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AICN HORROR celebrates the coming of 2012 with new apocalyptic horrors THE DIVIDE! APOCALYPSE, CA! AUTUMN! 2012: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! ROBOTROPOLIS! & a look back at THE LAST MAN ON EARTH!!!

Logo by Kristian Horn
What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column.


Well, we are…someday.

Depending on who you talk to, the end will come either by plague, by zombie, by robot, by comet, by vampire, or by nuclear war; it’s inevitable. It’s gonna happen. However you slice it, some day in some way, we’re all toast.

But there’s no need to sit around and whine about it. We might as well embrace it. So if the Mayans are right and 2012 will be our last year, AICN HORROR will embrace the inevitable by checking out some new films of apocalyptic proportions (plus a look back at an apocalyptic oldie but goodie)!

Enjoy the end of the world, folks!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

AUTUMN (2009)
Advance Review: ROBOTROPOLIS (2011)
Advance Review: THE DIVIDE (2011)
And finally…Richard Foster’s INTO THE VALLEY Short Film


Directed by Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow
Written by Richard Matheson (screenplay & novel), William F. Leicester, Furio M. Monetti, & Ubaldo Ragona (screenplay)
Starring Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Raho, Christi Courtland
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

Just like Will Smith’s I AM LEGEND (without all of that annoying Will Smith-ness) is THE LAST MAN ON EARTH starring horror icon Vincent Price. Though heavy on narration by Price, this film is somewhat similar to Will Smith’s mostly solo adventure in that it spends a lot of time illustrating just how alone the titular character of Morgan truly is.

Price does a fantastic job of portraying a man who is trying to stay busy in order to retain his sanity. He’s a man on a mission to end the vampire plagued streets of the world one creature at a time, checking city blocks off of a map in his boarded up house. Price does a fantastic job, rarely uttering a line save for the narration, yet conveying his frustration crystal clearly. This is one of Price’s most sympathetic roles. There are no puffy shirts or Medieval speechery here—just a lone man wandering the streets trying to keep hold of his humanity against unbelievable odds.

Having read and viewed Richard Matheson’s masterpiece in its various forms through the years, it’s a testament to Matheson’s story that it still holds up today. Though the “vampires” in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH move more like zombies, the film utilizes much of the vampire mythos for its story with nods to the vamps’ aversions to garlic, crosses, and their own reflections. At times, the horror of this story is a mirror image of its time and might not shock the jaded audiences of today, but I can’t believe anyone won’t get chills when Morgan confronts his undead wife. It’s Price’s performance that makes this version of Matheson’s tale so special. Though I didn’t hate Smith’s modern update, I definitely prefer Price’s performance in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH and can’t help but picture him every time I re-read the Matheson classic.

Watch the whole movie below!

AUTUMN (2009)

Directed by Steven Rumbelow
Written by Steven Rumbelow (screenplay), David Moody (screenplay & novel)
Starring Dexter Fletcher, Dickon Tolson, Lana Kamenov, David Carradine, Anton Brejak, Tricia McMurtry, Jody Willis, Marisa Zaza
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Based on a novel by David Moody of the same name, AUTUMN is a pretty cool little zombie film. Rather than diving into flesh eating ghoul territory, Moody’s AUTUMN takes a more patient and scientific approach. In many ways, this is a thinking man’s zombie flick with some fun performances and decent effects.

The definite highlight of this film isn’t the scope or the effects, though filmmaker Steven Rumbelow does a decent job with both. The real draw is AUTUMN’s handling of the dead as evolving creatures. Though these are aspects of the living dead that are only hinted at in Romero’s DEAD films, in AUTUMN, it’s not only noted, but illustrated in a damn fine way as the dead at first appear catatonic, then somnambulistic as they appear to be walking with little or no threat to the immune survivors, then finally beginning to regain senses and starting to act primally. One might think that, given time, they might even become human again, but the story doesn’t really have time to go there.

A lot of the stuff in this film wouldn’t be possible without 28 DAYS LATER. There are a lot of similarities when looked at side by side, but with great performances by LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS’s Dexter Fletcher, newcomers Lana Kamelnov and Dickson Tolson, and an especially creepy cameo by David Carradine in what I believe is his final performance, AUTUMN stands on its own.

Though I haven’t read Moody’s book, I have to assume it’s a smart read as this story unfolds in a very intelligent manner. The effects are great here too, depicting the zombies as brown oozing disease-riddled pustules rather than the zombies we usually see. Sure, there are scenes that mirror issues of THE WALKING DEAD comic or 28 DAYS LATER or ZOMBIELAND, but when done with technical skill by the director Rumbelow and innovative idea-filled scripting by Moody, AUTUMN makes for a damn fine zombie experience.

