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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. We’ve got Christmas in July…er-August, some advance looks, and some twisted new DVD releases this week. But before we do that…there’s this!

The upcoming Australian adventure horror film THROWBACK is looking really cool. Here’s the first production diary from the set of the film. I’m really looking forward to checking this film out. Here’s a taste of THROWBACK…

I reviewed THE CORRIDOR a while back and interviewed the director Evan Kelly here. Now the film is available on DVD, so those of you who read the articles and asked when the film was going to be available to the masses now have a chance to pick it up on DVD. It’s a very cool film, so be sure to seek it out!

Want to make movie magic happen? The folks behind the film BASEMENT BUGS have started a Kickstarter campaign to complete their film. They’re already almost halfway there, but need your help to finish their film. Here’s the official synopsis: BASEMENT BUGS is an atmospheric descent into suffering about a desperate young man who hears a rumor that his apartment building's shivery superintendent may have a secret safe locked away in the basement. Taking advantage of a building-wide fumigation, the young man breaks into the private space of the superintendent - only to be consumed by the gnawing terror that awaits him.

Check out their Kickstarter page for more info.

I got word of another Kickstarter campaign for the cult horror novel THE BIG HEAD by Edward Lee. Now, the story is being turned into a film and again, you can be a part of it. Here’s the official synopsis: Who, or what, is THE BIGHEAD? A mutated psychopath? An inbred homicidal freak? A maniac sent from Hades itself? Or something far, far worse... Whatever it is, it's been cutting a swath through the backwoods of Appalachia, leaving a trail of blood and horror in its wake.

Sounds kind of cool. If you think so too, visit the Kickstarter page for more info. And here’s the teaser trailer for the film that definitely has me rooting for this one to be made.

One last bit of Kickstarter news; >I reviewed THE SELLING a while backSo if you’d like to be able to check out THE SELLING at a theater neat you, check out the Kickstarter page to support it!

Alright, let’s check out some films, eh?

(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-Review: THE CHILDREN (1980)
X-Mas in July—er…August! A CADAVER CHRISTMAS (2011)
X-Mas in July—er…August!-Advance Review: CAESAR & OTTO’S DEADLY X-MAS (2012)
THE HUNT (2012)
And finally…Jerry Pyle’s BURN!

New on DVD from Troma, of course!


Directed by Max Kalmanowicz
Written by Carlton T. Albright & Edward Terry
Starring Martin Shakar, Gil Rogers, Gale Garnett
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

` I kind of love the shit out of this low budget 80’s schlocker from the makers of one of my favorite films LUTHER THE GEEK. Max Kalmanowicz seems to share my fear of kids asking for hugs which is evident from this film about a school bus full of kids which drives through a cloud of radioactive gas from a nearby leaky nuclear power plant. The result is some extremely twisted fun as the kids wander across a small town and burn everyone they hug into smoking husks.

The thing that works so well in THE CHILDREN is it’s simplicity. The kids are emotionless with painted bags under their eyes and black fingernails. The prosthetics and makeup is saved for the burn aftermath effects of their victims, which for the time, is extremely effective. There’s something about these hollow eyes kids screaming “Mommy!” and reaching their lifeless arms outward that pushes my Creep O Meter off the chart.

The film also takes some very twisted turns as it pits families against their most cherished members. This was a time when films like FOOD OF THE GODS and PROPHECY were dealing with the same issue of the fear of nuclear power and the Cold War. By allowing that destructive power to snake its way into children, a family’s most prized possession, it literally drives the point home. In THE CHILDREN, the victims are lured in because of the monster’s seemed innocent and it’s not until it’s too late that they realize that the threat of nuclear power is upon them. Though the final twist could be seen from a mile away, it still packs an impact as we realize that no child is safe, which in return means no family is safe.

But it’s not all dense themes at play here. This is a goofy movie. The fact that the kids have to have their hands chopped off in order to kill them is both somewhat lame and chilling all at once resulting in some truly surreal scenes of dead children piled on top of one another with amputated hands scattered about them.

Despite it’s hokey 80’s premise, THE CHILDREN is truly awesome and deserves to be checked out. Thank TROMA (of course) for dusting off this little gem. This is a film that will creep underneath and fester more so than many films of its kind because of the contradicting imagery of cute little kids asking for affection that quickly takes a deadly turn.

