by Hope Madden
Short films rarely get their due, and getting an audience is rarer still. Any opportunity to sit down with a set of shorts that made a splash in the festival circuit is an opportunity worth taking. If arterial spray and laughter are your thing, Hellarious is a chance worth taking.
The compilation contains seven short films, each a horror comedy. There’s no framing device or theme, simply a collection of sometimes bawdy, once in a long while sweet, mostly viscous horror. There are a lot of fluids here.
Like an automatic door to hell, James Feeney’s Killer Kart opens things. His creeping camera sets a fun tone for an absurd “ordinary item” monster movie (a la Rubber). An inspired score by Daniel Hildreth, Christine Rodriguez and Ray Bouchard matches the mayhem nicely.
Robert Boocheck’s charming Horrific—a tale of mutant varmints, hula hoop porn and besotted tidy whities—lands laughs thanks to Mike Nelson’s semi-heroic central performance. Likewise the Deathgasm-esque Death Metal offers a highly enjoyable and sometimes morally questionable bloodbath with the most delightful practical effects.
A sweet authenticity drives Bitten, Sarah K. Reimers’s romantic, dog-loving upending of the werewolf tale. (Who’s a good boy? Iggy is! Iggy’s a good boy!) If you can take your eyes off that adorable dog, you’ll notice two tenderly funny performances by Francine Torres and Michael Curran.
Director Jason Tostevin, who also compiled the films, helms two of the shorts in the program, both co-written with Randall Greenland. ‘Til Death offers a post-mortem comeuppance tale boasting several strong performances. Born Again, though, is one of the compilation’s two highest points.
Six and a half minutes with the worst Satanists ever exposes you to a really beautifully filmed subversion of expectations. Slyly comical performances top to bottom entertain, but Greenland is a laugh riot in a starring role.
The collection’s second high peak comes thanks to Clarissa Jacobson and J.M. Logan’s sloppy concoction, Lunch Ladies. This is a delirious fantasy about underdogs rising to the challenge and making their dreams come true—becoming personal chefs to “the Depper,” Johnny Depp. Donna Pieroni and Mary Manofsky deliver consistent laughs in a film that almost makes a person want to love Johnny Depp again.
Variety, laughs, mayhem, blood spatter, romance, cheerleader pot pie—Hellarious is a tasty treat of bite sized horror.