ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Shorts take one

Here’s the first take on shorts at Another Hole In the Head that you should seek out:

7 Minutes In Hell (2022): Justin Reager and Shane Spiegel have worked on a lot of kid-friendly projects like Sci-Fi Test Lab and Junk Drawer Magic. They had to have done all of that to get to this, because this feels like a very passionate short film.

It’s a really basic story — a bunch of teenagers breaks into a vacant house just to play seven minutes in heaven — but the telling and the look of every scene — particularly the sound mixing by Katie Harbin and Carli Plute — just makes this work just right.

This feels like it is inspired by Creepshow while at the same time being way better than the recent reinvention of that show. That’s high praise.

You can learn about 7 Minutes In Hell on its official Facebook page.

Blood of the Dinosaurs (2021): Once, we went to a Mystery Spot and after we walked toward the center of the room, it kept pushing us into the walls and I was young and trying to hold my mother’s hand and it made me cry. Then, we all got on a train and it went through a forest and animatronic dinosaurs appeared and the driver told us to reach under our chairs for guns to kill the rampaging lizards and I yelled and ran up and down the length of the train begging for people to stop and that we needed to study the dinosaurs and not kill them. This was not a dream.

Another story. I was obsessed with dinosaurs and planned on studying them, combining my love of stories of dragons like the Lamprey Worm with real zoology, but then nine-year-old me learned that they were all dead and I had to face mortality at a very young age which meant I laid in bed and contemplated eternity all night and screamed and cried so much I puked. This is also a true story.

The Blood of DInosaurs has Uncle Bobbo (Vincent Stalba) and his assistant Purity (Stella Creel) explain how we got the oil in our cars that choke the planet but first, rubber dinosaurs being bombarded by fireworks and if you think the movie gets boring from here, you’re so wrong.

Can The Beverly Hillbillies become ecstatic religion? Should kids have sex education? Would the children like to learn about body horror and giallo? Is there a show within a show within an interview and which reality is real and why are none of them and all of them both the answer? Did a woman just give birth to the Antichrist on a PBS kids show?

This is all a preview of Joe Badon’s full film The Wheel of Heaven and when I read that he was influenced by the Unarius Cult, my brain climbs out of my nose and dances around before I slowly strain to open my mouth and beg for it to come back inside where it’s wet and safe.

Badon co-wrote this film’s score and screenplay with Jason Kruppa and I honestly can’t wait to see what happens next. Also: this was the Christmas episode of Uncle Bobbo so I can only imagine that this was him being toned down.

Buzzkill (2022): Let me tell you, when you start your animated short off with a logo that says Canon Pictures and looks like Cannon Films, I’m going to love what comes next.

That said, it’s easy to love this movie, which is the story of Becky (Kelly McCormack, who is Jess McCready in the A League of Their Own Series) and Rick (Peter Ahern, also the director and writer), who return to her house after a date and their moment of romance is interrupted by an insect crawling out of her eyeball.

The animation is gorgeous, the story is amusing and I just loved the way that it all pays off. Buzzkill gets in more gross-out and laugh-out-loud moments in its short running time than most movies get in two hours.

Checkpoint (2022): Man, what a ride! I loved this and it made me consider all of the many, many video game characters that I’ve led to grisly deaths over the years.

A man — that’s his name and he’s played by Brett Brooks — must navigate a hostile alien world, learning with each death — which moves him back to the beginning and later to the titular checkpoint — what he needs to do to get to the next level. And then the next. At the end, he realizes that it’s all for Victoria (Erin Ownbey), who he pushed away with his greed. Yet perhaps he’s not the only person — or sin — that has done so.

Directed by Jason Sheedy, who also did the sound, editing, effects and wrote and produced the film with director of photography Matthew Noonan, Checkpoint is filled with tons of gory deaths, as well as a message and heart within. I had an absolute blast watching it — the production design is also incredible — and you should check it out too!

Cruise (2022): I worked in a survey research telemarketing place before I got into advertising and it’s the kind of job that still gives me nightmares. We had a set script that we had to follow, a mysterious room had people listening to us and you didn’t even get to call the number. It would just ring, you’d ask someone if they got their sample of laundry detergent, then they would call you an asshole for ten seconds, then you’d start all over again for ten hours at a time. Often, one of those mystery people would tell you that you were off script and take over and show you how. The worst was if you made a human connection at any point, they would terminate your call. I still wake up thinking that I’m late for my job there, a room of cubicles and no windows and people plugged into headsets as blood for the machine.

Cruise, directed and written by Samuel Rudykoff, finds telemarketer after telemarketer trying to sell a cruise and failure means death.

These days, when scam likely comes up on my phone, I don’t get mad or rude to the people on the other line. I was once them. It was not fun. And, as this movie will show you, you may end up getting them shot right in the head.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

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