Available October 9th on DVD!


Directed by Joseph Zerull
Written by Joseph Zerull, Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, & Daniel Rairden-Hale
Starring Daniel Rairden-Hale, Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, Yosh Hayashi, Ben Hopkins, Andrew Harvey, Jesseca Denney, Edward O’Ryan, Michael Kennedy
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Merry muther fuggin X-Mas, folks! Now I know it’s the sweltering days of summer, but I’ve always wondered why we only enjoy the holiday movies during the holidays. Why not check them out all year round. This festive Christmas tale surprised me a lot in it’s straight up, pitch black tone and surprisingly good comic delivery. I’d place this film along the same lines of recent retro-themed, grind house films as THE DISCO EXORCIST and FATHER’S DAY. It definitely uses the Grindhouse filter with scratches on the film and hairs on the lens more effectively than the off and on usage of the effect when convenient in Tarantino/Rodriguez’s GRINDHOUSE. Even though my sweaty brow worked hard to remind me we were in the dog days of summer, A CADAVER CHRISTMAS did a great job of bringing in that Christmas cheer, albeit in a truly wicked style.

Everything seems hunky dorey as a bartender and a regular are tipping back the shots and beers on Christmas Eve until the Janitor, played by writer/actor Daniel Rairden-Hale shows up covered in blood and asking for a stiff drink. As he downs the alcohol, he tells the two bar patrons about his night, which consists of witnessing the beginnings of a zombie holocaust at a local school science lab. The action brings a police officer and his perp to the bar, and soon the five unlikely zombie killing warriors must use their skills, though somewhat limited as they are, to fend off scores and scores of zombies.

Kind of acting as the reverse Bizzarro version of SHAUN OF THE DEAD which climaxed in a bar, this zom-com opens in one, but quickly distincts itself from SHAUN by moving the action mainly into a school.

What separates A CADAVER CHRISTMAS from the herd of zombie films on the shelves out there is that it is genuinely funny and incorporates not only many Christmas themes that have been relatively untouched in horror (sitting alone at a bar a Christmas time, for one). The film also very effectively uses some age old Christmas songs such as O HOLY NIGHT in an absolutely genius manner which many with a propensity to thump bibles would most likely find offensive, but had me rolling nevertheless.

With some great comic performances by the cast and a fantastic usage of gore, music, and action, A CADAVER CHRISTMAS is a must for all of you who enjoy the ghoulish side of the holidays.

Advance Review!


Directed by Dave Campfield
Written by Dave Campfield & Joe Randazzo
Starring Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, Deron Miller, Ken MacFarlane, Linnea Quigley, Summer Ferguson, Scott Aguilar, Avi K. Garg, Samantha Barrios, Robin Ritter, Joe Estevez, Lloyd Kaufman, Debbie Rochon, Felissa Rose, Brinke Stevens, Robert Z'Dar
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Having watched CAESAR & OTTO’S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE just a few short months ago, I have to say I am impressed with the leap in quality this film accomplishes from one film to the next. Writer/director/Caesar actor Dave Campfield does a much better job with tightening the script here with CAESAR & OTTO’S DEADLY X-MAS and while not all of the comedy hits it out of the park, it does have a much better batting average than its predecessor.

The film follows our lovable duo Caesar and Otto as the holiday season approaches. Attempting to make it big in Hollywood, Caesar continues to take low tier acting jobs as stand ins, background players, and in this film’s case department store Santas. Though it is not entirely original in concept, it’s Campfield’s chipper delivery which amps up the charm here. There’s also a nice subplot about Otto catching up with an old flame and Caesar’s bumbling cohort always is worth a chortle or two as he inadvertently thwarts Caesar’s complex schemes for super stardom.

Don’t expect miracles from the acting department. But do expect cameos from Joe Estevez (Martin’s brother), Lloyd (TROMA) Kaufman, Debbie Rochon, Felissa (SLEEPAWAY CAMP) Rose, Brinke Stevens, Robert (MANIAC COP) Z'Dar, and Linnea Quigley who reenacts her death scene from SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT. This film serves as a regular Sunday afternoon at a comic convention autograph booth with the amount of B-Z listers showing up, but good for them for getting work.

