AICN HORROR peers into the future with some advance looks at horrors you should know about: PSYCHOPHONY! THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES! COLD BLOODED! HEMORRHAGE! A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES! & HATE CRIME!!!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. As promised, here’s the column I intended to post this Friday. I worked out the kinks, so hopefully, everything is back on track with my computer. This week, I’m acting as a harbinger of horror as I take a peek as some horror films that have yet to be released. Though most of you won’t be able to see these films yet, I do encourage you to be on the lookout for them. Every one of the scares listed below is worth seeking out and fear not, when these films are available for you all to see, I will most definitely let you know in this very column.
Enjoy the future horrors, folks!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Advance Look: PSYCHOPHONY (2012)
Advance Look: COLD BLOODED (2012)
Advance Look: HEMORRHAGE (2012)
Advance Look: A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES (2012)
Advance Look: THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES (2012)
Advance Look: HATE CRIME (2012)
And finally…Eric Haviv’s GRIEF!
PSYCHOPHONY (2012)Directed by Xavier Berraondo
Written by Xavier Berraondo
Starring Ferran Albiol, Dafnis Balduz, Ferran Carvajal, Mercè Montalà, Miriam Planas, Clàudia Pons, Babeth Ripoll, Leyla Rodríguez
Find out more about this film here!
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
If I were to describe PSYCHOPHONY in a sentence it would be WHITE NOISE meets THE FOURTH KIND. Though found footage is the mode of storytelling going on here, the story often goes the cinematic approach to tell the main tale and to add more spice, actual video and audio footage is added when available. This story of a group of schizophrenic patients who are taken to a haunted house in order to see if there is a correlation between psychosis and paranormal activity is a true oddity and one that succeeded in unnerving me to the core.
I can’t say that I was completely sold on this film. It seemed to be quite a stretch trying to link mental disorder to the world of ghosts, but given the footage and recordings shown, though I was a non believer at the beginning of this movie, the events that unfold have me doubting myself.
Though the performances by the cast were decently done, I feel as if a lot of the drama unfolding was somewhat soap operatic. There was a lack of pop that I was hoping for given the truly scary scenes that begin to intensify through this story. I do have to give this film credit for not going the stereotypical route when it comes to depicting mental illness. The actors seem to have personalities beyond their illness, a layering of character not often found in cinematic portrayals.
Where PSYCHOPHONY succeeds is by interlacing the actual EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) caught during this actual occurrence. Whether or not these recordings are on the up and up, who is to say. The film says that the events occurring in this story were real as were the recordings. If they are real, this is some compelling evidence and it’s worth checking out this film’s website to hear some of it. Either way, watching this film in the dark of my apartment was pants-shittingly terrifying every time the EVP played. I’m a sucker for ghost hunting shows. They are my guilty pleasure. And sitting through hours of those shows with only creaks and “What the hell was that?”s to call as evidence of the paranormal, I did find the creepy stuff going down in PSYCHOPHONY to be absolutely horrifying.
Whether you are a believer or not, despite some soap operatic performances, PSYCHOPHONY is downright scary when it uses its supposed real footage. Fans of TV ghost hunting shows should put this on their must watch list.
Advenace Review: Recently played Fantasia Film Festival 2012!
COLD BLOODED (2012)Directed by Jason Lapeyre
Written by Jason Lapeyre
Starring Zoie Palmer, Ryan Robbins, William MacDonald, Huse Madhavji, Thomas Mitchell, Sergio Di Zio
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Though it falls more under the action category than horror, COLD BLOODED does have a nice amount of gore and dismemberment throughout the film, so I felt it wasn’t completely out of line to cover it in this column.
After a jewel heist gone wrong (do any jewel heists ever go right?), Cordero (played by the charismatic Ryan Robbins from APOLLO 13) ends up beaten into a coma by the police and taken to the nearest hospital to recover. Frances (Zoie Palmer from DEVIL) is a cop who was lucky enough be on the night shift the night Cordero wakes out of his coma. Because the diamonds were never found and all of the other robbers are dead, Cordero is a popular guy with crooked cops and evil criminals alike. Striking an uneasy truth in an abandoned and locked off section of a hospital Cordero and Frances have to work together to survive.
