Crash Discussions: Director of the Damned: Ti West

PodcastimageThe Delaware born filmmaker Ti West brings a busload of themes and techniques to make his horrors thrive. Billy and Jonny take a look at West’s short career and zero in on the common threads and risk-taking in THE ROOST, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS, THE SACRAMENT and more. Don’t miss this in depth look into one of horror’s finest masters.
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Crash Analysis Support Team: Randy Brzoska’s 100 Greatest Halloween Flicks

2-Halloween-PitchIt’s my favorite time of the year for movie viewing—when the shadows get longer, days shorter, and the horror movies come out on cable TV to play. But you know, I’m kind of picky about my Halloween movies. Don’t get me wrong; any good horror will do during the holiday. But there are tons of great horror movies out there that, for one reason or another, don’t quite feel right to me. For example, THE THING is a great horror movie. But it doesn’t quite fit into my ideal Halloween ambience. Ditto for ALIEN. In fact, most sci fi horror doesn’t quite make the grade for my Halloween viewing. They don’t have the right vibe, the right atmosphere. So what do I want? What makes for a really good Halloween horror?

Well, for one thing I don’t think that the movie has to objectively great. There are a lot of movies I watch at Halloween that don’t necessarily warrant high praise. But a sense of fun can go a long way. Even a little camp. But at the same time, the movie can’t be complete and utter dreck (for example: FREDDY vs. JASON).

Setting is important. Locales that remind us of the holiday’s agricultural origins like isolated rural landscapes and bucolic small towns. Old creepy houses also make fine settings. Ditto graveyards, mausoleums, crypts, and tombs. Lots of nighttime scenes. If it lacks any of these, it helps if the movie is set around Halloween or has a strong autumnal atmosphere.

A nod to paganism is good. Old rituals, witches, ancient cults, Satan. Lots of seasonal images like scarecrows, corn fields, pumpkins, and full moons. Further, it helps if the monsters are reflective of some of the same things Halloween celebrates: death/undeath, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, flesheaters, demons. Werewolves, I think, are particularly great Halloween monsters. And if the movie lacks prototypical monsters, then it should be eerie: inspiring fear, dread, or uneasiness or at least hinting at the supernatural and mysterious.

I think a good Halloween movie has at least two of the above qualities. The really good ones have more. Few have them all. That said; let’s look at 100 movies that I think qualify for great Halloween movie viewing. Keep in mind, this isn’t a list of my favorite horror movies overall or the greatest of all time. In fact, a lot of really great horror movies aren’t on this list. But when I think of Halloween, these are the sorts of movies I like to see.

Be warned: this list is entirely arbitrary and reflects the tastes of a horror fan who doesn’t particularly love slasher flicks or torture porn. Also, I will use the word ‘creepy’ an awful lot (I find there is no adequate synonym for the word at times). Furthermore, you may find that I enjoy the word ‘autumnal’. You should, too.


City of the Living Dead (1980)— Halloween attributes: set around the season, lots of undead, gates to hell…what’s not to like? The first Fulci on the list, but not the last. Fulci gives good Halloween, if you ask me.



Rosemary’s Baby (1968)Halloween attributes: Satanic cults and, though it doesn’t have a creepy house, it does have a really sinister and creaky apartment. Bonus: Satan gets a sex scene that’s just dreamy.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Carrie (1976)Halloween attributes: The supernatural, atmosphere in spades. Sissy Spacek is mesmerizing in the title role.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Nosferatu (1922)Halloween attributes: The undead, castles, coffins, and shadows.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Amazon Plus, Hulu, YouTube


House of the Devil (2009)—Halloween attributes: Old creepy house…in the woods, autumnal atmosphere. And Satan, of course!

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Hulu Plus


The Cabin in the Woods (2012)Halloween attributes: It’s a fucking cabin…in the woods, people! Loads of cool monsters. Lovecraftian occult references. And it’s fun as fuck.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Amazon Plus


Banshee Chapter (2013)Halloween attributes: Eerie. Just fucking eerie as hell. Things lurking in the darkness.

