BUDFOOT – Horror Short Film

Indie toymaker Jo Carver’s latest creation has come to life, and it’s trying to kill him!

 

Budfoot is a bizarre and crazy horror short by Tim Reis and James Sizemore (director of The Demon’s Rook)!

 

BUDFOOT - Horror Short Film

 

Director: Tim Reis, James Sizemore
Writer: Akom Tidwell
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Skinner, Henry Zebrowski, Brian Troxell, Mignon Baer, Laura Knox
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10100726/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Demon’s Rook (2013)

James Sizemore is a man of many traits and with a childhood consisting of several near-death experiences such as drowning, electrocutions, and almost hit by a freight train. And if that wasn’t traumatic enough, his childhood home in Georgia also seemed to be haunted by poltergeist activity. As he was influenced by these experiences he began to draw goblins, demons and whatnot which in later age evolved into producing some really cute Lovecraftian sculpt figures which he sells through his own company Wonder Goblin. He also makes music, has written one comic book, made two horror shorts (Goat Witch and Budfoot) and probably more I’ve forgot to mention. But the most important achievement in this case, is that he’s written, directed and produced one feature-length film, The Demons Rook. A passion project in which he gathered friends and family to a shooting schedule planned for three quick weeks in his local home community in Georgia with a tiny budget of five thousand dollars. In the purest indie-horror fashion they soon found themselves trapped in what is known as the indie horror-purgatory and continued the shooting for over two, grueling long years during the weekends, while questioning their own sanity, preventing the one mental breakdown after another, and promised themselves to never make a movie again. In other words, the normal cycle of independent movie making.

 

We meet the young boy Roscoe, not far from similar to the director himself, who during the day plays with his friend Eva, and sits up at night and makes drawings of demons. He is constantly visited by the demon Dimwos, a two-horned creature that looks more like something from Lovecraft’s universe. It is unclear why this demon shows up, but we can guess that he has been conjured by the drawings. Dimwos gets hold of the kid and one night lures him into the woods and down a hole that leads to Hell, where he trains him with black magic through manhood. Many, many years later, an grown-up Roscoe (now portrayed by James Sizemore) returns to the world with a long beard, confused and scared because, for some reason, he has accidentally managed to free three evil demons from Hell to Earth. And these demons are nothing to joke about, and makes matters worse by resurrecting the dead into Night of the Living Dead zombies and possesses people into Evil Dead monsters, to create hell on earth. Roscoe seeks out his childhood friend Eva (Ashleigh Jo Sizemore) and uses her trained Jedi powers to prevent a full demon apocalypse.

 

One quickly realize that director, producer and co-writer James Sizemore has a deep love for the good old video nasty-era horror cinema of the 70s and 80s, and has taken a laundry list of references that really shine through from old horror genre obelisks such as Dario Argento, George A. Romero, Stuart Gordon, Lucio Fulci, Lamberto/Mario Bava, Tom Savini, early Peter Jackson, H.P. Lovecraft and probably more. With impressive gory effects, juicy body-counts, and creative old-school prosthetic make-up, the use of light, colors,  flexible camera work, and massive use of a smoke machine to set the thick, retro atmosphere, the film works perfectly as a visual throwback to the good old times. And a budget of approx 70.000 dollars well spent. That being said, The Demon’s Rook suffers from the same as most home-made horror movies, with underdeveloped scripts and pacing issues with scenes that drags on, and a mixed bag of acting from amateur to decent. The actor couple James and Ashleigh both make good efforts with some naive enthusiasm and energy, even though we do not care all that much about them in the end. They got married during the filming, by the way, and are still married today. How cute. A year later after The Demon’s Rook, she got the task to be breast-naked and sacrificed to Satan in her husband’s horror short Goat Witch.

 

The DVD-release from 2015 seems to be out-of-print, but can be found after a quick search on Amazon Prime (limited by region).

 

The Demon's Rook The Demon's Rook The Demon's Rook

 

Director: James Sizemore
Writers: James Sizemore, Akom Tidwell
Country & year: USA, 2013
Actors: Ashleigh Jo Sizemore, James Sizemore, John Chatham, Melanie Richardson, Josh Gould, Sade Smith, Dustin Dorough, Lincoln Archibald, William Baker, James Becker, Michael Bremer, Laura Clark
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2401215/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHANGING ROOM – Horror Short

A woman finds herself in a nightmarish trap after sneaking into a closed off changing room.

 

The Changing Room is a creepy horror short where you have a good reason to be afraid of mirrors!

