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AICN HORROR keeps it real with some found footage fright flicks; CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST! THE TUNNEL! and TROLLHUNTER!

Logo by Kristian Horn

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Why ZOMBIES & SHARKS? Well, those are the two things that I’ve had the most nightmares about. It’s the reason I rarely swim in the ocean. It’s the reason I have an escape plan from my apartment just in case of a zombie apocalypse. Now if you’ve ever had those fears or fears like them, inspired mainly by nights upon nights of watching films of the frightening kind, this is the place for you. So look for AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS every Friday for the foreseeable future, horror hounds, where we’ll be covering horror in all forms; retro, indie, mainstream, old and new.

Though the subgenre of horror called “found footage” has been around for a while, I’ve found that there are a slew of films warping the barriers between reality and fantasy coming out this year. With PARANORMAL ACTIVITY being the hit that it continues to be, who can blame Hollywood for tossing so many of these types of films at us? I’ve already reviewed 8213: GACY HOUSE, a little found footage gem set in the haunted abode of John Wayne Gacy, here in a past AICN HORROR column. At the bottom of this column I look at two films soon to be released this year, but I figured as a warm up, we’d check out a couple of found footage horrors of yesteryear.

I know a lot of folks hate this subgenre, but I often find myself enthralled with films of this sort. Maybe it’s the shaky hand held feel or the first person POV or the ominous feel of “is this shit for real?” It’s the reason I love all of those ScyFy shows like GHOST HUNTERS and DESTINATION TRUTH. This is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come this year in found footage, though, so expect another column featuring more in the future.

But before we start keepin’ it real, here are a few horror tidbits you might find interesting…

Chicago’s Portage Theater is hosting the world premiere of Chicago local filmmaker Bennie Woodell’s new film, THE SAD CAFÉ, this Sunday night at 7pm. Mr. Woodell directed FAST ZOMBIES WITH GUNS, THE CHAUFFEUR, and THE LONG NOVEMBER, three fun lo fi films. Woodell describes the film as his “ode to Hong Kong cinema, especially Wong Kar-Wai and John Woo.” I’m looking forward to seeing this film Sunday. Be sure to come out to the Portage and see it with me. Find out how to get tickets at the Portage Theater site here, and find out more about THE SAD CAFÉ and Mr. Woodell’s other films here.

Though I doubt I’ll be heading to Dallas any time soon, horror fans in the area might want to check out “The Pocket Sandwich Theater” which specializes in audience participation melodrama spoofs of stories such as Dracula, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera, etc. all written by the co-founder Joe Dickenson. A fan of AICN HORROR, Kevin Fuld, wrote up a spoof of slasher films called CAMP DEAD, which ran in 2000 and will be running again later this year (Sep. 30th thru Nov. 11th). I know it’s a ways off, but you might want to mark your calendars. I’ve read the script and it looks to be a hilariously horrific time. Find out more about The Pocket Sandwich Theater here.

I know it’s a few weeks off, but Troma and Astron-6 released two more posters to their new FATHER’S DAY film (which I can’t wait to see and hopefully review by the time this Father’s Day rolls around). The one on the left was done by Akiko Stehrenberger, who has previously done posters for FUNNY GAMES, A SERIOUS MAN, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, etc. while the one on the right is by The Dude Designs. Both are father-fucking awesome. Watch the preview here and see what I mean…

Now, let’s hit record on our video recorders, because we need to capture everything…EVERYTHING!!! Enjoy the found goodness.

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

And finally…


Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Written by Gianfranco Clerici
Starring Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi, Salvatore Basile, Carl Gabriel Yorke
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

Man, this was a tough film to sit though. I knew I was going to be in for something pretty sick when I finally found the time to sit down and watch CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. I know this film has been touted as one of the most horrific films of all time and it does live up to that title. Filled with animal mutilation, rape, murder, dismemberment, torture, sex, and of course,cannibalism, once you’ve seen CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, I guarantee you’ll never forget it.

