Judge David Johnson organized his own blood drive once, but really, it only consisted of him in a broken-down ice cream truck with a big rusty needle. And a bucket.
For the fans…by the fans.
With this, Fangoria's first ever DVD, the horror magazine has unleashed the winners of its amateur short film contest. After rooting through legions of submissions, Fangoria presents the winners—seven vignettes of blood-soaked narration, ranging from the surreal to the ridiculous. No matter how different the shorts are, the creators all have one thing in common—they're on a DVD. Awesome! Cool! Wicked!
And the winners are…
It's a dark night. A man drives alone down a country road. Over the radio, he hears the reports of a serial killer on the loose. Perhaps acting against his better judgment, he stops to pick up a female hitchhiker. As the two drive and talk, cue the creepy music that something scary might happen soon. Needless to say, one of the two is revealed as the killer—but the twists don't end there.
One of the longer offerings on the disc, The Hitch is well done and—in amateur standards—well acted. Things do get a little hammy at the end. Drew Rist, the director, keeps the blood flowing, even up to a wacky climax.
A Man and His Finger
This dialogue-free short documents the adventures of a nameless adolescent who accidentally slices his finger off while butchering a head of lettuce. Soon, thanks to a mysterious sentience the detached digit has gained, the two become friends. The boy takes his severed finger out for walks, sits with him at the lake, and even watches movies. But when the finger longs for some companionship, is the former owner willing to keep making sacrifices?
For these homemade movies, it's good to have no dialogue, especially no dialogue spoken by non-actors. Which is probably why A Man and His Finger is my favorite of the bunch. It's only music and action (with a real dumb scream thrown in). Basically, you got a guy walking around with a finger, but sheesh if it ain't amusing. Obviously drawing from the work of director Sam Raimi, creators Patrick Rea and Ryan Jones toy with POV shots and life-infused appendages. And it all ties up nicely at the end.
This visual hodge-podge of a short tells in abrupt, spastic sequences the story of a demonic possession, sourced in an abandoned part of an old house, which leads to the multiple deaths of a young girl's friends.
One of two style-over-substance pieces, Inside succeeds in unloading some decently frightening scenes (the hanging and the maggot-ridden bathtub corpse spring to mind) in super-kinetic editing. But that's about it.
Shadows of the Dead
The companion piece to Inside, Shadows of the Dead is an even choppier, throw-wacky-images-at-the-audience-as-fast-as-possible short, dealing with the threat of zombies. A poor doctor succumbs to the terror of zombie infestation and is soon ensconced in his own nightmare.
This is probably the most visually innovative of the bunch. While not telling a straight arrow, easy-to-follow narrative, creator Joel Robertson earns points for some whiz-bang shots, particularly the effectively creepy final shot.
A freelance investigator from the Vatican is hired to snoop around an alleged haunted house. The owner, a young single woman, has reported multiple ghost sightings. The investigator is hot on the trail of the specters when things get weird. The case may not be a simple ghost story, and the woman may not be who she appears.
Creator BC Furtney tries to play it straight, "Tales of the Crypt" style, telling a coherent story then lobbing in a twist at the end. His climax, while bloody enough, fails to stick the landing and gets too confusing. But kudos for filling the screen with blood and, amazingly enough, some nudity.
Another relatively dialogue-free short, Disturbances brings to us a young woman who may or may not have killed her children. Her crimes will eventually come back to haunt her, though.
The film itself is rather uninspiring, save for some excellent screwy footage of freaky-ass kids! Man, kids are scary.
Song of the Dead
The second light-hearted entry, Song of the Dead is all of four minutes long and eats up its first minute with the crawly expository telling of a zombie plague. We then meet a hiker who gets bitten by one of the undead. A bit of stumbling and blood spewing later, and the hiker-turned-zombie belts out a musical number about craving human flesh. He is soon joined by the zombie that bit him and a duet ensues.
There's not much to say about Song of the Dead. It's goofy and funny, but the song is poorly written and repetitive.
All the films are presented in widescreen, in the original stock they were shot with, which is, as you can imagine, not the sharpest. A ho-hum stereo mix accompanies.
As for extras, Fangoria ponied up two featurettes about effects god Stan Winston and horror maestro Clive Barker. The docs are interesting, and give the two icons plenty of time to talk shop. Winston recounts his experiences creating his most memorable creatures (the Terminator, the Alien Queen, and the Predator). For Barker, the feature is more like Clive Barker's "Cribs," as the writer/director/artist takes the viewer on a tour of his home, as well as his art gallery of the macabre. Rob Zombie introduces all the disc features, and this personalization is innovative, despite the rocker's awkward ad-libbing.
All-in-all, Blood Drive is a cool package aimed toward budding filmmakers, and the nifty extras serve this purpose.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
• Stan Winston featurette
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.