Now, nothing about this set up screams originality, I know, but the thing that makes COLD BLOODED work are the likable performances from the two stars. Robbins has a rogue-ish likability about him that makes you understand why Frances might set aside their differences and team up against a badder bad guy. Frances in turn has a vulnerability underneath a toughness that doesn’t come off like a woman trying to be a tough guy (as one often sees in this type of film), but as someone conflicted with what she believes in and what she is. These great performances immediately made me invested in these characters.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazingly subtle and stone cold coolness of William MacDonald as the lead thug who coldly enacts torture and murder without a flinch and has a stone look about him that makes you shiver with just a stare. Additional props goes to Sergio Di Zio as the twitchy thug who is not cut out for killing.
Though this is a small scale action film in a time when action often means explosions that level city blocks, multi-million dollar car chases, and expansive set pieces, I have to give it to this old school thriller that keeps the stakes small, but the charisma of its actors high. The gore is actually pretty gruesome in this one with one cast member losing a hand and having to carry it around with them with hopes of reattachment at a later date and the use of a surgical saw as a killing tool. This isn’t the type of film to highlight the gore, but the action does have teeth that leave marks in this one. Reminiscent of the type of action film one might find in the late 70’s and early 80’s, COLD BLOODED is a winner in my book.
Advance Review: Recently played Fantasia Film Festival 2012!
HEMORRHAGE (2012)Directed by Braden Croft
Written by Braden Croft
Starring Alex D. Mackie, Brittney Grabill, Ryland Alexander, Alex D. Mackie, Diane Wallace, Zachary Parsons-Lozinski, Samara Sedmak
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Reminiscent of both CLEAN, SHAVEN and BUFFALO 66, HEMORRAGE is an effective thriller with strong performances from a fresh pair of lead actors and some truly impressive restraint on the part of the director. This is a tale of a man trying to crawl out of a pit of madness and discovering how slippery the walls truly are.
HEMORRAGE starts out with a mash up of different film stocks and styles. For a second it is a mock doc style as a psychiatrist is being interviewed about a particular patient. Then we are given scenes of actual brain operations and x-rays of the human noggin. After this mish mash of graphic and disturbing imagery, we are introduced to Oliver, played by talented newcomer Alex D. Mackie. Like Peter Greene’s masterful performance as man struggling with schizophrenia in CLEAN, SHAVEN, Mackie shows great range as the withdrawn and socially awkward Oliver. Though he attempts to reach out and join the real world and attests that he “wants to be a good person”, his mental instability prohibits that at every turn. When Oliver meets a nurse at the abortion clinic he works at as a janitor, things start out sweet enough, but Oliver has difficulty keeping it together and soon things go horribly wrong. Brittney Grabill does a fantastic job as Claire the nurse who is utterly conflicted in her feelings toward Oliver. At first, she is interested in him, but as Oliver’s symptoms begin to seep through, interest turns to fear post haste.
And here’s where HEMORRAGE gets a little weird. Though some would think Grabill’s character would be absolutely freaked out by Oliver’s behavior, she decides to accompany him to his sister’s house. As awkward as Christina Ricci’s visit to Vincent Gallo’s house in BUFFALO 66 was, this visit is every bit as awkward, though much less sweeter. Claire seems to feel sorry for Oliver and though she is often bound and gagged by the psychopath, a twisted little love story begins to unfold here.
HEMORRAGE surprised the hell out of me and I absolutely never knew which way this one was going to go. I know nothing good was going to come of the relationship between Oliver and Claire as Oliver’s edges fray more and more, but part of me was hoping this bizarre little romance could somehow work out. This film is flooded with psychological horror and those interested in the mind and all of the dark twists it can bend will want to seek out HEMORRAGE when it becomes available to the masses.
Advance Review: Recently played Fantasia Film Festival 2012!
A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES (2012)Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo
Written by Buddy Giovinazzo & Greg Chandler
Starring Marc Senter, Elissa Dowling, Jason London, Richard Portnow, Margaux Lancaster
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Known for such demented cult hits as COMBAT SHOCK, MANIAC 2, and LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKDOWN, director/writer Buddy Gioninazzo offers up a masterfully crafted little film in A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES that makes up for a lack of budget and over the top effects with real intensity and strong performances by its lead actors.
The film begins with Marc, a blogger played by RED, WHITE, & BLUE’s Marc Senter, who seeks out Ginger, an indie songstress played by Elissa Dowling, with an interest in doing a piece on her. She agrees to meet him at her rural home which she is renting out from what seems to be a sweet old man. As the interview progresses, creepy stuff starts happening. First the record player starts playing an old song. Then mysterious sounds start occurring around the house. Soon both Marc and Ginger realize that the house is haunted by an other worldly presence and as the night goes on, their likelihood of living to see the morning looks dimmer and dimmer.