The thing that really hit me about CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is that, aside from all of the disgusting elements attached to this film, it is a damn smart film that deftly examines American culture and the role of media. The story starts out with a quartet of filmmakers getting ready to leave for Amazonia. We are then informed that the four were never seen again. Professor Harold Monroe (played by stern-faced Robert Kerman) decides to take a crew of mercenaries to Amazonia to find out what happened to them. After a lengthy travelogue featuring some pretty grisly scenes of real animal killing and some rituals that look all too real involving rape, torture, and murder, Monroe finds the film crew’s film canisters and takes them back to the US to review. While the media is pressuring Monroe to release the tapes, Monroe has an uneasy feeling about doing so. As the film is processed, he uncovers horrors unimaginable.

Ruggero Deodato directs a grisly and stark film, filled with effects both real and made up. Using real natives as actors, the director was able to get savage performances from a culture who probably had never seen a camera before. To come in and film a horror film in the middle of what might as well be an alien culture takes balls. The effects used in this film will make you think twice as to whether or not this is real or not; part of the mystique of the film lies in not knowing the authenticity of what’s going on. In one scene you have an actual beheading of a monkey; in the next, a horrific murder of a person. The effects are so real, you won’t be able to tell the difference between what’s Hollywood magic and what’s downright murder. But that’s kind of the point Deodato and writer Gianfranco Clerici were going for, I believe.What I love about this film is that it misleads you at first. One is led to think this is going to be a film about four innocents killed by evil savages, but as the tapes are processed and we see the filmmakers manipulate the “savages” into performing for their film and going to any lengths including murder, rape, and desecration of villages and culture for the sake of cinema, you really see that the film crew are the real monsters here. Though Ruggero Deodato was accused of making a snuff film due to the all too realistic effects used in the film, the real horror lies in the devilish fascination in the eyes of the camera crew as they manipulate what we as the viewer see and violate the culture they are visiting, while playing the objective reporter.

Not exactly a found footage film, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is about a found footage film and goes where most of the new films are afraid to go by asking: does the public really want to see these tapes? Timely indeed—though CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was made in a much simpler time, the themes of the film resonate all the way to today’s headlines. I couldn’t help but think about Osama Bin Laden’s death and the debate as to whether or not the photos of his body should be released while watching this film. And though many won’t be able to stomach all of the horror that this film has throughout its running time, it is an important film worthy of debate and much thought. Sitting through CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was quite a chore, especially the grotesque rape scenes and the unsettlingly realistic final horrific moments of the film crew, but I was unsettled more by what CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST had to say about us as a bloodthirsty society than all of the blood and guts.

Available to download free via BitTorrent’s App Studio!


Directed by Carlo Ledesma
Written by Enzo Tedeschi & Julian Harvey
Starring Bel Delia, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold, & Goran D. Kleut
Find out more about THE TUNNEL here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Part BLAIR WITCH PROJECT/part 60 MINUTES style interview, THE TUNNEL is an Australian viral film which has recently released news that it’s already premiering on 100+ million screens so far and has become something of a phenomenon this week. I have to say, after taking a gander at the film, it is a pretty outstanding film which takes full advantage of the hand-held camera/found footage phenomena. It seems these days, for these found footage films to make it, there needs to be an interesting take on the film and not just an ominous blurb at the beginning stating that the film was found somewhere. With the rise in reality television and audiences’ addiction to films becoming more real, it’s no wonder films like THE TUNNEL are popping up left and right.

What separates THE TUNNEL from the herd is that it is slickly produced and looks like an interview one might see on 60 MINUTES if found footage such as this was found. From start to finish, this feels like a documentary about a camera crew who ventures into the underground waterway beneath the city of Syndey, Australia. Everything from the title sequence to the narration by the survivors feels real, which just adds to the effectiveness of this film and makes the audience believe that this could have happened.

