Now Scream This: 10 Great Horror Shorts to Watch This Halloween

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: I know what you’re thinking. “Now Scream This” does Halloween. Another streaming horror recommendation column highlights all the genre options already pointed out on every other entertainment website across the web-o-sphere. Don’t get me wrong! Shudder is crushing their October content drops with titles like Scare Me and The Mortuary Collection. Netflix is pumping out two new releases a week, one of which, Vampires Vs. The Bronx, deserves way more love. That said? We’re focusing our spooky-scary column on an even more underserved medium: horror shorts.

Chris: I love a good short horror film. There’s something fun about a quick, concise attempt at creating something scary that I just can’t resist, and I know I’m not alone. After all, Hollywood seems to be constantly mining short films for features. Lights Out, Saw, Mama, and more all originated as shorts. So while we usually try to highlight features around these parts, we’ve decided to give you a treat for Halloween season and gather up some horror shorts you can watch right now. Right here. You don’t even have to click off the page! In fact, you should never click off the page. Stay here forever. Click on some ads. Happy Halloween! 

Plush

Now Streaming on Vimeo

Matt: Ryan Denmark’s Plush is everything I want in a horror-comedy about a killer teddy bear. Vincent’s job is to protect his owner’s home while she’s in the office, at Spellbound Toys, and he’s a very protective softie. Enter a burglar who begins ransacking the bedroom where Vincent waits each day, and his claws-out fight against the supernatural plaything. The altercation runs a thick Joe Dante vibe, in the way Vincent is manipulated through Mogwai-esque verbal cues and adorably vicious puppetry. Then, hilariously, Vincent has to clean up the bloody mess once the homeowner returns with a date. I don’t care how sharp Vincent’s teeth are; I JUST WANNA HUG HIM.

Child Eater

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Matt: Before Erlingur Óttar Thoroddsen directed Rift and Into The Dark’s Midnight Kiss, there was Child Eater. A nasty short film introduction of “Robert Bowery,” this proclaimed eater of children, then expanded into Mr. Thoroddsen’s feature debut. We’ll focus here on the short, which blew my socks off at 2012’s New York City Horror Film Festival. It’s so confident, so dreadful, and haunting enough to position Bowery as a bold genre creeper. Also, fun fact, the film was produced by Collider’s own Perri Nemiroff, and hilariously caused an introduction to one of my most cherished industry friendships. I promise, I reviewed the short before any bias could formulate. Bowery is an instant menace, and yeah, there’s no shying away from the short’s foreshadowing title. Another bedtime story with only nightmares in mind.

Night Of The Pumpkin

Now Streaming on Vimeo

Matt: Hi. It’s me: Matt Donato, the horror-comedy thumper. I’m the one bringing you recommendations like Frank Sabatella’s Night Of The Pumpkin, which, coincidentally, carries a Night Of the Demons vibe. Aggro dudebros, through a graveyard ritual, summon a demon that possesses a carved Jack-O-Lantern. You’re here for the flesh-tearing, intestine-chewing, pulp-spewing gore as said pumpkin monster chews its way through families, fornicating campers, and trick ‘r treaters. “IT ATE MY PARENTS, A PUMPKIN,” is one of the first lines after the credits finish, in case I needed to set the tone further. A bit like Thankskilling, but for Halloween. With bazookas. And I’m almost positive acclaimed horror journalist Michael Gingold gets eaten somewhere in here? It’s got ‘splosions, orange Halloween lighting tints, and absurd practical effects. Plus its own theme song!  

Marvel Zombies Vs. Army Of Darkness

Now Streaming on YouTube

Matt: From director, writer, and editor Brian Karl Rosenthal comes the Marvel horror story so many fans have demanded for eons. The Marvel Zombies story infects the MCU’s mightiest with an undead disease, and in this case, only Ash Williams and his steel chin can overpower the turned superheroes. I mean, yes, I’ve seen better Bruce Campbell impressions on convention floors. That said? We get zombified Wolverine ripping Peter Parker’s eye from its socket, Evil Dead nods that replicate Sam Raimi’s more slapstick notes, and a replacement chainsaw hand in the form of Iron Man’s blaster. I might love the idea more than execution in parts, but that’s all fine and dandy when the dust settles. Groovy.

Critters: Bounty Hunter

Now Streaming on YouTube

Matt: Time and time again, Jordan Downey has proven himself a more than capable filmmaker on micro budgets. The Head Hunter is a $30K masterpiece, and this Critters “fan film” oozes more cinematic qualifications than even some franchise sequels. It’s a compact narrative about an extraterrestrial assassin sent to exterminate Crite invaders on Earth, specifically a standoff with one rolly-polly foe left in some vacation cabin. Visual effects bring to life this Predator-esque bounty hunter, and the puppetry is on-par with anything I’ve seen in a Critter film. Downey deserves his shot at a big-budget feature, if only because I can’t imagine what the penny-saver can do with limitless funds.

Salt

Now Streaming on Vimeo

Chris: Salt comes from Rob Savage, director of the buzzy Shudder movie Host. Salt may be shorter, but there’s a lot going on here, as Alice Lowe (director and star of Prevenge) plays a mother trying to protect her child from a demonic presence. The only guard against the demon is a ring of salt, and while you might think that may be easy to maintain, you’d be wrong. At a little over 2 minutes, Savage packs a punch with Salt right from the jump and never lets up. 

The Maiden

Now Streaming on Vimeo 

Chris: I was not a fan of Michael Chaves’ Conjuring Universe movie The Curse of La Llorona. But I love his clever short The Maiden. This is a brilliantly staged little creeper about a real estate agent (Alia Raelynn) who goes to great lengths to sell a huge, haunted mansion. While preparing the house, the agent makes sure to hide any evidence of ghosts – she wants to make that sale, after all. The creepy elements here – the black-eyed old lady ghost; the hands that come up out of a bucket of dirty water; the overall ominous atmosphere – are pitch-perfect. Chaves is directing the next Conjuring sequel, and I hope it’s more like this than La Llorona

Pictured

Now Streaming on YouTube

Chris: David F. Sandberg has become the king of economically made short horror movies. He’s made a ton of them in his house with wife Lotta Losten, and one of those shorts was Lights Out, which was later turned into a feature. Pictured follows the standard Sandberg formula: Losten plays a woman alone in a house and something creepy happens to her. In this case, the creepy element involves a photo of an ominous woman – a woman who keeps managing to move around in her frame when Losten isn’t looking. It builds towards a great little finale that’s not quite as predictable as you might think. 

OCULUS Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan

Now Streaming on YouTube

Chris: Before Mike Flanagan made Oculus he made this – Oculus Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan (the title is being cheeky; there are no chapters 1 or 2). Much like the feature, Oculus is about a haunted mirror that has the power to kill. The short has a character documenting  their investigation of the mirror – an idea that carries over into the feature. If you’ve seen the feature adaptation you’ll notice much of the dialogue here is identical. This is the longest film on the list – over 30 minutes – but it’s worth it. You can see the early signs of Flanagan’s exceptional skills in every frame. 

Widow

Now Streaming on Vimeo

Chris: Written and directed by Karl Mueller, Widow is probably my favorite horror short film. At the very least, it’s the one I think about the most. I love the premise – a wealthy woman hires a pair of technologically advanced psychics to try to contact her dead husband. And I love the “world building” going on here – Widow never goes into specifics about how the psychics are able to use their tech to contact the dead, and it doesn’t have to. We buy into what’s being sold here because it just feels right. It also feels creepy as hell. 

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