With most of the film focusing on them, Dowling and Senter better be strong and they deliver in spades. Senter seems absolutely genuine as the eager reporter, looking to prove himself as a journalist and contain the fact that he is a music nerd in front of this super cool songbird. Dowling not only has a powerful singing voice, but is able to convey enough mystery to make both Marc and the viewer wonder whether she has something to do with the strange happenings or if she is a victim of the haunting as well. Much of the film focuses on these two actors reactions and it’s a testament to their skill that the film is so effective in its scares since only smeared blood and moving record players make up most of the weird happenings.
That said, the weird shit that does happen in A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES is extremely effective. A bloody coin is found in a place on Gingers body that a bloody coin shouldn’t be found (I’ll leave the exact location to your imagination). Ginger vomits up all sorts of things that she doesn’t remember eating fully intact which makes things all the more weird. Even a sex scene is twisted to an ugly form in this film. Giovinazzo makes the best of the creepy house and the performances, so he doesn’t have to show all of the shocks and effects. He’s a director who seems to believe less is more and this film is all the more stronger because of that.
I can’t leave without mentioning Jason London’s turn as Ginger’s jilted stalker. London is almost unrecognizable and definitely amps up the creep as the twitchy gun toting madman stalking around the house. He adds a human terror on top of all the paranormal happenings afoot.
I couldn’t find a trailer for this one or a website. Seems to be too new. A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES played at Fantastia Fest and is getting good buzz. It deserves it. Occasionally, the film does become somewhat predictable and though I called the ending about fifteen minutes before it happened, it still left an impact. A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES is a quiet and patient horror film. It’s extremely effective in amplifying mood and tension, made more so by the lead actors and the director’s patient camera.
THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES (2012)Directed by Jay Lee & Jim Roof
Written by Jim Roof
Starring Jim Roof, Shannon Malone, Larissa Lynch, Liz Burghdorf, Andrew Hopper
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Probably my favorite film of this week’s peek into the future is THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES. I’m definitely someone who doesn’t like the torture porn aspects of horror. While I can recognize it as horror, I don’t find it particularly entertaining because of that type of film’s lack of plot and/or depth and penchant just to highlight the torture. I guess THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES can be categorized in the torture subgenre of horror, but it definitely doesn’t fall short in character and depth. And because of that, it excels far past the torture porn variety we all are tired of.
Ed wants to make the very first triple feature snuff film. He is a psychopath through and through, but a well organized one and like most psychopaths (according to multiple seasons of DEXTER) follows a particular code which ensures he will not be caught. Ed is married to another psychopath named Susan. Susan likes to poison people and as we find out, Ed doesn’t really trust her, but loves her…well, as much as a homicidal madman can. Ed and Susan have set up their house with 100 cameras in order to film their triple feature. The only problem is that they have to find their trio of unsuspecting victims.
What makes THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES so interesting is that it’s not about a snuff film. It’s about how hard it is to make a snuff film. Despite the painstaking measures Ed has put together to make his dream project come true, through a series of events out of his control, Ed hits road blocks at every turn. If the events unfolding weren’t so dire and despicable, this film would almost be hilarious and often times I didn’t know whether I should be laughing at the stuff happening on the screen. The film is told with such pitch black humor that you’re going to feel a bit dirty afterwards, but dammit if it isn’t a damn good time.
A lot of this weird black humoristic tone is attributed to Ed’s (actor/writer/co-director Jim Roof’s) performance. Ed looks and sounds a lot like CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL actor Rob Chorddry which may be why I liked the character so much. His frantic performance also reminded me a bit like the maniacal take on the Riddler Frank Gorshin played on the 60’s BATMAN series. Shannon Malone plays Susan and offers up another stellar performance as the always chipper and June Cleaver-esque doting housewife who never forgets to put on her face and is always baking something in the kitchen. Both actors make what could be a truly dark and despicable film a deft tightrope walk between satire and pure horror.
The final act of this film where the couple finally lures a trio of victims to their den of horrors is blacker than black. Things get serious and twisted quickly and the faint of heart are bound to want to turn away numerous times. But while the film does lean towards the torture porn side for one scene, the rest is a fantastically comedic and dark take on the best laid plans and how easily they can go to shit.
THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES is one of my favorite horror films of the year and I can’t wait until it goes wide for more to see. If this film can turn this horror fan who dislikes torture porn into a fan, it has to have something going for it. Not for the squeamish, THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES succeeds with two rock solid performances by its leads and a tone that will have you laughing and wincing all at once.
