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AICN HORROR: Ambush Bug talks with Darren Lynn Bousman about MOTHER’S DAY, 11-11-11 and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL! Plus reviews of all three!!!

Published at: May 15, 2012, 8:56 p.m. CST by ambush bug

NOTE: Apologies for the repost. This article was accidentally deleted, so I'm reposting. For those who missed it, enjoy it as if it were brand spankin' new!

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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another special AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. This week, I was able to catch up with Darren Lynn Bousman, who is a busy man these days with MOTHER’S DAY released on DVD/BluRay this week, 11-11-11 released on DVD/BluRay two weeks ago, THE BARRENS starring Stephen Moyer and Mia Kirshner about the Jersey Devil legend just completed filming, and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL touring around the country to a theatre near you as you read this. I’m going to start out with my interview with Mr. Bousman, then for your reading pleasure, I’ve reposted my reviews of MOTHER’S DAY (and the original MOTHER’S DAY), my recent review of 11-11-11, and an all new review of Bousman’s latest film THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL teaming up once again with REPO!: THE GENETIC OPERA’s Terrance Zdunich. Enjoy!

Today on AICN HORROR
(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Ambush Bug Interviews Darren Lynn Bousman!
MOTHER’S DAY (1980/2011)
11-11-11 (2011)
THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL (2012)


AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Hi Darren, it’s good to talk to you again.

DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN (DLB): Hey man, how are you doing?

BUG: I’m good, I’m good. Well, I talked with you just a little while ago about 11/11/11 and so I kind of wanted to touch base on a couple of things, but let’s talk about MOTHER’S DAY first.

DLB: Great.

BUG: So you finished MOTHER’S DAY a while back, and I know that when I saw it on Mother’s Day when you came to Chicago last year. You said you were having trouble getting the film distributed and everything. Well now that it’s finally going to be released, how does it feel to finally get this thing out here?

DLB: I mean to say excited or happy, but probably not. Only in the fact that I’m really happy that Anchor Bay stepped up to the plate and fucking did it. That being said, when you create a movie you want it to be seen by the widest base of people out there, and I think with this it’s hard…you know, you spend years and years on something, trying to get it released and when it is, it’s released to three screens. That being said, I’m grateful that Anchor Bay has the balls to put it out and get it on DVD, so at least now people will be able to see it on DVD.

BUG: Yeah, definitely. Well I wanted to talk about it…obviously you’re a fan of the original MOTHER’S DAY, is that correct?

DLB: Yes.

BUG: Some of the decisions that you made as far as the changes to the storyline, they seem to be very smart decisions. I’ve seen so many crappy remakes and the decisions made were just so stupid or they didn’t really make sense, but here everything from moving the location to also just the inclusion of Queenie seems like really a great evolution of the story. Can you tell me what went on when you approached this from a story aspect and how did you decide on these changes?

DLB: Yeah, so I’m not a huge fan of remakes in general. I think that the only way that I can do them or I feel comfortable doing them would be with the support and endorsement of the original creators and people involved in the original film. The last thing I would want to do is go off and have them be like “Fuck this guy. We don’t want him to do this.” So after I got the kind of sign off from Troma and Lloyd [Kaufman], I went off and thought “How can I make an organic follow up to the original MOTHER’S DAY?” It’s not a shot for shot remake, nor is it a kind of re-imagined thing, which in my mind didn’t really work, like with something like FRIDAY THE 13TH. The reason I bring up FRIDAY THE 13TH is because I have such nostalgic feelings about the original and nothing they could have done would have satisfied me, so how could I do something that is not trying to be the original film, but is at least honest to it?

So you take what I consider to be the best moments in the original film, Queenie, the Drano in the mouth, the stabbing at the crotch, the iconic Mother and how do you do spin them in a way that not only makes sense, but doesn’t betray the movie that I’m trying to make? For example, how do I make Queenie work in the movie without betraying Rebecca De Mornay or Patrick Flueger, these people who have put their hearts and souls in it? I figured out a way to do it. It’s the exact same thing it was in the original film, but done in a much more dramatic way. Queenie, in the original film, was just what the mother did to scare her kids, now the twist is she actually exists at the end of the original. I think just the way that we did it was trying to go with a much more subtle approach and that’s what I kind of tried to do with the film, just go a lot more subtle with things as opposed to the over the top Queenie approach like the original used.