Bonus: Jump scares that actually work. Also, Ted Levine channeling his inner Hunter S. Thompson

STREAMING? Yes: Netlix


Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)—Halloween attributes: Backwoods setting; I can’t think of a movie that has more fun with slasher conventions than this one.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Plus


Stake Land (2011)—Halloween attributes: The undead; empty houses, roads, and landscapes.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


The Legend of Hell House (1973)—Halloween attributes: Supernatural spookiness, creepy old house.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Amazon Plus


Wake Wood (2011)—Halloween attributes: Old pagan rites and a rural setting. Mud and trees and murder.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


John Dies at the End (2013)—Halloween attributes: Scary and fun. Coscarelli does a great job of balancing monsters, mayhem, and wry comedy. This isn’t the last film of his on the list. Like Fulci, he gives great Halloween.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


The Blair Witch Project (1999)—Halloween attributes: Woodland settings; lots of nighttime shenanigans; a possibly undead witch; dread. If you don’t like it, go stand in the corner!

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Amazon Prime


Re-Animator (1985)—Halloween attributes: Lots of dark humor; the quest for life after death.

Bonus: Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton are together and they are spectacular.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)—Halloween attributes: This movie is so creepy and eerie it just has to be here.

Bonus: Lots of 70s haircuts and that crazy dog-thing.

STREAMING? Yes:Netflix


The Lair of the White Worm (1988)—Halloween attributes: Ancient pagan rites; lots of fun WTF?! moments; Hugh Grant looking totally out of his element.

Bonus: A large…apparatus is donned. You’ll know it when you see it.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Night of the Living Dead (1968)—Halloween attributes: Rural Pennsylvania setting, at night; loads of undead. A Halloween staple for good reason.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Candyman (1992)—Halloween attributes: The supernatural; urban legends, and folklore; plus, it’s just hard to keep a horror flick off a Halloween list when it has the word ‘candy’ in the title. What’s that in the mirror?

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Hulu Plus


Black Sabbath (1964)—Halloween attributes: Classic horror anthology that has a little bit of everything; undeath.

Bonus: Boris Karloff both stars in one segment and hosts the anthology.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Amazon Prime


The House on Haunted Hill (1959)—Halloween attributes: Creepy old mansion; ghosts and other undead; healthy dose of camp; Vincent Price.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Hulu


Night of the Creeps (1986)—Halloween attributes: From the mouth of director Fred Dekker: “I took every B-movie cliché you’ve ever seen: nerds, wise-cracking detectives, corny bit characters, and slimy monsters. I jammed them all together and called it NIGHT OF THE CREEPS.” And thank you for that, Fred.

Bonus: Tom Atkins as ‘wise-cracking’ Det. Ray Cameron answering every phone call with a laconic ‘Thrill me.” This will not be the last time Tom Atkins appears on this list.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Hellraiser (1988)—Halloween attributes: Monsters and creatures; life after death; hints of paganism and the occult; Frank.

Bonus: It will tear your soul apart.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Hulu Plus


Fright Night (1985)—Halloween attributes: The undead; a sense of real fun mixed with the scares; Chris Sarandon was born to be in this movie. Make sure you see the original, not the remake.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Hulu Plus


Creepshow 2 (1987)—Halloween attributes: A troika of tales that don’t take themselves too seriously. Great to have on in the background while dishing the candy. ‘The Raft’ is the strongest segment. Features an undead Creep between segments.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


C.H.U.D. (1984)—Halloween attributes: Lots of monstrous flesheaters, pulpy fun. Bonus: One of the more interesting non-Psycho shower scenes.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


The Dunwich Horror (1970)—Halloween attributes: Pagan rituals; cemeteries; old houses; B-movie pleasures abound.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)—Halloween attributes: Set during the season; paganism and witchcraft; film isn’t just off the rails, it never bothered with rails to begin with.

Bonus: Tom Atkins heroically manages to keep a straight face throughout and his performance alone salvages the movie. Also, though the plot is absurd, there are a few deeply creepy and disturbing scenes that make it worthwhile.



V/H/S and V/H/S/2 (2012 & 2013)—Halloween attributes: Both are hit or miss, but they feature plenty of occultish happenings, the undead, spooky houses, and creepy creatures.

Recommended: the first and last segments of V/H/S (‘Amateur Night’ and ‘10/31/98’) and ‘Safe Haven’ from V/H/S 2.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Black Sunday (1960)—Halloween attributes: Witches; undeath; gloomy landscapes; crypts and tombs. Not to be confused with the 1977 movie featuring a blimp.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


The Crow (1994)—Halloween attributes: Set during the season; the undead; cemetery settings; lots of night scenes.

