Fans of vintage horror such as Murders in the Zoo (1933), Mad Love (1935), The Cat and the Canary (1927), and other classics from Universal and MGM will find much to like in writer/director/producer Rebekah Fieschi’s new short horror-comedy film Mauvaises Têtes (Bad Heads). From its black-and-white cinematography to its use of practical special effects, this short pays tribute to cinematic terrors of yesteryear while introducing some fresh talents.
Bored, lonely bartender Jenny (Alice Dessuant) daydreams of having competing suitors while her coworker Ginger (Lindsay Ryan) flirts with customers. One stormy night, Jenny decides to put on her best flapper threads and go find herself a fella (Joe Zaso) in a most deadly manner. She then determines that one pretty face is not enough for her, so she hunts for more men for when her moods change.
Alice Dessuant radiates charm as a psychopath with big romantic daydreams. Other than a fitting introduction from a dapper host (Diako Diakoff) to this “macabre account” of a “lovesick heart” that spirals down into “an abyss of blood-curdling madness,” Rebekah Fieschi’s script for Mauvaises Têtes (Bad Heads) uses dialogue sparingly, so much of Dessuant’s performance is driven by her splendid use of facial features – sometimes as subtle as a sideways quivering of the mouth, other times more showy – and her body language. She blends the delightful and the diabolical impressively.
Rebekah Fieschi has done a marvelous job creating an authentic-feeling slice of the 1920s, aided by crisp black-and-white cinematography from Dominick Sivilli. The set design for Mauvaises Têtes (Bad Heads) is striking, especially in Jenny’s bedsit; the wallpaper alone is remarkable! The stormy cemetery set is well done, too. Bradley Bloom’s score, with its jarring organ and plaintive strings, perfectly fits the short’s atmosphere.
Mauvaises Têtes (Bad Heads) features practical effects that would have been right at home in movies from the flapper era that the film portrays and that were staples of the horror genre for decades after that. To avoid spoiler territory, I won’t specifically mention what they are, but Jessie Eden’s work should bring nostalgic smiles and grimaces alike to fright fare fans. I will say that the short boasts one of my favorite old-fashioned movie effects: rain only behind the actor!
Horromance Productions’ Mauvaises Têtes (Bad Heads) (www.mauvaisestetes.com) is a winsome horror comedy that dishes up chills along with some creepy practical special effects. It is currently on the film festival circuit; I recommend seeking it out.
Mauvaises Têtes (Bad Heads): (4 / 5)