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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. But before we do that…there’s this!

I reviewed FAMILIAR, an amazing short film here a while back. Here’s a clip from this psychologically shredding and gut-twistingly gory film…

Find out where you can see FAMILIAR here!

THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL is starting its world tour this week. Terrance Zdunich and Darren Lynn Bousman’s twisted musical follow up to REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA sports a truly fantastic soundtrack starring artists such as Paul Sorvino, Alexa Vega & her Woe-Maidens, Emilie Autumn, Ogre from Skinny Puppy, Sean Patrick Flanery, and more! You can download the soundtrack here and be on the lookout for THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL’s world tour when it rolls through your town! Find out showtimes and places here!

I got this message the other day from the maniacs at ASTRON-6, the folks behind FATHER’S DAY (reviewed here on AICN HORROR a while back).

“Adam Brooks of ASTRON-6 and FATHER'S DAY wants your help to make the next Astron-6 feature film happen! If we achieve our goal or at least come close - FIREMAN will be more insane than FATHER'S DAY! It will be directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy and star many of the Astron-6 regulars you've come to know and love! If we don't achieve our goal, we will put the money raised into our next short film, and move the Astron-6 suicide pact a little closer.”

Check out this trailer to FIREMAN below. “STOP, DROP AND DIE!!!” I love it!

ASTRON-6 made FATHER’S DAY the same way; by making a trailer first, then filming the movie. Help keep ASTRON-6 alive and make FIREMAN a reality by checking out ASTRON-6’s website and contributing to the cause here!

In Chicago? Well, those planning on going to C2E2 are going to find themselves between a rock and a hard place as Chicago is also hosting THE CHICAGO FEAR FEST to be held next weekend (April 13-14, 2012) at the Muvico Theaters Rosemont 18, 9701 Bryn Mawr Avenue, ROSEMONT, IL. Films showing at the fest will be REC 3, JUAN OF THE DEAD, HATCHET 2, ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS ZOMBIES and many more indie horror films and shorts! I’ll try my best to pull double duty reporting and appearing at both C2E2 and this Flashback Weekend hosted event! Find out more about this awesome horror event for Chicagoans here!

Now, let’s get right to this week’s tricks and treats, shall we?

(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-review: NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS (1975)
Advance Review: PURIFICATION (2012)
Advance Review: FORGETTING THE GIRL (2012)
Advance Review: ATM (2012)
And finally…Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark: Harold!

New on DVD/BluRay from Blue Underground!


Directed by Aldo Lado
Written by Roberto Infascelli, Renato Izzo, Aldo Lado, Ettore Sanzò
Starring Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo, Flavio Bucci, Gianfranco De Grassi, Macha Meril, Enrico Maria Salerno and Marina Berti
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

If only Samuel L. Jackson were a superstar in the mid-1970’s he could have starred in this and we could have called it RAPES ON A TRAIN!!!


Is this thing on?


OK, far be it from me to joke about the subject of rape but someone has to bring a little levity to this dour little number. Directed by Aldo Lado, NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is basically LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT on a train as a pair of rebellious miscreants sneak onto a train and terrorize some of the passengers. Soon, the two creeps trap a pair of young ladies in a sleeping car and rape and threaten them for most of the night. As happens in these things, the killers cross paths with the parents of these girls and are the targets of their vicious vengeance once their crime is revealed. Maybe it’s not the most original concept, but it is a pretty brutal and twisted little story.

The film starts innocently enough, as our two female soon to be victims flit around Europe talking about taking a train to Rome. At the same time, we see the two freaks (one of which looks a lot like David Hess’ Krug and the other looking like Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers) causing chaos by breaking laws, stealing things, and beating up folks. It’s obvious that these two will be crossing paths and the filmmakers take their sweet time bringing them together. Unlike Wes Craven’s LAST HOUSE, Lado chooses to be pretty obvious about having his parents blatantly stating at a cocktail party that they will not resort to violence on another human being. Sure enough, forty minutes later, pops is skewering one of the killers with a coat rack and blows the other away with a shotgun.

