Damn you New York City traffic! Day one of the New York City Horror Film Festival, and you’re going to make me sit in two extra hours worth of traffic due to a disabled bus in the Lincoln Tunnel?! So are the trials and tribulations of a New Jersian, but you take the good with the bad, considering my refusal to walk into a film late and be the dick sitting down and asking the closest patron “So what did I miss?” Instead, I actually got to relax, meet a friend, grab a few pre-drinks, had a killer all beef burger infused with blue cheese crumbles and bacon, covered in frazzled onions and…Ok, sorry, getting distracted, New York City Horror Film Festival short films, right.
So, along with two full length feature films a night, audiences are also treated to a plethora of fantabulous horror shorts to set us up for the longer films, offering a little creative variety before getting into the long haul. Like I said, due to some bullshit traffic conditions, I was forced to miss Program 1, which showed the shorts Facing Rupert and Survivor Type, but I’m still going to link their trailers and show some love. Based on how good the shorts I saw were, there’s no doubt the first two were right on par, and I’m tremendously bummed I didn’t get to partake in their viewing. I’ll admit, I even tried to find them online so I could give an honest opinion, but no such luck this time. Failure, thy name is New York City commuting.
Director: Chris Ethridge
Survivor Type is a short film adaptation of Stephen King’s unsettling short story about lonely survival and the slow deterioration of sanity that accompanies it, as we follow Ricard Pine in his struggles to stay alive after the cruise ship he was traveling on capsizes and leaves him stranded on a tiny island. Actor Jens Rasmussen plays the self-anointed “survivor type” Richard, going insane on camera for our sick indulgence, and all I can say after watching the trailer is I cannot believe I had the chance to catch Survivor Type and missed out. So.’Effing. Pissed.
Director: Gregory Erdstein
Facing Rupert is the other short I missed, which looks like some seriously off the wall concept filmmaking I again wish I had the chance to partake in. It’s about a man who has a brain tumor removed, but it turns out the tumor is actually his “tumor twin” brother Rupert. Yes, his twin brother was growing in his head. Gah, can I go back in time and leave for the festival three hours earlier to ensure I’m there in time?!
UPDATE: Director Gregory Erdstein was gentlemanly enough to reach out and present me with a screener of Facing Rupert after reading my article and hearing my woes, so I can officially say now it’s definitely a short worth watching. Poor Steve Swanson, could you imagine the attention your younger brother would get if he was removed from your own head? That’s the dilemma driving Steve mad, receiving less and less focused care as the science project looking Rupert grows and grows. Then, when we realize why it’s called Facing Rupert, Erdstein ends on a devilishly fun and strange note, worth every medically defying minute.
Night Of The Pumpkin
Director: Frank Sabatella
But for all the goodness I unfortunately missed, Frank Sabatella started Program 2 off with a bloody bang, bringing us Night Of The Pumpkin. A near perfect short tribute to B-Movie horror insanity, Sabatella’s fast paced storytelling thrives in the small time frame, giving an understandable reason for minimal explanation and massive exploitation. Seriously, a film about a demon possessed pumpkin viciously mauling people on Halloween night sounds rather silly and forgettable, but the copious amounts of over the top gore and hilariously executed kills had me in bouts of laughter too strong to fight off. Two foolish and satirically stereotypical lead characters? Check. Pumpkins eating trick or treaters? Check. Ridiculously inexplicable plot points stretched so far you can’t help but enjoy the absurdity? Mega check. Night Of The Pumpkin is entirely too much fun to ignore, a great quick Halloween watch, and thankfully you can find it in all it’s pulpy wonder here. True horror fans NEED to see this right now. Seriously. Stop reading and watch, but be aware it’s super NSFW!
Dr. Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game
Director: James Cunningham
Taking place in the lavish imaginary world of Dr. Grordbort, a decorated hunter sets out to impress a prim and proper beauty by showing off his hunting skills and adding a few rare trophies to his collection, in a short that takes a little bit to build positive momentum. I really didn’t know what to expect at first, or who the hell Dr. Grordbort was, but I could see I was at least in line for a visual treat, as the CGI world built for The Deadliest Game was a spectacle to marvel at from such a short film. All the creatures were beautifully designed, the weapons were a mix of steampunk and old school sci-fi goodness, and the atmosphere was pleasingly beautiful. The struggles existed in mediocre writing and flat jokes at times though, getting a chuckle here and there until the very end, but I’ll admit it was eye-candy worth devouring 100% of the time. I can still feel honorable recommending a full watch, which is pretty easy considering the whole short is embedded here!
Director: Ian Wolfley
So for those of you out of the loop on gay culture, the term “bug chaser” refers to a man who pursues sexual intercourse with HIV-infected individuals in order to contract HIV. Yes, that is a thing, and yes, that’s exactly what Wolfley’s short is about, so I hope you’re ready for a healthy dose of male nudity and festering anal wounds, because Bug Chaser surely has that! And I’m sorry if you read that with any hint of sarcastic sentiment, because I just mean it as a warning, as I could absolutely see the material being too much for some audiences to handle. In fact, I rather liked Wolfley’s tale, depicting a real-life fetish down to every last terrifically gory detail.
Along with the haunting realism with such a sick masochistic fantasy, Wolfley bestows a tense and haunting cloak of sorrow upon main character Nathan, who up and comer Brenden Shucart heroically plays. This guy gets butt-ass naked numerous times on-screen, self mutilating himself in what would be painfully unbearable circumstances, and I’d say the young actor displayed those gut-wrenching emotions rather vividly. Bug Chaser is every bit grotesque and vile as the premise sounds, with some rather nice social horror thrown in to boot. Trust me, the ending is still seared into my brain, so eye-catching you can’t forget it, but gross enough where you wish you could. Bravo Ian Wolfley. Too bad I only have the trailer to show you, because I would love for you all to experience what I just have.
Be sure to check back for my coverage of Day 2, with all the featured reviews to follow as well!