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AICN HORROR looks at indie horrors DON’T GO TO THE REUNION! THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE! CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME! CROAKER! CROSS BEARER! Christopher Mihm’s LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE! DARK MOUNTAIN! SILENT RETREAT! Plus SIDESHOW! MONSTERS TV Series! & WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH!

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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. This week is a little light on new horrors, so I took some time to check out a batch of indie fright flicks deserving of the spotlight. We get back to mainstream a little further down the column, but I recommend you take a chance on some of these indie horrors below as from these films could come the next Sam Raimi or Clive Barker.

On with the horror reviews!

Today on AICN HORROR
(Click title to go directly to the feature)

The Boo Tube: MONSTERS Season 3, Episodes 13-18 (1991)
Send in the Clowns: SIDESHOW (2000)
CROAKER (2013)
DON’T GO TO THE REUNION (2013)
CROSS BEARER (2012)
THE LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE – X: THE FIEND FROM BEYOND SPACE and THE WALL PEOPLE (2014)
CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME (2012)
WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH (2012)
THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE (2014)
DARK MOUNTAIN (2013)
SILENT RETREAT (2013)
And finally…STEPHEN KING VS. EDGAR ALLAN POE - EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORY!


The Boo Tube: Collected DVD Box Set new this week from eOne Entertainment!

MONSTERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES Box Set

Season Three: Episodes 13-18 (1990-91)
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug


Ahhh, MONSTERS. It’s one of those TV series that warms my heart. Back in the late 80’s when practical effects were king, Mitchell Gallin and Richard P. Rubinstein, the producers of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE TV series, decided to put together a show which highlighted a different story about a different monster every week. In my region the show was broadcast late at night, and it was a thrill to be able to stay up late and watch it. Now, given the amount of years since I’ve watched it, I’m bound to be disappointed at the way some of them present upon reviewing. But still, this was a fun series deserving of this look back, episode by episode, at this quaint little shock series. I’m currently looking back on the TWILIGHT ZONE series as well, so for the time being, I’ll be flipping between TZ and MONSTERS every week looking back on TV horrors of yesteryear episode by episode!

Episode 3.13: Malcolm
Directed by Tom Noonan
Written by Tom Noonan
Starring Ed Lauter, Carole Shelley, Farley Granger


Another episode written and directed by character actor and Michael Mann movie regular Tom Noonan and it’s another good one as a man played by Ed Lauter (who usually stars as a bad guy in films like DEATH WISH and DEATH HUNT) has lost his mojo, though his wife longs for him to rekindle their romantic fires by playing his jazz clarinet. When she notices a strange music coming from his mouth while sleeping, she takes him to the doctor who discovers a bizarre tumor in his stomach. But once removed, the music seems to have been removed as well. While the concept is weird, it speaks volumes about the pitfalls a marriage can succumb to and how a life not lived is not a life at all. There’s a sort of beautiful poetry to this episode makes this episode stand above and beyond the rest this week.

Episode 3.14: Household Gods
Directed by Michael Warren Powell
Written by Edithe Swensen
Starring Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Priscilla Shanks, Jeff Ware, Michael J. Anderson, Lynn Frazen-Cohen


The batshit craziest episode of the week has got to be “Household Gods” a story that sets feminism back to the Stone Age. Recently having a child, a woman struggles with managing her career and her new baby while her hubby heads out to bring home the bacon. While she seems to be managing, a small imp begins appearing and fucking up the house while her back is turned. Turns out, not staying home and doing the cooking and cleaning has angered the Household Gods and they’ll do anything to get this liberated lady back at home where she belongs. I honestly can’t believe this episode exists and must ring on some level of farce as it seems to seriously cast an independent woman as wrong for wanting to have a career. Written by a woman, I can’t see this as anything but a farce, but it seriously seems to be genuine about its chauvinism. Starring TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT’s Deborah Van Valkenburgh as the “wrong-headed” woman and TWIN PEAKS/CARNIVALE’s Michael J. Anderson as the impish house god, this is definitely an episode that’ll push buttons and leave you scratching your head.

