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What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Welcome to the darker side of AICN! Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Before we head into this week’s reviews, I wanted to let folks know about my own new website, which will serve as both an archive for my thousands of horror movie reviews as well as updates on my own upcoming comic book projects. I’m just beginning the archive, but it will be a one stop shop for all of my reviews all categorized and lumped in one place. So zip over to and let me know what you think of it!

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On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

The Boo Tube: YETI OR NOT? (2016)
And finally…Tom Devlin’s MY MONSTER GARAGE!

Retro-review: Released this week in the BLOODBATH Limited Edition Collection from Arrow Video/MVD Visual!


Directed by Rados Novakovic
Written by Vlasta Radovanovic
Starring William Campbell, Rade Markovic, Patrick McGee, Miha Baloh, Vjekoslav Afric, Irena Prosen, Manja Golec


Directed by Michael Roy
Written by Vic Webber
Starring William Campbell, Anna Prevane, Patrick McGee, Kerry Anderson, Dante Gerino, Mike Astin, Al Astar, Ray Baduzzi, Don Brody
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

This new BLOODBATH BluRay Box Set from Arrow Films tells a pretty amazing cinematic tale. Roger Corman bought the rights to a film called OPERATION TITIAN before it was made. But after seeing the film, he was dissatisfied with it, so it underwent numerous transformations through the next few years and was released under different titles. I wasn’t able to watch all four versions of this film and quite frankly, having a little space in between would most likely give me a better perspective on it all. So this week, I’ll be covering the first two iterations of the film most commonly known as BLOODBATH.

The original OPERATION TITIAN (also known as OPERACIJA TICIJAN) is a bit of mess and it’s no wonder Corman wanted to redo it. The story is about a famous painting which changes hands throughout the film; from a seedy collector (William Campbell) out to woo a soon to be married woman, to an elderly collector (Vjekoslav Afric), to a mysterious wanderer with a vicious karate chop (Patrick McGee), to the soon to be bride herself (Rade Markovic)—the painting is the object of desire for most of the folks in this movie and some are willing to murder for it.

The problem is that this film lingers on the wrong things for an excessive amount of time and the plot tries its damndest to lose the viewer at every turn. It’s surprising that Francis Ford Coppola worked as the cinematographer/camera operator in this film, as it really is a messy film to look at. The opening is somewhat thrilling as a man in the shadows stalks a woman in the street. Then we get an out of the blue burlesque performance where our cast and their current situations are revealed. Finally there’s a sort of game of “Painting, painting, who’s got the painting?” for the rest of the film which end with a man covered in wax and a dramatic climax atop a bell tower. The whole thing barely makes sense and creeps by at a snail’s pace.

PORTRAIT IN TERROR is a vast improvement over the previous incarnation of the film. While most of the actors are the same, they are given American names in the credits, as is the director and most likely the writer. What is different is the way the film is edited and for the most part, this one is pieced together in a way that makes for a much more entertaining movie with less moments of dull discourse and wasted moments soaking in the scenery and more focused on pushing the plot forward and filling in holes left wide open in the original.

For the most part, PORTRAIT IN TERROR has the exact same plot as OPERATION TITIAN—it just tells the tale in a cleaner, clearer, and more interesting way. The film still retains the goofy fight scene with the sailors at the beginning as well as the admittedly thrilling climax; again at the bell tower. Some scenes which add a little intrigue are tossed in, but for the most part it’s the same film, only a much better edit.

I’ll be interested in seeing the final two films in this collection as it seems the film about a stolen painting heist is somehow turned into a vampire movie in the latter two. Stories such as these (which reminds me of the KIDNAPPED COED/AXE films by Frederick R. Friedel which were edited together to make one single Grindhouse opus called BLOODY BROTHERS) make me miss the anything goes antics of drive-in theaters where the same film makes the rounds under different titles through the span of time. Along with the four films in this Limited Edition BluRay Box set there is also a visual essay called “The Trouble with Titian” which talks about the rocky production history of the films, an interview with actor Sid Haig (who was edited into the final versions of the films), an interview with SPIDER BABY director Jack Hill (who was brought in to direct a latter version of the films), outtakes, stills, a booklet of stills and interviews about the various productions, and a wicked ass poster. All of it, most likely, better more than this feature deserves, but still a thorough coverage of the film nevertheless.

Retro-review: Available in the KILLER DAMES Volume One Collection from Arrow Video/MVD Visual!


