Short Sharp Shocks Vol 2 – Film News |


Various (director)

BFI (studio)

15 (certificate)

217 minutes (length)

25 October 2021 (published)

3 p.m.

For anyone who was excited about the release of SHORT SHARP SHOCKS Vol 1 last year, this seasonal 2-disc Blu-ray release of Vol 2 must be a bit of a shock (no pun intended)! While Vol 1 on the whole boasted of truly creepy and disturbing short films, skillfully brought to the screen by people who understood the genre, there is sadly little about this Vol 2 compilation that is shocking. In fact, here we are offered a peculiar mix of crime quizzes, public information films, a silly music video, and well-meaning short films that fail to deliver the long-awaited thrills and thrills!

Let’s start with Disc 1 and here we have two QUIZ CRIMES (Ronald Haines No.1 and No.2, 1943 and 1944 respectively) and viewers are invited to beat Master Detective Inspector Frost at his own game. to solve the golf vacation murder case or the killed showgirl case? No? So what about a Soho kidnapping or the botched murder of a guesthouse? Everything is excruciatingly played out, the sets look recycled and our eagle-eyed and intelligent detective-inspector delivers his conclusions with all the enthusiasm of a zombie. It may have been entertaining for viewers in the 1940s, but by today’s standards it just seems too old-fashioned for its own good.
Next comes a 1946 public information film (THE THREE CHILDREN) aimed at freaking out post-war neglectful parents, however, though there is a small twist to the end (this is the twist that should cause the brutal shock), the whole thing is confused and awkwardly executed and it simply misses the mark.
Okay, the next one. Director John Gilling’s 40 minute short ESCAPE FROM BROADMOOR (1948) has all the right ingredients and yet… We have a respected director (Gilling has carved out a reputation for himself as a director mostly of Hammer Horror classics) and we have a young John Le Mesurier in one of his first screen roles – here playing Pendicost, a violent psychopath who escaped from the high-security mental institution on Broadmoor. Tracked down by the police, he persuades a former accomplice, Jenkins (Tony Doonan), to break into a house in which Pendicost had committed his previous crime – the murder of a maid (he managed to escape the punishment death by testifying against his partner in delinquency). The reason Pendicost returns to the scene of his crime is because he knows that a safe containing valuable items is in the house. However, just as he and Jenkins work hard, a mysterious woman (Victoria Hopper) seemingly appears out of nowhere – even mocking the two thieves. Who is she and can Detective Thornton (John Stuart) shed some light on these strange occurrences? Given that it was directed by John Gilling (his first outing as a director) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a supernatural element involved and it’s fair to say that cinematographer Cyril Bristow proposed very atmospheric photographs. Despite the odd atmosphere at times, this short film suffers from a rather slow pace – making the whole woody and static at times.

MINGALOO (1958), directed by Theodore Zichy, the son of a Hungarian aristocrat, is a priest’s egg and we make no mistake – featuring a mechanical Chinese dog with a sinister secret that comes to haunt anyone who poses eyes on the animal. Again, that could’ve been a scream, but it turns out it’s just mediocre (although it’s worth watching, if only for “historical” reasons). Either way, Mingaloo looks too likable to be spooky and I want one for Christmas (or Halloween)!
Finally, we have the one and only SCREAMING LORD SUTCH which is camped in this totally tasteless (and indeed rather offensive) clip from 1963. Wokesters and feminists alike won’t like Lord Sutch’s video in which he performs his greatest ( maybe his only one) hit JACK THE RIPPER, looking more like a cartoon ghoul and with a host of beauties about to be shot smiling at the cameras in a seductive rather than alarming way. Well ok, that was in 1963 and way before the world went crazy about p / c.