Episode 3.15: The Space Eaters
Directed by Robert T. Megginson
Written by Frank Belknap Long (short story), Robert T. Megginson (teleplay)
Starring Richard Clarke, Mart Hulswit, Richard Hughes


Directed and written by the man behind the FX movies, Robert T. Megginson, The Space Eaters is a throwback alien episode as two aged scientists attempt to ward off an alien invasion by using their noggins. Too bad the alien’s are looking for those noggins to snack on. It’s a lot of fun seeing these geezers try to outsmart an otherworldly menace and with some fun and hokey alien monster brain-sucking effects, this one isn’t the best, but it is loaded with a ton of old school monster movie nostalgia.

Episode 3.16: The Waiting Room
Directed by Philip Alderton
Written by Benjamin Carr
Starring John Saxon, Lisa Waltz, Christian Jules Le Blanc, Denise Gentile


Full Moon Pictures writer Benjamin Carr offers up a perverse tale of infidelity on the wedding night as John Saxon stars as an overly concerned father who is a little too invested in his son’s wedding night activities with his new wife. First Saxon traps himself in a room with his new daughter and then proceeds to tell her about being tempted by a witch to cheat on his wife on the night of his wedding. It all feels rather ooky and though Saxon’s performance is great, there’s still something that made me want to take a shower after this episode. It ends on an especially haunting, but effective note as well with some subtle, yet creepy monster makeup.

Episode 3.17: Leavings
Directed by John Tillinger
Written by Gahan Wilson
Starring Clifton James, John Christopher Jones, Tony Shalhoub, Ken Costigan


MONK’s Tony Shalhoub plays a shaky cop who with his partner, AWAKENINGS’ John Christopher Jones, witness some freaky stuff while the two cops are out pounding the pavement. When they try to report the sighting of a man with parts that are all mismatched and sewn together to their superior officer (played excellently by character actor Clifton James from Roger Moore’s 007 films), they uncover something far more insidious afoot. This one’s a lot of talking, but the way the tales of the weird on the beat are told makes it all suspenseful. This one’s got a solid script and ends way too soon for my tastes as I wanted to see these three talented actors playing off of one another more and though the monster reveal is effective, I feel this is one of the few episodes which could have benefitted from being a feature length rather than a half hour TV show.

Episode 3.18: Desirable Alien
Directed by Bette Gordon
Written by Edithe Swensen
Starring Tony Spiridakis, Wendy Makkena, Luis Guzmán, Rick Aviles, Deborah Harry


Bit parts by Luis Guzman and Debbie Harry save this episode about an immigration worker who becomes obsessed with deporting a Greek immigrant with a giant secret. Played to comedic and romantic effect, this one isn’t really successful at being funny or romantic. While the creature effects that eventually pop up at the end are mighty impressive as always in these MONSTERS episodes, this is one I couldn’t wait to see end. And when it did, it concludes rather limply and lamely.

Previous MONSTERS Episode Reviews!
Season 1: Episodes 1.1-1.6, 1.7-1.12, 1.13-1.18, 1.19-1.22, 1.23-1.24
Season 2: Episodes 2.1-2.5, 2.6-2.10, 2.11-2.17, 2.18-2.24
Season 3: Episodes 3.1-3.6, 3.7-3.12

Look for more MONSTERS Episodes in two weeks!



Send in the Clowns: Bug celebrates the release of his 4-issue miniseries comic book PIROUETTE by checking out some clownie horrors!

SIDESHOW (2000)

Directed by Fred Olen Ray
Written by Benjamin Carr
Starring Jamie Martz, Michael Amos, Scott Clark, Jessica Keenan, Phil Fondacaro, Jeana Blackman, Peter Spellos, Luigi Francis Shorty Rossi, Curran Sympson, Fred Pierce, Shyra Deland, Ross Hagen, Brinke Stevens, Alicia McCutcheon, Richard Gabai
Available on Netflix here and at Full Moon Pictures here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


This weeks clownie horror is SIDESHOW, which is bereft of clowns, but it does feature the spectacle of the circus, though it is on a much smaller scale given that SIDESHOW is a pretty low budget film. Much like the circus in my own PIROUETTE, the attractions of this sideshow can be angels to some, demons to others—a line lifted from HELLRAISER and used in the film somewhat obnoxiously.

