As our longtime readers know, we at PopHorror are huge fans of horror anthologies, and we’re not alone. In recent years, there has been an uprising in anthologies, full-length films that are compiled of short films, usually created by completely different casts and crews, which offer up a a series of like minded stories in differing tones, plots and subjects. While all stories are not created equal, there’s a higher than likely chance that at least of one the tales told in your average horror anthology will strike you fancy. Personally, I would choose an anthology to watch over a full-length film every time. So when I was given the opportunity to watch the Hewes Pictures compilation, Blood Clots, I jumped at the chance. As always, some of the shorts fell flat, but a few of them stood out as creative, original and entertaining as hell.
Synopsis of Blood Clots:
Featuring cannibals, zombies and other funny creatures, Blood Clots consists of seven carefully curated, bloody horror stories by seven different filmmakers.
Blood Clots was arranged by Hewes Pictures and presented by Freedom Cinema, and it made up of seven 5-10 minute shorts. There was no wraparound story. The tales were linked by title cards that listed them in order, from Clot I to Clot VII.
Clot I: “Hell Of A Day”
Directed by Evan Hughes (Balloon Ride 2015) and starring Alexandra Octavia (Healthy 2014), “Hell Of A Day” starts with a young woman driving down an empty road while holding her obviously injured side. She stumbles upon an old bar and searches the place for people, only to find a dead cook and a note explaining that the group that lives there is out on a scavenging mission. Suddenly, a few zombies stumble in, and the girl is backed into a corner. She finds a hatch in the floor that leads down into a basement, only to become trapped down there with nothing but a bottle of whiskey and a dead body, with a herd of omnipresent zombies up above. As the hours turn into days, the girl starts losing her mind. How long can she last?
“Hell Of A Day” has a cool concept… since zombies don’t ever get bored or tired, if they corner you, you can be trapped as surely as if they have you locked in a cell. I also loved the sound of the zombies in the background – it almost sounded like some sort of Z language. Unfortunately, there were a few itches that never got scratched. First, why would the scavenging group leave a note when the cook was assumedly still alive when they left? Why have the girl injured if her injury never really affected the story in any way? I have the same question about sticking her with the dead body. The guy didn’t smell or zombify. Why even have him there? He also flipped over onto his stomach at one point, which got me all excited because I thought he was going to jump up and take a bite out of her. Last but not least, why did she do what she did at the end when the nice, juicy dead guy was right there with her the whole time? “Hell Of A Day” was born of an original idea but had too many continuity errors to leave me feeling satisfied.
Clot II: “Never Tear Us Apart”
No, it’s not about the INXS song. This short, which was directed by Sid Zanforlin (Attack of the Brain Sucker 2015), is about a couple of guys, James (Matt Keyes: Two Wrongs 2015) and Colin (Alex Weiner: Clydecynic 2013), clomping around in the woods. James is excited for their destination while Colin thinks they should turn back. They come upon a remote shack and, looking through a window, they spy a lovely older couple enjoying dinner… that is, until they see the bloody prisoner tied up in another room. Once the guys are spotted, all hell breaks loose.
“Never Tear Us Apart” has a fantastic twist that I won’t ruin, but I have to mention it because it was so creative. There was also a gloriously gruesome axe beheading that has to be seen to be believed. Also, those birthmarks were NASTY. However, I thought Matt Keyes’ James was a bit too ridiculous and over the top and didn’t jibe well with the rest of the relatively more serious characters. “Never Tear Us Apart” is not only a part of Blood Clots, but was also a segment from the 2016 film, Minutes Past Midnight, so it may be familiar to some. It’s definitely a cool one to check out.
Clot III: “Blue Moon”
Directed by Martyn Pick (Fulci Funhaus 2015), “Blue Moon” is described on IMDb as being about three teenagers who are out to lose their virginity at a UK dogging site, but that’s not really correct. Yes, there are people having sex in front of each other all over the place, but I saw no teenage boys becoming men in either sense of the word. There was an old degenerate who brought a seemingly naive Romanian beauty named Nicoletta (Madalina Bellariu Ion: Dobarra 2017) into the woods to screw her in front of a bunch of perverts while he recorded it all on his video camera. Nicoletta was much more than what she seemed, and once her claws and fur came in, she made short work of these twisted deviants.
Combining a chick from Romania with the word “moon” in the title made it fairly obvious what this short was going to be about. There are no twists here, only sexually disturbed, bloody carnage. What the camera guy character did while people were being mauled in front of him was pretty unbelievable and almost eye-rolling. It’s almost like Pick just wanted to throw a bunch of sex and gore at the wall just to see what stuck (no pun intended). Meh.
