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Collecting MadVideos -- The Life and Death of a Pumpkin

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The life of a pumpkin is nasty, brutish and short. Its death isn't much better, a violent and macabre experience especially when seen through though the raw and hardening eyes of a jack-o-lantern. That's the tale told by The Life and Death of a Pumpkin, a short Halloween-themed and light-hearted horror film directed by Aaron Yonda of Blame Society Productions. Viewers are placed in the mind of a gourd, empathizing with its plight as a cheap source of amusement and its sweet release of death.

Yonda and his Blame Society partner Matt Sloan are the team responsible for Chad Vader, the online video phenomenon that vaulted the pair into the top 20 most-subscribed channels on YouTube and has emerged as a showpiece for online videodom. It's not only Vader that has wowed audiences, though. Getting big play online and screened at numerous festivals throughout the year, the Pumpkin has quietly made a name for itself as well.

The short film follows below.

The short has an aged and slightly gritty feel that appropriately adds a warm sense of spookiness. This is due to being shot on 16 mm film rather than digital video. Yonda won a Kodak Film Grant at the 2004 Wisconsin Film Festival, and used it to create Pumpkin, a remake of an initial version he first created in 1994.

Working with Sloan and their other regular collaborators, Yonda shot the film over the autumns of 2004 and 2005 at Hermanson's Pumpkin Patch in Edgerton and in an east Madison neighborhood. The film features Sloan as an inner voice for the gourd. The full list of credits is available here.

Yonda finished Pumpkin just in time to catch the same wave of online video that brought Chad Vader crashing down upon millions of viewers this summer and fall. Pumpkin was featured on the front page of YouTube only days after the first episode of Vader, and was subsequently featured last week on the front page of MySpace. In all, it has claimed more than 600,000 views.

While Vader has racked up nearly ten times that many views, Pumpkin has actually screened at more film festivals so far: the Super Shorts Film Festival (London), Madison's own Wisconsin Film Festival, the Midwest Independent Film Festival (Chicago), the Brainwash Film Festival (Oakland), the Chicago International REEL SHORTS Film Festival, the Eerie Horror Film Festival (Eerie, PA), Montreal Film Pop, the Milwaukee International Film Festival, the Chicago Horror Film Festival, the New Orleans Underground Film Festival, Off Centre TV, and the Clair-obsur Film Festival in Basel, Switzerland. Additionally, the film won awards from the Brainwash and Chicago Horror fests. A full list of its festival screenings and honors is available here.

Owing to a variety of reasons -- its sad but sweet story, its annually renewable theme, the analogue warmth of its film base -- it's possible that The Life and Death of a Pumpkin could become a classic in its genre.

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