BUG: Yeah, I actually did it backwards. I saw your film last year and then I went back and saw MOTHER’S DAY again and it really had been almost more than a decade since I had seen the old film and it really is great, the way you just take things in different directions and I can tell you’re being creative about it, which is not something that can be said about these other remakes, definitely.

DLB: Thank you. Thank you for saying that. I mean, I think as a filmmaker I’m a fan of these types of movies before even being a director, so I look at them as a fan and say “If I’m in a theater right now and I’m going to go see the movie, what do I want to see in it and what don’t I want to see in it?” And the shit that I don’t want to see is much bigger than the shit I do want to see and so I think it was something that Scott Milam, the writer, and I who, as fans of the genre, were like “How are we going to pull this off and not betray the audience?”

BUG: Yeah. Your film happened in the middle of all of these other home invasion movies that were coming out. What do you think about that? What do you think about that whole new trend of the killers coming inside your own house?

DLB: I think that it’s a terrifying thing because you lose your sense of control. People feel comfortable and safe in their house because that’s their home and that’s the place you live and when someone comes in and breaks into that place it’s a terrifying thing and what’s even scarier about it is how often it happens. First off, our version of MOTHER’S DAY is actually based on a real crime called The Wichita Killings. I don’t recommend reading about it. It was a horrible event where a home invasion occurred with a family having a party and then two killers broke in and basically did the same thing that we talk about in the movie. These things happen all of the time. This is not some anomaly that is made of fiction. This is very much real and the events that are transpiring are more horrific than I could think of.

BUG: Definitely. Well, I wanted to check with you about some of your other projects that you have going on here as well. You seem to be very busy these days--really just in this month alone you’ve got 11/11/11 coming out on DVD as well and also you’re touring around with THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL and I’ve heard a lot about that. What was your thought process in touring with THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL the way you are doing right now?

DLB: I think MOTHER’S DAY was the reason why we’re doing what we are doing with THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL. MOTHER’S DAY is a movie I’m very proud of and I feel very confident in as a director and as a filmmaker, and I did the movie three years ago and for three years I sat back and waited for someone to put it out. I begged and I pleaded and there was nothing I could do as a filmmaker. I’m powerless. I can’t do anything. I can sit down and wait, but that’s all I can do. It got to a point where my blood was boiling and I was like “I can’t do this anymore. I want to make my own thing.” That’s when I said, “Screw it. I’m going to go do it myself. I’m going to make my own movie and I want to self finance it, then I’m going to go self distribute it and I’m not going to wait.” The thing that’s ironic about the whole thing with THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL is I shot THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL in January and it was finished in March and it was on tour by April and I’ve gotten it on more screens than my last three movies combined.

BUG: (Laughs) That’s fantastic!

DLB: You know what’s funny is I’ve been doing this for a while and we started this with REPO! We did the same thing with REPO! five years ago. I think that more filmmakers should be doing this. Before I think a lot of filmmakers, maybe myself included, would sit back and we’d bitch and we’d complain or we’d cry that the movies aren’t getting their just desserts and there’s something about stopping complaining, saying “Fuck it, let’s just go out and do it. Let’s just go out and four wall the theaters and make our own stage.” So that’s kind of empowering right now.

BUG: That’s great. Yeah, I fully support that. I also wanted to check in on THE BARRENS. Did you just finish that one?

DLB: We just turned the movie in I think on Friday of last week. It stars Stephen Moyer and it’s my version of a monster movie.

BUG: Very cool. I know the last time we talked about our mutual admiration for the Jersey Devil. Have there been any revelations or have you been approached by believers of the Jersey Devil since you started making the film?

DLB: Yeah, yeah, I’ve talked to a bunch of people that claim to have seen it and I think that I’ve incorporated to some extent their stories and experiences into it as well.

BUG: Great. Well, having done all of these films in such a short amount of time, what do you think you’ve learned out of all of this in the last two or three years?

DLB: “Make your own change.” I mean if you have an Anchor Bay that will pick up your movie, great, and again I’m lucky that I do, but I think one thing I’ve learned is, if there aren’t people that are going to put your stuff out, you have the ability to do it yourself.

BUG: Yeah, well, fantastic. Darren, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you. Hopefully we can catch up again. Are you going to be at San Diego this year?

DLB: I will be at Comic Con, I’ll see you there.

BUG: Fantastic, we’ll catch up there. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

DLB: Thanks, man--you too.