 

THE CHANGING ROOM - Horror Short

 

Director: Sam Evenson
Writer: Sam Evenson, Jeff Speziale
Country & year: USA, 2022
Actors: Jamie Taylor Ballesta, Alan Maxson
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt21048862/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories (1995)

Memories (aka Otomo Katsuhiro’s Memories) is an animated science fiction anthology film from 1995, and it is based on three of Katsuhiro Otomo’s short manga stories: Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder. While Katsuhiro is best known for his work on Akira (both the manga and the movie), he does have other works that are worthy of recognition, and Memories is one of them. Since there are three segments, I’ll write about each of them separately:

 

MAGNETIC ROSE:

The crew at The Corona, a deep space salvage freighter, encounters a distress signal while out on a mission. They decide to respond to it, and come upon a spaceship graveyard orbiting a giant space station. Intrigued, they want to take a closer look, and once inside, they are met with a splendor of European interior and furnished rooms showing various states of decay…almost like a haunted house in space. The ship belonged to a opera diva named Eva Friedel, who disappeared after her fiancé was murdered. They split up in order to find the source of the distress signal, and start experiencing what could be perceived as paranormal encounters, like strange noises and visions…

 

Magnetic Rose is the longest of the three segments, and I guess the best description would be that it’s a little bit of Event Horizon mixed with a haunted house tale, and it’s my favorite of the three. The artwork of the ship’s interior, together with the atmospheric setting and eerie vibe throughout makes this a solid science fiction ghost story. It’s chilling, beautiful and filled with all the right ingredients for a spooky story.

 

 

STINK BOMB:

Nobuo Tanaka is working at a lab, but feels really down as he’s battling a bad case of the flu. He mistakes some experimental pills for being cold pills (which are, in fact, part of a biological weapon program). He takes one, and soon develops a deadly body odor which kills everyone in the laboratory (except himself, of course). Not realizing what’s going on, he reports the incident to the headquarters, who instructs him to deliver the experimental drug to Tokyo. Upon traveling there, his body odor grows stronger and kills everything in his path…

 

Stink Bomb, with its pretty absurd premise, goes in a very different route from the more serious and chilling segment Magnetic Rose. This is absurd comedy hour all over, and strangely upbeat as you see both humans and animals drop dead as the confused and horrified Nobuo keeps going in order to complete his mission. It’s funny and weird, utilizing its dark humour pretty well.

 

 

CANNON FODDER:

In a walled in city which considers itself to be constantly at war, everyone’s livelihood depends on maintaining the enormous cannons which are placed all over the place. We follow the story of a young boy and his father, who works as a cannon loader. And while the city constantly fills their news regarding “successful bombings” of the “enemy”, there actually exists no evidence of any of this…or any evidence of there actually being an enemy at all.

 

Cannon Fodder is the segment which differs most in art style, with the characters being drawn with what is a little reminiscent of the “Animal Crossing”-style red triangle noses. But it’s also the segment which, although not providing any overt horror, gives most food for thought. It’s a story about a city and its people, constantly riled up with fear over that horrible and dangerous “enemy” that they constantly need to battle…except there is no evidence for this enemy’s existence whatsoever, other than what their local media is telling their citizens. It’s a grim depiction of how people can be misled by their leaders into a war against something that doesn’t even provide a threat…

 

 

Overall, Memories is holding up really well despite its age. The animation is fluid and visually mesmerizing, as well as hauntingly beautiful, and each segment provides a different yet captivating experience.

 

 

Directors: Kôji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Writers: Satoshi Kon, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Original Title: Memorîzu
Country & year: Japan, 1995
Voice actors: Shigeru Chiba, Hisao Egawa, Kayoko Fujii, Nobuaki Fukuda, Ami Hasegawa, Isamu Hayashi, Yu Hayashi, Michio Hazama, Masato Hirano, Hideyuki Hori, Hiroaki Ishikawa, Takkô Ishimori, Tomoko Ishimura, Tsutomu Isobe
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113799/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY LITTLE GOAT – Animated Short

The mother goat rescues her little goats from the wolf’s belly. But, she can’t find Toruku, her eldest son! Where is Toruku?!

 

My Little Goat is the master graduation short animated film by Tomoki Misato, and it’s a dark and disturbing tale. The story is a modern retelling of the popular Grimm’s fairytale The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats, with a particularly dark twist to it.