Those rushing to pan this film, though, for being a ripoff of LAST HOUSE OF THE LEFT should know that LHOTL was actually inspired by a Swedish film called THE VIRGIN SPRING. NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is absolutely vicious during the rape scenes, maybe even more horrible to watch than the original LAST HOUSE. The fact that the crime happens in the claustrophobic cabin of a train instead of the expansive forest in LAST HOUSE even makes the scene all the more hard to take. Lado goes to sick depths with NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS only hinted at in LAST HOUSE, especially with the uncaring way the rapists dispose of the dead body of one of the girls by tossing her from the train window.

NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is not a fun film to sit through, but it does illustrate the horror of rape (and some might say, emulate since much of the film is spent on the hellish ordeal of the girls trapped in a traincar with rapists while the retribution only last for about five minutes before the end credits). Not for the squeamish or light of heart, but why the hell are those folks reading this column anyway? NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS is a ripoff, but still a horrific film.

New on DVD from Brain Damage Films/Midnight Releasing!


Directed by Ryan Fowler & Robbie Ribspreader
Written by Robbie Ribspreader
Starring Lawrence Griffin, Mia Chiarella, Ann Pratten, Katie Foster, J. Mooy, Carleen Troy
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

This little low budgeteer surprised me at how effective it was. Though the acting is not fantastic and the effects are pretty rudimentary, Ryan Fowler and Robbie Ribspreader have put together a nice little literary horror film in THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE. Though it views like a distant cousin to STEPHEN KING’S THE DARK HALF in that it involves a writer suffering from Writer’s Block aka The Midnight Disease (like the title of the movie, yo!), THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE still stands up due to a strong script.

Comparisons to THE DARK HALF are imminent, though instead of a murder of crows haunting Timothy Hutton, we’ve got Lawrence Griffin doing a decent job as everyman Jack Jones, a writer in need of inspiration. When a mysterious package containing a jar of blood arrives on his doorstep, his life changes for the better when a vampire creature walks out of his closet, drinks the blood, and then sits down to write a chapter of his new novel for him. Soon, Jack needs more chapters, but he needs to supply the blood himself. When he gets sick of letting his own blood for the vampiric muse, he does what any man in need of a dead body does—he goes out and picks up hookers, of course.

Having just seen and reviewed the original LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, this film surprisingly follows the narrative of Corman’s classic as Jones flirts with stardom and having a relationship with a bouncy neighbor interested in his writing. Of course, murdering a shit-ton of prostitutes has its consequences and things don’t work out as planned.

As I said above, the real strength of this film lies in the script. There are interesting turns taken as well as a nice amount of humor peppered throughout. Griffin is likable as Jack, and though when he takes his dark path he starts to get his full Jack Torrence on, he still pulls it off. The film maintains a nice moralistic code focusing on the depths some will go to channel their artistic muse. Though it does borrow heavily from the works of King, having Jack’s bookshelf fully stocked with King books lets you know that it isn’t trying to be sneaky about it. THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE is a refreshing indie that uses familiar King subject matter, but does so well.

New on DVD from Brain Damage Films/Midnight Releasing!


Directed by Jason Stoddard
Written by Jason Stoddard
Starring Leslie Easterbrook, Kane Hodder, J.D. Hart, Michele Grey, Katie Holland, Daniel Jones, Cody Allen
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Man, this is a tough film. I have to give props to Leslie Easterbrook, who up till now hasn’t really shown this type of range in her appearances in Rob Zombie’s films and of course, the POLICE ACADEMY films. In THE AFFLICTED, Easterbrook plays abusive mother Maggie, who flips her shit when her husband Hank (played surprisingly well by former Jason Voorhees, Kane Hodder) threatens to leave her. After she offs him in the first five minutes, she continues on a downward spiral abusing her three daughters and recruiting her son to do her heavy lifting. THE AFFLICTED, like many other films involving torture and abuse, is a hard pill to swallow, but that doesn’t make it less of an effective picture of an abusive parent.

