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Posts tagged “Night of the Living Dead

Digging into the Short Film Christmas Pile

The Twelve Slays of Christmas 2013

For the tenth Slay of Christmas, this genre gave to me, ten vids-a-streaming, Santa’s assassin, crazy dancing eyebrows, Santa vs. Zombies, the anti-Santa Nackles, BILL GOLDBERG!, four creepy songs, Tales from the Crypt, Santa’s demon Krampus, and a scream queen hanging free!

Hopefully my previous slays have gotten you into the horror holiday mood, but if not you are in for a treat today. That’s right, this Axe-Wielding Santa is early for you good boys and girls and I come bearing the gifts of 10 short horrific films. Now, I’ve dug really deep into the pile this year to ensure that you don’t just get all of the same as previous seasonal holiday lists on other sites. But I will admit that there are a few chillers here that I found listed elsewhere that I didn’t want to leave off. Some of the flicks are animated. Some are claymation. Some are obviously amateurish (but still a good deal better than Santa vs. the Zombies, yeech). These yuletide treats were made with love, and I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.

Honorable mention: there is an excellent 7 minute short film that served as the precursor to Rare Exports. I don’t want to spoil the movie for those that haven’t seen it, but I do want to say that this is a very respectable short that covers the exact same material from the film. If you’ve seen the full-length Rare Exports then the shorter version is interesting to view to see a much more condensed version of the idea!

#1 The Winter Stalker

(these are in a mostly arbitrary order)

The 1980 film Christmas Evil (come back tomorrow for a longer review) details just how creepy it is for a middle-aged man to spy on children (both nice and naughty). Here is a short film written and directed by Stephen Reedy that distills the idea of becoming the target of a Santa Claus stalker.

#2 My Name is Kris Kringle

This one takes things a step further from just stalking children, as Santa is hauled into the police station after hacking up a few naughties with a meat cleaver. It isn’t until after explaining that he is simply following the orders on his list, that the full enormity of the situation comes to light. This very dark tale was written and directed by Drew Daywalt.

#3 I Still Believe

In this claymation short we can see a despondent Santa inches away from simply giving up. He hasn’t wandered into creepy stalker/killer territory yet, but it is very clear that this Old Saint Nick is far from jolly. Then he gets a visit that is simply out of this world. Can extraterrestrials get Santa Claus back into the Christmas spirit? This short was animated by the artist Mr. Oz.

#4 Night of the Living Santa

This darkly humorous cartoon was made by Michael Friedman for aniBOOM. Again, we find a depressed Santa, and see exactly what happens when he gives up. This is probably the most funny pick on the list, as the elves use the Christmas Necronomicon to bring Kris Kringle back from the dead. As you can imagine, an undead Santa would prefer brains over cookies on Christmas Eve!

#5 Vampire Santa

Following the idea of a zombie Santa is this one where Santa Claus is a vampire (possibly?). This is an episode of a show called Boss Hospital by Raym Hensley, which appears to be a little know gem of comedic weirdness. It’s a 2 and a half minute strange non-sequitur, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I enjoyed this. Hopefully you will too as you find yourself repeating “Merry Christ’s Mass” in a few days time.

#6 Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is a recent holiday tradition, but a strange one none-the-less. Santa has enlisted the help of these stone-faced smiling creeps the world over to watch over kids and ensure that they stay good during the holiday season. As Child’s Play, The Puppet Master, or more recently, The Conjuring, have shown us, dolls are inherently off-putting. But when imbued with magical powers they become all the more unsettling. There are several weird Elf on the Shelf videos online, but this one is the most effective.

#7 Christmas Morning

Here is an amateur film that has to be, technically speaking, one of the best. It doesn’t suffer from shaky cam, the special effects aren’t too bad, and the song featured is actually pretty funny. The girl lip-synching is a bit off at times, but that doesn’t take too much away from the video’s effectiveness. It was directed by Ryan Richardson and seemingly only featured his family members. I’d be interesting to see what he could put together with more of a budget.