The theme of this film is similar to FREAKS, but instead of the actual sideshow entertainers used in the Todd Browning classic, SIDESHOW relies heavily on practical effects. The story follows a group of rotten teenagers who happen into a carnival and after showing how horrible they are, receive free tickets to go check out the sideshow. As they are introduced to the Inside-Out Girl and the Conjoined Twins by the short in stature (though pretty big in talent) barker (WILLOW’s Phil Fondacaro), they are shown how the bizarre attractions of the show are nothing compared to the inner ugliness of the teens.

Like the human spectacles that exist in the world of SIDESHOW, the film itself serves as a spectacle for B-grade movie effects and this film is pretty awesome for it. First and foremost, if you like practical effects, this film uses a ton of tricks (old and new) to make the human oddities depicted on screen work. The highlight is a human insect who has facial prosthesis with bug antennae jutting out of its face. But that’s not the cool part. The cool part is that the character wears a trench coat to cover his skinny, insect like body which is proportionately impossible to pull off if not for the cool effects trickery at play. In actuality, the actor’s body is behind the trench coat with the fake insect bod in front of it. A little thought and maybe some effects know how allowed me to put the mechanics of this effect together, but it still makes for a memorable sequence of many monstrous spectacles at play in the film.

A Full Moon Feature, SIDESHOW sports the signature amazing musical scores which often elevated those schlocky films to a much more watchable status. Paired with the fantastic practical effects work, you can almost overlook the shoddy acting from the obnoxious teens. SIDESHOW plays out like a combination of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’s earlier entries meets FREAKS as the attractions hold a fun house mirror up to the doomed kids to take advantage of their personality flaws, insecurities, and fears. And while the film definitely is a bit light on story and clocks in at just over an hour, the main attraction for this show is the over the top effects.



And here’s the creepy clown of the week!

Previous Send in the Clowns Posts!

THE LAST CIRCUS
THE FUNHOUSE
SPLASH AREA: NIGHT OF THE FREAKS/CLOWN HUNT
STITCHES
VULGAR
DOLL-BOY/ALL HALLOW’S EVE
THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL
MR. SARDONICUS
CLOWNHOUSE
FEAR OF CLOWNS I & II
CIRCUS OF THE DEAD
BITTER HARVEST
100 TEARS/KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE
ALL DARK PLACES
THE CLOWN AT MIDNIGHT
STRANGE FACTORIES
SLOPPY THE PSYCHOTIC


And don’t forget to tell your comic store to order Ambush Bug’s new comic PIROUETTE #1 (July Previews item code JUL14 0937) and the new issue #2 available to order in August Previews (item code AUG14 1131) from Black Mask Studios!

Support your old pal Ambush Bug by checking out his new comic book!





Available on DVD here!

CROAKER (2013)

Directed by Fred Terling
Written by Fred Terling
Starring Martin Patterson, Valerie Gatto, Ron Russell, Ben Grance, Josh Dean, Chase Anderson, Max Simms, Emma Smith, Robert Settles-Smith, Lindarae Schmidt, Jimmy Star, Miranda Schry, Amberleigh Miller, Jennifer Obed, Robert Braund
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


CROAKER is a DIY production that most likely cost the equivalent of what it takes to feed the cast of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY for a day, but just because the production levels are low, doesn’t mean it isn’t a film with a fun tone and a lot of heart. I can’t say that a lot of the folks who frequent this column will do back flips for this film, but if you’re looking for a harmless and downright quaint little monster flick, CROAKER fits the bill nicely.

The film is one of those Mother Nature strikes back style films as man’s pollution has spawned a monster lurking around in the sewer systems down by the railroad tracks of a small town. After a group of cute as button kids stumble across the monster, sightings of a large bipedal frog creature are on the rise. It’s up to an ecologist, a TV anchorwoman who used to be his fiancée, a grumpy old sheriff, and a pair of idiots who test science on themselves at home to take on the monster.

None of these guys are actors and it shows. Most likely they are members of a church parish or the filmmaker’s family or just locals who thought it’d be a hoot to play in a picture show. Still, there’s some fun to be had here seeing the whole town try to track down this monster and ham it up in front of the camera. And while the sound, effects, camerawork, dialog, and pretty much everything else suggests that the people behind this film have a long way to go to be big budget filmmakers, there is a strong beating heart with a love of the genre here. The film itself does have some fun scenes involving the monster which is obviously paying homage to THE CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON and even looked like a tricked out version of the costume. And while there are a lot of pacing issues as well as technical rough edges, the fun had with the creature makes up for a lot of it.