This one was released a few years ago, but I just happened upon it this month. AUTUMN is definitely worth seeking out for the zeek in search of genuine scares and interesting takes on the sub-genre.

New on DVD!


Directed by Chad Peter
Written by Chad Peter
Starring Nick Mathis, Erin Bodine, Anne McDaniels, Alexander Cardinale, Elizabeth Sandy, Sarah Smick, Ryan Jordan
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though not so much a horror film as it is a quirky romp filled with whacked out weirdness, APOCALYPSE, CA is definitely a film like few others. If I had to find something to compare it with, I guess I’d choose Gregg Araki or John Waters above anyone else as Chad Peter attempts to twist both gender and reality as a cast of ridiculous goodlookings try to survive in LA mere days before an asteroid is about to hit.

The acting here is not top notch, but they are damn good looking (especially the nummy-liciously bikini-clad Anne Daniels) and do their job pressing this story along. A pill is discovered that gives the taker a dose of what it is like to be the opposite sex. At the same time, one of the male cast members switches bodies with another female cast member and both go through the motions of most of the gender swapping films you can think of. Also, there’s a giant woman crashing through LA smashing airplanes and stomping on civilians.

What does this have to do with an asteroid crashing into the Earth?

Not really sure, but APOCALYPSE, CA doesn’t bother itself with explaining all of that.

Like Araki’s films, the good looking cast flops in and out of bed with each other with little or no remorse or care. Like Waters, the offbeat is incorporated with pride and ease. Though it may not make a lot of sense in the end, this is a nice apocalyptic romp with enough touches of the bizarre to qualify it a mention here on AICN HORROR. APOCALYPSE, CA does have a lot to say about gender roles and assumptions one has about the opposite sex--not your usual horror theme, but one well plumbed here. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Peter’s APOCALYPSE, CA might be exactly what you were looking for.

New on DVD & BluRay from The Asylum!!


Directed by Nick Lyon
Written by Brooks Peck & Craig Engler
Starring Ving “MuthaFukkin” Rhames, Taryn Manning, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Lilan Bowden
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Lifting from pretty much every zombie film you and I have seen is 2012: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Not a bad film--actually quite fun, in a lowbrow sort of way. But nowhere near the top of the zombie film list.

2012: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE starts out six months after the initial outbreak after a quick montage catches us up about a plague resulting in the dead walking and running about. Soon we find Ving “MuthaFukkin” Rhames bashing skulls with a sledge hammer with a band of survivors that look like they’ve leapt from clothes catalogs with trendy clothes and hairstyles. Rhames plays his usual gruff self, a role we’ve seen in three zombie films now, while the rest of the cast do their best lining up to be eaten one by one at the zombie all you can eat buffet.

One thing that bothered the hell out of me about 2012: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE was that the actors in this film could have used a weapons coach. SPARTACUS’s Lesley-Anne Brandt tries to do her best Michonne from THE WALKING DEAD, but swings her sword as if she doesn’t want to break a nail. Lilan Bowden is abso-tutely smoking hot, don’t get me wrong, but obviously has never shot a bow and arrow in her life by the way she holds it. Others use their weaponry as if they’ve never fired weapons in their life, yet, go figure, their accuracy with these weapons are spot on time and time again.

But aside from that, 2012: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE is a fun movie as long as you aren’t expecting anything too innovative. It’s your typical fight zombies—walk—fight zombies—talk deeply about stuff—fight zombies film with no real resolution or theme other than lining up the next zombie attack. The effects are pretty well done, though some of the computer effects are a bit distracting. Plus it’s got a zombie dog and a zombie tiger in it and Ving “MuthaFukkin” Rhames with a chainsaw, so it can’t be all that bad. Don’t want to heap too much praise on this by the numbers zombie flick, but 2012: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE hits all of those numbers decently and will sustain interest on a boring Sunday afternoon.

Advance Review!


Directed by Christopher Hatton
Written by Christopher Hatton
Starring Zoe Naylor, Graham Sibley, Lani John Tupu, Edward Foy, Jourdan Lee, Karina Sindicich, Peer Metze, Tonya Cornelisse
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I’ve read a couple of unfavorable reviews about this film, but wanted to check it out nevertheless because of the trailer. I’m glad I did. What attracted me to ROBOTROPOLIS was the Paul Verhoeven feel I got from the trailer. The scenes of these robots running amok reminded me of the batty utopian commercials which permeated both ROBOCOP and STARSHIP TROOPERS. The herky jerky robots of ROBOTROPOLIS seemed to be the bastard offspring of a Jawa droid sand transport from STAR WARS and the ED 209 robot that fought Robocop. I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to see the film.

