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AICN HORROR looks at PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4! RITES OF PASSAGE! SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY! THE LEGEND OF THE HILLBILLY BUTCHER! AIRBORNE! Plus looks back at TERROR TRAIN and BASKET CASE!

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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Today on AICN HORROR
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-Review: TERROR TRAIN (1980)
Retro-Review: BASKET CASE (1982)
THE LEGEND OF THE HILLBILLY BUTCHER (2012)
SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY (2012)
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D RE-ANIMATION (2012)
AIRBORNE (2012)
RITES OF PASSAGE (2012)
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)
And finally…Colin Campbell’s DOLLFACE!


Retro-review: New on BluRay from the Scream Factory!

TERROR TRAIN (1980)

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Written by T. Y. Drake
Starring Ben Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hart Bochner, David Copperfield(!), & Vanity(!!!)
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug


Man, I hadn’t seen TERROR TRAIN in ages. Let me tell you what I remembered from the film prior to seeing it; It had Jamie Lee Curtis (post-HALLOWEEN, when she was just starting to look hot). It took place on a train (of course). And it had illusionist David Copperfield in it. Apart from those three facts, I completely forgot pretty much everything else about this film. For some reason though, every time the film popped up in my mind, there were fond memories, so I couldn’t wait to check it out again to see if it was just nostalgia or if the film was actually as good as I remembered. Though in finding images for this review, I could only hope that the ad wizards who came up with the tagline in the poster to the right weren’t talking about the movie itself…

Note to self: Next time I think it’d be a good idea to play a practical joke on a twenty year old virgin by luring him into bed with a cadaver, watch this film to see how bad of an idea that is. This is a pretty twisted little movie. Sure, it’s basically HALLOWEEN on a train, but where it falls short on gore, its cup spilleth over with weirdness. The aforementioned virginal nerd is tormented by his pre-med school “friends” and after a prank goes wrong in the opening scene of this film, we quickly skip to a party occurring years later as the kids’ graduate college. Though it’s not Halloween, the kids decide to have a costume party on a train across a frozen wilderness. What could go wrong?

There’s some real talent behind the camera in TERROR TRAIN. A little investigating uncovered that this was director Roger Spottiswoode’s first film. Spottiswoode went on to direct SHOOT TO KILL (a personal favorite of mine starring Sidney Poitier, Kirstie Alley, Tom Berringer & Clancey Brown), TURNER & HOOCH, STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT, and TOMORROW NEVER DIES. While I wouldn’t categorize those films as classics of cinema (aside from SOMMWS of course), it is an impressive resume. Here Spottiswoode amps up the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped on a train with a killer. The corridors are tight and poorly lit. There are all kinds of closets and nooks for a killer to hide (as exemplified with perfection in a scene where the ageless Hart Bochner holes himself into a room only to find the killer hiding in there with him). There’s all kinds of close discomfort going on in TERROR TRAIN, probably because the movie was filmed on a real train and the camera equipment back then was pretty bulky, so the close up shots were probably the only shots that could be taken. This is basically a whodunit although we know who the killer is, there’s a train full of masked partiers. The tension is amped because the killer doesn’t stick to one costume. He switches from one to another throughout the film, making everyone a suspect, which plays on a Halloween motif never taken advantage of even in the HALLOWEEN films. Damn cool stuff.

There are good performances mainly provided by Ben Johnson (who many will know from THE WILD BUNCH, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, and maybe RED DAWN, but I know from THE TOWN THE DREADED SUNDOWN and THE SWARM) who plays a protective conductor who loves magic, Hart Brochner as a whiney med student who you can’t wait to see perished, and Jamie Lee Curtis finishes up her horror trifecta with this film after filming HALLOWEEN’s 1&2, and PROM NIGHT just before this one. Curtis gets down and dirty with the killer in this one as she runs from car to car trying to get away from him. This is a pretty physically demanding performance here, but I guess it didn’t cure Curtis from trains given that she starred in TRADING PLACES just a couple of years later which ends on a train too. As an added bonus, we have some pretty keen magic from illusionist David Copperfield which occasionally skids the story to a screeching halt much like the brakes on a train. These magic stops are fun, sure, but I couldn’t help but scoff at bit at how dorky Copperfield’s mesmerizing stage stare is.

