Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. We have another batch of new horrors to look at this week, but as always, before that…there’s this!
First up is friend of AICN HORROR Todd Lincoln’s ghostly fright fest THE APPARITION. Having talked with Lincoln about this film, the guy knows his stuff and I look forward to checking this film out. Mr. Lincoln’s got a lot of amazing projects coming up with THE NYE INCIDENTS, which is the feature film adaptation of the graphic novel by Whitley Strieber (THE HUNGER, COMMUNION, WOLFEN) and TWITTERING FROM THE CIRCUS OF THE DEAD, a feature film adaptation of the short story by best-selling author Joe Hill (HORNS, LOCKE & KEY, HEART-SHAPED BOX). Can’t wait to see all of these flicks. Below is the preview to THE APPARITION.
Next is an exclusive clip from Midnight Releasing’s upcoming Bigfoot actioneer, LOST WOODS. If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll know I’m an avid Bigfoot fanatic, always looking for that perfect Bigfoot movie, but more often than not, a good Bigfoot movie is as elusive as the creature itself. This clip from LOST WOODS shows promise, though. Check out this exclusive glimpse at LOST WOODS, soon to be reviewed here on AICN HORROR and soon to be released in June on DVD!
Next up is THE VEIL, which is currently in production. Here’s the synopsis: The temptation to have a one night stand leads a man to a distant town and a woman with a dark agenda. When he doesn’t return, if falls upon his black sheep sister to uncover the truth about what happened. On the left is the official poster for the film and another still on the right. The film stars Joseph Durbin (Deadlands 2), Devon Marie Brookshire (Ninjas vs. Vampires), Josh Davidson (Ghosts Don’t Exist), Kendra North (Witch’s Brew), and newcomer Meghan Nelson and is written & directed by Paul Busetti. I’m looking forward to checking this one out in an upcoming AICN HORROR column.
Move over, Shakes--there’s a new bad clown in town. STITCHES: BAD CLOWN looks to reignite that fear many of us have of clowns. I don’t know much about this film, but I do know that I really want to see it. It’s directed by Conor McMahon and stars British comedian Ross Noble and Tommy Knight (“Doctor Who” and “The Sarah Jane Adventures”). I believe it is currently in production, so we’ll have to be patient, but be sure that AICN HORROR will most definitely be covering STITCHES when it is completed. Look for more about STITCHES in upcoming AICN HORROR columns!
Here‘s a truly creepy trailer of an upcoming film called THE COHASSET SNUFF FILM. Yes, it’s another found footage film, but this one feels almost too real. Looking forward to covering this one on AICN HORROR as well.
Finally, I’m happy to report the news that one of the cooler films I reviewed last year on AICN HORROR, SCALENE (reviewed here), will be released on DVD/BluRay on July 31st. SCALENE is a look at three seemingly normal people until you get to know them and see how twisted they really are. It’s one of those films that really burrows under your skin and I wholeheartedly recommend it for folks who like their horror of the psychological flavor. It’s got Margo Martindale (who kicked all sorts of ass in JUSTIFIED ), an all growed-up Hanna Hill (THE VIRGIN SUICIDES), and Adam Scarimbolo (STAKE LAND). Now you guys can see it in late July!
Now, let’s get on with the reviews…
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-Review: Jean Rollin’s THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE (1968)
THE MOLEMAN OF BELMONT AVENUE (2010)
DEATH & CREMATION (2010)
BLOOD RUSH (2012)
MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD (2010)
Advance Review: DETENTION (2011)
And finally…Bazyl Dripps’ DEVIL BOARD!
New on DVD/BluRay from Redemption Films!
THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE (1968)aka QUEEN OF THE VAMPIRES, LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE, VAMPIRE WOMEN
Directed by Jean Rollin
Written by Jean Rollin & Alain Yves Beaujour
Starring Solange Pradel, Bernard Letrou, Ariane Sapriel Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
This is the first of three reviews I’ll be doing of Jean Rollin’s films. THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE is undeniably French in many ways. There are a lot of somber silences with extended pauses accompanied by staring off into the distance. There’s a whole lot of French girl boobage, which is never a bad thing. And occasionally, there’s even a vampire or two. But what makes this film stand out is that it definitely veers from most other vampire stories of its time which were busy reimagining the tales of Dracula and Carmilla. This one involves the never-ending battle between scientific fact and folkloric fantasy.
