Every day in October, the Department of Tangents will be presenting a short horror film as part of the Daily Horror Film Fest. Today’s entry is a bonus three-film bonanza of horror with a sense of humor from filmmakers Andrea Henry and Jenn Dlugos. Both come to filmmaking from the stand-up comedy world, and it shows in these three shorts, Mischief Night, Weekend Getaway, and Cat Scratch. I asked Henry a bit about how the films were made.
“Jenn is a bigger horror fan than I am,” says Henry, “but these were fun experiments to try something different. I tend to skew towards more quiet comedies. Like things that are not completely over the top or ridiculous, but more average people put in really weird circumstances. I think we incorporated this into these films.”
The similarities between humor and horror, from a standpoint of mechanics, have come up in a lot of conversations I’ve had with comedian horror fans. There’s something especially satisfying when an artist can get both of them right in one project. “I think horror and joke writing are actually pretty similar,” says Henry. “Both give you a scenario that ratchets up the tension and in one that tension is diffused with a punch line and the other a chainsaw.”
Horror might not be Henry and Dlugos’s normal beat, but there might be another short or two coming. “Well I do have a long running vision of people being terrorized on a lake by a swarm of snakes,” says Henry, “so stay tuned!”
Henry and Dlugos filmed this one at Barrett’s Haunted Mansion, a real-life haunted attraction in Abington, Ma. But Henry says the inspiration came from a different haunted house. “I remember going to Spooky World (the old cool one in Berlin) and hearing all these screams and being genuinely scared,” she says. “It was a neat blending of real and imagined fear.”
This one is stuffed with horror tropes, from the killer in the woods to the creepy little girl in the TV. “In retrospect , we probably should have included a person in a Godzilla costume,” says Henry. “Rear view is always 20/20!” It also features a fairly convincing scream, which came from an unexpected source. “The woman’s property we used for Weekend Getaway had actually won a scream contest,” says Henry. “We found this out the day we were shooting and made we sure we included it.”
Henry says this one was inspired by true-life experience. “My daughter got bit by the neighbor’s cat which was not vaccinated and my mental state for the week was pretty similar to the lead in Cat Scratch,” she says.