Directed by Emilio Miraglia
Written by Fabio Pittorru & Emilio Miraglia
Starring Barbara Bouchet, Ugo Pagliai, Marina Malfatti, Marino Masé, Pia Giancaro, Sybil Danning, Nino Korda, Fabrizio Moresco, Rudolf Schündler
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Having not seen THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES, I thought the only thing THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME FROM THE GRAVE (the movie it is paired with in this KILLER DAMES Collection from Arrow) had in common with it was that they were both directed by Emilio Miraglia. But it turns out that having the same director isn’t the only similarity—THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES and THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME FROM THE GRAVE also has a ludicrously over-complex plot, a woman thought dead seemingly alive, and oddly enough, that ghostly woman is named Evelyn (or Eveline) in both films as well.

THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES revolves around a ghost story told to a pair of sisters at a very young age about another pair of sisters who hated each other so much that one ended up killing the other. After that, every hundred years, a ghost returns killing six people—the seventh being one of two sisters. When a wealthy grandfather dies mysteriously and an inheritance is divvied up between sisters, they fear the string of deaths occurring in their circle of co-workers and friends is the work of the curse and one of the sisters will be the final kill.

Setting up seven kills in your title makes it really difficult to not make your film feel over-crowded and that’s probably THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES’ biggest faux pas. Too many of the actresses, all done up in early seventies hairdos, look exactly alike and until many of them are offed, it really is difficult to follow who is who. There’s also the filmmaker’s decision to open the film with two sisters and then skip forward fourteen years and another sister being inexplicably dropped into the story. Where the third sister is during the opening scene of the sisters as youngsters is not explained, but it does end up sort of making sense by the end where the baddie explains the whole mystery in a painfully long discourse which skids the action to a screeching halt during the climax. There are just too many inexplicable things going on to take this film as a serious mystery, but it’s that “throw anything against the wall and see what sticks” attitude that makes this film kind of lovable in a special needs narrative sort of way.

What this film has going for it is that it is extremely gruesome during its kill scenes. One woman is impaled under the chin with a spike as she tries to climb a fence. Another guy’s coat is caught in a car door and he is dragged along the road and finally killed when the driver runs him into the concrete curb. There is also a brutality of this film that will definitely cause some unease such as the rape of the leading lady, not simply because of the callousness of the rape, but how it isn’t even addressed in the rest of the film. The film is filled with plot holes such as this where some kind of heinous act is committed such as rape or adultery and no resolution is given at all. This left me with a feeling of incompletion once the credits rolled.

On the plus side: early scenes of Sybil Danning nakedess, which is always, always a good thing. And along with the goofy plot and ultra-violence, there’s an opening montage of one young girl making her sister miserable over and over that had me laughing maniacally. This disc contains a new interview with Sybil Danning about her role in the film, as well as archived interviews with cast and crew about the film, an alternate opening, and trailer. All in all, this Giallo mystery contained enough good gore and goofy plot twists to keep me entertained.

Airing this week on Monster Week on Animal Planet!

YETI OR NOT? (2016)

Directed by Steve Gooder
Starring Dr. Mark Evans
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Eating all things TV and film about Sasquatch like my Aunt Trudy eats pie (and trust me, my Aunt Trudy loves pie), color me pleased and surprised when I switched on the television this past weekend and caught a new Animal Planet special entitled YETI OR NOT? Given the rocky history with the channel airing faux documentaries and trying to pass them off as real, I went in hesitantly, but hoped for the best.

What I got was shockingly objective and…[pause for dramatic effect] actually still quite interesting as Dr. Mark Evans investigated the Yeti phenomenon in the Nepal/Tibet region of the world. Evans keeps an open mind as he travels to Nepal and interviews the local shamans, sherpas, and historians about the history of the Yeti (also known as the Abominable Snowman and more recently, White Privileged Bigfoot). On his travels, Evans acquires fragments of bones, skin, and fur all reported to belong to Yeti-like creatures that were collected by shamans, locals, and even a stuffed Yeti bagged and mounted by a Nazi big game hunter. Each of these artifacts are brought back to the states to be DNA tested to see what species of catalogued beast they are actually from. At the same time, Evans teaches us about not only the history of the Yeti, but of the culture that the story came from.

