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AICN HORROR looks at THE DISCO EXORCIST! IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES! BELOW ZERO! LITTLE CREEPS! JACOB! & FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! Plus SUCKABLOOD!

Published at: June 26, 2012, 9:24 a.m. CST

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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of you might have noticed that I didn’t have an AICN HORROR column last Friday. So in order to make it up to you, I’ve got two AICN HORROR columns this week bringing you a whole boatload of new terrors.

Let’s get right to it, shall we?


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

Advance Review: FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! (2012)
LITTLE CREEPS (2010)
Advance Review: JACOB (2011)
THE DISCO EXORCIST (2011)
BELOW ZERO
Advance Review: IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES (2012)
And finally…SUCKABLOOD!


Advance Review: Available in September!

FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! (2012)

Directed by Garrett Brawith
Written by Ross Patterson
Starring Barry Bostwick, Lin Shaye, Bruce McGill, Ray Wise, Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Abraham Lincoln apparently wasn’t the only president to tangle with the unknown. Oh no. Seems the most important job in America has always had monster fighting as one of their responsibilities. With ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER in theaters this past weekend, there’s another bit of revisionist history you should also be aware of for the September release of FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! Now, FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! is most definitely not of the same caliber, it does serve as a great way of complimenting this weekend’s release. Just as the 60’s BATMAN television series compliments Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT as it’s goofy inbred cousin one can’t help but love, FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! does the same for ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER.

Undeniably camp, I couldn’t help but fall in utter and complete love with this film. From the goofy villains to the hokey tech and bravado, every frame of this film made me laugh until stuff jiggled. The flavor of comedy is whole heartedly committed to being “just Goddamn wrong” from start to finish. From FDR’s constant reminder that he has “tiny little polio legs” to Jimmy Carter’s uncle Buford offering up his wife for sex whenever he gets the chance, FDR: AMERICAN BADASS is sure to offend someone, but if you have the right sense of humor and will find a giggle or three at every turn this story goes.

On a routine hunting trip with his friends, a pre-Presidential FDR happens upon a werewolf. Adding a bit of their own twist to the lycan mythology, it’s a little known fact that a werewolf bite causes “the polio”. While crippling his body, the werewolf bite motivates FDR to seek the highest responsibility in the country. But as FDR ascends to the White House, evil forces are plotting as Werewolf Hitler, Werewolf Mussolini, and Werewolf Hirohito three-way call one another to spread the werewolf curse across the globe. Of course, FDR is not going to take this sitting down…I mean, he’s not going to stand for this…I mean…dammit. He decides to take the fight to the werewolves and win WWII.

Barry Bostwick plays FDR and does so with more energy than I’d have given the guy credit for. Every joke, every scene, every moment Bostwick is vibrant and has enough grit to kick all of the Expendables asses at any given moment. His comedic timing here is fantastic and makes me wish the ROCKY HORROR alum would be in more films. Remember how funny Leslie Nielson was in AIRPLANE and the first NAKED GUN (not the sequels)? Bostwick has that energy here, playing it straight throughout and never blinking at the over the top shit going on all around him.

The film is filled with other actors who give it their all; from Lin Shaye (THERE’SOEMTHING ABOUT MARY) whose portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt is hilariously tragic as she is disgusted by FDR’s tiny little polio legs to Bruce McGill’s performance as Louis, FDR’s earnest right hand man. Ray Wise plays Douglas Macarthur, while Ross Petterson gives an inspired comedic performance as the awkward and dense Cleavon Buford (Jimmy Carter’s uncle). Perhaps the most inspired casting is Kevin Sorbo as Abe Lincoln who FDR has an otherworldly conversation with while high. And the trio of character actors playing Hitler (Jesse Merlin), Mussolini (Paul Ben-Victor), and Hirohito (Jameson Yang) provide quite a bit of laughs as well.

Filled with wacky weaponry, raunchy dialog (FDR is more concerned about his penis working than his tiny little polio legs), and campy effects such as a twirling Presidential symbol between scenes, FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! is goofy fun. Occasionally when FDR and his elderly cronies speak Ebonics to one another, it does cause a groan or two, but for the most part, the humor hits its mark most of the time. It’s pretty gory as well as the werewolves rip open chests, throw hearts, and explode with huge squibs when fired upon by FDR’s souped up wheelchair. About a third of the way through the film, as with many films which rely on one joke after another, some semblance of plot has to be resolved. This usually causes a lull in the laughs and the lull is present here as well, though less problematic.