More times than not, returning to a film I dug as a kid leaves me disappointed. Not the case here with TERROR TRAIN. Though I hear it was to be remade starring Thora Birch, it looks like that one got distributed as TRAIN, minus the terror. Haven’t seen that one. Maybe I’ll seek it out, but it’s got it’s work cut out for it if it’s going to match the quality scares and thrills in this TERROR TRAIN.






Available next week on BluRay & DVD with the other films from the BASKET CASE TRILOGY from Second Sight!

BASKET CASE (1982)

Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Written by Frank Henenlotter
Starring Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, Robert Vogel
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug


There are scenes in BASKET CASE that haunt me to this day.

I remember renting the film when I was around 13 and being utterly creeped out by the sordid juxtaposition of sex, violence, and grime this film oozes from every frame. Though everyone mentions Cronenberg when the subgenre of “body horror” arises, I’d argue that Henenlotter’s films are just as effective and just as horrific as some of Cronenberg’s classics. The thing that differentiates Cronenberg and Henenlotter is that it seems Henenlotter isn’t afraid to get his shoes dirty, while I feel an almost meticulous restraint from Cronenberg’s films. But enough about comparing two great filmmakers, BASKET CASE is a classic film that shouldn’t be missed and if you haven’t seen it, you have no right calling yourself a fan of horror.

Henenlotter’s story of conjoined twins who seek vengeance on the doctor who separated them is a bizarre masterpiece filled with over the top gore, uncomfortable sex, stop-motion animation, and one of the most honest depictions of New York City I’ve ever seen. I know folks would scoff at this comparison, but like Scorsese’s TAXI DRIVER, BASKET CASE shows the real New York. 42nd street lit with dingy neon and covered in a damp ooze that doesn’t wash out. The people have the stink of the street on them and an outsider sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) in the first moments of the film, when he shows up to a dingy hotel carrying nothing but a knapsack and a large basket containing his twin brother, Belial. Though all of the accolades Scorsese has for being the documentarian of New York are attributed rightly so, Henenlotter’s BASKET CASE is just as effective a snapshot of a specific feel in a specific time in America.

The concept of Belial in the first place is a horribly creepy one. Carrying a malformed legless midget with sharp teeth and claws in a basket may sound goofy, but dammit if Henenlotter doesn’t play it all straight as an arrow. Duane’s conversations with his brother emit real feeling between two brothers and you can’t help but root these two freaks on. And once you see Belial in all of his lumpy glory, it’s an image you’ll never forget. In fact, there are so many iconic images in this one: young Duane and Belial on the operating table, a woman with a face full of scalpels, Belial’s sex scene, and the final minutes of the film which to this day have me on the edge of my seat and goosebumpy just thinking about it.

As perverse and horrifying as it gets, BASKET CASE is a must own for all of you ghouls out there. BASKET CASE is newly released in the UK on DVD/BluRay in a special edition coupled with its two sequels, which I’ll be covering in next week’s AICN HORROR column because they deserve to be revisited as well.






Currently touring festivals!

THE LEGEND OF THE HILLBILLY BUTCHER (2012)

Directed by Joaquin Montalvan
Written by Joaquin Montalvan & Eunice Font
Starring Paul E. Respass, Theresa Holly, Chris Shumway, & Stephen Feinberg
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Fartsy and artsy or utterly amateur? I don’t know and I don’t care. I found myself endeared to THE LEGEND OF THE HILLBILLY BUTCHER for its respect toward old school filmmaking. This isn't a film that has a computer generated Grindhouse effect thrown in during post. This was a film made with old school film stock, with a blurry lens and scratches in the print. Numerous times, I felt I was watching one of John Waters early silent films like PINK FLAMINGOS, shedding light on a culture through a cracked and time worn camera lens.