The actors in THE TUNNEL are fantastic. Bel Delia is a headstrong reporter, in search of the truth behind why the underground waterway wasn’t being used as a source for new, fresh water for a population in a drought crisis and the sudden upsurge in missing homeless people who used the waterway as shelters. Steve Davis (who looks a bit like Hugh Jackman with spikey blonde hair) plays the fun-loving cameraman who is faced with a deadly serious situation. The only problem with staging the film in the interview format is that the audience knows who survives and who doesn’t. This takes away from some of the tension, but the actors do a good job of conveying a sense of dread while leading the audience along the narrative as the found footage is interspersed between the interview clips.

I don’t want to give too much away with THE TUNNEL. I will say that it does use the limited vision of the camera and pitch dark surroundings to its maximum effect, though the ending might leave some a bit frustrated. I was sucked into the story and couldn’t wait to see if and how the reporting team would get out of the predicament they find themselves in, lost in the unending tunnels and stalked by something with deadly intentions. THE TUNNEL is a claustrophobic treat, taking full advantage of the limited range a single camera offers and giving the viewer just enough to tease and frighten without disappointing with the intrusion of some forced narrative or resolution. Though there are many out there to choose from, THE TUNNEL is a great example of presenting the found footage motif in an absolutely thrilling way.

Now available on Video On Demand, iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, Xbox Marketplace and in theaters starting June 10th!


Directed by Andre Ovredal
Written by Andre Ovredal
Starring Otto Jespersen, Hans Morten Hansen, Thomas Alf Larsen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Naerum
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Out of all of the films made to look like found films in this week’s column, TROLLHUNTER is the one that is the most all-around fun. Though the concept is pretty out there--a group of students are trying to investigate a poacher and stumble onto a secret organization whose purpose is to control and dispose of trolls--everything is played straight. And that’s where the beauty of TROLLHUNTER lies.

Norwegian director/writer Andre Ovredal skates the fine line between satire and horror like a pro. Ovredal knows there are a lot of found footage films out there and smartly takes us through the motions seen in most of them. But while the other films are going out of their way to make their film realistic, Ovredal sets his filmed horror in the gorgeous Norwegian hills and valleys which look like something out of a fantasy film. The expansive forests and gigantic mountains look like they house all kinds of wondrous creatures and horrific mysteries. But in Ovredal’s film, those rocky hillsides and grassy canyons do.

Most of the charm that TROLLHUNTER exudes comes from the gruff troll hunter himself, Trolljegeren, played by straight-faced Otto Jesperson. Trolljegeren is all business, living a life of solitude, playing by his own set of rules that could mean life or death. Trolljegeren’s world is fascinating, from his extensive knowledge of troll culture and physiology to his RV which has an interior lined with troll tails to throw off his scent. The film Trolljegeren is in is deadly serious, which of course to the student filmmakers and us as viewers, is hilarious. His staunch delivery of lines concerning how to survive a troll attach and insane methods of troll hunting are what makes this film a true gem.

What I love about this film is that it plays like the best of satires, embracing all of the tropes of the found footage genre and making an original film despite of it. Much more like THIS IS SPINAL TAP and maybe a bit like one of my favorite found footage films, INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS, TROLLHUNTER never makes fun of the subject matter. Instead, it places its straight-faced lead into one insane scenario after another with a wide-eyed and disbelieving camera crew on his tail.

Though all of the films I have covered in this column are worth seeking out, TROLLHUNTER is unique in that it points out how silly the genre is while adding to it. Relatively bloodless, TROLLHUNTER is one of those films I would have loved to see as a kid; full of giant monsters, brave hunters, cool weapons, and even cooler scenes mixing all three. The effects are absolutely phenomenal. One would think this was a multi-million dollar film, but I imagine it cost a fraction of that. TROLLHUNTER proves that with some imagination and a whole lot of talent behind the camera, you don’t have to break the bank, just think outside the norm. Though I saw TROLLHUNTER on the small screen, I encourage folks to see this one in theaters. If and when it comes to my town, I am going to be first in line to see these giant monsters come to larger than life. I give this film my highest recommendation. Absolutely hilarious throughout (even right up to the last beat of the film) and utterly exciting in every way, there aren’t many films like TROLLHUNTER out there. Seek it out!

