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The Case of Evil

When a down-on-his-luck blues musicians travels to the country to buy a guitar he suspects was stolen from him many years earlier, he finds that its hoodoo-practicing owner is reluctant to hand over the instrument, and she's got something more on her agenda than a simple sale.

  • Neal Hallford
    Director
  • Jana Hallford
    Director
  • Neal Hallford
    Writer
  • Jana Hallford
    Writer
  • Neal Hallford
    Producer
  • Jana Hallford
    Producer
  • Merrick McCartha
    Key Cast
    Criminal Minds, The Fatal Heir, U Pack It, Scandal, Jesse
  • Rebecca Sausedo
    Key Cast
  • Carvin Knowles
    Music
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Genres:
    Horror, Suspense, Supernatural
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 48 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 31, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    1,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    AVCHD
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Horrible Imaginings Horror Film Festival
    San Diego, CA
    October 12, 2014
    World Premiere
  • San Diego Fall Film Festival
    San Diego, CA
    November 14, 2014
    1st Place Best Horror / Sci Fi / Thriller / Action Film, 1st Place Audience Choice Award, 2nd Place Best Trailer
  • Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival
    Miami, Florida
    January 23, 2015
  • San Diego Film Awards
    San Diego, CA
    March 7, 2015
    Nominee for Best Short Screenplay
  • Clean Shorts Film Festival
    Choctaw, Oklahoma
    April 3, 2015
  • The Bare Bones International Independent Film & Music Festival
    Muskogee, Oklahoma
    April 10, 2015
    Nominee for Best Horror Film
  • Granite State Film Festival
    Nashua, New Hampshire
    April 11, 2015
    Best Black & White Film
  • Twister Alley International Film Festival
    Woodward, Oklahoma
    April 24, 2015
  • CthulhuCon PDX
    Portland, Oregon
    April 25, 2015
  • Slaughter Movie House
    Kansas City, MO
    May 4, 2015
  • Cinebodega Film Festival
    Woodland Hills, CA
    May 22, 2015
  • Phoenix ComicCon Film Festival
    Phoenix, Arizona
    May 28, 2015
  • Sanford International Film Festival
    Sanford, Maine
    May 27, 2015
  • Dead In Decatur
    Decatur, Illinois
    June 12, 2015
  • Calgary Horror Con
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    June 20, 2015
    Canadian Premiere
  • On Location: Memphis Shorts Festival
    Memphis, Tennessee
    July 7, 2015
  • GenCon Film Festival
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    July 31, 2015
    Indiana Premiere
  • Genre Fest 2015
    Burbank, CA
    August 1, 2015
    Best Actor In a Grindhouse Film - Merrick McCartha
  • Fantasmagorical Film Festival
    Louisville, Kentucky
    August 7, 2015
  • InShort Film Festival
    London, England
    September 4, 2015
    European Premiere
  • Dragon*Con Independent Short Film Festival
    Atlanta, Georgia
    September 7, 2015
    Best Horror Film (finalist)
  • Motor City Nightmares Film Fest
    Novi, Michigan
    September 11, 2015
    Michigan Premiere
  • H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon
    Portland, Oregon
    October 3, 2015
  • Red Dirt International Film Festival
    Stillwater, Oklahoma
    October 9, 2015
  • Sacramento Horror Film Fest
    Sacramento, California
    October 9, 2015
    Northern California Premiere
  • Lake Charles Film Festival
    Lake Charles, Louisiana
    October 9, 2015
    Louisiana Premiere
  • Wreak Havoc Horror Film Fest
    Wadesboro, North Carolina
    October 9, 2015
  • Scream In the Dark Film Festival
    Omaha, Nebraska
    October 16, 2015
    Nebraska Premiere
  • Tri-Cities International Film Festival
    Richland, WA
    October 16, 2015
    Washington Premiere
  • Colorado Horror Con & Halloween Film Fest
    Northglenn, CO
    October 30, 2015
    Colorado Premiere
  • Bastrop Film and Music Festival
    Bastrop, Texas
    November 12, 2015
  • PDXtreme Underground Film Festival
    Portland, OR
    December 4, 2015
  • Northern Frights Film Festival

