AICN HORROR looks at new horrors THE SILENT HOUSE! ZYDECO! SHACKLED! KEEPSAKE! WOUND! & a look back at PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE!!!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Now, no one is going to call this week’s new horrors achievements in modern cinema, but there’s something undeniably cool about horror done on the cheap. Though the seams are often visible and the acting is not up to snuff all of the time, sometimes the most meager of budgets can house the most horrifying of nightmares. As usual, this week’s fright flicks range from good to not so much, but I think there’s a little bit of something for everyone this week.
But first, before we get to those, there’s this…
Check out this AICN HORROR debut of a Tom Hodge poster from the upcoming horror film CELL COUNT. Looks like some creepy medical horror is coming our way. Find out more about CELL COUNT here! I plan on reviewing this new film soon, but in the meantime click on the image to make it grow and check out the trailer for CELL COUNT below!
I want to keep folks up to date on films covered here on AICN HORROR. MONSTER BRAWL was reviewed here a short while ago here and now Fangoria is hosting a screening of MONSTER BRAWL on Friday April 13th in Toronto, Ontario. They are also screening a short film MELISSA! which is a horror/fantasy/thriller inspired by classic monster movies. Find out more about this event here! Check out the trailer for MELISSA! below!
And here’s the trailer for MONSTER BRAWL.
The warped minds behind REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA, Terrance Zdunich and Darren Lynn Bousman, are teaming up again for THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL! Starting April 5th, Bousman and Zdunich announced this week that they are taking the film on tour with a whole hellish sideshow of events such as burlesque, special personality meet and greets, Q&A forums, sing-alongs, costume contests, and a whole lot of devilish behavior. You’ll also get to enjoy never-before-seen REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA behind-the-scenes footage and bonus features and, most notably, an exclusive viewing of THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL! I can’t wait until this devilish road show makes it to my town. Find out about tour dates, tickets and all other kinds of demonic surprises here!
And now, on with the new horrors!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959)
THE SILENT HOUSE (2010)
And finally…Richard Karpala’s DEADBOX!
New on BluRay/DVD! Also available on Riff Trax!
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959)aka GRAVE ROBBERS FROM OUTER SPACE
Directed by Edward D. Wood Jr.
Written by Edward D. Wood Jr.
Starring Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson, Bela Lugosi, Vampira, Dudley Manlove, Joanna Lee, John Breckinridge
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
Ever since I started doing this AICN HORROR section on Ain’t It Cool News, I have seen my fair share of stinkers. Bad editing, bad acting, bad writing, just bad filmmaking is something I’ve grown accustomed to. When you review horror, they can’t all be gems, so I tend to look at them through a lens of what positive can I say about this film or how can I constructively criticize this film. I do this because I believe unlike any other genre, people who make low budget horror do so because they love the genre. So despite how amateur or low budget things get, I still see that spark of imagination shine through the crappy editing and remedial camerawork.
No other film deserves this type of rose colored lens viewing more than PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. I remember trying to stay up late as a kid to watch this film. I remember for some reason being frightened as hell by Tor Johnson. Hell, just the name Tor Johnson was so cool to my brother and me, that we made up our own nightmarish stories about him before we even saw the film. Though I didn’t see the film until I was much older, when I was a kid, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE was a goal for me to see. Though I couldn’t quite stay up late enough to do so, I was a fan of PLAN 9 long before I even saw it.
Thing is, when I did catch it later on, I was hugely disappointed. This was before I had developed my taste in kitsch films, before I saw Tim Burton’s ED WOOD celebrating the manic genius of Ed Wood, before I learned to appreciate film. Now, this isn’t just a bad movie. It’s technically horrid with amateur effects (saucers on strings, foam gravestones, cheesy fright makeup), worse dialog, and a meandering script and plot only loosely thread together and even then still makes little sense. Wood’s mixture of sci fi and horror might have caused a scream or two in its heyday, but now only guffaws and chortles would be heard. But still, upon watching it, I couldn’t help but remember the kid in me all those years ago who saw PLAN 9 as the pinnacle of cool.
A quick plot synopsis; alien invaders have come to wreak havoc on Earth by raising the dead. After a saucer is seen from an airplane, it hovers over a graveyard where a recent funeral was performed. Soon three corpses; Vampira, the Old Man (Bela Lugosi) and Tor “Mutherfuggin” Johnson wander around attacking cops, damsels in distress, and anyone else in their path. When a handful of humans make their way on board a spaceship, they uncover the 9th Plan the aliens has been used and end up sending the ship off in flames, though not before scores and scores of discourse from the aliens lecturing the humans on how stupid they are.