Not since MOMMY DEAREST have we had such a maternal loon on our hands. Here, Maggie is a whiskey swilling, evangelical TV watching tormentor to her family. After shooting one of the girls for talking back to her and trying to get the counselor at school to help her, she handcuffs her to the bathtub. Soon, Maggie finds the bills stacking up, so she begins prostituting out her girls to anyone with extra cash. Mother of the year, this is woman is not.

Jason Stoddard’s camera is unblinking as the abuse plays out and I have to admit to squirming quite a bit at the way Maggie’s daughters are tormented one by one. Retribution, of course, is delivered in the end, but with the tagline at the beginning stating that this is a true story, the echoes of the abuse reverberate long after the credits.

Still, Easterbrook offers up a brave performance of an ugly yet believable abusive parent. I hated her by the end of this film, which means she did her job well. THE AFFLICTED is not for everyone, but stands out for its bold performances and its ability to burrow into the viewer’s brainpan.

Advance Review: In select theaters this weekend!


Directed by Joe Ciminera
Written by Joe Ciminera
Starring Joe Ciminera, Natalie Swan, Danielle Ventura, Michael Edwards Jr., Anthony Rosas Jr., Daniella Ventura
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug


Though pretty predictable, PURIFICATION does a decent job of telling AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE/CARNIVAL OF SOULS style tale about a selfish landlord who is nearly run down in traffic and then begins seeing dead people all over the place. If you’ve seen any of the films I compared this one to above I’ve probably given away the “twist” of the film, but five minutes in I predicted this twist, so it’s not like it ruins the film or anything. Though it projected its ending from nearly the opening credits, PURIFICATION makes the ride to the revelation a fun ride nevertheless.

The acting is decent in this one with actor/director/writer Joe Ciminera doing a decent job in front of as well as behind the camera. Ciminera plays Bret, a bossy and uncaring landlord who happily serves eviction notices and basically does his best Scrooge impression as we get to know him in the opening scenes. After the near miss accident, Brett starts seeing things somewhat differently. Shades of JACOB’S LADDER come into play as a doctor offers him help and advice and seems to be the only person on his side in this twisted world Bret is walking around in. Soon, Bret becomes savvy to what’s going on as he relives the stories of folks he touches on his walk through the New York streets.

Though some of these stories are cliché--the raped woman sees her persecutor on every street corner, the junkie OD’s and still talks with Bret, the cop beats a hobo--Ciminera tells each of these stories in a cohesive and logical manner. Decently performed and directed, yet I saw the twist from a mile away, PURIFICATION ain’t all bad.

Advance Review: Currently touring festivals!


Directed by Nate Taylor
Written by Peter Moore Smith
Starring Christopher Denham, Lindsay Beamish, Elizabeth Rice, Paul Sparks, Anna Camp, Phyllis Somerville, Joel de la Fuente
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though it might be a bit of a stretch to call this film a straight up horror movie, it surely isn’t a stretch to brand FORGETTING THE GIRL as the favorite film I saw this week. The film, written as a short story by Peter Moore Smith and adapted to screen by the same author, is an electrifying dissection of a damaged man dealing with flawed logic and social handicaps in his own unhealthy way.

Christopher Denham is absolutely amazing in the starring role of Kevin Wolfe, a likable yet socially awkward professional photographer who makes it a point to ask out every girl he photographs. Occasionally, playing the odds, some of them even accept his offer for a date, but Kevin being socially deficient somehow scares them away with his intensity and tendency to take things a bit too fast (professing his love after one date, for example). In order to get over his rejections and failed attempts at connection, Kevin deals with this in sometimes healthy ways, like reading a book or taking up a new hobby, or sometimes unhealthy ways like obsessing about them, calling them relentlessly, and most often more severe deviant and malicious behavior towards his rejectors or anyone else who happens to be in his vicinity.

