BAD BEN’s Short Films: NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (2019) / THE WITCH BITCH (2018)
Directed, written, animated by Nigel Bach.
Starring Nigel Bach, Nico Musitano, Courtney Kehr, Steve Reynolds, Mitch Marsico (NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS), Nigel Bach, Holly Barnes (THE WITCH BITCH)
You can watch BAD BEN’S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS here!!
You can watch THE WITCH BITCH here!!
I’m nothing if not thorough. So, just as I was about to check out BAD BEN 8: PANDEMIC, I discovered a pair of short films from Nigel Bach set in the Tom Riley/Bad Ben universe. And it just so happens that both of them seem to fit in with continuity. When we last left Tom Riley (played by Nigel Bach) in BAD BEN 7: THE HAUNTED HIGHWAY, he was burning the candle at both ends, splitting his time as a paranormal investigator and a ride share driver and living in a tent in the woods in hopes to save money. This is where these two short films take place.
NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is pretty much a boiled down to basics BAD BEN installment. I kind of wish all of the films were about a half hour long because this one really cuts down the meandering and gets right to the fun stuff. NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS has a new owner moving into the house on Steelmanville Road. But when he experiences strange phenomena, the new owner’s mother calls paranormal investigator Tom Riley, who has a history with the house, to rid the house of ghosts, ghouls, and demons. Turns out an evil elf queen and her two elf minions are tormenting the new owner. But Tom Riley and his book of magic knows just what to do to get rid of them.
Just about everything works in this no budgeter. The jokes, while amateurly set up and flatly delivered, really are fun, especially at this stage in the game where Riley is supposed to be some kind of expert with the unknown. I love how he clomps around the house acting like a tough guy, then winces in fear every time he sees the monsters. This short actually has a great amount of jolting jump scares and while the effects are as simple as they come, I found myself charmed and enrapt in the entire short story. It even ends with some nice Christmas cheer and one more jolt the keep you on your toes. Having endured some of the clunkier installments of the BAD BEN series, it was refreshing to see NIGHT BAFORE CHRISTMAS distill all of the good into one short film.
THE WITCH BITCH is even more fun as Nigel Bach displays his rudimentary animation skills. Of course, they’re just about as high tech as the rest of the BAD BEN productions. This time Tom Riley is trying to get the word out about his paranormal investigation service and a coven of witches call upon him to wrangle in the Jersey Devil for a mating ritual. While this fifteen-minute short film is much raunchier than all of the BAD BEN movies combined, it still possesses the dry wit and flat delivery of horror and jokes that have become the trademark of this series. This is crude animation, kind of in the same style as SOUTH PARK meets KING OF THE HILL, but it’s still a whole lot of fun, especially if you’ve seen the other BAD BEN movies.
Yes, I guess the BAD BEN series is as no budget as you can get. I get it if it’s not your thing. But few horror series sport such tight continuity, creator control, and consistency in quality jokes and scares as the BAD BEN series does. It’s success stories like Bach’s that should inspire anyone who had a dream of being a horror filmmaker to pick up a camera and do it. It’s doubtful anyone will be able to capture that z-movie schlock lightning in a bottle that Bach has, but he despite the low fi production, there are few franchises out there that captures as much fun and love of the genre as the BAD BEN series has. Next time, for real, we’ll check out BAD BEN 8: PANDEMIC!
BAD BEN Review!!
BAD BEN 2: STEELMANVILLE ROAD Review!!
BAD BEN 3: BADDER BEN Review!!
BAD BEN 4: THE MANDELA EFFECT Review!!
BAD BEN 5: THE CRESCENT MOON CLOWN Review!!
BAD BEN 6: THE WAY IN Review!!
BAD BEN 7: THE HAUNTED HIGHWAY Review!!