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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Tailypo (2015) - A short film from Cameron McCasland

Director: Cameron McCasland

Score: Thomas Berdinski

Tailypo, Tailypo. Gives me back my Tailypho!

Sometime last year, April 2014 to be precise, I was able to watch and review a remarkable debut slasher film, The Lashman, from Cameron McCasland. He and the rest of his team managed to take a well known formula produced a film that felt like a genuinely sympathetic throwback to the classic era of the slasher movie, an era before the insufferable sequels and trips into space made the genre a pale parody of previous greatness. If you have the time, inclination and keys to escape from your padded cell you can read the review RIGHT HERE.

Cameron must have been okay with my article because soon after he foolishly accepted my Facebook friend request. As you know, this here blogger has an insatiable desire to mask his own failings by hanging on to the coattails of those far more driven and talented than himself, thereby basking in any potential glory that they might achieve. Some may call it shallow and superficial behaviour, I prefer to call it intelligent thinking with the use of smoke and mirrors.

This week during my daily routine of Facebook stalking I noticed that Cameron is currently seeking reviewers, blogs, youtubers, etc. for a sneak peak to review his new short film, Tailypo. It was suggested by him that if anyone was interested, or knew someone who might be, to contact him with their website details and/or tag the person that they think might be of interest.

Well of course I knew of one blogger who would not be able to resist this offer in a month of Sundays and would no doubt do a faultless and entertaining job of a review article. However that person was't available so I thought I would do it myself........ I immediately had two thoughts (which is one more than I usually have each month); the first was that I would be more than happy to watch something else from this new aspiring writer/director and so I promptly requested that he forward on the super secret online screener to watch. The second thought was "Just what the bloody hell is a Tailypo???!!!"

Well, according to the wondrous (and even sometimes correct) fountain of knowledge that is Wikepedia;

"Tailypo is a frightening ravenous cat-like creature of North American folklore particularly in Appalachia. Alternate names include: Taileybones, Tailbones, Taily Po, Tally Po, Taileypo, Tailey Po and Tailipoe(sies). Most often (and especially in older adaptations) the Tailypo legends are simply titled "Tallyho."

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..."

The story is almost always set at night in a heavily wooded rural area. The events could feasibly occur at any time period, given the isolation and atmosphere of the tale. The main events occur in a dilapidated log cabin deep in the woods where a hermit and his three dogs live."

Well you learn something new everyday........

Cameron on set, doing his director schtick....
As with any local legend there tends to be an almost limitless number of variations of the narrative that evolve over the years. In this latest rendition of the myth Cameron McCasland has produced a version that varies ever so slightly from the ones that I've been researching (I know, its a dirty word for this here blogger), whilst still keeping the core charm and chills of the ghost story.

In this version, Levon is a hermit living alone in a run down cabin deep in the woods with only his dog, Jasper, for company. Sadly, things are not going very well for Levon and Jasper, with decent food being scarce and so one morning they leave the cabin to go looking for something to hunt in order to eat something else besides beans. The problem is that he hasn't actually seen much wildlife in the area for some time, a situation that is unusual to say the least. Nevertheless, things are getting desperate and needs must. Levon thinks his luck is in when he sees a creature in the distance through the trees and shoots at it, though only whinging it in the process. However he has managed to shoot off its tail - and that can be eaten. Though, it is a type of tail of a creature that Levon has never seen.

Later that day, Levon cooks the tail and after a rather enjoyable meal, settles down for what he expects will be a good nights sleep with a unusually full and contented belly. However, things are not quite going to go as planned for Levon and Jasper....because the Tailpo wants his tail back..........

At just under 14 minutes in length, Tailypo is a hugely enjoyable reworking of a folk tale that as been passed down to frighten generation after generation. David Chattam is very good as the unfortunate hermit who only wants to eat something else besides beans but instead incurs the ire of a mythical beast.

Tailypo, Tailypo. Gives me back my Tailypo!
The tension, despite the limitations of the restriction running time of the film, is slowly and nicely increased throughout, with the final few climactic scenes providing a genuinely effective chilling experience. Nicely filmed and nicely played. 

The film is beautifully filmed throughout with the external woodland scenes in particular providing a very effective and evocatively desolate atmosphere with the internal cabin scenes feeling appropriately claustrophobic. I think I'm correct in saying that it was filmed in the same location in Kentucky as The Lashman, at the wonderfully named Copper Canyon Ranch which  is located 15 minutes north of Hopkinsville, KY.  Owners Carole and Tim Emery have built the CCR from the ground up for over three decades. Copper Canyon is a completely built western town replicated to the 1880's era and decorated inside and out with furnishings of the 1880s. 

As well as being open to visitors wanting to experience a little of the old west, Copper Canyon Ranch has been featured in Hollywood style full feature film productions as well as music videos.

The score was written by Thomas Berdinski (as he also did for The Lashman) and once again the music perfectly accompanies and compliments the proceedings. 

The only negative aspect was that the brief appearance of the Tailypo itself isn't quite as effective as it could be and detracts a little from the chilling effect. However this is only as minor quibble as McCasland successfully makes up for this shortfall with the clever filming and lighting of the particular scenes.

All in all Tailypo is a solid and effective take on an a traditional folk tale with enough chills and thrills packed into its short 14 minute running time - very enjoyable.

The Facebook page for Tailypo can be located at

The Tailypo IMDB page is at

Writer/director Cameron McCasland can be reached on Twitter via his handle @CamMcCasland

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