Again, this is a do-it-yourself film. Don’t look for lens flares and superstar acting. But as a throwback to a more innocent age of monster movies, CROAKER is a lot of fun.




Available for purchase here!

DON’T GO TO THE REUNION (2013)

Directed by Steve Goetz
Written by Kevin Somerfield
Starring Stephanie Lee Rose, Spencer Harlan, Brady Simenon, Mike Goetz, Hannah Hero, Caleb Shore, Mattie Durocher, Marla Van Linen, Nick Summer, Haley San Fillip, J.R. Watkins, Tawnier Thompson, Jonathon Krautkramer
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Knowing that the filmmakers behind a film have done their homework is not often a good thing as the film can be so derivative that it doesn’t have a lick of originality. Then again, sometimes seeing a lot of films of a specific genre can help a film because it can try to go places where those before have not gone. The latter is the case for DON’T GO TO THE REUNION as it pays homage to many a slasher film and mixes it together in a low budget cocktail that felt refreshing to consume.

The plot has been told before; a high school nerd suffers embarrassment and expulsion at the hands of a popular group of teens. Years later, the group is invited to a get together the night before their ten year reunion. While the group sees how much each of them has changed since high school (and how some of them haven’t), they are being whittled away, one by one, by an unseen killer. Who is the killer? Is it the nerd? Or something a bit more devious?

Made on a shoestring budget, the filmmaking team of director Steve Goltz and writer Kevin Sommerfield deliver a fun film that doesn’t necessarily blaze new ground for the slasher genre, but it does forget the era where the slasher is the star and focuses on the mystery of who the killer is and why he/she is doing what he/she is doing. While slasher films are a dime a dozen, most focus on making their killer the next Freddy or Jason instead of focusing on making a strong story and a compelling mystery. Jason is who he is because there was a bit of mystery at the beginning of FRIDAY THE 13TH. The same goes for SCREAM which this film borrows from quite a bit. In doing so, the story is much more compelling. It becomes a whodunit and the answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

DON’T GO TO THE REUNION isn’t going to dazzle you with new ideas, but it does lay out a compelling sleutheroo and gives a knowing wink to those who know their slasher trivia as the killings are orchestrated as a Best of list of classic kills. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this one.




Available on DVD here!

CROSS BEARER (2012)

Directed by Adam Ahlbrandt
Written by Adam Ahlbrandt
Starring Natalie Jean, Victoria DePaul, Kacie Marie, Tim Cronin, Julia Campbell, J.D. Brown, Shaun Paul Costello, Dawn Vaughn, Kelsey Lehman & Isaac Williams as Cross Bearer
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Unapologetically grindhouse with every woman baring their breasts before letting loose with copious amounts of blood, CROSS BEARER is not going to be a film for everyone. If you approach this film with the same closed minded-ness as the killer, then you’re sure to loathe it. But as an appreciator of grindhouse films, I found CROSS BEARER to be throwback fun to an age when low budget films weren’t trying to be all artsy and taste and tact were non existent.

The opening of CROSS BEARER focuses on our killer played by Isaac Williams who evangelically preys to a worn down altar before wrapping his head in a blood stained cloth and grabbing his trusty hammer to dole out some holy retribution on any sinners he deems deserving. What happens next is one gory hammer killing after another. Now, there is a subplot that revolves around a strip club waitress just trying to get by though she is surrounded by friends who are hookers, drug dealers, and perverts. Just the kind of fodder for the Cross Bearer’s hammer which puts the tramp with a heart of gold in a direct path with this psychopath.

The story is far less than complex. In fact, it’s refreshingly simple. Whomever gets in the path of Cross Bearer’s hammer gets pummeled repeatedly until their face is a pulpy mess. The plot doesn’t deviate far from that. There is a somewhat fun, but also obnoxious scene where the waitress and her friends sit in a car and discuss how boring it is to have people sit in one place and discuss something. The waitress makes the point that to spice things up, if she were the director, she would add boobs to the mix and asks her friends to show their tits; which they happily do. It’s not the most sophisticated of dialogs but it is undeniably “titillating.”

