The explosion in television horror in nearly the last 10 years has hooked many viewers to shows like CW’s “Supernatural”, AMC’s “Walking Dead” and, more recently, Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow”. But for many of us with busy schedules it’s hard to keep up with an ongoing TV series where one hour episodes are dependent on each other. It’s even impossible for some people to squeeze in two hours of a great horror movie on TV when they want to save on paid subscription streaming. That’s where the miracle of YouTube comes in. YouTube is loaded with hundreds of horror movies and webisodes, many made by independent filmmakers, that don’t run much longer than 15 minutes. Yet many of them are well-made considering their creators are just starting out in the industry. “Horror Show Theater” and Black Box TV are two of these great sources of obscure, bite-size but entertaining horror films and shows.
“Horror Show Theater” is an anthology series by indie studio Sepulture Productions. It features a new episode of a stand-alone story with different characters every two weeks. As of the writing of this article, episodes (in which there have been three so far) have gone no longer than five minutes. The anthology debuted last month with its first installment, “Dumb Cat”, which runs under a minute! This episode is about a cat with a sixth sense for the dead. Episode two, “Lights Out”, involves a man with a little more trouble on his hands than just changing a light bulb: something alive is above the ceiling lamp and it’s not just a wire! The most recent episode to date, “Give a Little Whistle”, tells the story of a man who has a whistling duet with his reflection in the mirror. However, his reflection isn’t as friendly or even as human as it first appears to be. These stories are both terrifying and humorous simultaneously with fairly unique plots and visions.
Black Box TV is a YouTube channel of both shorts and webisodes. Many of the videos are not much more than 15 minutes. One short even follows the current zombie craze as its title alone indicates: “Zombie”. It plays on themes of betrayal and vengeance between friends. The web series, “Silverwood”, plays on these same themes except that the storyline is centered on a mountain town haunted by dark forces. Like “Horror Show Theater”, most of these webisodes are very short not running much over five minutes. Unlike “Horror Show”, it is not an anthology and so episodes involving many of the same characters continue into each other. However, because of the very short time frame of each, the series is easy to keep up with.
Many of Black Box’s movies and webisodes tend to contain irony that leads to shocking endings. Even the 57 second video, “Ghost Chair”, that seems to be nothing more than an invisible ghost slowly moving a chair on an isolated balcony, will terrify viewers at the end searing a creepy image on their minds for long after. Such irony makes viewers hunger for more, even if more comes only in small bites.
The great thing about the two above horror video venues is not only that they are ideal for our mobile devices and so for on-the-run viewing. It’s also because simply by watching these films we are supporting indie filmmakers whose work wouldn’t be known to the world otherwise. This is even more so if we post comments about their work, one of the main purposes of social media video sites such as YouTube and the benefits of web technology as a whole. So this Halloween and beyond, as the late, Northern California TV horror host, Bob Wilkins, would likely have put it: watch indie horror films, keep the Internet strong!
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