Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. We’ve got another batch of new, indie and rereleased horrors this week as I continue to prepare for SDCC 2011. I’ll be publishing a full rundown of my escapades at San Diego Comic Con this year, but below are the panels I’ll be taking part in, if you’re curious.
Thursday July 21st 1:30-2:30 I’ll be hosting a panel called AICN COMICS: HORROR ON THE PANELED PAGE with Steve Niles (30 DAYS OF NIGHT, CRIMINAL MACABRE), Joshua Hale Fialkov (ECHOES, I, VAMPIRE), David Quinn (FAUST), Tim Seeley (HACK/SLASH), Brandon Seifert (WITCH DOCTOR), Terrence Zdunich (REPO THE GENETIC OPERA, THE MOLTING), Matt Pizzolo (GODKILLER, HALO-8), Brea Grant (WE WILL BURY YOU, SUICIDE GIRLS) and Zane Grant (WE WILL BURY YOU, DETECTIVE WARLOCK) and possibly a few more surprise guests. We will be talking about what works in making horror comics and what doesn’t.
Friday July 22nd 3:00-4:00 I’ll be sitting on a panel for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND where I’ll be making a special announcement about a future project I’ll be doing with FM (can’t wait to tell you all about it!).
Friday July 22nd 5:00-6:00 I’ll be moderating the MONSTERVERSE COMICS ATE MY BRAIN panel where I’ll be talking with Monsterverse's Kerry Gammill (SUPERMAN) and Sam F. Park (THE HALFWAY HOUSE), Bela Lugosi Jr., screenwriter Peter Briggs (HELLBOY), Michael Tabb (WEREWOLF), Robert Tinnell (FLESH AND BLOOD), James Farr (XOMBIE), Chris Moreno (WORLD WAR HULK), Dan Brereton (THE NOCTURNALS), James Groman (THE HOBBIT), and Mike Dubisch (ALIENS VS PREDATOR) about Monsterverse's horror projects such as FLESH & BLOOD and BELA LUGOSI’S TALES FROM THE GRAVE.
Finally, Saturday July 23rd 7:00-8:00 I’ll most likely be taking part in Halo-8’s panel featuring HALO-8 producer Matt Pizzolo and his talented creators Tim Seeley (HACK/SLASH), Ben Templesmith (WORMWOOD GENTLEMAN CORPSE, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT), producer FJ Desanto, and other special guests. We’ll be talking about HALO-8’s upcoming illustrated films and other future projects.
This week, I interviewed Swifty Lang, Michael Lapinski, and Chris Mangun the creators behind the awesome werewolf miniseries, FEEDING GROUND from Archaia. Check out the interview here.
NOT SAFE FOR WORK ALERT! I know Harry posted this earlier this week, but I couldn’t help but repost this amazing poster for NURSE 3D starring Paz de la Heurta (best known for her role as Steve Buscemi’s whiney moll in BOARDWALK EMPIRE). I have no idea what the film is going to be like, but y-y-y-yowza is that an eye-catching poster! Can’t wait to find out more about this project! Click on the poster and that won’t be the only thing that grows! THUS ENDS THE NOT SAFE FOR WORK ALERT!
And now let’s get on with the show. Enjoy!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
HOLD THE MAYO Short Film (2011)
THE INTERROGATION (2011)
DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN (2011)
DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR (2010)
THE REEF (2010)
And finally…THE INSANE (2008)!
HOLD THE MAYO Short FilmDirected by Jeffrey Williams
Written by Jeffrey Williams
Starring Damian Samuels, Saul Herckis
This short film is touring festivals at the moment. Be sure to follow the HOLD THE MAYO Facebook Page to find out when and where you can see it! And on the HOLD THE MAYO Website here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
This short film had me rolling. HOLD THE MAYO is an exceptionally well made little film clocking in at around 5 minutes long. Director / writer Jeffrey Williams does a fantastic job with a simple concept. The setting is a mundane sandwich shop filled with impatient patrons and an overwhelmed fry cook. It’s a scene we see every day at lunch time when everyone only has a scant few moments to fill their gob before returning to their desks. But on this day, with one particular order, the fry cook makes a mistake that may cost him his life.
