Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Join the Red Headed Horror Revolution: Watch TAILYPO (2015)

Red Headed Revolution logo - producer of TAILYPO
Red Headed Revolution logo - image source: cameronmccasland.com

The Red Headed Revolution has its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. Cameron McCasland is its leader. But he's not working for political change -- he's making movies.

Director Cameron McCasland on the set of TAILYPO at Copper Canyon Ranch - image source: Facebook
Red Headed Revolution Pictures is McCasland's indie film production and distribution company. He's a writer-director-producer with credits that include "The Lashman" (2014) and "Trash Day of the Dead" (2008). His trademark is (of course) his long red hair and beard.
Some of McCasland's fellow revolutionaries are cinematographer Josh Ickes, editor Kyle Kelly, and composer Thomas Berdinski. Red Headed Revolution works with a small ensemble of actors, including David Chattam.

TAILYPO: a Horror Short Based on a Legend

Banner for TAILYPO

McCasland believes TAILYPO (2015) is representative of his work in short horror filmmaking. He wrote, directed, and produced the short, shooting on location at Copper Canyon Ranch LLC in Hopkinsville, KY. Ickes did the cinematography. Kelly did the film editing. Berdinski provided an original musical score.
TAILYPO stars Chattam as Levon, a reclusive man who lives in an isolated cabin with his hunting dog Jasper (Ranger). The hungry pair is out in the forest hunting for some food to eat when Levon sights what he thinks is a wild hog. He shoots blindly at it, but the creature escapes. Yet it leaves the bloody stump of its tail behind. That evening Levon and Jasper enjoy a stew flavored with the tail's meat.
Levon thinks that the creature is long gone, but Jasper is not so sure. Jasper is the first to sense an unseen menace lurking in the shadows of the lonesome woods that surround the cabin. In the middle of the night, Levon begins to question his sanity. He wakes up several times when someone (or something) outside calls out threateningly, "Tailypo, Tailypo, give me back my Tailypo." 
Levon becomes so frustrated and angry that he takes Jasper and his rifle outside to confront the intruder. The resulting showdown does not go well.
The character of Tailypo (acted by Joseph Aguon Drake and voiced by Danielle Gelehrter) comes from a legend. According to that questionable source of all knowledge, Wikipedia,
Tailypo is a frightening ravenous cat-like creature of North American folklore, particularly in Appalachia . . . . The Tailypo is usually described as being the size of a dog, with yellow or red eyes, pointed ears and a long tail. In some versions of the folktale, it has tufted ears like a bobcat. It is covered in black or dark brown fur to camouflage its nocturnal activities. Its claws are its main weapon . . . . The Tailypo can speak like a man, and demands the return of its tail (the actual phrase varies between versions, but is always repeated, usually three times): "Taily-po, Taily-po...who has my Taily-po..."
A glimpse of Tailypo as conceived for McCasland's short - image source: Facebook

For McCasland's version of the tale, Dustin Mills and Brad Edwards envisioned and created the costume for the creature. 

Check it TAILYPO for yourself, then read on below:

My Take on TAILYPO

Overall, it's not difficult to understand why so many film festivals accepted this short. It tells the story of the Tailypo in a way that's faithful to the legend but updates it to the present day in terms of both the setting and the filmmaking. It's a much more riveting rendition of the tale than one might hear while sitting around a campfire in the woods (as in McCasland's "The Lashman" -- review forthcoming).

Chattam is convincing as the recluse. Ranger is a surprisingly well-trained animal actor -- this is impressive, given that this film likely did not have the kind of money that big-budget movies spend on animal trainers and wranglers.

The creators of the Tailypo creature obviously knew the legend well. It looks like its generic description on Wikipedia but also has a 70s B-movie-horror look that's both scary and amusing at the same time. Combined with Gelehrter's voicing (which comes close at times to sounding like Gollum in the LOTR films), Drake's acting in Mills and Edwards' costume works.

At times, the quality of the lighting and sound wavers. But the editing and the musical score (which includes some nice guitar-based tracks) more than make up for these minor imperfections.

TAILYPO on the Festival Circuit

I ran into McCasland for the first time last week on Twitter. At that point, TAILYPO was about to screen at the Alhambra Theatre Film Festival in Evansville, Indiana. As it turned out, it was a sold-out showing. DP Ickes was in the running for Best Cinematographer but unfortunately did not win.
Still, Alhambra was not the first festival appearance or award (nominee or recipient) for the short. It's been on the festival circuit since shortly after its release. For a list of past showings, nominations, and awards -- as well as future festival appearances -- check out the notes that accompany the film on YouTube.
In addition, TAILYPO has been nominated for the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Film Award for Best Short Film. If you liked it and want to vote for it, you can send an email to taraco@aol.com with your name and your nomination of TAILYPO for Best Short Film.

TFK's Rating
 (on IMDb): 7 out of 10 stars

Disclosure: Cameron McCasland provided TFK with access to an online screener and images related to TAILYPO for the purpose of this review. This website and its author received no monetary compensation for this review.