Sunday, December 31, 2006

Killer 63 - Ottawa Independant Short Horror Film Collective

Well, well, what better way to celebrate the coming good times of the New Year than by telling you about this fantastic little community event that took place late on December 30th.

That event was Killer 63, a showcase of Independant Horror Shorts, presented at the Mayfair Theater, one of Ottawa's independant film theaters.

The rule was as followed: "A group of filmmakers, mostly from Ottawa - Ontario... conceive of, write, produce, film and complete a short film within a nine week time-frame. The only rules for the inaugural year is that they all must be horror themed and be no longer than nine minutes in length."

A few months ago I attended the IFCO Summer Gala, Ottawa's film co-operative's semi-annual display of its members works, and I was so moved by it that I decided to keep my ear to the ground and be on the watch for other such community events.

I expected an event where I would run into a few people I knew from around the scene, (of which there were indeed a few), content in the fact that I showed up in support of them. To be quite honest, I had a feeling that the films themselves would be 'fine examples of burgeoning potential', or rather 'kitchy low-budge B-Grade ideas that were put on a DVD so that these dudes could see their stuff on the big screen.'

Instead I found myself sincerely impressed by every film that was presented at this show, and I thought I'd give a little review to you, my two loyal readers...

The first film was Marc Adornato's In God We Trust. This montage of news footage focussing on George Bush, the war in Iraq and graphic battle images was more of a documentary, though succeeded in being, as Marc put it, 'a non-fiction horror film'. The hosts of this event chose rather well in making this the first film, as it was the most stomach-turning, given the powerful images of the dead, dying, injured and amputated. A well-edited social commentary indeed.

What followed was my personal favorite, Dead Air, directed by Josh Grace. In this film we find a strange deranged fellow luring drugged individuals to his home, a 'talk show set' of sorts, where he dresses them up as celebrities and proceeds to torture / interview them, twisted commercials included. Josh's acting as host was most impressive as his delivery had quite a haunting madness to it. The gore effects for this one was top-notch. Not to ruin anything for you but here's two words to remember: lawn darts.

Checklist directed by Josh Stafford, was a quirky and funny tale of a writer who reads the work of a fan and decides to drop by for a visit, perhaps in hopes of getting lucky and crossing another reader off his checklist.

Day Camp Massacre directed by Jodi Pittman, is a classic slasher tale, but rather than being set in the rugged wilderness camps of the wonderfully cliché Vorhees Serials, Jodi comically sets it in a day camp. A nice surprise came in the finale when the real hilarity began, including the masked stalker's masked stalker dog.

Jeremy Kennedy's Dreaming In Revelation is not only the most professional, the deepest and the most Avant-Garde piece of High-Art, but it's also genuinely haunting fare. It's hard to imagine that this was all done inside of nine weeks, it's that amazing. Something this impressive had better get far more exposure. Here's hoping.

Brett Kelly's The Tell-Tale Heart was a modern retelling of the old Edgar Allan Poe classic of how a man's murderous guilt confesses for him. Brett in the lead role did quite the fine job indeed.

Ralph Gethings' Reckoning had a freakishly creepy imp thing (seen right) chasing after a man in the woods. Once the man is caught, we learn the reason for the chase and are explained some metaphysical principles of balance along the way. Well done.

Brian Singleton's Death Trike, seemed to be everyone's favorite, judging by the reception. This is the type of low budget film that embraces it's medium rather than trying to hide it. Seeing wires and poled attached to the malignant killer tricycle made what could have been a cute little story into a perfectly kitschy tale. With terrific suspense, a healthy sense of humour and gore galore, you'll certainly enjoy this favoured short.

I guess I could say I was only disappointed with the last entry, which started off by breaking one of the two rules of the event, as this late entry was received well after the December 3rd deadline. In Firuz Daud's film The Door, we find a lone woman haunted by a creature who only we as viewers can see. She searches for that which is amiss, growing more distraught as the creature steps up its disturbing antics. The thing wrong with this story was not the Horror, as that was enjoyable, but the credits. Out of a nine minute time limit, it seems that the credits reserved half that time. As they rolled by, we witnessed a computer animatronic karaoke show while Men at Work's 'Who Can It Be Now?' was playing. Credits included names of the 'Hong Kong' and 'Malysia' (sic) Crew, and had so many names that this did not seem anywhere near independant. Rather than being a contributing member of the spirit of this Horror event, Daud, 'alumni of Ryerson Polytechnic University's Image Arts program' chose to use it as a sounding board to plug himself, most likely to advance his own Dog and Pony show career aspirations. Shame on you. Though the lyrics of the song were appropriate, it simply made me wonder if the movie's plot was devised out of the credits rather than the other way around. If someone out there could explain this guy's motivation, I'd love to hear it.

Allow me to take this opportunity to remind the hosts that they should enforce their own rules and deadlines to ensure that such a disjointed display should not be allowed to taint such a tremendously fantastic event in the future.

All told, the Killer 63 event inspires me not only to make trips to every subsequent event in the future, but the thought that I could be a contributor myself is something very, very intriguing indeed...