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TWILIGHT getting you in the mood for some real vampire horror? Well AICN HORROR is here to quench your bloodlust with MARTIN! TSUI HARK’S VAMPIRE HUNTERS! BITE MARKS! BLOOD JUNKIE! & MIDNIGHT SON!

Logo by Kristian Horn
What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Yes, I know. There’s a new TWILIGHT in theaters today and the supporters are as vocal as the haters. Personally, anything to get folks to go see horror themed films (no matter how lame) is a good thing because that means if the theaters are filled with butts watching it, more horror films will be made. Though ultimately tame and schmaltzy, TWILIGHT can serve as (as writer Tim Seeley put it on my horror panel this summer at SDCC) a gateway drug steering a whole new generation in the direction of horror and that, my friends, is not a bad thing. So this week, I’m covering some newer and older horror films which definitely pack more bite than any of the TWILIGHT films. Below are films for all kinds of folks: homosexual vamps, 80’s retro Dracs, kung fu nosferatu, and a pair of angst ridden bloodsuckers. But first, here is a news bit to bite into…

Fan of PSYCHO?

Who isn’t, right?

Check out this cool story about an unmade PSYCHO sequel from 1980.

Special thanks to the article’s writer, William Wilson, for pointing me in this story’s direction. Great and interesting stuff.

Now, sink your teeth into this column, my children of the night.

(Click title to go directly to the feature)
MARTIN (1976)
And finally…NIGHT OF THE VAMPIRE Short Film

MARTIN (1976)

Directed by George A. Romero
Written by: George A. Romero
Starring John Amplas, Lincoln Maazel, Christine Forrest, Tom Savini, & George Romero
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Any horror aficionado worth listening to will tell you that GEORGE A. ROMERO’S MARTIN is a true vampire classic. And it is a great film. Though it is a film hindered slightly by amateur actors, Romero tells an intimate tale of a troubled young man who may or may not be a vampire. Though he does have visions of past lives where he lives out romanticized scenarios which are reminiscent of all of the old Hammer and Universal vampire films, Romero never plays his cards and tells us whether he’s just a man who thinks he’s a vamp or actually is one, and that’s why this film is a must see for all vampire fanatics.

Romero is at his best in this film during the silent moments. The opening scene on a train where Martin, reminiscent of today’s popular serial killer Dexter, sneaks into a woman’s cabin and shoots her with a needle: though lacking in Dexter’s knowledge of proper dosage recommended for immediate unconsciousness, there’s a stark reality to Martin’s attacks. John Amplas, who plays Martin, gives the character a vulnerability that makes him sympathetic even though he is doing despicable things to these women. His pleading with the women to just be calm, and that they’ll be asleep soon after poking them with a needle, is both horrifying and sad. Amplas does a fantastic job in these nervous moments and though it’s hard to sympathize with what looks to be a rape on screen, Romero and Amplas somehow make you root for Martin not to be caught.

A vampire is only as good as his Van Helsing, and in MARTIN, there’s a great one played by Lincoln Maazel. Maazel plays Martin’s uncle who immediately recognizes Martin as a Nosferatu. It’s somewhat comical the way this crazy uncle lobs accusations at Martin across the dinner table. The conflict between Martin and his uncle throughout the film escalates from laughable to deadly serious as Martin starts stalking his next victims in the neighborhood. Much like the awkward opening sequence, Martin’s night attack on a young woman he believes to be home alone turns out to be overly complex. In a day and age of cell phones, it’s also pretty entertaining the way Martin thwarts his victim’s attempts to call the police by picking up the phone and dialing random numbers when they try to dial for the police.

All the way up to the explosive finale, MARTIN is thoroughly entertaining. Cameos by gore great Tom Savini and Romero himself up the ante in the acting department and Amplas does a great job as the title character, but the rest of the players are a bit by the numbers when it comes to reading their lines. Despite that, fans of both vampire film and DEXTER will definitely get into MARTIN. Though you won’t see Martin turning into a bat or frying in the sun, you do see a scary, humorous, and thrilling depiction of a warped world through the eyes of what would be a vampire.


Directed by Wellson Chin
Written by Tsui Hark
Starring Ken Chang, Michael Chow, Lam Suet, Chan Kwok Kwan, Anya, Yu Rong Guang, Horace Lee Wai Shing, & Ji Chun Hua
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Ever since I saw MR. VAMPIRE as a kid, I’ve been a fan of the hopping vampire film. Though wire fu is often criticized as being awkward and overly staged, I can’t help but marvel at the work put into this type of film to give the viewer a unique mix of fantasy, horror, and choreography. Yes, that’s right, choreography. Though it is looked at as a fighting style, when depicted on the screen in a manner where life and death is not at stake, it is choreography and though I don’t often get a chance to talk about such a subject here on AICN HORROR, TSUI HARK’S VAMPPIRE HUNTERS sure does give me the opportunity. Being a huge fan of kung fu all the way back to when I was a kid, rewatching this film for review this week had me grinning from opening to closing credits.

