CALVING – Horror Short Film

In a rural Irish village, a strange calf is born. And it won’t stop screaming.

 

Calving is an atmospheric allegorical horror short.

CALVING - Horror Short Film

 

Director: Louis Bhose
Writer: Louis Bhose
Country & year: UK, 2021
Actors: Steven Mackintosh, Liz Fitzgibbon, Philip O’Sullivan, Gerry O’Brien
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt13607452/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAST WORDS – Horror Short

When a hiker awakes in the wilderness to find herself separated from her friend, she hears a familiar voice crying for help.

 

Last Words is a mysterious and creepy horror short, proving that scary stuff can also happen in broad daylight!

LAST WORDS - Horror Short

 

Director: Teal Greyhavens, Nikolai Von Keller
Writer: Teal Greyhavens, Nikolai Von Keller
Country & year: USA, 2023
Actors: Julien Crane, Ari Fromm, Charlotte Hjerpe, Jake Jeffers, Jacobii Leal, Nick Luberto, Ché March, Richardson Palmer
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt27707083/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fragile (2005)

FragileMercy Falls is an old hospital that’s about to get closed down, but due to a horrible train accident the main hospital, St. James’s, can’t take in any more patients. Thus, Mercy Falls will need to stay partly open for a while more, keeping some of their patients there and the children located in the children’s ward. One of these children is Maggie, a little girl suffering from cystic fibrosis. She is terrified of “Charlotte”, someone she claims to see. One of the new nurses, Amy Nicholls, bonds with Maggie as they have something in common: they’re both orphans. Maggie confides in Amy, telling her about this Charlotte character which Amy later finds out is some kind of urban legend at the hospital, where several children have claimed to see her over the past two decades. When Amy starts looking even further into the mystery about Charlotte, she discovers that all the other children who claimed to have seen Charlotte are deceased, and she fears that Maggie might be next.

 

Fragile (aka Frágiles) is a supernatural horror film from 2005, directed by Jaume Balagueró (who is most known for the two first REC movies). He came up with the idea for this film after seeing an old photo of a little girl suffering from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a horrible disease where bones are easily fractured, also known as “brittle bone disease”.

 

Fragile is going in a well trodden path, but the savoring points of the film is the atmosphere from the old, gloomy hospital where the Bearwood College in Berkshire, England, was used for the exterior shots. There’s certainly a fair amount of good old-fashioned gothic atmosphere, tinged with mystery. The story unfolds slowly, where you’re being introduced to the main character Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart), various nurses and the sick children in the hospital. Since the plot starts with knowing that the hospital is about to be completely abandoned, but having to postpone it for the children due to the full main hospital after the train accident, you get a feeling of the characters being in an even more isolated and threatening situation. And of course, there’s the abandoned floor where we know something terrible happened. It’s all a nice recipe for a solid, albeit not especially strong, ghost story. Its suspenseful, atmospheric, and quite decent.

 

The ghost here, though…well, she’s something that looks more like she came from a Hellraiser movie and wandered into the wrong set. While there are certainly a lot of horror movies where the ghosts appear a bit over-the-top malformed (like for example the Insidious franchise), she does feel a little bit misplaced here amongst the otherwise traditional gothic elements. Then again, this does make her first full appearance an unexpected surprise. The scenes when she is more obscured works a lot better though than the ones where we see her full on, but overall we don’t really get to see all that much of her.

 

There’s a scene where the children are watching an animated “Sleeping Beauty” film (nope, not the Disney one, as you might have guessed), and this animated film was actually created specifically for this movie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be anywhere in its entirety, aside from in the clip from Fragile. This animated clip does have a certain significance to the movie’s sad but sugar-coated ending.

 

Overall, Fragile is a familiar-looking entry into the supernatural genre of vengeful spirits, mostly held up by its atmosphere and moody locations.

