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AICN HORROR Looks ahead to the new year with early reviews of LESSER MIRACLES, ABSENTIA, an interview with the makers of MONSTER BRAWL & EXIT HUMANITY, & tons of previews!!!

Logo by Kristian Horn

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Why ZOMBIES & SHARKS? Well, those are the two things that I’ve had the most nightmares about. It’s the reason I rarely swim in the ocean. It’s the reason I have an escape plan from my apartment just in case of a zombie apocalypse. Now if you’ve ever had those fears or fears like them, inspired mainly by nights upon nights of watching films of the frightening kind, this is the place for you. Look for AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS every Friday for the foreseeable future, horror hounds, where we’ll be covering horror in all forms; retro, indie, mainstream, old and new.
While everyone is shaking the champagne and watching descending sparkly balls, I’ve got a couple of films for you to look out for in the upcoming year.

(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Q&@: Bug talks MONSTER BRAWL & EXIT HUMANITY with the folks from Foresight Features!
Happy Trails: 2011 Horror Previews!

Q’s by Ambush Bug!
@’s by Foresight Features’
Matt Wiele, Jesse T. Cook, & John Geddes!

Hey folks, it’s Ambush Bug again. I had a chance to talk with the folks behind Foresight Features, a new production company with big ambitions and even bigger horror ideas. Just reading about the pair of upcoming films this company has in store for us makes me smile. MONSTER BRAWL looks to be a horror/comedy where monsters face each other in a balls to the wall tournament. EXIT HUMANITY is a period piece set during the Civil War with zombies galore. Both films sport a top notch genre cast and are wrapping up as 2010 ends. Look for MONSTER BRAWL and EXIT HUMANITY to scare up some scares later this year! Here’s what Foresight Features producer Matt Wiele, MONSTER BRAWL writer/director Jesse T. Cook, and EXIT HUMANITY director John Geddes had to say…

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Foresight Features is a new production company with a set plan for the future of genre films. Can you let the readers know what your mission statement is and what kind of films you're planning on bringing to audiences?

MATT WIELE (MW): The Foresight Features mission is to make films that people who love movies want to watch and that distributors want to release. Both John and Jesse are horror nerds who are fully committed to the classics so the genre was a natural fit for our first two films in a plan to produce 10 in the next five years.

BUG: What studios have you looked at in order to base the direction of Foresight Features on?

MW: We have set out to make Foresight Features a full service genre film company – from finding financing, to producing films, to selling films. At every level we are involved in the decision-making process, as well as responsible for so many different roles from craft services to location and set clean up and wrap that it’s hard to look at the big studios as a model. From a business standpoint yes, from the perspective of tackling the entire process from finance to final sale, but not so much from an operational position. I don’t think the executives at Fox Studios have to worry about where 30 crew and a handful of stars are going to shit, sleep and eat in the same way we do. That’s why we didn’t really try to model Foresight after any one studio or style out there.

BUG: Matt, even in the genre of horror, there are tons of sub genres; slasher films, zombie films, monster films, torture porn, horror comedies, gorefests. Is there a specific sub genre you see Foresight Features films leaning toward?

MW: Not really. We are just absolute film fans who happen to love and have grown up on horror films. The thought of exploring other genres throughout the future films is definitely an option for us. I think it would be very hard to make 10 zombie films and bring something new to the table every time.

BUG: Foresight Features seems to be for fans of horror, but what type of horror fan are you trying to speak to with these films?

MW: We want to reach the horror fans first and foremost, but both films should speak to other fan bases as well. MONSTER BRAWL is a horror-comedy that will reach as far as fans of wrestling with Kevin Nash and Jimmy Hart and even hardcore MMA supporters who love Herb Dean. EXIT HUMANITY will speak to the genre fans who appreciate the amazing talents of Bill Moseley and Dee Wallace, and those zombie fans that appreciate an original story to compliment the walking dead.

BUG: MONSTER BRAWL looks pretty fantastic. How did you come up with the concept and can you explain how this film came to be?

JESSE THOMAS COOKE (JTC): The concept arose at a coffee shop from discussing who would win in a fight between a zombie and a vampire. Later on, as I was driving home and thinking of different match-ups, I realized it would be a great film to watch so I developed the concept further. We were in the midst of raising money from investors in our small town and MONSTER BRAWL seemed like a monumental film to launch the plan. About six months after the initial idea we were into production.

