Welcome to the darker side of AICN! Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Before we check out the retro-sequels, new horror, and horror to come, here are a few news bits of interest!
AICN HORROR has a new sponsor: Things From Another World—also known as TFAW!
TFAW carries everything from comics to toys and any kind of collectible in between. Show your support for AICN HORROR and TFAW and click the pic above. You just might find something you can’t live without such as Cullen Bunn’s excellent Southern Gothic Horror Tale from Dark Horse Comics!
I missed MTV’s SCREAM: THE TV SERIES when it aired on the channel (I actually don’t know when the last time was that I actually watched MTV…), but for those like me who missed it, the first season of the hit TV Series will be released on DVD on May 10, 2016 from MTV/Dimension Films partnered with Anchor Bay Entertainment. Find out more about this release here and look for a review of the first season of SCREAM: THE TV Series coming soon!
A while back, I ran a little piece about the indie ghost hunting movie DISTILLER (reviewed here) and a contest they ran celebrating one year of weekly comic books based on characters from the film called the “What killed Uncle Matt?” contest! Background clues laced throughout the movie and comics link up to tell the story of how Uncle Matt really disappeared and what happened to him (unseen in the film).
To find out more about that contest click here or just check out the video below! Best of luck to all behind this very cool indie horror gem!
A while back, I reviewed the short film CANNIBALS & CARPET FITTERS and now it looks like the crew behind that film is setting up to make a feature film about the same subject. A Kickstarter campaign has been set up to fund the short. Take a look at the pitch trailer below and if you think that the film deserves your hard earned money, click this link and check out all the details!
On with the horror reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-review: PSYCHO II (1983)
Retro-review: CURSE 2: THE BITE (1989)
Retro-review: SPECIES II (1998)
THE HATCHING (2014)
THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ (2015)
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)
Advance Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY SECURITY SQUAD (2016)
Advance Review: ANOTHER EVIL (2016)
And finally…Patrick Rea’s PILLOW FRIGHT!
Retro-review: Available on BluRay from The Shout Factory!
PSYCHO II (1983)Directed by Richard Franklin
Written by Tom Holland, Robert Bloch (characters)
Starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz, Hugh Gillin, Claudia Bryar, Robert Alan Browne, Ben Hartigan, Lee Garlington, Tim Maier, Jill Carroll, Chris Hendrie, Tom Holland, Michael Lomazow
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
Some of the best sequels, in my opinion, don’t simply redo the formula of the original. They expand on the story and tell the next chapter. PSYCHO II is not one of the best sequels, but it does attempt to do something different with the story of Norman Bates and his hotel of horrors, and for that I respect the film a lot.
The story picks up 22 years after Norman Bates was left staring at us in PSYCHO, letting us know that he wouldn’t even hurt a fly. Norman (Anthony Perkins reprising his most famous role) is deemed sane and released from the mental health facility that has been his home for all those years. Lila Loomis (Vera Miles), the sister of Nomran’s victim Marion Crane, is desperately fighting against Norman’s release, but his doctor (Robert Loggia) attests to Norman’s sanity, dropping him back off at his childhood home and setting him up with a new job at a local diner. Almost immediately, Norman begins to experience hallucinations that he is getting notes from his dead mother. As these hallucinations begin to intensify and Norman begins seeing someone who looks like Mother in the windows of his home and receiving phone calls hearing her voice, he feels he is about to snap. Soon bodies start piling up and fingers start pointing towards Norman. But what does Mary the perky waitress (Meg Tilly, what the hell ever happened to her, BTW?) who is staying with Norman have to do with all of this? The answers are almost as big a mystery as the one from the original.
What I like about this film is that we don’t see a repeat of the original. Sure the house, the hotel, the mysterious woman in the shadows, and Norman’s quirky nervousness is front and center, but Tom Holland (who went on to direct CHILD’S PLAY and FRIGHT NIGHT) takes everything we expected from a PSYCHO movie and turns it on its ear. The original played on the fact that we thought Mother was a real, live person doing the killing. In the sequel, we know Mother is dead and it was Norman doing the killing, so here a different game is played. Here the question posed is ‘Can we believe that Norman is saying is true?’ Is Norman killing again or is it someone else? Holland and director Richard Franklin put Norman in situations where he is the sole witness to these events and he is suspiciously absent when the killings occur, so we don’t know if Norman is having a mental break or if someone else is the culprit until later in the film.