PLAN 9 has become such a staple in genre cinema there’s really not a lot more to say about it. Film appreciators will find this newly remastered edition a must have since it comes in both colorized and black & white versions (both of which look crystal clear, although some of the colorizations look a bit wonky and the day for night scenes are too bright). This edition also includes MST3K’s Mike Nelson’s RiffTrax commentary for the film. Though a film like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE doesn’t really need a laugh track, Nelson definitely adds some modern oompf when the pace of the film slows down.
It has been dubbed the worst movie of all time, but I’ve seen much worse films than PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Sure it staggers all over the place when it comes to plot and both acting and effects are as bad as they come, but the undeniable love of the genre is evident in every frame, thus making my revisit to PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE as enjoyable as those dreams I had of almost watching it as a child were.
New on DVD from Black Flag Pictures and Stormfront Entertainment!
ZYDECO (2012)Directed by David Noble
Written by David Noble
Starring Courtney Shay Young, LaTasha Williams, Elgin Foster, William Hartley, Rhonda Schaubert
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I’m not going to lie to you. ZYDECO is not a great film. Everything from the acting to the sound to the camerawork to the story to the makeup effects is lo fi, to say the least. That said, the makers of this film do seem to have done their homework and taken pages from some of the better stalk and slash films.
The story follows a pair of young ladies who evoke a curse from a mystic in small town Louisiana. That curse is named Zydeco. The burly beast is either supposed to be wearing a skull mask or is just done up in some extremely amateur makeup. Nevertheless, Zydeco does his best Jason Voorhees impression tearing people apart and covering great distances without breaking out of a brisk walking pace. The two female leads make their way through the town that obviously doesn’t want them there, only staying a few paces ahead of the unstoppable murdering machine.
The plot is pretty paper thin, yet overly complex at the same time as the film switches locales between Chicago and Louisiana for no real reason. The film does do a great job of establishing an ominous locale with some nice Cajun blues and some cool shots of the local character of the houses and streets of Louisiana.
Don’t go looking for originality here. But if you’re looking to support indie filmmaking, this is a film worth supporting. A lot of emphasis is on the blood and guts and had that emphasis been shifted to story, I might have more to talk about here. ZYDECO also is about ten minutes shy of an hour long, which makes for a brisk viewing, but relatively forgettable as well.
New on DVD from Brain Damage Films/Midnight Releasing!
SHACKLED (2010)Directed by Dave McCabe
Written by Ambrose McDermott, Stephen Cumiskey, Dave McCabe
Starring Brian Fortune, Ruth McIntyre, Donna Bradley, Andy Blaikie, Gerry Shanahan, Vivienne Connolly
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
This gloomy little film from Ireland has shades of THE WICKER MAN and ROSEMARY’S BABY in terms of conspiratorial cult activity permeating the entire story. While I don’t know if I can wholeheartedly recommend SHACKLED, it is worth mentioning in terms of establishing a mood on a very low budget.
Sarah returns home for her brother’s funeral to find that his murder is unsolved. Soon Sarah is asked to take mysterious medications by visiting nurses and investigators start snooping about her place. It doesn’t take a genius to piece together that something is amiss. When Sarah’s ex offers to help her, they find themselves on the run from a cult with…well, I’m not sure what it is they are interested in doing. The film culminates with a chase through a mansion Sarah has been seeing in her dreams.
This film so much wants to be a big budget action movie, but I believe it aims just a bit too high. Had the filmmakers kept the story within their budgetary range, I think McCabe would have had a pretty great film. Instead, despite some decent performances from stars Ruth McIntyre and Brian Fortune, the story takes avenues just out of their pay grade. The climax in the mansion is supposed to be a raging inferno; instead we get computer generated animated flames. The camera is a bit static and stable for the tension it’s trying to communicate, and the blank masked cultists aren’t as ominous as they want to be with their plastic masks.
Still, despite some eerie dream sequences, SHACKLED proves to be a low budgeter that tries a little too much to play in the big leagues. There are some nice moments of mood. Clouded corridors walled with robed masked figures show up from time to time. The music in this film is especially well done (I loved the haunting “Close Your Eyes” by folksinger Bill Coleman), elevating this to another spooky level. But that doesn’t distract from the fact that it wants to be something it is not.
New on DVD!
KEEPSAKE (2008)Directed by Paul Moore
Written by Paul Moore
Starring Sunny La Rose, Robert Pralgo, Courtney Hogan
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
KEEPSAKE’s strength lies in its tendency to throw curve balls throughout its entire running time. Never do things happen as are expected and though you might think you know what a character is thinking, all of a sudden a revelation comes along that kicks your dick in. Though it takes its sweet time, filmmaker Paul Moore shows a lot of potential with the way this twisted little ditty plays out.