#8 Little Cracker

Well, let’s say you’re a child, and your parents are murdered on Christmas. If you’re not lucky enough to have a grandma to live with, then probably you’d end up in an orphanage. Orphanages never seem to be especially happy places, but as Silent Night, Deadly Night, and this short film (and the following one) show us, they can really be deadly during the holidays. In Little Cracker, director Paul Mayers does a lot with very little to craft a story about an orphan boy who just isn’t right.

#9 The Bottleberry Orphans

This is a creepy poem about another deadly Christmas at the orphanage. The imagery used in the video is great, and the poem is off-putting. Lyrically it doesn’t rhyme, but that adds to its unsettling effectiveness. Unfortunately, this poem is not spoken, so you’ll have to read along with a spooky rendition of Silent Night, Holy Night in the background.

#10 976-Evil 2

My last pick for this holiday themed list of scary shorts comes from the full-length 976-Evil 2. The movie itself is largely unmemorable, but this mash-up of Night of the Living Dead and It’s a Wonderful Life is an excellent way to spice up that annual showing of Jimmy Stewart’s tale of angelic redemption. Just beware of Zuzu’s trowel.

So holiday horror hounds, cuddle up close to the fireplace and try to keep warm while watching these chillers!

Horror on Stage: Daegu Theatre Troupe’s Night of the Living (& Laughing) Dead

Zombies are alive and well — er rather, undead and sickly — in mainstream popular culture right now. That fact is evident from the immense popularity of The Walking Dead, as well as the numerous zombie walks, runs, and flash mobs across the world. This saturation of the living dead became clear to me with a recent theatrical version of Night of the Living Dead performed by the Daegu Theatre Troupe in Daegu, South Korea. This is a low-budget — made more for love than for money — theatre production put on by English speaking expatriates in the Asian country. A diverse cast of expats lent an international charm to the show, as it featured actors who were Koreans, Kiwis, South Africans, North American, and from the UK. This makes you wonder where exactly this mysterious farmhouse that shelters these seven folks could be, but this version was played more for fun than the unrelenting and depressing horror of George A. Romero’s original theatrical masterpiece. Thanks to the magic of the theatre, you can be swept away from the very intimate space (seating perhaps a few dozen audience members) to a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland.
This staged version capitalized a bit more on the inherent cheesiness of dead people trying to eat the living. The actor playing Harry, in particular, had some very sarcastic lines and a deadpan delivery that made this viewer crack-up. Also funny were the special effects. While Romero used cuts of meat from a local butcher shop, here in Korea ramen was used as guts and rice was puked up in reaction to the grisly viscera of a pregnant zombie and the protruding newborn hanging from her belly. Just like in Romero’s films, here all of the zombies seemed to be real characters. One unfortunate ghoul was on a single roller skate, and the woman next to me did a great job of loudly chomping and groaning whenever one of the human characters would come nearby. That’s right, there were zombies planted in the audience, although they were difficult to differentiate from those overzealous fans who decided to get made-up in costumes before a night of Halloween partying!
There were some changes from the 45-year-old original film. First of all, the interior setting was split between the living room and basement areas of the house. Scenes ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ were differentiated with lighting, although (unfortunately) there was no extra exposition with the characters Harry, Helen, Tom, and Judy prior to joining Ben and Barbra upstairs. A large projection screen on the far wall played TV news reports and also recapped the beginning cemetery scene with Barbra and Johnny. Obviously, there was no truck explosion, but instead characters were graphically dispatched in a feasting of ramen guts and a plastic severed arm. This happened after a cheesy moment of love and lines (and music) mimicking Armageddon more than Night of the Living Dead. But the cheese that stole the show was the denouement of Sheriff McClelland and his posse saving the day. They still accidentally shot Ben, but they retained their lighthearted charm with their Reno 911 inspired hotpants and mirrored aviator sunglasses.
I was fortunate to sit in the splatter zone, and while there were no head squibs — ubiquitous to so many zombie films — there were catheters pumping copious amounts of red liquid onto the patrons. Another surprising bit of splatter came from the molotov cocktails — waterballoons — used to ward off the horde of the living dead. Overall, it was a very fun night of zombie chills and laughs. If you ever get a chance to see some live horror theatre, then go and watch — I highly recommend it!
(The show has finished its run, but check out this sweet trailer.)