Having seen the film, I understand the problems some might have with ROBOTROPOLIS, but despite that fact, it was a hell of a fun time. The main detractor of this film is the illusion of scope it tries to convey. Filmmaker Christopher Hatton tries to make a big budget film, but it falls short of epic despite the fairly fantastic robot effects. Hatton wants this film to be larger than life, but doesn’t seem to be able to fill the entire screen with the rampaging robots promised on the poster up above there. While there is a lot of action going on, the wide shots sometimes fail to achieve that grand scope because of limited extras and even more limited amount of rampaging robots.

Despite its failed promise of blockbuster epic-ness, ROBOTROPOLIS is a lot of fun. Like DISTRICT 9, this film, for the most part, seamlessly incorporates fantastic effects with real world actors on a low budget. Like the aforementioned Verhoeven films, Hatton has a nice comedic sensibility, making the robots interactions somewhat farcical and ironic as they serve as public servants to an oil rig island utopia walking kids to school and taking out trash for their masters.

The film also successfully mixes its story with news reports by following a newscrew (led by journalist Christine Nouveau, played by THE REEF’s Zoe Naylor) as they have the exclusive on an interview with the robot’s creator played with distinguished geek chic by Lani John Tupu which is interrupted by the on camera murder of a civilian by a robot. Soon all of the robots are attacking the human populace and the newscrew desperately struggle to survive.

This film ends before we know whether or not this robot rebellion becomes a worldwide phenomenon, so though the robot apocalypse is only hinted at here, it does do a decent job of depicting the beginning. I went into ROBOTROPOLIS with an open mind and came out entertained. With some decent acting and some nicely done effects, there’s a lot to like about ROBOTROPOLIS despite its shortcomings.

Advance Review; In select theaters in January 2012!


Directed by Xavier Gens
Written by Karl Mueller & Eron Sheean
Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, Lauren German, Ashton Holmes, Jennifer Blanc, Michael Eklund, Iván González, Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Finishing off our cadre of apocalyptic treats is THE DIVIDE which has been making its way around the festival circuit all year and will be released in select cities starting in January. The film was made by FRONTIER(S) and HITMAN director Xavier Gens. While I haven’t seen HITMAN, I have seen FRONTIER(S) and know that the guy can deliver some extremely powerful and horrific imagery, and he does so again here with THE DIVIDE, an apocalyptic thriller that goes ballz-deep into the well of madness before the credits roll.

The film literally opens with a bang as alarms go off in a city, followed by crowds of people scampering for some kind of shelter. Not much is known, but what these people do know if that their lives depend on finding a safe place to hole up in for a couple of hundred years. In the opening moments, a crusty looking Michael Biehn attempts to close a vault door, but not before a handful of random people force their way in. When the door shuts, THE DIVIDE is mostly a one locale nose-dive into madness for these survivors. As the food becomes scarce and the group gets stir crazy and radiation poisoned, THE DIVIDE becomes more like LORD OF THE FLIES than anything else.

The bleak depths this film ventures into is frightening in itself. Seeing HEROES Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Eklund go off the deep end is the true highlight here and makes for some of the most disturbing moments of the film. Eklund’s “moment”, when he repeats “It’s in the hair…” as he shaves his body bare and blames the radiation poisoning slowly eating them all away as residing in his follicles (eyebrows and all), made what little hair I have on my own head stand on end. I applaud both Ventimiglia and especially Eklund (who I’ve never seen before, but will look for in future films) for pitch black performances above and beyond the call of duty.

Courtney B. Vance attempts to be the conscience of the group, while Rosanna Arquette comes out of hiding as a mother pushed over the edge. HOSTEL PART II’s Lauren German rounds out the cast as the only sane mind of the group. All of the performances by this cast are top notch.

At times, things are somewhat contrived and occasionally characters do something out of the ordinary just to push the story along, but THE DIVIDE is an amazing character piece/one locale story allowing the actors to shine despite the dingy setting. With some truly harrowing moments and bold and brave performances from a top notch genre cast, this apocalyptic yarn is a must see when it goes into limited release next month.

And finally…here’s a damn cool apocalyptic short film called INTO THE VALLEY by Richard Foster. Bleak, but extremely well done. Enjoy the end of the end!

Hope to see you next year, folks!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment. He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and has just released FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees) You can order it here! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!

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