The story starts out as an elderly man begins to tell his three grandchildren a bedtime story. But instead of telling the tale of a hopping bunny, he begins "The Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher". Even in this opening scene, I could tell I was watching the work of a gifted cinematographer. Grandpa is bathed in light and shadow diagonals, as are the kids, giving a foreboding feeling even before words pass their lips. Once we fade into the story, the washed out Instagram-style colors dominate making this movie feel as if it is something found already aged and lived in. We follow Carl Henry Jessup, a hermit like hillbilly who lives by a few simple rules--Don't hunt on his land, don't fuck on his land, and don't trespass on his land. Those who do, end up in his stew...(man, I believe I just made up a tagline for this film).

There are some really nice gory bits and pieces throughout this one as Carl slices open bellies, fondles innards, and strings up long pig (aka human meat) for dinner. Coupled with the grimy filters and cameras this movie was filmed with, the gore takes on even a more sickly feel. As if that wasn't enough, writer/director Joaquin Montalvan adds a few creepy sequences of old timey Betty Boop music that makes things all the more perverse.

Where LOTHB falters is in its pacing. Scenes plod along at a pace what would make Terrence Malick scream "C'maahhnn, already!" There's not a whole lot of story going on. Just one sequence where Carl carves up a trespasser after another, connected by some very slow dialog delivered in that robot like way often seen in Guy Madden and David Lynch films. That's not to say the film is sans plot. There's a theme of Carl being haunted by his parents and the guilt of his cannibalistic crimes, but the snails pace at which the film moves is going to turn some off more than the gore.

That said, the twisted imagery (one of the scenes has a victim wrapped in plastic haunting Carl in his moonshine laden dreams), the embrace of retro coolness by most of its cast (feeling like a z-grade flick unearthed from the 50's) and the gorgeously gritty manner by which THE LEGEND OF THE HILLBILLY BUTCHER was filmed makes me look past its shortcomings and recommend it to those looking for artsy, kitschy, grimy coolness.






New on DVD!

SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY (2012)

Directed by Derek Lee Nixon
Written by Andrew Pozza
Starring Andrew Pozza, Liddy Bisanz, Joey Oglesby, Donny Boaz, Devin Bonnée, Philip Marlatt, Tim Ogletree, Liz Waters, Conley Michelle Wehner
Find out more about these films here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


I want to go on record and say that I haven’t really enjoyed a spoof film since THE NAKED GUN. Maybe the second SCARY MOVIE had its moments of hilarity, but for the most part, spoof films are just not my thing. The latest crop of spoofs are the worst in that all they do is list off movie references at a rapid pace without even a punch line, thinking that the mere mention of a popular film will is enough to incite a laugh. So when I saw SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY next on my pile to review, I wasn’t really that excited to check it out.

To my dismay, SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY is actually a pretty clever film. Yes, like most spoofs, the movie refs come at rapid fire, but the difference between this film and, say, MEET THE SPARTANS, is that the jabs and gags actually seem like the writer and director put some effort into it. Virtually every found footage film is parodied here, from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, to PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, to THE LAST EXORCISM, even to the current trend of found footage Bigfoot films are poked at. The motif of the found footage film, which is oft made fun of by its critics, is also mocked numerous times. For instance, one camera man stops to vomit when he himself gets sick from the shaky camera movements. That’s actually pretty damn clever, if you ask me.

Other genre staples are pinched here with jabs at INCEPTION, and even BLADERUNNER, by the end of the film. While the film does have it’s fair share of groaners (instead of THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, they title one sequence THE EXORCISM OF EMILY SUNFLOWER…is that crickets I hear?), it makes up for it with some clever gags such as a monster that tickles people to death and riffs on Criss Angel/David Blane douchebaggery.

As SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY follows its team of investigators, I found the trail interesting and sometimes funny enough to get over my hatred of the spoof, with the final sequences plus the “outtakes” over the credits makes this spoof of a higher caliber than most.






New on DVD!

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D: RE-ANIMATION (2012)

Directed by Jeff Broadstreet
Written by Jeff Broadstreet & Robert Valding
Starring Andrew Divoff, Jeffrey Combs, Sarah Lieving, Robin Sydney, Adam Chambers, Scott Thomson, Denice Duff, Melissa Jo Bailey, Rhonda Aldrich, Mark Sikes, Neil D'Monte, Kyle Morris
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Cashing in on the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD name, this film could be its own monster in and of itself. Instead, using the classic name makes a semi-decent film feel cheaper than it deserves, in my book. Had it just been called something else, I think I would have been able to put up with it more.