The film opens with a trio of investigators checking out an old castle where four insane women live. Upon arrival, they find that the women believe themselves to be vampires, worshipping a vampire statue. Some of them are afraid of the sunlight, while others aren’t. Because of this inconsistent variation between the symptoms of the women, the lead investigator deduces that this is merely a psychological disorder and not actual vampirism and sets out to cure them through radical shock therapy by tossing them in the sunlight and forcing them to leave their homes.
The film is separated into two acts, the first ending with the investigators’ theories shattered when one is killed and the other two are turned into vampires themselves. The basic symptoms of vampirism don’t seem to apply here, but what is prevalent is the thirst for blood. Soon a vampire queen arrives, reminiscent of Grace Jones’ turn of the tooth in VAMP, with a cadre of followers who traipse around a beach tormenting young girls and eventually turning them into vampires as well to join their beatnik ragtag group. As the two investigators search for the cure for vampirism, the queen and her minions set up a stage play with unconventional jazz musicians scat-scat-scooting in the background. The film ends with a cure being found, but not with the intended results.
I was able to admire the ingenuity of the story Rollins brings to this tale of the vampire. Too many vampire tales rely on Stoker or some age old story such as the Bathory tale as framework. This one plays on the belief of being a vampire and how science would view it. First the disease is shunned and said to be a psychological disorder, until the investigators themselves come down with the ailment. Then the disease is treated as just that and experiments are performed to cure it in a medical manner. There are no stakes or garlic to be seen here—just hard science, which is kind of cool to see. I also liked the change from non-believer to believer that happens here. Both are interesting concepts far above the normal vampiric lore being done at the time cinematically.
At the same time, this film is a tough pill to swallow with all of its French frilly speak and pretentious moods. The drama it amped to the nth degree and many scenes seem more like clips from a surrealist film than an actual narrative. I have to admit, though understanding the plot, I found my attention waning as people droned on and on and I watched long scenes of beach landscapes and men in leotards dancing around women in see-through veils showing their nipples. Sure, French naked girls are titillating, but when served with an abundance of pretention one grows tired pretty quickly.
Though I found the content to be grating, I have to admit there are some great original ideas here, some of which are being explored today in more progressive vamp stories. I can admire this film for the creativity of plot, but you have to sift through all of the beatnik mumbo-jumbo to get it. THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE is not my favorite vampire movie, but it does show a lot of imagination.
Available on DVD!
MOLEMAN OF BELMONT AVE. (2010)Directed by John LaFlamboy and Mike Bradecich
Written by John LaFlamboy and Mike Bradecich
Starring Mike Bradecich, John LaFlamboy, Robert Englund, Nicholas Barron, Cat Bernier, Brian Boland, Dina Facklis, Tim Kazurinsky, & Justin DiGiacomo as the Moleman
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I’ve been hearing about THE MOLEMAN OF BELMONT AVENUE for quite a while, mainly because it was filmed in Chicago, my current base of operations. The film, made mostly with local talent, is a fun romp with more of a likeness to MOUSE HUNT (a personal guilty pleasure) than anything else, as two lovable yet bumbling landlords attempt to rid their shoddy apartment complex of a moleman who is eating all of the pets in the building. Though this film leans much more on comedy than scares, I found THE MOLEMAN OF BELMONT AVENUE to be entertaining nevertheless.
Filled with actors I may or may not have seen in comedy clubs and improv shows throughout the city in the last few years, I was surprised at how good the performances here were. Sure, most of the characters are clichés. There’s the stoner, the amped up roid dude, the snotty barmaid, the nosy elderly neighbor; all stereotypes, but what makes it work are the performances by the two main characters Mike Bradecich and John LaFlamboy, who also seem to have written and directed the film. Bradecich and LaFlamboy have a great sense of comedic timing and are able to run with quite a few ongoing jokes throughout the film and had me laughing out loud numerous times.
Adding a bit of legitimacy to the film is Robert Englund, who plays an eccentric tenant who turns out to be a sex freak. Englund doesn’t have to do much here, but his personality really melds well with the rest of this eclectic cast.
Though the moleman himself (played by Justin DiGiacomo) is actually not given too much screen time, the threat of the moley bastard resonates in every second. When he does appear, I was surprised at how ominous and threatening he was made out to be. He has a particular way of crawling, more like a lumbering bear, that proves to be both scary and funny at once (think the funny/creepy way Slimer barrels down the hall at Peter Venkman in GHOSTBUSTERS and you’ll get the vibe).