 

Fragile Fragile

 

Director: Jaume Balagueró
Writers: Jaume Balagueró, Jordi Galceran
Country & year: Spain, UK, 2005
Actors: Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Yasmin Murphy, Colin McFarlane, Michael Pennington, Daniel Ortiz, Susie Trayling, Michael Gatward, Scarlet Carey, Cameron Antrobus
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0422272/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHINY NEW WORLD – Horror Short

Fifty-year-old Barry is a special kind of cleaner: he cleans crime scenes where demons have wreaked havoc. While making a corporate film about his work, a normal working day for Barry gets out of hand in a bloody way.

 

Shiny New World is a fun horror short where you get a look into the amusing job of being a demon crime scene cleaner!

SHINY NEW WORLD - Horror Short

 

Director: Jan van Gorkum
Writer: Jan van Gorkum
Country & year: Netherlands, 2021
Actors: Patrick Stoof, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Maarten Prins, Marije Coralie Loermans
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt12619824/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012)

Nazis at the Center of the EarthNazis at the Center of the Earth. How can you go wrong with a title like that which sounds more like a drive-in flick from the 1970s, or something that Robert Rodriguez, once upon a time, could have made under his Grindhouse banner? Well, first off – this is from the cheap film company The Asylum which is, in the most recent decade, most known for its own original Sharknado franchise. Besides that, we can mention a neverending list of shitty low-to-non budget mockbusters such as Titanic II, Transmorphers, Atlantic Rim, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter, Invasion of the Pod People, Independents’ Day (yes, really), Battle Star Wars … And the list goes on like a non-stop diarrhea of the most shameless clickbait titles to fool people with one brain cell to trick them into watching something familiar to a mainstream Hollywood film. Their Paranormal Activity Entity wasn’t the worst as far as I remember, although it’s ages since I saw it.

 

The one we’re talking about here is their own warped version of Iron Sky, only here the Nazis aren’t coming from the moon but from the depths. And mockbuster or not, the title is enough to get my attention as I eat fat turkeys like this for breakfast, and it turned out to be as fun and crazy as the title would suggest, with even more surprises. In other words; the best way to experience this loony ride is to go in blind as this review will contain some spoilers.

 

We are at the research center Niflheim in Antarctica where two scientists are out on the snowy fields, ready to sample the surface for their research. When they unfold something metallic under the snow with a swastika painted on it, they get captured by a group of Nazis wearing gas masks, and they take them to a bunker somewhere deep underground. The leader of the research team, Dr. Adrian Reinstad (Jake Busey, the son of madman Gary Busey) heads out with his crew to find them.

 

One of the crew members, named Silje, is supposed to be Norwegian, by the way. And she speaks the language just as clearly and fluently as Brad Pitt speaking Italian – or like these two guys from an episode of The X-Files.

 

Anyway – they descend into a huge, dark pit that takes them to something that at first looks like an alternative Narnia dimension. But with a further look, it’s a huge underground world with trees, plants, and a forest where a fortress can be seen in the distance. Here they meet the evil Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson), with the infamous badass nickname The Angel of Death, who performed torturous experiments on victims at the Auschwitz II concentration camp during WW2.

 

Nazis at the Center of the Earth

 

So, the big question is: why is he still alive, and what’s his agenda?

 

Wikipedia can tell us that Mengele died by drowning after he suffered a stroke while swimming in 1979. That’s of course BS and pure falsification of history as we here learn that he actually kept himself alive all these years by taking organs from victims and replacing his bones with mechanical skeletons. And with his army of Nazi zombies, he’s still experimenting, so he finally can reanimate none other than der Führer himself. The plan here is to rise up to the surface with a war spaceship, so they can finally take over the world and create the perfect Arian race. Of course.

 

The film has apparently one of the highest visual effects shot counts in an Asylum production with a budget of $200,000. And still, it looks like a Lada trying to be a Plymouth Fury flooded with empty bottles of Vodka, Smirnoff and Jägermeister. Not a single outdoor scene looks realistic with its cheap digital backgrounds. The snow vehicle we see at the beginning looks like something from PlayStation 2. We see people who are supposed to be in the distance in the fake-looking Antarctica when they’re clearly copied and pasted with lousy use of green screen. It’s also made in a serious way with actors who really try to act professionally, which just makes it more amusing. A great recipe for a funny-bad movie, for sure, and in my judgment, not made bad on purpose like the Sharknado films. There’s some decent gore here, which is the only legit quality to point out.

