SHORT: Latest ‘Scary Endings’ anthology entry, ‘Am I Beautiful?’ (2017), based on Japanese legend

SHORT: Latest ‘Scary Endings’ anthology entry, ‘Am I Beautiful?’ (2017), based on Japanese legend

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Online horror anthology series Scary Endings offers up another serving of short-form terror, Am I Beautiful?. This time around, writer/director John Fitzpatrick (Skypemare) and the Scary Endings team look to an ancient Japanese ghost story, Kuchisake-onna (‘Slit-Mouthed Woman’), for their inspiration:

May (Sarah Scott) and Zach (Abraham Martinez) are moving into their new home unbeknownst to the evil spirit haunting their bathroom mirror – the Slit-Mouthed Woman (Belinda Gosbee). She’ll ask you a question; answer correctly and she’ll spare your life but at a cost…

Interestingly, this episode is the first to be shot entirely on iPhone. To our eyes, cinematographer Nicholas Kaat‘s work looks professional as always, which speaks volumes about the potential quality of current smartphone videography. This should serve as a huge encouragement to all you budding horror filmmakers out there!


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SHORT: ‘Girls Night’ (2017) Halloween finds three girlfriends at a party gone wrong

SHORT: ‘Girls Night’ (2017) Halloween finds three girlfriends at a party gone wrong

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Filmmaker David Teixeira wrote, directed, shot, and edited this modest short, which is in French but offers English subtitles. Here’s the official synopsis:

Girls Night is a short horror film that takes place in Halloween. Three girlfriends stay home for a slumber party that goes bloody wrong. Literally.”

It’s a variation on the venerable “Bloody Mary” legend. You’d think most folks would know better by now.

Teixeira leaned in to the inherent constraints of a shoestring budget, and came up with a mostly good-looking film that underdelivers in the scares department. There are some lingering shots that could be tightened up a bit. But the score is effective, the three main characters are colorful and engaging, and the central antagonist, in creepy mask and blonde wig, has an eerie menacing quality that makes this short worth a look.

So how can you take such a look at Girls Night? Currently, you can’t – but that will soon change. We touched base with Teixeira on the subject:

“It’s been submitted to 15 film festivals internationally. It will be online soon, still waiting to see how it goes with the film festivals and then I’ll put it online. Maybe in April.”

Stay tuned.


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SHORT: Check out ambitious new episode of ‘Scary Endings’ anthology: ‘The Water Rises’

SHORT: Check out ambitious new episode of ‘Scary Endings’ anthology: ‘The Water Rises’

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Online horror anthology series Scary Endings kicks off the new year with what may be its most ambitious episode yet, The Water Rises. Writer/director John Fitzpatrick (Skypemare) and the usual gang of suspects have put together an intense, nasty piece of work set aboard a cruise ship. Two newlyweds find themselves trapped in one of the ship’s elevators when disaster strikes. As the water rises, so does the tension… and the terror.

From a technical standpoint, this was clearly a challenging shoot, as evidenced by the “Behind the Scenes” video below. The Scary Endings team’s efforts really pay off, giving us a claustrophobic, heartbreaking entry in what has grown to become one of our favorite horror anthology series.

The Water Rises co-stars Empire‘s Kaitlin Doubleday and co-producer (and frequent Scary Endings actor) Adam J. Yeend. It also features voice-only cameos from horror veteran Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever, Skypemare) and co-producer Ryan Dillon.


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“Behind the Scenes” look at the making of The Water Rises, featuring the cast and crew:

SHORT: Horror anthology ‘Scary Endings’ S2E02 gets seasonal with ‘Santa Claus is a Vampire’

SHORT: Horror anthology ‘Scary Endings’ S2E02 gets seasonal with ‘Santa Claus is a Vampire’

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Addictive online horror anthology series Scary Endings has released the second epsiode of its sophomore season – and it’s a holiday special! Santa Claus Is a Vampire strikes a tone midway between comedy and horror, with a liberal dash of holiday spice. Writer/director John Fitzpatrick (Skypemare) and his team tell a tale of a less-than-jolly St. Nick wrestling with a thirst that just cannot be quenched. Here’s the official synopsis:

Happily married couple Sharon (Hannah Marshall) and Cody (Ryan Dillon) are returning home with this year’s Christmas tree when an unexpected encounter with Vampire Santa Claus (Casey Kooyman) leaves Sharon sole defender of her home where no one is safe, not her son, the babysitter Holly (Charlotte Chimes) or even herself. Can she stop Santa from coming down that chimney? Traditional vampire rules apply…

It’s good to see Scary Endings return from hiatus. Look for a new short from them each month – they’re worth waiting for.


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Horror short ‘The Cleansing Hour’ slated for HollyShorts Film Fest showing tomorrow

Horror short ‘The Cleansing Hour’ slated for HollyShorts Film Fest showing tomorrow

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Check out this trailer for Damien LeVeck‘s horror short The Cleansing Hour, starring Sam Jaeger (Parenthood, American Sniper), Heather Morris (Glee, Spring Breakers), and Neil Grayston (Daredevil, Eureka). The short will be featured at the 2016 HollyShorts Film Festival, which kicks off with a closed filmmaker red carpet and press event at 6pm this evening (Thursday, August 11th). The festival is being held at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood. The Cleansing Hour will screen on Friday, August 12th, at 10pm as part of the Horror Program, presented by Eli Roth’s Crypt TV. Tickets can be purchased online at the festival’s website (see link above). Additionally, for the first time ever, the film will be available for viewing via the streaming service bitpix for the duration of the festival, which concludes Friday, August 19th.