The film is most like the first AIRPLANE film mixed with a little of TEAM AMERICA WORLD POLICE, so if you loved those films, you’re the right candidate to get in line for this one. Go in expecting a raunchy and goofy time, and you’re definitely going to get it from FDR: AMERICAN BADASS!






LITTLE CREEPS (2010)

Directed by Brad Leo Lyon
Written by Brad Leo Lyon
Starring Joe Estevez, Robert Z'Dar, Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies, Brad Leo Lyon, & Aurelian Smith aka Jake the Snake Roberts
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


I try to be as nice as I can with low budgeteers, especially horror ones since I know a lot of heart goes into making these films. Though some might think it grand to rip apart films, I often find it hard to tear too hard into low fi horror. I could tell early on the folks behind LITTLE CREEPS have the intention of making something akin to late eighties schlockers like GHOULIES (which in itself is a pretty bad movie), but even though I can enjoy schlock from time to time, I can’t find it in me to recommend LITTLE CREEPS.

The film is pretty amateur on most levels which I could let slide for the most part, but it has one of the most bizarre casts I think I’ve ever seen and given the amount of effort to fill this film with z-name talent, there is a curiosity factor here making this a film of interest. Not one but two SAVED BY THE BELL alum (Dustin Diamond & Lark Voorheis) show up, along with Aurelian Smith who most will know as Jake the Snake Roberts from WWF, a puffier than ever Robert Z’Dar, and Joe Estevez (brother of Martin Sheen) whose idea of acting is screaming every line. If as much effort was put into the direction and script as it was the stunt casting of z-listers, something great could have come from this.

As is, LITTLE CREEPS serves as your typical Necronomicon flick with weird little robed creatures in Halloween face paint causing mischief and killing folks occasionally. Blood is splattered on the walls and runs across the floor, but most of the effects budget seems to have gone to buying the cast lunch more than anything else. Joe Estevez plays an obsessed college professor in search of the “Demonicon” while there’s a subplot of a new kid in school trying to impress his dad. The film ends weirdly as the star/writer/director Brad Leo Lyon seems to live out a fantasy by donning wrestling togs and fighting a demon beast in a wrestling ring in front of a crowd of extras.

Clunky writing, shoddy sound, low fi visuals, and poor acting permeate this film. The heart is there. I’m sure Brad Leo Lyon set out to make a fun flick and I have to say it looks like they did have fun doing it. But save those with a sick curiosity of what 80’s stars look like today, there aren’t going to be too many impressed with LITTLE CREEPS. I wish the cast and crew good things to come to them in the future. The writer/director/actor behind the film should be proud of doing this when so many have tried and failed. I can’t recommend it though but this might be a great schlocky candidate for the Riff Trax/MST3K treatment.






Advance Review: Touring festivals!

JACOB (2011)

Directed by Larry Wade Carrell
Written by Larry Wade Carrell
Starring Grace Powell, Dylan Horne, Krystn Caldwell, Larry Wade Carrell, Leo D. Wheeler, Parrish Randall, Joe Grisaffi, Jeremy James Douglas Norton, Jennifer Blanc, with James Hampton and Michael Biehn
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Another low budget entry pops its evil head up in this week’s AICN HORROR column. This one relies on a strong sense of mood and a genuinely creepy tone to make it stand out as a really effective indie horror gem. JACOB is the name of the title character, a hulking, bald man-brute in overalls that can only be calmed by his little sister. When Jacob’s family is threatened, though, the man-monster goes on a rampage and seemingly cannot be stopped.

But there’s more at play than a learning disabled man-boy on a rampage. There’s a fantastic little ghost story going on with JACOB as well, as an inheritance of a house is accompanied by a curse. Michael Biehn makes a cameo appearance as the inheritor of the residence and quickly succumbs to the evil forces that seem to be passed on to Jacob later in his life. The supernatural aspects of this film are subtle. Director/writer Larry Wade Carrell does a great job of keeping within the parameters of the budget and the seams are never seen despite some pretty fantastic action sequences of gore and violence.

Genuine acting chops are shown by the director/writer Carrell who also stars in a dual role as twin brothers, one a cop trying to track down Jacob after his rampage and the other an abusive drunk husband who sets Jacob off. It wasn’t until very late in the film that I realized that Carrell was playing the two roles. Instead of trying to do hokey split screen, Carrell relies on putting both characters in different scenes, so the two roles rarely share screen time. In doing so, it made this film feel bigger than it was as well.