The GHOSTBUSTERS theme permeates this film as basically it is two dunces trying to fight the unknown and not knowing what the hell they are doing. Mike Bradecich, and John LaFlamboy riff off of each other well and their interactions are reminiscent of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS or TENACIOUS D’s goofy, abusive but brotherly comedy pairings. I doubt you’ll be scared much by THE MOLEMAN OF BELMONT AVENUE, but you will laugh a lot. Being a Chicagoan, I definitely want to support this local low budgeter. I found the cast to be charming and the jokes to hit the mark about 90% of the time, the sequence involving a room full of stoners, a hole in the wall, and an Atari game system being the highlight of the film. If you’re looking for goofy laughs and a monster that eats kitties, puppies, and old ladies (none of which are shown on screen), THE MOLEMAN OF BELMONT AVENUE is the hilarious horror comedy for you.
Available now on DVD!
DEATH & CREMATION (2010)Directed by Justin Steele
Written by Justin Steele & Alecc Bracero
Starring Brad Dourif, Jeremy Sumpter, Scott Elrod, Debbon Ayer, Sam Ingraffia, Daniel Baldwin, Staci Keanan
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
There are elements from a lot of other dark horror-teen angsters such as HEATHERS, CRIME & PUNISHMENT IN SUBURBIA, BULLY, and even DONNIE DARKO in DEATH & CREMATION in which death is not really taken seriously by the Twitter generation grown up on first person shooter games and the contradiction of no music videos on MTV. But most horrorphiles like myself will want to seek out DEATH & CREMATION for two reasons: 1) Brad Dourif’s in it, and 2) he’s fucking crazy-town.
Yes, it doesn’t get much better than Dourif when it comes to playing crazies. Making his film debut as the stuttering man-child in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, Dourif has made a name for himself as the go-to guy when psychosis is required. Memorable roles in EXORCIST III and as the voice of the killer doll Chucky in all of the CHILD’S PLAY films no matter how bad they were, Dourif took some non-horror roles recently such as BAD LEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, MY SON, MY SON WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?, and as the curmudgeony Doc on DEADWOOD. It’s good to see Dourif slip on the psycho shoes again for this role.
Here he plays Stan, the owner of a crematorium. Troubled by neglect and abuse as a child, he now seeks out people to cremate and keep on a shelf with his collection in the basement of his business. Things are going well for Stan; though there’s not much business, his hobby of abducting and murdering folks has kept the crematorium’s home fires burning—that is, until Jarod (THE SASQUATCH GANG’s Jeremy Sumpter) shows up looking for a part time job. Jarod is an outcast, constantly ridiculed by his classmates and mocked for painting his nails and wearing eye liner and black clothing. When one of his classmates goes missing, of course it’s the emo kid who raises eyebrows. When Jarod’s bully goes missing as well, he becomes a full-blown suspect. As a police detective zeroes in on Jarod, Jarod himself is leading the authorities to Stan’s murderous hobby by wanting to become his apprentice.
The story plays out as this clueless youth in search of a father figure finds just that in a homicidal maniac. Dourif is the highlight here. Sumpter has a nice presence and has definitely developed his acting chops from cardboard kiddie role as the lead Sasquatch Hunter in the off the wall and charming THE SASQUATCH GANG, but still, he pales in comparison with Dourif, who steals the show every second he’s on the screen. Seeing Dourif shaking and twitching, constipating out his words through a clenched jaw, made me smile every time and appreciate him for the cinematic treasure of a character actor he is. The addition of scar make-up all over his face where he nervously picks at his skin adds creep and psychological depth to his role.
The story is not the strongest. There are plenty of times as Dourif and his new apprentice must hide a body which becomes more like sitcom antics than cinematic drama, but for a memorable psychotic performance, DEATH & CREMATION serves to highlight the talents of Mr. Dourif, one of cinema’s best psychos--and does so in spades.
