Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Reviews: The Short Films of Andrea Ricca

Text © Richard Gary / FFanzeen, 2018
Images from the Internet

Italian director Andrea Ricca has been making short horror and Sci-Fi films since the late 1990s. All the 14 included here are without dialogue – though worth listening to for the amusingly and occasionally cheesy electronic music. Many are humorous, and are made on extremely low budgets, but with a lot of love; at least that’s the impression they give. These films are all mostly one-man projects, when it comes to the production (and sometimes the acting). Ricca does nearly all his own “scripting, shooting, acting, editing, special effects, 3D modellation and animation” (though occasionally he’s helped on the post-productions. That is extremely impressive considering the volume of output. Don’t believe me? All the films reviewed on this blog are free, which are presented in alphabetical order rather than chronological,  so watch so see them yourself HERE

Alien Worms
4 minutes, 2016
A member of the U.F.O.B.I. governmental agency follows the trail of a space craft that has crashed to Earth with a bunch of, well, alien worms onboard that are subsequently let loose. They look like smaller versions of the worms from either Tremors (1990) or Dune (1984). He fights them in a house, with the use of high-tech equipment and a handgun. The worms’ are definitely homemade digital, and sometimes they look great, and occasionally they look static, even when they move; think of a still picture being pulled across the screen. All in all, it’s actually a fun pic, and doesn’t last very long, with an obligatory ending style. It’s a drama with a nice style.

Aliens Night
7:40 minutes, 2014
A really fun and pleasing piece about a scientist (Sefani Autori) who is surprised at home by three Greys, who have dubious, yet unknown, ideas regarding her. The hunter and hunted switch roles back and forth, playing nicely. The aliens look good, though they move a bit like that digital dancing lizard that everyone seems to be imitating on Social Media. As a storyline, albeit short, this is actually quite satisfying, though lots of questions are left unanswered, hopefully done so by the 2016 sequel below.

Aliens Night 2: The Grey’s Return
4:00 minutes, 2016
The sequel is taken less seriously than the first, being more comedic, which I’m also okay with; this seem actually unrelated to the previous other than the same spaceship and aliens models are used. This time the Greys show up at a man’s house (Ricca), and he tries to razzle dazzle them, again with the hunter/hunted paradigms. In all, it was quite amusing and enjoyable, though quite not-what-would-happen; however, the ending is a bit of a snide commentary on UFO fandom that I believe to be quite accurate.

The Amulet of Fear
5:29 minutes, 2017
While taking a break from reading a horror novel, a woman (Ludovica Ferrara) finds a strange amulet in a small wicker basket, and before you know it, she must use her ingenuity (and yes, a hand gun) to fend off a mysterious digital demon creature in an it’s-you-or-me game of life or death. There is some subtle humor though it’s dark, but remains fun throughout its short run. I am definitely seeing a trend through the films, but it’s mashed up enough to keep it interesting. Though obviously digital, the creature looks pretty good.

The Furfangs
5:04 minutes, 2010
A man (Ricca) on the eve of getting engaged has a visit from a small, rag-tag group of space furballs with fangs that are about the size of softballs reminiscent of the tribbles, with eyes and teeth similar to the Zuni doll in the classic TV film, Trilogy of Terror (1975); there is even a nod to it with a toaster oven. Unlike the Karen Black release, this is an effective comedy that could have been longer, and still would have been worth the watch.

The Furfangs 2
2:12 minutes, 2011
While much shorter, this one is more ominous than its predecessor, with our intrepid hero (still no spouse) once again visited by a trio of these digital dustballs, and once again he uses various common household appliances to thwart them as best he can; perhaps a primer on how to deal with these creatures should they actually show up at the viewers’ door? As with the first, he keeps his calm, even though knocked about here and there, and fights for the right to… party? Anyway, I got distracted. There is a hint of a third in the series, and I’m ready.