All of the standards are here. In the tradition of those old Kung Fu Theater shows (which I watched with my brother after Sunday WWF Wrestling on USA Network), I chose to watch the dubbed version of this film, which made it all the more enjoyable. You’ve got your slapstick overacting between the main four Vampire Hunters who often smack each other around like Moe, Larry, and Curly after too many Sake bombs. You’ve got your over the top sound effects where every movement requires an electrifying swish, whomp, or bloosh! And finally, you’ve got your elaborate sets and ornate weaponry, all gorgeously crafted and oozing with old world mystique.

But on top of all of that, the best part of this film is the expansion of the Jiang Shi, better known as the Hopping Vampire. Unlike Western culture which has differentiated between vampires and zombies, the Hopping Vampire is a combination of both. When a zombie tastes human blood it becomes a vampire. But unlike the romanticized version seen everywhere from the Universal to Anne Rice to TWILIGHT depictions of the vampire, the Hopping Vampire is a decaying corpse, stiff as a board, yet floating and hopping toward our heroes and damsels relentlessly. There’s something utterly scary about the way these inanimate objects move. Instead of shambling slowly like the American undead, they hop, which is a bit ridiculous looking sometimes, but fun nevertheless. Once turned to a vampire, though, the corpses float, their feet never touching the ground, and this is a damn scary effect. According to the film, these monsters spawn from the ancient Chinese custom of preserving the dead by dipping them in wax, making them human statues. Director Wellson Chin takes full advantage of these age old customs and making them absolutely chilling to experience.

On top of all of that, the kung fu is fantastic in VAMPIRE HUNTERS as four warriors (named Wind, Lightning, Rain, and Thunder) and their Master battle legions of the undead. There’s swordfighting, spear flinging, chain whipping, and all sorts of flips and wire fu going on. Rarely is there a moment without either a fight or a horror, keeping this film a brisk adrenaline ride.

There’s a little bit of everything in this one. Zombie wranglers, floating vamps, legions of hopping dead, killer golden cobras, and tons and tons of kung fu. Though the story is pretty simple--a quintet of warriors search out a vampire, lose their Master, and stumble into a plot to overthrow a powerful and rich family--the film itself is as dynamic as they come. I loved every flipping minute of TSUI HARK’S VAMPIRE HUNTERS and if you’re bored of traditional vamps, this is the shot in the arm you need to see.

New on DVD this week from Breaking Glass Pictures!


Directed by Mark Bessenger
Written by Mark Bessenger
Starring Benjamin Lutz, Windham Beacham, David Alanson, Krystal Main, & Stephen Geoffreys
More info on this film on its Facebook page and the website.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

A while back, I reviewed a film called VAMPIRE BOYS. It was about gay vampires and I didn’t really give it a favorable review, not because of the subject matter, but because it wasn’t a good movie. But if you’re looking for a film about gay vampires that is actually entertaining, I’ve found the one for you. BITE MARKS is a fun romp, never taking itself overly seriously and with enough winks and nods to the audience to make it a film worth taking a look at. What I liked about BITE MARKS is that despite the film having homosexual overtones, it doesn’t dumb things town or preach to its audience. It’s a horror film with two gay characters, but doesn’t necessarily make it all about the two gay characters. This, I like.

Windham Beacham and David Alanson play a homosexual couple hiking across America in order to reconnect. They happen upon a good old boy trucker named Brewster (played by Benjamin Lutz) who has been questioning his preference in women of late. Hauling a load of coffins to an unknown location, Brewster decides to pick up the weary travelers and soon the trio find themselves trapped in the cab of the truck with the occupants of the coffins surrounding them. They have no choice but to wait the vamps out until morning.

This puts our trio of characters in the same place and forced to confront their issues. The couple must face their relationship problems while Brewster ponders his sexuality and is conflicted with his own prejudices toward homosexuals. Though there are a few humorous attempts that fall flat, for the most part this is a fun film, steeped with innuendo, but never shying away from gore or scares.

This film also has a really fun animated opening title sequence by Jovani Olivares incorporating some iconic images of vampires and other horror tropes, though the score of the film sounds very similar to the GREMLINS theme song. Additionally, the truck driver, played by Benjamin Lutz is called Brewster giving his brother, played by Stephen Geoffreys, a chance to repeat his famous FRIGHT NIGHT line, which teeters on the line between cool and hokey. These are just a few of the bits that make this film a damn fun experience.