Most of the time, in terms of low budget filmmaking, the one thing you can count on is good effects and CROSS BEARER has that in gobs. The gory mess the Cross Bearer leaves his victims isn’t pretty, but it is pulpy and grossly effective. Writer/director Adam Ahlbrandt also has a pretty capable hand at doling out the tension as there are quite a few moments as Cross Bearer gives chase to his sin-filled victims that do end up being pretty suspenseful. Full of grindhousey goodness and everything that goes along with that, CROSS BEARER delivers. Just be prepared that this is low fi entertainment wallowing in the sleaze and you might like it too.




Available on DVD here!

THE LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE – X: THE FIEND FROM BEYOND SPACE and THE WALL PEOPLE (2014)

Directed by Christopher R. Mihm
Written by Christopher R. Mihm
Starring Michael Cook, Shane Donahue, Cherie Gallinati, Mark Haider, Elizabeth Kaiser, Michael G. Kaiser, Daniel Sjerven, Catherine Hansen, Alice Mihm, David Mihm, Daniel Mihm, Elliott Mihm, Stephanie Mihm, James Norgard, Douglas Sidney, J. Andrew Wilkins
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Christopher Mihm has been making his name by making original films that feel like they were made in a simpler time when monster movies were light and fluffy and downright sweet. I often talk about those days when I used to watch old monster movies laying on my belly on the carpet in front of the television as a kid immersing myself in the black and white worlds with men wearing big monster suits terrorizing cardboard sets and actors who were less than thespians. Mihm seems to be born of that era as he mimics those old films with a master’s hand. His latest film is a double feature set up as if it were playing at a drive-in with all sorts of banner ads and directions that we all know and love from those shows. The films themselves are short 40 minute vignettes, but there’s a lot to be had with both of them despite their truncated length.

The first film is X: THE FIEND FROM BEYOND SPACE, a somewhat classic tale of a monster amok in a spaceship—an ALIEN-esque tale as if realized through an antiquated lens with sets made from cardboard and acting not too much more emotive, but done so in a fun manner where the actors know they are over emoting and mocking it up for the camera.

The effects are actually pretty great with a brain sucking alien that possesses people and while the monster is basically a man in a mask, the mask itself looks great as does the brain sucking effect.

THE WALL PEOPLE is the best of the two, a somewhat surreal and existential piece which feels a bit more sophisticated than the usual Mihm fare. The story follows a man who is investigating the disappearance of his son and wife. Enlisting the aid of two elder brainy types, the man finds out that reality isn’t what it seems to be and things get really weird after that.

The highlight of this one is definitely the stop motion monster scene as the man battles creatures from his child’s mind. The large skeletal beast is definitely impressive in a Harryhausen sort of way. And the scenes leading up to the abduction of the child and his wife are filled with tension of the real kind rather than the mock tension you usually get in Mihm’s films.

Both of these shorts, especially THE WALL PEOPLE show a slight shift at more of a serious tone for writer/director Christopher Mihm. I liked both of these films for different reasons; the first, for its old school cool that has become Mihm’s trademark and the second, for the subtle shift to more serious subject matter. While a lot of the trademark hokiness occurs in that segment, there are more sophisticated themes at play. If anything, this LATE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE showcases the varied talents of Mihm, a filmmaker who feels as if he has dropped out of the past and is starting to put more modern themes in his throwback films.

MORE FILMS FROM CHRISTOPHER MIHM
THE GIANT SPIDER
ATTACK OF THE MOON ZOMBIES
THE MONSTER OF PHANTOM LAKE
HOUSE OF GHOSTS


The Late Night Double Feature - Official Trailer by dreadcentral



New this week on DVD from MVD Visual!

CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME (2012)

Directed by Giorgio Amato
Written by Giorgio Amato
Starring Stefano Fregni, Francesca Cuttica, Guglielmo Favilla, Gaia Insenga, Lucia Bodenizza, Elèna Tchepeleva
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Upon looking at the cover and watching the trailer for CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME, I have to admit, I was kind of dreading watching this film as I am not a huge fan of snuff style/torture porn films especially ones involving rape and that’s what I thought this film was all about. Still, I am a dedicated reviewer for you all, so I decided to bite the bullet and check this film out, promising that if it got too extreme (aka glorifying the atrocious acts upon the female victims) I’d simply switch it off. But I never did that with CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME and was shockingly surprised at how engaging this film really is.