BUG: Jesse, what's your background in? Are you a wrestling fan? Seems you'd have to be to make a film like this.

JTC: Before I made films I was involved in magazine production, writing features and copy-editing. Before that I gave $40,000 to York University for a vague understanding of world history. In 2004 John Geddes and myself swore an oath in blood that we would make horror movies. So my background is primarily as a writer. But wrestling is great entertainment, and so is MMA and monsters. I incorporated all of those elements into the MONSTER BRAWL with a comedic edge. So to answer your question, yes, I am a wrestling fan, but more so when I was younger and more impressionable.

BUG: The concept of a tournament film featuring monsters going berserker on each other is a winner in my book. But it also sounds like it's a massive undertaking in regards to budget. How is Foresight Features, a new company, able to make such a film that to me, seems like it would require a pretty big budget?

JTC: Magic. Luck. Mostly unbridled drive and commitment. I wouldn't want to give away all of our tricks, but we always approached the project with the mantra that we'd make a worse film if we had more money. Mo' money mo' problems, yo. I know that sounds stupid and cliche, but sometimes money makes you complacent. We maximize our budgets, run our crews into the ground and personally monitor the craft table. Often times you would see the producers debating a $25 expense. So having no money keeps you on your toes. I recall at one point Jimmy Hart was helping the production designer lifting foam tombstones around the set. Any other group of filmmakers might have just made one film with our budget - and that still would have been low-budget - but we somehow pulled off 2 films for less than the cost of one in under 5 months. So we are reeling right now.

BUG: What type of match-ups are we going to see in MONSTER BRAWL?

JTC: Each fight gets bigger and better as the movie unfolds, culminating in a grisly end showdown featuring two iconic monsters. We are going to reveal the fight ticket in the coming months as we gear up for a premiere. I can say that there are eight fighters, fighting from two different divisional conferences: The Creatures and the Undead. Creatures Conference contains Cyclops, Witch Bitch, Werewolf and Swamp Gut. The Undead consists of Frankenstein, Zombie Man, Lady Vampire and Mummy. The survivor from each conference fights in the final battle. The film also showcases each monster's backstory - how they came back to life, why they are fighting, etc. Expect to see some cameo managers at ringside as well.

BUG: Looks like you've wrangled up some great genre talent for both MONSTER BRAWL and EXIT HUMANITY with Bill Mosely, Dave Foley, Dee Wallace, Lance Henriksen, Stephen McHattie, Kevin Nash and Jimmy Hart. How were you able to do this being a new production company?

MW: You have to be a bit crazy, sometimes doing cold calls to agents. We had personal connections with some, which helps. For instance, the writer of PONTYPOOL lives in our small town and is a friend, who was instrumental in helping us cast Stephen McHattie at the last minute. Foley, Wallace and Henriksen have worked with friends too. Despite getting to direct some great talent in MONSTER BRAWL, my highlight from a year that began with me bar-tending at a golf course was being able to act in a scene with Bill Moseley in our zombie film, EXIT HUMANITY.

BUG: John, EXIT HUMANITY looks creepy. How with the film stand out among the hordes of zombie films out there today?

JOHN GEDDES (JG): I am a huge fan of zombies and have been since I was a kid and I have always dreamed of making my own but with a unique spin. This is a period zombie film, taking place a decade after the American Civil War. The film combines the bleak and raw times of this period with the dark fantasy of the zombie world. What makes this film different is the sequences of animation from the journal of the protagonist Edward Young, an ex confederate soldier. The story of his experiences in battle, both within the war and with zombies, is a narrative of Edward's journal "Exit Humanity". It dives into both Zombie history and witchery, combined with western-inspired stand-offs, lot's of guns and blood and of course ZOMBIES!!. It is very much a journey full of exciting action and drama. It's the kind of zombie film I would want to see. I am very proud of the film and I think it's something different for zombie fans.

BUG: This is not your typical zombie film. It seems to be somewhat of a period piece. John, what type of preparation goes into making a zombie film of this magnitude?