BLOOD RUSH (2012)Directed by Evan Marlowe
Written by Kerry Finlayson
Starring Kerry Finlayson, Don Donnelley, Christy Lee Hughes, Helen Soraya, Samantha Michelle, Emrhys Cooper, John Wuchte, Myles Cranford, Kaden Graves, J.P. Giuliotti, Danielle Reierson, Charles Iacuzzo, Graniston Crawford, Amanda Barton, David Alen Smith
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Low budget zeeks are a dime a dozen these days. It seems anyone with a minimal make-up kit, a video camera, and a few extras are trying to cash in. I can understand the inferno that blazes in the talkbacks every time a new zombie film is announced. There are too many zombie films out there. But for some reason I find myself forced to watch as many as I can; the good ones, the bad ones, and the uninspired mehs. Now, BLOOD RUSH is a low budgeter, there’s no denying it, but though it borrows heavily from numerous higher profile zombie films and shows such as DAWN OF THE DEAD, THE WALKING DEAD, and 28 DAYS LATER, it does so with charm and some attention to detail you don’t often find with the adrenaline-filled action zombie fests we’re used to.
The film begins slowly as our star (Kerry Finlayson, who also wrote and produced the film) makes her way through a blood-splattered house and finds her best friend zombified. After wrestling with her through the house and out into the yard, she overcomes the zombie and sets out to find more survivors. Meanwhile, in a nearby town, an oblivious town council debates about recent outbreaks of sickness in their community. Cut off from the rest of the world, they don’t know that the dead are rising and eating people; they are just concerned about the power and water outages. By focusing more on the way folks can be extremely self-centered, even in a time of dire crisis, BLOOD RUSH is actually a pretty insightful film. Though the narrative is split between fleeing survivors and oblivious townies, the film balances the two narratives nicely, peppering the action bits nicely between selfish town’s council arguments.
Sure there are all types of zombie scenes that we’ve seen a million times, but the quieter dissections of a crumbling society are what interested me most about BLOOD RUSH. The acting ranges from ok to amateur and the effects are minimal, but in terms of depth of theme, BLOOD RUSH is one of the stronger low budget zeeks out there.
New on DVD/BluRay!
MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD (2010)Directed by Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi
Written by Noboru Iguchi & Jun Tsugita
Starring Yumi Sugimoto, Yuko Takayama, Suzuka Morita, Naoto Takenaka, Chiharu Kawa
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
When will we ever get sick of seeing hot Asian girls in schoolgirl outfits?
Never, if MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD has anything to say about it. Though released overseas a few years ago, this gory super hero flick is finally making its way to BluRay and DVD this week. The film owes a lot to American comics such as X-MEN in terms of theme, but sits up there with the greats when it comes to gore and batshit craziness.
If you liked films like TOKYO GORE POLICE, VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL (reviewed here), and HELLDRIVER (reviewed here), then this is the type of film for you. MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD starts small, focusing on Rin (Yumi Sugimoto), a single, shy teen finding out that she is different from her schoolmates who ridicule her and make her life hell. On her birthday, she complains about pains in her hand, which cause sideways glances from her parents. After accidentally lashing out at her classmates for bullying her, she returns home to find her parents revealing to her that she is the halfbreed offspring of a human and a race of mutant that existed long before humans. Before Rin can process this, her house is stormed by armed forces who kill her family and force her into defending herself using her mutant power and then go into hiding. Soon she finds the alluring Kisaragi (Tak Sakaguchi), a transvestite mutant who teaches a school for mutants that call themselves the Hiruko. Each of her fellow students are weirder than the next. When Rin discovers that Kisaragi’s plot is to take revenge on the entire Japanese population, she teams with a few of her classmates and the Mutant Girls Squad is born.
After this extremely comic booky origin story, apeshit crazy happens and happens and happens.
As with most of these Japanese horror flicks, the highlight here are the gory special effects. Blood gushes out in geysers as Rin’s mutant claws swipe at the enemy. Heads explode, body parts are used as weapons, and all kinds of cartoony dismemberment not unlike Peter Jackson’s DEAD ALIVE climax occurs. The gore is not meant to gross out. Instead its meant to cause laughter and head slapping astonishment. Everything is for spectacle, and as these films often do play out, everything leads to a final special effects bonanza blowout in the end with gallons of blood, body parts, and various other fluids dousing the actors and the stage they are filmed on.
The highlight of this film for me was the goofy powers each of the girls have. One has tentacles for arms. Another has little arms growing out of her head. Another has the ability to turn her face red (WTF?), while another carries around the head of her dead brother. The two standouts, though, are the chick with swords coming out of her breasts and, last but not least, the girl with a retractable chainsaw coming from her ass.