On Disc 2, the first short film (although it actually lasts almost an hour) is 1976’s FACE OF DARKNESS, directed by Ian FH Lloyd. This represents another missed opportunity if there is one – it really could have been something but awkward editing, poor performance, and a convoluted plot do nothing to avoid hitting the “fast forward button” ( unfortunately this reviewer had to sit down so you don’t have to). Lennard Pearce plays Edward Langton, a right-wing politician who wants to avenge the murder of his wife which took place a few years ago and for which the killer was not sentenced to death. In his quest to restore the death penalty, Langton is making unprecedented efforts … involving the resurrection of an evil medieval spirit (David Allister) or heretical if you will by means of ancient texts and old maps that lead Langton to an anonymous grave somewhere deep in the woods. The “kiss of life” (now this is truly a disturbing scene!) Being a magician whose big white box contains a secret (the secret being a bomb!). He urges one of the schoolgirls to open the box, but not before it disappears as quickly as it appeared. Fortunately, we only hear the explosion that ensues although Langton, thanks to the unspeakable carnage, achieves his goal as various members of the public, including the deceased daughter’s mother, Eileen (Gwyneth Powell) discuss the recovery. of the death penalty… As already mentioned, it really could have been something and not only do we have a clever idea but a flashback sequence in which the heretic is sentenced to death by the Holy Inquisitor (John Bennett). Despite all of this, the film borders on confusion and the acting doesn’t help, although it may be the director’s fault.

THE DUMB WAITER (dir. Robert ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ Bierman, 1979) has nothing to do with the famous Harold Pinter play. Instead, this 18-minute short comes close enough to the “short, crisp, shocked” promise, but doesn’t offer a real conclusion. It may not be important. A young woman named Sally (Geraldine James) finds herself stalked by a mysterious man (John White) that we never see in full, in fact we mostly only see his black gloves. We never know why he blames Sally and neither does she… After following her from work, he first chases her through the streets in his car, trying to get her out of his own car at a red light. Exhausted and understandably scared, once at home in her apartment, she calls her boyfriend (who we also only see very briefly) to ask him to come and make her company, to which he replies that he will be there in about 20’s. minutes. After the call she decides to run a bubble bath, it doesn’t make sense… she calls him her boyfriend instead of the cops… I mean, who would run a bath knowing that in twenty minutes, the doorbell will ring? While trying to relax in the bath, his stalker almost manages to get through the small bathroom window, but luckily Sally spots him in time and pushes him off the ledge. Not one to abandon the stalker then enters his apartment via the building’s silent server (used to dispose of household garbage). By the time Sally, a towel wrapped around her, runs down the hall to answer the front door (her boyfriend is now waiting in front of her) the intruder is ready to knock … This is where the movie ends, with Sally’s shocked face in still mode.

HANGMAN (David Evans, 1985) is another public information film so condescending and laughable it’s almost an insult to people’s intelligence! Here, a masked executioner with a thick Cockney accent demonstrates how easily industrial accidents on construction sites can happen … like, a bricklayer gulping down a few pints on his lunch break before climbing onto the scaffolding and then losing his balance in a drunken stupor… really!
The final film is the 1986 half-hour ‘experimental’ short film THE BRAND OF LILIT in which Zena (Pamela Lofton), a black lesbian filmmaker, studies how, over the centuries, pagan goddesses have been transformed. in demonic figures – while drawing parallels to the way society treats black and lesbian women (this was done in 1986, remember). When she meets the bisexual white vampire Lillia (Susan Franklyn) who leaves her on-screen colleague Luke (Jeremy Peters) for Zena, a bizarre relationship ensues… This short film is a real mess and Polly Gladwin, Bruna Fionda and Isiling Mack-Nataf clearly lacked meaning. or a concept to deliver something worthwhile and engaging. It all appears to have been done by film students, and the constant academic waffle distracts attention from the actual horror elements. Yet if the ‘Screaming Lord Sutch’ video ended disc 1 on a decidedly ‘anti-alarm / anti-pc’ note, then ‘Mark of Lilith’ is surely awake.

The bonus includes various interviews, an illustrated booklet and a new cover.

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