“An Electric Literature Single Sentence Animation” by Martha Colburn

Martha Colburn imagines Diana Wagman

Kyle Says:

“The bare expanse of her chest…”

The woman’s cut out breast, a disintegration of the accepted female archetype dismantling the gender stereotype. The animals comes out of the breast hole, symbolizing woman as a creative, primal force of nature. Superimposing the Christface over the woman’s face symbolizes the systematic male subjugation of the feminine, ritualized misogyny. The image of Cleopatra’s head over the woman in the bedroom can represent the conflict of “woman-as-a-sex object” and “woman-as-a-god-queen.” The woman in lotus pose contemplates on what comes next, liberation from gender oppression. The final shot of the man lobbing a hand grenade represents the man’s aggressive reactions.

Kevin Sees:

Painstaking stop motion frame by frame process: climb the ladder, snap a frame, climb down the ladder, move the top cut out figure slightly, climb the ladder, snap a frame, climb down the ladder… Reminiscent of the punk cinema movement, fast zooms, fast movement, overload of information flashing by, influence to early music videos and the MTV generation. Feminist movement, two sides (faces) of the woman (positive and negative imagery).

Single Sentence Animations are creative collaborations between writers published in Electric Literature and contemporary visual artists. The writer selects a single sentence from his or her work and the animator creates a short film in response.



“This year marks the twenty year anniversary of the Slaughter County murders.  Witnesses say the killer was wearing a gas mask and carrying an axe… Locals revisit the abandoned scene of the crime.  The killer was never found.” 

NITROUS THE MOVIE, a film by Preston Corbell straight out of Austin, Texas, follows a woman exploring a long abandoned murder scene.  The film plays like a first person scavenger hunt, photo-documenting the run-down house. The film occurs in real-time using long shots with minimal cutting, resulting in a visual slow burn.  Haunting organ music plays throughout, setting the pace.

The woman photographs corners, closets, junk, and the only standout objects in the house: dolls.  Then, the gas mask-clad killer appears.

The cinematography mimics first person found footage.  But who’s holding the camera?  Is it a head cam?  Is it a second person? It’s highly reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project.  The opening car shots call to mind Night of the Living Dead.  

While the film has good atmosphere and a great soundtrack,  we’re not sure what to make of it.  If it’s a slow burn, it’s too slow.  The exposition slate sets up the ‘plot,’ but it feels nebulous at best, we never learn more about it.  The film feels hastily shot, without much direction.

Are you familiar with Slenderman?  It’s a game where you scavenge for the these hidden notes, all the while, Slenderman hunts you.  You turn around, there’s Slenderman! Instead of Slenderman, we get a gas-masked axe wielder.  

Mini-Golf Massacre

…The latest endeavor from local horrorist Bobby Keller. Here’s the set up: greedy boss, disgruntled employee, murder on the putting green.

Mini Golf Massacre is a HUGE improvement over Keller’s last film, Deatherman. At 32 minutes, the piece doesn’t really drag. The speaking scenes all use multiple cuts and angles (some effective, others, not so much). The writing is tighter, the actors flow somewhat.

Unlike Deatherman, where the entire film used dirty wides to show all of the action, Keller uses a healthy selection of cut aways, camera tracking, and reverse zooms. For example, the introduction shot starts tight on Mr. Puttz juggling golf balls, pulls to the sale counter. Approximately ten minutes in, the style breaks during a filter-heavy drinking scene. It’s aesthetically reminiscent of a troma scene, or an early music video.

Like Deatherman, the death scenes carry the piece. Keller uses some absurd and inventive murder methods, including death-by-batting-cage-pitch-machine, a severed hand in a golf hole, and a decapitated head rolling down the course waterfall. The characters are not really developed. Instead, we get caricature snippets: the greedy boss, the disgruntled employee, the broski barkeep.

"...She didn't say whiiich hole!"

“…She didn’t say whiiich hole!”

Keller’s influences are obvious in this film: Troma, with over-the-top death scenes and the high pitched cartoonic main character and early slashers using the killers’ perspective during death scenes, a la Black Christmas or Dario Argento’s Opera.

The film has some technical issues. The audio levels fluctuate widely between shots. There’s loud outdoor wind one second, no sound the next. Noise often overpowers the dialogue. The backgrounds are brighter than the actors with lots of blown-out whites. Exposure control? Everything is in focus most of the time, there’s minimal depth of field. It’s not easy on the eyes or ears.

We’re not sure whether this is intentional, but the film raises an interesting moral question.  When attacked by the killer, one of the girls takes a chainsaw and chops up the masked marauder. The murderer’s murders justify the hasty counter-kill.  Social commentary on stand-your-ground-laws?  The film has dystopian threads through Mr. Puttz’ character.  The barkeep sounds an alarm when Puttz phones in a burger order.  Everyone scrambles as though he owns the town.  The desolate establishing shots of the golf park present it like prison rather than family fun center. Social commentary on wage slavery?