HATE CRIME (2012)Directed by James Cullen Bressack
Written by James Cullen Bressack & Jarret Cohen
Starring Jody Barton, Tim Moran, Ian Roberts, Nicholas Clark, Greg Depetro, Debbie Diesel, Sloane Morgan Siegel, Maggie Wagner, Reviewed by Ambush Bug
So I received an email from director James Cullen Bressack asking if I wanted to take a super advanced look at his film HATE CRIME. There were a few stipulations to this offer; no plot was to be revealed, no characters, no motivation, and no revealing who gets killed, when or how. For a reviewer, that’s a mighty tall order and in my response to the director, I said that I would keep the review spoiler free, but would be doing a disservice to my readers if I didn’t provide some details about the film in order for them to understand whether or not they should seek the film out once it is available for mass consumption. Thinking that I wouldn’t get a chance to review the film, I was surprised to be allowed access to viewing. So I plan on honoring the directors wishes as much as I can and also provide you with enough about it to form your opinion whether it will be for you.
With a name like HATE CRIME, you’re bound to be able to piece together what this film is about. Basically it’s a home invasion film, but while most home invasion films hinge on the fact that it is an attack without warning or reason, the invaders in this film at least have a motivation for doing what they are doing, as twisted as it may be. The attack is brutal, it’s unflinching, and it is not for the squeamish. Rooted in reality, HATE CRIME pulls no punches as it never blinks or turns away at the horrors these invaders inflict on an unsuspecting family.
As heinous a crime as this is, director Bressack did a decent job of keeping my interest, despite the despicable acts being played out on the screen. This is mainly due to some strong performances by the cast, both family and invader alike. The best of the bunch is the invader simply known as Three, a hockey masked madman roided up and absolutely embodying a destructive force. But Ian Roberts, the actor playing Three doesn’t just amp up the raged roar of a wrestler, well ok, he does do that a lot, but he also shows a side of his character that is fractured and sad. Roberts delivers by far the most three dimensional of all of the characters in this film and every time he was on screen, despite the fact that he was wearing a black hockey mask most of the time, he had my complete attention.
This is a found footage-style film and though Bressack does a decent job of making the limitations of such a film style never get boring, there are times of contrivance as the camera is dropped or set down just at the right angle to see some of the action going on. There have been many found footagers who have been less subtle about this and though it does happen a few times in the film, the intensity of the situations unfolding definitely makes you forget the contrivance.
I’d better end this review before I reveal too much, but I do want to reiterate that this is a decently done film about an absolutely ugly crime. Some might say that the director Bressack is shining the spotlight on this type of crime by spending an hour and a half showing it all going down. The wrap up, told in text at the end, explaining what happened after the tape stopped rolling does come to a resolution that some may deem satisfying, but I can also see others feeling as if this comeuppance feels more like an afterthought rather than a worthwhile way to wrap things up and I must admit, it didn’t cleanse my palate from the crimes I just witnessed.
As is, if you’re a fan of found footage films, HATE CRIME is definitely one you should seek out. While it won’t convert any of you sick of the subgenre of shaky first person POV cams, it definitely is one of the more intense offerings of this type of film.
Sorry, I don’t have a trailer for this one. It’s still too new. But I’ll be sure to let folks know more about this film as it moves closer towards distribution.
And finally…here’s a morose little short from writer D. Ross Kellett and director Eric Haviv. It’s well shot and well acted and an all around professionally done piece done once on an iPhone and another using a regular camera. Either way, this is a cool little short about the paranormal. Enjoy…GRIEF.
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.
Interested in illustrated films, fringe cinema, and other oddities?
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Aug. 13, 2012, 3:38 p.m. CST
That's a whole list I can't wait to check out, although Cold Blooded doesn't look like my cup of tea. The short this week was also really good. Who knew you could get that kind of movie quality off of an iPhone.
Aug. 13, 2012, 7:22 p.m. CST
by hasse erbine
I've been keeping an eye on Cold Blooded, all the buzz about it has been positive and it looks like the kind of thriller they don't make enough these days, certainly not in North America. I'm also a huge fan of Zoie Palmer, she deserves to be much better known outside of Canadian internet nerd circles than she is. Incredibly watchable actress who can bring an awful lot of grit and wit to potentially very thin roles, I'd love to see more of her on screen.
Aug. 14, 2012, 11:12 a.m. CST
With all the positive feedback I've been seeing about this one, I may have to change my mind and give it a look.
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