Even once the cards are shown and the answers are given, a late in the game shocker really makes this film one unpredictable movie to watch. Those expecting just another slasher film are in for a full blown mystery and an unpredictable one at that. The ending is especially fun as the story is taken to another level that will become the norm for the next few films—themselves becoming more conventional as they go on. Still this one is full of fun twists and surprises.
That doesn’t mean that this is a perfect film. The first forty-five minutes of this film is rather heavy and dragging. Seeing Norman establish a relationship with Mary and get used to his job at the diner proves to be pretty dull and the conflict Norman has with the seedy hotel manager (Dennis Franz) who ran the hotel while Norman was incarcerated is heavy handed and clumsy. To top it off, Norman’s choice in clothing is laughably horrible. In one scene, Norman is wearing a skin tight purple t-shirt with twinkly stars. I know style in the eighties was horrendous, but even this movie pushes those boundaries.
But Perkins is at his wormiest best, slipping into the Nervous Norman role easily and creeping everyone else out in the process. His plight as to whether his sanity is fraying is conveyed remarkably in Perkins’ nervously physical performance in every shaking hand and hunched shoulder. The kills in this one are well done as well. Nothing can compare to the marvelous shower sequence and this film knows that, so it smartly doesn’t even go there with its kills (though they do replay that scene in the opening moments). Instead, while this film has its hokey moments, it retains it’s ominous tone and sharply cutting kills that rely on suspense rather than splatter.
This BluRay release offers up an all new commentary from writer Tom Holland and vintage interviews with Anthony Perkins and director Richard Franklin, along with some audio interviews with the cast and crew and of course trailers and TV spots. More than enough material for any fan of PSYCHO curious as to what the next chapter is for Norman Bates.
Retro-review: New this week as a BluRay Double Feature from The Shout Factory!
CURSE 2: THE BITE (1989)aka THE BITE, BLOOD BITER
Directed by Frederico Prosperi (as Fred Goodwin)
Written by Susan Zelouf & Frederico Prosperi(original screenplay) (as Federico Prosperi)
Starring Jill Schoelen, J. Eddie Peck, Jamie Farr, Savina Gersak, Marianne Muellerleile, Al Fann, Sydney Lassick, Terrence Evans, Sandra Sexton, Bruce Marchiano, Shiri Appleby, Bo Svenson, José García, Tiny Wells
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
Another way to do a sequel is to have it be nothing like the original, as if the case with THE CURSE’s sequel, THE BITE. While the first film plopped H.P. Lovecraft’s THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE into the middle of family strife on a family farm, the sequel barely has anything to do with a meteor from space or the curse that comes from it.
My 80’s horror gal crush Jill Schoelen stars as Lisa, a young free-wheelin’ lass travelling with her boyfriend Clark (J. Eddie Peck) across country. After running over a mass of writhing snakes in the middle of the road, one snake gets into their jeep and bites Clark. The bite seems to cause a metamorphosis of sorts in Clark and it appears that the snakes are irradiated by something (possibly the same meteor from the first, though that isn’t confirmed in the narrative). As Clark becomes more and more snake-like, developing a cool snake-hand from the bite, Lisa squeals in agony as she witnesses the whole thing happen to her lover. Meanwhile, Jamie Farr is in pursuit as a pharmaceutical salesman who supplied anti-venom to Clark early on and now wants him to sign a waiver releasing him from responsibility.
Filmmaker Frederico Prosperi and his co-writer Susan Zelouf don’t really seem to care whether the film ties in with it’s predecessor save for a short sequence at the beginning where men in radiation suits attempt to wrangle some snakes in the desert before the couple is introduced. The rest of the film pretty much follows the same narrative as Cronenberg’s THE FLY with a fraction of the emotional and thematic depth. Instead of all of that heady stuff, dumb sidebars which simply introduce characters so they can die quickly are added throughout. The most inane of all of them is Jamie Farr’s determined pharmaceutical rep who will stop at nothing to have two strangers he most likely won’t ever see again to sign a waiver of non-responsibility for the anti-venom he administered to Clark. I guess since the original had DUKES OF HAZZARD star John Schneider, this one had to have a TV personality as well and went with M.A.S.H.’s Klinger,
And while it’s inexplicable why Clark’s hand turns into a snake head, I must admit it is a pretty damn cool effect in a film full of cool practical effects. Working like a simple sock puppet, the slimy monster hand delivers some pretty cool deaths and the final transformation, as Clark’s head totally tips back open from the mouth is effect that stands out in this gooey, practical effects gross-out messterpiece. Since this film was made in the eighties, the emphasis here was definitely on cool effects that would keep the FANGORIA crowd pleased and this one does that mighty capably.