 

But what’s takes the cake here, or the big Golden Raspberry, if you will, is the true star of the film: Please kneel and give your salute to –  Robo-Hitler (James Maxwell Young), where Hitler’s head is attached to a cyborg machine. Yes, you heard that right. This actually took me off guard, I did nazi that coming, and my eyes teared up from laughing. Everything here is just perfect; the way he stomps with his cyborg body like a mecha boss from a Sonic the Hedgehog game, the amateur acting, the goofy faces, the whole naive, enthusiastic energy. What more is there really to say? Nazis at the Center of the Earth is an epic schlockfest and a true gem in its category which is available on Blu-ray at Amazon.com, and last time I checked, on Tubi.

 

Nazis at the Center of the Earth Nazis at the Center of the Earth Nazis at the Center of the Earth

 

Director: Joseph J. Lawson
Writer: Paul Bales
Country & year: USA, 2012
Actors: Dominique Swain, Jake Busey, Joshua Michael Allen, Christopher Karl Johnson, James Maxwell Young, Lilan Bowden, Marlene Okner, Adam Burch, Maria Pallas, Abderrahim Halaimia, Trevor Kuhn
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2130142/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightwatch (1994)

NightwatchMartin is a young law student who’s looking for a typical student job: something that will earn him a bit of money but won’t get in the way of his studies. He ends up seeking a job as a night watchman at the Forensic Medicine Institute, which seems to be perfect. Just sitting there all alone at night, being able to spend some of that time studying. It doesn’t take many nights before paranoia starts setting in, and several unexplained things start happening at the place. Is the job just getting under his skin and fraying his nerves, or is something else at play here? Things get worse as one of the victims of an uncaught serial killer is brought in to the morgue, and just as Martin seriously starts wondering if he’s losing his mind, something happens that ends up making him the prime suspect of the murders.

 

Nightwatch (Danish title Nattevagten) is a Danish horror thriller from 1994, written and directed by Ole Bornedal. After Bornedal released his television film Masturbator (1993), he got the inspiration for Nightwatch after visiting the morgue, which he found to be “both scary and beautiful”. It made him think about how, on the outside of a morgue the daily life continues on, while on the inside you’re standing there with the realization that this is where everything ends. Upon release, the film was a huge success in Denmark where it sold 465.529 tickets. In fact, it got so popular that it ended up being a bigger box office hit in the country than Jurassic Park the previous year.

 

The movie starts out fine enough, with a quick introduction to Martin and the other main characters. When he gets the job and the old, soon to be retired, night guard shows him around, there’s a checklist of “rules” the guard advices him to follow: get yourself a radio. When going into the room with the stiffs, just look straight ahead and never to the sides. And so on. If this wasn’t a movie from 1994, you could’ve thought this setup was based on some kind of classic Creepypasta story. However, like with many things that happen in this movie, you’re thrown a load of red herrings already from the start in order to make you just as confused as the main character ends up being.

 

Originally, the movie was seen as a rather gruesome little flick, and while there are some topics that certainly are controversial (necrophilia, under-aged prostitutes, etc.) none of these topics are displayed in a manner that’s exposed enough to be adequately disturbing. Sure, it was probably an entirely different experience back in ’94 when Scandinavian movies didn’t have much to offer in the horror genre to being with, but seen with modern eyes it’s not really going to crawl under your skin. There are several effective scenes here though, especially when Martin takes his rounds in the morgue when he’s not sure exactly what is going on, and the scene of a grisly murder that happens during the soundtrack of a cheesy, upbeat Danish song (Lille Lise let på tå) that provided a perfect paradoxical effect. Overall it’s a fun and exciting thriller with lots of twists and turns, and although there are some slight pacing issues throughout, it keeps you entertained and guessing what will happen next.