JG: To be honest, this was a very ambitious film to make under a very restricted budget. Most producers would laugh at the thought of producing something to this degree with such limits, but with our ambition we thought we should try and pull it off, and we did. First, we had to find a piece of land where we could build all our sets within close proximity to each other. This way we could jump around each day from set to set quickly and efficiently. Each set was a massive undertaking with limited resources. Jason Brown our Production Designer and his crew worked around the clock in miserable conditions to build each set with just a few weeks before production, a local pioneer village in our home town was very gracious to lend many of the authentic props needed to dress each set. . Making a period piece has challenges I never could have imagined and because we were such a skeleton crew we all had to work multiple jobs to get the film finished. Many of the props I handled myself as I love to keep everything as authentic as possible. Working in cold and rainy conditions gave us daily challenges that included an overwhelming amount of mud on all the sets and equipment that slowed production down. Also, trying to make our days with limited daylight was a kick to the nuts. The shoot was certainly exhausting and Jesse and Matt kept the producing machine rolling while I was working with the actors and getting the essential shooting coverage the story needed in a very limited amount of time. When you say a period Civil War film you think huge battles etc. This is very hard to achieve on a shoe string budget. We were fortunate to have a Civil War re-enactors society come out and stage an epic battle scene for the film. The Zombies were a massive challenge to clothe and make up with such a small team. The Gore Brothers worked 18 hour days to keep the zombie assembly line moving and to always have Zombies on standby ready to shoot in any given scene. One of the scariest parts of making this film was the time of year we chose. Hunting season up here in Canada opened mid-production and all of a sudden, "shooting" took on a whole new meaning! Real gun fire was heard every day around us. Fortunately Bill Moseley had a great sense of humor after an irate redneck threatened our whole crew while shooting the end of the film. I think they were probably just jealous we did not ask them to be zombies. Every role in the film was very demanding both physically and emotionally so they required a lot of preparation. I spoke to all the actors in advance to discuss each character in depth. The lead character played by Mark Gibson is a dear friend so we spent months obsessively talking and conceptualizing the role of Edward Young. The character Eve, played by Dee Wallace, is an emotionally demanding role and Dee drew on true emotion in this role to bring the character to life.

BUG: So are the zombies in EXIT HUMANITY fast or slow?

JG: The EXIT HUMANITY zombies are slow. I grew up watching Romero and Lucio Fulci films so the slow zombie is a true zombie for me.

BUG: Right on! What type of films are you looking at as inspiration for EXIT HUMANITY?

JG: I love films like JEREMIAH JOHNSON, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, UNFORGIVEN, and DELIVERANCE. I am a huge fan of Drama. Film's like BRAVEHEART, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and fantasy’s like THE NEVER ENDING STORY and LEGEND. EXIT HUMANITY is inspired by these kind of films.BUG: Jesse and John, are either of these films set ups for franchises or do you see them as single features?

JG: Potentially. The film has a lot of depth and it explores a lot of historical zombie elements. I can see other story-lines in the film being expanded for sure but for now the film needs to speak for itself.

BUG: Matt, so what is the release schedule like? When can folks see EXIT HUMANITY and MONSTER BRAWL?

MW: We plan to complete both films before attempting to secure distribution deals. It would be amazing be recognized at any of the festivals out there. The Toronto International Film Festival is in our backyard and would be a bloody dream come true, but so too would Fantasia or Fantastic Fest in Austin. We’re just thrilled to share these films and hope to have them out within the next year in all major territories.

BUG: Are you going for a home video release or theatrical?

Ultimately that’s the call of the distributors based on their territories and realities but it’s hard not to dream about seeing your babies on the big screen. Even a limited theatrical release would be perfect for these pictures.

BUG: Matt, what else does Foresight Features have up its sleeve beyond 2011?

Porn. Kidding, but it’s hard not to laugh at the concept of “Foreskin Features” and their first two releases, MONSTER BALLS and EXIT VIRGINITY. That’s what our accountants office calls us believe it or not.

BUG: Matt, Jesse, and John, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and best of luck with MONSTER BRAWL, EXIT HUMANITY, and the rest of Foresight Features. You can follow the developments on these two awesome films on the Foresight Features website. I can't wait to see these films in 2011!


Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Mike Flanagan
Starring Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, & Doug Jones
Official site.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Actually, I owe ABSENTIA a lot. When the teaser trailer was sent to me a while back, I posted it on AICN and suggested that I was thinking of doing an AICN HORROR column. Most of the responses were pretty positive, and I loved being able to talk about a film that was relatively unknown and full of potential given what I saw in the trailer. Well, it’s been a few months and I had a chance to check out the entire movie, and I think I backed the right horse.