The less revealed the better about the final moments of HOLD THE MAYO. Let’s just say things get extremely serious and bloody by the end of the story. Stars Damian Samuels and Saul Herckis do fantastic jobs in their roles as cook and patron, taking the ludicrous events in the end seriously without so much as a wink or nod to the camera. Though things get campy over the closing credits, HOLD THE MAYO is definitely one of those devious little films that outshine a lot of the dull full length horrors out there. Follow where and when to see HOLD THE MAYO here and here! This little short deserves an audience!
THE INTERROGATION (2011)Directed by Kevin Edward Epperson
Written by Kevin Edward Epperson
Starring Nick Bender, Arch Harmon, Dave Mills, Derek "Pretty Boy" Dow and introducing Kayli Fawbush
Find out when and where you can see THE INTERROGATION on the film’s Facebook Page here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I was blown away with this little indie film from my home town of Chicago. THE INTERROGATION focuses mainly on a young man accused of a crime and being held in a holding room of sorts. Soon a game of cat and mouse is being played between the interrogator and the interrogatee. Throughout this film, I found myself flip flopping numerous times about who is the real victim of this story. In the end, my suspicions were correct, but the ride to get to the conclusion of this film was definitely an impressive one.
Director / writer Kevin Edward Epperson sets the stage well in this story that takes place in just a few locations. Epperson writes some crisp dialog and does a great job at manipulating the viewer in multiple directions with plays on words and flip flopping perspectives. The accused Charlie played by Nick Bender does a decent job with his performance which requires quite a bit of range. Bender does a decent job in this story, though at times the script requires beats that are a bit out of his range. Bender does do a truly impressive job when his character takes a turn for the creep though. Jennings, the interrogator (played by Arch Harmon) is much more comfortable in his role and delivers a powerfully chilling performance. In the end, though, Epperson’s script is the star of this film.
This is a film that is guaranteed to make you squirm. The subject of child molestation is always one to irk folks. I have to admit there were moments when I felt unease at what was going on. But the thing is, nothing is shown on camera. To Epperson’s credit, he never shows us the despicable acts Charlie is accused of. It’s all in the script and performances. It’s a true testament of good filmmaker to make the viewer feel something about nothing. THE INTERROGATION takes us to dark corners without showing us what’s hidden in that darkness. Eppseron shows true potential as a filmmaker in both the way this film was made and written. You can find out when and where THE INTERROGATION will be playing here!
DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN (2011)Directed by Wayne Capps
Written by Wayne Capps
Starring Patrick Hussion, Kelly Coulter and Jillian Walzer
Find out when and where you can check out DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN is another found footage film. I wanted to state that right out because folks tend to be polarized on these types of films. Some hate the shaky hand held camera work or write found footage films off as the cheapest subgenre of horror films. Others, like myself, love the feeling of immersion found footage films exude and dive in like a kid in a swimming pool. As a kid, I was like that too, until I dove into a pool too shallow and scuffed the top of my head up damn good. Still, despite the depth or shallowness of the found footage film, I still find myself diving in, for better or worse. DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN is not the most perfect found footage film. Director / writer Wayne Capps cheats every now and then when he supplies shots that occur without a camera man present in order to further the narrative to the next scene, but there are enough frightening scenes throughout to recommend to folks who like this type of film.
A team of actors decide to “act” like a paranormal investigation team and investigate (exploit) a family who claims to be haunted by a ghost in an old mansion in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. They believe the house is haunted by the Grey Man, a local legend of a ghost who haunts the beaches and warns people about hurricanes before they hit. When the investigators show up, almost immediately they encounter bizarre phenomenon. The film is prefaced that everything we are seeing is footage released from actual police tapes and that what we are seeing is 100% authentic.
As I said before, there are scenes in DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN that almost immediately make you realize that this isn’t actual footage. The film starts out with the entire crew sitting at a table. The lead “investigator” has set up cameras around the table, but the scene makes a series of cuts and close-ups that would require an additional cameraman to accomplish. Another scene occurs as the investigators are walking up to the home to meet the family for the first time that could not have been shot by anyone in the crew. These tiny blips in the logic shot me out of the film; luckily there are some extremely effective scenes that pulled me back in.
DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN is strongest when it lets the scary events just occur. There is an especially creepy scene involving the crew happening upon a little girl levitating and another scene of a séance that goes horribly and bloodily wrong and yet another scene where one of the owners of the creepy house tearfully describes an encounter with an unknown entity. All of these scenes are the best in the film and most convincing.
Most of the performances in DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN are pretty good. The holes in logic aside, there were scenes in this film that had my hairs raising. Though not the best in found footage horror, DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN does have some moments of sheer horror. This is a can’t miss for fans of GHOST HUNTERS and other ghost investigator series on TV. You can find out when and where you can check out DOCUMENTING THE GREY MAN here!
30th Anniversary edition available now on DVD from Troma!
NIGHTBEAST (1982)Directed by Don Dohler
Written by Don Dohler
Starring Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karen Kardian, George Stover, Don Liefert
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Don’t get me wrong. This is a bad movie. But sometimes, bad movies can be so bad they travel around the world of bad and somehow end up being kind of good. I’m sure some older readers will remember this 80’s schlocker about an alien who crash lands in a country town and disintegrates anyone and everyone in his path for no apparent reason. I’m sure there might even be some who would admit to being scared of the creature in this film. If NIGHTBEAST wasn’t on MSK3K, it should have. It has all the makings of a candidate for the show. Even if it wasn’t on that show, NIGHTBEAST is the type of movie to watch with buddies and beer and ridicule the hell out of. Troma is sponsoring the re-release of NIGHTBEAST with some slick new packaging and a pretty clean transfer. Though some scenes are pretty dark and grainy still, I guarantee it’s the best this film has ever looked.
Amateur acting, cheap effects, and a sloppy script doesn’t help NIGHTBEAST. The actors in this film deliver lines like they’re reading mattress tags. Tom Griffith plays Sheriff Cinder, who battles the beast without an ounce of muscle and a grey afro more akin to Fredric Douglas than William Katt despite his Caucasian-ness. Lisa Kent, played by the mulletted Karin Kardian, shares a love scene with the sheriff in the latter half of the movie that is more frightening than all of the alien attacks combined. Though their performances are wooden, I was morbidly fascinated by these two actors. The rest of the cast shouldn’t waste time picking out an Oscar outfit either, but it’s the amateur delivery of the lines that makes this film all the more appealing to me. I’m just sick that way, I guess.
NIGHTBEAST does have some fun moments of gore as the beast doesn’t just disintegrate his prey, he likes to rip appendages and heads off as well. There are some gory shots of goodness in this one, celebrating the scope director / writer Don Dohler was going for. The script basically follows the structure of JAWS in that folks are trying to evacuate the town due to the menace. A few adventurous types and a few stubborn and drunk ones decide to stay behind. Of course, they meet the beast who is pretty impressive in pictures, but it’s obvious fairly early on that it’s just a hairless ape mask repainted and sporting a glued on set of uneven teeth. All in all, NIGHTBEAST is drive-in, beer-swilling, audience-heckling fun. Don’t go in expecting to be scared. But if you’re looking to laugh at a senseless schlocker, NIGHTBEAST will fit the bill nicely.
Available on BluRay & DVD this week!
DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR (2010)Directed by Jim Wynorski
Written by Jim Wynorski, Mike Maclean
Starring Keith Carradine, James C. Burns, John Callahan, Lisa Clapperton
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR is the third “Roger Corman presents” / ScyFy film I’ve reviewed in this column. The first two, DINOSHARK and SHARKTOPUS, I chided for wasting my time with terrible acting, hokey scripts, and god-awful CGI. I was expecting to go three for three in hating these films, but turns out DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR is actually pretty fun. For the most part the acting is decent, the script is energetic, and most importantly, the effects are the best of the bunch.
Oh yeah, and David Carradine is in it too, which automatically makes it cool.
