I was really pleased to receive a number of short films from indie horror director Peter Dukes. The films range from light scares to out and out horror and I enjoyed these immensely. Peter is certainly one to watch out for in the indie horror world!
The Beast (2012)
I thought I would start with the newest of Peters short films and work my way down, so to speak. Therefore I will firstly give my thoughts on emotional werewolf horror tale The Beast. Starrring well known indie horror actor Bill Oberst Jr. the film centres around a father named Michel (Oberst) who is desperate to rid his son (Alexander Le Bas) of a horrifying condition which see's him transforming into a werewolf when the moon is full.
The acting in this film is top notch I have to say. It propels a fairly simple story to another level with the father so devastated by the god awful affliction haunting his son that he seems hell bent on doing whatever it takes to end his misery.
I dont want to spoil anything but will confidentally say that you will be on your seats edge in the final minutes as Michel must make an absoutely horrible choice and you will most certainly be thinking 'will he or wont he' in its final scenes.
I think there is some great werewolf makeup effects on display here and makes me excited to think what Peter might do with possibly a werewolf feature! This short made me feel like there is still some blood in the werewolf legend and perhaps Mr Dukes is the one to prove that to the world!
A very impressive and really quite sad horror short which provided great acting, great makeup effects and an extremely tense climax. You will want to watch this horror fan or not.
Next up is Lanrete is a 7 minute horror short which gives a nice new twist on the zombie sub genre.
The film is centered around a scientist ( John Micheal Herndon) who has been captured by a stranger in a ski mask ( Brahm Gallagher) and appears unaware of the reasons behind his detainment. It soon becomes clear that the person, sorry thing, behind the ski mask is not a living human being...but it IS able bodied...and wants answers ...NOW.
To say too much about Lanrete would be unfair as it should be seen fresh without any spoilers or indication of whats going on. What I would say is pay good attention to the nail biting conversation between the captured and the captor and I hope you agree that the outcome has not only not been done before but is actually a very rewarding pay off.
In summary, a refreshing short horror film which takes a well known sub genre of horror and presents it in a completely different way. I think that it clearly demonstrates Peter Dukes ability to take something we all know like the back of our hand and turn it on its head - which is just fantastic.
They Watch (2009)
2009 short, They Watch is essentially a throw back to those old episodes of The Twlight Zone - you know the kind, an odd mystery which builds up to an eerie or twist pay off? I loved this short so much - its 100% in the vein of The Twlight Zone from its purposefully mysterious dialogue to being shot completely in black and white.
The plot of the story involves a man named Marcus ( Greg Travis) on his death bed, being cared for by his wife. One day Marcus recieves a visitor named Victor( John Michael Herndon) who comes across as a mixture of sinister and anxious. It soon becomes clear that not only do these men know each other but that they have a macabre secret which Victor is keen is not unleashed on account of Marcus' guilt prior to his death. Now, we never find out exactly what the secret it but you could make a few good guesses based on the tense conversation between Victor and Marcus.
What gives They Watch an even more exciting angle is the chilling end where something really rather unexpected and terrifying is shown captured on video camera. This scene kind of reminded me of the few genuinely chilling moments in Insidious (Please note that They Watch came first though!) and was just perfect. Following this we get one last scare as the character of Victor goes to leave the home he has come to stir up so much trouble in. A really really great short with an intriguing plot and a scary ending - all in the space of ten short minutes!
The Scarecrow & The Princess (2009)
Also from 2009, The Scarecrow & The Princess was described to me as a light hearted horror film for families by director Peter Dukes which I agree with totally. To an extent. It certainly does play out as a family friendly mix of fantasy and non violent Halloween antics BUT I could imagine some children finding the ending a catalyst for many sleepless nights or nightmares! Or maybe I am just a wuss?
Anyway the story....the film tells the tale of a lonely old scarecrow eager to find a friend as he watches the world go by. Its Halloween night and its just his luck that a young girl (Cameron Protzman), dressed as a princess  comes along and keeps him company. However the disruption of this burgeoning friendship by several mean kinds who come along to steal the young girls candy causes the young girl to disappear in upset. Thus, our friend the scarecrow is left alone once again. This does not go down well at all and our straw filled pal decides that some scores need to be settled.....it is at this point the film ends, but before this we see what appears to be a lifeless creation by an old guy, slowly spring into action.
This film is extremely clever in that the the dialogue of the scarecrow and the young girl is narrated by someone else, in a wonderful fairytale style way, so that you see the scarecrow exactly as he should be seen; a set of clothes and sackcloth filled with straw. This makes the final scene of the film both surprising and quite creepy and I completely congratulate Peter on this. I think this may have been my favourite of all four shorts although they are all great in their own right. I cannot wait to see more from Peter Dukes based on these films!