BUG: MOTHER’S DAY is out this week on DVD/BluRay. 11-11-11 is out now on DVD/BluRay! Find out where and when THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL is travelling through your town! Look for Darren’s latest film, THE BARRENS to hit theaters later this year and follow all things Bousman on his blog here!


MOTHER’S DAY (1980)

New on BluRay & DVD in June!
Directed by Charles Kaufman
Written by Charles Kaufman & Warren Leight
Starring Beatrice Pons, Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, Tiana Pierce, Fredrick Coffin, Michael McCleery

New on DVD/BluRay!

MOTHER’S DAY (2011)

In theaters later this year!
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by Scot Milam
Starring Rebecca DeMornay, Jamie King, Frank Grillo, Shawn Ashmore, Patrick John Flueger, Warren Kole, Deborah Ann Woll, & Matt O’LearyReviewed by Ambush Bug


After seeing Darren Lynn Bousman’s MOTHER’S DAY, I was prompted to check out the original for comparison’s sake, not really intending to do a Make / Remake piece about it. But as I sat through Troma’s very first film written and directed by Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman’s brother Charles, I knew I had to, both for appreciation for the first film and to commend Darren Lynn Bousman for doing something few others have done; making a exemplary remake of a pre-existing horror film that both honors and expands on the original. Too many times, it seems the remakers don’t even fully understand the story of the original and resort to casting pretty WB stars and putting them into PG-13 scenarios that promise all sorts of horror but never deliver (see the below FRIDAY THE 13TH Make / Remake for a perfect example). Not only has Bousman delivered an extremely R-rated version with bite, he also has cast some pretty talented actors in this film about the day we honor our maternal makers. Plus he made some adjustments and elaborations along the way that not only updates the film, but makes viewing the original all the more fun to watch.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. MOTHER’S DAY (1980) is by all standards I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE mixed with TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE with heavy portions of FRIDAY THE 13th thrown in. A twisted family hunts a trio of women in the woods brutally raping and beating them and forcing them to fight back by any means necessary. That’s the basic premise of MOTHER’S DAY and though by 1980, this wasn’t necessarily the cliché it is today, it still was pretty derivative of what was popular in horror at the time. Revenge films were all the rage with I SPIT, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and DEATH WISH coming out a few years prior and while FRIDAY THE 13th had been released in May of that year, MOTHER’S DAY still seems to be heavily influenced by the film (MOTHER’S DAY was released in September); especially in the attention to horrorizing a holiday (a la HALLOWEEN, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, GRADUATION DAY, etc.) and more evident by the shock ending which reeks of the first installment of the FRIDAY films, but is still jarringly effective in its own special way.

Despite all of the obvious influences, MOTHER’S DAY still stands on its own as being a pretty horrific film. The brutal rape scenes alone are cringe-inducing and unrelenting, as is the savage way Mother’s two boys (Ike and Adlay) accost the young campers. There’s a rawness to the performances that sometimes seems like they aren’t acting at all and the terror in the faces of the women in the film suggest that it wasn’t the most pleasurable of acting experiences. All of the cast are put through the wringer physically as the modest budget seemed to force those involved to do their own stunts (I’m assuming this because all of the jumping and falling and abuse was done on camera and pretty close up, indicating that it is in fact the actors doing this). On top of all of the physical horrors going on, Charles Kaufman did an impressive job of integrating a pretty heavy theme throughout—that of the more horrific aspects of motherhood. Even from the beginning, the term “Mother” is associated with unease; from a judgmental answering machine message addressed to one of our victims to an off-camera nagging and berating mother of another. All of the three female campers have mother issues, which carry on through the film and pay off in the end. The fact that these issues are even addressed in MOTHER’S DAY give it much more heft than your typical slasher flick.

Occasionally, the original gets into the territory of camp, which doesn’t hold up too well over the years, but the weightier moments of MOTHER’S DAY make up for its comical shortcomings. Part of me wished I could edit out the hokey flashback where the three girls get some revenge on a jerk jock in high school and some of the goofier interactions between the brothers and the mother where they would swing widely and miss their mark comically. Thankfully, someone came along and did just that.

