and “Shock-O-Rama”. Specializing in low-budget horror and monster flicks with old school effects, he’s built himself quite the portfolio, and I expect that we at Horror Ghouls are likely to check out more of his movies.
Now, “Queen Crab” is definitely going for a “so bad it’s good” feeling, but there is unfortunately a lot of scenes with little progression, and that makes the movie feel somewhat dragged out in places. The acting is a mix of bad/laughably bad, but that’s most likely intended. I’d reckon that the customer base for movies like this are already familiar with low-budget indie horror films and their usual flaws, and if you belong to this group you’re more likely to enjoy it for what it is. There’s no denying that the stop-motion effects is the movie’s main selling point, and combined with the bad/laughable acting and goofy premise, you’re actually getting a rather decent indie monster film. Surprisingly, there’s even a certain charm to it in regards to the “relationship” between Melissa and her giant monster crab.
Not a masterpiece by any standards, but if you’re in for some campy “shut down your brain first” kind of fun with old-school effects, you’ll most likely find yourself entertained!
Director: Brett Piper Country & year: USA, 2019 Also known as: Claws Actors: Michelle Simone Miller, Kathryn Metz, Richard Lounello, A.J. DeLucia, Steve Diasparra, Danielle Donahue, Ken Van Sant, Yolie Canales IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2319456/
A shipwrecked fisherman is led to a dark secret within this short animated thriller.
“GEIST” is a CGI animated horror/thriller short, that builds up a ton of suspense and atmosphere, and the animation provides amazing visuals. While the “twist” is somewhat predictable, it’s still a pretty thrilling and quite emotional short.
We are introduced to the YouTube channel Prankstaz.tv, run by two mildly sociopathic douchebags who make prankster-videos where they break into a morgue (among other things) and takes a selfie with one of the cadavers. And all just to see those precious views on YouTube. Reminds me of a certain guy with a similar channel who went to Suicide Forest in Japan in late 2017, to film a fresh corpse hanging from a tree and laugh at it and mock it afterwards. So, here we get a satirical glimpse at how toxic and obnoxious the YouTube prankster-community can be, and how far they are willing to push the shock factor to get the desired attention and views.
However, the next project by The Prankstaz is to spend a night in the closed and abandoned Beeliz Heilstätten (or Beeliz Sanatorium), outside of Berlin, which was used during the Nazi era. The sanatorium is supposed to be haunted by a woman, or simply “patient 106”. She killed herself by slitting her wrists in a bathtub after she got pregnant with one of the doctors, and it’s said that she cursed the place. They bring some other YouTubers along with them: a local historian to creep us out with the sanatorium’s dark past, and of course a medium. After they’ve installed static cams in every corner and start to settle in for the night, it doesn’t take long until some spooky shit starts to happen. Of course.
The location is also based on the real sanatorium, Beelitz Heilstätten, where the Führer himself was treated for a leg wound in 1918. So yeah, this place goes way back, and was in its time the biggest building of this kind. But the place is most known for the murders by serial killer Wolfgang Schmidt, who allegedly killed five women on this location in the 80’s. A homeless man also hung himself in the sanatorium after it got closed down and abandoned in the early 90’s. A scene from “The Pianist” (2002) was shot here, and Rammstein used the location for the music video “Mein Herz Brennt”. In “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” they used Heilstätte Grabowsee as the location, another huge abandoned sanatorium outside of Berlin. And yes, “Grave Encounters” (2011) comes to mind, and they share much of the same qualities, I would say. A huge, dusty, decayed, broken down mental facility with narrow corridors that just seem to go into obscurity, great sound design, thick atmosphere, pretty much the ingredients you need to make a great found footage horror.
And then there’s a twist, which you will probably see a mile away, but unfortunately was very poorly executed. But besides of that, “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” is a pretty solid found footage horror that deserves a watch.
Director: Michael David Pate Country & year: Germany, 2018 Actors: Nilam Farooq, Farina Flebbe, Sonja Gerhardt, Maxine Kazis, Lisa-Marie Koroll, Emilio Sakraya, Tim Oliver Schultz, Davis Schulz, Timmi Trinks IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7214470/
Five bored children enter an imposing, decaying building that has been abandoned for years. Finding a room with a light switch, they decide to play a game of turning it on and off…but upon doing so, one of the kids disappear each time the lights are turned on again. Suspecting each other of playing pranks, they continue the game…
“CLICK” is one of those creepy horror shorts that builds slowly, and brings on a ton of great atmosphere due to the dystopian scenery. Note: the actors in this horror short does have a strong Yorkshire accent, but it contains subtitles if you have any difficulties understanding what they’re saying.
