Latest Posts


Before becoming a feature film director with Year of the Fish, David Kaplan made a name for himself in the mid-1990s with a series of memorable short films that revitalized the fairy tale genre. Combining elements of German Expressionism with modern dance/theater, Kaplan produced beautifully haunting worlds that lingered beyond his films’ relatively short running times (twelve minutes being the longest). Just over a decade later, these works are finally available on home video for the world to appreciate. While Little Red Riding Hood is the undeniable standout, the others—Little-Suck-a-Thumb and The Frog King—are worthwhile efforts that prove Little Red Riding Hood was no fluke.

The most widely celebrated of the shorts, Little Red Riding Hood (1997) features the perfectly cast 16-year-old Christina Ricci as that story’s infamous hero. Yet this time, Kaplan turns his version into a metaphor for budding sexuality, making the wolf not a typically frightening animal, but a sexy, muscular male dancer who lurches and writhes in the woods and who takes in Little Red Riding Hood’s sensual striptease with wide, hungry eyes. In Kaplan’s version, Little Red Riding Hood is just beginning to understand the power she has to influence men/predators with her sexuality, and she gets frisky with this. Without giving anything away, Kaplan revamps the film’s ending to more poetically explore this theme. Adding immeasurable playfulness is the hilarious narration by Quentin Crisp. Combine that with an atmospheric presentation that recalls both the sets of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and the mood of Night of the Hunter, and you have a modern short film classic.

Of the remaining two films, Little Suck-a-Thumb is the other standout (while The Frog King is good, it nonetheless feels like a rehearsal for the main event that would be LRRH). Little Suck-a-Thumb tells the story of a boy who is warned by his mother not to suck his thumbs at night or a creepy man will sneak into his room and snip his thumbs off. Here, Kaplan ups the black humor ante, yet the music and performances and set design maintain a thoroughly creepy tone. In many ways, the overall impact is similar to Mary Hestan’s He Was Once, yet Kaplan owes a more direct stylistic debt to German Expressionism. It’s a genuinely unsettling blend of humor and horror. One could imagine a child watching this and becoming scarred for life. It’s scarring enough watching it as an adult.

— Michael Tully

Liked it? Take a second to support Hammer to Nail on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Michael Tully is an award-winning writer/director whose films have garnered widespread critical acclaim, his projects having premiered at some of the most renowned film festivals across the globe. He is also the former (and founding) editor of this site. In 2006, Michael's first feature, COCAINE ANGEL, chronicling a tragic week in the life of a young drug addict, world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film immediately solidified the director as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s "25 New Faces of Independent Film,” a reputation that was reinforced a year later when his follow-up feature, SILVER JEW, a documentary capturing the late David Berman's rare musical performances in Tel Aviv, world-premiered at SXSW and landed distribution with cult indie-music label Drag City. In 2011, Michael wrote, directed, and starred in his third feature, SEPTIEN, which debuted at the 27th annual Sundance Film Festival before being acquired by IFC Films' Sundance Selects banner. A few years later, in 2014, Michael returned to Sundance with the world premiere of his fourth feature, PING PONG SUMMER, an ‘80s set coming-of-age tale that was quickly picked up for theatrical distribution by Gravitas Ventures. In 2018, Michael wrote and directed the dread-inducing genre film DON'T LEAVE HOME, which has been described as "Get Out with Catholic guilt in the Irish countryside" (IndieWire). The film premiered at SXSW and was subsequently acquired by Cranked Up Films and Shudder.

Post a Comment

Website branding logosWebsite branding logos