[Month of Horror] Vicious

Only one short tonight. Lost track of time.


A young woman comes home one night and finds something bad in her house.

A problem I’ve noticed with a lot of these shorts is lack of context. The protagonist encounters something weird seemingly without rhyme or reason and it’s never explained.

This might seem unfair. There’s not a lot of time to get into things in under, say, fifteen minutes. However, it can be done.

Take Trick or Treat! for instance. It isn’t much longer than Vicious, and yet you know why what happens to the protagonists happens. Oh, not the whole story behind what happens, sure. Enough, though, that it makes a degree of twisted sense.

Here, something bad happens. You don’t know why. And when dealing with the Supernatural, as you are here, an explanation of some sort would be nice.

Carping done. This is a very good short (2.0). My one complaint aside, it does everything right in terms of atmosphere, acting, and all. It was a pleasure watching it (1.5), though I don’t think I liked it quite as much as Trick or Treat! Which makes it feel a little strange that this has the higher rating.

Oh well. Never said the rating system was perfect.

3.5 out of 4

[Month of Horror] Night Visions: Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs/The Gate/The Backwater Gospel

Night Visions

Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs

A psychiatrist with the ability to absorb the illnesses of his patients comes upon a situation that may be more than he can handle.

Yes, I cribbed that summary from the show’s Wikipedia page.

Yes, I am ashamed of myself.

One confession done, here’s another.

At some point I grew tired of TV shows. Could not force myself to watch them. Told myself something had to give between the reading, the tv, and the videogames, might as well be the TV.

Watching Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs, it occurs to me this apathy started around the same year this series came out.

There is something entirely too familiar about this story. The acting, the direction, I don’t know what. It just felt too much like something I’ve watched a thousand times before. Or struggled to watch a thousand times before.

How bad did it get? Well the episode comes with two stories and I’m only talking about one. How bad do you think it got?

I had a similar problem earlier in the month. I tried to watch an episode of Ghost Story staring Jason Robards (of all people) and I didn’t make the halfway point. Too dull.

Or seemingly dull. Same thing, though, when push comes to shove.

All of this might seem to point towards me carping about Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs. And I did have problems. The script could have used a rewrite, maybe even shortening. Certain parts to my mind didn’t add up. There was entirely too much Luke Perry.




Those, though, might be considered Cullen Carps and discarded. The moment Our Hero begins his latest attempt to help someone on is gripping stuff. Well worth the wait getting there.

In other words, it does it’s job. Maybe not a great episode, but certainly a good one (1.5). I kind of like it (1.5) and might seek out some more. Especially the ones directed by the Great Joe Dante and Not Really That Bad Toby Hooper.

Though I’m not finishing the episode Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs belongs to. That story just ain’t clicking with me at all.

Oh, and Henry Rollins as Rod Serling? Really? Nothing against the guy, but really?

3 out of 4

The Gate

A couple of kids open up a gate to Hell. Typical weekend, actually.

This is yet another one of those films I can slip on and watch anytime and still get a kick out of it. Yeah, the effects can be lame, and yeah, the acting is only just adequate. Watching it this time I thought it would have worked better if it was a wee bit shorter.

And more Italian leaning. If you catch my drift.

But you know what? When it works, it works. It’s funny most of the time, and it has more than a few truly nightmarish moments. The final monster is one of cinema’s best.

It’s a good movie (1.5) that I love (2.0).

Oh, and the Dark Gods as malicious pranksters? I can almost see that.

3.5 out of 4

The Backwater Gospel

An agent of death comes to a backwaters town.

I didn’t like this cartoon short the first time I watched it, and I can’t now say why. It’s perfect, nasty in the way Horror should be nasty.

Great stuff (2.0). But do I love it? Yeah, maybe I do. (2.0)

Oh, and the Undertaker’s smile? Yeesh.

4 out of 4

[Month of Horror] Last Bus Home/Trick or Treat

Last Bus Home

A young woman and a young man wait for a ride in the dark of night.

Same premise as with our previous subject, Waiting, with a young woman experiencing difficulties while waiting for a bus. Short, well acted, but not particularly scary.

Good (1.5), but I didn’t get the same kick as the earlier film. So maybe a meh (1).

2.5 out of 4

Trick or Treat

A couple faces a persistent Trick-or-Treater.

This one, though, is a delight. Well acted, decent story, it made me wish it was longer. Not scary but creepy, very creepy.

I’ll say good (1.5) and liked (1.5)

3 out of 4

[Month of Horror] Who’s Hungry?/Leave/Run

For the record, I also watched There’s a Man in the Woods again. Take that for what it’s worth.