ABSENTIA opens silently as Tricia (played by a very pregnant Courtney Bell) wanders around the neighborhood posting MISSING posters on telephone poles, replacing ones faded giving a clear indication that she’s been doing this for quite some time. We find out that Tricia’s sister, Callie (played by Katie Parker) is coming to visit her to be with her for the birth of her child. The tone of the film is very serious and as the sisters go through the motions of grieving the disappearance of Tricia’s husband and accepting the fact that he’s most likely dead. This isn’t a bunch of hyperactive teens crying while a boy band ballad is twinging in the background, ABSENTIA is a mature look at loss through the lens of a horror film. It reminded more of the tone of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 GRAMS than any horror film I’ve seen, dealing with death in such a dour and serious manner. ABSENTIA works because the actors, though I’ve never seen them in anything before, have the chops to pull off the serious weight of dread that permeates the film. Both actors playing the sisters do a great job of making you feel for them and feel their pain.

But though the mood is deathly serious, there’s a lot of fun to be had with ABSENTIA. Turns out Tricia’s husband wasn’t the first to disappear and that there is a series of disappearances leading back hundreds of years all around the same tunnel running under a road across from Tricia’s home. Though no one believes it at first, when more folks start disappearing and ghosts of the abducted start showing up (including a very creepy Doug Jones), Tricia and Callie are forced to consider that some kind of creature is taking these people.
Director/writer Mike Flanagan, does a fantastic job of juggling both the dramatic and the fantastic moments here. There’s a real sense of terror as these ghosts try to warn the living of the bug-like monster that is staking them and peppered throughout are some true classic moments of fear. Flanagan never really shows you what the monster looks like, but his mastery of making the most of the dark is near perfect. Though I really wanted to see the beast, what I did see was pretty damn terrifying.

ABSENTIA is not your typical modern horror film. It’s not dumbed down. It’s not badly acted. It doesn’t feature tired clichéd monsters. What it does have is powerfully scary moments, themes with heft, and an impact that will leave you remembering this film long after the credits.


Directed by Rory WalshWritten by Rory WalshStarring Kathryn Lynn, Cameron Bender, Haley Mancini
Find out more on the Facebook page.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though not entirely a horror film, LESSER MIRACLES definitely has the tone that inspires dread and terror. This is a descent into madness movie (a favorite subgenre of mine) which follows one person as they doubt the reality around them with horrific results.

The human mind is such a fragile thing. In LESSER MIRACLES, Riley suffers a life threatening accident. She seems ok, as does her baby who was in the accident with her, but soon afterwards, this brush with death seems to have unlocked something inside of Riley. She starts hearing an ominous voice, predicting deadly accurate events that happen in Riley’s life. Actress Kathryn Lynn who plays Riley is not only beautiful, but does a great job of juggling this complex character who you feel sorry for one moment, then does deplorable acts which inspire anger and frustration in another. Riley is struggling with trauma, but letting those voices in your head that most drown out with reason take control. As her life falls apart around her, the voice grows louder. Director/writer Rory Walsh is patient with this descent. The voices in Riley’s head actually could be there, or she could be crazy as hell. Walsh keeps you guessing through the entire film as Riley’s world teeters on the edge.

As the voices multiply and Riley’s reality continues to slip away, LESSER MIRACLES gets more and more intense. Later this year, when LESSER MIRACLES is released, be sure to seek it out. As I said, this isn’t your run of the mill horror film. There are no jump scares. No monsters. No bloody scenes of gore and grue. But it does deal with one of the most common and often the most frightening experiences a person can go through—the slow descent into insanity and LESSER MIRACLES does a magnificent job of illustrating it.

Lesser Miracles Official Trailer 1: "Crazy" from Rory Walsh on Vimeo.



It’s Bug again. Though I don’t want to make a habit of it, since we are looking forward to 2011, I figured I’d gather a gaggle of trailers to peruse. There seems to be a mess of the best and worst aspects of horror coming up in the next year. Some, I simply can’t wait for. Others, I doubt I’ll be seeing or maybe waiting till DVD. Enjoy this glimpse at horror in 2011.


In theaters January 7, 2011.

