Daily Horror Film Fest: The Hug

All good things must come to a bloody end, and sadly, it is time for the final installment of this year’s Daily Horror Film Fest. But I have saved the scariest for last. This month, you have seen ghosts. You have seen serial killers. You have seen murderous trees and zombies and the thing with tentacles behind the furnace. Now, witness something that strikes fear in the hearts of the wicked. It’s… a child’s birthday party.

Our final entry for this year comes as a suggestion from DoT Podcast EP5 guest Michael J. Epstein, who will be on again in December with Sophia Cacciola in December for a horror movie year-end wrap up. Michael told me about the films on Hulu’s Huluween Film Fest. There are a lot of great films in contention for ten thousand bucks and a bunch of promotion on Hulu’s social media, and all that happens today for whichever short got the most views. I’m glad to present this on the day the winner is announced so I’m not favoring one film in the contest. I may wind up presenting others down the road, but The Hug, written and directed by Jack Bishop and Justin Nijm, speaks to my heart.

Maybe I’m a little nostalgic for when Chuck E. Cheese used to be kind of dark and dangerous, when the video games had a body count and the big kids would steal your quarters if you hogged the Dragon’s Lair machine for too long. Pandory’s Pan Pizza Palace captures a little bit of that magic for me again, complete with a singing animatronic character that lurks in the shadows and lures children into his demonic show. The short starts with children running wild around Pandory’s, vexing the poor schlub whose job it is to keep order out on the floor. Little Aiden, a mix of Max from Where the Wild Things Are and Veruca Salt, wants his floor show. And it’s up to Pandory, the hero of the story, to fulfill Aiden’s wish, even if he should be on break.

This has everything scary in it. Children. Hugs. A pizza that looks like it was assembled from the defeated corpses of other pizzas. Large keychains. Pizza jingles. Wagging tails. It’s an embarrassment of terror riches.

If you like indie film shorts, keep checking back on this blog. I plan to continue featuring shorts that have finished their cycle on the festival circuit, and talk to the filmmakers. There are so many great short films out there in a state of semi-retirement. The festivals are over and the filmmakers have moved on, and there isn’t a good market to keep up the interest. I’m hoping to provide a little boost for films that deserved another look. And if you’re a filmmaker, feel free to get in touch by e-mail or through social media and send me what you’ve made.

The Daily Horror Film Fest will resurrect itself vengefully on October 1, 2019. Until then, Happy Halloween!

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