Yes, you read that right.
Not to be taken seriously. Not to be plumbed for thematic depth. MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD is a fun and gory messterpiece that follows what has become a tried and true formula of introducing one crazy body cartoon after another and then smashing them together in a bloody climax near the end. Although this time the mayhem is caused by Asian girls in school girl outfits—which I don’t know about you, but it only makes it all the more appealing to me.
In select theaters!
DETENTION (2011)Directed by Joseph Khan
Written by Joseph Khan & Mark PalermoStarring Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke, Dane Cook, Walter Perez, Will Wallace, Arthur Darbinyan, Richard Brake, Lindsey Morgan, Parker Bagley
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
If SCREAM had a little brother with ADHD and if that brother lost his meds for a month then ate a crate of pop rocks and chased it with a case of Red Bull, you’d have DETENTION—a comedy horror that hits the ground at a full-on sprint and never lets up until the credits roll. That description may feel not very positive, but I actually liked this movie quite a lot for its unbridled energy and fearlessness to go to ludicrous places.
What do I mean when I say ludicrous places, you may ask?
Well, in this single little movie, we’ve got time travel, a space bear, UFOs, a boy with fly blood that spits acid, a serial killer, and riffs on everything from FREAKY FRIDAY to THE BREAKFAST CLUB. This film throws the excrement of 1000 cows against the wall and most of it sticks. What amazes me is how writer/director Joseph Kahn (with fellow writer Mark Palermo) can juggle so many different elements and storylines and characters and have it all make sense and never lose focus. Sure, mashup films such as this are quite common. Some work, like CABIN IN THE WOODS and SCREAM, while others, as with the SCARY MOVIE films which gave way to EPIC MOVIE and the like, fall flat on their unfunny faces. But never have so many different elements come together in such a cohesive manner. The fact that the story moves at a mile a minute makes it even more impressive. The storyboards of this film must have seemed like Russell Crowe’s post it board from A BEAUTIFUL MIND, but somehow, someway, it all works.
What keeps it all together are the two main stars, Josh Hutcherson (who is recently getting attention for his role in THE HUNGER GAMES) and newcomer Shanley Caswell as the outcast girl next door who longs for his love when she’s not trying to kill herself. Other characters such as the 90’s-obsessed cheerleader Spencer Locke, the bully with fly blood Parker Bagley, and even the maniacal Principal Verge, played by Dane Cook, are all memorable and insane roles.
Split into mini vignettes a la Tarantino, DETENTION has a loose plot of a serial killer aping a popular movie franchise and murdering select popular teens. The narrative is extremely self-aware and Caswell’s character stops the police during their interrogation stating that she’s not another Neve Campbell. Though comparisons to other movies often make my eyes roll, the dialog and the people saying it here felt genuine and real. Much of the dialog is of the Sorkin/Mamet mile-a-minute rapid fire variety, as are the jokes. In any given scene, everything from teen rom-coms to popular horror films are referenced. But they are done so in such a likable way that I didn’t mind the scattershot manner by which it’s done. Any film that can pull off a mashup of RULES OF ATTRACTION, THE FLY, BREAKFAST CLUB, SCREAM, BACK TO THE FUTURE, CAN’T HARDLY WAIT, RAISING ARIZONA, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, PRETTY IN PINK, HEATHERS, DONNIE DARKO, and a million other cool films is ok in my book.
See this film for the fly blood bully sequence alone, which is so insane it’s infectious.
I’m not a huge fan of self-referentialism in horror. I think it can often be more of a detriment to the genre than anything else, making fun of it and trying to talk down to a genre that already gets a bad rap. But DETENTION is self aware that it’s self-aware and still manages to convey a solid story despite the patchwork quilt of different genres that serve as its components. There will be those who might become exhausted trying to follow the erratic pace of this film, but I loved every frantic second of it. Hoping to catch on with Josh Hutcherson’s rise to fame from THE HUNGER GAMES, this film is set to be released on BluRay and DVD soon. I think it’ll be one of those films that will develop somewhat of a cult following when it is released and it definitely deserves it.
And finally…here’s a short film hot off the presses. By now, folks should know that even though it’s processed by Parker Brothers, Ouija boards are not to be trifled with. This trio of girls didn’t get the memo and the results are a suspenseful and bloody good time. Enjoy Bazyl Dripps’ DEVIL BOARD!
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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