Mourningside Productions has been with The Blood Sprayer since our wee inception. They passed on their short film, Behold, years back and it caught me off guard. It was a no budget short that packed so much intense atmosphere that I could barely sit still while watching it. I was instantly a fan. Since then, the folks at MSP have not only consistently put out material that conjures up classic-styled fear, but they’ve also done it all on their own terms. Damn the man, so to speak. This endeared them to us. Over time, I’ve not only become a greater and greater fan of MSP’s films, but also I consider these folks friends. As a friend, I’ve always felt it was my duty to view their art as objectively as possible…that’s easier said than done, obviously, as it can be very easy to start rooting for folks like these. Nonetheless, my Baltimorian brothas trust me to give an honest critique and that’s what I’m fixin’ to do, sans ANY spoilers. Why do I preface with this? Well, I’ll close with that.
First things first, let us give you a brief rundown of what Nightmares Through The Needle is all about. NTTN is an anthology presented in the traditional EC Comics style ala’ Creepshow. There within lies 3 tales of terror woven together by a wraparound. The wraparound story is that of Clive. He and his parents have just moved into a new home in a tranquil setting. There’s just one hitch: The house holds a little memento in the form of a record and player. Once the house is asleep, Clive is compelled to give the record a listen. The record is narrated by a fiendish voice who’s soul purpose is to scare young Clive into submisson; make him turn off the record and walk away, consumed in fear. The chosen method of fear comes in the form of 3 different tales, each with its own form of fright. Clive’s endurance is tested with every passing tale. Will he come out on the winning side and is there even a winning side to all of this?
What makes Nightmares appealing is what makes all of MSP’s films appealing. These guys understand how to generate fear in open, eerie spaces. They’re willing to let a scene breath and make the viewer squirm via their environment. Their isn’t that reliance on gore tactics in their work. A prime example of that is the second story in NTTN, Up Jumped The Devil. This particular vignette is driven by the characters’ emotional levels and the good ol’ dark of night. The dilemmas are ethical and if you ask me, there’s nothing scarier than having to figure out the correct ethical side of the coin. Who’s giving you the real story? Do you listen to the angel or the devil on your shoulder? MSP is well-versed in this style of storytelling. All 3 of the short films within Nightmares are tapped into true human emotion. The raw nerves that expose our mourning, our regrets, our sorrow, our fear of the unknown/unseen…the most terrifying parts of the human mind. This being the chosen path these filmmakers have taken isn’t necessarily an easy one, but it’s what makes their film unique in the independent horror market. Nightmares Through The Needle doesn’t wave parlor tricks in your face. Instead, it evokes human shortcomings as it’s source of conflict, while neatly packaging those in a timeless horror fashion. It’s truly inspired indie filmmaking. The performances are even and consistent with the material, the settings are always crucial to the story, and this time around they even made some callbacks to previous films. Basically, Nightmares is Mourningside Productions coming full circle and establishing themselves as an independent horror film crew to take notice of. Consider this a perfect example of this collective’s abilities.
I was trying to not give ANYTHING away in my description of Nightmares Through The Needle. In the 3 stories within the movie (Brookview, the aforementioned Up Jumped The Devil, and Stares From The Staircase), you will find a piece of Mourningside’s history. Take Stares From The Staircase for example (which will make your skin crawl, by the way); if you’ve seen their previous film, Behold, then you’ll find the set piece quite familiar. Some of the faces are familiar, but used in a way that makes them new to the viewer. That abiding faith in their abilities is what makes their work essential low budget filmmaking!!! Call me selfish, but I want to make that as clear to the reader as possible because I want people to buy their flicks. At times, their work is hindered with limitation due to budget restraints. Nothing that isn’t common amongst the DIY circuit, mind you(camera quality, audio quality). Nonetheless, these are things that can be improved simply by purchasing their films. For example, Nightmares is $12 through their website. $12?! That’s it!! And that’s not paying into some corporate studio bullshit, either. It’s going toward a great film crew moving forward and continuing to make original horror. Look, these dudes are more than competent as writers and directors. Hell, they do ALL of it on their own! That includes the music, any effects work necessary, etc. This is a talented bunch. But if I’ve learned anything from running and writing for this website, it’s that our wants as fans only go so far until we actually put up before the time comes to shut up. A company like Mourningside? They’re you. They’re me. They’re very much a part of this specific community. As they continue their quest to scare their audiences, we are able to contribute to that by buying the work their putting out. I’m quite aware that I’m putting myself out there by asking you, the readers, to spend your money when I didn’t have to. Yes, this film was sent to me for free, with the specific idea in mind that I would watch it and review it. But, I just don’t feel like that’s enough. I know how hard these guys work. And that same sentiment goes to loads of filmmakers we support via our website. Chris LaMartina, Chris Seaver, Henrique Couto, Dustin Wayde Mills, James Bickert, Astron-6, Drew Bolduc…the list could go on. Fuck it, it DOES go on!!! People who have/do write for this site like Joshua Hull, Mike Dobrzelecki, Zach Shildwachter all have made films and are currently working on more. I believe in all these artists and I want as many people as possible to know just how talented they are. So, at the risk of seeming nepotistic, I encourage our readers to purchase the works all these filmmakers put out or donate to their Kickstarters and IndieGoGo’s. I can assure you, we do the same. Despite the fact that we receive a lot of these screeeners directly from the filmmakers themselves, our convictions lie with supporting them. Every convention any of us attend, we’re spending money on these production companies and others like them. It keeps this wheel in motion and that is why I am encouraging you to do the same, if you deem it worthy. I’ve been watching the movies Mourningside Productions makes since the start of The Blood Sprayer and I will continue to do so, so long as they’re making them. I want our readers to have the same experience. They’ve made fresh, fantastic horror movies in a timeless style that feels familiar, yet endorses the new. Nightmares Through The Needle keeps Mourningside Productions streak of great horror films alive. I feel fortunate that I get to see their progression as a team and I want to share that good fortune. Hence the reason I encourage you to visit their website and purchase a few of their movies.
Alright, I’ve been on my soapbox for long enough. This is a great independent horror film. It’s a lot of fun and it’s made with a fan’s heart. I stand impressed once again by MSP. Great work to all involved. My only request of them at this point is to get their movies into Cinema Wasteland in Strongsville, Ohio. Their work would be understood and appreciated at that convention. It’s time they make a trek to the Buckeye State and show them what their made of!
Tags: Astron-6, Baltimore, Behold, Chris LaMartina, Chris Seaver, Cinema Wasteland, Drew Bolduc, Grayhaven, Henrique Cuoto, independent filmmakers, Independent Horror, James Bickert, Joshua Hull, Mourningside Productions, Ohio, Strongsville, The Blood Sprayer