Bonus: Micheal Wincott channeling his inner Gary Busey as Top Dollar and The Crow quoting Thackeray as narcotics ooze from trackmarks on a woman’s arm.

STREAMING? Yes: Neflix, Amazon Prime


Donnie Darko (2001)—Halloween attributes: Set during the season; though not a horror, creepy as hell.

Bonus: features a monster rabbit named Frank. Also, Jena Malone.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


The Conqueror Worm/Witchfinder General (1968)—Halloween attributes: Paganism and witchcraft, Vincent Price.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Kill List (2012)—Halloween attributes: Weird occult happenings and pagan rites; relentless tension and dread; bucolic settings.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Zodiac (2007)—Halloween attributes: a non-horror that is eerie as hell and never lets the viewer off the hook.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Berberian Sound Studio (2013)—Halloween attributes: Dreamily dreadful; atmospheric; you can play it with no picture just for the unnerving sound effects.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


Don’t Look Now (1973)—Halloween attributes: Deeply weird, which makes it kind of great. Lots of night scenes; images of decay; dripping gothic structures.

Bonus: features an ending so shocking and strange that I’d say you couldn’t make it up, except Daphne du Maurier did, which…I don’t even know how to comment intelligently about that.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


ParaNorman (2012)—Halloween attributes: The undead; family-friendly frights; will amuse adults as well as children.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)—Halloween attributes: Set during the season; loads of Halloween imagery; ghouls, goblins, undead in spades; features a killer Danny Elfman score.

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix


An American Werewolf in London (1981)—Halloween attributes: Some rural settings; full moon; the undead come back and chat with you about your lycanthropy problem; wickedly fun and funny.

STREAMING? Yes: Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)—Halloween attributes: This is just a really creepy silent film. That is all.

STREAMING? Yes: Amazon Prime, YouTube


Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)—Halloween attributes: Rural settings at night; loads of traditional Halloween imagery; ghosts.

Bonus: Ichabod’s rival, Brom Bones (voiced by Bing Crosby), sings a song about the Headless Horseman and uses jazz hands. Fantastic.



The Sentinel (1977)—Halloween attributes: The occult and Satanic; the undead.



The Evil Dead (1981)—Halloween attributes: Isolated setting in the woods…at night; the undead; Satanic rites and demonic possession; good, scary fun.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Ginger Snaps (2001): Halloween attributes: Loads of scenes at night; autumnal bucolic setting; darkly funny

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


From Beyond (1986)—Halloween attributes: Creepy creatures and flesheaters; Glorious gory fun.

Bonus: Barbara Crampton dons a leather S&M outfit, looks great.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Shutter (2004): Halloween attributes: The undead; dread and unease.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Night of the Demons (1988)—Halloween attributes: Satanism and demonic possession; set in a mortuary at night; campy as hell.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Equinox (1970)—Halloween attributes: Satanic or demonic elements; isolated woodland setting; Cemetery.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Isolation (2006)—Halloween attributes: Rural agricultural setting; creepy-crawly flesh-eating monsters.



Fiend Without a Face (1957)—Halloween attributes: Slithery, flesh-eating monsters; rural agricultural settings; splat-tacular fun.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


The Beyond (1981)—Halloween attributes: References to Satanism and the occult; creepy old house; the undead; considerable cheese-factor.

Bonus: That’s right, more Fulci. What’s going on in this movie? I don’t know. Nobody does. Just sit back and enjoy the carnage.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


The House by the Cemetery (1981)—Halloween attributes: Come on! Look at that title! Old creepy house. By a cemetery. Just to be safe, it’s also in the woods. Are there undead? Hell yes!

Bonus: This flick features a gonzo bat-attack. That’s right, someone gets attacked…by a bat. Not a vampire bat. Just a regular old abnormally large bat. Why? No reason. It’s ridiculous. And there’s nothing wrong with that.


Kuroneko (1968)—Halloween attributes: The undead; dark, seductive, and eerie.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Inferno (1980)—Halloween attributes: The undead; Satanic and occult references.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


The Prowler (1980)—Halloween attributes: Love the night scenes; bucolic setting; the undead make a cameo.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)—Halloween attributes: A rural, agricultural setting; the undead.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


The Lords of Salem (2012)—Halloween attributes: The occult and Satanism; the undead; cemetery scenes.



Dawn of the Dead (2004)—Halloween attributes: The undead; shallow, but has a sense of fun.



