Sunday, November 30, 2014

DVD Review: Closed Circuit Extreme

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2014
Images from the Internet

Closed Circuit Extreme
Written and directed by Giorgio Amato
Jingai Films / Dania Films / Manetti Bros Films
98 minutes, 2012 / 2014
www.mvdvisual.com

At last, a new found footage film! Haven’t seen one of those in… okay, enough with the sarcasm.

Closed Circuit Extreme is an Italian film shot in English with thick accents (though I had no problem understanding the dialog). Its premise is simple, if not overly logical.

A man, David de Santis (Stefano Fregni) – as in “David of Satan” – is suspected by a college age couple of being a serial killer, and of doing in one of their friends. In order to trap this guy, they repeatedly break into his house and set up a series of five CCTV cameras throughout, and then daily downloading the footage (at his house…guess they don’t have Wi-Fi in Italy, ahem) while he’s at work.

This is a disagreeable couple. Daniele (Guglielmo Favilla) knows the danger they are in, and Claudia (Francesca Cuttica) randomly touches and moves stuff, looks through David’s drawers, all the while he’s yelling at her to stop. For once I agree with the man in the story. Usually it’s the women who are more even-headed. She seems pretty non-pulsed that they are in the house of someone they believe has killed their amica.

The entire film is edited from the CCTV images, which keep cutting in and out and filled with repeated and annoying static noise. This is, I am assuming, to remind the viewer that it is the CCTV they are watching, like anyone needs any hints.

For more than half the movie, we watch the possibly dangerous man as the eats in front on the television, naps on his couch, and goes to sleep in his bed. Truly the banality of evil, you might say.

Sporadically, he interviews possible nannies for a child you never see, for him and a wife you never see, and obviously neither exists. It’s well into the second half of the film when you see David of the Devil for who he really is. His brutality is shown in detail, with some nice physical effects thrown in, though nothing really comes as any surprise.

Part of the reason there is no bombshell is what the failing of the storyline is to me: this is “police evidence,” so as we meet the characters there is an on-screen blurb that tells you the name of the person, where they are from, and the date they die (or not). This takes away much of the suspense, leaving just the killings (etc.). Oh, this person dies. Oh, this one doesn’t die, we learn on the introduction of everyone. Sigh.

The scenes of brutality are few and far between, and the body count on screen is pretty low. There is little gore per se, though we see a lot of blood on clothes and body parts. In fact, this film could have been an hour and it would have been enough.

The extra is the trailer, but what I find confusing, is after the film between minutes of black nothing, we see some silent clips of the film we just saw. Che cosa?

The way in which the film is successful is that it really does show that evil is just moments. Okay, here is a bizarre analogy, so bear with me. When you get a year-end letter, where you read the exploits of someone you know, it seems like the year was filled will events (e.g., “We went on vacation!” “I got a promotion!”), when actually, most of the period was probably mundane and ordinary, when you fill in the gaps. This film attempts and succeeds in showing that kind of “between” moments, which makes the contrast of violence seem more shocking.

Where it doesn’t succeed is, as I said, in TMI by broadcasting outcomes upon introductions.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DVD Review: Rise of the Black Bat

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2014
Images from the Internet

 
Rise of the Black Bat
Directed by Scott Patrick
Tom Cat Films / Brett Kelly Entertainment
80 minutes, 2012 / 2014
www.tomcatfilms.com
www.mvdvisual.com

I know this is going to sound cliché, but I love indie films, especially indie horror films. I also love comic books and superheroes. During the time when I was seven and comics were a dime, my dad would buy a buck’s worth every two weeks for three years for both me and my brother (my brother and I? Screw it) which we would read while we waited in lobby of a convalescent hospital for my parent to visit my grandfather. Batman was always my favorite. Here, this may rattle your cannoli: we had Spiderman #1, Fantastic Four #1, Hulk #1, and so many others, which my dad ripped up because we read them after lights out. But I digress, and please continue after you pull your chins off the floor…

Around the time of Batman’s first appearance in the 1930s (decades before I was born, thank you), there was another character which was similar in a book called, yep, the Black Bat. He looked similar to Batman, as he had the black everything including a cowl, but without the ears, no utility belt, and a long black leather coat instead of the cape (which seemed impractical to me, even as a kid).