Set up sort of like a TO CATCH A PREDATOR style scenario, two twenty-somethings who believe a man abducted and killed their friend break into his place and set up secret closed circuit cameras throughout the home in hopes to catch him in the act. What they catch is not pretty, but I was riveted to this story from beginning to end as director Giorgio Amato takes full advantage of what we see and what we can’t see as we watch this nameless monster who uses the alias David De Santis (played charismatically yet menacingly by Italian character actor Stefano Fregni) as he goes about his day luring young women to his apartment to satisfy his twisted needs. Numerous times, Amato sets up a scenario where the two investigators are so close to being caught as they break into his place over and over in order to check the camera. One scene in particular, where the investigators are downstairs while there is a woman handcuffed to the bed upstairs had every hair on my body standing on end.

While this film does have a deft hand at doling out the tension, it is going to be an uncomfortable film to watch for some as the rapes are gratuitous as are the abductions and mutilations of De Santis’ victims. The thing that kept me from wincing too much was the narrative and the way the film tells its story by flipping from one camera to the next. Never are we out of the security camera’s lenses, so we are at the power of the flipping channels. Sometimes we catch the depravity going on in the rooms. Other times we miss it my moments. It’s this flipping channels sort of storytelling that makes it all feel much more than your typical torture porn.

Made on a modest budget, CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME is a film you most likely won’t forget if you take a chance on it. It’s not for the squeamish, but if you like true crime thrills through the first person POV which gets you even closer to the danger, you might want to tune into CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME.




New on DVD/BluRay!

WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH (2012)

Directed by Joe Pearson
Written by David Abramowitz (screenplay), Joe Pearson (story)
Starring Beau Billingslea, Jim Byrnes, Tony Eusoff, Elizabeth Gracen, Adrian Paul, Mark Sheppard
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


For some reason, I’ve tried to watch and rewatch WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH for months and something happens and I just don’t get to it. So when I sat down with this week’s batch I made sure this was the first one I watched. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m kind of kicking myself for having not watched it sooner. WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH is a 3D animated Steampunk adventure set in a world recovering from the decimation from the original WAR OF THE WORLDS story/radioplay/movie/remake. I list those versions of the film because this film could fit right after any of them as it really does pick up the ball dropped at the end of the original story and run with it in a fresh and original direction.

I don’t attest to being a Steampunk expert, but this film is set during the Industrial Age of America, when I believe most Steampunk stories are told, and are set around the concept that steam engines and clockwork gears are the height of technology. So machinery is clunky, but intricate, Rube Goldberg-ian, and as we see in this film, still very effective at causing destruction. Witnessing the death of his parents, one soldier must lead a military unit against what looks to be a second wave of tripod attacks and as the attacks intensify, the fate of the entire world lays in this ragtag group of soldiers’ gun-toting hands.

Everything about this film feels epic. From the gigantic battle sequences to the smaller scenes where we get to know the backstories and cultures of these war-grizzled warriors. I have to give it up to the production team of this film which makes the world this story take place in feel broad and wholly unique. The story itself is a solid military tale as well with heroic sacrifices, bravery in the wake of sure defeat, and a final battle sequence that had my ass all edge-of-seaty.

While most animated films are geared towards kids, this one is strictly for the adults and while there is not a copious amount of boobs, swears, and blood, there’s a level of sophisticated storytelling that I think would go over the heads of most youngsters. I hadn’t heard about WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH before watching this, most likely because it really isn’t your conventional type of animated film. But that’s why I liked it so much as well. It felt like watching a grown up version of those epic battles you had with your toys as a kid where the stakes were dire and dangerous. Take a chance with WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH. Anime fans will most likely pan it for not being animated as sophisticated as some of the films we have seen from overseas, but I kind of loved this gritty and exciting expansion on a classic tale and I think readers of this column will think so too.




New On Demand and available on DVD August 12th from Midnight Releasing!

THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE (2014)

aka BUNNYMAN 2
Directed by Carl Lindbergh
Written by Carl Lindbergh
Starring David Scott, Julianne Dowler, Jennifer June Ross, Marshal Hilton, Heather Daley, Stefanie Estes, Jamie Bernadette, Kate Bowen, Maria Olsen, and Joshua Lang as the Bunnyman
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Anyone who experienced the depraved fun of BUNNYMAN (reviewed here) can pretty much predict what’s in store for anyone who seeks out its sequel THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE (formerly known as BUNNYMAN 2). Bunnyman is still killing folks with chainsaws and other horrific instruments of terror and the whole situation feels more like a modern homage to the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE than anything else. Still, it’s interesting to see what director Carl Lindbergh does with the sequel in that it really does seem like the filmmaker has grown since the last film in skill behind the camera. While it’s still pretty low budget, the production values of this film are much better, as is the way the film is shot and cut together. There are some fantastic scenes here that work well, like the bus scene where Bunnyman enters a bus full of kids with a chainsaw on only a portion of them getting out in one piece. While I don’t often like seeing kids killed on screen, the ridiculousness of seeing this scene play out had me laughing quite a bit. And there are quite a few of these random scenes of uber-violence that makes THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE worth checking out.

That said, what the film lacks is a solid story. In fact, it kind of feels more like a retread of the original story. Now while Raimi did this with EVIL DEAD in EVIL DEAD 2, he also added a lot more to the mix in the sequel. Here, this just looks a whole lot better and I found myself wanting to see things go a different route than the one I saw already in the original film. While most probably haven’t seen BUNNYMAN and this wouldn’t be such a drawback for those who did miss it, since I saw it, I sort of wanted more.

This is an homage to TCM even right down to the sunset walk alongside the road with a chainsaw and it’s a fun homage at that. Lindbergh has tapped into something primally horrifying with his blood spattered bunny suited killer as I truly did enjoy watching him rip and tear into his victims. I am interested in seeing more of this guy, but hopefully in the next sequel, there’ll be more of an original story than a retread of the original.




Available now On Demand and iTunes here!

DARK MOUNTAIN (2013)

Directed by Tara Anaïse
Written by Tamara Blaich and Tara Anaïse (story), Tara Anaïse (screenplay)
Starring Sage Howard, Andrew Simpson, Shelby Stehlin
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


A strong cast saves DARK MOUNTAIN from becoming lost among the million and one other found footagers out there.

DARK MOUNTAIN refers to a specific range in the Superstition Mountains in the Arizona desert where a Dutchman by the name of Jacob Waltz ferreted away a massive fortune in gold in a lost mine. The mine has been the focus of many a treasure hunter with new hunters showing up weekly to attempt to do what no one else has and find the gold. Of course, if the terrain was an easy and tame land, the mine would most likely be found already, but apart from the obvious desert environment dangers, the barren landscape in the Superstition Mountains is also rumored to be the site of unnatural phenomena. Everything from Native American ghosts to UFO’s have been reported to be seen in the land, but that doesn’t scare a fearless trio of explorers who love to film everything with their phones and hand held cams. So they set out to find the gold and end up getting much more than they bargained for.

From start to finish, DARK MOUNTAIN plays like BLAIR WITCH PROJECT in the desert. The trio of explorers is likable enough, but when they become lost in the rocky landscape, the film pretty much follows BWP beat for beat. The trio goes from a happy group of friends to bitter enemies as the pressure to get out alive builds and while there’s no witchcraft at play, the bizarre anomalies still keep them running in circles, hearing things in the night, and tearing away any humanity they have in them. Some of the scenes are creepy and different enough to differentiate this film from its distant witchy cousin, but from a broad strokes perspective, this one follows the story pretty closely. There’s even a up-snouted confessional with a woman confessing to a camera. I seriously don’t know why the film would have a scene like this as it is a scene made famous in BLAIR WITCH and also mocked for how obviously melodramatic the whole thing was.

But that’s not where the apes end. While I don’t want to ruin the ending, this film irked me so much I had to mention it as it ends with an exact duplicated ending first seen in REC and repeated too many times to count in much lesser films. Seeing this ending just made me mad. I was annoyed with the Blair Witch lift earlier, but seeing the REC drag-away ending just drove me off the deep end. I don’t hate found footage films, but if you’re going to make a found footager, at least try to watch other films of its kind. Do your research and if 8 out of 10 of those films have a up-nose confession or a last minute drag-away, don’t put those tired scenes in your film. Do something different. Any ape of what’s come before is just going to be scoffed at and make your film lesser for its unoriginality.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I will say that there are some solid scares going on in DARK MOUNTAIN. The film does a great job of immersing the viewer into the dangerous and rocky surroundings and the night scenes are especially effective in the way sound makes up for what we don’t see. The acting in DARK MOUNTAIN is top notch as well and I wouldn’t be surprised if I see the talented and good looking trio (Sage Howard, Andrew Simpson, Shelby Stehlin) again in bigger and better films. While there are a few other trappings the film falls into (the camera drops just at the right angle to catch an action, somehow the footage is edited together though the three are using three different cameras, and of course the presence of the invisible score that really does distract from the found footage motif), the biggest sin is relying on scenes we’ve seen before and trying to play them as genuine scares.

dark mountain trailer from tara anaïse on Vimeo.