 

MY LITTLE GOAT - Animated Short

 

Director: Tomoki Misato
Writer: Tomoki Misato
Country & year: Japan, 2018
Voice Actors: Aimi Fukuhara, Mizuho Misato, Tomoki Misato, Kaori Yamashita
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt8463148/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sinister (2012)

Ellison Oswalt is a true crime writer who moves into a new home with his wife and two children. What he has not told his family prior to moving into the house, however, is that an entire family was murdered there by hanging, and his intention is to write a book about this case. This is something he does in the hopes of regaining his lost fame, as his latest works weren’t very popular and he’s desperate for a new success. There was also a little girl who disappeared following the murders, and he hopes to learn more about her fate so he can include this mystery in his novel. Upon exploring the attic of the house, he finds a box with several reels of Super 8 footage, which are simply labeled as “home movies”. Using the projector which was also located in the attic, he discovers that the films are footage of several families being murdered, all of them filmed by an unseen camera operator. Upon investigation these cases he finds similarities that makes him suspect that both the murders in the house he now inhabits, and the ones from the Super 8 footage, are connected in a sinister way, and dates all the way back to the 1960’s…

 

Sinister is a 2012 horror movie directed by Scott Derrickson (who will have a new movie hitting the theaters soon, The Black Phone). Scott Derrickson had previously shown his competence in the horror field with Hellraiser: Inferno (his debut film) and later The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which was based on the story of Anneliese Michel).

 

Sinister is for the most part a highly effective and creepy film, with a steadily growing sense of unease without tossing a bunch of jumpscares at you. There are some genuinely hair-raising moments here, led by solid performances, and the opening scene alone sets the tone right away where we witness the Super 8 footage of the family being hanged. This scene was actually all played by stuntmen, and almost went terribly wrong: when the scene was first done, the stunt coordinator botched the preparations for the scene resulting in the actors being legitimately hanged and choked. Yikes! Fortunately they all survived, and naturally the coordinator got sacked. This wasn’t the only potentially harmful scene either: one of the other “footage” films included a family tied to chairs and pulled underwater, and the filmmakers had to be extremely careful so nobody was harmed while the filming of the scene took place. All of these scenes were also filmed on real Super 8 films camera.

 

Overall, Sinister is a solidly crafted horror film with loads of atmosphere and a really creepy feel, where some parts are actually outright scary. While it does not have any nudity, very little blood and no cursing because they were aiming for a PG-13 release, it still got an R rating just for the content alone. It is now 10 years since its release, and it’s still one of the most decently crafted horror films from this period.

 

Sinister

 

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Country & year: USA, UK, Canada 2012
Actors: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, Rob Riley, Tavis Smiley, Janet Zappala, Victoria Leigh, Cameron Ocasio, Ethan Haberfield
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1922777/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TERRIBLE THINGS – Horror Short

Amidst the dead uninhabitable world of the future, the shelter of a forgotten country cottage affords a lone wanderer opportunity to acknowledge the lingering strands of her own humanity.

 

Terrible Things is a dark and atmospheric horror short about a lonely survivor in a horrific world.

 

TERRIBLE THINGS - Horror Short

 

Director: Ciarán Hickey
Writer: Ciarán Hickey
Country & year: Ireland, 2021
Actors: Claire J. Loy
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt14124642/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ninth Gate (1999)

Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a book dealer who specializes in rare items. He is hired by a wealthy collector named Boris Balkan, who has acquired “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows“: a 17th century book that is rumored to be able to summon the Devil himself. It is said that the author of the book, Aristide Torchia, wrote the book in collaboration with the Devil, and that only three copies survived. Balkan suspects that only one of these books are authentic, and that’s the reason he’s hired Corso: so he can inspect the other books and determine which one is the real deal. Corso accepts the job, and begins his travels to check out the other books. Soon, he comes into contact with a mysterious woman who appears to be following him…and he’s getting more and more drawn into a supernatural conspiracy.

 

The Ninth Gate is a neo-noir horror thriller by Roman Polanski, which is loosely based on Arturo Péres-Reverte’s novel called The Club Dumas (El Club Dumas) from 1993. Polanski liked the script so much and “saw so many elements that seemed good for a movie. It was suspenseful, funny, and there were a great number of secondary characters that are tremendously cinematic“. Polanski was very clear about not believing in the occult at all…but he certainly liked the genre, that’s for sure. While The Ninth Gate is nowhere near as popular or praised as his first devil-worship movie, Rosemary’s Baby (1968), it’s still a solid and stylish Polanski thriller.