As is, nothing about this story feels particularly fresh or interesting as we watch a funeral home director attempt to keep the living dead in his cemetery from escaping his property. Anyone who has seen CEMETARY MAN, knows the routine, as the caretaker tirelessly attempts to manage the newly risen corpses.

The thing that helps this tired routine digestible is Andrew Divoff’s performance as the caretaker, who adds quite a bit of soul to the character as he attempts to reestablish a friendship with his long absent brother (Jeffrey Combs). Every scene with Combs and Divoff are gold as they seem to be having fun with their roles. The two play well as brothers and make what would be a limp film actually pretty watchable. The table scene between Combs and Divoff as Combs rattles off one government cover up of a zombie outbreak after another matching them up with actual movies of Romero and the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD film was clever and well done. I especially like the line citing Pittsburgh as ground zero in 1968 and then the site of a second outbreak in 1990 “only that one was bloodier” according to Combs referencing the Savini directed remake.

Unfortunately, the film also follows a second group of younger workers in the cemetery. These limp scenes almost feel as if they are a part of another movie all together and had me waiting to get back to the Combs/Divoff parts. There’s also a lamer than lame appearance by a Sarah Palin character called Sister Sara which immediately dates this film and makes for some extremely lame zombie political humor that will make those who watch it groan louder than any zombie could.

Filmed in 3D, I watched it in 2, but for the life of me, there really weren’t any scenes that had me wishing I had some red and green paper specs on. There are some nice scenes of gore and a twisted zombie sex scene, but nothing near the revolutionary effects found in the original Romero films.

Problematic in tying itself to a classic series, filled with lame attempts at humor, and meandering through a well tread story, the only reason to seek out NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D RE-ANIMATION is for Combs and Divoff’s appearances. The rest isn’t worth your time.






Available this week on DVD!

AIRBORNE (2012)

Directed by Dominic Burns
Written by Paul Chronnell
Starring Mark Hamill, Gemma Atkinson, Craig Conway, Sebastian Street, Alan Ford, Julian Glover, Peter Barrett, Dominic Burns, Kimberly Jaraj, Simon Phillips
Find out more about these films here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Sometimes going into a film not knowing what's what is kind of cool. AIRBORNE proves that point to be true. A small film with big ideas, AIRBORNE relies on some well worn cliches as well as our own phobias to make for an interesting and effective little flick.

Starting out, I thought I was in for a snoozer and I must admit, AIRBORNE is a slow beginner as we are allowed to get to know the cast, a group of passengers on a sparsely populated overnight flight from London to New York. Upon boarding the plane, there are a few tried and true airplane movie cliches that pop up that caused my inner groan to go on alert. The couple who can't keep their hands off of one another and can't wait to join the mile high club, the suspicious old guy with a package, the foreign looking guy, the twitchy, sweaty guy, the friendly fat guy in the middle seat, the guy who drank too much--they are all present and accounted for as if the makers of this film were required to check off a list of all of the characters from all of the bad airplane films before making this movie.

What saves this movie from becoming too much of a cliche, though, is the performances by the actors and the level of tension that escalates as the story goes on. Unlike a film like SNAKES ON A PLANE, which from the title alone, you know what you're getting into, AIRBORNE keeps the threat pretty close to its chest for the bulk of its first half. Is this a film about terrorists? Is it an airborne virus movie? Is it a monster on a plane flick? No solid clues are given for a large amount of time, but the bodies are starting to pile up and tension among the living passengers is growing.

A solid cast helps make this film fun. Go-to Cockney tough guy actor Alan Ford plays a Cockney tough guy with two equally tough bodyguards. Simon Phillips plays a passenger suffering from a hangover, but his part in all of this is well beyond the staggering cliche and provides some nice moments of comedy. Mark Hamill has the Lloyd Bridges role of the airline flight coordinator in the tower who is trying to figure out what the hell is going on up there in the plane which has veered off course and lost radio contact in the middle of a hurricane.