A young woman comes home one night to find her front door unlocked and suspects she might not be alone in the house.
“VICIOUS” is a creepy and suspenseful horror short, where a young woman is still trying to cope with the loss of her recently deceased sister. Coming home one late evening, she finds the door unlocked…and while she’s not able to locate any intruder inside, she still feels that she’s not alone…
In the small mine town community of Harmony, a young coal miner named Tom (Jensen Ackles) causes an accident that kills five men and puts another, Harry Warden, in a coma. A year later, Harry wakes up and causes a massacre at the hospital, and in the meantime a group of teens are having a party at mine tunnel 5, one of them being Tom. Harry shows up and causing further bloodshed, but the police does not succeed in catching the killer…
Ten years later, the mining town has gotten the unfortunate title “The Murder Capital of America” by the media, while they are still trying to move on from the past. Tom, who is pretty much not welcomed by most of the townspeople, happens to stop by to sign some papers to sell the mining tunnel where the killings took place. Bad news is that the signing has been postponed to Monday, so Tom has some time to kill (pun intended) before he leaves the town for good. After Tom checks into a motel, the killings start to happen again by a certain familiar figure wearing a gas mask.
“My Bloody Valentine” is the remake of the 1981 version, here with Jensen Ackles (or just Dean Winchester, if you will) in the main role. And it’s pretty much like watching Ackles just playing Dean having a really bad weekend with a reduced energy level. The Kiefer Sutherland effect, as I like to call it.
I don’t know if this is the same version that got screened in theaters back in 2009, but if so, the “Friday The 13th” remake which came same year looks like a kiddies movie made for Disney in comparison. A funny coincidence is that Jared Padalecki, known as Dean’s brother in “Supernatural”, also had a role in the Friday remake. As if they made a bet on which movie that would turn out to be the goriest. Well, Sammy, I guess you owe Dean a drink.
This was also the first 3D film with an R-rating, and it clearly shows. Heads are being chopped off, torsos cut in half, hearts ripped out, and whatnot. There’s also a scene where a midget lady gets impaled by a picksaw. No mercy given. And of course, there’s no slasher without a hot chick being chased while she’s stark naked. Some of the 3D effects looks pretty silly without the glasses, though, but it’s still a an entertaining slasher with some great death scenes.
Director: Patrick Lussier Country & year: USA, 2009 Actors: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Edi Gathegi, Tom Atkins, Kevin Tighe, Megan Boone, Karen Baum, Joy de la Paz, Marc Macaulay, Todd Farmer, Jeff Hochendoner, Bingo O’Malley, Liam Rhodes IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179891/
MEOW is a bloodstained genre mash offering life lessons in demonic cats, dubious landlords and overbearing mothers.
“MEOW” is a cool horror short filled with synthwave music and suspense, where a young woman is moving into a new apartment and gets herself a cat…and after a few incidents, she starts wondering if her new pet is capable of murder…
Director: Christopher Jopp Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Eleonore Dendy, Shawn Dunbar, Charles Hubbell, M.P. Johnson, Nancy Marvy, Andrew Morgan IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6443836/
It’s 1968, and we’re in a small town called Mill Valley where a group of teens are dressing up and getting ready for Halloween. This trio consists of Stella, an aspiring horror writer, a nervous nerd named Auggie, and the prankster Chuck. It’s their final year of trick-or-treating on Halloween together, and they’ve planned to use it as an opportunity to play a trick on the local school bully Tommy. This ends up with Tommy’s car getting vandalized, and he and his gang starts chasing them into a drive-in theater. While the trio is desperately looking for a hiding place, they all enter a young man’s car. His name is Ramon, and Stella immediately feels attracted to him as it becomes clear that he also shares the same passion for horror movies as she does. When Tommy and his gang are out of the way, Stella suggests that they visit the haunted house nearby: the old Bellows family residence. The Bellows family had a daughter, Sarah Bellows, whom they locked inside the house. No photos of the girl existed, and the story tells that she hanged herself inside the house after being accused of causing the death of several children after reading them some of the scary stories she used to write. When the group of teenagers enter the old house, they find the secret entrance to the room where the family kept Sarah locked in…and one of her “Scary Stories” books. Stella brings it back home with her, but when she starts reading it, a new story suddenly starts writing itself on one of the blank pages. Sarah Bellows is back at telling scary stories again…
“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a movie that plays a lot on the nostalgia for those of us who have read the book series by the same name, with the infamous illustrations by Stephen Gammell. The illustrations have played the biggest role in making the blood run cold in many a child’s veins when browsing through the pages, and the movie is actually taking clear references from the actual drawings themselves, even more than from the original stories. Like for example “Harold”, the scarecrow story. The story in the movie is nothing like the original story (in fact, the original story from the book is much darker), but in the movie’s setting it works in order to tie it up with the rest of the characters. And the woman from the story called “The Dream” is so much like the character from Stephen Gammell’s original illustration that I actually got a little chill. Now, in order to tie the original stories together with the plot in this movie, changes had to be made of course. Many of the stories from the original books were also based on folklore and urban legends, and thus some of the characters in the movie actually references to remembering some of the stories from their earlier childhood. There is also a new addition to the movie: the “Jangly Man”, which is a character composed from several of the stories and Stephen Gammell’s illustrations (including the “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker” story). While there aren’t references to every single story in the series of three books, there’s enough to keep you satisfied.