Don’t get me wrong, DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR ain’t Shakespeare. It often goes for the lowest common denominator when it comes to humor. But whereas DINOSHARK and SHARKTOPUS seemed to just show one scene of the monster attacking someone or something after another, DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR at least attempts to tie things together and have more to it than just random monster attacks. Those attacks occur, mind you, but they are more effective and more entertaining when the stuff in between actually makes sense. A lab accident lets loose both a giant crocodile monster and a giant hybrid between an alligator and a T-Rex. Humanity gets in the middle of this battle between the monsters. What makes this story fun is that two teams of totally different people are after these beasts. It’s almost like two different movies are going on in tandem as a science team is after the SuperGator while a mercenary team is after the DinoCroc. Not until the two monsters meet do the teams collide and converge.
As I said above, all of the same elements in SHARKTOPUS and DINOSHARK are present in DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR, but because of the punchy story, some decent acting, some moments of fun sprinkled in (the monsters eat elderly folks, pervy photographers, ditzy bathing suit clad beauties, and other morons), and effects that aren’t as painful to watch as in the other films, this film turned out to be surprisingly digestible. Not sure why I liked this film better than the rest. Maybe I was just in a good mood while watching it. Maybe it was Carradine hamming it up. Who knows? Nevertheless, I’d recommend a lazy Saturday afternoon viewing of DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR. It’s a good way to waste an hour and a half. Maybe there’s hope for these “Roger Corman Presents” ScyFy films after all…
Available on DVD & BluRay July 19th!
THE REEF (2010)Directed by Andrew Traucki
Written by Andrew Traucki, James M. Vernon
Starring Damian Walshe-Howling, Gyton Grantley, Adrienne Pickering, Zoe Naylor, Kieran Darcy-Smith
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Out of all the films I’ve reviewed this week, THE REEF is the one I whole-heartedly recommend most of all. As I explain in each column’s intro, there is nothing more frightening to me than a shark. Maybe it’s something engrained in my primal being. Maybe I was chomped in half by one when I was a kid. No matter what the reason, merely seeing a shark on screen scares the piddle out of me. Director / writer Andrew Traucki is counting on this fear throughout THE REEF and delivers a nerve-shredding lost at sea masterpiece from beginning to end. Shot on a limited budget, Traucki makes do with every trick he has and offers a convincing tale of survival pitting man vs. the most dangerous sea predator on the planet; the great white shark.
A quintet of beautiful people set out on a snorkeling cruise along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. When their boat capsizes and overturns after hitting a reef, the group must decide whether they want to die of dehydration on the boat or brave shark infested waters. Knowing what you know now about me, you know which I would choose, but this group chooses to take their chances in the water. The cast, lead by impressive leading man with the coolest name I’ve ever heard of Damian Walshe-Howling are all pretty damn impressive and they had better be because the film hinges on their performances as they swim along the open sea. Walshe-Howling commands the screen every second that he on it as a good intentioned sailor who convinces the group to swim to an island no one can see. Zoe Naylor is also very good in this as Walshe-Howling’s estranged girlfriend. The emotional core of the film rests on these two and the likeability of these actors makes it easy to root for these two to make it to shore.
I hate director Andrew Traucki for making such an effective shark film. He pulls out all of the stops, taking full advantage of the fear of what’s below the surface of the water, focusing most of the time on the fearful faces of the humans bobbing above water. Traucki cleverly uses the limitation that only one of the swimmers possesses a diving mask to look and see what’s swimming around down there. The audience only sees the flurry of shark activity underwater when Walshe-Howling does when he bobs underwater. By doing this, the viewer, much like the rest of the three swimmers are blind most of the time, only knowing what terror brews beneath in the splash filled frantic scans Walshe-Howling witnesses with the goggles. It’s a clever way to manipulate the viewer and I fell for it every damn time.
I guarantee you will have a fear-filled toe-curling good time being scared at this film. THE REEF will make you pull your legs up tight into you whether you’re in water or not. It is a film that had me out of my seat and literally screaming for the swimmers to get to shore. And the underwater scenes of the shark barreling toward the viewer reminded me of the stuff of my worst nightmares. THE REEF is an absolutely horrifying good time and one of the best shark films since JAWS. I’m interviewing director Andrew Traucki this weekend and will post it next week. In the mean time, trust me and check out THE REEF when it’s released on DVD next week!
And finally…with every waking moment of my life being overcome with SDCC 2011 plans lately, here’s the winner for the 2008 Comic Con Short Film Competition called THE INSANE! 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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