Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days. That said, there were more on this list that DID have a theatrical run than in previous years which means the horror genre does seem to be on the upswing. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay or digital download.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2015 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth nothing or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)Directed by S. Craig Zahler
Written by S. Craig Zahler
Starring Patrick Wilson, Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Kathryn Morris, Sid Haig, Sean Young, Michael Paré, Zahn McClarnon, Jamie Hector, Geno Segers, Jay Tavare, Jamie Hector, James Tolkan
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
While BONE TOMAHAWK could use a few minutes or two trimmed from a few scenes, it’s still a unique and pretty excellent mix of Western and horror with a cast to die for.
When his wife is captured by natives, Arthur O’Dwyer (Patrick Wilson) a cowboy, sets out to find her, despite the fact that he has a broken leg. Accompanying him on this quest is Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), his noble Second Deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins), and gentleman gunslinger John Brooder (Matthew Fox). The four cowboys head out to uncharted territory to face a primitive tribe of natives who eat human flesh.
A cannibal Western is territory that’s been sort of charted before in a serious way in RAVENOUS and a less so manner in CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL, but neither of them have felt as much like a genuine Western as BONE TOMAHAWK. From start to finish, this one feels as if it follows a conventional Western path, with a group of cowboys heading out to undiscovered country to save a damsel from monsters. There’s a knightly quest aspect of this as well, but for the bulk of this film this is simply four very different cowboys trying to get along with one another on horseback.
Now that alone isn’t really that interesting, but considering this is Kurt fucking Russell in a Western, accompanied by not too shabby actors Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox, with Richard Jenkins added much needed comic relief as well as more heart than I was expecting, and this all of a sudden becomes a character piece like few others with four fantastic actors bouncing off of one another in a most entertaining way. Simply seeing these four brave the elements with only a horse, some rations, and a whole lot of firepower is going to be cause alone for people to want to see this movie and this film delivers everyone I expected as all four give their all making us care for them and root for them through this ordeal. Wilson in particular is great as the wounded cowboy who won’t quit until he finds his wife and Fox is amazing as the cold blooded killer of the group whose only soft spot seems to be for his own horse. Russell is as amazing and gruff as one would expect, but Jenkins surprised me as he really is the beating heart of this film, providing innocent, though dim-witted observation and naïve loyalty to his sheriff. All in all, this is a quartet of leads that I would follow anywhere.
Once the four get to where they are going, this film veers from being a typical Western in many ways. First and foremost, things get extremely bloody and gory. I was taken aback at the ruthless level of violence this film delivers as the four men bite and scratch for their lives against these savages, described as Troglodytes, who eat human flesh. But cannibalism isn’t their only sin. These creatures are more primate than human, adorned with jewelry stuck into their windpipes to make a roaring sound and some of them even have tusks. These are not your typical feather wearing noble Native American warriors. These are primitive creatures straight out of a horror film and their wrath is horrifically vicious. What little glimpses we see of their culture is pretty monstrous to behold.
The shift from Western to horror film is not as jarring or trite as something like FROM DUSK TIL DAWN. We are told early on that these natives are monsters, so when they do finally arrive, we sort of know what we are getting. I loved how each of the actors, none of them known for hardcore horror films (sure Russell did THE THING, but that was twenty years ago, and I certainly don’t count Wilson’s INSIDIOUS turn as this level of hardcore), are fully committed here in delivering a solid Western that just happens to end in an utterly horrific manner. The final scenes of this film will make gorehounds cheer and others who are less appreciative of the red stuff wince like hell. Still, even with the monsters they fight and the horrors they endure, the four stars are cowboys all the way through.
This is a unique film that straddles two genres (that of the Western and the horror story) and does so with utter respect for both. While it might be a little long in the tooth for some (the film clocks in just a bit over two hours), I wished I could have spent even more time with these amazing actors fighting monsters with six guns and cowboy hats. Russell is amazing and again plays the ultimate cowboy badass. Fox, Wilson, and especially Jenkins are all stellar every second they are on screen. If you’re a Western fan and don’t mind some gruesome gore and some truly horrific monsters, BONE TOMAHAWK is going to be for you. For horror fans, this is probably as perfect a Western horror film you’re going to get. I savored every bloody, gritty minute of this film. Highly, highly recommended.
#5 – BONE TOMAHAWK
#6 – LAST SHIFT
#7 – THE SHALLOWS
#8 – THE BOY
#9 – TRAIN TO BUSAN
#10 - KRAMPUS
#11 – AVA’S POSSESSIONS
#12 – BODY
#13 – THE WAILING
#14 – THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
#15 – DEATHGASM
#16 – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
#17 – DER BUNKER
#18 – HUSH
#19 – HOLIDAYS
#20– CARNAGE PARK
#21 – THE CONJURING 2
#22 – THE MIND’S EYE
#23 – DARLING
#24 – SUN CHOKE
#25 – THE HALLOWS
#26 – OVER YOUR DEAD BODY
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – EMELIE
#29 – BASKIN
#30 – I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
#31 – SOUTHBOUND
2015 #1 – THE CANAL
2014 #1 – PROXY
2013 #1 - MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
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 MLMillerWrites.com.
A quick plug for my own work. I have a new comic book coming out this December called THE JUNGLE BOOK HOLIDAY SPECIAL: BAGHEERA’S SECRET. It’s a one shot reteaming my original JUNGLE BOOK artist Carlos Granda and myself (the same team who created PIROUETTE) and it is available to order now via Previews order# OCT162113. I’m getting pages of this book by the day and this book looks absolutely amazing so far. Fans of jungle adventure are going to love it! Please support me by telling your local comic book store to order tons of issues of this comic! Much appreciated, folks.
Look for Johnny Destructo, Stephen Andrade, Christian DiBari, and my own ramblings about random horror films on CultPop/PoptardsGo and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday (or so…)!
Finally, if you’re having problems with the texts going over the image in this article, refresh the screen and that should do the trick!