 

While the movie was a huge success in its home country, there were some who didn’t exactly find themselves pleased with the whole situation. Apparently, the film caused a rise in number of people who had withdrawn their organ donation wills, and Professor Morten Møller claimed it was due to the film’s distorted image of doctors, students and researchers’ treatment of the dead and their body parts. He stated: “The movieNightwatch’ has certainly not had a positive effect on us. I don’t know what people imagine. That we should be sexually interested in the dead and want to lie down on their bed? A crazy fantasy that has not the slightest hold in reality.” Oh well…in any case, there’s no doubt that Nightwatch certainly had quite an impact in its home country.

 

There was also an english-language remake of the film released in 1997, also directed by Bornedal, and this year, a whole 30 years later, we get a sequel which is called Nightwatch – Demons are Forever. It was originally released in Denmark in December 2023, but it’s starting to hit the theaters elsewhere in May this year.

 

Nightwatch Nightwatch Nightwatch

 

Writer and director: Ole Bornedal
Country & year: Denmark, 1994
Original title: Nattevagten
Actors: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sofie Gråbøl, Kim Bodnia, Lotte Andersen, Ulf Pilgaard, Rikke Louise Andersson, Stig Hoffmeyer, Gyrd Løfquist, Niels Anders Thorn
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110631/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUPER HOST – Horror Short

An Airbnb host discovers an insidious spirit occupying her condo.

 

Super Host is a creepy horror short about the dangers of being an Airbnb host. You never know what kind of danger you’ll be letting inside your home…

SUPER HOST - Horror Short

 

Director: Dan Frantz, Andy Koeger
Writer: Dan Frantz, Andy Koeger
Country & year: USA, 2022
Actors: Adria Dawn, Torrey Hanson, Pearl Paramadilok, Ashton Swinford
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt21996390/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rift (1990)

The RiftNATO sends out a crew in order to find out what happened to their missing submarine, the Siren I. For this, they use the experimental submarine the Siren II, and along with this crew the designer of the sub is amongst them. He finds that the corporation who had the submarine built, Contek, has made several modifications to the original design. He is not very happy about this, and the mood is already a bit strained and a lot of things definitely feels a bit off with the whole mission. When they get signals from Siren I‘s black box, they are led to an underwater rift that is full of toxic weed, something the on-board scientist points out should have been impossible since there shouldn’t be any plant life at this depth. Of course, they find out that Contek and Siren I had a lot of secrets, and the full truth of their mission is yet to be revealed to them.

 

The Rift (aka Endless Descent) is a B-horror movie from 1990, directed by Juan Piquer Simón who also directed movies like Pieces (1982) and Slugs (1988). There were a lot of underwater horror and thriller movies released around this time, most notably The Abyss from 1989, which was also one of the very few of these that became a box-office hit. Of course, like with many prior movie successes, there will always be those who try to jump on the bandwagon in hopes of traveling along with the popularity. The results are often a blend of meh-movies and some true B-horror schlock, in which the latter often deserves their own little spot here in the crypt of the Horror Ghouls.

 

Sure, the plot if somewhat threadbare and slightly silly, but the acting is overall decent enough for a movie like this, with Ray Wise having one of his more typical roles. The effects aren’t that bad either for an obvious low budget, and even though there isn’t an abundance of blood and gore, the death scenes are often vicious enough. While the movie starts off a little slow and sluggish, barely threading the water it’s supposed to dive into, it does start offering up some more intensity and surprises as we go along. There are at least some deep sea atrocities to set your eyes on here, including some giant killer seaweed, although the best creature feature parts are saved for the final scenes of the movie.

 

The Rift has its fair share of brutality, and serves up some amusing underwater sci-fi schlock. While it isn’t a movie that’s crazy enough to be especially funny, it is at least an okay popcorn-flick. Overall an average B-Horror movie, not great but entertaining enough.