Horror films, especially vampire films, are always ripe with innuendo. It’s great to see a sophisticated take on horror using all of the classic tropes that doesn’t beat the innuendo into you. BITE MARKS takes the more subtle approach, which to me makes it all the more effective.

New on DVD from Troma!


Directed by Drew Rosas
Written by Drew Rosas
Starring Nick Sommer, Michael Johnson, Sarah Luther, Emily Treolo, Andrew Swant
More info on this film on its Facebook page and the website.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

It took quite a while before I realized that BLOOD JUNKIE was a modern film made to look like an 80’s slasher film rather than one just filmed in the 80’s. Right from the opening sequence I wondered if this was untalented folks making a bad film or if it was talented folks going out of their way to make a good film that looks like a bad film. Turns out it is the latter.

I had a blast with this film. From the over the top soon to be victims who high five, guzzle cheap beer, and shout “Chicks!” to every camera cliché and trick in the book used, this is a love letter to bad 80’s horror for anyone who lived through and loved that era of horror films. The set up is paper thin. Two guys meet two girls in the parking lot of a liquor store. The girls have money for booze. The guys have the car. They get together and go camping. Of course, there’s a blood sucking killer in the woods as well. This film looks like it was filmed for about 12 dollars, but the filmmakers use this to their advantage, amping up the cheese and wallowing like a pig in shit in every low fi trick in the book.

If you’re a fan of A WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and lines like this
“This chick will melt like a stick of butter in the palm of my tongue.”
make you laugh, then this is the film for you. The film is surprisingly effective in the chills department once the blood starts flowing and in between it will have you laughing your ass off at how ridiculous the culture of the 80’s really was. Plus, unlike a lot of Troma films, the narrative doesn’t fall apart in the end. From start to finish this is a low, passionate, sloppy hug around all things 80’s horror. I’m addicted to BLOOD JUNKIE and will eagerly anticipate what director Drew Rosas has in store in future efforts.

Advance Review: Recently played at the 2011 Toronto After Dark Film Festival and coming to FearNET January 2012!


Directed by Scott Leberecht
Written by Scott Leberecht
Starring Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish, Jo D. Jonz, Arlen Escarpeta, Larry Cedar, Tracey Walter
Find out more on the webite and on its Facebook Page.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

MIDNIGHT SON could be best described as a modern day MARTIN with a little bit of the indie film HABIT tossed in for good measure. Those familiar with those two films will see some of the same themes at play here. Though MIDNIGHT SON doesn’t pull any punches admitting that the title character named Jacob is undeniably a vampire, like MARTIN, it provides an intimate look at a man who doesn’t know what he is and it trying unsuccessfully to find out. Of course, his one detriment is that he doesn’t know where to find these answers in a world where vamps are only found in midnight matinees. Like HABIT, which highlighted the need for blood as a metaphor for drug addiction, once he tastes human blood, Jacob quickly starts a downward spiral into madness and chaos.

Despite its similarities to these two films, MIDNIGHT SON stands on its own when it comes to acting, direction, and story. Writer/director Scott Leberecht takes his sweet old time, relying on many a quiet moment allowing Jacob’s character to silently shine through as his hunger develops and overcomes him. This film definitely snowballs with Jacob first discovering a taste for raw meat, but when that fails to quell his grumbling stomach, he ups the ante by trying to break into a hospital hazardous waste dumpster looking for discarded blood. When an employee catches Jacob in the search for blood, he exploits the need, stringing Jacob along like a drug dealer to a junkie.

I also really loved the patience this story has and the unconventional ways it uses well tread vampires standards. We’ve seen the beast within rage uncontrollably during a sexually charged moment, but we haven’t seen the vamp rage within triggered by a cocaine nosebleed. Later moments depict the vampire’s aversion to the sun in effective and imaginative ways.

The acting here is top tier. Zak Kilberg, who plays Jacob, is reserved and teeters between being wholesome boy next door and quiet serial killer type. Looking a little bit like a cross between Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ed Norton, Kilberg does a great job bringing to life this complex character. Props should also be given to Maya Parish in a brave performance as a girl attracted to Jacob but sporting secrets of her own. Character actors Larry Cedar (DEADWOOD) and Tracy Walter (BATMAN, CONAN THE BARBARIAN) add some nice secondary performances here as well. With Jo D. Jonz offering a lot of bite as the despicable blood pusher taking advantage of Jacob’s addiction.