The story is pretty expansive as it starts out with a trio of kids in the present daring one of them to enter the decrepit house then flashing back to just before Jacob’s rampage and then flashing back again to see how the origins of Jacob’s seemingly otherworldly strength began. Carrell does this without making things complex and is able to tell a pretty straightforward story without losing the audience.

At times, some of the rest of the cast stumbles due to lack of experience, I assume. The cast does their best, but a few overwritten scenes here and there like an overlong scene in a bar make for some lulls in the narrative. I do have to commend this film for the awesome use of the old Terri Gibbs song, “Somebody’s Knocking” which I have always found to be damn creepy.

JACOB is one of those indie films I can’t help but root for. It is surprisingly bloody and the violence echoes off of the screen with some clever use of cuts, camera angles, and action sped up at just the right time of impact. The house where the horrors take place is something out of a Tim Burton nightmare and Carrell uses what he has with an effectiveness that makes me want to pay attention what the writer/director has in store for us next.






Available now on DVD from Wild Eye!!

THE DISCO EXORCIST (2011)

Directed by Richard Griffin
Written by Tony Nunes with Guy Benoit
Starring Michael Reed, Ruth Sullivan, Sarah Nicklin, Brandon Luis Aponte, Rich Tretheway, Gio Castellano, Michael Thurber, Lee Rush, Bruce Church, Erin M. Olson, Alex Lewis, Alexander Cipolla, Babette Bombshell, Aurora Grabill, Jennifer Scharf
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Wow, it just doesn’t get any retro than this. THE DISCO EXORCIST feels as if every ounce of it was born, bred, and boogied from the 70’s. Much more so than Tarantino/Rodriguez’s forced retro effects of GRINDHOUSE, the folks behind THE DISCO EXORCIST channel the very essence of the era of low budget filmmaking. Though low on scares, I found THE DISCO EXORCIST to enjoyable from start to finish. Even the credits sequence which consist of fade in’s, intro credits, and funky music and animation, feel as if it were unearthed and dusted off after being in a vault for 35 years.

Michael Reed plays Rex Romanski, a happening guy who loves dancing at the club, doing copious amount of drugs, and having plenty of the sex. In fact this film is filled with sex and usually Rex is having it with just about every woman in this film. Those of the prudish nature will most definitely want to give this a pass, but if you like lots of soft core style sex one often found in the exploitation films in the seventies with bare asses grinding in every position, this is the film for you.

The story itself is a lot of fun, but it definitely is not the point here. Rex does the wrong girl wrong and his whoring ways get the better of him when he sleeps with Rita then moves on to the next dance queen the next day. Rita (Ruth Sullivan) plays the scorned psycho particularly well. It also turns out that she has an interest in the occult and curses Rex and his new porno actress girlfriend Amoreena (Sarah Nicklin) with a voodoo devil curse. Though in actuality, this film is more about voodoo than actual devil possession, it is somewhat indicative of the lack of differentiation between voodoo and exorcism of films during the era THE DISCO EXORCIST is homaging.

If I were to compare this film to anything, it would be to early Troma, but where Troma films always seem to veer off into an incohesive party/fever dream, THE DISCO EXORCIST maintains its focus right up until the end. But the real achievement here is how the filmmakers authentically recreated a distinctive era of filmmaking.

With scenes lost, scratched film, hokey cuts, and an over attention to all of the things that made up the era of the 70’s (disco, drugs, and sex), anyone who remembers that era, loves that era of films, or just has a great sense of humor will most definitely want to groove to THE DISCO EXORCIST.






New this week on DVD/BluRay!

BELOW ZERO (2012)

Directed by Justin Thomas Ostensen
Written by Signe Olynyk
Starring Edward Furlong, Michael Berryman, Kristin Booth, Sadie Madu, Dee Hanna
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


I was all ready to heap a ton of criticism on this film after seeing the preview, but after watching it, I have to say that there’s a lot to like about BELOW ZERO; a Stephen King-esque thriller about a writer with writer’s block going to extreme lengths to channel his artistic muse. Though the story jumps a bit off the rails toward the end, BELOW ZERO has enough going for it to be a pleasant surprise.

Edward Furlong plays Jack, a screenwriter who made it big early and hasn’t had a hit since. His agent has booked him a private room in a slaughterhouse which is exactly like the premise of his new story he calls BELOW ZERO, about a man locked in the meat freezer of a serial killer who doesn’t know he’s in there. Kristin Booth does a decent job as Penny, a thickly FARGO-accented local who is hired to lock Jack in the freezer. Things start off well as Jack begins the novel and we are introduced to the killer played by the always creepy Michael Berryman. Berryman shines in this role. Usually he’s the guy who just stands and looks creepy. Here he’s given more to do and delivers one of the best performances in THE HILLS HAVE EYES actor’s long career. Still forced to play the weirdo, at least Berryman is given a little depth here as he sings opera, mourns loss, and looks after a young boy while disposing bodies and running around bare chested in the night.

Where BELOW ZERO begins to unravel is towards the end as things get a bit too much like Charlie Kaufman’s ADAPTATION as Jack begins to write himself into the script he is writing in the cooler about a writer trapped in a cooler. While Kaufman was able to keep a firm hand in reality, giving us an anchor to hold on to and still understand the narrative, Signe Olynyk’s script doesn’t have that. Things start getting really loose towards the end and we as the viewer don’t know what’s real, what isn’t, and what is being written and rewritten. Director Justin Thomas Ostensen pulls it all together in the end, but still, there were some moments where I definitely applaud the ambition of those behind the film, but feel that all involved lost a hold of what’s what towards the end as fiction and reality begin to blur.

Despite the flawed ending, Furlong does a great job as Jack and pulls off the role of a desperate writer very well. Berryman shows that he has depth that has never been utilized in film before. And those of us who are writers will definitely appreciate some of the ballsy moves this story takes. BELOW ZERO is not the perfect film, but if you’re a fan of King and horror stories about writing, this is going to be right up your alley.






Advance review: Touring festivals!

IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES (2012)

Directed by Gabriel Carrer
Written by Angus McLellan
Starring Lindsay Smith, Ryan Kotack, Ryan Barrett, & Henry Rollins as The Voice
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Though the premise isn’t all that new, with some tight and crisp direction and fantastic performances from its cast, IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES is definitely a film to look out for. Directed by Gabriel Carrer and written with heart-wrenching dialog from Angus McLellan, IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES works because you actually like the two people in peril and want them to live on despite the harrowing experience they find themselves in.

Two lovers (Linsay Smith and Ryan Kotack) are enjoying a relaxing summer day at an amusement park in the city. When they go to their car, they smell some kind of chemical and quickly pass out only to wake up in a small basement room with four locked suitcases, a phone, and nothing else. Though they have each other, lack of food, water, and hope of rescue start to eat away at their relationship, a stress compounded by a mysterious voice on the phone taunting them with accusations, revelations, and directions to do things to one another. This seemingly random and senseless abduction is the kind of peril we see a lot in films these days, most of the time with home invasion films. Here instead of the familiar setting, we are enmeshed in a familiar and seemingly perfect relationship between these two talented actors and the story is all the more effective because of it.

Henry Rollins provides the voice on the phone telling the couple things to do and say to one another. The performer has a commanding voice, which is instantly recognizable. I know it is a selling point for this film as Rollins is the biggest name in the film, but some part of me wishes I didn’t know it was Rollins until the end. Still the horrifying things Rollins instructs the couple to do are all the more effective given his authoritarian tone.

Given the single locale and limited setting of this film, one would think that the story would get repetitious or boring. Since most of the film takes place in the concrete basement of a shack, Gabriel Carrer was faced with a challenge of making everything look interesting and does so with flying colors. Extreme close ups of insects, puddles, and piles of dirt on the floor help perk up the pace of the film. It is as if the director is forcing us to look at the little things that we would usually just glace over and not notice. Here the couple’s confinement is all the more claustrophobic in that we are pulled in and forced to see every crack, crevice, and blemish.

I can’t praise this film enough for how successful it was at making such a simple story so emotionally taxing, so intricately detailed, and so heavily nuanced. The films resolution doesn’t make it easy on the couple or the viewer making it all the more of a harrowing experience. IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES will be touring fests and most likely be distributed later this year. I’ll keep folks posted where about the wheres and whens you can see it. Until then, put this film on your horror must see list. It most definitely deserves a reserved spot for its tight directing and fantastic performances.






And finally…here’s another one from Bloody Cuts. This one is called SUCKABLOOD and written and directed by Jake Cuddihy and Ben Tillett and it’s fan-freakin’-tastic. It’s got the flavor of DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK and definitely will cause chills. Enjoy SUCKABLOOD!!!





See ya Friday, 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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