Been a while since I reviewed some short horror films, but I’m planning on doing a new feature here at http://anythinghorror.com which involves shooting and posting some self-shot horror scenes. So I’ve been watching some horror shorts for inspiration. These two shorts couldn’t be more different. So different, in fact, that I hated one and loved the other. Let’s get to it:
Cannibal Flesh Riot (2007):
Just one little word of advice for writer, producer, and directer Gris Grimly: If you’re gonna use a title like “Cannibal Flesh Riot”, well then you better deliver on at least one of those words!! Ya can’t help but have a preconceived idea of what this short is gonna be with a title like that. I, for one, was thinking of a short and sweet uber-gory tale of some virus turning people into flesh eating cannibals. I was very, very wrong. What we get is a plodding and VERY talking short (running 30 minutes) that follows around two ghouls in a cemetery as they are looking for a specific grave. But first we are treated to a lengthy introduction by Gris Grimly on exactly what a “ghoul” is. You’ll get more information than you’ve ever wanted on “ghouls”. But I was patient hoping that this introduction would have some relevance as to the rest of the short. Again I was very wrong.
After Grimly’s introduction we meet our two ghouls, Stash (David Backus) and Hub (Dustin Loreque). They are kind of like the Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello of ghouls. And they like to talk. A lot. They do indeed have some witty and sharp dialogue back and forth, but that’s pretty much all they have. They walk around the cemetery looking for a particular grave and talk the entire time. Then towards the end of the mercifully short 31 minutes they are attacked by some crappy looking clay-mation monster and are killed. The End.
Look; I get it … Grimly wasn’t going for a balls-to-the-wall gore-fest. He made this short for $6,000 and the cast also did double duty as the behind-the-camera crew as well. I get it. I guess my biggest problem here is with the title. Again, with a title like “Cannibal Flesh Riot” you’re gonna expect something more than the characters from the Dumb and Dumber of the ghoul world walking around and talking. Sure they TALK about some of their experiences killing and eating people, but we see none of it. Why not call it “Ghouls Gone Wild” or “Ghouls Take a Walk”? At least I wouldn’t have expected something fast-paced and gory!! But I will say that Grimly shows a lot of promise as far as setting up shots and using shadows goes. It was a nicely shot piece; it just didn’t have any substance to it. But I’m definitely gonna keep my eye on his future projects.
Death in Charge (2009):
Just my luck!! Death in Charge is the most interesting horror film I’ve seen in a few weeks and it’s only a 15 minute short!! When it was over I was begging my DVD player to find some more material on the DVD. But that’s a good sign; writer-director Devi Snively left me wanting more. A lot more. In April 2010, the editor of http://pretty-scary.net (a website run by and about women working in the horror industry) named Devi Snively as one of the horror genre’s 13 Most Influential Women … and I can see why. She put together a short that is both original while paying homage to the old E.C. horror comics and such shows like Tales From the Crypt. This is a cautionary tale that makes you laugh rather nervously.
The story is about a mother (Gillian Shure) getting ready to go out for a night on the town. She’s anxiously waiting for the babysitter and is so self-absorbed that when the doorbell finally rings and she let’s the “babysitter” in she doesn’t even realize that it’s Death (played beautifully by Marina Benedict).
Death, who calls herself Debbie, decides to hang out with the precocious Whitney (Kylie Chalfa). Benedict does a great job with her role as she is introduced to such “earthly” sensations as Mac N’ Cheese and Sea Munkees. Chalfa is a great little actress who also hits all the right notes and does a terrific job for a girl so young. For once you know she is acting as a precocious little girl and isn’t actually one in real life.
The dialogue is fun and quick as Whitney and Death get to know each other. But the fun tone fades away once Whitney starts talking about her mom. Mom never seems to have time for Whitney and only talks to her when she’s telling her daughter to “be quite”. Whitney then talks about how easily she could kill her mother. The short then concludes with a little twist that even though you can see it coming a mile away is still effective and will make you nostalgic for the Tales From the Crypt TV series. I also really loved the color palatte of bright colors that will make you think that you’re watching a comic book come to life. All these elements converge in a really entertaining short film about the dangers of being self-absorbed and the banality of death. Devi Snively has seven other shorts (the longest being 55 minutes) that I’m looking forward to viewing (one is titled I Spit on Eli Roth  and is a “must see” on my list!!). Check this out and keep your eye on Devi Snively!!
My Summary:of Cannibal Flesh Riot:
Director: Gris Grimly (and writer)
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
My Summary of Death in Charge (2009)
Director: Devi Snively (and writer)
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer