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What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. This week we have a handful of new horrors for you to check out. But before we do, here are a few bits you guys might find interesting.

From the “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” category, here’s a new teaser trailer for COUGARS, a new horror comedy currently in production. The film is wrapping in August and I definitely plan on covering it here when I get to see it. Enjoy!

The @$$holes of AICN COMICS and myself have been busy reviewing some cool horror comics. Check out the links to these recent horror comic reviews;

Ambush Bug takes a seat in THE THEATER!
Optimous Douche gnaws on SWEET TOOTH!
Ambush Bug dies for SUICIDE GIRLS!
The Taffeta Darling loves the HELLRAISER comic!
Check out AICN COMICS REVIEWS every Wednesday!

Those of you lucky enough to see TROLL HUNTER will get a kick out of this. Not sure if it’s real or not, but it’s awesome as hell. And by the way, seek out TROLL HUNTER. It’s one of the coolest films of the year!

And now, on with the new horrors!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

SEPTIEN (2011)
And finally…Keep you Honest’s LOSE CONTROL!

In select theaters July 1 / Now available on VOD!


Directed by Nick Tomnay
Written by Nick Tomnay
Starring David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford, & Nathaniel Parker
Find out more about the film here and on the Facebook page here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

THE PERFECT HOST is a fantastically twisted little film. It’s one of those films I love; a character piece that could just as well be a play as it is a movie since most of the action takes place in one central location. But that’s not the main reason I love this film. It’s solely because of strength of the two lead performances; David Hyde Pierce’s Warwick and Clayne Crawford’s John. There’s a specific scene in the middle of the film where Warwick shows John a home movie that not only is bone-chilling, but it also highlights the skill of these two actors; Pierce reacting with childish glee while Crawford reacting with sheer horror in his eyes. At this moment in the film, it not only signifies the turning point of the movie, but it also shows how different and how talented these two actors really are.

Those of you only familiar with David Hyde Pierce from his role as Frasier Crane’s uppity brother Niles from the sitcom FRASIER are in for a shock when they watch this film. Pierce’s character starts out to be very similar to Niles, but soon, the crazy starts and it’s apparent that Warwick and Niles are completely different characters. Pierce plays Warwick with full conviction that results in moments both humorous and utterly frightening. The way Pierce switches from pleasant host to raving madman shows a talent I didn’t know the actor possessed. After seeing this film, you’ll never look at Pierce the same way again.

Clayne Crawford, the con man who happens into Warwick’s life offers up an impressive performance as well, matching wits with Pierce’s Warwick character. The role requires quite a range of emotion (from complete control to utter desperation) and Crawford handles it all gracefully. Though he might be written off as another pretty boy actor, Crawford shows a nice combination of charm and threat that reminds me a lot of Stephen Dorff.

Director / writer Nick Tomnay plays this story out magnificently. I hate to give anything away, but it has to be noted how many times characters in this film switch roles from predator to prey. This is illustrated right off the bat as John, after robbing a bank, walks into a convenience store just to be the victim of a robbery himself. Later the roles of aggressor and victim are muddled all over again once John tries to con his way into the home of Warwick, first out of desperation (John hurts his foot in the robbery and needs aid), but then out of the possibility of robbing Warwick as well. Things get nuts when Warwick shows his true colors and it becomes apparent very quick that John had stumbled into the wrong house.

Part dark comedy, part twisted thriller, part subtle horror; THE PERFECT HOST offers up true chilling moments along with some laugh out loud scenes and twists you definitely will never see coming. THE PERFECT HOST twists and turns into itself so many times, you’ll be left you’re your head reeling. I never thought I’d see David Hyde Pierce in such a light and you won’t be able to predict the horrors and chills you’ll experience watching this film.

Available now on VOD / in select theaters July 6th!

SEPTIEN (2011)

Directed by Michael Tully
Written by Michael Tully
Starring Robert Longstreet, Onur Tukel, Michael Tully, Mark Darby Robinson, Rachel Korine, Jim Willingham, & John Maringouin
Find out more about the film here and on the Facebook page here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though not necessarily a horror film, SEPTIEN is so uncategorizable that it somehow works to be looked at here on AICN HORROR. Michael Tully is definitely going to be a force to look for in film. The world he’s created in SEPTIEN is vivid and bizarre all at once. Tully’s film plays like a mish-mash jigsaw puzzle where we come in halfway through the narrative and even though it may not be the world outside your window you’re entering, Tully’s simplistic style makes it all easy to follow. How do I describe this film? Take elements from Wes Anderson’s THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS and Harmonie Corrine’s GUMMO, and present it through the deadpan delivery of most of David Lynch’s films especially THE STRAIGHT STORY, plus a dash of Terry Zwigoff’s CRUMB, and I think you’re on the right track. At the same time, SEPTIEN is wholly original.

Let me try to describe the plot of this film; the Rawling Brothers; Ezra (the anal retentive matriarch played by Robert Longstreet) and Amos (Onur Tukel, a slacker artist who looks and talks a lot like Zach Galafinakis) live a humble life in the Southern countryside. Ezra endlessly cooks and cleans. Amos paints pictures of violent and sexual acts in the barn. Wilbur, (possibly another brother) lives in the giant tire in the backyard. Their simple existence is shattered when their other brother Cornelius (played by Michael Tully himself) returns to the home after being gone for fifteen years. The brothers are both excited and concerned about their returning sibling. After a short adjustment period, the family seems to be functioning well until a dark secret from the past is unearthed when the toilet explodes and the septic tank repair man (named Red Rooster) and the young girl he sleeps with (Savannah played by Rachel Korine) arrives on the scene. The return of Red Rooster upsets the balance that has just begun to form in the household. A wandering preacher appears out of nowhere as (to quote Clive Barker) the savior to some…demon to others.

The story plays out almost half hazardly as characters and events tumble in and out of the frame. Everyone is just kind of doing their own thing throughout this film; Ezra is cleaning incessantly, Amos paints graphic pictures that sometimes come true, Wilbur finds a video camera and decides to make a movie, and returning brother Cornelius swindles the locals out of cash by beating them in basketball, tennis, and a simple game of toss. The interactions between the brothers are beautifully simplistic. Though dialog is prevalent throughout, a lot of this film is communicated through simple gestures and static shots of the brothers just living their lives and sometimes bumping into one another while doing their own thing. I almost regretted the inclusion of story with the introduction of the Red Rooster, his young consort, and a wandering preacher because it interrupted the fascinating scenes of banality between the brothers.

Again, this isn’t for hardcore horror fans. It’s just plain weird. But fun. Until it gets pretty damn serious toward the end and then it becomes not so fun for the folks involved. I honestly could have watched this unconventional family for a few more hours and not be sick of their bizarre and banal lives. With an impromptu musical interlude in the middle and lines like “Have you ever been force-fed a cheeseburger sitting next to half a body? Let me tell you, there’s a before that experience and an after…you’re talking to an after.” occurring throughout, SEPTIEN is one of those film experiences that may remind you of bits and pieces of other films, but engraves itself into your psyche. It’s a film about brotherhood that is as unique as it is fascinating, with an ending that is chillingly impactful.

Available on DVD / BluRay on July 5th!


Directed by Jon D. Wagner
Written by Eric Fischer & Brianna Lee Johnson
Starring Eric Mark Fischer, Brianna Lee Johnson, Brick Patrick, Corey Reilly
Find out more about the film here and on the Facebook page here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

In this age of post-SCREAM self-referentialism, it’s refreshing to see a serial killer film with a young talented cast that isn’t making fun of the genre or fully acknowledging that they know they’re in a serial killer film. THE ANNIVERSARY AT SHALLOW CREEK is one of those films where the ending might be a bit obvious, but the ride along the way is definitely worth the trip. Part THE STRANGERS / part SAW / part every serial killer film you’ve seen in the eighties, THE ANNIVERSARY AT SHALLOW CREEK has done it’s homework and ends up being a lot of fun to watch.

A group of young people travel to their uncle’s house for a weekend getaway. The group has partying, sex, and fun on their minds but the festivities are soon interrupted by a masked man with a high powered rifle. Making his presence well known early on, the killer plays a game of cat and mouse, picking off the kids one by one. Though usually in this type of film, the kids are clueless their number is dwindling until the killer kills them, here they know full well they are being stalked. By straying a bit from the norm, the knowledge that there is someone out to kill them makes this a more tense film because the group is trapped in the middle of nowhere and being toyed with in a deadly fashion. The use of a rifle as a weapon elevates this film past the usual stalk and slash films of old as well in that it shows that these killers don’t play by the slasher rulebook which usually necessitates the kills be of the bladed or otherwise silent instrument variety.

Though some of the performances are a bit sketchy (the neighbor kid, especially), THE ANNIVERSARY AT SHALLOW CREEK is a refreshing take on the age-old story of youngsters setting out for a weekend of fun, only to an unstoppable killing force. This film doesn’t blaze any new trails, but it does follow the guidelines we all know and love in a capable and skilled manner without seeming stale or outdated. Though the revelation at the end is pretty obvious to most who watch the film, it does pay off in a gruesomely effective manner. The makers of THE ANNIVERSARY AT SHALLOW CREEK have seen all of the slasher flicks we’ve seen and made a worthy addition to the genre.

Available on BluRay / DVD July 5th!


Directed by Sean Tretta
Written by Sean Tretta from Mary Shelley’s novel
Starring Tiffany Shepis, Ed Lauter, Louis Mandylor,
Find out more about the film here and on the Facebook page here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I have to admit, I knew nothing about this film going in and wasn’t expecting much. But I was utterly amazed at how well made, well acted, and well written THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME was. Though the tale of Frankenstein and his monster has been told in a million different incarnations, I believe it’s a testament to Mary Shelley’s brilliant novel that it can be interpreted in so many fascinating ways. Having just raved about Danny Boyle’s stage version of FRANKENSTEIN a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I was ready for another science gone awry horror film. And was firm in my thinking that I wouldn’t find one to match the caliber of Boyle’s masterpiece adaptation, for sure. Turns out, I was wrong on both counts.

Setting stem cell research as the backdrop for the Frankenstein story isn’t entirely original, but that doesn’t mean that THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME is not an effective little story about scientists who try to be god by inadvertently creating one. Attempting to unlock the secrets of cloning cells for universal donor organs, Elizabeth Barnes (Tiffany Shepis) and a team of doctors have thrown the Hippocratic Oath out the window in order to take medical science to the next level. All of them know that what they’ve signed up for is illegal. All of them have reasons for being there, be it prestige, the quest for knowledge, or just for the money. What these brilliant minds create in the lab is something they never imagined; they create God in the form of a man. What I loved about THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME is that doesn’t go the usual route likening the doctors to God. What they do in this film is unlock man’s complete potential by allowing their creation to use 100% of his brain matter, thus giving him not only increased intelligence, but the power to read minds, move objects through telekinesis, and to perform feats that those of a religious background might call miracles such as healing the sick and turning water into wine (or in this case, fruit punch). In THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME, the creator is not trying to be God, the Monster is. This role reversal allows for some astounding moments of terror and tension, all the while raising sophisticated philosophical questions about man’s desire to conquer death.

All of the actors here are top tier. Tiffany Shepis who usually falls under the scream queen role, shows surprising depth and ability here. She’s not just a pretty face. Yes, she’s hot as Hell’s barbeque, but she’s also got the chops. She acts as our eyes and ears through this terrifying tale and does so in a manner I didn’t think the actress had in her. Scott Anthony Leet offers up a strong performance as well as the man turned God. His movements and story arc follows Mary Shelly’s book very closely. He’s no lumbering monster with bolts in his neck. He’s a man-child who grows into his full potential too fast, switching between more advanced being to wimpering child in a heartbeat. In some scenes, he’s utterly menacing. In others, he’s convincingly helpless and gentle. Both lead actors elevate this good script into the stratosphere.

THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME is one of the best films birthed from Mary Shelly’s masterpiece in recent memory. The film starts out with a chilling confession from a woman scarred and masked. Even though I’m well versed in the original material, this film had me guessing from beginning to end. In a subgenre of films that I thought I’d seen it all, THE FRANKENTSTIN SYNDROME turned out to be a smart, original, and completely well done version of the Frankenstein tale. Highly recommended.

And finally, here’s a little ditty called LOSE CONTROL. The song may not be the best, but I kind of dig the story. Enjoy!

See ya, next week, folks!

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 covers to purchase)!

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