And finally…how about a reality based found footage short to finish things off? Here's THE PRANK. Enjoy!

See ya, next week, folks!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!

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Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN HORROR’s Facebook page!

Readers Talkback
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  • May 20, 2011, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Fuck C Holocaust

    by Fixthe Fernback

    Fuck that film. Real animal killing FTL :(

  • May 20, 2011, 9:42 a.m. CST

    About Cannibal Holocaust....

    by Raggles Wimpole

    Ever since I started seriously getting into films, and especially horror films, there were always those titles that kept creeping up, daring you to watch them. The ones people bootleg & the ones you read about in horror magazines. "Cannibal Holocaust" is one of those films. Eli Roth even cast the film's director in "Hostel 2" as a cannibal. Then, one day about 5 years ago, I was in Suncoast video & I stumbled upon the DVD. Once I got home I smoked a shitload of weed & prepared myself for what was to be the most depraved, grotesque, goriest mindfuck of all time. And then I started seeing man-dick & people slitting mice's throats and hacking up turtles & shooting baby pigs with a shotgun & shit. What I was left with was a 70s exploitational gorefest in which a bunch of dumb, insensitive American douchebags fuck with people they shouldn't fuck with & get what they deserve.

  • May 20, 2011, 9:54 a.m. CST

    I can't support CH

    by Raz13

    I am the biggest horror fan but if there is one film I will not watch it's Cannibal Holocaust. The torture and butchering of animals for the sake of film us not art. This film prides itself on it's realistic effects yet they just use real pain and suffering to shock people. I think this film does more harm than good in the relm of making horror a respected genre. But it has been made and is out there so all I can say now is thank god this film couldn't be made now.

  • May 20, 2011, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Cannibal Holocaust is actually pretty boring.

    by cookylamoo

    And it has one of the plainest leading ladies in film history. But it does have that "Heart of Darkness" quality that makes it creepy. I think they remade the film in the nineties and that version really sucked. I'd like to see a remake with some good effects. It would be a refreshing change from the Six teenagers in a barn formula. As for the killing of animals....wild animals if I remember. Welcome to the real world, guys. These animals are killed for food every day and they weren't exactly puppies.

  • May 20, 2011, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Add me to the list of ch haters.

    by claxdog

    the simple fact that people will actually watch a piece of shit animal snuff film speaks to the problems with our society.

  • May 20, 2011, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Im with cookylamoo

    by MovieWhore

    For anyone who has actually seen this movie (and I have) .. you do realize that most of the animal deaths were done by the natives (who WERE actual natives) who kill these animals for food EVERY DAY .. its like making a hunting video where people GASP shoot deer and calling it an animal snuff film .. this movie is literally part documentary as in it showed natives in their environment doing what they do .. and that was a major point of the movie

  • May 20, 2011, 11:16 a.m. CST

    CH Depresses the hell out of me...

    by The_Floating_Skull_of_Robert_Loggia

    You ever watch a movie and it not so much disturbs you as completely bums you out? That's what Cannibal Holocaust does to me. It's just such a downright cruel and manipulative movie, not just for its animal torture bits, but for the way the "humans" treat one another. Hell, even when the cannibals give the filmmakers what they deserve, it's done in such a morose fashion that you walk away from the film feeling like you just watched someone drown a litter of puppies. That being said, one can't deny its influences on horror, especially of the Italian variety. Deodato's supposedly recutting the film, sans much of the animal cruelty, for "today's audiences". I'm not sure that's going to be enough, though. Shit, even hearing the soundtrack bums me the fuck out.

  • May 20, 2011, 11:44 a.m. CST

    where's a movie where those pussies of peta are slaughtered?

    by alienindisguise

    That, I would watch.

  • May 20, 2011, 12:08 p.m. CST


    by GrimGrinningChris a pretty solid update/homage to CH. Without the animal killings.