    October 24, 2015
  • Halloweenapalooza
    Ottumwa, Iowa
    October 31, 2015
    Iowa Premiere
  • Zed Fest Film Festival
    Burbank, CA
    November 8, 2015
    Oustanding Acting Performance - Merrick McCartha
  • Buried Alive Film Festival
    Atlanta ,Georgia
    November 15, 2015
  • I Filmmaker International Film Festival
    Marbella, Malaga, Spain
    December 4, 2015
    Spain Premiere
  • Macabre Faire Film Festival
    Long Island, NY
    January 16, 2016
    New York Premiere
  • Ozark Shorts Screening Series
    Lamar, MO
    United States
    October 1, 2016
Director Biography - Neal Hallford, Jana Hallford

WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Neal Hallford: An avid fan of classic Universal and Hammer horror movies, Neal credits The Plenty Scary Movie -- a Tulsa late-night horror show -- for his life-long love of the genre. Inspired by CINEMAGIC magazine, he first took up filmmaking as a teenager, but only began to seriously pursue making his own movies when the costs of production dropped enough that he could afford to make his cinematic dreams a reality.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Neal holds a degree in radio, television, and film production. Prior to jumping into the arena of independent film production in 2009, he established a reputation as an award-winning writer and computer game designer, best known for the computer role-playing games "Betrayal at Krondor," "Dungeon Siege," "Champions of Norrath" and others. He continues to work regularly as a game designer, film producer, media consultant, and fiction author. "The Case of Evil" is his first horror film in what he hopes will be the start of a series of "vintage" horror shorts.

WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Jana Hallford: Jana earned her entertainment credentials early, covering rockstars of the art world like Andy Warhol, Christo, and Robert Rauschenberg for her college newspaper and the La Jolla Light. She also wrote features about the still-developing San Diego ComicCon before it became the cultural phenomena that it is today. Parlaying her art writing into public relations work, she went on to do direct marketing and trade show exhibits for a book publisher. In 1994, she provided background material to the SciFi Channel for their marathons of the original Beauty and the Beast TV series. In addition to her producer's responsibilities for Swords & Circuity Studios, she is an award-winning artist and photographer, and has had her work shown in national and international juried shows.

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Director Statement

"The Case of Evil" is a movie firmly rooted in the past. It's studiously anti-modern, eschewing decades of technical innovations in favor of the simpler conventions of early cinema. The camera sticks stubbornly in place, only moving when absolutely necessary. The dialogue is intentionally sentimental and "speechy", reflective of the theatrical style that ruled in the age between the fall of Jazz and the rise of Rock and Roll. Adhering strictly to the movie code of the era, even the language is profanity-free, and the gunplay bloodless. Despite that the movie was shot and edited in 2014, we made every effort to behave as though we were a "B" film unit shooting a low-budget horror movie in 1941.

When we accepted the challenge from Horrible Imaginings Film Festival to submit a short, it would have been simpler to choose a less complicated horror genre. Slasher movies are cheap and relatively easy to film. Zombie movies rule at the box office and on television, so it would have been a more logical crowd pleaser. What we choose to do instead was follow our passion and shoot a gothic-flavored period piece that would hark back to the classic black and white movies we grew up loving. We wanted a movie that felt like you could put in on your DVD shelf right between "Dracula" and "The Wolf Man" and it wouldn't feel out of place. You could run it as a short reel before one of those classic monster movies, and you wouldn't even bat an eye because it had the same kind of feel, the same story rhythm. Everything had to be right, down to the pop and hiss of the audio track.

The challenge, of course, was to find two actors who could emulate that acting style and feel natural. We didn't want camp. From day one we'd known we'd be casting Merrick because he's already got such an old-school movie star quality about him. He's butter on screen. He can go in an instant from the nice guy next door to a Cagney stone-cold killer, and you love him either way. With Rebecca it was more of a gamble. She was a first time-actress, but from the moment she stepped on set, she radiated this grand-dame-of-the-stage presence that simply commanded attention. She starts off like Maria Ouspenskaya, but there's a moment that she's got this whip-crack line delivery that you swear is Bette Davis back from the dead, and we all got chills. Once those two got rolling, it was easy to forget were were in the 21st century.

In the end, "The Case of Evil" is a love letter to a genre of film that shaped generations. We hid under the coffee table in the dark as the Triffids invaded earth, while the Creature watched his love forlornly from his black lagoon. We all grew up being told that they don't make 'em that way any more...but that doesn't mean we SHOULDN'T.