Now, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is not a horror movie for gore-hounds or those looking for something really scary. It’s a visually rich film with the excellent dark fantasy-mood that Guillermo del Toro has become so known for, and the direction by André Øvredal (who previously made “Trollhunter” and the quite dark and scary “Autopsy of Jane Doe” is confident and strong. Also keep in mind that the books were all written for and intended for children (so why they had some of the most nightmare-fueling illustrations you could possibly find is a bit mind-boggling, but really cool nevertheless). Still, the movie is really entertaining and chock-full of atmosphere (and actually some creepy scenes as well). You’ll also easily be able to enjoy it without having read the books, but there’s still no doubt that this movie will probably get a stronger hold on those of us that have read (and seen) them.
There’s also possibilities for a sequel or two here, and I hope they use that opportunity. Maybe a trilogy, just like the books. We’ll find out, sooner or later!
And, of course, the Horror Ghouls own the books and have done so for some years now. Here’s some photos from the books, and you’ll easily be able to see the similarities of the characters from Stephen Gammell’s illustrations. And for those interested in getting their hands on these books: they used to be out of print and not so easy to get your hands on (aside from some eBay listings), but they had a reprint a couple years back. The books had a reprint earlier as well, but that version didn’t contain Stephen Gammell’s illustrations as instead they hired Brett Helquist for the job to make new ones. While Brett Helquist is a very talented illustrator, known for making the art for books like “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and many others, the new illustrations just weren’t as bloodcurdling as the originals by Stephen Gammell. Thus, the replacements in the previous reprint did of course disappoint a lot of people. But now, you can easily get your hands on the books with the original drawings!
Director: André Øvredal Country & year: USA | Canada, 2019 Actors: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Kathleen Pollard, Stephanie Belding, Hershel Blatt, Brandon Knox, Jane Moffat, Amanda Smith IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3387520/
Clare (Joey King) lives together with her father, who is collecting scrap metal and junk in order to make a living. In addition to feeling embarrassed whenever her father goes dumpster diving, she’s also plagued with nightmares and memories from a childhood trauma: her mother committed suicide by hanging herself in the attic, and Clare was the one who found her. Due to this, Clare is troubled with a lot of “what if’s” in addition to a general dissatisfaction over the life she’s currently living. One day she gets a Chinese music box as a result from her father’s recent scrap hunt, and this box is supposed to grant wishes. Trying it out merely for the fun of it, she soon realizes that the wishes actually comes true. What she doesn’t realize until it’s too late however, is that the wishes come at a price…
Being granted wishes is not a concept you’ll only find in “Aladdin”. There are many stories dealing with this concept, and much darker ones too. One prime example would be “The Monkey’s Paw”, a horror novel from 1902 by W.W. Jacobs, where each wish is meddling with the fate of the one making it…and in quite a horrible way. “Wish Upon” is some kind of modern version of this, where each wish is only fulfilled by either the death or ill fate of someone else (example: wishing for wealth – the rich uncle dies and they inherit his house and money). It does take some time before our protagonist realizes the price tag on each of her wishes, but it isn’t until most of the people close to her falls victim to her wishes in some kind of way, that she decides that she must stop making them. But of course, it’s not just that easy…
“Wish Upon” is directed by John R. Leonetti, who also directed the first “Annabelle” movie from the Conjuring-universe. That being said, “Wish Upon” is a much milder dish which doesn’t live on jump-scares or scary things hiding in the dark. Instead, it’s a typical easy-going PG-13 horror flick that is well served together with some popcorn and candy on a Saturday evening. For what it is, the movie plays out pretty well.
Director: John R. Leonetti Country & year: USA | Canada, 2017 Actors: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park, Elisabeth Röhm, Josephine Langford, Alexander Nunez, Daniela Barbosa, Kevin Hanchard, Sherilyn Fenn, Raegan Revord, Alice Lee, Victor Sutton IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5322012/