  • May 20, 2011, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Fuck you for promoting CH

    by kevred

    Sorry, I had to say it. As others here have said, it's a depraved, vile, immoral piece of trash for what it does to animals. This isn't a "horror movie", it's real horror, and the victims are the helpless animals in it that have no choice about participating. As for the moronic comments by the likes of moviewhore: is it really common practice by "the natives" to shoot a monkey to death, then do it again to another one just because you wanted another take of the scene? Fuck you.

  • May 20, 2011, 12:24 p.m. CST


    by kevred

    I'm one of those "pussies of peta", so if you've got something to say, little tiny man, step up and say it.

  • May 20, 2011, 12:49 p.m. CST


    by claxdog

    Post your email and we can meet up and I CAN SHOW YOU HOW PUSSY MY 6'2" 235lbs PETA ASS IS MOTHERFUCKER.

  • May 20, 2011, 1:19 p.m. CST

    wow, whodathunk it...

    by Ambush Bug

    Knock off the threats. This isn't an animal snuff film. Though the director was arrested because the effects were so real looking that authorities thought it was a human snuff film. @ cooky: Man, I have to disagree on your comment for a remake to come along with "better effects". The effects in this movie were so real it was unsettling. So the animal activitsts have no problem threatening humans, as long as the animules don't get hurt? I'm an animal lover myself, but not to the insane level of threatening others because I believe a pig (which can be used for food) should live. I's loves me some ham sammiches. All of the animals in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST are used as food and it's more of a travelogue of how the lacals use the wildlife as sustenance than animal torture porn. I don't condone that type of treatment in the US or other countries where a 7-11 is at least two blocks away from anywhere, but in the jungle, where hunting is a way of life, I'm ok with it. Depicting it in a stark and graphic manner may be celebrating the gore factor which is central to the film, but it's not used out of context in a malicious manner other than lunch. I love how folks automatically assume the filmmaker went all Eli Roth on a monkey with a chainsaw or something without seeing it themselves. And in the version I saw, there was an option on the DVD for a version sans animal death. The film is a bold statement on media and where the line for entertainment is drawn. Folks get all bent out of shape about the animal deaths and completely miss that entirely. Or worse yet, sit behind a computer and assume instead of checking it out themselves. @ floating skull: Agreed there is a sense of dread and embarrassment of being a human in the way you are sucked in at the beginning to care for the filmmakers, then you see what kind of monsters they were. It really is a film that is effective because of the unease it creates in the viewer. @ grimgrinningchris: Almost reviewed WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE here, but ran out of time. As I said, there are tons of these found footage films out there, so another column will definitely feature it. TO all: seek out TROLLHUNTER!

  • May 20, 2011, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Bit of a bullshit defense, ambush bug

    by kevred

    But you are entitled to your opinion, as are we. And no threats are intended - rather a defense against someone not only suggesting that those who believe in animal rights are "pussies" but that it would be fun to see them "slaughtered". As usual in life, it's only when the minority defends itself that the "whoa, break it up" talk begins. But I agree with you wholeheartedly on Trollhunter! Great stuff, most of all for the excellent, creative, well-lit effects (and gorgeous scenery). I'm glad to see this site promoting it multiple times, so thanks for joining that effort.

  • May 20, 2011, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Don't watch the Troll Hunter trailer!

    by kevred

    If you're thinking of seeing it, don't watch the trailer. Almost all the best reveal/money-shot moments are in that trailer. I thought it was a fun, weird, creative film with outstanding, surprising effects, but watching trailer first, unfortunately, took away almost all the element of surprise. At every peak moment in the film (save maybe one clever and unsettling shot - the last moment in the cave), I was dogged by the feeling that I'd seen it already. If the pics above and the concept appeal to you, see it, you'll likely enjoy it. But do yourself a favor and don't get spoiled.

