The 13th Floor

Short Film THE EEL is a Journey Into Mind-Bending Tentacle Horror

It’s time once again to take a hard left turn on our journey through the world of extreme cinema and its many twisted forms… and they don’t make ‘em much twistier than Dominic Hailstone’s 2004 short THE EEL, which manages to conjure more nightmares per second than half a dozen full-length features combined.

The five-minute film — inspired by and edited to the gritty industrial track “Where? What?” by Robert Clunne — is a wordless, warped biomechanical abomination that comes very close to capturing the indescribable, madness-inducing horrors hinted at in the writing of H.P. Lovecraft, combined with a slick homage to the transformation scenes of John Carpenter’s THE THING.

According to the director, the final product took six months to create, as he crafted “deliberately low-tech” practical effects from materials such as bamboo, tape, nylon stockings and condoms, “to see how far I could push the idea.” I’d say he pushed it straight into the heart of your slimiest nightmares. Take a look:

Positive reception for THE EEL, combined with his creature FX work on Chris Cunningham’s infamously creepy “Come to Daddy” video for Aphex Twin, led Hailstone to direct several music videos of his own — working with artists such as Isis (“Holy Tears”), Mogwai (“Batcat”) and Lustmord (a.k.a. Brian Williams). He also worked on digital compositing for BOBBY YEAH — the nightmarish stop-motion short previously covered in this column.