The Cleansing Hour follows Lance (Jaeger) and Drew (Grayston), who run a popular webcast that streams exorcisms staged to look real. When Lance, who plays a priest, unknowingly hires an actress who is actually possessed (Morris), he is forced to reckon with his online charade in front of 20 million viewers worldwide.

“I’m honored that our film is competing in HollyShorts, and I’m excited that we finally get to show off the culmination of over a year’s worth of work,” said LeVeck, who has focused his directing career on telling unique and compelling stories with a message in the horror genre. “The Cleansing Hour is a fresh take on the exorcism genre that is sure to scare and thrill everyone who’s brave enough to watch,” LeVeck said. 

The Cleansing Hour was written by Aaron Horwitz (Roommate Wanted) and also features YouTube star Teala Dunn (Enchanted, Expelled), John Griffin (Priest, Jersey Boys), and Catherine Marin (The Tequila Sisters, Chimera) in supporting roles. Jesse M. Feldman (American Crime Story, Veep) is the director of photography and Marylou Lim (Godzilla, Looper) is the costume designer.

Shirit Bradley, who worked on last year’s summer blockbuster Godzilla and the comedy-horror film Krampus, produced The Cleansing Hour alongside entertainment attorney Natalie LeVeck. “From the moment Damien pitched this project to me, I was in. He has such a fun and clear vision and I was thrilled to be a part of his team and produce something that has a larger message,” Bradley said.

LeVeck raised over $30,000, the majority of The Cleansing Hour’s production budget, via a successful Kickstarter campaign.


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Heather Morris
Sam Jaeger
Neil Grayston
The Gourmet Horror Review: Short ‘Brentwood Strangler’ (2016) works by sticking to basics

The Gourmet Horror Review: Short ‘Brentwood Strangler’ (2016) works by sticking to basics

TAGLINE: “It’s a blind date. Keep an open mind.”

WHAT’S ON THE MENU: Finding that special someone can be challenging, even under the best of circumstances. But throw a serial killer into the mix, and all bets are off. From John Fitzpatrick, the writer/director of hit horror short Skypemare and the Scary Endings horror anthology series, comes something a little different: an old-fashioned cat-and-mouse thriller in the vein of Hitchcock or Wilder. No gratuitous stingers or jump scares here – Fitzpatrick plays it straight and simple while delivering a stylish, satirical dissection of the modern LA dating scene.

Here’s the synopsis:

It’s the holiday season in Los Angeles and women are being strangled to death in the Westwood area: Maggie (Jordan LaddDeath Proof, the original 2002 Cabin Fever, Grace), a lonely woman goes on a blind date unbeknownst to her that her date is an active and notorious serial killer, the “Brentwood Strangler” (played by frequent Fitzpatrick collaborator/co-producer Adam J. YeendSkypemare, Liz & Dick). Is love in the air? Or is Maggie in for the worst (and last) date of her life?

BEST SCENE: The climactic sex/murder scene is wonderfully weird and twisted, with an outcome that is both unexpected and completely logical.

BLUNDERS/GAFFS: It’s difficult to swallow that this attractive, seemingly self-possessed woman wouldn’t pick up on the many warning signs that Richard is most certainly not who – or what – he claims to be. Also, the newscaster “Sasha Greene,” who appears on the TV in the restaurant to announce another victim of the strangler, moves her head in an odd and far too theatrical fashion for a professional journalist. It comes across as mannered and actor-ly. And in the aforementioned sex/murder scene, the foam around “Richard”‘s mouth magically disappears and then reappears. And this is a tiny quibble, but if this film was intended to hearken back to the Hitchcock era, it should probably have been titled The Brentwood Strangler. They really liked their leading prepositions back then.

EVALUATION: Brentwood Strangler is beautifully framed and shot, with a cool underlying LA holiday vibe reinforced by the mostly eidetic sounds of Christmas music throughout. The two leads generate some real chemistry, and their breezy, back-and-forth banter is one of the best things about the film. The manner in which serial killer Floyd Garrison assumes the identity of Richard Chase just in time to embark on a blind date with Ladd’s Maggie is inventive and clever. And the closing lines are hilarious. Try and catch this on the festival circuit – it’s a great looking film, worth seeing on the big screen.

Four Knives

EFFECTS (1-5): 3
SCORE (1-5): 5
OVERALL (1-5): 4

TITLEBrentwood Strangler
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2016 (though it played some festivals in 2015)
STUDIO: Strangler Films/Where is the Rockhammer/Far From Everything Films
MPAA RATING: NR (probably R, for strong language, violence, profanity)
LENGTH: 18 mins.
DVD? (Y/N): N
BLU-RAY? (Y/N): N
NETFLIX? (Y/N): N
WIDESCREEN? (Y/N) Y
IN THEATERS? (Y/N) Y
STREAMING DIGITAL/VOD? (Y/N) N

HOW TO WATCH:

  • Motor City Nightmares (Detroit) – September 16-18, 2016 (exact date TBA – will feature Q&A session with star Jordan Ladd)
  • Additional festival appearances TBA

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