Who’s Hungry?

A brother and sister run after the wrong ice cream truck.

This is a very charming little animate short. No dialogue, just action, and it really doesn’t waste time. I didn’t find it scary or particularly thrilling, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to be. I looked up Horror Short Anime Film and this popped up with the other suggestions that didn’t look like anime. It might have just been made to entertain.

Well it succeeded. It’s pretty good (1.5) and I rather liked it (1.5).

3 out of 4


A doomed tree grove takes steps to save itself.

This short shares problems with a lot of other shorts. All it is is a single scare, built up to, then executed. It feels more like the start of something rather than a complete whole.

Which would be okay, I guess, had it been scary. It wasn’t. Nicely shot, a little too dark, and one hopes the film makers move on to better things.

Two mehs. I dunno if I should put the numbers in or not. But you get the idea.

2 out of 4


A man goes into the woods in search of a missing woman.

Then there’s this flick.

It’s shot on a Go-Pro on a head rig and shows. It’s antagonist makes no sense; there are whole scenes that that make no sense. Is this something the man is actually seeing? A recording? What?

What dialogue it has is written out on screen. Not sure why. All it all, the whole thing has the feel of a Horror Walking Simulator. Just really kind of off putting, especially when the main character refused to move where my mouse told him to.

These are the jokes folks.

That aside, Leave is the better made film. By a large margin.

So why am I giving this a low good (1.5)?

Because Run, nonsensical as it is, does it’s God damn job.

Four freaking jump scares. One I saw coming a mile away and still jumped. It ain’t fine art, but it’ll do until something better comes along.

Seriously, I liked it (1.5) far more than it deserves. If I hadn’t rewatched There’s a Man in the Woods it would have been the best thing I saw today.

3 out of 4

[Month of Horror] Suspiria (1977)/Joyû-rei

Okay, so our first flick was supposed to be yesterday’s choice. But Cullen felt too sleepy to finish. Thus it got pushed back to today, with today’s movie review in addition to it.

Suspiria (1977)

A young woman picks the wrong school to learn dancing from.

This is one of my comfort movies, something that I can just watch any time I like. Which probably says something terrible about me, as it’s deaths are nearly all pretty young women suffering horribly.

In fairness to me, one of my other comfort movies is John Carpenter’s The Thing, in which all the deaths are men suffering horribly. But maybe that’s not much better.

To get back to Suspiria, it’s a near perfect Horror flick (let’s sneak a score in here: 2.0). Nasty as hell. Enough style and verve to cover up questionable special effects, an info dump near the end, and a bat on a wire. Acting is off, but that’s dubbing for you.

I think half the success of this film is the soundtrack. Damn creepy stuff, I think.

Love this movie (2.0)

4 out of 4


A film is plagued by a laughing ghost.

You want a contrast, watch these two films back to back. Suspiria is in your face gruesome. This is more an M. R. James story. Only one on screen death, and just subtly growing chills.

It was this film and Cure that made me a fan of Japanese Horror. There was so much more to them than what I was seeing America side.

It’s been twenty some years since I watched this flick, and it’s ending stuck with me. Though I missed a crucial detail back then that changes the way I see the ending.

Great flick (2.0). Love it to pieces (2.0). It’s not possible to pick up by legitimate means for some reason, a situation that I’ve been hoping would change for years now. Currently, though, YouTube has a copy, which is how I watched it. Make sure the YouTube Subtitles are turned on.

4 out of 4

[Month of Horror] Second Week Summation

Told you no repeat of the ten movie watch. This week I watched eleven. And skipped a day.

The movies are as follows:

  • Blackbird (Short)
  • In Vaulted Halls Entombed (Netflix Show episode)
  • Chainsaw Maid (Animated Short)
  • Deadstream (Feature)
  • Waiting (Animated Short)
  • Dagon (Animated Short)
  • Laura Hasn’t Slept (Short)
  • Withered (Short)
  • 2AM: The Smiling Man (Real Short)
  • This Is Not a Test (Short)
  • The Shrine (Feature)

Note: Unless noted otherwise, the shorts I watch for these reviews are on You Tube. Except for Laura Hasn’t Slept , which has been pulled by Paramount.

Looks like more shorts than features. Not my intent for this series, but real life writes the plot. I’m already doing better for Week 3.

Only two of these were perfects. No film dipped below 2.5 points, which might be an improvement. Depending on where you stand on the matter.