While the DNA is being tested, we are also made privy to the local bear population of the area and the likelihood that the Yeti is some form of uncategorized bear hybrid through looking at the gait and tracks of the bear and comparing them to Yeti footprints found in the area. He also hypothesizes that a descendant of the newly discovered Denisovan race of early man (which existed in the area) may be where the Yeti myth began and took DNA samples of the locals to see if genes common in the Denisovan cavemen were present in the Nepalese.

SPOILER ALERT: The DNA tests come back to belong to bears in the region and not Yeti’s, but the crypt is left open as Evans concludes that these genes taken from the local Nepalese do have genetic similarities to the Denisovans, suggesting that as late as only a few thousand years ago these Denisovan’s may have existed in the region and could be the roots of Yeti lore. Covered in hair, possessing more aggressive animalistic attributes, and a penchant for high altitude living, the Denisovans seem to be very close to what Yeti is supposed to look like. This evidence still keeps the possibility open a crack that the creature existed at some time and the story was passed down as modern myths from one generation to the next. So in the end, those who still want to believe have enough to keep on believing, even though the evidence found is against it. END SPOILER ALERT!

All in all, despite the farcical name, YETI OR NOT? proved to be an entertaining documentary that didn’t try to over-hype or sensationalize the Bigfoot myth. It approached the subject scientifically and respectfully and is the type of special that relied on scientific theory and facts gathered in the field instead of cinematic reenactments and false documentary footage. One might say that this is a step in the right direction for Animal Planet, who has lost points in my book recently by becoming the new MTV, not satisfied with simply showing animal documentaries and focusing the bulk of their programming on veterinarian and tree house building reality shows for some reason. They join the History Channel (who sharted out BIGFOOT CAPTURED last fall) and the Discovery Channel (who shat forth RUSSIAN YETI: THE KILLER LIVES before that) in releasing fake documentaries like MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND and THE NEW EVIDENCE, which only adds to their lagging credibility. Things might just be looking up for those looking for serious documentaries about crypto-zoological subjects. Then again, the channel aired the fake documentary MEGALODON: THE MONSTER SHARK THAT LIVES which was clearly made with CG and not a real documentary directly after YETI OR NOT? So I guess this is a case of one step forward, one step back.

I want to believe. But faux reality programming is making it harder and harder to do so. Docs like YETI OR NOT? help mend those wounds though.

Available this week online from Troma Now!


Directed by Stephen Lange
Written by Stephen Lange
Starring Mike Christensen, Sara Coates, Graham Downing, Nick Edwards, Karleena Gore, Ryan Higgins, Kate Jaeger, Brenda Joyner, Kyle Kizzier, Jason Melton, La Petite Mort, Michael Murphy, Mandy Price, Shane Regan, Jen Rizor, David Rollison, Erin Stewart, Stephani Thompson, Shawna Weber, Elicia Wickstead, Ross Whippo, Anthony van Winkle, & Ryan Miller as Junkbucket
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I submit for you an interesting film called JUNK BONDS: THE RETURN OF JUNKBUCKET. I can’t say it’s good. But I did find it interesting and downright clever at times and I’ll go so far as to call this lowbrow, low budget film ballsy as well.

Basically, this story of a woman abducted by a family of cannibals has been told before. It’s the premise of TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. The thing is, this film knows it and lifts direct quotes and scenes from TCM and it’s sequel. And that takes guts. While there is quite a bit of lowbrow pot humor that really isn’t very funny, there were multiple times where the film incorporates direct quotes from TCM and especially TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE II into the story at very interesting places. The story doesn’t follow the direct narrative of those original classics, but instead, simply gives these lines to people in this story and somehow it all works.

There’s a high level of gore in this film including many severed penises and even a lopped off boob or two. The subject matter is often raunchy as all get out. And both the acting and the flat way this was filmed pales in comparison to the vivid detail and harrowing acting of the original TCM. But there’s something fascinating about the way this film was put together from a narrative sense. Filmmaker Stephen Lange made JUNK BONDS: THE RETURN OF JUNK BUCKET crude, rude, and gory, but surprisingly did a smart job at incorporating classic elements from a classic film in interesting ways which made this film more watchable than I would have assumed. I know it’s not a glowing recommendation, but if you’re a fan of TCM and it’s sequel, it’s definitely worth checking out.

New this week On Demand, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu from Candy Factory Films!