The Giant Scorpion
4:05 minutes, 2016
While at home (I am really seeing a motif here), a young and agile woman (Ilaria Lamberti) is visited by a scorpion that is about the size of a large German Shephard, transformed from a normal one by the radiation from a meteorite that lands nearby (that nobody seems to have heard; I’m just sayin’). She resourcefully uses household items to fend off the creature, which seems to be a bit slow moving; that being said, the weight difference between the small insect and the larger one would probably make a difference as it tries to compensate. And the ending made me smile in a winking at millennials way.

The Guardian
4:11 minutes, 2008
As a chance of pace, a modern Indiana Jones (Michele Di Mauro), if you will, finds a treasure of a small and ancient clay bottle that is protected by a, yep, guardian. This OG looks a lot like the skeleton guards from Jason and the Argonauts (1963), and his murder in its eyes… well, its skull, anyway. It’s out to get back said ceramic, with his shield, helmet and vorpal sword in hand (the former leading to an extremely amusing moment that is acknowledged by the background music, and alone is worth seeing.

The Ouija Board Secret
2:00 minutes, 2018
This recent film follows a bit of the same formula of a guy (Ricca) in his house under attack by ghosts and demons, but there are some demonstrable differences from anything I’ve seen before, such as there being two human (I believe) characters, one of whom seems to be based on the Asian angry-dead-woman-in-white-with-long-hair genre (The Ring, the Grudge, etc.), but this one has a more sinister tone than previous Ricca works and takes in off in a bit of a different departure than the others I’ve seen up to now. The effects are getting better and there are definitely some script growth of which I approve (not that I’m telling Ricca how to do his films!).

Space Monster
3:35 minutes, 2015
Gloss-lipped and cute Ilaria Lamberti is home alone when an extraterrestrial container lands in her yard. The evil, nasty titular creature breaks out and chases her out to her car as she tries to make her escape, but not without the beastie hopping onto the roof of the car, as she valiantly tries to shake it off and/or kill it. It’s a well done chase scene where everything except Lamberti and the car are CGI, once she leaves the house. Though short and sweet, there is a nice level of suspense, but it’s hard to have a dull film with a speeding car and a monster, eh wot? This is a fun drive, but more for the viewer than the protagonist, I would assume.

Spider Danger
5:03 minutes, 2012
After the destruction of a spider planet, the debris from it lands in the yard of a man (Ricca) that has a pet sider (in a glass fish-tank kind of structure), who is of course totally unaware of this object crashing nearby. Suddenly his own spider grows huge and the eggs of a batch of spiders from the other plant (rather than Spiders from Mars, I guess) are on the prowl, with the guy defending himself, yes, with objects found around the house. It’s amusing with a nice turn at the end, with a bit of humor.

The Spirit Board
5:17 minutes, 2016
The bored new owner of a house (Ilaria Lamberti) finds a Ouija board with the smallest palette I’ve ever seen, at about the size of an American dollar coin. She holds a solo séance that unleashes a nasty spirit that has come to take her back to…wherever it came from. She has to outsmart it, or die trying. While not a comedy, there are some nice spooky moments that may still bring a smile in bemusement. The short is shot in a mixture of green-tinted black and white, and a wash-out color.

The Spooky Ghost
7:00 minutes, 2013
A young woman (Francesca Simonelli) in a tight tanktop’s car runs out of gas on a deserted road besides an old and spooky house that’s for sale. Of course, the house comes with a ghostly tenant that looks like it belongs in Disney’s Haunted Mansion: it’s green, chubby, and has both a bowtie and derby hat. In this comic turn, while the ghost is hardly scary (purposefully, I am assuming), there are other really nice FX moments that are bound to please those who like PG fare. It’s a battle of the wits between our heroine and the spooky ghost. This really was a hoot.

UFO Race
2:25 minutes, 2009
For an amusing end, we catch up (see what I did there?) with a solo driver (Ricca) who meets up with a UFO filled with a couple of bored ETs on a lonely road. So what do they do? They challenge the dude to a race, of course. A bit tortoise and hare premise, considering the flying machine can travel between solar systems, but the guy is up for it. It ends with a smile for everyone, especially the viewer. It’s damn silly, but sometimes that just what one needs in a landscape full of Xenomorphs and Predators.

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