Ambush Bug here, shamelessly donning my Ringmaster top hat to put the spotlight on a special series of AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS columns—Send in the Clowns! To celebrate the news that my new circus horror comic, PIROUETTE from Black Mask Studios is available for order in July’s Diamond Previews (item code JUL140937), I am going to be taking an extensive look at all kinds of clown horrors in film and other media over the next few weeks.
PIROUETTE is a comic I’ve been developing for a quite a while with interior art from the fantastic Carlos Granda and a first issue cover by Ale Garza. The story is described as Raised from infancy by duplicitous clowns who entertain by day and menace by night, Pirouette dreams of washing the paint from her face and escaping to a better life far away from her cruel circus family… because when the spotlights dim and the crowds disperse, the clown princess’ big-top dreams give way to a nightmarish world of monsters with painted smiles. The book hits all of the coolest of cool comic shops in September, but you’ve got to tell your store owner to order it now in order to get it!
I can’t wait for folks to see the book which I promise is filled with big top terror and death-defying danger. In the coming weeks, I’ll share some behind the scenes stuff about PIROUETTE at the top of each of these “Send in the Clowns” columns along with a look at some cinematic examples of Coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) and try to get to the bottom of why clowns are so damn scary!
DOLL-BOY Short FilmDirected by Bloody Bill
Written by Billy Pon & Lee Ankrum
Starring Ryan Clapp, Jed Duesler, Dominic Lopez, Heather Francell, Venus Monique, Raul Gonzalez, Adrienne Martinez, Shawn Black, Sergio Gracida, Samantha Ankrum, Angelina Zorilla, & Drake Ankrum
Find out more on the DOLLBOY Facebook page!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
DOLL-BOY doesn’t blaze new trails in the horror genre. In fact, it’s a straight up stalk and slash (or in this case, pound) serial killer short film that literally cuts right to the chase. But just because it’s not breaking new ground doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. Directed and written by Bloody Bill and Lee Ankrum, DOLL-BOY may be a by-the-numbers slasher fest, but it’s a damn fine one.
Since this is a half hour short film, no time is wasted on lengthy explanations behind the pathos of Doll-Boy, a pudgy, doll-masked psychopath stalking the dark and TCM-esque hallways and rooms of a closed down Tex-Mex flea market with a sledgehammer. No minutes are spared getting to know the group of prey dropped off by an evil clown and let loose into the maze of darkness to their doom. From the get-go, we know all we need to know; these eight folks will die soon. The fun is watching it all go down.
The folks behind this film have seen all of the horror films we all have. This is a true homage to every slasher film you’ve seen with all of the boring parts ripped out and tossed into the trash. It’s straight up high tension and horror action done with a surprisingly skilled hand at capturing the claustrophobic setting and a deft delivery of amping up the chills. Going in, we know next to nothing about Doll-Boy. In the end, we still know nothing. This is a mere snippet of the existence of a madman. DOLL-BOY is a fantastically brutal and scary short film. Here’s hoping we see more of this madman with a hammer soon. Find out where and when you can see DOLL-BOY on its Facebook page!
Available on Netfix here!
ALL HALLOWS’ EVE (2013)Directed by Damien Leone
Written by Damien Leone
Starring Katie Maguire, Catherine A. Callahan, Marie Maser, Kayla Lian, Cole Mathewson, Sydney Freihofer, and Mike Giannelli as Art the Clown
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Iconic characters have saved many a film, and it does so again here in ALL HALLOWS’ EVE, another Halloween horror tale that tries to become the next big horror franchise. But while it did its homework on ways to make a movie monster scary, it kind of forgot to squeeze some kind of story into the mix too.
ALL HALLOWS’ EVE swipes a bit from THE RING, as a videotape turns up inside a trick or treater’s goodie bag. The kid doesn’t know where it came from, and though the babysitter doesn’t want them to watch it, the kids she is babysitting insist on putting it into the VCR. The film that plays is a short about a clown attacking some people intercut with images of brutality, insanity, and the bizarre. While the kids seem to love the show, the babysitter is thoroughly creeped out, and when she begins to get prank phone calls and hear creepy things in the house, her creep-o-meter goes off the scales.
While the story is highly derivative of everything from THE RING to WHEN A STRANGER CALLS to STEPHEN KING’S IT, ALL HALLOWS’ EVE stands out mainly because the killer clown, who goes by the name of Art the Clown (Mike Giannelli), is pretty terrifying. The black lipstick around corroded yellow teeth and bulging eyes makes for the stuff of nightmares, and seeing him pop up in the background and waddle his way towards the camera is bound to be enough to make any viewer shiver. Giannelli offers up a somewhat iconic role here as the creepy clown, making the most simple gestures and actions look as if they are coming from the most pants-filling nightmare you can think of.
It’s just too damn bad the story doesn’t match up, as what is not lifted from other iconic films is pretty paper-thin. The film serves as one random act of violence and stalking after another, as not only Art the Clown terrorizes the babysitter, but simultaneously another young girl is pursued by an alien robot thing for no apparent reason. There are also huge pacing issues in this film, as in between the clown and robot-alien attacks there are huge lulls of scenes of people slowly moving through houses being scared. I wish more content in regards to this found videotape and the origins of both the clown and the alien-robot were delved into and less was spent to add to the runtime with these dull scenes of young girls with flashlights.
As it is, ALL HALLOWS’ EVE has one damn scary clown that’s sure to cause you to sleep with the lights on. I can only imagine the fear would have been multiplied exponentially had the filmmakers spent as much time on the story as they did with coming up with the creepy as all get-out monster.
And finally…here’s the creepy clown of the day!
SPLASH AREA: NIGHT OF THE FREAKS/CLOWN HUNT
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Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller. Don’t forget to order his new comic PIROUETTE from July’s Diamond Previews (item code JUL14 0937) today!