My weekend horror included a trio of films with running times well under 90 minutes. Usually, that’s just the right length for my attention span, but two of these three fall short in other areas as well. Conveniently, I happened to watch them in the order of most disappointing to totally satisfying.
SHALLOW CREEK CULT (2012)
It’s refreshing to see a found footage film with an all African-American cast…all two members of it. Sigh.
This hour and ten-minute film has two brothers heading to Shallow Creek to spread their grandfather’s ashes near the water while filming it. One of the brothers goes to take a shit in the woods (thankfully without the camera), comes back, and says he saw cannibals eating a woman. So the brothers pretty casually hide out in a nearby house, where they find cameras set up all over, a room full of video monitors, and a couple of guns.
Concluding it’s the house of the cannibals, they…stay there! They sit and watch the monitors for the entire film, read pretty much an entire newspaper they find out loud so we know the background of the cannibals, and occasionally go to the door to try to kill any cannibal that shows up in the monitor. The cannibals are wearing hooded robes and creepy masks, but one of the brothers determines they aren’t masks. Unfortunately, they are so obviously masks, which match the fake rubber monster hands the cannibals are wearing. The cannibals do make squealing pig sounds, if that helps make it seem any scarier.
Eventually, it feels like watching a first person shooter video game as the brothers chase some cannibals through the house before leaving, getting in their van, and driving away, with plans to call the cops. The end.
I’M NOT KIDDING.
A fun creature feature premise that takes place around Christmas, Avarice is a family horror fantasy that runs 76 minutes and should have really been a half hour short, because it becomes wickedly repetitive, which robs it of some of its charm.
After an opening scene of a young boy being dared to sneak into a house for a ball, the movie takes a quick surprise turn. We meet the young boy who lives in the house. An ominous narrator lets us know he’s a greedy, spoiled brat. To prove it, the boy sneaks up into his attic to look for his Christmas presents while his mother is busy going through the decorations in the living room.
Things begin quite creepy and suspenseful, with great 80s throwback horror music. A red ball and a drawing pad play a big role as the young boy is suddenly chased through the attic by a freaky monster from a drawing in the pad! Turns out the only way to get out of the attic is to find the key.
The attic starts to look like a warehouse. There are rows of cardboard boxes, and by crawling into them, the boy can teleport to another dimension to try to get the key out of a tree.
If he fails, he returns to the attic and continues being chased by the monster.
That’s it. That happens over and over for the length of the film until its Twilight Zone-esque conclusion. Trim this sucker down to 30 minutes, and it would make a good short in a horror anthology film.
FLESH FOR THE INFERNO (2015)
Leave it to director Richard Griffin to give me the horror fun fix I need (my blog covering a majority of his films here). Not only does he make the best of indie budgets, but he also knows how to bring together a cast that can deliver a laugh and a scream—something lacking in so many indie releases these days.
Flesh for the Inferno is a bit horror comedy, a touch Night of the Demons, and a lot midnight movie all rolled into one. It opens in 1999, with three nuns at a Catholic school accusing a priest of being a pedophile—a priest so sexy it makes me wish I was twelve. Anyway, he does something awful to them….
Years later, a church group of young people comes to the now abandoned, rundown school as part of a cleanup project. After briefly establishing the humorous tone while introducing us to the characters—pervy horny guy, Holy Roller chick, priest, weird caretaker dude, etc.—it’s right to the horror. A delicious beefy boy with a mega ass that gets way too little screen time is in the basement when he hears something behind the wall.
Soon, the kids are being hunted by killer demon nuns!
There’s levitation. Tongues are torn out. Bodies float down hallways.
Someone gets stuck in an Elm Street 4 loop. The Holy Roller throws comic shade at one of the guys she’s convinced is gay. The nuns go into slutty seduction mode and deliver campy one-liners.
And finally, it’s an excellent day for a crucifixion….
As much as I like my horror films short and to the point, as far as I’m concerned, Flesh for the Inferno is one that could have gone on with another fifteen minutes of nun fun (and beefy boy buns).