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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

‘Smile’ and 10 Other Horror Movies Based on Short Films

There are typically three destinations for a short horror film. Most of the time, they stay short and sweet. Another common outcome for these quick flicks is their joining others in compilation movies (also known as “frankenthologies”). As for the last and most fortunate fate, a short might be turned into something bigger.

There is a long history of horror shorts being made into full-length features. The Evil DeadSaw, Mama, The Babadook and Lights Out are just some prime examples. And with Parker Finn‘s Smile (based on Laura Hasn’t Slept) continuing the tradition in theaters this weekend, now is a good time to check out other similar transformations.

Larry (Come Play)

In Jacob Chase’s effective short Larry, the attendant in a paid parking lot gets the scare of his life when he spots something ghastly one night. Paramount later gave Chase the opportunity to direct and write a larger movie based on Larry, which includes a scene directly inspired by the original short. Rather than just a guy on stilts, though, the big-screen Larry in Come Play is the work of the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Dara (Macabre)

Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto’s Macabre is a little less easy to come by, though its source material is readily available. In the 2007 Indonesian short Dara by Kimo and Timo (collectively The Mo Brothers), the title character owns a popular restaurant. And after she invites a customer back to her place for dinner, we learn where she gets her meat from. The same directors’ 2009 adaptation keeps some of the short’s principal cast, changes a few details in the story, and magnifies the violence.


Richard Bates, Jr. shot his short Excision inside his parents’ garage in Virginia, which is still apparently stained in fake blood. The feature adaptation was filmed in less than a month in Los Angeles, and after its spot at Sundance in 2012, Excision gained praise for its humor, gutsiness and lead actor. Bates originally didn’t want to cast AnnaLynne McCord as the surgical savant, but he ultimately made the right decision.

The Sitter (When a Stranger Calls)

The oldest short here is also a goodie for When a Stranger Calls fans. The Sitter was hard to come by until a recent restoration of Fred Walton’s first feature. In fact, Walton was the one who directly provided the 35mm answer print for Second Sight’s Blu-ray restoration. Anyone familiar with the 1979 cult classic will get déjà vu as they watch this rarity; the movie’s iconic first act is a beat-for-beat remake of this suspenseful short film.

Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan (Oculus)

While Mike Flanagan’s Oculus was shot in 2012, then released in 2014, the original horror short was made in 2005. Around that time, parties were indeed interested in a full-length take on Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan, but Flanagan declined when they asked for a found-footage treatment. He simply said the format wouldn’t work with this story. Nevertheless, the longer feature was made in the end, and Flanagan has gone to become one of the most distinct voices in contemporary horror.

Tooth Fairy (Darkness Falls)

Tooth Fairy Darkness Falls Joe Harris

Joe Harris is better known as a writer for comic books these days, but back in 2001, he made a nasty short called Tooth Fairy. The short ultimately became the inspiration for 2003’s Darkness Falls, though Harris didn’t direct the adaptation. Jonathan Liebesman instead took on the tale of a spectral tooth collector. The short, which is hard to come by on home video, was reimagined as the opening (and for many, the best part) of Darkness Falls.

Rare Exports Inc. (Rare Exports)

short film

The Finnish fantasy-horror movie Rare Exports came to be after the commercial production company Woodpecker put out a 2003 short film directed and written by Jalmari Helander. The short was so popular, a sequel was put out two years later called Rare Exports Inc: The Official Safety Instructions. Helander intended to make a third short, but he was encouraged to pursue a movie instead. The biggest problem he found was how he would expand on the short. He eventually realized the best course was to follow the backstory he had conceived.

Season’s Greetings (Trick ‘r Treat)

The fan-favorite Halloween-themed anthology Trick ‘r Treat began as an animated short in 1996. Michael Dougherty created the clip Season’s Greetings at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Animation Department. And according to Dougherty, the short “was created using a twist on traditional animation methods, with each drawing painstakingly hand colored with markers then glued to clear animation cels and shot on 16mm film.” Cartoon Sushi fans may remember Season’s Greetings from its Halloween special.

They Live Inside Us

Originally a part of an anthology called The Witching Season, Michael Ballif’s segment They Live Inside Us was spun off into its own full-length movie. Successful crowdfunding financed the indie pic, which was primarily shot in Nephi, Utah. The short and movie share the same setup; a writer spends a chaotic Halloween night inside a supposedly haunted house (the Edwin Robert Booth House in real life). This wouldn’t be the first time a part of an anthology was fleshed out; Amateur Night from V/H/S was singled out and transformed into the 2016 movie Siren.

The Body

Originally a standalone short, Paul Fischer and Paul Davis’ The Body was met with acclaim when it was shown at various film fests in 2014. Davis originally wanted Mark Gatiss or Sean Harris for the lead role, the killer who hides in plain sight on Halloween, but the part finally went to Alfie Allen. And before the short was made into the premiere episode of Blumhouse’s telefilm series Into the Dark, it was spotted in the anthology movie Patient Seven.

Smile opens in theaters on September 30.

The post ‘Smile’ and 10 Other Horror Movies Based on Short Films appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

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