Daggers: The Short Festival Of Short Horror: A Preview

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
If you're in NYC and reading this then you will most definitely want to consider heading out this Thursday, the 20th, or Saturday, the 22nd to the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) for the third edition of Daggers: The Short Festival of Short Horror. And guess what? Twitch's very own Peter Gutierrez is the mad scientist behind this madcap mix of the ghoulish and the gross. Cultivated from the international fest circuit, these 12 films showcase some of the finest rising talent working in the film world today -- we've got the New York premiere of Firas Momani's Fantasia Grand Prix winner The Adder's Bite, the U.S. premiere of New Born, from Rabies co-writer/co-director Navot Papushado, and the horror musical The Legend of Beaver Dam. And that is just the tip of the iceberg... err... icepick... yeaahh, the tip of the bloody icepick!

So, if you can pardon my "Jon Lovitz channeling Vincent Price" level of cheese, here are five capsule reviews for films that Peter was nice enough to share with me. Might as well start with...


other_gods_small.jpgH.P. LOVECRAFT'S THE OTHER GODS
- Mike Boas

When it comes to the granddaddy of  the Gothic I must admit I am quite the novice, having only experienced Lovecraft's magic distilled through adaptation. So for what it's worth I'm viewing Boas' short as just that -- Boas' short, or well... a long lost silent film animated by silhouette, telling the tale of a wise man who seeks the gods of the earth. Crafted with care, the film offers some excellent cut-out style creatures and a potent pre-psychedelic (wink, wink) edge that will certainly please animation aficionados and hopefully Lovecraft fans.
    



beating hearts.jpgBEATING HEARTS - Matthew Garrett

A quiet naturalism pulsates from the psycho-sexual abyss that is Beating Hearts; a film that turned a lot of heads at this year's Boston Underground Film Fest. Garrett digs in all four corners of the storytelling sandbox, crafting a rich yet simple narrative that recalls the early works of Polanski and Craven just as much as it does a "headline of the week" tragedy or Stephen King story. With a deft hand he guides his leads, Peter Coriarty and Gianna Bruzzese into some very dark territory, proving that the dead eyes of youth can be a dangerously mesmerizing thing to behold.




beaver_dam_small.jpgTHE LEGEND OF BEAVER DAM - Jerome Sable

Balancing the scary with the silly can be quite the feat, but boy do Sable and co-writer/composer Eli Batalion make it look easy with what could be the world's very first slasher musical. Setting itself firmly in a 70s mindset with delirious amounts of blood, righteous rock n' roll licks and a scout troop to rival the Bad News Bears, The Legend of Beaver Dam is 11 minutes of pure, gloriously inventive fun.
  



adders_bite.jpgTHE ADDER'S BITE - Firas Momani

The Adder's Bite
is a personal nightmare projected onto the fear-screen of the collective unconscious; a glimpse into a dimension where monsters feast on the darkness of the human soul. For all its nine minutes Momani gives us less a straightforward narrative, instead laying forth a right creepy mood bolstered by stellar production design, make-up effects and music: it's enough to make David Lynch and Clive Barker piss their pants and run for the hills screaming.




Baby Its You- Still 02.jpgBABY (IT'S YOU) - David Cowles, Jeremy Galante, and Brad Pattullo

Clever, cute and compact, here's one that proves horror doesn't always have to mean blood and guts or ghouls and ghosts. A love letter to the mad scientists of the world made with my favorite kind of animation, stop-motion, Baby (It's You) confidently concocts a classic Universal Monsters-like mojo with a Wallace and Gromit kind of exuberance that is infectious.


And there you have it, a sampling of what's to come in New York. If the rest of the program for Daggers is as solid as these five shorts, well then, Peter has done plenty a horror fan proud. Again, things kick off this Thursday, the 20th, at 7pm. The 2 hour program repeats on Saturday at 3pm. For the full line-up of films and to purchase tickets head on over to MADs website.
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