Though I think the real horror of Nic Cage films are the hairpieces he sports, I love a good witchhunt film, so I’ll definitely be checking this one out. Will it be the bad@$$ Cage from BAD LEUTENANT at play here, or are we in store for another WICKER MAN? We’ll find out in just a few short days…


This looks to be a fun little horror number with elements of CEMETARY MAN and DEAD ALIVE. The trailer below gives me the feeling that this will be a film we will be talking about this time next year.

The Night Shift Trailer
Uploaded by FightingOwlFilms. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.


Limited release January 7, 2011.

More thriller than horror, this looks to be an indie noir with a high body count and a whole mess load of twists and turns. Could be a surprise shocker, if this trailer is any indication.


On Demand January 7, 2011 and in theaters February 18, 2011.

I like the cast. I like the concept. I like it that the trailer tells me a lot, yet I feel like I haven’t seen the movie. Looking forward to this one.

ROID RAGE (2011)

This is not a film about steroids. All I have to say is that this trailer had me rolling. I can’t wait to see this. That’s all I will say. Love the Eli Roth “THANKSGIVING DAY” voiceover. Just watch the trailer to see what I mean…

THE RITE (2011)

In theaters January 28, 2011.

Boooooo. Too much is revealed in this trailer. I hate that more than anything. Still, it looks cool. Hopkins, Rutger Hauer, and Toby Jones in an exorcism flick? I’m there. And it’s just a few weeks away…


I’m going to be doing a special column in a couple of weeks on this film and the original, talking with cast and crew from both films. Look for that and look for the remake on DVD & BluRay in February.


In theaters February 24, 2011.

Big budget. Big stars. Usually in horror that means, big disappointment. But in this case, Guillermo Del Toro has never steered me wrong when it comes to the scares. This is one film I can’t wait to see. The jump scare in this trailer is hokey, but hopefully the movie is not.


I laughed quite a few times at this trailer. Can’t wait to see more of this zombie buddy comedy this year.


The most notorious film of 2010 gets a sequel this year. Though the original was pretty deplorable, I can’t help but look forward to seeing whether Tom Six’s concept is just a flash (or is that splash) in the pan or if he’s actually onto something with his ATM science gone wrong concepts. Choke down this trailer, which reveals nothing, but intrigues…

RED STATE (2011)

In theaters March 2011

When you mention horror, you usually don’t think of director Kevin Smith, but I have to say, this trailer gives me hope that Smith will sheathe the dick and fart jokes, stop writing stories of two men that need to get a room, and do an honest to god movie sans winks and nods. I couldn’t believe this was a Kevin Smith film after watching this trailer and that’s pretty much the highest compliment I can give RED STATE. Really looking forward to seeing this one…


Next to nothing is known about this Aussie horror film. Is it trying to cash in on THE LAST EXORCISM? Is Baby Joan possessed or the victim of a crazed egotistical preacher? Who the hell knows? All I can say is the preview intrigues me…


In theaters March 11, 2011.

Though Amanda Seyfried is nummy, the words “From the director of TWILIGHT” isn’t a big selling point for me. Don’t expect to see me in line for this one, but I know there are a few of you out there that are looking forward to this one…


In theaters April 1, 2011.

The cast looks good and the mood is definitely creepy. Let’s see if the SAW guys can pull this off. I’m rooting for this film on the cast alone though.


In theaters April 15th, 2011.

OK, so I’m not the biggest SCREAM fan. I’ve seen all of them though so I’ll probably be seeing this one too. You know you probably will too. Although I don’t find the descriptions of horror films entirely accurate, it’ll be interesting to see them try to once again establish what the rules of nu horror are. So for better or worse, here’s the trailer…

PRIEST (2011)

In theaters Summer 2011.

I never read the comic and aside from the trailer looking a lot like a mix of THE ROAD WARRIOR, LEGION, and CONSTANTINE, I know nothing about it. Looks more action than horror, but the CGI demons look fun. Probably popcorn fare, but that’s not always bad.


Finally, wow. Just watch the trailer to Troma’s newest film. It’s…well, it’s something to be seen to be believed. Undeniably Troma. That’s what this one is. Can’t wait to see this. It looks to be a schlocky, disgusting, bad-tasting messterpiece! And this is the “safe” trailer!

See ya, next year, folks!

Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN Horror’s Facebook page!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the titles for purchasing info)!
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