Though not one of Schoelen’s better horror ventures, CURSE II: THE BITE is a lot of fun from an effects standpoint and the smoky voiced horror starlet does a great job of screaming and running for her life from her snake handed boyfriend. The film’s story leaves a lot to be desired, but the gore is solid and any horror movie is made better with a little bit of Jill.
Retro-review: New on BluRay from The Shout Factory!
SPECIES II (1998)Directed by Peter Medak
Written by Dennis Feldman (characters), Chris Brancato
Starring Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen, Marg Helgenberger, Mykelti Williamson, George Dzundza, James Cromwell, Justin Lazard, Myriam Cyr, Sarah Wynter, Baxter Harris, Scott Morgan, Nancy La Scala, Raquel Gardner, Peter Boyle, Monica Staggs, Richard Belzer as the President of the United States!
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
The worst kind of sequels simply repeats the story from the first film. Sure some nips and tucks are done here and there, but for the most part, as with SPECIES and its sequel SPECIES II, it’s almost interchangeable. But SPECIES II manages to make itself distinct by having some absolutely terrible dialog and a tastelessly perverse tone for the bulk of the film.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen the first SPECIES, so forgive me if I’m completely wrong here, but the original film has Sil (uber-hottie Natasha Henstridge) go on a rampage looking to mate with a human man and sprout offspring and eventually, I guess, taking over the world. A ragtag group of researchers including Marg Helgenberger and Michael Madsen were able to defeat Sil and save the day. The sequel is basically the same thing except this time around it’s a male version of the Sil creature, an astronaut named Patrick (Justin Lazard), who returns from space with an alien virus similar to Sil which immediately impregnates and kills any woman he sleeps with. Meanwhile, Helgenberger’s Dr. Laura Baker has created a perfect duplicate of Sil, who she has dubbed Eve (also Henstridge), who shares a psychic link with Patrick and is powerfully attracted to him as he is her ideal mate. Madsen’s character Press is called back in to track down Patrick and keep him from mating with Eve. Doc Baker and Press’ efforts are foiled as Eve and Patrick’s attraction overcomes them and Eve breaks loose. Can Eve overcome her urges to mate or with her natural instinct take over all of the work Doc Baker has done with her to give her humanity?
What works for SPECIES II is that it is a special effects extravaganza. Incorporating some early CG with some pretty awesome practicals, the movie manages to actually feature some pretty memorable scenes of gore, grue, and monsters. While the scene where Patrick grows his head back from a suicide by shotgun looks pretty animated and rudimentary by today’s standards, the initial shotgun blast to the head, which decimates the skull to nothing is pretty astounding. As are the scenes where the women Patrick impregnates grow preggo bellies immediately and while the puppeteering that goes on to make the Patrick monster move is rather wonky and awkward looking, the design of it all is pretty darn impressive. All in all, this is another film that gets by being somewhat of a showcase of the top tier effects of its time.
Which is a good thing, because the rest of the film is pretty shitty. The upper tier actors are simply phoning this film in for the paycheck. Marg Helgenberger continues to slum it here and really doesn’t have the script in her to make it convincing that this doctor would recklessly recreate Sil given the damage she did in the original. Michael Madsen plays Michael Madsen, as usual. He shouts “Fuck” a lot and tosses out the cringe worthy line, “Welcome to the maternity ward…*dramatic pause*…from Hell!” which I don’t know if I hate the writers for writing that line or Madsen more for delivering it.
But it’s Mykekti Williamson who is given some of the worst stereotypically black dialog I’ve heard in a long time like “Imma ‘bout to go back to Africa up in this place” and “Imma ‘bout to go Kunta Kinte on his ass!” and don’t forget, “Awww man, black man can’t get no booty!” Looking back at the lines and the way Williamson has to play this character is truly cringe-worthy.