Day of the Dead (1985)—Halloween attributes: Loads of flesheating undead. In my opinion, the most disturbing of Romero’s ‘Dead’ movies.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube


Them/Ils (2007)—Halloween attributes: Creepy old house out in the country invaded by murderous little shits.

STREAMING? Yes: Hulu Plus


Last Man on Earth (1964)—Halloween attributes: The undead, Vincent Price.



Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007)—Halloween attributes: All of them. You cannot be MORE Halloween than Trick ‘r’ Treat. It is impossible. This is the apex of Halloween movies.

STREAMING? No. You’ll have to buy or rent this sucker. You should.


Halloween (1978)—Halloween attributes: Set during the season; small town; lots of action at night; iconic score. This is a movie I appreciate more than I actually like it.

STREAMING? No. But it’ll be on TV like a gazillion times, so don’t worry.


The Ring (2002)—Halloween attributes: The undead; sustained dread.

Bonus: Random and severely disturbing horse death two-thirds of the way through the movie.



Phantasm (1979)—Halloween attributes: The undead; lots of cemetery action; Pagan/occult overtones; The Tall Man; fun as hell.

Bonus: Those crazy, glittering balls of death whizzing through the air. Wheee! Also, Reggie Bannister.



Pumpkinhead (1988)—Halloween attributes: First, it’s hard not to include a horror movie on a list like this if it has the word ‘pumpkin’ in its title; Paganism and witchcraft; Backwoods setting, often at night; awesome demonic creature.

Bonus: Lance Henriksen AND Stan Winston working together on the same film

STREAMING: No. And don’t watch the crappy sequels if they pop up on Syfy or Chiller or wherever. They suck.


The Skeleton Key (2008)—Halloween attributes: Creepy old house; the occult; possible presence of ghosts.



Poltergeist (1982)—Halloween attributes: There are NO childhood fears and anxieties this film does not exploit; the undead; references to the occult and The Beast; cemetery action.



In the Mouth of Madness (1995)—Halloween attributes: Lots of disgusting monsters; Lovecraftian and occult overtones; bucolic Hobbes End.



Cemetery Man (1994)—Halloween attributes: The undead; set in a cemetery; funny as hell.

Bonus: Remains on the most eminently quotable and hilarious horror comedies I’ve ever seen. Suck it Shaun of the Dead.



The Orphanage (2007)—Halloween attributes: Ghost children in a dark, old mansion.



Paranormal Activity (2009)—Halloween attributes: Occult/demonic references; scary night scenes that take place while people are sleeping.



The Company of Wolves (1984)—Halloween attributes: Werewolves and flesheaters; full moon lunacy; a mingling of surrealism, wonder, and dread that meshes well with the holiday.

Bonus: Angela Lansbury is marvelous as the storytelling grandmother.



Creepshow (1982)—Halloween attributes: Not a great movie by any standard, but it contains lots of campy fun; the undead; cemeteries and other Halloween images. ‘The Crate’ is by far the best vignette.



Army of Darkness (1993)—Halloween attributes: Everyone seems to be having a grimly great time; undead armies; occult and pagan references; Ash is back.

Bonus: Tons of quotable one-liners.



The Changeling (1980)–Halloween attributes: a ghost haunts a spooky old house inhabited by a grieving widower.



Diabolique (1955)—Halloween attributes: Tons of suspense; a wandering corpse.



Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)—Halloween attributes: Approaches camp, but never quite gets there; set in a small town at autumn; steeped in occult/satanic myths.



The Haunting (1963)—Halloween attributes: Big scary house; ghosts and supernatural happenings; aura of dread.



A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)—Halloween attributes: Spine-chilling ghost story; suspense and dread.



Kwaidan (1963)—Halloween attributes: Ghosts and hauntings; celebrates the macabre and the marvelous



Frankenstein (1931)—Halloween attributes: Death imagery; gothic settings; it’s a fucking classic.



Horror of Dracula (1958)—Halloween attributes: The undead; crypts, tombs, and gothic grandeur.

Bonus: Christopher Lee owns this shit.



Frankenweenie (2012)—Halloween attributes: Tim Burton retells a classic tale with family-friendly panache.

Bonus: It’s in black-and-white, a nod to the classic horrors of yore.



Slither (2006)—Halloween attributes: Bucolic settings, autumn, night; undead-like zombies and slimy creatures; brilliant sense of fun.