The top three, in order of preference more than quality:

1. (tied) Deadstream/Chainsaw Maid

3. The Shrine.

Though 2AM comes close to edging out The Shrine.

The worst flick I watched would be Blackbird.

Film pushing the Short category to its limit: Dagon. Really, it’s more of an audio with pictures.

Two weeks down. A new week begins…

[Month of Horror] 2AM: The Smiling Man/This is Not a Test

2AM: The Smiling Man

2AM is a short film about a night walker encountering a stranger night walker while roaming the streets. At a little over 4 minutes there isn’t a lot of time for nonsense, and, wisely, the film makers don’t do that. It helps that this flick is based on a really short story.

It’s a very ambiguous piece, and that’s one of its strengths. With one possible exception there are no silly bits of rule breaking to spoil the fun. The acting is spot on as is the direction.

It is what it is: a creepy short. Great job (2.0). I really like this one (1.5)

3.5 out of 4

This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test is a short film about a young man confined to his apartment due to some sort of paranormal anomaly happening in his country. It’s run time is a little longer that 2AM and it, too, uses its time wisely. I don’t think it’s quite as successful as our previous subject. It doesn’t hit its notes quite as well, and while the actors here aren’t bad, they don’t have the… I dunno… reality maybe? Somethings off about the performance, is what I’m saying. It could be just me, but it was there.

Outside of that criticism, the only thing I’ll say is that it’s a tad predictable. It’s good (1.5) and I liked it (1.5), but it could have been better.

But that’s just me. Both films can be found on YouTube.

3 out of 4 points

[Month of Horror] Laura Hasn’t Slept/Withered

Laura Hasn’t Slept

A woman seeks counseling about her dreams.

Note: Unless noted otherwise, the shorts I watch for these reviews are on You Tube. Except for this one. This one has been pulled by Paramount. Which is their right.

Right at the end of September I watched the hit Horror flick Smile in a theater. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen a hundred times before. I’d guessed the end well before we got there. All said, though, it was a good representation of its plot, it had good scares, and while it has some padding here and there it wasn’t a bad time. I liked it.

So when I learned it was based on a short film, today’s subject, I sought it out on You Tube.

It has a plot you’ve seen before. You’ll guess the ending way before you get there. And there’s some padding where you probably don’t need it.

And like Smile, I had a blast with Laura Hasn’t Slept. It is an extremely well made example of its kind.

I would even go so far as to say this is the better of the two films.

Great flick (2.0). Not sure I’d say I loved it, so we’ll go with like (1.5)

3.5 out of 4


A man digs up something nasty in his garden.

This one I wasn’t so lucky with.

Oh, it’s fine. It has some jump scares that made me jump (at least one that really shouldn’t have, so props for that). And it wasn’t too irritating.

It’s just that there’s something missing.

Part of it is the acting, which really isn’t good. It’s also a bit lack luster in places in terms of direction and special effect.

But what really kills it is that it suffers from a lack of motivation for what was going on and no set rules for the antagonist. It does what it does because of plot.

This is a common problem with a lot of shorts. I realize that sometimes you don’t need a motivation. Laura Has Slept‘s villain doesn’t say why he’s doing what he’s doing, or what he gains out things. But there’s an in-story reason why this doesn’t matter.

No such luck here.

All that said, I don’t think a meh works for it (it did do its job and scare), so we’re saying a low good (1.5). Personally I’m sort of meh on it all together (1.0)

2.5 out of 4

[Month of Horror] Deadstream


I’ve never reviewed a movie this new. It came out last week. I’d have reviewed it before now, but for some reason it wouldn’t pop up on Shudder for me.

Which irritated the crap out of me, because like with It Crawls Beneath I saw the trailer and knew this was a gotta see. This internet influencer goes off and does everything that scares him. His latest fear is staying alone in a haunted house, so he picks one to spend the night in by himself. Naturally he chooses poorly.

Anyway, this is another in a long series of “Found Footage” films, but in this case it’s more of a streaming video, meaning what’s happening is happening “live”. You see the protagonist set himself up for a horrible night, then slowly but surely things build up to less Blair Witch Project and more Evil Dead. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now like entirely too many modern films I’ve watched of late I was ahead of the game here and there, but in this case, that’s the point. The protagonist is an idiot, doing dumb things for dumb reasons. You’re supposed to be ahead of him.

This isn’t to say I have no problems with the film. There are questions about the plot I’m not sure about.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t care. I had a blast with this film, and I think it might be one I revisit again through the coming years.

Great flick (2.0). Loved most every moment of it (2.0)

4 out of 4