31 Days Of Horror 2013 – Guest Blogger Justin McConnell Presents Little Terrors – The Halloween Home Edition

Little Terrors

Almost every month since July 2011, I’ve been running a monthly short film festival in Toronto called LITTLE TERRORS, which is co-promoted by RUE MORGUE MAGAZINE. In that time I’ve played over 200 genre shorts from all over the world, including a huge number of premieres. Part hobby, part mission, and a little bit business, the series is now in it’s third year, and shows no signs of slowing down. Our next local Toronto event is on ‘Devil’s Night’, October 30th, and will be another great line-up of horror-themed goodness. If in the area, make sure you come out to Carlton Cinema and see for yourself.

However, I’m aware that many people don’t live close to Toronto, so when the good folks at Biff Bam Pop asked me to do a couple of articles for their 31 Days of Horror, I jumped at the opportunity. Consider this a ‘Little Terrors – Home Edition’. Here is a list of 10 shorts, taken from past programs, which you can play right now using the magic of the internet. So lock your doors, make some popcorn, turn down the lights, sit back, and enjoy.

1) ‘The Sleepover,’ Directed by Chris Cullari

Shown at Little Terrors 16, this clever reversal of slasher-movie tropes has earned this short it’s reputation online. It’s entertaining, knows it’s audience, and isn’t afraid to get it’s hands dirty.
2) ‘Paralyzed’, Directed by Aaron Sims
I’ll be honest about this: sleep paralysis and dream-based mythology is one of the few areas of horror to actually scare me. The concept of having zero control over your body when you are at your most vulnerable, or that something else may be there while you sleep, even just outside the walls of perception, is surefire nightmare fuel. Talented director Aaron Sims exploits that quite effectively in this short. Be sure to check out his impressive ‘Archetype‘ as well.
3) ‘Suckablood’ Directed by Jake Cuddihy & Ben Tillett
UK film collective ‘Bloody Cuts’ is a reliable name when it comes to quality short films. This is one of their strongest pieces of work, among many good films. It’s atmospheric visuals, storybook-gone-wrong tone, and creepy quality make it can’t miss Halloween viewing.
4) ‘Bad Moon Rising’ Directed by Scott Hamilton
This is one of the shorts I’ve played twice, once during it’s regular programming at Little Terrors 12, and again during this year’s highlight tour. I’m a sucker for practical werewolves, and in 7 minutes Hamilton & co. manage to put many past wolf films to shame. This plays out like the first part of a larger story, so tune in to get the first taste of something that will likely grow.
5) ‘Lazer Ghosts 2: Return to Laser Cove’ Directed by Steven Kostanski
Ah, Astron 6. I firmly believe Canada is the only place a collective of filmmakers with such a nut-job sensibility could exist. They’ve made countless shorts over the years, and a few quite fun features (‘Manborg’, ‘Father’s Day’, the upcoming ‘The Editor’, and Kostanki’s promising-looking ‘The Void’). This film was my first exposure to Kostanski, a Canadian genre brother-in-arms, and it will only take one viewing to see what the fuss is about. This is a loving tribute to, and somewhat spoof of, everything I grew up watching.
6) ‘Eaglewalk’ Directed by Rob Himebaugh
If you’re planning to watch Bobcat Goldthwait’s highly effective ‘Willow Creek’ next week at Toronto After Dark, you owe it to yourself to watch ‘Eaglewalk’ first. While I firmly believe ‘Willow Creek’ to be one of the best found footage films since the original ‘Blair Witch’, it and this short share one major thing in common: Bigfoot. In this case, a killer sasquatch is treated more like he’s Jason from the ‘Friday the 13th’ films: a quiet, towering stalker of a creature. At 30 minutes in running time, this is almost a feature, and well-worth your time.
7) ‘Deus Irae’ Directed by Pedro Cristiani
Demonic possession by way of early Robert Rodriguez, this energetic and atmospheric short was played way back at Little Terrors 2, and still remains one of my favourites to this day. The concept of a team of Vatican-sponsored exorcists fighting evil in a much more direct way, using weaponry and brutal tactics, is a great idea. I hope they get the feature version made soon.
8) ‘Brutal Relax’ Directed by Adrian Cardona, David Muñoz, Rafa Dengrá
The next two selections are both by the same team, and should be watched back to back. This is ‘Dead Alive’-level gore for a new generation. Watch as sea monsters shred an entire beach full of tourists! Marvel as the least-likely hero in history fights back with the power of mental illness! Marvel as 15 minutes fly by and you find yourself wanting more.
9) ‘Fist of Jesus’ Directed by Adrian Cardona, David Muñoz
Same team, same insane approach to balls-to-the-wall, but with a new, much more blasphemous topic. This hilarious bloodbath doesn’t really need much of a description. Just let it wash over you.
10) ‘Axed’ Directed by Joshua Long
Because every once in a while I like to leave the audience in stunned silence, wondering if they’ll ever feel right again, I’m putting the Australian short ‘Axed’ as the last on the list. After the ride you’ve just taken with the first nine, it’s time to sit back, pop open a beer, and get your head bashed in by one of the bleakest apocalypse films I’ve seen in years. Sure, it’s full of zombies, and action, and gore. But it’s also got a tone and style that could be best described as ‘blunt force trauma to all of your hope’. It’s 30 minutes long, and you’ll need some fresh air afterward. Enjoy!
If you liked these, have got a treat for you! Did you know that Little Terrors has a Youtube playlist with over 14 hours of content, available right here?
Bonus: A Couple of my Shorts
I’ve made a number of genre shorts over the years, so here are two. ‘Ending The Eternal’ is a prequel to a feature film called ‘The Eternal’, which has been in development for quite a while (note to filmmakers: the hunt for finance can be a long, difficult process). The second, ‘Eviction’, I shot and released ‘anonymously’ online last year, but have since laid claim to. Personally, I have trouble watching it now. Not because I think it’s bad – it actually makes me uncomfortable (which, truth be told, was the goal all along).
Ending the Eternal

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