Clot IV: “Time To Eat”
“Time To Eat” is a horror short directed by Luke Asa Guidici (Zombieworld 2015). Young, bored Xavier (Ethan Michael Mora: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot 2018) is bouncing a ball against the wall while waiting for his mother, Gabriella (Ydaiber Orozco: Blue Ruin 2013), to cook dinner. The ball bounces awkwardly and lands at the top of the basement stairs but does not roll down… that is, until a slimy tentacle reaches up and swipes at it, sending it bounding down into the cellar. Like George Denborough, the poor kid is terrified of the basement, and with good reason. What could possibly be living down there?
“Time To Eat” is a clever short that combines a dialogue-less (but not soundless) script with a universal fear – the dark unknown. I loved that Guidici used so much red in the short, from the red ball to Xavier’s red socks and the red glow of the furnace. The FX were pretty well done, especially the stuff at the very end. Last but not least, the twist was brilliant. Bravo!
Clot V: “Still”
Directed by Carl Timms (Off Grid 2018), “Still” is another short about zombies. This one follows a gold-colored, living statue street performer (Joe Capella: Vigilante Style 2018) who happens to be working when the zombie apocalypse kicks in. Luckily for him, his freeze frame act is so good that most of the zombies don’t even notice him. Unfortunately for him, if he breaks character, they’ll be on to him in an instant. Of course, there is this one skinhead zombie (Rob Hall: Dawning of the Dead 2017) that may know his secret. Can this living statue stay completely still, even while being stared down by a suspicious zombie?
“Still” was one of my favorite segments in Blood Clots. I loved listening in on the statue’s thoughts as he contemplated his situation, wanting so bad to scratch his nose or shake off his cramping leg. The slow, limping pursuit through the alley reminded me of the nursing home chase from Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), a film I adore. The makeup on the skinhead zombie was gorgeous, although the other flesh eaters didn’t get as much attention from the FX department. Also, the sound was a bit weird, but for me, these were small gripes. “Still” is a great short.
Clot VI: “Hellyfish”
“Hellyfish” was co-directed by Patrick Longstreth (Adam Ruins Everything TV series) and debut filmmaker Robert McLean. This is a throwback short, an shoutout to the pissed off, mutated, radioactive monsters of the ’50s. It’s actually based on the true story of the 1958 mid-air collision over the waters of Tybee Island in Georgia where the US military lost a nuclear warhead. It has never been found. “Hellyfish” begins with two terrorists attempting to locate that very weapon, only to accidentally release the radioactive gunk from inside. The local jellyfish are immediately affected, making them grow to exponential size and filling their blubbery, brainless heads with purple aggression against the Tybee Island beach dwellers.
I’ve seen “Hellyfish” before in the horror anthology Monsterland (2016), and even back then, I thought it was one of the better shorts in the anthology. The cinematography is gorgeous. The moonlit opener is absolutely stunning, while the sun-dappled daytime scenes are surreal, technicolor and luminous, bringing me back to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” video. Sure, the jellyfish are pretty ridiculous, but that’s all a part of “Hellyfish’s” charm. There are tons of Jaws references, from the grumpy Captain Shaw, to the slow click, click, click of the cigar chomping woman’s fishing pole, to the young kid telling his mother, “We’re gonna need a bigger moat.” Tying it all together is Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun’s “Old Monster,” a song that seems almost written for this short. If you watch no other segments from Blood Clots, make sure you hunt down “Hellyfish.”
Clot VII: “The Call Of Charlie”
A great homage to the Lovecraft short story, “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Call of Charlie” takes The Dark Lord himself and sets him up on a blind date. The film was directed by Nick Spooner (Dodge: Commence to Rock 2016) and stars The O.C.’s Sven Holmberg as Charlie.
“The Call of Cthulhu” is as awesome as it sounds. Yuppie couple Diane (Silence of the Lamb’s Brooke Smith) and Mark (Harry Sinclair: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring 2001) invite Diane’s officemate, Charlie (Cthulhu in a button down shirt), over for dinner to meet Diane’s friend, Maureen (Kristin Slaysman: Masters of Sex TV series). Their party is crashed by Diane’s annoying old college roomate, Virginia (Roberta Valderrama: The Purge: Anarchy 2014) and her husband, Jay (Evan Arnold: Spider-Man 2002). No one seems to see anything unusual about Charlie except Virginia and Jay, who are completely freaked out by him. On the other hand, Maureen is extremely attracted to him, and even the Diane and Marks’ little boy, Anton (Bradley Bundlie: Bunnyman Vengeance 2017), calls him Uncle Charlie. Virginia and Jay are the odd ones out here.
Seeing them all treat Charlie like an average human being is surreal and hilarious. The story resolution was bloody great, both literally and figuratively. One of my favorite things about the short were the creature effects by The Basement FX, which were outstanding to say the least. Just watching Charlie blink was an FX joy to watch. The only thing I wasn’t too keen on was the check at the end. I think it would have been better if it had all been done out of friendship rather than for payment, but it’s a tiny thing. This is a cool short that all Lovecraft fans will appreciate.
Blood Clots is now available on Amazon and Vimeo. If you’re a fan of horror anthologies full of blood gore, then you should surely check this one out!