This is a little film that might surprise quite a few people who take a chance with it. The riffs on cliches are nice as is the tension built by director Dominic Burns. Once the threat does rear it's head, I wasn't disappointed and actually quite surprised at the originality of it all. AIRBORNE knows what kind of film it is and makes sure you know it by padding itself with things we've all seen before, yet making it fun and entertaining. There are even a couple of nice moments of gore and violence in there for good measure and an ending with Marc Hamill, who is quite good here, that is sure to create a smile.






New on DVD!

RITES OF PASSAGE (2012)

Directed by W. Peter Iliff
Written by W. Peter Iliff & Rick Halsey
Starring Wes Bentley, Christian Slater, Steven Dorff, Kate Maberly, Ryan Donowho, Briana Evigan, Travis Van Winkle, Carly Schroeder, Ashley Hinshaw, Guy Burnet, Daniel Cudmore, Angelic Zambrana, Sharon Hinnendael
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Seeing the cast set up for this one made me think this was either was going to be a groan fest solely existing so Wes Bentley, Christian Slater, and Steven Dorff can make their car payments or one of those mishmash, hodgepodge, sideways films that smacks of genius. Right from the get go, I realized that, even though Bentley, Slater, and Dorff gotta eat, they can still make a decent damn movie together. RITES OF PASSAGE is one of those films that is almost uncategorizable. It's not quite horror, yet definitely not of the blockbuster calibre. It involves drugs, rituals, and insane folk, and does so in a manner that is so batshit that I couldn't believe the actors involved agreed to do it.

Let's go actor by actor here in the main trifecta astonishing performances here.

Stephen Dorff plays a sleazy college professor sleeping with one of his students and interested in Native American ritual. He convinces his class to get together to experience one of the rituals but really wants to spend some time with his extremely young and hot girlfriend. Wes Bentley plays a nebbish victim of a recent nervous breakdown who takes hallucinatory drugs and looks to be searching and abducting any woman with dark hair in his proximity with intents on drugging them and making them his wife/slave. Finally, Christian Slater takes the Golden Batturd Award for batshit craziness as a crack smoking recluse who talks to his shotgun (which in his eyes looks like an animated sock monkey named Poncho with the voice of Cheech Marin) and is still boiling with vengeance towards all things teenager because his wife and kid were killed by a drunk driving teen ages ago. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried. All three actors chew up the scenery and seem to be having a blast acting like Busey and Nolte off their meds and trapped in a burlap sack.

The rest of the cast does a decent job trying to maintain some kind of relative normalcy in their acting, at least until they are dosed with an ancient hallucinogen and start flipping out themselves. All of them are capable actors, tying their damndest to survive in the same space as these three madmen. If Dorff doesn't fuck them, Slater and Bentley surely will drug and kill them. The storyline wobbles from being downright devious to goofy and though some of the comedy feels heavy handed, the story oozes with drug-addled creativity. What could have devolved into a simplistic stalk and slash centering on the concept of ancient ritual really does work as something absolutely entertaining.

I'm not going to try to say that this is a fantastic film, but it did amaze me at the lengths, widths, and depths the cast went here to bring something original to the table. I don't know if I was entertained, but I was most definitely shocked at it all play out. RITES OF PASSAGE is unpredictable and fun with performances by Dorff, Bentley, and Slater that have to be seen to be believed.






In theaters this weekend!

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

Directed by Alan Schulman and Henry Joost
Written by Christopher Landon & Chad Feehan
Starring Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Brady Allen, Alisha Boe
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Having reviewed every one of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY film for this site, I attest to the statement that these films get me every time. Though the story through the four films has inched along at a glacieral pace, saving the real plot development for the final few seconds of each film, the series can be boiled down to being a thrill ride with moments of cheap thrills equaled out with moments of sheer terror via the use of modern technology. Ranking this movie with the others, I would place PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 after the first and third installment, but I do feel it is much better than part two, which ended up being nothing much more than a repeat of the first one.

