In the last installment of the Short Film Review, we visited the origins of Cinema. Today, we visit a “Tardy to the Party”, namely the United States. American film would really only come into its own until Edwin S. Porter would come along and give the audience a narrative style of film with “The Life of an American Fireman” and “The Great Train Robbery”, both in 1903. This would start the ball rolling for people like D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett.
Of course, there is also the “contributions” of Thomas Edison, without whose camera, lawsuits and thug tactics would not have made Hollywood possible. But that is for another time.
Although the US seems to lag behind in good horror features currently, their short films stack up nicely with the rest of the world. All of this time’s offerings are from North America. All but one from the States.
The Green Ruby Pumpkin (2012)
A tale of Halloween, directed by Miguel Ortega, from the US. A very stylish cautionary tale of “No Costume, No Candy.”
The Grey Matter (2014)
Okay, you wake up in the morning and can’t remember what you did the night before. Is it the drink or is it because your brain is missing? From the US, written and directed by the McCoubrey Brothers, Luke and Peter.
Ghost Parade (1931)
Change of pace here with a talkie by one of the kings of silent comedies, Mack Sennett. Mr. Sennett began with Sennett’s Bathing Beauties, which featured Gloria Swanson long before she asked Mr. DeMille for her close up (Sunset Boulevard). He moved on to the Keystone Kops, which would feature, at different times, Charles Chaplin, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Chester Conklin, Snub Pollard and Mabel Normand, who would later own her own studio. He would produce the “Fatty and Mabel” series and a number of Chaplin’s early work, before Chaplin would form United Artists.
Here is your typical group of maniacal killers chasing down a defenseless female. Yeah, okay… From Canada, director Josh MacDonald’s film was nominated for Best Short at the Sitges International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious horror fests.
The Girl at the Door (2013)
Kind of a “Groundhog’s Day” that you really don’t want to relive…or re-die. Another US short film, this time, directed by Colin Campbell.
Get Off My Porch (2010)
Patrick Rea is, perhaps, one of the best short film directors out there. Here, he takes the common practice of selling Girl Scout cookies and shows us all something we long suspected, but were never quite sure of. Having sold popcorn for the Cub Scouts for years, there is a lot of truth in this short. And, yes, I am a big fan of Patrick Rea.
Once again, YouTube and Vimeo are the prime sources for great short films. I know it seems like these are the only games in town. As you explore the Internet, you will find that most are in those two locations. Don’t get me wrong. There are other sites, such as the National Film Board of Canada site and the NZ on Screen site (New Zealand), along with VK.com from Russia, that carry some amazing items. They will be visited in coming installments. Also, thanks to IMDB for some of the information, especially about awards and festivals. There is no other database for film that can compare to them.
In the meantime, remember to keep hunting and keep watching.