The film itself really has a rather sleazy vibe to it for a big budget sci fi actioner. Basically, the monster is going around town raping and impregnating as many women as he can, leaving them dead in a pool of their own bursted belly juice. This bestial act of marathon rape really isn’t dealt with for the horror it really is as the focus here is on highlighting the effects and no the emotional horror of the rape itself. This may be because the actor playing Patrick (Justin Lazard) is not a really compelling lead. He’s one of those generic, blank slate actors who looks rather robotic and emotes like it too. Sure that’s part of his character here as he is possessed by the alien virus, but even during scant moments of humanity, he just isn’t able to sell it. Pair this with the climax of the film where Patrick rapes Eve in a truly disgusting and animalistic sequence involving puppets and full body suits and it all becomes tastelessly comedic. I mean, Patrick impregnates Eve by showing a grey slimy dong in Eve’s mouth, ferchrissakes. Seeing the only sympathetic character (Natasha Henstridge, who is one of the few acting highlights here) get raped this way without any kind of redemption leaves you with a pretty soul-crushing feeling in the end.
There are other parts of this film that are just laughable bad. For example, the offspring of John’s rape marathon somehow find brown smocks to wear as soon as they are born. Just ridiculous. Pair that with an exploitative rapey tone, terrifying dialog, and phoned in performances, and this is a pretty bad revisit to the franchise. Thank the dark lord for the effects department which really picked up the slack and seemed to be the only ones really giving a shit about the job they were doing. SPECIES II yet another film saved by its intense and revolutionary effects, which is the only reason to see this film.
New this week on DVD/BluRay from Lionsgate Home Entertainment!
THE HATCHING (2014)Directed by Michael Anderson
Written by Michael Anderson & Nick Squire
Starring Andrew Lee Potts, Thomas Turgoose, Laura Aikman, Georgia Henshaw, Jack McMullen, Muzz Khan, Deborah Rosan, Danny Kirrane, Justin Lee Collins, Abigail Hamilton, Sorrel Golding, Rico Scarpato, Weston Lord, Jordan O'Donegan, Hazel Atherton
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Out of all of the monsters that could bite you in half, alligators are probably number three on my list of scariest just under sharks and bears. There have been fine examples of gator horror such as BLACK WATER, ROGUE, the original LAKE PLACID, and of course, Tobe Hooper’s classic EATEN ALIVE and THE HATCHING tries its damndest to be one of them, but ends up being just shy of greatness.
The film begins with a group of youngsters who steal a few crocodile eggs and end up letting the little crocs loose in the moors of England in a small village named Somerset. Flash forward a few years and those boys are adults and it turns out something is attacking and killing the villagers and the boys, now all grown up, feel responsible for the recent disappearances which blame a large crocodile prowling the moors and attacking anyone who comes close to the water’s edge. But is it a croc or something even more evil that is doing the dirty deeds?
THE HATCHING’s main problem is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. There is a heavy element of horror going on, which is something LAKE PLACID had in abundance, but while that film seemed to know when to take things seriously and when to laugh, this one just doesn’t have that keenly defined sense. The actors seem to want a tone more akin to SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but the story seems to be leaning in a more serious and dastardly direction. This results in a weird tug of war between the characters comedic performances where they cart the body of a large croc into town on a shopping cart after killing it and a story that carries some very serious deaths to content with. Walking the tightrope of comedy and horror is a tricky endeavor. Any lean too far one way or another and you’re bound to be upended. THE HATCHNIG, while it has some inspired twists along the way and some solid jump scares of charging crocodiles, just feels uneven in both the comedy and horror departments and ends up being ineffective in both areas.
Available now exclusively on FLixFling and recently premiered at SXSW!
THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ (2015)EL CADAVER DE ANNA FRITZ
Directed by Hèctor Hernández Vicens
Written by Hèctor Hernández Vicens & Isaac P. Creus
Starring Alba Ribas, Cristian Valencia, Albert Carbó, Bernat Saumell
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
The mountainous Hitchcockian levels of tension THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ achieves made me forget some of the plot holes this film suffers from and just continue biting my nails to the nub.