Just from this description, it’s pretty obvious that FORGETTING THE GIRL is not your typical horror film in that the terrors at play here are much more on a psychological level. Kevin is a deeply disturbed individual scarred by an event from his past that left deep emotional wounds. As Kevin’s failed relationships pile up and his deviant behavior expands and grows more dangerous, the film works its way to a climax that is both shocking and emotionally resonant long after the credits.

The highlight here, and the thing that sells this complex character piece, is actor Christopher Denham who also appeared in SHUTTER ISLAND as an inmate. In this film, Denham plays a typical Norman Bates type character: seemingly harmless and downright charming one minute, bound to pounce on you the next. The emotional ride this actor is able to take the viewer on is mesmerizing and definitely assures this actor as someone who will one day be a star to take note of. Denham’s confession to the viewer with a slideshow playing in the background is an amazing way to peel back the mask of normalcy Denham’s Kevin character wears to reveal a deeply troubled soul.

If you like your horror on the psychological side, FORGETTING THE GIRL is a surefire pleaser. Directed tightly and meticulously, acted superbly, thematically emotionally crippling, FORGETTING THE GIRL is a film not easily forgotten.

FORGETTING THE GIRL is currently touring the festival circuit. Find out more info as to where and when you can see this film here! It is definitely worth seeking out.

Available on VOD from IFC Midnight. In select theaters today!

ATM (2012)

Directed by David Brooks
Written by Chris Sparling
Starring Alice Eve, Josh Peck, & Brian Geraghty
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I always have to tip my hat to films that tell a story from one locale. Much like the found footage framework, the success or failure of these types of films has to do with the way the filmmakers sell the premise. Whether it is the reason why our cameraman doesn’t drop the camera or why our victims must stay in a particular locale, it’s the filmmaker’s job to make this work. In ATM, the premise in question is, how do you film a whole movie with the protagonists trapped inside of an ATM station without losing the audience’s interest and add extra weight to the ever ready fast-forward thumb?

For the most part, the filmmakers behind ATM are successful in setting up this scenario. After a quick snippet of our villain, a man in a furry hoodie jacket working meticulously over blueprints in an unknown locale, we skip to an office party where we are introduced to our heroes, David (Brian Geraghty) and Corey (Josh Peck of Nickelodeon’s DRAKE AND JOSH fame). The two friends quickly establish that David is the worrying type while Corey is the freewheeler. We also find out that David harbors a crush on his co-worker Emily (and who wouldn’t, when that co-worker is SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE’s Alice Eve?). After those threads of plot are tossed out, we quickly move to placing our three heroes into a secluded ATM station in the middle of the night. Soon furry hoodie man shows up and the trio find themselves trapped inside, fearful of what this mysterious and threatening man might do if they leave.

Though the meticulous planning the unnamed, unidentified villain goes to in order to trap these three people reaches SAW machination levels of implausibility, the strength of the three actors sells this film. The actors are likable (though Josh Peck is supposed to be smarmy and does so in a capable manner here) which makes you actually give a shit whether hoodie man beats them to death or not.

The ending of this film attempts to be twisty, but takes quite a few leaps in logic in order to sell the pill they are offering viewers to swallow after viewing this traumatic ordeal. Still, I admire director David Brooks and writer Chris Sparling for successfully selling the premise to me as a viewer in that I bought into the fact that these three young adults are trapped in an ATM and it sustained my interest in this premise for the entire running time. Like FROZEN, OPEN WATER, and BURIED (which Sparling also wrote) before it, ATM proves to be a single locale thriller that has some nice thrills, some brutal kills, and a bit farfetched but still entertaining premise.

And finally…let’s take another trip back to yesteryear to a story I read many, many moons ago from SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK called HAROLD! Enojy!

See ya, next week, folks!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released in March 2012.


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