Bonus: Michael Rooker is fabulous as the primary antagonist.



Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2 (2001 & 2003)—Halloween attributes: Isolated rural setting; nighttime scares; flesh-eating monster; gory fun.

Bonus: Beautiful shot of the monster flying away near the first movie’s end with a gorgeous full moon in the background.



The Black Cat (1934)—Halloween attributes: References to the occult and Satanism; creepy gothic mansion; Lugosi and Karloff in the same film



The Wicker Man (1973)—Halloween attributes: Isolated rural setting; creepy locals; references to the occult and pagan.



Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)—Halloween attributes: Rural agrarian setting; lots of Halloween-type images; night scenes; the undead.



Evil Dead 2 (1987)—Halloween attributes: Everything that was in the first Evil Dead; more Bruce Campbell

STREAMING? Yes: Netflix, Amazon Prime


Sleepy Hollow (1999)—Halloween attributes: Gothic atmosphere; woodsy setting; lots of night action; the undead; plenty of traditionally Halloween-ish images.



Dead Alive (1992)—Halloween attributes: The undead…often dispatched in a variety of gruesome and amusing ways.

Bonus: The infamous lawnmower scene. Also, mommy issues play a central role in the plot.

STREAMING? Sadly, no.


The Conjuring (2013)—Halloween attributes: Haunted house; murderous ghosts; occult references. A bit pedestrian for my tastes, but it beats the shit out of Insidious or Sinister.

Bonus: Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor.



The Gate (1987): Halloween attributes: A gate to Hell; cheesy as all get out.

Bonus: Metalhead kid wears a Killer Dwarfs jacket…so you know he’s legit.



Bubba Ho-Tep (2003)—Halloween attributes: The undead; one of the craziest plots I’ve ever seen.



The Exorcist III (1990)—Halloween attributes: Satan and demonic possession; buckets of dread.



The Devil Rides Out (1968)—Halloween attributes: The Devil, of course; creepy creatures; night scenes; lots of fun.



Salem’s Lot (1979)—Halloween attributes: The undead; set in a small town; bad things happening at night.



The Mothman Prophecies (2002)—Halloween attributes: Aura of dread; supernatural things lurking in the darkness; ghosts…possibly.



So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? What movies do you like to see on Halloween? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter: @rsbrzoska

(Photo from Bloody Disgusting.)

Crash Discussions: Interview with DISEASE’s M.F. Wahl

PodcastimageThe show’s first horror author, M.F. Wahl, talks zombies, gore, and what makes a strong female character, in this show devoted to the written word. Find out how horror compelled Wahl to write since her youth, what her characters bring to the novel, and why she has no time for poorly crafted stereotypes.
Check out the podcast on iTunes, and leave us a review if you enjoy the show!

Crash Discussions: Gateway to Horror

PodcastimageNo, this isn’t a gateway to Hell, but we take a look at films for the horror neophyte searching for those cool films to get them started in the genre. Get ready to dive into NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE THING, MARTIN, DOG SOLDIERS, GINGER SNAPS, and much more – plus the logic behind Billy’s and Jonny’s choices. Then see if you can convince a horror hater to dive into the genre and explore the bloody depths…
You can download the podcast over on iTunes.

Crash Discussions: Interview with NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR’s Paul Sampson

PodcastimageBilly Crash sits down with Paul Sampson to talk about his cult-in-the-making horror film NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR, which also stars The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus, David Carradine in his final performance, Billy Drago in drag, and horror favorite Udo Kier. Learn about how it got made, why it’s worth watching, and why Sampson worked so hard to bring horror fans something different.
Get the movie NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR right here.

CRASH DISCUSSIONS: Behind the Horror — Mirror

PodcastimageWe take a close look at the mirror, and how it’s used in horror cinema: from EVIL DEAD 2 and THE SHINING, to CANDYMAN and OCULUS. Psychology, philosophy, culture, and literary imagery all play a part in making this one important portal to reflect upon.

CRASH DISCUSSIONS: Andy Dodd and Phoenix Laine of THE APOSTATE and VEIL

PodcastimageFilmmakers Andy Dodd and Phoenix Laine discuss their intense horror/thriller THE APOSTATE: CALL OF THE REVENANT and their upcoming zombie/comedy VEIL. Do not miss this riveting conversation with two passionate independent professionals determined to bring innovative stories to the screen.

