Short horror film made by local filmmaker showing in Tampa tonight

Local musician Thomas Crane premieres his short film, 'Halloween Party' at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas.

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click to enlarge What's behind the door, you ask? Only Ben (Sean Michael Gloria) knows for sure, but he's dying for you to find out. - killDevil Films/Thomas Crane
killDevil Films/Thomas Crane
What's behind the door, you ask? Only Ben (Sean Michael Gloria) knows for sure, but he's dying for you to find out.

Thomas Crane knew he wanted to direct a narrative film.

After years spent directing music videos and doing video production, the singer for Marion Crane, Crane, 34, of Clearwater, called on friends and associates to help his company, killDevil Films, develop and shoot Halloween Party, a 38-minute short horror film, which was inspired by classics like Psycho and The Shining.

The end result, which intersperses color and black and white, is rich in atmosphere, dark in tone and benefits substantially from its leading man, Sean Michael Gloria, who gained national exposure earlier this year in Followers, a low-budget found-footage feature shot in Pinellas County.

“Sean is a fantastic actor, and he really got the part,” Crane said. “I didn’t even really have to give him much direction. He just understood it.”

Halloween Party is set in 1995. Gloria plays Ben, a local firefighter who is busy on Halloween night dishing out candy and preparing for his annual party. There’s something not right, though. After a bloodied woman named Judith shows up on Ben’s porch with a suitcase, Ben takes the opportunity to discuss the history of the night, delving deep into Samhain lore, and to bemoan the holiday's loss of purity. 

“Halloween used to mean something,” Ben tells Judith. “Now it’s just a marketing ploy for K-Mart and an excuse for teenagers to fuck.”

Before the night is through, both Judith's story and Ben’s party plans will collide in ways both unexpected and decidedly bloody.

click to enlarge Judith (Alanna Dawn) may have picked the wrong house on Halloween night to stop and ask for help. - killDevil Films/Thomas Crane
killDevil Films/Thomas Crane
Judith (Alanna Dawn) may have picked the wrong house on Halloween night to stop and ask for help.

Crane said given his budgetary constraints, he tried to focus his narrative on a single location, Ben’s house, which is actually his production manager’s home in New Port Richey. He filmed for two days, and once he began editing, he realized his decision to frame certain scenes in black and white made more sense.

“It may not be obvious on the first watch, but there’s definitely a reason for it,” Crane said.

Since completing his passion project, Crane has been researching film festivals to submit Halloween Party, even though it falls short of a feature-length movie and runs longer than the average short film.

For now, he’s basking in the local response. When Crane announced that Halloween Party would have its premiere on October 30 at Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas, he didn’t expect the screening to sell out within days. Despite all tickets being sold, Crane said there will be a pre-party at the theater, which is open to the public, with a cash bar and small bites an hour before the premiere.

“Essentially, this was very much a creative thing. I wanted to do it,” he said. “I know I eventually want to do features. This was a good, get-your-feet-wet, build to bigger productions down the road.”

John W. Allman has spent more than 25 years as a professional journalist and writer, but he’s loved movies his entire life. Good movies, awful movies, movies that are so gloriously bad you can’t help but champion them. Since 2009, he has cultivated a review column and now a website dedicated to the genre films that often get overlooked and interviews with cult cinema favorites like George A. Romero, Bruce Campbell and Dee Wallace. Contact him at bloodviolenceandbabes.com, on Facebook or on Twitter.


If you go

Halloween Party premiere screening | Oct. 30: pre-party, 7 p.m.; screening, 8:15 p.m. | Carrollwood Villagio Cinemas, 11778 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa | killDevil Films 

About The Author

John W. Allman

John W. Allman has spent more than 25 years as a professional journalist and writer, but he’s loved movies his entire life. Good movies, awful movies, movies that are so gloriously bad you can’t help but champion them. Since 2009, he has cultivated a review column and now a website dedicated to the genre films...
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