Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its second year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers in search of worthwhile horror, I decided to compile a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days that aren’t toothless remakes or watered down sequels. Theaters aren’t where the horror is at these days, I’m afraid. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video on Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay. I’ve also compiled quite a few films I’ve seen advance screenings of at festivals and other outlets, and I’ll try to update you when you can see these films.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year after October 1st (which happens to be the birthday of this little column two years ago!) and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween toward my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion for those who can’t get enough horror that has something to do with the film I chose that day.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how right or wrong I am, and come up with your own list…let’s go!
I actually saw the film quite a few months ago closer to when it premiered at Sundance, so technically, this is a film I covered this year, even though the review of the film was posted a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, EXCISION is one of the finest examples of gross-out humor/body horror/teen angst I’ve ever seen. Gorgeously filmed and wickedly portrayed by an all star cast, if you want something current, hip, and aimed at your gut, EXCISION delivers some of the best horror of the year.
Available this week on DVD/BluRay!
EXCISION (2012)Directed by Richard Bates Jr.
Written by Richard Bates Jr.
Starring AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Jeremy Sumpter, John Waters, Malcolm McDowell, Marlee Matlin, Ray Wise
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Oh my holy shit…after watching EXCISION and heading straight to my computer to type up a review of it, I am absolutely speechless at the all around horror tsunami/hurricane/tornado/act of god that was this film. This film hit me more than any other film that I’ve seen recently on so many levels. At times it’s hilarious. At times it’s morose. At times it’s graphically disgusting. And at times it’s utterly heartbreaking. It’s one of those films that is most definitely too intense for theaters, but once you’ve seen it, you’re going to wonder why you haven’t watched it sooner.
EXCISION centers on a young outcast named Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord from TV’s 90210) who is the center of ire for her disappointed mother (played by Traci Lords), misunderstood at school by her teachers and principal (Malcolm McDowell and Ray Wise), and loathed by her priest (John Waters). In her mother’s eyes, Pauline should be more like her “perfect” sister (Ariel Winter from TV’s MODERN FAMILY) who is suffering from chronic health problems and will never match up. In response, Pauline has given up trying to be the Barbie doll her mother wants. She slouches, has poor hygiene, and personifies that creepy ass kid in school no one wants to sit next too. Though attempts to reach out and make connections are made, Pauline is completely and utterly misunderstood and alone, so she embraces it and lashes out when the occasion arises.
What she also does is retreat into a dream like world filled with perfect and imperfect bodies lining the floor like a runway where she performs surgery and sexual acts while blissfully bathing in bright red blood. These sequences are filmed in a vivid dream-like manner where almost translucent whites are splattered with bright red plasma and juxtapose a sense of absolute beauty with the stuff of medical horror nightmare.
What distinguishes this film from the herd is it’s sense of humor. Pauline is basically Juno, but with bad hair and without the scripted JUNO-speak that made Juno so fucking annoying. She is smart and sassy, but not trying to be indie cool with one liners and pop cultural references. Pauline is an outcast through and through and McCord does an absolutely fantastic job of distinguishing her as one of the most fascinating characters I’ve seen in ages. With some bushy eyebrows, a pair of oversized teeth, and some shaggy hair in her face, she personifies the unloved puppy of the litter who can’t get a break. The way she closed mouthed smiles over her large teeth is altogether pathetic and creepy and the fantastic thing is that behind those bloodshot eyes, she knows and loves that she is having that effect on whoever catches her gaze.
The rest of the cast is pitch perfect. Traci Lords goes against type as an uptight mom who wants and tries so desperately to make her comely daughter be more like herself. You can see the frustration in her eyes and tone through every movement and line she clucks out. Even her attempts to understand Pauline are awkward and terse. Roger Bart (HOSTEL II) plays the flip side of the coin as Pauline’s father, who is quickly sliding into the apathetic role of the father whose nose is constantly buried into the paper. He still has a little fire left in him as he subtly challenges mother’s sniping, but seems to be to the tipping point where he’s given up hope. The rest of the cast is phenomenal as well with inspired cameos by Malcolm McDowell, John Waters, and Ray Wise.
And boy does this film veer off into pitch black territories. With a wicked sense of humor throughout, but not to the point of parody, I should have seen the powerful closing moments coming, but didn’t while watching. The turn of events that happen in the end of the film is going to turn off those wanting a happy ending, but Pauline isn’t that type of girl and this isn’t that type of movie. The leap from troubled teen to off the reservation is logical and plotted well. Still, I was literally knocked back in my chair at the final moments and I don’t think anyone can prepare themselves for what happens and the dark corners this one sends itself to.
Like Lucky McKee’s THE WOMAN and DONNIE DARKO, EXCISION has an odd and offbeat sense of satire about it regarding the disfunctions of the “typical” family. Like CARRIE and GINGER SNAPS, it delves deeply into the horror of females reaching puberty. This is one of those films that can be picked apart and examined on so many levels from its style to its themes to its performances and all of those parts are done so with absolute excellency. You can look for something more horrifyingly awesome out there today, but you’re not going to find anything that even compares to EXCISION.
If you’re looking for off the wall science, I recommend one of my favorite all time hokey horror films, THE BRAIN THE WOULDN’T DIE. This film is filled with all kinds of medical horror that could never feasibly be possible, but that’s what makes it fun. Seeing Virginia Leith’s head berating and sniping at the desperate Jason Evers as he attempts to find a new body for his beheaded love is often hilarious, but grossly unique. Plus it’s got a surprisingly gory climax as a beast in the back room makes its escape. It’s a lot of fun and worth checking out this Halloween.
The Countdown so far…#3: LOVELY MOLLY
#4: HAROLD’S GOING STIFF
#5: THE BUTTERFLY ROOM
#6: THE SKIN I LIVE IN
#10: CABIN IN THE WOODS
#11: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW
#12: JUAN OF THE DEAD
#13: MIDNIGHT SON
#14: BLOOD JUNKIE
#16: THE DIVIDE
#17: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
#18: LITTLE DEATHS
#19: THE TALL MAN
#20: KILL LIST
#21: MOTHER’S DAY
#22: THE INNKEEPERS
#23: THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS
#24: THE PACT
#25: THE WRONG HOUSE
#26: SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE
#27: SPIRIT STALKERS
#28: THE MOTH DIARIES
#29: THE SLEEPER
#30: THE AGGRESSION SCALE
#31: SICK BOY
See ya tomorrow, folks, with a special post-Halloween review!
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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