Crash Discussions: Is Torture Porn Horror?

PodcastimageJonny walks into a family reunion – and this show happens. We explore the “torture porn” sub-genre, determine if it’s horror, and take a look at films from BLOOD FEAST to MARTYRS, and HOSTEL to the WOLF CREEK series.

Check us out on iTunes.

Crash Discussions: Why the Franchise?

PodcastimageEver wonder why there are so many horror movie franchises as opposed to other genres? Billy and Jonny answer that question and much more about how producers, Hollywood, and independent filmmaker’s approach the genre.

You can also check us out on iTunes.


For its 10th anniversary, the HollyShorts Film Festival pulls out all the stops and gives genre films their due

VisuelArticleTLK1Daniel Sol and Theo Dumont have successfully fulfilled the mission they took upon themselves in 2005 to “create a destination to help filmmakers advance their careers, knowledge-share, meet industry pros, while talking about their short movies and collaborating.”

The HollyShorts Film Festival features dynamic, unbiased, international and independent movies. The event lasts for ten days and not only proposes non-stop screenings (no less than 400 short films were shown this year) to a wide audience made up of newcomers and passionate film buffs, but also panels hosted by those professionals who are best informed about the evolution and workings of the film industry, plus fantastic red-carpet parties and TV interviews. There’s enough going on to allow filmmakers to exchange their experiences, talk about their projects and, more importantly, meet their audience.

Because what has changed and is going to continue to change even more from now on are the direct ties creators and audiences are forging. Filmmakers have come to a better understanding of their own work and what the audience wants. New technologies, a subject at the center of all HollyShorts panels, impose a new system that is spreading like wildfire and should allow the film industry to renew itself and reinvent itself, not only concerning its production system but its distribution system as well. The personalities who represent this new system, and truly love movies, find their greatest allies among filmmakers. So new life will be breathed into the seventh art. Movies are reasserting themselves once again.

And rest assured, film genre isn’t left out, on the contrary, it remains the measure of adaptability we refer to. Whether it’s taken as an example during panels like the well-known “A Terrifying Calling Card: How To Best Use Your Horror Short For Business”, which HollyShorts devoted to shorts, while others were given a choice slot among the screenings scheduled during the festival, “film genre” isn’t being forgotten: it’s asserting itself!”

Creative, brilliant movies that talk about an apocalyptic world and borrow their attributes from “genre films” …

In view of the program proposed by HollyShorts, an obvious observation comes to mind: The boundary between different movie genres isn’t as clear as it once was. Most of the movies shown in sections are seemingly far removed from genre films, and dealt with themes genre films are fond of or played with formal codes that are a specific characteristic of theirs.

Nevertheless, the HollyShorts program, which goes from video clips to comedies to school movies, web series, animated films and drama, welcomed “genre films” with honor by reserving several sections or “blocks” for them that packed the house: “Horror Program”, “Sci-fi Showcase”, “VFX Showcase”, “3D & Visual Stimulation.” Some of the shorts shown in the blocks “Action Shorts” and “Thriller Shorts” were clearly very close to joining these blocks… Let’s just say that HollyShorts made horror and science fiction film fans very happy indeed… All the more so since the level of movies shown was especially high.

By the way, we should mention that for opening night, festival-goers really enjoyed themselves watching the crazy Footprints and Cheatin’ by the king of independent animation, Bill Plympton.

A brief look at the movies acclaimed in the abovementioned blocks: Horror Program, Sci-fi Showcase, VFX Showcase, 3D & Visual Stimulation… 

Horror Program

Lasting 117 minutes, the Horror Program presented by Eli Roth’s “The Crypt” at the Chinese Theatres offered viewers, who packed the theater, a dozen short films, all of them beautifully made: Good Samaritan by Jeffrey Reddick, Carolina Parakeet by A.J. Briones, Ticket to the Haunted Mansion by Nuntakul Sakulchai, The Body by Paul Davis, Dark Origins by Evan Randall Green, Visions by Gene Blalock, Luna by Antonio Perez, One Please by Jesse Burks, Drudge by Kheireddine El-Helou and Barista by Rebekah McKendry.

Drudge by Kheireddine El-Helou

Storyline: What was supposed to be a romantic night in for a young couple, quickly turns into a terrifying encounter with Drudge… A new face of horror is born.