This film is based on that other character, rather than the one we know so well. Mickey Spillane-ish hard-boiled District Attorney Tony Quinn (Jody Haucke) is trying to bring down seemingly untouchable Crime Boss Oliver Snate (Leo Frost), so on the verge of getting the bastid, Snate has Quinn blinded via an acid attack. With the help of some guy who for some unrealistic reason has become his servant, Silk Kirby (Richard Groen) and a revenge-minded socialite, Carol Baldwin (Dixie Collins), he goes to “the Orient,” where apparently all medical staff is non-Asian. While there he has a series operations. The result of all this is that he now has the power of sight in the dark as green vision, which we only get to see in use once.

Apparently without any kind of training, he dons the black clothes, grabs a gun, and goes after the bad guys.

You may have noticed my snarky under tone in this. There is a reason for that: simply put, this is a bad film. No, not “so bad it’s good” bad, just bad. The acting is atrocious, that’s true, but the overall fault lies squarely on Trevor Payer, the writer, and especially on Scott Patrick, the director. The dialog is terrible; in fact, there were three separate places where I said what the characters were going to say before they did. It’s that predictable. There are way too many holes in the story, such as lack of training as I mentioned earlier, that the people are unbelievable, and there is absolutely no sense of character development, even with more exposition than action (mostly through first-person narration in trying to sound like, well, Spillane).

The film, which is a mere 80 minutes, with proper editing should have been about half of that. For example, a woman is chased by two muggers down an alleyway for nearly 4 minutes. There’s another scene where a shot on a nurse talking in stilted dialog is seen in a (purposefully) fuzzy unedited one-shot talking to a doctor and not really saying much for another few minutes. Then there’s the 80 shots fired in a short distance back and forth before anyone falls. And that includes a machine gun.

There is no nudity, but there is a four-person bikini contest where they prance back and forth in front of the camera for a reaaaaaally long time while the sound of clapping (obviously looped as you can hear the break) is annoyingly constant. There’s also no blood or SFX despite the occasional shooting, or even redness on the face or eyes of Quinn moments after acid is supposedly thrown in his face. The only effects, other than the cartoonish city overview during the credits, are the flash of the gun muzzles and the sound of the gunfire repeated aud nauseum. Though there is the one time they miss it and the gun just clicks, which made me laugh. No, it was not running out of bullets, because the next shot fires as it is supposed to do.

If this is going to be a franchise, I can tell you now that I am not going to watch any of the sequels.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

DVD Review: Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2014
Images from the Internet

 
Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy
Written and directed by Lisa Palenica
Tom Cat Films / Platinum Assassin Films
80 minutes, 2012 / 2014
www.tomcatfilms.com
www.mvdvisual.com

That was no lady, that was your mummy! (Sorry…)

Okay, just a few corrective notes before I get into the review itself. The myth of Osiris is one of the most durable from all Middle Egypt, strong enough to replace Ra (sun god) as the main religion of Early Egypt after papyrus was introduced and could carry the story faster and further.


The Isis of myth
Osiris and Isis were not just husband/wife and brother/sister, but were also twins, the children of Nut (sky goddess) and Geb (earth god). Their brother was Set, who was also married to his own twin, Nephyhys (absent from this film). Director/writer Lisa Palenica does get it right that Set kills Osiris and chops him into pieces, but Isis and Nephyhys find all the parts except one (yes, that one), and after shaping a phallus out of mud, she is impregnated with their son, Horus, the most popular god of the period (he has a bird head; the “eye of Horus” is one of the most common cultural symbols to last the ages, along with Isis kneeling with her feathered arms outspread). After Horus is – er – created, Osiris becomes the Lord of the Underworld (not Hades, just death). Unlike the prologue here, Isis is not killed. Hey, it’s the prologue, so get over the spoiler alert, okay?
 


Osiris and Isis (Rai in a painted-on bra) of the film
Yeah, I’m a fan of the myth. Been to Egypt for a college class and wrote a forty-page paper on the changes of funeral traditions as the technology of the writing medium changed (from pyramids to mastabas to papyrus). I’ve even stood in the Temple of Horus in Memphis, so I’m going to be a little bit harder about the myth.