Though not necessarily original, Leberecht delivers a truly harrowing experience in MIDNIGHT SON as Jacob discovers that he is not a human being, but a creature of the night. This film is not without a heavy dose of angst, but unlike TWILIGHT, which dumbs things town to dullard degrees, MIDNIGHT SON is a sophisticated film about addiction, relationships, and understanding who one is. Lacking in schmaltz and lameness seen in heaping doses in TRUE BLOOD, VAMPIRE DIARIES, and TWILIGHT, MIDNIGHT SON is a much more effective and touching take on vampirism.

And finally…here’s a short film from the twisted minds that brought you MIDNIGHT ROADKILL called NIGHT OF THE VAMPIRE. This fast and fun found footage mini-flick is brought to you by Owen Mulligan and DeadFi Productions . 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. Mark is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and will be releasing FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA in November (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees) You can pre-order it here! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!

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Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 18, 2011, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Why would Twilight be getting us in the mood for real horror?


    Do you even know your readership anymore?

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 9:57 a.m. CST


    by Ambush Bug

    becaue Twilight is lame and you might want something with more bite. Troll on, hater.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Only thing Twilight gets me in the mood for....

    by LargoJr

    ... is a red hot spoon so I can gouge my eyes out. After that... not going to be much 'WATCHING' in my house. Think I'll listen to porn after that.. the dialogue tends to range from horrific to hilarious most times.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:07 a.m. CST

    So why even mention Twilight?


    Surely you know that the majority of Talkbackers aren't what you would call your typical Twilight fan base? You could've just said "hey, if you're sick of all the Twilight hype everywhere, why not check out some real vampire horror?"

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Some of these actually look fun enough to chase down

    by LargoJr

    Might have to take a peak at them... though SERIOUSLY A.B.... most of the readers are going to avoid anything Twilight related like a godamn plague. You should know that. Title of your thread seems oblivious to that fact.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Should have included Twins of Evil in a mix like that....

    by darthderp Blood, boobies, and Peter F'n Cushing. Need I say more?

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Where is the Natalie Wood Murder Talkback?

    by Drunken Busboy

    Natalie Wood was a HUGE movie star. I would assume her death/alleged murder would qualify! Robert Wagner must be a very nervous man now. I would give anything to know what Christopher Walken is thinking right now! ;)

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:26 a.m. CST

    I think the best example of the "anti-Twilight" would be Near Dark.

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    I'll watch it just for Bill Paxton...but the rest is just as good.

  • I have my own little scary movie collection to watch when i want to thank you very much. BTW i watched 'Dead man's shoes' last night, not a traditional horror movie but scary with loads of tension and a n unexpectedly sad ending, highly recommended.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:33 a.m. CST


    by nolan bautista

    totally agree w/ "Twins of Evil"..don't forget to include "Vampire Lovers" in there..they gave me boners i didnt know what to do with.(i was 6 yrs old)

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:38 a.m. CST

    <--- LOVES Martin

    by SupermanIsMyGod

    My dad is friends with John Amplas (I was in a community theatre play he directed about Golda Meir...seriously) so I've been exposed to that flick for many years. Seek it out if you havent

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:51 a.m. CST

    MARTIN rules.

    by djangoilbastardo

    It's a pity so few give Romero credit (or attention) for anything other than his zombie flicks or CREEPSHOW. And while we're at it, KNIGHTRIDERS is another of his unjustly neglected gems.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:52 a.m. CST

    Haven't seen MARTIN in years - have to revisit

    by melonman

    Easily ROMERO at his best behind the original DEAD trilogy.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Haters gonna hate.

    by Ambush Bug

    I put TWILIGHT in the title because it is in theaters this week. Why do I have to explain this? I guess there's no use in arguing logic with a man who calls himself kevin_costner's_recycled_piss. As for TWINS OF EVIL, here's my review of the film from early this year: It is a great film with great boobs. And, drstrangerlove, too bad you tuned out so early. Later on, I give a sweet recipe for my Thanksgiving basted yams dish...

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Don't be so touchy ambush bug


    I was simply pointing out that having Twilight in your heading isn't exactly something that's going to get people to read your article. Oh, and mocking someone for having a silly talkback name on AICN is just absurd.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 11:07 a.m. CST


    by djangoilbastardo

    I'm normally a pretty reserved dude, but man, if I met Amplas, I'd probably go all "Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney" like the old SNL skit. " 'Member that time you put in those fake vampire teeth and scared the shit outta your Uncle?...That was awesome!"

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 11:08 a.m. CST


    by djangoilbastardo

    MARTIN kicks the crap out of DAY OF THE DEAD. And I love DAY OF THE DEAD.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Romero's The Dark Half is an overlooked, and pretty good King adaptation.

