I’ve long been a lover of the horror genre and a prolific author of horror short stories, novellas and novels, but the world of horror isn’t limited to big budget films, games and books. There are tasty tidbits to be found, hidden treasures in the form of short films, usually made by film students.
These come in many forms, but my favorite are the stop motion ones. There’s just something supremely unnerving about how stop motion characters move, and the little handcrafted diorama worlds they live in that adds an extra creep factor.
Below you’ll find a few of my absolute favorite stop motion horror short films, starting with one that’s widely known because it’s by David Firth, creator of Salad Fingers:
Fortunately or unfortunately it was hugely influential on the niche genre of stop motion horror, so there are some shameless near-copies of it out there. I’m talking almost identical, shot for shot. I’ll only bother to provide space here for highly original works, like “Operator” by Sam Barnett:
In fact, there’s a second episode in the ‘Operator’ series which took three years to make. The technical improvements really shine, Sam’s evolved his craft considerably since Operator 1.
The sequel doesn’t really answer any questions but gives some insight into what daily life in this world is (or was) like, and the nature of the catastrophe which befalls it:
Next up is a radical departure from claymation: Meatmation! Is that a word? It is now, by my decree. “Meat Love” is the work of Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer, and far from his only film involving animated food. He’s…an interesting guy.
Next up is an obscure, oddball little student film project which nevertheless has stuck with me in the back of my brain ever since I first saw it way back in ’06. It’s by Paul Whittington, and tells the story of a robot subjected to a series of tests within a vast labyrinth:
Next up is “Snip”, one of a great many stop motion horror shorts featuring the same female protagonist, by the talented Hasani Walker. I won’t feature them all here, but they can be found on his Youtube profile. Snip is a story about body image, near as I can tell, and takes place in the same hellish grey world as most of his other shorts.
Now let’s watch The Maker. A curious but spellbinding story by Zealous Creative about a self-perpetuating cycle of creators creating creations, which then become creators themselves. I got shades of Prometheus from it somehow, and aesthetically it reminds me of the film 9:
Now a classic short which is said to have been a big inspiration to Tim Burton: Paul Berry’s “The Sandman” from 1992. The symbolism with crows and the Moon fascinated me when I first saw it and undoubtedly account for some of the themes in stories I’ve written:
The next one’s not my favorite. I’m on the fence about it. But it’s technically excellent and merits inclusion, as different people have different tastes. It was made by Tom Reilly, and depicts a day in the life of a mental patient:
Edit: I’ve only just found this one in the process of collecting the others but holy shit, it definitely belongs here. Man, what the fuck is this one? Even compared to the others! Robert Morgan is my kind of artist apparently:
There’s a lot I wanted to include here but ultimately didn’t. In some cases because they stretched the definition of “stop motion” like There is Nothing, utilizing live action footage or CGI. Or because I didn’t want to include more than one from the same person (though I made an exception for Operator as it’s just that good).
If you liked what you saw here, by no means should you consider it a complete collection, but rather a jumping off point from which to explore the strange, seedy underbelly of Youtube where plenty more along these lines can be found.
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