Back when I was a kid (being a horror nut from an early age), my favorite shows were the grim, spooky ones; mostly anthology stuff like reruns of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Thriller, Night Gallery, and One Step Beyond. Of course, a lot of these episodic shows didn’t always deal with “horror” type stories, but it was still by and large the only game in town; what always made them pop! to me was how those great writers could make their creepy little vignettes relevant to some social issue without standing at a pulpit. Later on, there were new versions of a couple of these classics, but they also followed the same formula of a couple spooky episodes now and then, with the usual sci-fi and odd “feel-good” episodes balancing out the scares. Still, there were a couple of ports in the storm of “family friendly” TV back then, most notably for me the James Coburn hosted Darkroom and the classic Tales From The Darkside; strictly spooky stuff, on those. Even back then, when enjoying these shows, I always wondered what the episodes would be like if they weren’t constrained by network television rules and guidelines; I wished I could see what they would be like if they were unedited and unrated.
Secret Family Recipe from Get Coned Productions is a short film I’ve recently had the opportunity to check out that answered that question for me.
We come into the life of a somewhat-affluent upper-middle-class couple, Anne and Arthur, as they’re preparing some kind of big barbeque for their friends in the neighborhood. Arthur (who kinda reminds me of a twisted hybrid of Hannibal Lecter and Fred Flintstone) seems a little put-out, but Anne is one o’ those women that insists upon maintaining her standing amongst the community; these dinners are her way of keeping up what she sees is the status quo with her peers. Of course, the economy is in the tank, and Arthur belabors the strain of keeping Anne put up in their nice home, with their pool, high-end furnishings, and of course, their social calendar. Like so many of us experience, he has trouble keeping up such “appearances”, and has found that he must resort to certain…er…extreme measures in order to keep his blushing bride happy and their reputations secure…
This flick started out as I expected; the acting was a little stiff, but if you go into an independent horror short expecting Shakespearean thespians, you’ve not watched a lot of them (or many horror films at all, really). The dialog and reactions are a little forced, but it’s not dreadful, and as the film quickly moves forward, the situations make it far less noticeable.
The film’s got your slight touch of social commentary, but it never gets preachy; it’s there if you want it. The well-structured direction of the clever little script carries an undercurrent of black humor with the horror, but still with a sinister edge; the horror is well-done, with the situations being stressful and suitably disturbing, with outstanding (and marvelously practical) special effects…I’ve seen much crappier effects in films with a hell of a lot bigger budgets.
I enjoyed the movie, Fellow Fans; the story hearkened back to one of those old television shows that I mentioned earlier, with the added bonus of being graphic and in your face, fulfilling the wishes I’d mused over back in the day. It was a nicely-written, deftly-directed little piece that left me wondering what might be next, which is everything a short should be. I wish director Chris Durand and his associates at Get Coned Productions success with this and their other projects, and hope to see their names (and films) in the future.
Should the opportunity ever present itself, I say you should check it out, peeps…it’s sixteen minutes (give or take a few seconds) you won’t feel like you wasted.
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