DIY Creature Features on a Zero Budget: Four Short Films from Andrea Ricca

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Andrea Ricca is an Italian filmmaker with a strong do-it-yourself ethic. He has made about 20 shorts since 1998, often focusing on creature features that harken back to the classic giant monster or alien invasion movies that many horror and science fiction movie fans hold dear to our hearts. He posts his short films for viewers to watch free on his website and on YouTube, where he has found considerable success. Ricca has released four shorts so far this year, which I will review in this article.

It is important to note that Andrea Ricca’s shorts are no-budget affairs usually having one actress, or Ricca himself if the story calls for a male lead instead, and one or more CGI creatures. Ricca handles everything from screenplay to postproduction himself, using only an HD camera and a PC. Though you know you are looking at zero-budget special effects, the filmmaker does an overall nice job of rendering his monsters, aliens, and ghosts, and knows his limitations.

Andrea Ricca’s short films usually have no dialogue, relying on action and sometimes humor to tell their stories. Character development is almost nonexistent, as viewers are basically introduced to a human protagonist and a creature right away, and we then watch the main character do her or his best to outwit whatever malevolent force is in pursuit.

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Writer/director Andrea Ricca stars as a government agent battling the titular characters of Alien Worms.

Let’s take a look at Andrea Ricca’s 2016 offerings, starting with Alien Worms. This is a science fiction effort in which the titular characters begin an invasion in a rural house. Unfortunately for them, a member of the United States UFOBI (Ricca) arrives on the scene quickly. He does his best to survive – sometimes using hilarious high-tech sunglasses – while encountering increasing numbers of ever-larger alien worms around what seems like every corner.

This short differs slightly from Andrea Ricca’s usual format in that the protagonist is a man rather than a comely young lady. The writer/director turns in an entertaining performance, although a couple of times the character’s sense of desperation doesn’t seem too heightened considering the circumstances. The worms are the big draw, of course, and should bring a smile to the faces of fans of Tremors.

Alien Worms: (3 / 5)

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The Giant Scorpion is an amusing modern take on classic giant monster movies of the 1950s. A comet from space crashes, causing a hapless scorpion to grow to enormous proportions. The oversized arachnid searches for its first meal and finds the short film’s heroine (Ilaria Lamberti) asleep under a copy of Fangoria, which leads viewers to think that she may well have a good idea of how to defend herself in situations like the one she is about to face. A fun battle between the two ensues.

Though viewers don’t learn the hows or whys of our heroine’s survival skills, Lamberti gives an enjoyable performance as her character uses some unexpected measures to combat her uninvited guest. She emotes well, especially considering that the thing chasing her isn’t added until after her scenes have been shot.

The Giant Scorpion: (3 / 5)

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Noises is the shortest of Andrea Ricca’s 2016 efforts, ending at around 32 seconds before the final credits kick in. It’s basically a quick build to a jump scare involving a man (Ricci) alone at his computer. He keeps hearing sounds that seem to be ordinary ones, but gets a shock at the end.

Ricca does a decent job of acting flummoxed but seems to register less surprise than what might be expected when his character sees something frightening. I won’t spoil exactly what that is, but the CGI baddie has a very short appearance.

Noises: (2.5 / 5)

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Ilaria Lamberti stars in both The Spirit Board (pictured here) and The Giant Scorpion.

The Spirit Board is the latest offering from Andrea Ricca, in which a young woman (Ilaria Lamberti) moves into a house that she just bought. She smiles as she uncovers a Ouija board, but avid horror fans know that her smile won’t last long. She lets loose an evil presence that has diabolical plans for her.

The demon here has an impressive skeletal look and it knows how to handle a firearm. As in The Giant Scorpion, Ilaria Lamberti turns in a spirited performance as the protaganist. The Spirit Board shows Andrea Ricca breaking some new ground as a filmmaker, using differing color palettes along with new editing techniques and camera angles.

The Spirit Board: (3 / 5)

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Andrea Ricca’s shorts are labors of love from a filmmaker who clearly grew up admiring creature features enough to want to make them himself. Viewers looking for intricately weaved plots, new approaches to monster movies, or deep messages won’t find that in Ricca’s works to this point, but those looking for fun, short versions of creature features akin to modern versions of Blackhawk or Castle brand 8mm condensed films will have a blast.

You can watch these and other Andrea Ricca short films for free and learn more about the filmmaker at Andrearicca.it.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.