Anna Fritz (Alba Ribas) is a superstar actress and the love of the entire country of Spain and beyond. So of course the world is shocked when she is found dead in her hotel room. Her body, of course, is sent to a hospital to be examined and Pau (Albert Carbó), an orderly on the night shift, is the guy who receives the body and places it in the morgue to be examined in the morning. But once his two party-going bros find out that he’s got the mega-star’s body in the morgue, they show up at his job and urge him to let them see her. Pau’s unprofessional decision to let Ivan (Cristian Valencia) and Javi (Bernat Saumell) into the morgue below the hospital is the first of many bad decisions that snowballs into the men raping Anna’s corpse. But what they don’t know is that Anna is alive.
The corpse reviving in the morgue story is a story that has been told before in ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS as well as various movies such as Hayden Christensen’s AWAKE and AFTER.LIFE with Christina Ricci. But while the premise isn’t unique, the masterful simplicity of the film makes it a true standout in the realm of tension filled terror. From the get go, you feel as if you shouldn’t be watching what is going on. Seeing these three guys first check out the corpse’s body with curiosity and then watching them become turned on and convince each other to have sex with the corpse is engrossing in a train wreck sort of way. From the get go, this is a bad decision and you are waiting for the other shoe to drop at any time. When the shoe does drop, it’s a big one as Anna’s corpse wakes up mid-copulation and the three men must decide what to do with this person everyone thinks is dead who has now just experienced herself being raped by them. This is a truly horrifying scenario and despite the despicableness of the act of necrophilia itself, the stark yet vibrant performances of the actors draw you in nevertheless. Scene after scene of Anna almost getting away only to be captured again occur. The group fights with one another over what to do. This film stacks these tension filled scenes on top of one another like Jenga blocks and you just know the tower is going to topple any second. The way filmmaker Hèctor Hernández Vicens and his co-writer Isaac P. Creus orchestrate these scenes is brilliant and entrancing.
All of this tension makes you forget one big question which is; “How is Anna alive in the first place?” Was she drugged to seem dead? Did she fake her own death? Is it a natural occurrence that corpses thought dead can simply wake up in the morgue hours later? The last of those questions could have been answered with a simple line of dialog, but the film is so busy heaping on the tension of the immediate situation that it doesn’t slow down to answer those basic questions. We are in this morgue and the surrounding hallways for the entire film, so there is a beauty in its simplicity, but I must admit, afterwards I was scratching my head as to the answers to the above questions which were simply ignored by the film itself.
One wide plot hole aside, THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ is an amazing achievement in suspense. Each scene scoots past DePalma levels of tension and goes right into Hitchcock territory. The acting is fantastic throughout, specifically Cristian Valencia who plays Ivan, the aggressor of the group and the soulful performance of Alba Ribas as Anna who is desperately trying to make her body move from the paralysis of being dead. While I have some questions, THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ is one tension ball of a movie. Dealing with uncomfortable subject matter in a way that is universally intense and thrilling, this film will make you want to see a masseuse afterwards to get all of that tension out.
BEWARE: Dead boobies lay ahead in this trailer! NSFW!
In theaters now!
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, & Damien Chazelle
Starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., Douglas M. Griffin, Suzanne Cryer, Bradley Cooper, Sumalee Montano, Frank Mottek
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
While 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE feels a bit like two movies smooshed into one, there’s still a whole lot to like in this devious little TWILIGHT ZONE episode stretched to a full feature length.
While many feel as if the trailer to 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE should be applauded for not giving away the entire story, after seeing the film itself, you’re going to realize much of the film was in fact given away in that trailer and unfortunately there isn’t much more to the film aside from that. This doesn’t mean that 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is not good. It’s just that the trailer is as guilty of telling the entire story as any other trailer out there is these days. On her way out of town, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wrecks her car and wakes up in a bunker with her knee chained to a wall. Soon she meets her captor Howard (John Goodman) who attests that an attack of some sort has occurred and the air is not breathable, but they are safe in the bunker they now occupy with another person, Emmet (John Gallagher Jr.) an acquaintance of Howard’s who helped build the bunker and knew of its existence once the attack occurred and sought sanctuary there. Though Michelle tries numerous times to escape, she finally gives in and the three of them find some kind of equilibrium between them. That does not last long as when Michelle gets an opportunity to leave, she takes it and discovers just what is going on above the bomb shelter.