Award for Best Horror, Drudge benefits from spot on directing that is supported by an effective storyline and the rereading of slasher codes reinterpreted by Scream. The gradual buildup of suspense (we go from laughter to fear to a feeling of icy horror) and the creation of a new style of unclassifiable and terrifying monster (a masked man, half Iron Man, half Michael Myers) made for a success in every respect.

One Please by Jesse Burks

Storyline: Mommy and daddy love you…very much.

More focused on black humor, One Please (or how a mother’s finger turns into ice cream on a stick for her child) talks about adults’ extreme, sometimes terrifying, dependence on their kids… Very graphic imaging and the actors’ sensitive, incisive acting definitely put it among the festival’s gems.

Sci-Fi Showcase

This two hour program offered the HollyShorts’ audience 9 eccentric movies that were skillfully done: North Bay by Adam Grabarnickd, Atrium by Dave Paige, The Pale Moonlight by Tin Pang, The Escape by Ivano Di Natale & Alessandro De Vivo, Distance (Best Sci-Fi) by Daniel Allan Langa, Raker by Ande Cunningham, Fist by Gavin Hignight, The iMom by Ariel Martin and the very funny Future Hero by Ramin Serry.

The iMom by Ariel Martin

Storyline: When technology exceeds humanity…

This dark tale, which triggers laughter before moving and finally horrifying us, takes us into a near future where, thanks to specific jobs by stylish androids (in the tradition of The Surrogates), husbands and wives think they are rid of the chores imposed on them by the bringing up of their children: No more changing diapers, goodbye to the children’s sentimental/sexual education! Until the day… But when the worst happens, it’s already too late!

A special mention for especially fine acting performances given by the actors and the lovely Marta Dusseldorp.

Fist by Gavin Hignight

Storyline: Mark Smitt has just signed up for a five-day medical research study to make some quick cash… but will the following experiments not only be the end of his personal freedom… but his very life?

Based on real scientific data and directed very effectively with limited means, Gavin Hignight’s Fist takes us back to the Prometheus myth and more widely to the catastrophes caused by respectable researchers playing God… Claustrophobic, disturbing and staggering!

VFX Showcase

The VFX Showcase, which preceded the Sci-Fi Showcase, lasted for two hours as well. Ten especially inventive and superbly directed movies made up the program: On/Off (Best Editing) by Thierry Lorenzi, Glow by Douglas Jessup (Panavision future Filmmaker), Nova by John Albanis, Serpent’s Lullaby by Patricia Chica, Recurring Symptoms by Peter Szewczyk, Mouse-X by Justin Tagg, Ghost Light by PJ Germain, Recoil by Evan Matthews, Inner Demons by Ben Caird and Corona (Find Your Beach), a commercial by Mike Smith Rivera.

Nova by John Albanis

This is a science fiction thriller whose post-apocalyptic atmosphere, extraordinarily lunar, is totally bewitching. Very ambitious, the story shows the spectacular transformation of a man becoming a supernova. The magnificent VFX do much more than just serve the story: Nova is a movie with infectious energy, you come out of it feeling like you’re ultra-powerful!

Albanis says his movie is a “visual essay about the cyclical nature of societal mass consumption.” He adds: “It’s a spectacle short film piece. Short films always have to be breaking new ground. That’s the point of them.”

Mouse-X by Justin Tagg

Storyline: Mouse-X is a mystery/sci-fi story about Anderson, a man who wakes up in a building with no idea where he is or how he got there, before slowly discovering that in each of the rooms around him are a thousand clones of himself, all of whom woke up into the same mysterious scenario. To escape he needs to outwit his “selves” while overcoming the realization that he is not the only Anderson…

Mouse-X offers us the following diabolical trip: “Who are you, if you’re not the only you?” Magnificently directed, the movie displays an hypnotic atmosphere and plays with chromatic contrasts (blood red, forest green) and the opposition of sets (contemporary design, classical design). The movie’s opening with that red corridor, those off-center paintings of pin-ups and the phosphorescent maze at the very end, stun the moviegoer and take him or her into a disconcerting world of make-believe.

