Sunday, 30 August 2015


For those who don't know, Jason Vail is a pretty popular guy here at The House.
From his sterling work in Tommy Faircloth's Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head AKA Dollface, to his creepy role in Faircloth's The Cabin by way of his grieving hunter in Valley of the Sasquatch, Vail is a guy who always brings his A-game.
So I was very excited to hear that Vail will be appearing in Brian Lonano's highly-regarded micro-short, Crow Hand!!! which screened during Film4 FrightFest's Shortfilm Showcase this afternoon.
At less than three minutes long the film has still managed to make quite the impression with viewers.
Is this another Vail victory? Or will somebody be eating crow?
Read on…

CROW HAND!!! (2014)

Dir: Brian Lonano
Starring: Jason Vail, Caitlin McPhail 

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short so I'll try not spoil too much, but continue at your own risk.

As a cheery, all-American couple (Vail and McPhail) leave a supermarket and return to their car laden down with shopping, the man notices a strange item on the floor. Upon closer inspection, he realises it is an intricately carved crow totem.
His wife tells him to ignore it and hurry to the car but his curiosity gets the better of him and he can't help but scoop it up off the car park floor.
However, there is more to this creepy keepsake than meets the eye and soon both of them find themselves regretting his hasty decision...  

WHY IT WORKS: In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy: 'Boy, that escalated quickly!'
Crow Hand!!! is goofy, almost a pastiche of traditional horror films, with its ancient cursed artefact and shockingly extreme gore. You wouldn't have thought that a film running at a mere 152 seconds (including credits!) could go from zero to 'Holy fuck, what the Hell did I just see????', but Crow Hand!!! nails it.
It's a very fun film, one that feels a lot like a truncated segment from a splattery Eighties anthology such as Creepshow or Tales From The Darkside. It's a simple story with a very linear plot line, has plenty of silly charm and, more importantly, builds to the most barking of climaxes.
The charm comes in the cheesy dialogue and wilfully gonzo reactions of Vail and McPhail (not to mention Vail's awesome attire). They chew up their lines and spit them out with self-aware relish, whether they be deliberately downplaying their responses to some seriously messed-up events or embracing the craziness and going hilariously melodramatic. The script, by director Lonano, gives his leads plenty to work with, and the pair utterly run with it.
Vail is as awesome as ever, while McPhail matches him every step of the way. The pair have some nice chemistry and bounce their delivery off one another wonderfully. They also show a real talent for the physical side of their comedy and throw themselves into their work admirably.
Lonano doesn't just write well for his actors, he also shoots them brilliantly. With some great angles and zany camera work, Lonano infuses proceedings with a deranged dynamism, while cinematographer Josh Skierski ensures that the film looks fantastic.
It might seem far-fetched to think that such a short film could have such a visual impact but Crow Hand!!! has tonnes of style that really help it to stand out from the crowd.
Of course, it's not just the production values of the visuals that impress — no, along with Vail and McPhail the third star of this film is the tremendous special effects work from Nik Morgan and production designer Blake Myers, along with Jeff Jenkins' digital effects.
I don't think it's too big of a spoiler to reveal that later on in this film there is a lot of gore, nor to say that most of it comes from a diabolical 'crow hand'. However, I imagine plenty of you will be shocked and surprised to see just how splattery and gooey things get. Plus, the titular Crow Hand manages to be both laughably campy and genuinely unnerving — often at the same time! Well done everyone!
The very game actors end up pretty much covered head-to-toe in fake blood (plus some surprisingly polished prosthetics) and as increasing extreme acts of wanton violence take place onscreen, you can't help but grin despite yourself.
Sometimes all you want from a film is a bit of entertainment — and that is something that the folks at Robot Hand Films have packed into this short. It's an absolute riot and a film that I thoroughly recommend to all fans of blood and the bizarre.  

SO WHERE'S IT AT? The film is now available to watch for free at vimeo
Check out the film's official Facebook page for more information. Give it a Like while you're there too, show some love!

UK readers at the Film4 FrightFest had the pleasure of catching the film during Short Film Showcase 2 on Sunday 30th August.

10 WORD WRAP UP: A brisk two-minute explosion of effects, gore and laughs 

Read my previous Film4 Frightfest special reviews for Suspension hereThe Nightmare hereWind Walkers hereStung hereNight of the Slasher here and Invaders here.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and Like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.


  1. Thanks HHH for the stellar review and amazingly kind words! You have been an incredible support over the years, and hopefully we'll run into each other one day at a con or festival in the near future. --Jason V.

    1. The pleasure was all mine, thanks for taking the time to read it.
      That'd be awesome, here's hoping!
      All the best,