  • The worst offenders are the various earlier trailers you'll find on YouTube. Those show a lot more than this one does; this one is much more incomplete/partial in the shots it shows. But it still shows too much, and also gives the impression that the film is much more packed with action and trolls than it is. Much of the film is pretty slow, which makes the peak moments more interesting, and getting spoiled to those moments more damaging. See it surprised if you can. Also agree with ambush bug about seeing it on the big screen. I saw it in a lareg theater at the True/False film fest a couple months back and it was a good way to see both the massive creatures and the sweeping Norwegian landscapes.

  • May 20, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST

    So, a bunch of ugly Americans made a movie about a bunch of ugly Americans


    who get what's coming to them. Haven't seen the film and really have no desire to. Don't really want to see a bunch of jerks exploiting a tribe of people who's way of life should be respected and studied instead of exploited for cheap entertainment.

  • And you got that big eating nothing but tofu and wheat-grass, right? All kidding aside, I was as turned off by the animal killing as anyone. Thanks for the column, Bug.

  • May 20, 2011, 2:51 p.m. CST

    I'l admit Bug, that the impalment scene looks real.

    by cookylamoo

    And the rape at the end is very graphic. (More o because they play this weird, almost romantic music in the background). But the subsequent beating and beheading are pretty lame. I'm still trying to figure out how they did the "hang by her boobs scene" in Cannibal Ferox"

  • May 20, 2011, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Cannibal Haulocaust is low budget piece of crap movie

    by dahveed1972

    The only thing that makes it notable is the controversy it caused upon its release. No one gives a fuck that Eli Roth cited it as an influence, for obvious reasons. And the fact that you would waste yours and the reader's time on a mini-dissertation on this ugly, artless POS (as if it were The Exorcist, or NOTLD), makes me embarrased for you. The only "memorable" parts of CH are the animal deaths and the somewhat convincing (by 70's standards) dead bodies. The rest of the movie is a total bore. Considering the socio-political subtext of scenes of animal mutilation doesnt make the movie any more profound, im afraid. Troll Hunter, on the other hand, was a heckuva lot of fun. Maybe save your regurgetated pseudo-intellectual blather for something at least slightly better than, say, Uwe Bol's most recent "masterpiece". Just a thought.

  • May 20, 2011, 4:24 p.m. CST

    Cannibal Holocaust and On Golden Pond

    by Roger Moon

    remain the high water mark for 80s cinema.

  • May 21, 2011, 2:11 a.m. CST

    The Tunnel = the real fucking deal, folks.

    by DickBallsworth

    Dread-inducing and guaranteed to deliver the nightmares. Free legal download is a brilliant strategy, especially with a quality product like this. Fuck Paranormal Activity and Quarantine (actually, double-fuck Quarantine), not since [REC] have we had a total soul-ripper like The Tunnel. See it, but don't see it alone.

  • May 21, 2011, 8:42 a.m. CST

    Sorry, The Tunnel is average at best.

    by Fixthe Fernback

    Kudos for them releasing the film for free but it is not that great. If had I paid for a cinema ticket for it I would have been pissed. For diehard fans of the genre only in my humblest of opinions. Go watch REC instead.

  • May 21, 2011, 11:06 p.m. CST

    Saw CH over seven years ago and found it boring...

    by HollywoodHellraiser

    and depressing like some on here. It wasn't really a horror movie as much as a animal/human/shock/torture film! I just didn't see the appeal and the hyped. It was lame!

  • May 22, 2011, 5:53 p.m. CST

    [REC] =/= The Tunnel

    by DickBallsworth

    Two different animals, the only common trait is the "news reporter" angle, which is a pretty well worn plot device as it is. I do love [REC] (even it's sequel) and threw a shit fit when it got "remade" as Quarantine, but loved Tunnel with equal measure. To call it a [REC] ripoff is disingenuous at best.

  • May 23, 2011, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Best found footage film

    by anuar

    is NOROI (The Curse).

  • Found footage movies work a lot better when everyone who was involved in the filming is killed anyway.