The story follows Alex (Kathryn Newton) a typical teen who spends every second of her life plugged into some form of electronic device (cell phone, laptop computer, video game), as she attempts to protect her little brother Wyatt from the creepy kid next door, Robbie, who we all know to be the abducted child Hunter, taken from his home by his aunt Katie (Katie Featherson, who has appeared in all of the PA films) at the end of PA2. Going into this, I had seen the ads with Alex talking into her computer, Skyping to her boyfriend as she walks around a dark house, oblivious to the spooky events going on behind her. Call me an old man yelling at the kids in his lawn, but this next level of technology used in this film annoyed me. Knowing that this is the way tweens communicate these days creeps me out to no end. With all of the potentially dangerous non-paranormal activity a child can stumble into once he or she is introduced to that type communication via the internet, I was more concerned with the fact that Alex's parents appeared to have no interest in the vulnerability this type of computer interaction can open her up to than the ghostly happenings. But I guess that's the way the world is going and I can't do anything about it. Watching Alex spending virtually all of her time talking into a computer screen did make me feel a bit sad for the generation who would rather watch a picture of nature on their computer screen rather than actually venture out in it. Enough preaching, though. Proving correct the old adage phrased ever so eloquently by the bard Fresh Prince; parents just don't understand when things start going diagonal, the parents walk around caught up in their own lives and don't listen to Alex's pleas for help once the threats to Wyatt intensify. Though this film doesn’t really delve too deeply (that’s not what PA films do), I can’t help but think that the Alan Schulman and Henry Joost (the makes of the internet precautionary tale CATFISH) might be trying to intersperse a theme of dangers of the internet in this film as well. Of course, the broad spectrum with which this film is made for is not going to be looking at it as such, I don’t believe.

What everyone praised directors Schulman and Joost for in the last film was the expansion of the use of technology to catch the demonic activity happening in the house while the family slept. The scene with the rotating camera on a fan was a simple yet effective one from PA3 and that innovative sequence saved a quickly staling franchise. Here, there isn't as much by way of innovation save for the computer screen interaction and the use of Wii style sensor lights, only seen through night vision, which map the room with green dots. The latter does make for a few interesting developments as the green dots pick up movement not seen by the naked eye and gives off an other worldly feeling of creepiness that does prove to be effective for the most part. While fun, I feel this effect was used a bit much in this film and more restraint on the green dots may have made the entire thing more eerie.

More so than any other PARANORMAL ACTIVITY film, part 4 had more jump scares per minute than most. The problem is most of them were variations of "the cat jumping through a window" scene we've seen in scores of other films. In fact, there is more than one scene where a cat jumps into frame. Doing this might cause a jolt to the viewer, but in the end, the cheapness of this shock runs the danger of making the viewer a bit pissed at the film for being fooled by the same thing over and over. Seeing this film in a crowded theater though, the jumps got me and the rest of the audience every time. It did it's job, but I did feel a bit disappointed with the amount of times the things I was jumping at weren't really jump worthy. The shock began to fade as the savvy viewer will be able to know when the jump scare will occur, something I don't think the makers of this franchise want to hear, but they should listen. I'm sure by now the formula has been made to the exact mathematical span of time between jumps that should occur, but the false scares were in abundance here and it wore down my patience by the end of the movie.

When the real scares happen, I feel they were pretty effective. Not all of them. Much of the instances of paranormal occurrences have been used in previous films of this series; people getting up from their sleep, people being shot across the room, chandeliers moving, but there were a few sequences as with a nicely paced scene with a missing knife that still left me feeling there is some hope for innovation for this series. That said, when characters are dragged away across the floor a la REC in the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, it's starting to feel like they are running out of ideas. The final moments as Alex inexplicably keeps holding on to her camera as she is searching for Wyatt in a dark house do end this one on a powerful note, with the series getting a bit more in your face. It ends PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 in a shocking and aggressive manner that contrasts well with the slow building flow of the story, though this final act seemed much more fitting for a GRAVE ENCOUNTERS film than one from this franchise.

Still, despite my disconnect with the technology used, the performance from Kathryn Newton as Alex did suck me into the story. She does a pretty fantastic job as most of this film focuses in on her pre-pubescent face. In placing such a likable and talented actress front and center, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost eek by with this installment that still delivers scares, but is starting to repeat itself too much. Here's hoping some fresher ideas and possibly a tweence more plot development will occur in next year's eventual installment.






And finally…here’s a Halloween themed horror short by Colin Campbell called DOLLFACE. It’s chock full of tension and scares! Enjoy!





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 late 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 March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.



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