Directed by Jeremy Benson
Written by Jeremy Benson
Starring Charisma Carpenter, Juliet Reeves London, Jeremy London, Lee Perkins, John Still, Shaun Benson, Lauren Bayleigh White, Rezia Massey, Ross Williams
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Rocky acting hampers what is otherwise a pretty solid psychological nightmare in GIRL IN WOODS.

Grace (Juliet Reeves London) and her boyfriend Jim (Jeremy London) are off to the hiking trails of the Smokey Mountains, but after he proposes to her, tragedy strikes, leaving Grace all alone in the woods. The problem is that Grace is schizophrenic. Lost, alone, and running out of her meds, she is slowly going insane as she finds herself deeper and deeper in the woods.

GIRL IN WOODS is a pretty compelling story. The character of Grace is fleshed out in flashbacks and through hallucinations she experiences as she begins to run out of food and water. I liked the patient way Grace’s mind, confidence, and sanity are stripped away as the film goes on. The story does so in an interesting and somewhat realistic manner resulting in many gruesome and shocking developments involving murder and even cannibalism by the end. In terms of “going there,” this film definitely does so in an unflinching and pretty ruthless manner that I really appreciate.

That said, Juliet Reeves London just doesn’t have the acting chops to carry the entire film. There are times when she is convincingly stubborn or vulnerable or even vicious, but the longer this film goes on and the more she is forced to stretch those acting muscles, the flaws start to set in and I just wasn’t completely convinced of her plight. A lot of clever editing between the past, the present, and the images appearing in Grace’s mind cover up the more unbelievable acting moments, but still, Reeves London just isn’t quite there yet.

What frustrated me is that I kind of love the way this film ends up. Without revealing too much, she becomes somewhat of a legend lurking out in the woods and terrorizing anyone who crosses her path. I almost wish the film would have been wrapped around the stories that show up in headlines that appear during the credits sequence with Grace’s backstory of how she ended up in the woods peppered in with the flashbacks and hallucinations. That’s not the movie we got here though. GIRL IN WOODS works, for the most part, due to some solid editing and directing, as a descent into madness tale. Though the steps to insanity aren’t completely convincing from the lead, the overall film works enough to overshadow all of that.

Airing tonight on Chiller from the Shout Factory!


Directed by Mark Pavia
Written by Mark Pavia
Starring Makenzie Vega, Cassidy Freeman,Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Dre Davis, Steven Michael Quezada, Kelsey Leos Montoya, Harrison Sim, Gus Krieger, & Bill Sage as The Driver!
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Not even some somewhat brutal kills can save FENDER BENDER from being anything more than a typical and mediocre slasher film.

Hillary (Makenzie Vega) has had better days. She finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her and on her way home, she is rear ended by a man in a car. After exchanging information, Hillary makes it home to break the news to her parents, who scold her for scuffing up her mother’s car (even though the accident isn’t her fault) and up the punishment by not bringing her on the planned family weekend getaway. But the man who hit Hillary (Bill Sage) happens to be a serial killer whose MO is getting his victims information and then stalking and killing them at their residences. Now Hillary must survive the weekend alone in her house with this lame masked killer out to get her.

There really isn’t anything in FENDER BENDER that you haven’t seen a million and one times in every other slasher flick from the eighties. From the far-fetched punishment conveniently leaving Hillary home alone for the weekend to the amount of punishment the Driver can inexplicably withstand as he chases Hillary in and around her house; you could practically exchange this baddie with any other cinematic serial killer from the eighties and no one would notice. In fact, I think that’s unfair to those films which at least were following a current trend, despite failing most of the time. FENDER BENDER attempts to be vague and mysterious as to who the killer is and why he bends fenders so, but only ends up being vapid and uninspired instead.

On top of the lack of creativity, there really is no point to the violence unfolding. Had Hillary done something deplorable and deserved this torment, I would understand this film as being a morality tale of some sort. But Hillary is completely innocent; a victim of a cheating boyfriend and now a victim of random violence. Though one might try to make the argument that this might be some kind of statement about random vehicular violence, there really isn’t any kind of details supporting this peppered throughout. Instead, this is just a girl being victimized over and over for ninety minutes and I’d love to think horror has evolved beyond that.

FENDER BENDER does boast some decent gore and Sage does bring a brutality to the kills which is appreciated. But that simply doesn’t save this film from being anything but a run-of-the-mill example of all of the reasons slasher films have a bad name. Having brought us the simply amazing THE BOY last year, I was hoping for something decent from Chiller with FENDER BENDER, but that’s just not the case.