3D & Visual Stimulation…

Probably one of the festival’s most enjoyable and specialized blocks as much by the quality of the screenplays as by the absolute formal creativity of the movies shown, the “3D & Visual Stimulation” block greatly impressed the Chinese Theatres 1 audiences with its ten very eclectic movies: String Theory by Jonathan Pezza (the intersecting lives of two lady musicians), Call Her Lotte by Annekathrin Wetzel (a story of wrecked friendship during WWII), Eve by Eric Gandois (an ecological science fictional tale), The Adventures of Barty & The Pirates by Mark Chavez (a humorous animated movie), Hotline by Deva Blaisdell-Anderson & Lee Miller (a blood-curdling drama), Domino Falling by Siavash Farahani (a thriller in the desert), Face In The Crowd by Alex Preger (a film of pure feeling that follows the emotions of an uptight woman in the middle of a crowd looking like something out of a 50’s movie), Oceans by Maria Juranic (a sensual video clip fantasy), Sure Thing by Deborah Reinisch (an explosive comedy based on the show All In The Timing by David Ives) and The Chaperone 3D by Fraser Munden (“an action-packed, badass short film using a combination of animation, stop-motion, live-action, puppetry and exploding piñatas”).

Sure Thing by Deborah Reinisch

Storyline: Bill takes the only available seat in a cafe–at Betty’s table. Could she be the “one”? Could he? Are there any guarantees when we open our hearts? Sure thing.

This dazzling comedy plunges us right into the middle of what could turn out to be… will turn out to be… or maybe won’t turn out to be… a tryst! Deborah Reinisch’s brilliant directing plus Gia Crovatin and Luke Kirby’s impressive acting make this movie a moment of pure delight. All the paths these hearts could take by opening up to or closing out the other person are suggested, followed and mocked. So much stimulation and intelligence is exciting. It could be a simple conversation, but this eminently creative and visual movie takes us into the minds, hearts and bodies of these people in search of true love. A total success!

Oceans by Maria Juranic, a video in 3D

Fantastically constructed from a narrative point of view, Oceans is absolutely visually breathtaking. Its very polished 80’s aesthetic embraces the ballet created by an octopus-woman’s movements. The moviegoer, just like the man who watches her and gets taken in by her seductive game, doesn’t understand until she attacks. She is nothing but a predator. But what a predator!… And what a ballet!

“A mix of stop motion, manipulation of paper, high speed, slow motion and avant-garde editing defines Maria Juranic’s films and music videos. She combines a seasoned experience in animation with live action to create a special magical realism.”

The Chaperone 3D by Fraser Munden (Best 3-D)

Storyline: The Chaperone 3D tells the “hand drawn true story” of teacher/chaperone Ralph, DJ Stefan and the-kid-at-the-concession-stand, Peter as they kick ass and take names after a motorcycle gang invades a Montreal youth dance that they’re supervising. The use of an interview with the real-life Ralph and Stefan as the voice-over for the short film only makes it that much more fun.

Best 3-D award, The Chaperone 3D is an amazing little masterpiece roundly applauded at TIFF, the Slamdance Film Festival and BTUFF, winning the creativity award and best short at the Fantasia Film Festival. To say that it left its mark on HollyShorts audiences is an understatement. This short film had Chinese Theatres 1 laughing so hard, it was all people could talk about during the festival. If you have the opportunity to see this movie, don’t think twice and jump right in, you’ll be seeing something absolutely unique. The combination of elements making up the movie: animation, stop-motion, live-action, puppetry and exploding piñatas, is quite simply extraordinary.

VisuelArticleTLK2Many thanks to Daniel Sol, Theo Dumont and Nicole Castro who make up the HollyShorts winning team. An absolutely wonderful team ably assisted by the fantastic Kevin Anderson, Edith and Ozzie Torres, Alexandra Schwab, Leimoni Coloretti, Allison Powell, Jerome Curchod, Philippe Casseus, Valérie Dumont, Frantz Durand, Damon Campbell and Joanna Fang.

English translation by Cameron Watson.

Emilie Flory is a screenwriter/filmmaker. She won the Queffelec award for poetry, wrote the screenplay Golden Bodies and directed the pilot for a glitzy, humorous mini-series about dancing. She wrote and directed Processus5, a 10-minute futuristic short movie shot in 35mm that was critically acclaimed and screened at the HollyShorts Monthly Screenings in Los Angeles. Emilie Flory is currently writing a sci-fi feature movie while she continues to develop Trauma Dolls, which was a semi-finalist at the Shriekfest Screenplay Competition in 2013 and finalist at the Fright Night Film Fest 2014.

Follow her on Twitter @EmilieFlory and on these sites:  

(Photos from HollyShorts.)