As I said earlier, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is comprised of two distinct parts—what happens under ground in the bunker and the brief but potent moments that occur above ground. The stronger of the two parts is definitely the tension filled moments underground. The way information is doled out is masterful and will definitely have you at the edge of your seat. Goodman is a national treasure and proves it here by offering up equal parts sincerity and menace. You believe in his sad story of losing his daughter and feel for him and sort of understand why he would be so protective over Michelle. At the same time, the quiet menace in his eyes and casual dialog fills the space of the bunker and smothers it. Although he is a big man, the power he possesses in his stare is gargantuan. Goodman is the driving force of this film. In a metaphorical sense, he is the 1,000 foot monster rampaging through New York and threatening the lives of everyone under foot in this bunker. The way his story unfolds and the mysteries of this film unfold is something truly horrifying; something much darker than most horror seen in theaters and the power lays in Goodman and in the subtlety of the real terror going on.
And then there is what occurs above ground. This is the part of the movie which definitely shifts the tone dramatically from psychological suspense to sci fi actioner. Personally, I didn’t mind the shift in tone and simply enjoyed the film as Winstead morphs from tension filled dramatic actor to action star, but I can understand those who like to position their films in one single box will hate the shift. It is jarring and somewhat out of left field. It’s not another Cloverfield monster, but it is something big and monstrous. It’s also, due to the reliance of CG and big action sequences that requires much coincidence to occur, the weakest part of the film. It’s not horrible and didn’t ruin the movie for me. But it is the weakest part.
So how does it connect with Cloverfield? Well, there may be a link between the…things that show up in the latter portion of this film and the big monster that was captured on a shaky camera in the original, but no connections are really explained. A little online research tells me that the real connection has to do with the profession of Goodman’s Howard (a satellite transmission engineer for a corporation called Tagruato) and the job the lead in CLOVERFIELD (Michael Stahl-David) is leaving NY to do (which again is tied to the company Tagruato). Both characters have professions tying themselves to the same company; one with off shore drilling that may have been the root of the original monster, the other designing satellites which may be tied with the monsters in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. So while the film isn’t exactly tied with the original, it seems to be occurring in the same universe. No matter what the theory is or how deep the connections are, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is a tense thriller that has more going for it than against it—first and foremost a riveting and commanding role for the always amazing John Goodman.
Currently touring festivals and recently played at SXSW!
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY SECURITY SQUAD (2016)Directed by Alexander Wraith
Written by Alexander Wraith
Starring Alexander Wraith, Bianca Brigitte VanDamme, Sean Stone, Katie Heidy, Rigan Machado, Martin Durantebr> Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Crudely made, yet chaotically funny, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY SECURITY SQUAD or P.A.S.S. is a low fi horror comedy that I found to be much funnier than the new GHOSTBUSTERS trailer.
Setting up paranormal events and then seemingly solving them for semi-big bucks, P.A.S.S. follows this team of paranormal shysters through some routine runs. But the cases are getting more real and team leader Lincoln (writer/director Alexander Wraith), his two hottie gal pals Phoenix and Wrench (Bianca Brigitte VanDamme & Katie Heidy), and a wizard for hire named Mason (GREYSTONE PARK director and son of Oliver Stone, Sean Stone) must use all of the know how they know to take on the forces of chaos, insanity, and evil.
Not a lick of this film should be taken seriously. The effects are strictly amateur and the storyline is all over the place, simply following P.A.S.S. though a typical day of killing demons and saving the universe. But despite the rudimentary way this film was put together, there’s a whole lot of fun comedic timing going on and the breakneck pace of the film really does make this a trippy little ghost hunting movie. A lot of the comedy in this film hits its mark, though it is of the lowbrow to gutter level style of humor, often involving bodily fluids and gasses and other poopy gaffs. And though the effects are beyond bad, there is a fun charm to the animated insanity that the team battles throughout the film.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY SECURITY SQUAD is a rapid fire dose of loony and is perfect fun for late night, liquor or other substance induced viewing. The climax even occurs in the middle of Comic Con with a giant evil clown taking on the team as it trashes the San Diego Convention Center. This is a film that looked like a lot of fun to make and I had an equal amount of fun viewing it.
Recently premiered at SXSW and currently touring festivals!