Available this week On Demand and digital download in US and DVD in Canada (order here)!

SILENT RETREAT (2013)

Directed by Tricia Lee
Written by Corey Brown & Tricia Lee
Starring Chelsea Jenish, Sofia Banzhaf, Robert Nolan, Jen Pogue, Matthew Romantini, Mark Buck, Jennie Foster, Katie Buitendyk, Jenna Jade Rain
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


While sound is often essential in film, the absence of it also can speak volumes. Look at films like GRAVITY and THE SHINING as the silences in those films hit like sledge hammers more powerful than the shrillest of screams. SILENT RETREAT is a new film which incorporates silence pretty effectively, though I wished it would have been the case through the entire film.

Chelsea Jenish plays Janey, a troubled teen who is sent to a radical treatment center in the middle of nowhere for aggressive behavior. The treatment center lead by a man simply known as Doctor (Robert Nolan from the excellent horror short FAMILIAR – reviewed here) and his two sons. This center is a silent retreat, meaning there is no talking, no music, no computer, no movies at all. It’s supposed to be a place of reflection where the troubled girls are to look inward in order to become rehabilitated to return to their homes with a fresh, new, more appreciative, and more appropriate outlook on life. Right away, Janey begins to see weird things happening at the retreat. She loses time. Girls are escorted away in the middle of meditation to a locked shed. While most of the other girls at the camp want nothing to do with her, she does find companionship with another girl Alexis (played by the spunky Sofia Banzhaf) who has as much disregard for the rules as she does. Soon they plan on escaping the facility, but even if they do get out of the camp, there’s something in the woods that they could never dream of.

While I don’t want to reveal much, this is a film that turns out to be a whole lot of fun. The concept of silence is played with, but more so, it’s used as a metaphor for the degradation and silence women often face. In many ways, this seems like a women’s lib horror film about thirty years too late and while it may be a dusty concept, it still makes for fun fodder to play with. Still, I wish overcoming the silence wasn’t so prominent here and actual silence would have been used more effectively here. The scenes where the girls are walking around in silence are somewhat powerful and I wanted more of them to accentuate not only that power, but also highlight the times when sounds do occur. While toughed upon, I don’t know if this concept was reached to its full effect.

Though it’s bound to cause some groans, there is a THE VILLAGE vibe to this film as a community in the middle of nowhere is haunted by some kind of monstrosity in the woods. But while the big twist reveal in M. Night’s gave everyone the bends, this one has solid creature effects throughout and a very unique monster that reminded me somewhat of the creatures in another girl power film THE DESCENT. What is it with girls and pale cave creatures anyway?

The film is solidly acted all around with Robert Nolan proving to be one of those actors I can’t wait to see break big. He has a sharp yet callous tone reminiscent of Bob Gunton’s performance in SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and is an actor that makes for a great villain. Newcomers Chelsea Jenish and Sofia Banzhaf are both likable and root for-able and seem filled with that scampy spirit needed for these teen rogues.

SILENT RETREAT turned out to be a tense little beast of a movie that has some powerfully terrifying moments interspersed with some even more impactful silences. While it left me wanting a bit more in terms of stylization of the silences, what I got was pretty rock solid.




And finally…if you’ve ever wondered who is the better wordsmith Stephen King or Edgar Allan Poe, today’s final note is just for you. I’ve seen a couple of these Epic Rap Battles of History videos and they are definitely pretty funny. This one stars rapper and poet George Watsky as Poe and rapper and comedian Zach Sherwin as King. Who do you think won this battle of rhymes?



See ya next week, folks!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.

Be sure to tell your comic shop to order his new comic PIROUETTE from July’s Diamond Previews (item code JUL14 0937) today and the new issue #2 available to order in August Previews (item code AUG14 1131) from Black Mask Studios!!




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