5 Choice Indies of 2012

Special Mention:
Directed by: Joey Ciccoline
Written by: Sean Wilson, Joey Ciccoline
Official Trailer
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Originally a contender for an online short film festival, director Joey Ciccoline’s short “88:88” is a wonderful and absolutely remarkable horror short about a woman who simply can not escape her destiny. She’s built her life around her over night occurrences, and on the day we meet her, she’s decided to stop becoming a victim and start resisting. In spite of her life around her wondering where she is, our young heroine spends her time building mechanisms and odd devices around her room.

Though she’s calm and resolute throughout the course of the short, she is racing the clock, and before she knows it, night has fallen and it’s time to sleep. With a wonderful eye on the small budget, and low maintenance special effects, Joey Ciccoline delivers an onslaught of horrific images, and devastatingly traumatic monsters that desperately try to bring this woman in to their throes and by her own clever instruments, shows them that she’s not one to be reckoned with any longer. A striking and downbeat short, this is a film to watch, if only because it’s one of the few extra terrestrial films that have succeeded in turning its menaces in to terrifying beings that have been tamed over the years.

Directed by: Patrick Rea
Written by: Patrick Rea, Kendal Sinn
Official Trailer
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It’s no shock we love director Patrick Rea. He’s delivered an almost unstoppable gallery of short horror and fantasy films, most of which have amazed and surprised us. No director has a flawless streak, but Patrick Rea has consistently turned out quality short films for horror fans alike, and he never ceases to entertain us. It’s a thrill to see director Patrick Rea turning his attention to feature films, and “Nailbiter” is a great feature film debut that is set during a tornado, and a town that may or may not know what’s lurking within the darkness of their houses. Set on a mom and her three daughters whom are on the way to meet their dad on leave from the military, the trio of women are stranded in a small town and are forced to take refuge from a massive storm in a small basement of what seems to be an abandoned home.

Before long the foursome are attacked from something lurking inside the basement, and what’s worse is that someone or something is outside trying to keep them trapped with the thing inside that wants to feed on them. “Nailbiter” is by no means a gore soaked film, but is mostly reliant on atmosphere and tension and it works as a claustrophobic horror film about women battling a monster and trying their hardest to escape what seems to be a hopeless situation during a vicious storm. Patrick Rea continues growing as a film director, and we look forward to more from the man.

Directed by: Elias
Written by: Elias
Official Trailer
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Director Elias first came to our attention in 2006, when he directed the fun “Lovecracked!” a series of short vignettes devoted ot the lunacy of HP Lovecraft. For “Gut,” his 2012 horror feature length follow-up, he opts less for funny and more for monumentally disturbing and perverse. “Gut” is an exploration in to the part of our brain that can arouse us, and the sometimes absolutely horrid things that can arouse us and keep us wanting more. Focused on two best friends growing apart, friend Dan invites his friend Tom over to view a film that he’s never set his eyes on before in his life.

What begins as a mere fascination of what may or may not be an actual snuff film begins taking over the lives of both men, each of whom have particularly odd after effects subsequent their viewing of the grotesque film in question. Whether it’s a positive or a negative will weigh on the minds of viewers, as both characters Tom and Dan find a new outlook on their everyday lives, and soon want to see not only if the snuff film was real, but if they can garner more. As long as they’re not hurting anyone, there’s nothing wrong with it. Right? Filled with gruesome special effects, a disturbing sensuality added ot the violence, and an incredibly shocking final ten minutes, “Gut” is for horror fans who like some brain candy with their grue.

Thy Kill Be Done
Directed by: Greg Hanson & Casey Regan
Written by: Greg Hanson & Casey Regan
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In early October during our Halloween festivities, independent film director sent us his short film “Thy Kill Be Done” and within the email declared “I wanted to send along a short film for review that I think would be up your alley – especially with your penchant for Grindhouse and similar style films.” Boy has there ever been such a true statement or what? Though we’re not the biggest fans of nunsploitation films, we adore revenge cinema, and exploitation cinema, and “Thy Kill Be Done” directed by Greg Hanson and Casey Regan beings all three sub-genres in spades.My only complaint is that “Thy Kill Be Done” isn’t longer, because this is a film I could have watched for at least three hours.

“Thy Kill Be Done” is a marvelous and raucous girndhouse short film about three nuns still suffering from Nam flashbacks, who are forced to watch their beloved father be murdered by local hoods. When they decide to cast aside all reluctance, the nuns unleash a furor of violence, gore, and torture that would make Satan shit in his pants. All three performances are fantastic, but Jessica Webb is just a juggernaut of vengeance and relentless anger who strikes down her foes with bible verses. I loved this short film back in October, and still do. It’s one of the few movies that made me moan “Aw man!” as soon as the end credits began rolling. More! I want more!

The Sleeper
Directed by: Justin Russell
Written by: Justin Russell
Official Trailer
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Justin Russell is one of those interesting independent filmmakers who take some novelty from their film. Sometimes giving prospective movie fans a little treat with their buck can falter, but other times giving a novelty to fans can be rewarded with a damn good film. Justin Russell gave horror fans the limited time to purchase their own copy of “The Sleeper” but on a special edition VHS! Yes, in spite of your shock, there are still VHS devotees out there who love the format, you elitist swine. In any case, the VHS edition of “The Sleeper” was only a small window in to the celebration of what ended up being one of my favorite horror film throwbacks in years. Only director Ti West offered a VHS edition of his film “The House of the Devil” for fans, and thankfully that too ended up being wonderful.

“The Sleeper” could be considered a companion piece of West’s “The House of the Devil.” It’s an expertly made, and well crafted horror slasher film that hearkens back to films like “He Knows You’re Alone,” and “Black Christmas,” with a mysterious slasher, a sorority party, and a finale that ends in a question mark and an amusing cameo from Joe Bob Briggs. “The Sleeper” is an unnerving and excellent nod to the slasher films of the early eighties, and one that drips with tension, sharp acting, and a wonderful grasp of its premise and how far it can take this idea. I’d love to own the VHS someday, but alas, I’ll settle for my lovely DVD copy.

Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era
Directed by: Jason Paul Collum
Written by: Jason Paul Collum
Official Trailer
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By way of Breaking Glass Pictures, director Jason Paul Collum pays tribute to the era of horror movies where being a scream queen meant something. These days there are very few actresses that want to devote their time to being a scream queen, but back in the video and grindhouse age, being a scream queen brought with it an instant fan base, and endless debating about misogyny in the horror genre. Focusing on the trio of queens from the horror film age of the seventies and eighties: Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer, we’re given a tour in to their world and how they came in to stardom, and what they did to earn their scream queen status.

Often times scream queens were aspiring models looking for jobs, and the trio of actresses looking for a break, ended up becoming horror royalty in a breed of horror mistresses that eventually died out with video and the VCR. There’s wonderful interviews with directors like Fred Olen Ray, and David DeCouteau, as well as honest glimpses in to the lives of these women and how they function. There’s insight in their roles as feminine symbols, the attempts to market them as products, and the fall out from being so popular eventually inspiring some stalkers and the like. “Screaming in High Heels” is a wonderful ode to a lost aspect of the horror film that saw new heights with three of the sexiest and most charismatic women to ever set foot on screen.