New this week in select theaters from Well Go USA!


Directed by Hong-jin Na
Written by Hong-jin Na
Starring Do Won Kwak, Woo-hee Chun, Jeong-min Hwang, Han-Cheol Jo, So-yeon Jang, & Jun Kunimura as The Stranger!
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I’ve heard the world a tour de force used in terms of films and I guess that means a myriad of emotions are tugged and jostled leaving the film somewhat uncategorizable in terms of what specific type of genre it rests in. If that’s the case, THE WAILING is such a film as it is equal parts drama, comedy, tragedy, horror, and police procedural. And the sum of these parts makes it one of the most engaging and harrowing films you’re going to see this year.

Do Won Kwak plays Jong-Goo, a loving father, dutiful husband, but a bumbling police officer. When a string of seemingly random acts of violence plague the small village he lives in, it is only Jong-Goo who sees the connections between them and follows the trail to the shack of a mysterious Japanese man living in the hills outside of town. This stranger (Jun Kunimura) has very little to say, but the secret rooms in his shack indicate some kind of black magic going on. This black magic seems to follow Jong-Goo home and possesses his little daughter. Seeking the aid of a shaman (Jeong-min Hwang), Jong-Goo begins a harrowing journey to save the life of his daughter from the clutches of evil spirits that are invading his small village and his own home.

What I absolutely love about this film is the seemingly seamless transition Jong-Goo makes from clumsy policeman to desperate father through the course of this story. THE WAILING is a long one—clocking in at about two and a half hours, but this gives the characters a chance to really evolve and show multiple sides of their characters. The film starts out comical as Jong-Goo stumbles through investigations, screams like a little girl at the creepy shit that is going on, and takes part in almost slapstick scenes where he attempts to take on these evil spirits. Do Won Kwak is the perfect actor to play this because he is somewhat pudgy and not your typical leading man material, but his love for his daughter allows the viewer to really get to know and like him beyond his comical stumblings. So when Jong-Goo’s family is threatened and he ventures into darker and darker territory, you’re with him 100%. When things get dire, this closeness you feel to his character really carries weight.

I also loved the way this film twisted and turned your expectations from beginning to end. Hollywood films dumb down their stories to reflect simply one style or genre. THE WAILING is many all wrapped up into one. There are moments of sheer tension as Jong-Goo unravels this mystery. There are moments of cultural beauty and oddity as we are made witness to a shamanistic exorcism performed to save the life of Jong-Goo’s daughter. There is even thematic heft involving mistrust for those from outside one’s own culture as the South Korean police immediately peg the strange Japanese man in the woods as the culprit. And the humor works as well as I laughed out loud at some of the scenes where Jong-Goo reacts at the sight of a supernatural creature (one specific sequence where a zombie like creature appears out of the woods and a group of villagers comically attempt to battle it with shovels and rakes comes to mind). And there are moments of sheer terror as the stakes are risen to biblical levels by the end of this thing with not only the life of Jong-Goo’s family at stake, but possibly the entire world. All of these elements fit together perfectly without a moment of awkward transition.

I can’t recommend this South Korean masterpiece more as it tugs on heartstrings and then rips them out with fiendish glee. It will make you laugh and shriek. Those who don’t enjoy international cinema are missing out on some amazing horror these days as this is where the real risks are taken. THE WAILING is a rollercoaster of a film. It’s long and complex. It’s equal parts heartwarming and wrenching as the story goes on. It firmly embraces the realm of horror, but does so in a way that doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence. THE WAILING is one urban ghost story that is worth seeking out with fantastic performances, surreally beautiful culture, and absolutely riveting moments of sheer terror.

And finally…FX artist Tom Devlin (who I recognize from ScyFy’s FACE-OFF series) just put together a new webseries called MY MONSTER GARAGE which takes us into his workshop where he creates all kinds of cinematic nightmares. I thought it would be fun to share this series here with you all. Enjoy the first three episodes of MY MONSTER GARAGE below and check back for future installments as they are released! First up is my favorite movie monster of all time, Jason Voorhees!

Next is a Critter from CRITTERS!

And this third episode takes on The Beast from X-Men!

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 and on his new website collecting posts for AICN HORROR as well as all of the most recent updates on his various comic book projects on

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