Years ago I saw an ad within the pages of Rue Morgue for a short film that seemed pretty interesting. It was a modern silent film (even before The Artist came out) titled The Listening Dead. The thought of someone doing a silent film in today’s day and age intrigued me, so I went online searching for it. On YouTube I found a trailer for the film. Even more intrigued I went to the website. But alas, you needed a credit card to get a DVD of the film which, at the time I did not have. The memory of the film had slipped away for a while, but recently returned and so I went back YouTube to view the trailer again. Lo and behold, the entire short film from Phil Mucci was uploaded. After years of wondering about this film, I hit play.

The Listening Dead tells the tale of Nigel and Karen, and the ghost that lives in their house. Nigel is a pianist currently in the middle of composing his latest masterpiece while the ghost that lives with them dances to the tune. Karen meanwhile, puts the finishing touches on a dress which she brings to Nigel for his approval. The pianist, not to be bothered, brushes his wife off and rebuffs her attempts at foreplay. Pisses, Karen runs upstairs and throws a tantrum, scribbling her husbands hands and face out of a photo. The result is much like that one would expect from a voodoo doll. Seeing the distress Nigel is in, the ghost rushes to his aid and gives Nigel sweet revenge.

Mucci did a great job at recreating the feel of the films that grabbed imagination before the “talkies”. His blend of modern special effects for the ghost and the simulated older scribble effect work well together. And the performances from Peter Scriba, Karen Miller, and Sarah Hund all work to convey emotion well without them being able to use their voices.

Originality: 5/5 – A wonderfully unique little film.
Story: 5/5 – Very well plotted with ends neatly tied up.
Performances: 5/5 – Actors manage to pull of credible performances with nothing but body language and facial expression.
Special Effects: 5/5 – Excellent use of modern and “vintage” effects. The Ghost is creepy and the scribble effect evokes 1920s photoplays.
Repeat Viewing: 5/5 – Add this one to your YouTube playlists folks

Score: 

Watching the whole short film led me to Mucci’s YouTube channel and another short film, Far Out. This one involves a stereotypical 1970s party and an unexpected guest. As the party rages on and the people get more and more stoned, we find that the guest is not exactly human.

Originality: 5/5 – It’s like a scene out of Cheech & Chong, only with a horrifying twist.
Story: 5/5 – Wonderfully crafted plot.
Performances: 5/5 – I can completely believe the actors are from the 70s
Special Effects: 5/5 – Effectively recreates 1970s grindhouse effects.
Repeat Viewing: 5/5 – Definitely a fun little film that I could watch often

Score: 

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