Daren Lynn Bousman has been a name in the industry for a while with his SAW installments and REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA (a cult classic which entertained some while annoying others). With his new remake of MOTHER’S DAY, he not only expands on the theme of the horrors of motherhood from the original, he also frames a completely original film around it. But that’s not entirely accurate. Since I rewatched the original after seeing the remake, I realized that Bousman boiled down the essence of what made the original so creepy and effective and peeled away all of the hokiness that I complained about above. The film still focuses on Ike and Adlay, two criminal brothers (this time played by Patrick John Fleuger and Warren Kole, respectively) and their mother, this time played by Rebecca DeMornay as they accost a group of twenty-somethings and put them through hell until they break and fight back. But unlike the inbred developmentally delayed performances of Fredrick Coffin (Ike) and Michael McCleery (Adlay) in the original, the brothers in the modern version are more sinister and well developed. Both versions are childlike when interacting with their mother, and some of the most bizarre and effective scenes in Bousman’s film are the varied interactions the brothers have with their mother (from childish to almost incestuous at times). These are elaborations on the interactions made between the boys and their mother in the original, though taken to a much darker and dire level. Like the best of the best of horror films, Bousman recognized the awful truths of a meaty subject like motherhood and highlights its most horrific aspects.

The most noticeable difference between the two films on face value is the difference in the lead character of Mother. Beatrice Pons is creepy and effective in her role of Mother in the original, but most of the time teeters on the brink of camp and sometimes falls in face first. Though her manipulative rants about the monstrous Queenie in the woods are delivered in a haunting manner, the tone just feels more believable coming from the still-smokin’ Rebecca DeMornay. At first, DeMornay’s casting sounds off, but seeing her steely performance where she switches from loving mother hen to brutal defensive she-monster protecting her young is astonishing. She perfectly exemplifies the dichotomy of the role of mother as both nurturer and protector.

But apart from the similarities of the three main antagonists of the film, Kaufman and Bousman’s films couldn’t be more different in tone and setting. Instead of having the campers come to Mother’s house, Bousman rips this story from the headlines having the criminal Koffin family (a nod to actor Fredrick Coffin, Ike from the original, no doubt), evicted from their home because of the economy. Unbeknownst to Ike and Adlay who have been off on a bank robbing spree, they are shocked to find their childhood home overrun by yuppies. Ike, Adlay, and their younger brother Jonathan (Mike O’Leary) explode into the lives of Beth and Daniel Sohapi (Jamie King & Frank Grillo) who have the unfortunate luck of picking up the house on the cheap. Like most of the other cast here, King and Grillo give their all in these performances as a couple with problems of their own which I won’t go too much into here because it is intrinsic to the film. Let’s just say that, just as with the trio of women in the original, the main actors in this film have mother issues as well.

The theme of motherhood comes up numerous times Bousman’s film as no one is completely innocent or evil. The director did a fantastic job of serving up a morally ambiguous treat which makes you think twice before rooting for or against anyone. The Koffin family’s rage for losing their home, while taken to the extreme, is understandable. And while you feel for the young folks who are the victims of this home invasion, they have done and do some pretty despicable things to make you hesitate before feeling too bad for them. I love these blurry lines Bousman sets up, making this much more than a slasher film and though there are a few scenarios the Koffin family set up giving the family choices between their own lives over the lives of others, it’s much more than the torture-porn-ific, over-complex scenarios found in SAW. Bousman really takes his time to root under the viewer’s skin before going for the kill. There’s quite a body count in this film, but before setting the bodies up to fall, Bousman lets us understand all of the goods and bads of the cast—something other films of this kind often forget to do.

Before wrapping up, I have to mention some standout performances in Bousman’s film. Deborah Ann Woll (aka smoking hot redhead vampire from TRUE BLOOD) delivers a subtle performance as Lydia Koffin (the younger sister of the family). Bousman’s addition of her into the cast brings out Mother’s twisted rules, expectations, and fears all the more, especially the way Lydia is effected by the myth of Queenie (the creepy presence in the woods from the original) which serves here as a means to scare the children into never leaving home. Other notable performances come from Shawn Ashmore who is fleshing out a pretty damn impressive genre resume in a very little time. Here his performance is powerful and crucial to the narrative.

Bousman’s MOTHER’S DAY does what few remakes do—it elaborates on themes of the original while delving into new territory and at the same time makes you want to revisit the original and experience the themes in a different way. Though both films are heavy in tone, Kaufman’s MOTHER’S DAY delivers on a level much baser, but no less effective than Bousman’s much more sophisticated remake. MOTHER’S DAY is the kind of remake we all want to see; not watered down for the masses, well acted and well written. Most importantly, MOTHER’S DAY 2011 is respectful of what came before and making enough changes to be something new without being totally unrecognizable; a feat that seems to be harder to accomplish than one would think—unless your name is Darren Lynn Bousman, that is.










New on DVD & BluRay!

11-11-11 (2011)

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring Timothy Gibbs, Michael Landes, Wendy Glenn, Lolo Herrero
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Darren Lynn Bousman took a bit of flack late last year for his film 11-11-11. Rumors swirled that Bousman and Co. were working feverishly almost right up to its release in order to make the November 11 theatrical release date to get it out. The end result is not the perfect film, but I found 11-11-11 to be a noteworthy step forward for Bousman and a maturation of his skill behind the camera.

The title 11-11-11 refers to a specific date some believe to be significant to the fate of the entire world. The story follows Joseph Crone, an atheist and famed author of thriller novels as he returns to his childhood home in Barcelona, Spain to visit his brother (Michael “FINAL DESTINATION 2” Landes) and ailing father. As the fated date looms closer, Crone starts experiences visions of his deceased wife and child, as well as glimpses of hooded demons in the periphery and the numbers 11-11 everywhere he looks. Soon, Crone becomes obsessed with the numbers and convinced that the date 11-11-11, which is mere days away, is significant to his own fate and the fate of the world.

Though many might immediately think of Jim Carey’s limp THE NUMBER 27 film, I found 11-11-11 to be more akin to the subtle horrors found in EXORCIST III: LEGION or OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT than anything else. Yes, the adherence to the 11-11 symbology is somewhat contrived, but this is much more of a study of a non-believer confronting something not from this world and a pretty effective one at that. Throughout the film, there is this tangible feeling that the characters in the story are messing with powers beyond their understanding. There’s a danger ever-present throughout this whole film. Bousman amps up the tension in a believable manner as Crone begins to become overcome by this 11-11 phenomena.

Fans of Bousman’s torture porn days on his SAW installments or the gaudy glam-horror of RETRO: THE GENETIC OPERA are bound to be disappointed at this somber and patient thriller. There is very little by way of gore here; instead Bousman relies on heavy mood and thick ambiance that oozes from the Barcelonan castles, mansions, catacombs, and cobblestone streets. Bousman soaks in the history of the land and relies on the gothic cityscape to convey a sense of old worldliness you just can’t get from a Hollywood set.

Having followed Bousman’s films since his SAW films, I admire the maturity and restraint the director shows with 11-11-11. The film has some difficulty with the ending, which is somewhat tidy and contrived while exhibiting some effects which alternate between effective and hokey, but the road getting there is filled with foreboding atmosphere and some scares that will genuinely make you jump. The lead, Timothy Gibbs, looks very much like George Clooney, which I found to be pretty distracting, but he does handle to melodramatic tones well, as do the rest of the cast.

I wish Bousman had time to sit with this film as it seems to need a bit more time on the editing block, and some transitional pick up scenes might have made for a more seamless story. But given the 11-11-11 deadline, Bousman pulled off something decent, though slightly shy of great. The saving grace of 11-11-11 is that it takes full advantage of the cryptic Spanish surroundings and some clever scares helped save this one as well. If anything, this serves as a glimpse of the potential Bousman has and makes me excited for what is to come from this director.






THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL (2012)

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by Terrance Zdunich
Starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Briana Evigan, Jessica Lowndes, Terrance Zdunich, Emilie Autumn, Dayton Callie, Bill Moseley, Marc Senter, Ivan L. Moody, Nivek Ogre, Tillman Norsworthy, & Paul Sorvino as God
Find out where and when THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL is travelling through your town here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


The team behind REPO!: THE GENETIC OPERA, Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich come together again to bring us THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, a twisted little anthology of sorts about a trio of people whisked away at the time of their impending deaths to look back on their lives in a place where madness, mayhem, and song are the three course meal of the day. The trio in question, Sean Patrick Flannery (BOONDOCK SAINTS), Briana Evigan (STEP UP 2) and Jessica Lowndes (90210) each have committed some sort of dastardly deed before arriving at the infernal carnival and are sentenced to face themselves through a warped mirror. Bousman and Zdunich cast this story against the backdrop of Aesop’s Fables morality tales, particularly “The Dog and His Reflection”, “The Scorpion and the Frog”, and “The Devil’s Bargain”. In each tale, the characters must face what brought them to the carnival as well as accept their fates.

