Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Pt. 2: Video (Pt. 2: Categories 8-9)

Category 8: Best Independent Film

We now move into more intimate categories where I personally know some of the nominees. For Best Independent Film, I’m going to remove any nominees that got mainstream releases and vote for one that involves a more guerilla style of filmmaking. The problem is that there are two nominees for whom I want to vote and I have not yet decided which way to go.

Christopher R. Mihm gave us his annual homage to the sci-fi movies of the 1950s, Demon with the Atomic Brain, and Joshua Kennedy gave us his tribute to the films of Ray Harryhausen, Theseus & the Minotaur, complete with stop motion animation by Ryan Lengyel. I attended world premieres of both movies and would be thrilled for either to win.



The full list of nominees is:

Anna & the Apocalypse, directed by John McPhail.

Herschel Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania, directed by HG Lewis, Kevin Littlelight, Melanie Reinboldt.

Demon with the Atomic Brain, directed by Christopher Mihm.

The Devil’s Candy, directed by Sean Byrne.

Diane, directed by Michael Mongillo.

Fantasma, directed by Brett Mullen.

A Ghost Story, directed by David Lowery.

I Don’t Feel at Home in the World Anymore, directed by Macon Blair.

The Limehouse Golem, directed by Juan Carlos Medina.

Long Night in a Dead City, directed by Richard Griffin.

The Night-Time Winds, directed by Ansel Faraj.

Red Christmas, directed by Craig Anderson.

Super Dark Times, directed by Kevin Phillips.

Theseus & the Minotaur, directed by Joshua Kennedy.

XX, directed by Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin & Karyn Kusama.

Category 9: Best Short Film

Like last year, I watched as many of the Best Short Film nominees that I could find. I enjoyed them all, but, as a monster kid, none affected me like Tom Woodruff Jr.’s Kong: Steel in Love. Cinemassacre’s Why is There Cardboard in Dracula? is a distant second, pulling a different set of emotional triggers.


Here are the nominees with my thoughts (for the ones I watched):

The Amulet of Fear, directed by Andrea Ricca (6 mins).  A woman finds an amulet that brings a fictional creature to life. It’s ambitious, but limited in effectiveness by a style of special effects of which I’m not fond.
Classic Horrors rating = 6 (out of 10)

The Black Cat, directed by Barghav Saikia (20 mins).  Three-part story in which an old man buys a broom, finds a cat, and then Miss Bellows comes to claim them both. Well-done, but almost too long for a “short” and lacks an ending punch.
Classic Horrors rating = 7 (out of 10)

Burn, directed by Judson Vaughan (15 mins).  Trailer on Vimeo.

Creswick, directed by Natalie James (10 mins),  Trailer on Vimeo.

Don’t Ever Change, directed by Don Swaynos (10 mins).  Arranging to interview a woman released from prison after serving time for murder, a young man reveals his true intentions. It’s well made with good acting and a deliciously evil twist. It’s my favorite of the shorts with a more modern spin.
Classic Horrors rating = 8 (out of 10)

Hive, directed by Adam Ciolfi (10 mins).  Whoa! Deep philosophical discussion about life, death, and a higher power that takes place between stop-motion creatures as their place of refuge is being destroyed. It’s perhaps a bit heavy-handed, but those little guys elicited a genuine emotional response.
Classic Horrors rating = 8 (out of 10)

Kong: Steel in Love, directed by Tom Woodruff Jr.  (9 mins).  Speaking of emotional responses, what Woodruff does with the original King Kong armature is a tribute to the original movie as well as a statement about how we all feel about it. With lovely music, I could watch this over and over again, welling up each time.
Classic Horrors rating – 10 (out of 10)

Rakka, directed by Neill Blomkamp. (22 mins).  I’ll be honest… I grew sleepy toward the middle and didn’t finish it. Once I heard (and saw) Sigourney Weaver, I knew I wouldn’t be voting for it, anyway. It’s not that I don’t love her, but she adds a level to the short film that’s above where I’m voting. I will finish it at some point; it looks spectacular so far.

Rites of Vengeance, directed by Izzy Lee (5 mins).  Trailer on YouTube.

Theatre Fantastique: Masque of the Red Death, directed by Ansel Faraj (11 mins).  Interesting combination of live action and animation, but leans a little heavily on effects unique to the videotape medium. The biggest impact on me is the promise of more “episodes,” some of which seem to star former Dark Shadows cast members.
Classic Horrors rating = 6 (out of 10)

Why is There Cardboard in Dracula? by Cinemassacre (10 mins).  Like the narrator of this short film, I never noticed the piece of cardboard attached to a lamp in 1931’s Dracula until it was pointed out to me. He proceeds to examine reasons for why it might be there and whether it was accidental or intentional. It’s very funny at times, but becomes a little repetitive.
Classic Horrors rating = 7 (out of 10)

That’s it for today. I’ll be watching some documentaries over the weekend, so look for my recommendations next week…

Voting for the Rondo Awards is really easy! Simply send an email to by midnight on Sunday, April 8, 2018. You don’t have to vote in every category; however, you are limited to one vote.

While you’re voting for these great movies, TV shows and home video releases, please consider voting for in Category 17: Best Website or Blog of 2017… only if you like what you see here and believe that it deserves it.

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