After the prologue, when the modern story actually starts, we meet a bunch of archeology students and their professors as they search for the “black magic” Book of the Undead (filmed at the Mesa Museum in Scottsdale, AZ), which is also what Isis is supposed to use to raise her dead hubby/bro and an army to take over the world. This collection of students includes a couple of horndog jock surfer type dudes (Michael Alvarez, Joshua DuMond), one of whom even wears his baseball cap backwards. Really? Have you even seen an archeology student? They don’t have time for that kinda stuff. Then there are their girlfriends, including one with bleached blonde hair and lots of cleavage (the director of this epic, of all people) and another who is slight and toothsome in a cute way, and equally horny (Shellie Ulrich). Then there is the brilliant older but horny Asian student (Jiang Song), and the shy but horny nerd (Robin Daniel Egan). Mentoring them (i.e., using them) is the horny older professor (Randy Oppenhiemer) and the handsome and not horny prof-head-of-his-field (Seth Grandrud, during his best Fernando Lamas). Add the lonely and horny museum curator (Judith Eisenberg), and the perv voyeur (aka horny) security guard (“bear” porn actor James Bartholet), and you have more hormones floating around that you would think to find at a research project that would normally go to the top of the class, rather than the remedial ones.

 Of course, Isis rises (diminutive porn actress Priya Rai), even though it’s never really explained how. Rai makes some brief appearances here and there with overflowing bras, but mostly she does that cliché thing where she enters someone via mist from her mouth, and takes over their body.

I need to make a comment here, which I know should fall under the view of suspension of disbelief, but when one of the students inevitably finds the Book of the Undead, it is an actual book, with a front and back cover, spine, printed gilt letters on said cover, typeset text and equally sized pages. Of course, this is not possible since books didn’t really exist in this form until after Johannes Gutenberg’s press during the 15 Century, in Europe, not Egypt. Papyrus was the mode of discourse when the story of Isis and Osiris was spread, but at the time when they were supposed to exist, the best it could have possibly been was chiseled on stone walls. In actuality, since they were beings from the beginning of time (not during the Middle Kingdom of Egypt), there would most likely have been no writing at all yet. The Egyptian Book of the Dead in its earliest form (Ra-inspired First Kingdom) would have been wall carvings.

Okay, I think I got that out of my system now, so I can focus on the film itself. Thanks for your indulgence.

With all the sexual tension and implied scenes, there is no nudity, and little bloodletting. There are a couple of cool SFX of limb removals, and kudos for that (done digitally, I’m certain), but the scene where a head is removed looked good except for the edit in the film where it jumps slightly between the head being attached and the head being detached. Still, made me smile.

Shellie Ulrich and a dude
Most of the time, the writing is actually okay, but every once in a while, it totally works, such as after one of the bodies is found legless. The acting here is thin, but Ulrich comes out as the cream of the crop. She freaks out, but not in a cartoon or wooden way. By far the best actor in the batch. Actually, Song does pretty well, too. Among the worst? Well, Rai comes across as fake as her boobage, but shhhh, we won’t talk about that.

Come to think of it, I am wrong. The most wooden actor in the batch is the one who plays Set (Wilman Vergara Jr.), who performs like one of the extras in an Italian sword and sorcery film from the mid-60s. Over the top and yet emotionless all at the same time.

But let’s talk about the shell of the film. Considering most of the cast and some incredibly fakey looking painted brick walls, this is a pretty well shot feature, and for someone of Palenica’s age, experience, and tongue ball, she actually does pretty well in telling a story. A bit of text editing may have been helpful, but there are a few really fine moments of dialog that not only forward the story, but show some promise of things to come. Yeah, she needs to dump some of the cliché characters that are hard to like (the testosterone macho assholes for example), and the overt sexuality that doesn’t really lead to anything, but with the right guidance, Palenica could be quite good for the genre.

Director / actor Lisa Palenica
A large-ish central cast isn’t just blood fodder; it works better if the viewer has some connection or care for a character. And some of the tones just need some tweaking to help with that. I applaud that Palenica has a history of having porn actors do straight roles, and I applaud expanding niche acting to cover numerous genres.

The only extra is the trailer, below.

As time goes on, I get the feeling that Palenica may have a career. As well as editing, I would also like to humbly recommend she AD under a more seasoned director, even an indie genre one, and get another perspective. It could help her grow. For example, I know of a singer who wanted to play guitar, and the advice she received from a well-known, international musician, was to practice scales, and ask any guitarist she met on tour to show her one thing, and one thing only. By that means she has built up a series of moves that makes her a tremendous guitarist now. I’m thinking Palenica could use that from other directors to build upon. Then, hopefully… watch out!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: Skinless

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films Blog, 2013
Images from the Internet
 
Skinless (aka The Ballad of Skinless Pete)
Directed, shot, edited and scored by Dustin Wayde Mills
Dustin Mills Productions
80 minutes, 2013 / 2014
www.Facebook.com/DustinMillsProductions
www.DMPStudios.com
http://dmp.storenvy.com

On many different levels, this film is a bit of a turning point for Dustin Mills Productions. Up until now, the releases by director (among other titles) Mills has either been a horror comedy or has strong elements of humor. This film is different in that it is serious, from the first minute on. There is still a few (meant to be) moments of uncomfortable titter, but this film is done straight.

Essentially, this is a four-person piece, at least three of them we get to see full frontal, but I’m getting – er – ahead of myself. Of the foursome, three have appeared in previous Mills productions. The newest is Allison Egan (not to be confused with Brit actor, Alison Egan). The first shot starts right off with her in the altogether as Olivia, the girlfriend of the soon-to-be-skinless titular character. As with many of Mills’ female cast members, she’s tattooed and looks like she could beat the shit outta you and enjoy it, but remains attractive. Her character has little back story, but her screen time is limited, so onward.

Returning for a third time is Dave Parker, also known as the horror vlogger, MrParka (yes, one word). He was in Easter Casket, and also Bath Salts Zombies as an addicted stoner, but in this more serious role, he does fine. His role of Neil, who controls the money to be meted out to scientists in order to insure profit for the shareholders, is pivotal, but again, not much screen time. Parker looks a bit young for the role which he is portraying, but I’m okay with that (like I deserve to have a say, right?).

Erin R. Ryan
The female lead is Erin R. Ryan, who also starred in Mills’ last film, Easter Casket. She’s still-full-skin Pete’s roommate Alice, and less-than-secret love interest. She is also a scientist and is, in fact, research partner with him. Ryan is an attractive woman with a firm jaw and is capable of being both strong and vulnerable in the same scene.

Pete Peel (really? Peel?) is the protagonist anti-hero, strongly played by Mills’ hetero-life/work-partner and recurring lead actor, Brandon Salkil. Petey is looking for a cure for cancer because his shoulder has a ridiculously large melanoma (looks like a silver dollar sized hole). Not sure why the girlfriend, Olivia, never noticed it. As Nirvana once said, “Oh well, nevermind.” The important thing is that he’s on a literal deadline to find the cure, and he thinks he may have found it in a worm whose secretions melt, well, you know. And despite threats from Alice and Neil, I don’t think I’m giving anything away (read the title of the film) by saying that he injects the experimental serum into himself.

So far, the story is going along strongly, we’re somewhat emotionally tied to the two lead characters in a star-crossed lovers way, and you just know the big bang is coming. And as always, Mills does not disappoint.


Brandon Salkil
From here, though as enjoyable as the film is, and it truly is, there is some resemblance to Cronenberg’s version of The Fly (1986). First healing strength leading to the body disintegrating yet still strong, twitching, bodily fluids to melt food and people, and of course the love interest trying to reconcile with the whole thing. While Cronenberg had a budget of $15 million, Mills does damn fine with a few thou and opens it up in ways that are new, partly by slowly closing the story into a tight knot.
Let’s talk about that last part. One of the things I truly like about Mills’ work is that he knows how to make a small budget go a long way. For example, nearly all of this film, with the exception of one scene¸ takes place in a single house, and mostly in the attic and the basement. This works well with giving the mild yet palpable feeling of claustrophobia, a device that syncs well with what is happening to Pete, as his world gets smaller.

Everything feels increasingly intimate, with a large percentage of the dialog between the two leads, Pete and Alice, the Invisible Man style clothes and mask Pete wears, and much of the surroundings being quite bare and stark. I’m not sure if it was budget constraints, the house they managed to get to for the shoot, or a director’s choice for mood, but it works.

There obviously isn’t a very high body count with a cast of four (though if you look at it in percentages, that’s another story), but the gruesome effects for all involved is incredibly enjoyable. Sherriah Salkil (Brandon’s spouse who also contributes to the films in various roles) and Mills do a great job with the make-up. It looks way better than the budget implies, and I would say this filmmaker’s best gore effects yet. Still stringy rubber innerds¸ but the blood and masks look way ahead of past films, and that’s saying a lot considering how accomplished they looked before.

Since this is a Mills film, there must be a discussion of the one thing that is recurrent in all his releases: puppets. He keeps it down to a minimum, being a worm, a dog (or what’s left of it), and melted bodies. Sure, the dog looks similar to the one in Bath Salt Zombies, but it kicks butt (or bites leg?).

 If there was any one complaint on my part (as I am wont to do), it is that when Brandon wears his mask, it is sometimes hard to make it out. If a bigger budget was on the table, I would say re-dub the voice.

The visuals are quite compelling. The editing is tight, the cinematography sharp (and HD), and even the lighting is solid. And the gore level is high and sticky. Mills has a talent for making fake blood (too many films are the wrong color or consistency), and he is not afraid to apply it.

The one true piece of comedy that appears in this film is over the credits, in the song “The Ballad of Skinless Pete,” by Mike Fisher, an inappropriately folksy ballad that is the opposite of the metal shards that usually accompany a Mills release.

Microbugets can either put a crimp in a film’s style, or it will present the opportunity to be creative with what one has. This film definitely falls into the latter category. That being said, if you’re a band and you need a music video and can pay for it, or just want to support the genre through an up-and-comer, checks out Mills site above and help finance his next project, called SpiderClown. I am already anticipating it.
 
Red Band Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DBt17RMoM0

Saturday, November 1, 2014

DVD Reviews: Hillbilly Horror Show (Vol. 1); The Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2014
Images from the Internet

I put these two reviews together because… hell, if you can’t tell why, then yer dummer than a a mitten-wearin’ redneck at shoe-tying contest.

 
The Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher
Co-written, filmed and directed by Joaquin Montalvan
Sledgehammer Films
Whacked Movies
99 minutes, 2012 / 2014
www.sledgehammerfilms.com
www.legendofthehillbillybutcher.com
www.mvdvisual.com

Most of the time when the world “Hillbilly” appears in the title, the film may be fun, but it tends to be a bit on the silly side, especially in this genre. For example, there’s Hillbilly’s in Haunted House (1967), Cannibal Hillbillies (2003), and Hicky: The Hillbilly Vampire (2014). This one, however, is very serious, despite a few moments of mirth that peek through.

We are introduced to the titular Carl Henry Jessup in a wraparound by a granddad telling this “based on a true story” tale to his three gran’chillrin. It should come as no surprise that the favorite food of Jessup (Paul Respass, d. 2014) is “long pig,” aka human flesh. After all, as someone says to him in the film more than one, “Your bloodline is cursed, Carl Henry.”

To be served on a plate, all you need to do is be someone he doesn’t know and show up on his property, poachers, or if they just piss him off, such as date-rape the woman who is his half-sister.

The main part of the story has a retro 1970s-‘80s grainy, washed out look with pock marks and scratches, reminding me a bit of part of the classic slasher Mother’s Day (1980). As we look deeper into the mind and thoughts of Jessup (which we hear in an overdub), there are flashes of arty camerawork and editing that elevates this to more than just a typical slash a burn (or cook) slice-em-up.

Early on, we meet the zaftig Rae Lynn (Theresa Holly), Carl Henry’s deep blue eyed neighbor and half-sister who cooks for Jessup. Whether she knows what (or who) she is cooking is unclear for a while. On some level, Jessup loves her, but not as much as his moonshine or his “daddy’s special” gravy. She’s also the only one who can stand up to him without fear. And it’s pretty obvious that she has a much deeper hankering for him, but he’s “kin.” Instead, she takes a shine on their dumb-as-a-stump moocher friend, Billy Wayne (Chris Shumway).

Poor Carl Henry really misses his Momma and evil Papa, and is willing to sell his soul to bring them back “alive and in the flesh.” Even though he recants his wish, is that possible, and how much of it is “real” or in his mind? What about the drunk ‘billy roaming around throughout the story (played by the director), and how does he fit into the story? Of course, secrets are going to be revealed and violence will ensue.

The gore is aplenty and looks great, though the blood is occasionally too gooey. I’ll forgive that since everything else looks so good (e.g., real pig intestines were used). The editing is superb, and the throw-back look works well.

Part of what makes this enjoyable is that Montalvan gets such good performances out of his actors. There is the occasionally moment of woodiness, but mostly they manage of embody the characters, or more accurately, let the characters embody them. The three main leads are especially strong. Paul has Carl Henry go from raging to befuddled to scared (about making his pact), to nostalgic and annoyed in the wink of an eye without being confusing or seeming to give conflicting messages. Shumway has his way with being creepy in a very subtle manner. Theresa is also well versed in creating mood without saying a word. The scene at the table where Billy Wayne asks her out, you see her face go from flattered to “what the hell am I thinking” to sad as she looks longingly at Carl in an entirely natural and fluid way that is a joy to watch.