The story is a fun one and occasionally, it is quite gripping. All three of the main characters do a great job with their performances not only acting, but singing as well. Though the tales are somewhat simplistic, so are the fables they are based upon. In every one, there is a wrong doing and a price paid for it. My favorite being the first tale of a money grubbing woman (played by Briana Evigan) who desires a giant diamond only to throw away all of the riches she has in order to attain it. A simple tale, but effective.

This being a musical horror film, songs permeate the entirety of it (you can sample each song here). Unlike Vincent D’Onofrio’s flaccid attempt at a horror musical with DON’T GO IN THE WOODS, this is a straight up musical where characters burst into song, emoting feelings and sounding out emotions and thoughts for all to hear. Having seen both REPO! and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, I think I prefer THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL in terms of soundtrack. Here the songs feel stronger and they are definitely catchier. With the setting being a carnival, many of the songs have a frantic kaleidoscope-Elfman vibe, but with a much more devious slant. While songs like “666” offer a decadent feel and “The Devil’s Carnival” feels like you are riding a rollercoaster off the rails, the more somber and slower songs such as the duet between Terrance Zdunich’s Lucifer and Jessica Lowndes called “In All My Dreams I Drown” and “A Penny For a Tale” sung by Five Finger Death Punch’s Ivan L. Moody were more to my liking. I also dug Marc Senter’s Scorpion singing “Trust Me” while tossing daggers at his intended prey Jessica Lowndes who is strapped to a spinning wheel. Occasionally, though at the beginning of the film, some of the more important lyrics are drowned out by the carnival noises. This becomes less of a problem later in the film as the songs move from the entire cast singing to just a few.

My favorite performance of the film has to be Ivan L. Moody’s “A Penny For a Tale”. All dressed up as a Hobo Clown, Moody evokes a Chaplin vibe while singing with his based-out voice. It’s a haunting song that resonates because of the lower pitch of the singer and the twisted words and intentions behind it.

Zdunich also does a great job as Lucifer. The full face and hands devil make-up is top notch and though it resembles many representations of the horned one, Zdunich brings a special kind of evil to the role. His movements are very dramatic and may seem more likely to be seen in a stage play, but the larger than life feel Zdunich brings to the character is worth mentioning.

There are moments of unevenness here. The film clocks in at just about an hour, making the experience a brief one. Towards the end, there’s a plot twist about the carnival storming the gates of heaven and Bousman revealed at the show that he intends THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL to be the first of a trilogy, fitting together the three into one epic and operatic horror musical masterpiece. This decision to include mention of the upcoming battle between the infernal and the holy seems a bit of an afterthought as the rest of the film focuses on the plights of the three brought to the carnival to be judged. I would have liked to see this transition of direction be a bit more fluid, mentioned earlier in the film or not at all.

Another nit to pick is that arguably the best song of the film “In All the Dreams I Drown” is shoe horned in during the end credits and really doesn’t have a lot to do with the rest of the film. The song is a strong one and the performances between Zdunich and Lowndes are both great, but the fact that Lowndes character met her fate earlier in the film makes this end video seem out of place in the context of the story. Again, it’s a strong song, but just seems like it’s better fitted into the narrative of another story or possibly a future tale set in THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL.

Criticism aside, I applaud Bousman and Zdunich for having the balls to buck the system and take this film out on the road. I saw it last week at The Music Box in Chicago and it performed to a packed theater of rowdy fans singing along with the music and hooting and hollering throughout the entire show. With a sideshow act and costume contest opening the evening, along with an intimate Q&A with Zdunich and Bousman, the entire night was a damn cool experience to sit through—more like a concert than going to a film.

Not all will be into this sort of thing. The friend I went with hates musicals and disliked this film the same. But personally, I go to films because I want to see something different and different is definitely what I got with THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL. Bousman does know how to deliver vivid imagery and that twisted and dirty feel one gets while walking though the straw lined carnie walkway. Made on a low budget, Bousman makes the best with what he has, relying on solid camerawork and lighting to cover the seams. With a soundtrack from Zdunich that encapsulates darkness and delirium often attributed to circus spectacle and a travelling sideshow atmosphere these appearances seem to exude, THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL was definitely a fun time and worth checking out if it comes through your town. Only a few dates remain, so be sure to check out show times here!





See ya Friday for our regular AICN HORROR column, 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.


Check out the FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND Website!


Looking for obscure, foreign, or hard to find DVDs & BluRays?
Check out AH Digital: the source for international cinema!


Interested in illustrated films, fringe cinema, and other oddities?
Check out Halo-8 and challenge everything!



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


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