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    And I like Timothy Hutton, but maybe not in that role.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 1:07 p.m. CST


    by SupermanIsMyGod

    I was only 8 or 9 at the time, so I wasn't quite fanboy-ish. He was just the director and some guy my dad knew. But it's funny you should mention Day Of The the same play was a girl named Katie, Lori Cardille's (Sarah) daughter. So I met her too a few times. If you grow up in Pittsburgh, I guess the chances are pretty good that you'll meet some zombie people. I lived in Squirrel Hill, just a few miles from Monroeville and the mall where Dawn was shot.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 1:11 p.m. CST

    Martin is my third favorite Romero film

    by Samuel Fulmer

    Right after Night and Dawn of the Dead.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Always had a soft spot for NIGHTRIDERS.

    by Ambush Bug

    Though it was kind of more of an adventure film than a horror film if I remember correctly. But with the inclusion of Romero and Tom Savini, it still kind of counts. Look for some NIGHTRIDERS coverage right around the time the new GHOST RIDER sequel comes out in a motorcycle horror column.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 2:32 p.m. CST


    by Lyzard

    Why did you have remind about Habit?! I have spent the past few years trying to forget that film!

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 2:42 p.m. CST

    @ lyz

    by Ambush Bug

    I liked the concept of HABIT better than the film itself. I think. It's been a while since I've seen it.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 3:18 p.m. CST

    Holy Shit! Those Psycho II guys...

    by eustisclay royally fucked!

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 3:51 p.m. CST

    So much love for MARTIN and John Amplas

    by Riff_Randell

    I truly believe Martin is second only to NOTLD when it comes to Romero's oeuvre. It's in a category all by itself. Early 70s horror indies are the absolute best. Just the natural-looking cinematography alone is worth the admission price.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 7:15 p.m. CST


    by Buzz Maverik

    I was going to mention NEAR DARK myself as a great vampire flick (although I don't like cures for vampirism except for stakes through the heart) but even though it wasn't a great movie, LOST BOYS is a bad movie I love and is also the Dude's answer to TWILIGHT. Except for Bill from BILL & TED, all the Lost Boys, and even their potential recruit are hunky dudes (at the time described as Brat Pack Vampires). The guys out to stake them, the heroes of the movie, are two comic book geeks in camouflage and their gay friend (Corey Haim's character was gay-- what other teenage boy would have a poster of Rob Lowe with expose shoulder on his bedroom wall? -- this was a great portrayal of a gay teen on film because it didn't matter that he was gay, the most interesting thing about him wasn't that he was gay but that he was out to save his brother from become a bloodsucker. Like, his gayness was no more an issue than Corey Feldman's straightness). Anyway, it was GUYS LIKE US against GUYS LIKE TWILIGHT, except I'd rather be killed by the LOST BOYS because they were honest about being evil, rode motorcycles, lived in a sunken hotel and were generally cooler vamps.

  • Nov. 18, 2011, 7:19 p.m. CST


    by Buzz Maverik

    Grace Jones as a stripper vampire. Mind you, I'm still not convinced Grace Jones wasn't a dude and would have rather had Teresa Graves from OLD DRACULA drain me (Teresa Graves was smoking hot), but VAMP was fun crap. Bill Murray's sidekick from MEATBALLS and Robert Downey Jr.'s sidekick from WEIRD SCIENCE as frat pledges trying to hire strippers and ending up in a club full of blood suckers.

  • Nov. 19, 2011, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Good section Ambush Bug

    by david starling

    Can I add another addition - the awesome Shadow of the Vampire? A superb movie, with a barely recognizable Willem Dafoe playing 'method actor' to his role way way too far!! John Malkovich and Eddie Izzard also provide brilliant support. Yes, its a lot different to the above - but by no means to be ignored!!

  • Nov. 19, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Yeah, Bug. KNIGHTRIDERS (with a K) ain't horror at all.

    by djangoilbastardo

    But Stephen King's in it. And Ed Harris at his most badass. For my money, a pissed off Ed Harris is scarier than most horror flicks.

  • Nov. 25, 2011, 8:53 a.m. CST

    Asian vampire movies

    by Killdozers Evil Twin Brother

    AmBug just solved a dilemma for me after a discussion with friends the other day. I noted that I watch quite a lot of horror films, but other than Chan Wook Park's "Thirst" I wasn't able to name another asian film that dealt directly with the vampire legend. I totally blanked on Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters, so cheers for including that here. It just seems strange to me that asian cultures are so ready to adopt and re-interpret western legends to their own tastes, yet the legend of the vampire doesn't seem to interest them much. Wonder why that is...