 

Polanski’s knack at storytelling easily keeps the viewer engaged enough throughout the movie, with minimal use of special effects. In fact, there is very little violence or blood, and it relies on atmosphere and mystery accompanied by absorbing European scenery and cinematography. The cast is good, with a good performance by Depp who is portraying the unscrupulous and cynical book dealer who finds himself entangled in occultism and devil worship. There’s a lot of occult and tarot-like symbolism in here, some which may even be easily overlooked, like for example the obvious difference between the journeys of Corso and Balkan, going in opposite directions. I guess it’s one of those movies where taking everything at face value might leave you bored and moderately confused by this little puzzle of a film…there’s so much symbolism and small things that may not be too apparent, but makes a huge difference when you notice it. Certainly that old phrase comes to good use here: the Devil is in the details!

 

The Ninth Gate is a movie that has, since its release, received very mixed reception where some have been put off by the heavy use of symbolism and the apparently non-conclusive ending. But overall, I think The Night Gate is an enjoyable atmospheric and symbolistic occult horror thriller that has Polanski’s quirky humour and slightly absurd tone all over it.

 

The Ninth Gate

 

Director: Roman Polanski
Country & year: France, Spain, 1999
Actors: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner, Barbara Jefford, Jack Taylor, José López Rodero, Tony Amoni, James Russo, Willy Holt, Allen Garfield, Jacques Dacqmine, Joe Sheridan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0142688/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LUNCH LADIES – Horror Short

Two burnt-out high school Lunch Ladies do whatever it bloody takes on their quest to become Johnny Depp’s Personal Chefs.

 

Lunch Ladies is a playful and funny horror short, with a nice dose of blood ‘n gore!

 

LUNCH LADIES - Horror Short

 

Director: J.M. Logan
Writer: Clarissa Jacobson
Country & year: USA, 2017
Actors: Donna Pieroni, Mary Manofsky, Daisy Kershaw
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt6283384/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skeptic (2009)

Responding to a 911 call, a police officer enters a large house and finds a dead woman inside. She appears to have died of fright, clutching a set of rosary beads. This woman is Bryan Beckett’s aunt, who is a lawyer and confirmed skeptic, who considers everything paranormal to be nothing but pure hogwash. Upon visiting his deceased aunt’s home and subsequently moving in (mainly in order to take a break from his shattered marriage) people around him starts giving vague hints, trying to tell him that moving in might not be a good idea. After ignoring other people’s warnings that he shouldn’t do so because the place is haunted, he starts experiencing strange things which puts his skepticism to the test. There is also something about the place that bothers him, like a strange connection he can’t really figure out. When things go a bit out of hand he seeks medical help, but instead finds himself teamed up with a young psychic who wants to help him reveal the house’s trouble past – or that of the skeptic’s own mind.

 

The Skeptic is a supernatural horror thriller, directed by Tennyson Bardwell. I remember back when the movie was released, that it got a bit of flak for being “outdated” and for not being especially heavy on the fear factor. And, yeah…that’s pretty much true, and doesn’t come as a big surprise considering that the director/writer wrote the first draft of the script in the 1980s. It’s an old-fashioned ghost story that does not rely on CGI-apparitions or jump scares. The slow-burn ghost story got passé already during the 80s, where psychological horror movies became obsolete compared to the more physical and in-your-face kind of horror that shocked audiences anew. The plot also appears overly simple: a man doesn’t believe in ghosts, said man moves into a haunted house, and starts experiencing what can be perceived as supernatural occurrences. So, ironically, I was a little bit of a skeptic when first viewing it…but was pleasantly surprised over seeing how something that appears to be very cliché-filled actually ended up being both a little chilling and engaging. The atmosphere is sometimes thick as a brick, but the suspense isn’t always lingering as much as one could have hoped for. It’s slow, sometimes a bit too much for its own good, but makes up for it with polished production values and the ability to offer a few chills here and there.

 

In a movie like this, it’s often best to not give away too much of the plot, as the viewing experience is best when knowing as little as possible. Overall it was a pleasant surprise, but it’s most suitable for people who enjoy a classic haunted house story of the old-fashioned sort.

The Skeptic

 

Writer and director: Tennyson Bardwell
Also know as: The Haunting of Bryan Becket, The Haunting
Country & year: USA, 2009
Actors: Tim Daly, Tom Arnold, Zoe Saldana, Edward Herrmann, Andrea Roth, Robert Prosky, Bruce Altman, Lea Coco, Sara Weaver, L.J. Foley, Paul Tietjen, Steve, Fletcher, Christina Rouner,
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0493451/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul