Monday, January 13, 2014

VoD Reviews: Fan Shorts, Vol. 1

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2013
Images from the Internet

These short films are the equivalent of film fanzines, created by fans on micro-budgets, and deserve to be recognized for their work.

KRUGER: Another Tale from Elm Street
Written and directed by Chris R. Notarile.           
Blinky Productions
6:28 minutes, 2013

Sometimes it’s pretty amazing how effective a film can be in even less than 10 minutes. This two person drama is a flashback to when Freddy Kruger (Roberto Lombardi) is still in his living and sadistic prime, and how he meets little Suzy (Breanna Lakatos). A lot of the bookmarks are there, like the sweater, the hat, the car, and even the gloved hand scraping on the pipe. Lombardi does an excellent job as the creepily charming Kruger. Knowing Freddy’s history with children makes their conversation all the more cringeworthy. Notarile does a great job with a solid nod to the original, while still showing some originality. Well worth the view, even if it’s between fingers.



Bat in the Sun: Super Power Beat Down (various episodes)
Directed by Aaron Schoenke      
Bat in the Sun
Varies (appx. 6-10 minutes per episode, 2013

This series is a hoot to watch. Hosted by hottie nerd Marisha Ray, it pits two super heroes and has them battle in live action shorts. For example, there is Superman vs. Thor, Darth Vader vs. Gandalf, Predator vs. Wolverine, or my favorite, Batman vs. Deadpool. The scenarios open up with some nerds and beautiful women debating over who would win and why, though the outcome is chosen by online voting. Basically it’s Stewart vs. Penny, if she knew comic heroes. Unfortunately they sometimes bet, which mostly ends up with the women in bikinis doing stupid things like having pillow fights. Yeesh. But do not be discouraged because the hero / villain (or hero / hero, or villain / villain) mash-up is so well done that you would never know it had a small budget. Most have a sense of humor and certainly know their characters (yes, Gandalf says “You shall not pass,” for example). The acting of the larger than lifers is no less wooden than, say, George Clooney’s Batman or Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. And this series is not afraid to mix genres and publishing houses. There have been nearly 10 episodes as I write this, and with one or two exceptions (e.g., Lara Croft vs. Nathan Drake), they are truly a joy to watch. Also, it is worth it to keep checking back to see the latest.


Friday the 13th: No Man’s Land
Written and directed by David Hastings. 
Lightbeam Productions / Pat the Bulls Productions      
53 minutes, 2010

Ah, nothing like a gaggle of thirty-year-old teens walking around Crystal Lake, being Jason fodder. What is weird is that they have strange accents, which is somewhat not surprising since it was filmed in the UK, though trying to adapt a Yank one. Oh, one tries and fails with a miserable Southern ayk-sayhent. What’s a nice turn is that they aren’t all buffed and gorgeous, but rather many have non-stereotypical body types.

Though this film is only a few years old, it has analog, VHS-like soft edges to the images. This feels appropriate considering Jason actually became a cult figure from the video revolution rather than the theatrical release, if I remember correctly.

As with all of these kinds of kid-in-the-woods-kids-get-dead films, there is a long period of exposition at the beginning (though there is a nice wrap-around) as we begin to meet and either not care about or dislike the group, usually thanks to either clich√© bitch vs. macho characters, or those so bland you wish they would be just killed off to end their wooden acting, since that’s the point anyway, ain’ it? There is even the strange, creepy guy in the woods warning them to no avail.

Perhaps you may think I am being too hard on the film. Nah, not at all, and in fact, I admire that they actually have the same aesthetics of the original film, rather than the later, silly sequels. This is probably more accurate to the core concept than the others that were “official” follow-ups (which are mentioned at some point to the informed’s amusement: “I heard he was even in New York,” a way-post-teen mentions).

Actually, my only real complaint is that all the sound is ambient, so the further away from the camera the actor is, the harder it is to hear them. That and 15 minutes could have been easily clipped off, but that’s true of any of the franchise (or let me expand that to the genre).

Now a question I have (and all this genre has answers needed) is if you know a killer is out there, or even possibly on the loose, why would you go off one by one into the woods? Some of the kills are quite ordinary, such as a having a head smashed against a tree (didn’t Jason have a machete at some point?), and at least two of the women fall while running away, but there are a few good gore effects that are quite well done and worth the attention..

The editing is consistent with the original, and there is even some archival footage of Jason as a boy, his mom (Betsey Palmer, as they did in 2001’s Jason X) and even Alice thrown into the mix during flashbacks.

And what about Jason? Well, he is played by the rightfully imposing and oddly named Mike Bytheway (I’m thinking a made up name; if not, my apologies). He has Jason’s mannerisms down pretty well, even the doggy-style head nodding to the side in piqued interest.

The thing about films like this is that they, well for lack of a better term, tread on sacred ground to many followers of the original. In that way, despite the flaws, they definitely succeed. This is a well-handled homage in its loyalty and detail.

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