 

The Rift

 

Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Writers: Juan Piquer Simón, Mark Klein, David Coleman
Country & year: Spain, USA, 1990
Actors: Jack Scalia, R. Lee Ermey, Ray Wise, Deborah Adair, John Toles-Bey, Ely Pouget, Emilio Linder, Tony Isbert, Álvaro Labra, Luis Lorenzo, Frank Braña, Pocholo Martínez-Bordiú
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099701/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

Absentia (2011)

AbsentiaTricia is a woman who lives alone in a house in Glendale, California. Her husband has been missing for seven years, and the time has finally come to declare him in “dead in absentia”. This is a tough decision for Tricia, and her younger sister Callie comes to stay with her during this time. Daniel’s death certificate is being worked on, and Callie helps Tricia look for a new apartment. However, when the date for declaring him dead approaches, Tricia starts having nightmares and experiences terrifying hallucinations of him, where he appears to be angry and frustrated. Her psychologist says this all stems from the guilt she feels, but declaring him dead after all these years is still the right thing to do so she can finally move on. Callie, who is a former drug addict, tries to keep her days busy by jogging around the neighborhood, and one day she runs into a creepy tunnel where she sees a man who appears to be shocked that she can see him. He begs her to contact his son, but she assumes this man is just a confused and possibly dangerous hobo and runs off. She later comes back and leaves some food for him, but he’s not there anymore. Later, when Callie has decided to finally sign Daniel’s death certificate and get it over with, she sees a bloody and barefoot person in front of her house. When she sees that it’s Daniel, she is first a little confused as she thinks it might be yet another of her creepy hallucinations of him…but then she realizes it really is him, in flesh and blood. At the hospital, he appears to be disoriented and severely malnourished, and can only explain that he’s been “underneath”…

 

Absentia from 2011 is written, edited and directed by Mike Flanagan and produced by FallBack Plan Productions. It was partly funded by over 300 donors through a Kickstarter campaign, where the goal was to raise $15.000 and they ended up with $25.000 which was a bit more than one third of their final budget. Mike Flanagan has been serving several titles into the horror genre over the years, including Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), Dr. Sleep (2019), the TV mini series The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and many more. While Absentia is one of his very earliest work, there is actually a little bit of an easter egg here where in the psychologist’s office we see the Oculus mirror on the wall, which had been previously used in Flanagan’s short Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man With the Plan from 2006, and was later included in his feature film Oculus from 2013.

 

This movie is definitely a slow burner, where the mystery regarding Daniel’s disappearance and the tunnel nearby keeps you guessing and curious throughout the movie. The mood is dire and depressing, with a steady build of unease. There’s a fair amount of subtlety here, which doesn’t always work in the movie’s favour, but at other times perfectly boosts the underlying feeling of unease. Like, the small detail of seeing posters nearby the creepy tunnel of missing dogs, implying that it’s not only Daniel’s that’s gone missing in that neighborhood. The small nudge to the old children’s tale The Three Billy Goats Gruff, an old Norwegian folktale which was first published in 1844, is also a nice touch where using something from old folklore and twisting it into something else in modern time.

 

While Absentia is by no means any masterpiece or a must-see, it’s still a nice watch if you want something eerie and slow-paced where it’s all more about mood than substance.

 

Absentia

 

Writer and director: Mike Flanagan
Country & year: USA, 2011
Actors: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, Jamie Flanagan, Doug Jones, Scott Graham, Connie Ventress, Ian Gregory
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1610996/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAD ACID – Horror Short

Sheila, is a self-obsessed aerobics fanatic who accidentally ingests some toxic hair gel while doing her usual morning workout to Aerobisexy vol. 14, transporting her into the world of Aerobics Cult Leader John Flexi.

 

Bad Acid is a trippy and fun horror short!

THE SPIRIT BECAME FLESH - Horror Short

 

Director: Sam Fox
Writer: Sam Fox
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Kate Hollowell, Caileigh Knapp, Willie Larson, Branden Wilbarger
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt15527070/