Get a spooky jump on Halloween when A Night of Local Horror brings local short horror films to the screen on Tuesday night at Motorco Music Hall. Eight films will be shown, including film festival winners and premieres.
Filmmaker Christine Parker's "400 Ways to Kill a Vampire" was filmed in Wake Forest and stars Bill Mulligan, who also wrote the script. It's already won awards.
"I'm happy to be screening it along with some of the most brilliant filmmakers I know," Parker said. She's done about a dozen films and has worked with Mulligan since 2004, she said. The cinematographer for "400 Ways to Kill a Vampire" was Alan Watkins, whose "Watch Your Back" is also screening at the Motorco event.
Watkins said "Watch Your Back" is about four minutes long, and was filmed in a storage locker a few years ago during the summer. Sort of inspired by the "Saw" horror movies, the premise is two men who wake up in a locked room – one in a hospital gown and the other in a straight jacket – and have to diffuse a bomb.
Most of Watkins' film work is in the horror genre. He concentrates more on the story than the scare factor. He'll be at A Night of Local Horror on Tuesday, but on actual Halloween, his night won't be so scary – he'll take his three kids trick-or-treating.
The film fest's organizer and screenwriter Eryk Pruitt said the first-time event is an opportunity to showcase local, independent film talent. Pruitt also wrote two of the featured shorts – "Foodie" and "Disengaged," which are directed by Christopher G. Moore.
"Disengaged" is Moore's fourth horror short and has been accepted to 14 film festivals, including the New York City Horror Film Festival in November. It was shot in Wake Forest. "Foodie" was shot in Durham at two locations – Pruitt's house and Blu Seafood and Bar.
"One interesting tidbit about 'Foodie' is that the outside location for Kitchen X in the film is actually a house in Hillsborough that is an exact replica of the house from the movie 'Halloween,'" Moore said.
"The horror genre is something I've embraced ever since I saw 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' as a teenager and I love making an impression on people with my movies, whether it be by eliciting a laugh, a scream or even making them jump in their seat," he said.
"With every film, I try to challenge myself more with how to tell a story in a more visually interesting way and even though most of my films in the past have had a more darkly comedic tone, 'Disengaged' is my most dramatic yet," Moore said.
Pruitt said that though "Foodie" has shown around the country, when it premiered at Motorco previously, it was one of the greatest nights of his life.
"I had such a good time showing my film to my community, that I hope to be able to replicate that joy at the Night of Local Horror, and share it with the filmmakers I've befriended since then," Pruitt said.
Roger Paris, who directed "The Vampire," said the film is very loosely based on the crimes of serial killer Richard Chase. It serves as "homage to grind-house horror flicks from the '70s and '80s," Paris said.
Jeffrey Moore, whom Durhamites may recognize from his non-horror work, including the play "A Trailer Park Christmas," wrote and starred in A Night of Local Horror's "What the Frock." "What the Frock" was also shown at the N.C. Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and was shot mostly in Durham. Audiences might recognize scenes shot in Hall-Wynne Funeral Home, Fishmongers and Vaguely Reminiscent.
Dean Garris' "The Man in the Cellar" last screened in North Carolina at the 2011 Cape Fear Independent Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Horror and was since picked up for indie distribution.
"Being a native of North Carolina and having lived in Durham for about six years, it is a treat to screen my spooky little film for a hometown crowd," Garris said.
Jaysen P. Buterin, creative director of Mad Ones Films, will screen "Between Hell and a Hard Place," which he wrote a few years ago and was filmed this year around Monroe. It'll be part of a horror anthology.
"Between Hell and a Hard Place" is a 25-minute, black-and-white ghost story that might be the closest he'll get to creating an episode of the original "The Twilight Zone," Buterin said. The old television show has had a huge impact on him and he wanted to channel the cinematic simplicity into a ghost story without a lot of special effects. The result is "just a simple, scary story with what I hope is a bit of a jaw-dropped twist," he said.
Buterin describes the "thrill of the chill":
"When the heartbeat speeds up, when the cerebral synapses are firing with suspense, when we're exhilarated and terrified at the same time, that's the beauty of horror films to me," he said.