Even without the supernatural aspects, this would be a good film. That being said, it does add a touch that makes it differ from most backwoods slitters. In fact, this low-budget exercise was more enjoyable to me than the more popular Jug Face (2013), another backwater bloodbath with a mystical message. In other words, this was even better than I expected. Thanks!

Lots of juicy extras are included. Yeah, three different versions of the trailer is great, and I say that without a whiff of sarcasm, but the centerpiece is the hour-long Making Of documentary titled “Gutting da Hillbilly Butcher.” Most of the cast is interviewed, including most of the crew, who discuss the aspects of their contribution to the project, as well as how it was working with the film as a whole. The director shines a light on many aspects including that part of the production was shot in his back yard in Pasadena (the rest in a busy nature preserve). Even some of the neighbors are talking heads here, a nice choice. However, it is S.E. Feinberg, who played the narrator of the wraparound that steals the show. I’m going to have that “Gimme that Long Pig” song stuck in my head for hours now.

Also, there is a 30-minute Internet interview with the director and two leads, on “The Horror Happens Radio Show” hosted by Jay K (www.horrorhappens6.wix.com/show). The cast is on camera via computer so you get to see their reactions and hear lots of stories. It’s a nice addition, especially with Paul (possibly the last piece of film of him) being beardless and looking quite different and non-menacing.

More than once during these extras, Montalvan mentions an earlier short film titled Razor Blade (2012), which is also included. It’s experimental, reminiscent of Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929) in visuals and editing, and a bit of content. Montalvan definitely has an eye for the arty side of horror.

As for The Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher, stick around until after the credits, by the way…

 

 

Hillbilly Horror Show (Vol. 1)
Directed by Sharif Salama
Leomark Studios
Filthy Fingernails Productions
60 minutes, 2014
www.mvdvisual.com

When dealing with a horror anthology, I understand the need for a wraparound story, or some usually humorous and/or sexy host to present it. Think Rod Serling in Night Gallery, or Elvira. This collection of indie shorts is presented by three RV trailer trashees: backwards cap wearing and fully bearded everyman Bo, mumbling professor Cephus, and the “smo-kin” Daisy Duke/ripped tee-shirt clad Lulu. The box cover makes it look like it’s going to be lascivious, but this group is pretty PG, television ready rated stuff (even with the slight hint of stereotypical cousin incest).

Perhaps it’s because it’s the first hour-long version of this “Hee Haw meets Creepshow” (the PR description), but I didn’t find much personality with the trio here, as with, say, Ollie Joe Prader or Larry the Cable Guy’s crowd. Pretty harmless, though, but not as funny as the writers seem to think it is. Hopefully that will improve, especially with the hype and commercial attention this is getting, and I’ll hopefully be watching future episodes to find out. And I know there are at least two more in 2015.

The first story, “Franky and the Ant,” is a pretty solid crime/revenge tale that is well acted and written, though it borrows quite liberally from the film (not television version) Fargo (1996). It’s short and sweet. This is followed by an insane slasher piece called “Amused.” We watch a woman being chased through very The Shining type weather. I saw the ending coming early on, but it was still – er – amusing to watch. The actors all seemed committed. That’s part of why I love indie films.

An interesting piece of animation that cuts to the bone is “Doppelganger,” which is reminiscent of one of my idols, Ray Harryhausen. I found this one especially disappointing despite the excellent stop-motion photography.

Clearly the centerpiece is the final short, “The Nest.” We meet a mother and son that run a remote diner in farm country, who have a bit of a twisted relationship (no, not that kind). Known for their award winning honey, the duo is at odds with the local government man (a decent actor who is totally too young for the role) and rancher. The latter sets up a series of events that does not end well for nearly anyone. This is by far the best of the batch, and is well done from beginning to end, including some nice effects (though the gore level is at a minimum, which is actually true across the board in all the films). My only comment that could be taken negatively is to question why it is called “The Nest” and not “The Hive.”

I can certainly see it as a series and I would enjoy watching it, getting the opportunity to see some decent indie shorts. As with any anthology, there is a mixture of quality, and this is no exemption, but it is (in my humble opinion) a fun way to spend an hour.