Janine (Sunny La Rose) has an accident on a lonely road. When a tow truck driver (Robert Pralgo) shows up, she thinks she is saved, but instead she is taken hostage by the mute driver and imprisoned in the basement of a barn. Soon, Janine must use anything she can to escape from her sadistic captor who has a plan that he is not sharing. Sunny La Rose does a decent job carrying the film. This is basically a character piece between her and her mute captor (played ominously by Robert Pralgo) as she relentlessly fights back against him. Though a taser collar keeps Janine in place, it doesn’t stop her from making one escape plan after another. The final half hour where tides are turned over and back again as both Janine and her captor switch the upped hand is as tense as it gets while the revelations of what lies in the attic of the barn are nightmares that will linger in your brainpan.
I did find the first hour of this KEEPSAKE to be somewhat tedious. Those with a heavy fast forward finger may be tempted to put it to use as Janine slowly gets used to captivity. But if you’re patient, the payoff in the final tense moments is worthwhile and by the time the world is flipped ass up near the end, you’ll definitely have a newfound respect for the filmmakers having endured the arduous first half.
In the end, Paul Moore is going to be a filmmaker I keep my eye on and KEEPSAKE turned out thrills in the last half that transcend any negative criticism I have for the film. Though lo fi, this film never stretches too far beyond that, making it all the more effective. At times the film teeters on being too torture-porny, but the twists and turns that happen in the end save KEEPSAKE from being pigeonholed into any subgenre.
New on DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures!
WOUND (2010)Directed by David Blyth
Written by David Blyth
Starring Kate O'Rourke, Te Kaea Beri, Campbell Cooley, Sandy Lowe, Brendan Gregory, Ian Mune
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Wow. This film…just…wow.
I remember watching filmmakers like Kenneth Anger, John Waters, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and David Lynch for the first time in college and realizing how much horrific and bizarre potential the medium of film has. These folks made films that aren’t so much interested in storytelling because the metaphors that lie within are satisfying enough. Some call them art films, but I think doing that gives them airs that don’t apply. To me, they are just works of genius, and having just seen WOUND, I think it’s safe to say that David Blyth would be right at home with the filmmakers listed above.
Taking place in a strange surreal world where every interaction is recorded via a quick cam, WOUND follows a depressed and submissive Susan (heartbreakingly played by Kate O’Rourke). Susan has a dead end job as a telemarketer, is in an abusive sexual relationship with a dominating man, and when we first meet her, she castrates and murders her father on camera, wraps the penis in tin foil, then tosses it in a cooler with what looks like many other tin-foil wrapped members. But maybe not. Blyth films everything as a dream-like acid trip with Susan wearing a huge mask that looks like a mannequin version of herself and carries a two-headed doll around her mazelike house rigged with cameras. Blyth even dips his pinky toe into the found footage genre as we follows a dream-like narrative by flipping through the cameras following Susan through the house and her life outside.
Soon Tanya is introduced, played by the scrumptious Te Kaea Beri. Though she goes to a Christian boarding school, she is tempted to see the seedier side of the world by going into goth clubs and experiencing things like sadomasochistic torture, leather-masked pig men, and of course lots of smoke machines, leather, and spikes. We come to understand that somehow Tanya is Susan’s child. But Susan believes she miscarried her child long ago. Taking a page from Lynch’s LOST HIGHWAY, Blyth does narrative POV shifts between Tanya and her mother who seem to switch places, merge and diverge again throughout the story. Those who are lost or irritated now by this description should scroll on now. Those intrigued by experimental filmmaking and narrative are in for a treat with WOUND.
If the topsy-turvy plot doesn’t get you, the gore will. Gratuitously gory birth and rape sequences occur with great frequency. The aforementioned castration scene is performed without a cut. And I’m not even mentioning the disgusting creature that is The Beast. Blyth will definitely disgust and disturb even the most hardened of gore hounds.
WOUND is a surreal masterpiece that relies heavily on the metaphor, but doesn’t bury it so that it is impossible to understand. Ripe with symbols of motherhood and birth, WOUND is a harrowing journey though a very unhealthy mind. Literal thinkers will be left scratching their heads, but those who love to experience imagery you haven’t seen before will want to seek out the staggeringly disturbing WOUND.