ANOTHER EVIL (2016)Directed by Carson D. Mell
Written by Carson D. Mell
Starring Mark Proksch, Steve Zissis, Jennifer Irwin, Dax Flame, Dan Bakkedahl, Steve Little, Beck DeRobertis, Mariko Munro
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
An off kilter tone and a truly fantastic cast enables this odd little ghost film to stand up tall and proud.
ANOTHER EVIL focuses on Dan (Steve Zissis from HBO’s TOGETHERNESS), the patriarch of a family of three who slowly realizes after a series of curious events that his summer cabin is haunted. After consulting with a co-worker (EAST BOUND & DOWN’s Steve Little) and being unfazed by a psychic (Dan Bakkedahl) who attests that he is lucky to have ghosts in his house, he is directed to a professional badass ghost hunter Os (Mark Proksch recently seen on BETTER CALL SAUL as the baseball card collector turned amateur drug dealer). Sending his wife and kid away for a few days, Dan meets Os ad is immediately impressed with Os’ gung ho talks about ghost hunting and his knowledge of the paranormal. Os says it will take a few days to perform an exorcism on the house, which Dan agrees to, but since hauntings usually occur only at night, Dan and Os have the day to simply hang out and bond. But as the days go on, Dan begins to realize that Os is simply an awkward man looking for a friend and becomes uncomfortable having him basically living in his house with him.
ANOTHER EVIL plays as a thematic brother of CREEP (starring Zissis’ co-star in TOGETHERNESS Mark Duplass) which also focuses on a man too naïve that he is letting a true weirdo into his life and becoming regretful of doing so a little too late in the game. Because there is a paranormal aspect to this film, there is enough of a distinction between this and CREEP, but as the movie went on and Os begins to form an unnatural bond with Dan and Dan becomes more and more uneased by this bond, the tone is surprisingly similar. Both Zissis and CREEP’s Patrick Brice do such a great job of conceptualizing the uncomfortable feeling of slowly realizing the truth of the situation that I think this film will definitely cause the same kind of unease as CREEP did in folks and made it such a divisive film for viewers. Like Zissis’ Dan, I felt a true sense of sympathy towards Proksch’s Os as he confides in Dan about his recent failed marriage and life troubles. We ride on Dan’s heavily burdened shoulders through this entire film and to Zissis’ credit, he handles the weight masterfully. This film illustrates how easily one can be taken advantage of and despite the spookiness of the ghosts lingering about, that is the true horror at play in ANOTHER EVIL.
That doesn’t mean that this film doesn’t have its fair share of scares. I was taken aback by the effectiveness of the scares that occur in the film. The ghosts don’t appear often, but when they do, they are presented in a tense and terrifying manner that definitely jars you our of the quirky comedy mode this film snuggles you into. The designs of the ghost themselves are unique in a simplistic way I haven’t seen before, which adds to the effectiveness of the whole thing. And when this film shifts into darkness overdrive culminating in a confrontation between Dan and the obsessed Os, it does so again in a bleak manner that is surprisingly effective, again given the comedic tone that went on for most of the rest of the film.
Think CABLE GUY, but on a much lower extreme, and you get the plot of this one. That film dealt with obsession pretty well despite the karaoke scene and whatnot. ANOTHER EVIL is a fantastic showcase on two actors highlighting their spectacular talents in ways that their previous work hasn’t been able to do. Zissis and Proksch are mesmerizing together as they build a friendship that both end up regretting. The ghosts in this film are truly terrifying and the banter between the two characters will cause as much chuckles as the ghosts do chills. ANOTHER EVIL is not a broad blockbuster comedy. It is a film that will hopefully find an audience as it masterfully deals with terror on a much smaller scope. These terrors of emotional discomfort are one we feel every day and this film exemplifies them in convincing and effective ways. Filled with moments that will make you laugh, scream, and wince in discomfort, ANOTHER EVIL is brilliantly unusual little horror comedy that will leave you squirming in your seat.
No trailer yet for this one, but here’s a clip from the film below!
And finally…here’s a new short film from Patrick Rea called PILLOW FRIGHT from Fun Sized Horrror Short Films. This is a clever and fun little horror twister that I’m surprised no one has ever come up with yet as Rea takes us into the tormented minds of pillows, specifically ones at a college girl slumber party! Enjoy!
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 15 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Look for our bi-weekly rambling about random horror films on Poptards and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday!