SALEM HORROR FEST: Koreatown Ghost Story (2021)

Directed and written by Minsun Park and Teddy Tenenbaum, Koreatown Ghost Story starts as what feels like a comedy, with Hannah (Lyrica Okano, Nico Minoru from the Marvel series Runaways) getting acupuncture from Mrs. Moon (Margaret Cho, who executive produced this movie). That’s because Mrs. Moon is checking her teeth, commenting on her weight and generally asking some odd questions.

That’s because she wants Hannah to marry her dead son Edward (Brandon Halvorsen) from beyond the grave so that she has done right by him before she dies.  The needles inside Hannah have shut down her ability to move and even cause her to openly weep at times.

Then, the movie completes its move from farce to terror, as whatever Mrs. Moon has made is now in our existence and ready to find its bride. As for our heroine, she wants out so badly that she’s willing to tear the skin off her ring finger to lose the chains that have bound her. But that shambling mass of flesh coming up the steps covered in cupping cups may have something to say about that. After all, their parents promised Hannah to Edward years before he lived and died.

Cho is absolutely perfect in this, as is Okano, whose face is tightly held by the acupuncture table. She acts a good stretch of this film paralyzed, which limits movement but really shows off her range. This is one of the best shorts I’ve seen in awhile and I urge you to track it down.

Koreatown Ghost Story is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Iskioma (2020)

Kostas Gerampinis hasn’t made a full-length feature as of yet, but this short proves that he has strong storytelling skills, an eye for powerful visuals and confidence beyond his experience.

When a veterinarian is called in to treat a mysterious disease in a remote farm in Greece, he determines that all of the animals on the farm must be put to death to keep any chance of an infectious disease outbreak to a minimum. The farmer argues that no one will compensate him for his troubles, but then a storm breaks out, leaving the animal doctor no choice but to spend the night.

Between the visuals and the score, this seems like it’s ready to be a full-length film. It kept my attention the entire way and I kept looking at the clock. Usually, that happens when a movie bores me. With this, I was hoping that it would play longer.

Iskioma is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October. You can learn more at the film’s official site.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Griffica (2021)

Can a relationship be too perfect? Can a lover be so great at everything that their very devotion to always doing the right thing be too much? What if you got the exact relationship you always wanted and found that it was too much of a good thing? And what if that lover was also a demon planning on sucking out your brains after continually making you the best iced coffee you’ve ever tasted — that may have tennis root in it?

Director and writer C.J. Arellano’s short moves quickly, as if you’re being relayed relationship gossip by one of your most entertaining friends, even when things take a darker turn. James Dolbeare anchors it all with his narration and even when things seem like they could be, well, perfect at the end, we all know how most love stories turn out.

Griffin is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October. You can learn more about this movie at its official page.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Dystopia (2020)

A young girl’s fantasy becomes the playground for a gang of women who set to create the perfect man, one limb at a time. One very, very gory limb at a time. Dystopia is a neon-hued cotton candy dreamland where body parts can be plastic, where beauty is all and where director Laura Ugolini and her co-writers Maria Galliani Dyrvik and Anja Skovly Freberg can make a camp yet solid statement on how  today’s generation views beauty.

Set in an imaginary pop-glam world of dolls, young social influencer Linnea and the four women inside her mind transform not only the bodies of others, but their own as well, pushing parts well past the typical standards of today’s beauty.

The film’s distribution site says, “Dystopia invites us to revisit, rethink figures, stereotypes and social mandates; both those that involved the same creators, who grew up in the 90s, and what the exposure, pressure and anxiety imposed by social networks implies for Gen-Z.”

It looks great. I’m not the first to mention that the subtitles need some color tweaks, but otherwise, I had fun watching this.

Dystopia is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Driver (2021)

A film made by Maya Kane in quarantine, this is an animated short that “sets out to put immaterial feelings into visuals” The director has stated that, “The short is meant to materialize complicated and contradictory feelings about the land we exist in and how we relate to it, and about acceptance and kindness.”

While not a length story, there’s obviously some authentic emotion behind this. I’ve watched it several times and feel a sense of strain and unease with the world, yet always come away with more hope, if that’s possible from this experience.

Driver is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October. You can also watch this short on Vimeo:

SALEM HORROR FEST: The Wereback (2021)

Amongst the claustrophobic confines of a truck carrying undocumented imgrants across the U.S./Mexico border — the coyote pun perhaps unintended, but when the title of your film is The Wereback all bets are off — one woman is containing true horror inside her as the full moon causes a transformation.

Directed by the Estrada Brothers, this looks gorgeous and has some moments of genuine terror. It’s a short, so you’re going to be left wanting more, but isn’t that the hallmark of something that is really trying for greatness?

The Wereback is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Weee Wooo (2021)

In just eight minutes, director and writer Charlie McWade, along with cinematographer Brendan H. Banks, take viewers along for a dark ride as a woman awakens in the silent woods to repeatedly hear a call that awakens her from her warm and safe bed and brings her out into the night.

Weee Wooo is McWade’s first short, as he’s usually in front of the camera. And just when things get wild, the film stops. So here’s to more of his work in this vein, as this atmospheric little film got under my skin and excited to see more.

Weee Wooo is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Verified (2021)

Ali Chappell’s Verified tells a quick and simple story of an influencer who gets bitten by a zombie when live streaming and finds that it finally gets her the online attention that she has always wanted, but at a much greater cost than she may have been prepared to pay.

Arrielle Edwards is perfectly cast as the lead and the film moves briskly, even if the subject of how silly influencers can seem about as easy as a target as possible. I’d love to see more of this story and how it could grow to be a little more original, but the ending hits the right tones of tragedy and comedy, so it all comes together in the end and gives me hope for the next project of Chappell’s that I get the pleasure of watching.

If Chappell’s name seems familiar, that’s because she was Eva in the reimagining of Full Moon’s NecropolisNecropolis: Legion. This is her first short and she wrote, directed and produced this effort.

Verified is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Sundown Town (2021)

Let’s just get it out of the way: horror can be an escape, but the truth is, it’s always political, offering a lens for us to see the world in a way that may be too harsh to face in the light of the day.

This film is about Bryce and Mitchell’s trip home across country, which is suddenly stopped by red and blue lights in a town that grows darker not for any horror movie villain, but for the reality of racism and police corruption.

And then — and only then — do the horror elements arrive.

Mylo Butler, the director, cinematographer and co-writer with Jada Lewter, has added some incredibly gorgeous visuals into this, as well as moments of true heart and beauty amongst all the ugliness. This does what all shorts should — it makes you wonder where else the story could go.

Sundown Town is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Poor Glenna (2021)

When Glenna Piccolo’s mutant son’s tastes go from animal meat to human flesh — and he tires of his “radio games” — she must figure out how to keep her flesh and blood and guts satiated.

If your tastes run to the gorier side — and if you’re reading our site, chances are they do — you’ll like this one, which feels like a lower budget The Deadly Spawn in under twenty minutes. That’s a compliment.

Writer/director Jean-Paul DiSciscio has made something really strange and wonderful here and it’d be great to see it play out with a much longer running time and a much larger budget.

Poor Glenna is now playing Salem Horror Fest and you can watch this short and all of the features with their virtual pass now until the end of October.