THE SILENT HOUSE (2010)AKA LA CASA MUDA
Directed by Gustavo Hernández
Written by Gustavo Hernández, Oscar Estevez & Gustavo Rojo
Starring Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso, María Salazar
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
BUG’S NOTE: With Elizabeth Olsen’s remake hitting theaters this weekend, I felt like dusting off my review of the original THE SILENT HOUSE that I posted last year to rev folks up before checking out Hollywood’s version of the film.
Appreciators of the technicality of film will most likely be the ones who enjoy THE SILENT HOUSE the most. The fact that this hour and a half film was shot with one continuous shot is enough to impress any film buff and will have folks seeking this one out to see if and when cuts were actually made. It is a fantastic technical achievement as the camera follows a single woman as she tries to survive in a dark house that appears to be haunted by something dark and evil.
Director Gustavo Hernandez does a fantastic job of following actress Florencia Colucci as she attempts to make her way through the dark house with only a lantern to guide her way. The film is mostly silent as well, with Colucci’s panting being the main sound we hear throughout. Hernandez does offer up quite a few sequences that make for some tangible moments of terror. A sequence where Colucci finds a Polaroid camera and uses the flash to make her way through the rooms stands out as one of the most terrifying. Other sequences involve the appearance of a little girl who appears to be a specter.
Actress Colucci does a fantastic job, as the camera is always centered on her, and never does she falter in the hour and a half the camera follows her. The resolution of the film is a bit tidy for my tastes and some of the scares are pretty predictable, given the limited ability of an unblinking camera. In instances you think something scary is going to happen, it usually does. Editing a scene helps shatter some of the predictability. When that aspect of filmmaking is eliminated, it changes things drastically. But Hernandez does a decent job of hurdling this obstacle with some well placed mirrors, camera movements, and periods of sheer blackness.
The story itself is pretty straight forward. Or is it.? Those who stick through the end credits will most likely find that this is much more than just a story about a chick shivering through a dark house with a flashlight. I found the ending of this film to be quite haunting and having seen it, I was tempted to rewatch the film given the info that is revealed toward the end.
Again, if you’re like me and love those Scorsese long takes, THE SILENT HOUSE if the film for you. Most of the scares hit hard and Colucci should be recognized for her arduous performance in this film. Those of you who aren’t really impressed that this film was done in one take might find the accommodations to achieve the single take taxing. Though the remake looks pretty good, it sounds a bit unnecessary to me, as this film is mostly gasps, stifled screams, and heavy breathing. We’ll see this weekend if this new version is up to par with the original.
And finally…you’ll never look at your movie rental kiosk quite the same again after checking out Richard Karpala’s DEADBOX! I really liked the great pacing and building tension in this clever take which sheds a sadistic light on something we all take for granted. So far, this little shortie has played at Festivus and Short Dam Fest. Look for it at a fright film fest near you!
See ya, next week, folks!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released in March 2012.
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March 9, 2012, 7:35 a.m. CST
as evidenced by the fact that we keep remaking their movies. What gives? Has Hollywood forgotten good horror? That's a dumb question, right?
March 9, 2012, 8:15 a.m. CST
...it makes me aware of the foreign originals that I would probably never had heard about. I never heard of [rec] until everyone complained about the remake, Quarantine.
March 9, 2012, 8:44 a.m. CST
by Judge Briggs
March 9, 2012, 8:56 a.m. CST
...still hard to believe it's on bluray though. Especially when there are so many films that either haven't gotten a dvd release yet or others that have j gotten the warner archive release treatment. I'm surprised a great flick like Westworld not only hasn't gotten a deluxe treatment, but it's sequel Futureworld is only available in MGM's made to order service. Still, my girlfriend hasn't seen Plan 9 or Ed Wood so we're doing a double feature of that in the next couple of months. Not sure what order to watch them. Logically, I thought Plan 9 first, but maybe she needs to know what Ed Wood was all about to appreciate Plan 9.
March 9, 2012, 10:26 a.m. CST
by Joe Plumber
That I'd buy. Would love to watch it in its entirety in one sitting. Not sure what effect that would have on the human psyche.
March 9, 2012, 11:48 a.m. CST
If what your saying is true, what a fucking shame.
March 9, 2012, 12:11 p.m. CST
That would be a terrific idea. I have Plan 9 on DVD with the Flying Saucer option where if you click on the little saucer it jumps to a relevant portion of the documentary (which itself is nearly two hours long!). I think I'm gonna have to get the Blu Ray. BTW I thought colourizing old movies had stopped years ago! I've also got Bride of the Monster but have never tracked fown Jail Bait or Glen of Glenda. Ed Wood is also fantastic. Yes, stick it all in one box!
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