Panic Fest 2024: Long Form Shorts

Written by Stephen McClurg

panic fest re birth

Directed and written by William Brooke
2023, 22 Minutes
Screened at Panic Fest on April 4th, 2024

Upon learning of her twin's tragic death, Lily receives a glimmer of hope for her sister's revival in the form of whispered promise and a business card directing her to a saloon. Lily meets a bizarre barkeep, a less-than-charming lawyer/accountant figure, and an emoting elder dressed like a Texan form of Colonel Sanders.

Drawing inspiration from the themes of Frankenstein, Re-Birth offers the beginnings of a variation on Get Out (2017). While the initial pacing allows for development of mood and atmosphere, the final moments are marred by a sudden influx of exposition, hinting at a deeper story that would benefit from a longer runtime.


 panic fest ivan

Red Iron Road: Into the Heat
Directed by Sam Chou
Written by Ellery Vandooyewert
2023, 17 Minutes
Screened at Panic Fest on April 6th, 2024

Red Iron Road: Into the Heat opens with a blood-spattered Santa dashing down a dimly lit street, pursued by a lumbering apartment building. As he barrels into a police blockade, the viewer wonders whether he's fleeing from a vengeful tenement or descending into madness. The story pivots to an interrogation room, where Santa finds himself accused of the murder of a child. Can Santa withstand the heat, especially from the "bad cop" channeling comedian Bill Burr? Santa insists he was merely fulfilling a babysitting request from a young woman, but his natural goodwill quickly entangled him in the web of other folkloric creatures.

Based on a 2008 short story by “The Queen of Russian Horror,” Anna Starobinets, “Into the Heat” is an episode of Red Iron Road, an animated series adapting European authors. It’s wacky and over-the-top, in mostly good ways. I’m intrigued to see other episodes.


 panic fest curse of the velvet vampire

Directed by Daniele Ricci and Emanuele Ricci
Written by Eugenio Krilov, Daniele Ricci, and Emanuele Ricci
2023, 20 Minutes
Screened at Panic Fest on April 6th, 2024

A young knight crafts a wooden sled to transport his dead beloved to a destination depicted in a book reminiscent of the Necronomicon–never a sign of good things to come.

While I’ve spent my time with Beowulf and variations of Arthurian legends, the realm of dark fantasy has never interested me. Juggernaut may change that. As the Blue Knight delves into the forbidden pages of the Necronomicon (or something like it), the trajectory of the narrative becomes apparent, but that does little to diminish the experience. From the moment the book is opened, the path ahead may be clear, but the allure of the sound and visuals keeps the viewer spellbound in its dark fairy tale world until the end.


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Stephen McClurg
Staff Reviewer
No matter how hard he tries to focus on music, Stephen always gets called back to horror culture. The inciting incident is likely the night his grandmother cackled through his wide-eyed and white-knuckled first viewing of Jaws at three. The ‘70s were a different time. Over the years, he has mostly published poetry and essays, but started writing with a review section for the Halloween edition of the sixth-grade school newspaper. He rated titles like Creepshow with a short description and illustrated pumpkins. His teacher loved it, but the principal shredded the final version before distribution since all the movies were rated R.
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