Mini Golf Massacre is more comedy than horror. If you take it lightly, with a few beers and friends (or people who worked on the production), it’s an enjoyable watch. If you’re looking for a serious horror film… It’s probably not for you.  The structure and necessary pieces are there, but it lacks polish.

Marty’s House

…starts out as an experimental film with long one-shot scenes using slow, choppy movement reminiscent of early cinema. We see mostly reds and blown out whites. The psychedelic, post-rock music pulls the viewer into the dream imagery. A stagely-looking man leads a woman through his house in a daze. We feel out of time, like watching the past through a sunset puddle. She passes out after looking in the bathroom mirror. The man places her in a seat in his eclectic, cluttered yard, adding her to his collection. He drinks a deep, red staining liquid from his wine glass. It almost looks like blood. He pours the liquid in her mouth and…

...an eclectic cinema verite about a man's passion for his belongings.

…an eclectic cinema verite about a man’s passion for his belongings.

She laughs?

The frame rate changes. Dialogue comes in. The camera shakes. What’s going on?

The dream imagery comes back with side on shots as the man dresses, then drives away from his house. The shadows retain color as everything else blows out into white.

The style finally lapses into amateur, cellphonic documentatary as the man talks to a woman in her store. From this point on, the film stays in documentary mode as the man, Marty, talks about his house, his aggregation of stuff, and his financial troubles. At one point, Marty mentions dismantling and rebuilding his bathroom, much like how the director builds and dismantles the style of the piece.

The different parts of this piece all work on their own, but clash when combined. The documentary segments lack polish. The mood and vision of the experimental segments do not transfer to the later portions of the film. The limited color palette and bleach bypass help establish Marty in the experiment, but become bad film making choices in the documentary (blown-out highlights, bad audio, muffling car traffic, subjects talking to the camera operator).

We seeing a lot of Dogme 95 in this piece… Handheld camera, sync sound, and natural’ish lighting. Specifically Harmony Korine and Lars von Trier. We also see an homage to Jack Smith and Grey Gardens, where the viewer is in the documentee’s environment, experiencing as they engage.

Marty’s House is stuck between two film styles that don’t easily mesh. This piece would work better if it stuck closer to one style. If this is documentary, is the viewer supposed to question Marty selling off his collection? If this is an experimental film, we don’t need the formal interviews and extraneous information, we can just walk with Marty.

You can check out clips of Marty’s House and other works from Marshmallow Press Productions at their Vimeo page. http://vimeo.com/marshmallowpress


Living in monotonous doldrums, only finding solace in sleep. The eyes close and DEVIL GIRL CHOKES YOU AWAKE! NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!

…Hypnophobia is the third film from Scranton horrorist Adam Dunning. This psychodrama follows a tormented mental patient and her doctor as they attempt to solve her psychosis. Every night, Sam is visited by a mutilated child bombarding her with cryptic messages. Dr. Peters tries to prove that her nightmares are unfounded, chaos ensues. The film is a mixed bag. It’s good story is mired with subpar presentation.

Hypnophobia has a few technical issues. The audio suffers from excessive clipping at louder moments and seems distant during quiet scenes. This disengages the viewer from the atmosphere and narrative. Next, cinematography… The camera often shifts focal length mid-shot. This technique might work in an experimental film, but it feels sloppy for a narrative, as if the shots weren’t adequately planned. The visuals have little cinematic appeal. Everything is in focus, little stands out. Dslrs provide serious depth of field, however, the shot choices favor a VHS video aesthetic. Also, Sam has an awfully nice manicure for a mental patient. We find the acting decent. The Rovins give tolerable performances. Ron Muir’s dejected cynicism provides a needed catharsis midway through.

The narrative suffers from too much exposition. The set up happens through a lengthy dialogue in the first minutes of the film. We know everything that’s happening and why. Normally, the viewer attaches to film characters from their behaviors and actions, not their words. This would be more effective if told through visuals. Even if we didn’t know what was going on at that moment, we’d find out soon enough and would be more invested because of it. .

To its credit, Hypnophobia uses an awesome location and an equally effective establishing shot. The dismal color palette sets the mood well. The overbearing whites and greys of the mental hospital trap us in stagnation. The characters’ clothes offer the only color splashes. The film’s shorter length shaves off much unnecessary dialogue present in Dunning’s earlier works. We feel Hypnophobia is a definite step in the right direction and we look forward to seeing Dunning’s future projects. We give this a 3-MB FLOPPY.

Hypnophobia will be screening soon, in the meantime, you can check out the trailer here: