Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. WE’ve got all kinds of new horrors this week in print and on film, but before we get to that…there’s this!
We have a guest review of V/H/S further down the column, but those dying to see the most anticipated horror film of the year will be able to check it out in advance at the Toronto After Dark Summer Film Festival. This Wednesday July 11 (9:45pm) will be the Canadian Premiere of this V/H/S and if you’re in the area, be sure to check it out!
MONSTERS WANTED looks to be a unique project I’m interested in checking out from Thoughtfly Films. Here’s the officical synopsis: In early 2011, Rich Teachout quit his lucrative job to focus on creating a one-of-a-kind haunted attraction. He and his partner Janel dedicated every moment, ounce of energy, and dollar to making their "Scream Park" a reality. MONSTERS WANTED is the story of their self-proclaimed madness and the industry, culture, and people who share it. Being a fan of haunted houses and horror themed parks, I find the premise interesting. Can’t wait to check it out. Here’s the trailer below. Find out more about this project here.
The horror comedy GIRLS GONE DEAD recently released some pics from the set. The film is set to be released later this year and stars Jerry Lawler ("WWE Raw"), Beetlejuice and Sal ‘The Stockbroker’ Governale of “The Howard Stern Show”, Ron Jeremy, Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain, scream queen Linnea Quigley and a passel of Penthouse Pets like Ryan Keely and Janessa Brazil. With a cast like that, my interests are piqued. The film is described as SCARY MOVIE meets SON OF THE BEACH. And the pics on the right and left indicate that it’s not afraid to get bloody.
Now let’s get to the reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
ANNO DRACULA: THE BLOODY RED BARON Book Review
Guest Review: V/H/S (2012)
MOURNING WOOD (2010)
DEAR GOD NO! (2011)
SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE (2011)
And finally…Patrick Rea’s HELL WEEK!
ANNO DRACULA: THE BLOODY RED BARON NovelWritten by Kim Newman
Published by Titan Books
Reviewed by Lyzard
This summer ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER arrives in theaters. But don’t you think Seth Grahame-Smith is the first to alter history with the addition of the undead. Where Kim Newman’s ANNO DRACULA was an alternative interpretation/continuation of the novel, his sequel, ANNO DRACULA: THE BLOODY RED BARON is also an alternative history of World War I.
Here’s a quick summary for those that haven’t read ANNO DRACULA. I would say it is best to read it before moving on to THE BLOODY RED BARON, though I was able to make it through the sequel without having read the previous novel in quite a while. ANNO DRACULA depicts a Victorian England that has been altered by the presence of vampires. Everyone is affected by the new population of the undead, whether by being turned themselves or knowing someone who is. Not all take this change lightly, and a serial killer of vampires coined “Silver Knife” is just the start of a backlash against Count Dracula and his brood.
In THE BLOODY RED BARON, Dracula has fled from England only to rise to power in Germany. Vampire politics set off the Great War, with warm bodies and cold fighting for both the Allies and Central Powers. If you thought the real-life contest was brutal, the addition of vampires makes it even more abominable.
The book is gorier, darker, just more horrific overall--but it has more drawbacks than the first. The level of detail I enjoyed in ANNO DRACULA prevents THE BLOODY RED BARON from being as fast a read. I tired after a long reading session, though never lost interest in the book itself. It is possible that the book is just as detailed as the previous, but I understood the references much better in ANNO DRACULA. I was much more familiar with the Victorian homage than that of the military. World War I has never been of great interest to me and my lack of knowledge of both the war and military terms/tactics put me at somewhat of a loss. If, however, you are such a history buff, then this may be a positive for you.
Perhaps it was my misunderstandings of the time that caused me some confusion, but I was unable to separate a few characters by their names. Maranique and Malanbois, two locations that are integral to the story, got switched around in my mind constantly. There is a joke with one of the British squadrons of the pilots called the B’s, as in all four have B’s for last names. Funny, yes--but this makes them hard to distinguish when the battle sequences begin and the writing tries to keep speed with the action. Many of the German agents were also hard to separate; one character even notes that he is “a rare JGI flier without a ‘von’ to his name”. Some may find similar names an insignificant problem, but this slowed down my reading more than the depth of the details.
But let’s move on to the numerous better qualities of the BLOODY RED BARON. Newman wrote this novel back in 1995, prior to the fluffy vampire works of the twenty first century. As such, it is a nice reprieve for those that desire their vampires to be killers without remorse. The series contain vampires of all sorts, even the more Byronic type, so there is attraction for any readers with a strong stomach for horror.
Newman also presents a point of view missing from the first of the series. Not only is the reader given insight to the heroes of the war, but also the enemy. Yes, ANNO DRACULA had chapters focused on the killer “Silver Knife,” but he was the only one (and the term enemy could be used loosely on him). This time there is nearly equal focus of both sides.
Instead of Charles Beauregard being the main protagonist as he was in ANNO DRACULA, it is the new character and his successor Edwin Winthrop that takes over. It would be unfitting not to have a well-known figure reconfigured, and the one that struck me as the most inventive reinterpretation was that of Edgar Allan Poe (though he prefers not to be called by his uncle’s name of Allan). These new additions are able to stand up to the returning characters, such as Beauregard and Kate.
While I may have dismissed the increase of detail, the amping of horrific elements was welcome. The incidences of ANNO DRACULA are referred to as the Terror, but it is the current events that are truly shocking. Obviously a book about war should be more gut-wrenching and Newman does not disappoint. Vampires are able to take a greater beating than humans, but even their limits are pushed to extremes.
It will be another year until the third title, DRACULA CHA CHA CHA, is reprinted. But at least that gives me time to re-read the first two works, which despite their flaws continue to draw me back in.
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a senior screenwriting major with an English minor at Chapman University. Along with writing for AICN, she has been published twice on the subject of vampire films.
Guest Review From the Sneak Preview at International Film Festival Boston. April 27th, 2012!
V/H/S/ (2012)Reviewed by Joshua Ryan
I am actually afraid to write a review about this film. I don't want to say anything that will be taken out of context and will make my readers not want to see this film. So I will be as direct and straightorward as possible. V/H/S/ will be the BEST HORROR FILM OF THE YEAR! and is a MUST SEE! Now, with that out of the way, let me tell you a little more about this film. I have been following this film as an avid reader of Bloody-Disgusting.com. When I found out it was coming to town I was ecstatic. The film is a found-footage anthology. V/H/S/ shakes for the first five minutes...get over it, because the storytelling that comes after is worth the small headache. With 6 different directors that include Ti West (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL), Adam Wingard (A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE), David Bruckner (THE SIGNAL), Joe Swanberg, Simon Barrett, Glenn McQuaid (I SELL THE DEAD), and the directing team Radio Silence, the talented line-up is what makes this film work. These directors love the genre and show it through the terrifying stories that make up V/H/S/. All of the segments in V/H/S/ are unconventional in the best way. Watching the film could be compared to reading a horror anthology; each segment is so different but they come together as one. I will not spill on each segment because the less you know, the better. It would be so easy for this film to become some sort of torture porn snuff film that Hollywood likes to dump shitloads of money into, and I was afraid that is what I got myself into. There is nudity in a scene where a girl is being taped without her knowing; I was afraid this would be where they lost me, but the scene turns out to be very comedic. Each segment is a little too long, but the viewer is already on the ride, and the next drop is right around the corner, so get to the edge of your seat and throw your motherfucking hands up, because this is the ride of 2012. I just want to say thank you to the filmmakers and Brad Miska at Bloody-disgusting.com for making a great film.
OnDemand August 31st and In Theaters October 5th.
New on DVD from Brain Damage Films/Midnight Releasing!
MOURNING WOOD (2010)Directed by Ryan Convery
Written by Ryan Convery, Erik Johnson, Ryan Convery, Marc Guild, Ed Gutierrez, Erik Johnson
Starring Ed Gutierrez, Erik Johnson, Marc Guild, Zack Brown, Ryan Convery, Ryan Clark, Nick Brown
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
A raunchy fun premise and a wicked sense of humor saves this low budgeter from the abyss. MOURNING WOOD isn’t subtle with its humor, but there’s always a place for grossout horror comedies here at AICN HORROR.
Though most of the actors mumble through their lines amateurly, some of the lines that do come through are pretty funny in a stoner/slacker sort of way. This film about a local infomercial inventor whose snake oil concoctions cause a sexual zombie apocalypse is as in your face as it gets. Though the theme is explored in an ultra serious/ultra disgusting manner in Garth Ennis’ extreme comic CROSSED, here it’s explored in a more goofy manner.
As horndog zombies roam the countryside, humping anything and passing the infection through enormous splooges that splatter over the face of their victims (yeah, you read that right), a group of slackers must set down the bong and band together if they’re going to survive undoused by toxic zombie semen.
If that last paragraph offends, MOURNING WOOD is definitely not for you, but the stoner laughs are fun, the claymation opening credits are inspired, and the tone is right for a gross good time, if you don’t mind crass, low fi humor.
New on DVD from Brain Damage Films/Midnight Releasing!
DEADTIME (2012)Directed by Tony Jopia
Written by Stephen Bishop
Starring Laurence Saunders, Carl Coleman, Elisabeth Shahlavi, Leslie Grantham, Terry Christian, Joe Egan
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Similarities between DEADTIME and Vincent D’Onofrio’s misfire DON’T GO IN THE WOODS (reviewed here) are bound to happen. Both involve rock bands who are trying to put together an album and return to their roots. Both have music that is debatably not that great (I’m a film/comic reviewer, not a music reviewer, so in that case, I’ll just say it’s not my cup of joe). And both involve the band members being picked off one by one by a killer who uses a variety of sharp edged weaponry. But while DON’T GO IN THE WOODS calls itself a musical, DEADTIME is a horror film about musicians and in doing so, this film comes off as a bit less pretentious. This doesn’t save DEADTIME from being run of the mill, but it does put it a head above the other film.
DEADTIME’s main problem is that it’s just your typical slasher film. It’s seen all of the slasher films we all have and if anything serves as a UK rock band equivalent of the SCREAM franchise. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does have some very fun and imaginative kills along the way involving both CGI and practical effects. Director Tony Jopia does a great job of making each kill distinct and visually interesting and even knows how to ratchet up the tension when necessary.
The last quarter of this film is where the problems lie. As soon as we find out who the killer is, he resorts to laughing maniacally and monologuing and in this day and age when those two attributes of evil have been smartly lampooned in everything from SCREAM to THE INCREDIBLES, it’s hard to take it seriously when the mask comes off and the exposition starts.
Good for a few gory beats, but don’t look for any original melodies from DEADTIME.
New on DVD!
DEAR GOD NO! (2011)Directed by James Bickert
Written by James Bickert
Starring Jett Bryant, Madeline Brumby, Paul McComiskey, Olivia LaCroix, Nik Morgan, John Collins, Shane Morton, Rusty Stache, & Nick Hood as the Bigfoot!
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Though this film as is wicked at they come, there is one redeeming quality that would make me recommend it to readers of this column: everything with Bigfoot in DEAR GOD NO! is rock solid gold. When I first started watching this film, I was wondering if it was taking itself seriously. Was this one of those biker films, filmed by a biker, not knowing how ridiculous he is making bikers look by filming them doing this stupid shit that they think is cool? But as the story went on, the seriousness of the crimes the starring biker gang commits made me forget all of that and DEAR GOD NO! became something more akin to an I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or STRAW DOGS. But just when I started to settle into the fact that this film is going to make me wince at the atrocities that are put upon the bikers’ victims, muther fuckin’ Bigfoot shows up and that’s when DEAR GOD NO! gets amazing.
A gang of bikers go on a rampage. They kill a cop. They kill a kid. They kill a strip bar full of old men and strippers wearing Nixon masks. When they accidentally let a couple get away from them, the gang tracks the couple to a house in the woods where a scientist and his shrew-like daughter live in solitude. What they don’t know is that the house in the wood holds terrible secrets, but when they begin to raise some hell and do some raping, they find out the hard way that there are much hairier things in the woods than their chins.
The crimes here are heinous. The rapes are not as resonant, mainly because we don’t get to know the women that well as we did with I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but still, the scene where the bikers rape, kill, and disembowel a pregnant woman is hard to stomach. If anything, these scenes make you cheer all the more when Sasquatch shows up.
Now, I know saying that Bigfoot shows up is a spoiler, but since it’s written on the cover, I don’t really feel bad talking about it. Though the tone shifts back and forth from deadly serious to camp, the film really finds its place when Bigfoot appears. The gore is upped ten notches. And so is the comedy, as the bikers are caught completely unaware and a situation they thought they had a steel-toed boot on is all of a sudden ripping out their innards and lopping off heads. The final scenes of DEAR GOD NO! will have you out of your seat and cheering, I guarantee.
I recommend this film for the last half hour alone as all sense and reason is thrown out the window. Everything from ultimate gross out gore to Nazi science, Nixon strippers, all kinds of gnarly biker violence, deviant S&M, a hick conspiracy nut, and of course Bigfoot are the mismatched ingredients that make up this odd little movie. Not for the squeamish and most assuredly if your girlfriend/wife/whatever is preganant not for her, but for the Bigfoot moments alone, DEAR GOD NO! is downright fantastic.
WARNING: THIS MOVIE HAS BOOBS! NSFW!
New on DVD/BluRay!
SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE (2011)Directed by Jack Perez
Written by Ryan A. Levin
Starring Kevin Corrigan, Leo Fitzpatrick, Ariel Gade, Lucy Davis, Barry Bostwick, and Karen Black
Find out more about the film here and on Facebook
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Can’t believe I’m saying this but this is a pretty sweet little film. And I’m not tossing up the devil horns when I say sweet, I mean it is one of those films that is downright charming. Now, I know charming and horror rarely mix, but there’s a nice little beating heart to this film that was so refreshing that despite its flaws I have to recommend it to anyone looking for a horror film that breaks away from the norm.
SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE is a comedy horror that leans more into the comedy territory. But as I said above, it’s a light-hearted horror comedy centering on Ken Boyd, a man recently released from a mental institution (played by a restrained Kevin Corrigan) who is somehow connected to a series of murders going on in the city. As Ken’s childhood tormentors begin to drop like flies, he finds out that while he was away in the institution, his one-time fling had his baby. Now the child, played by plucky newcomer Ariel Gade, has decided to track down her father and start a relationship. Is Ken killing bullies from his past? And if he is, will his newfound responsibility for his daughter stop him from doing so? Those are the questions asked and answered in this offbeat little number.
Though there’s a lot of sentimental stuff going on, there’s also a whole lotta splatter. Blood by the buckets is shed here, but most of the gore is played for laughs. You’ll end up laughing more than wincing at the tone of the horror, though the comedy is closer to the chuckle variety than full on guffaw territory.
Appearances by ROCKY HORROR’s Barry Bostwick as a bumbling sheriff and Karen Black as an apathetic mom make this cast better than average. The appearance of THE OFFICE’s Lucy Davis is always welcome and she does well here with what little is given to her. SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE ended up surprising me in that it was gorier than expected given the tone, though less funny as I hoped. This film was produced by John Landis and the tone is reminiscent of his comedy horror mash ups like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and INNOCENT BLOOD rather than VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN. As is, you’ll feel surprisingly saccharinated after experiencing SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE, and since you don’t often feel that way with horror films, it’s a welcome change.
And finally…here’s a twist on college pledging and fratboy torture from director Patrick Rea. Never understood the appeal of frats myself, but some of you will empathize, I’m sure. Enjoy HELL WEEK!
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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