Searching for horror and Halloween video on the Internet the past week made me realize how important it is for content creators to distinguish themselves. I don't know what to look for. Try searching for "horror short film" or something similar in YouTube. It's pretty much a never-ending vortex of content to wade through, and when I found one that looked interesting, I usually was greeted with something pretty unwatchable. I can't tell you how many times I watched a horror short film where there was a lone protagonist finding himself or herself stalked by some masked/disfigured/clown killer, which after awhile became a tiresome trope.
I do not feel the following grab bag of horror is A Complete List of All Horror You Should See on the Internet. Two of these entries are getting mention because I got a heads up from them in the comments section of my "Horror Web Series" article, and I found them to be unique in their approach. A few I found through searching YouTube and actually liking what I saw. And I figured while I was at it, why not mention some classic YouTube horror hits?
Reaching Into The Grab Bag: Arty Horror With A Clown Killer And A Zombie In A Penguin Suit
There is no doubt that clowns strike fear into a great many people. They're supposed to be funny, but they end up in your nightmares because of the makeup and the balloon animals. There's a reason why Stephen King made one of his most famous horror creations take the form of a clown in his book It. And some of you are young enough to have seen the mini-series that swore you off of clowns forever. One beautifully photographed horror short shot in Buenos Aires, called "The Killing Joke," takes that fear to a pretty girl dressed in red:
This one stands out because it is artfully done. I will say that this kind of horror short is in abundance, but much less artfully, and it gets wearisome. Now, I like that there are so many killers in web videos that don't have a motive other than to be creepy, but after awhile, character counts. We don't necessarily need a reason for the killer to do what he does, but it would be nice to have a protagonist who, well, might deserve it for some reason. Maybe that character is bad. Maybe that character is too good.
I actually could use more than "well I'm here just minding my own business and then this killer showed up." In "The Killing Joke," I feel like the protagonist "deserves" her fate because she's too curious. Of course, the nightmarish run-down landscape suggests a dream. Fantastic ending, too.
Continuing on the artsy front, producer/editor/director of photography Jim Meegan gave us word about "Zombie In A Penguin Suit," a short film that is almost completely wordless and has a dreamy piano score. It's not so much horror as it is tragedy. It's a survival story for the title character, flipping audience allegiance towards a character that we usually see millions of and never root for. In this case, try not rooting for our hero as he walks blindly towards a hail of gunfire:
Released a couple of weeks ago, this is close to 100,000 views, which is excellent for a short film on YouTube. This is a well-made, thoughtful twist on a genre that has had a lot of mileage recently.
Wrist Deep Into The Grab Bag: Classic Horror Comedy
This viral hit from 2009 is a classic example of a video that you immediately want to click just because of the title. And after you click on it, it's not disappointing. It delivers on its promise. "The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon" is pretty hilarious, especially the minute or two in the middle where the chase happens almost everywhere in the world and the narrator says, "Again" about a hundred times. If you haven't seen it, here it is:
Also, a couple of years ago, when Film Riot was nothing but a young pup in the online world, Ryan Connolly made "PMS: The Horror Movie." It contains a lot of the trademark humor we've come to expect from Connolly and crew, and it's definitely worth a revisit:
"How It Should Have Ended" has made quite a few awesome, animated, new endings to movies. Usually serving up the plot holes and ridiculous character actions of the real film up for ridicule, it's no surprise they've parodied some horror films, including Scream:
Elbow Deep Into The Grab Bag: Get Lost In Loudoun Plays A Haunted House Game With Contestants
We've talked about "Get Lost In Loudoun" before. The Loudoun Convention and Vistors Association, or Visit Loudoun, has done a unique thing in the world of tourism by creating a web series where contestants compete in tasks that also sell Loudoun County, Virginia. Jeremy Harvey alerted us to this haunted-house themed episode, in which the competitors try to solve a riddle while walking around with just a flashlight to guide them through Oatlands Plantation:
The episode functions in several ways: as competition, as a haunted house exploration (complete with night vision!), and most importantly, as an unobtrusive sales pitch for one of Loudoun County's historic sites. Hopefully, those looking for a "getting off the grid" type of vacation will look into this series, which manages to be a travelogue without being passive in its approach.
Shoulder Deep Into The Grab Bag: Not Viral, But Good
I found a couple of horror short films that have very few views and managed to appeal to me, or at the very least, manage to get me to watch the whole thing. They aren't that long, but believe me, there are some shorts that feel like an hour after two minutes.
Continuing a "red balloon" theme that you will recall from "The Killing Joke," the short film "Red Balloon" isn't tremendously original or anything, but it's still pretty frightening, taking some elements of Halloween and When A Stranger Calls into a freaky babysitter tale:
And here's probably my favorite "discovery" in all of this. What if your family stumbles on a cassette tape recording of the night your mother mysteriously died? Would you listen to it? And what if the tape contains vital information? This extremely short film, shot for this year's 48-hour film festival "Bloodshots" in Canada, is quite effective:
Calling All Horror!
If you've got some web horror to share, comment below. I'm sure many of us would like to see something fresh, interesting, and scary before Halloween. In the meantime, I hope a few of these examples above will tide you over.