[Review] Uncle Otto’s Truck (Crimson Screen Horror Film FestFest): A Man’s Obsession with a Derelict Truck Leads to Terror

Writer/Director Dan Sellers and his Wreak Havoc Productions cast and crew deliver a stellar Stephen King adaptation with their latest short film, Uncle Otto’s Truck. The short story of the same name — part of King’s Dollar Baby Program — was published in the author’s Skeleton Crew collection, and Sellers has done the tale great cinematic justice.

Jennie Stencel narrates the film in her role as the niece of Otto Schenck (Michael Burke, The Haunting of Four Points), a man who was once a wealthy businessman in Castle Rock, Maine. He turned his inheritance during the post-depression era (Devlin Burke plays the younger version of Otto during this time period) into an even larger fortune after joining forces with business partner George McCutcheon (Tom Gore, Blood of the Mummy). After a drunken joyride together leads to their truck breaking down, McCutcheon dies under mysterious circumstances and town gossip soon has Schenk responsible for his partner’s death. Schenk becomes a paranoid recluse who suspects that the old heap of a truck standing in an empty lot across from his house has nefarious designs on him.

Stencel’s narration is wonderful as she relates the story with a relaxed, intimate style, giving the telling a charming “lived-in” feel. Michael Burke is super as the cantankerous, troubled older Otto, and the rest of the supporting cast — including Chad Hunt and Sammie Cassell — all give engaging turns.

Zack Fox’s (who has previously worked with Sellers on the short films Dark Heat and Ghosts of the Carolina) cinematography is gorgeous, with sumptuous exterior shots of the Patrick County, Virginia filming locale and eye-popping shots of some ghastly goings-on. Special effects supervisor Matt Patterson turns in some fine, grisly work that needs to be seen rather than spoiled by describing it here.

Sellers paces  Uncle Otto’s Truck well, giving it an endearing, nostalgic feel that punctuates its moments of horror all that much more. Currently on the film festival circuit, this is Wreak Havoc Productions’ strongest short to date. 

Uncle Otto’s Truck was selected for the 2020 edition of Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest, which is based in North Charleston, South Carolina. It was nominated for Best Produced Screenplay — Short at the festival.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes 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.