A Lot of filmmakers get their start by making short films. Fede Alvarez was tapped by Sam Raimi to direct the Evil Dead remake based on his short film Panic Attack! For some filmmakers, short films are a means to an end and for others they can be a source of inspiration for something even bigger and better. In fact, a variety of critically acclaimed horror films from the past 35 years originated as a short. To pay tribute to some of our favorites, we are showcasing five of our favorite features that began life as a short film.
The Evil Dead
Before The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi and his friends put together a 32-minute horror film called Within the Woods. The plotline of the 1978 short was essentially the same as that of The Evil Dead and even starred Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss. The idea behind Within the Woods was to raise the interest of investors who were interested in financing a feature. The plan worked and three years later, one of the most influential horror films ever committed to celluloid was born. Even though it’s not a perfect horror film, The Evil Dead is fun, scary, full of gore, and completely creative.
The Pact was Nicholas McCarthy’s fourth short film. It debuted in 2011 and became the basis for his 2012 feature film of the same name. McCarthy’s feature film debut is a smart and intense horror thriller; it’s inventive, suspenseful, and has a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming. The film also has a great cast that will be familiar to genre film fans. The 11-minute short film served as great inspiration for the feature. McCarthy gained positive reviews from critics and fans alike for his full-length incarnation of The Pact.
James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s indie film turned blockbuster had humble beginnings as a 9-minute short film in 2003. The short was told from the perspective of a hospital orderly that was abducted and made to participate in a sadistic game with life or death consequences. Like the feature film, the short was written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan. Though Saw is frequently criticized for telling a sometimes-violent story, the film isn’t nearly as brutal as its successors. The 2004 original is also a much more intelligent feature than people give it credit for. The original Saw film is a simplistic but poignant tale of morality and explores just how far people will go in the name of survival.
Excision originated as an 18-minute short film in 2008. Like the feature, it tells the story of a teenage outsider that has unusual fantasies and goes to extreme measures to gain the approval of her family. Excision is hands down one of the best movies of 2012 and features inspired performances from both AnnaLynne McCord and Traci Lords. AnnaLynne McCord plays completely against type as the film’s main character Pauline and does so brilliantly. It is by far the best performance of her career to date. Richard Bates Jr. shows great promise as both a writer and director in his 2012 feature film Excision. The film boldly showcases the juxtaposition of brutality and beauty. It proves that the line between the two can be finer than we think.
The 2009 feature film Grace is a disturbing tale of the lengths a mother’s love will drive her to. The feature film was written and directed by Paul Solet, as was the 2006 short film of the same name. Solet’s 2006 short was only six-minutes long but made a profound enough impact to warrant production on a feature length film. The 2009 feature Grace is an excellent feature that explores just how far a mother will go to protect the life of her offspring; even if it’s at the expense of another human life. The film is brimming with social commentary and poses more questions than it answers. It managed to fly under the radar upon its release, so if you haven’t seen it, give it a look.