The horror comes from a demented lunatic in a Santa costume who is checking off everyone who skipped attending Caesar’s holiday party, among others. Though relatively bloodless, there are a few scenes of gore that play for laughs rather than winces and work most of the time (especially the aforementioned SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT homage). This film does serve to homage quite a few horror films of old that are set during the Christmas season (everything from sequels of SNDN to Pheobe Cates’ Santa story in GREMLINS is referenced), and it’s this self awareness that brings most of the charm here.

Again, this is low budget and campy to the nth degree, but having seen the last Caesar and Otto romp and this one, the improvements made to the script, directing, and most importantly the tightening of the bolts making up the comedy pairing of Caesar and Otto themselves have me looking forward to the comedy duo’s next adventure.  Caesar and Otto, like Abbot and Costello and Tenacious D before them, are always an entertaining comedy duo to watch and bring a lot of genuine humor to the horror genre; a genre that needs to laugh at itself from time to time. 

New on DVD from MVD Visual!


Directed by Darin Wood
Written by Darin Wood
Starring Liesel Hanson, Jawara Duncan, Stephanie Hyden, Keith Letl, Paquita Estrada, Ashley Marino, Robert Michael Haley
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though many will be tough on this one for it’s cheesy effects and even cheesier line delivery from a cast that was obviously chosen for their looks and not acting skills, I was shocked at how entertained I was by this sleazy little space horror film. Though this film seems more akin to the low budget sci horror themed films of the fifties and sixties, PLANET OF THE VAMPIRE WOMEN gives the sci fi horror genre a deep long slow hug and doesn’t let go until the gore soaked finale.

Of course, this one starts in an intergalactic strip club and the attention to the girls dancing and the jiggling chesticles does make this film ripe for an appearance on late night Skinemax, I’m sure. But PLANET OF THE VAMPIRE WOMEN quickly drops its titillation for the most part to give us a film that takes its science fiction pretty seriously, even though the effects are bottom of the barrel computer animation. Despite that, I was charmed by the way the whole cast treated the script as if Shakespeare himself wrote it delivering lines about pleasure clones, space monsters, warp drives, and distant moons with nary a quivering lip or mock for the camera.

I also loved the monsters in this film which would make Sid and Marty Kroftt proud. Some of the moon monsters look as if they are straight from LAND OF THE LOST. Actually, minus the boobies which pop up and out every now and then, writer/director Darin Wood treats this material with the same acceptance of goofy sci fi effects and lore in the same serious tone as those old LAND OF THE LOST Saturday morning episodes.

The ending brings us right back to a bar filled with curvy cuties, all ready to be fanged and then battled by our space Van Helsings. Though most of the effects consisted of splattering corn syrup across faces and bodies, it still looked effective.

Light on scares, but heavy on fun, PLANET OF THE VAMPIRE sports a bevy of gorgeous women (some fanged, some not), but the real charmer here is the tone and script which won’t be lauded as a masterpiece, but still makes this hour thirty running time speed by. And as the credits role, I think you’ll be as surprised at how much fun you had with this film as I was.

New on DVD!

THE HUNT (2012)

Directed by Thomas Szczepanski
Written by Francois Gaillard & Thomas Szczepanski
Starring Jellali Mouina, Sarah Lucide, Michael Coste, Marie Christine Jeanney, Zuriel De Pesloan, Frederic Sassine
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

THE HUNT is another low budget film that relies on highly ratcheted tension in order to save itself. The story follows a down on his luck filmmaker/photographer who somehow falls into the middle of a game where high society types hunt people for the thrill of it and a cash payoff in the end. Though this type of film has been done before, I found this one to be pretty effective.

What impressed me the most is the fact that a lot of this film is scriptless, relying on the action and the characters faces to convey the tension. Director/writer Thomas Szczepanski (with some help from co-writer Francois Gaillard) deliver a really nice little action film with horrific twists and do not feel the need to stuff this one with ‘splosions or high concept set pieces. It’s just straight up action in the vein of a Peckinpah or Walter Hill. There are even a few cool scenes of the masked hunters which are effectively scary as well.

This one is not going to blow your socks off, but if you’re looking for a retelling of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, this is a decent take on it. THE HUNT never rests once the action gets going and hurdles its modest budget by filling it with scares and twists that never make you miss the high budget stuff.

New this week on DVD!


Directed by Adam Rehmeier
Written by Adam Rehmeier & Rodleen Getsic
Starring Rodleen Getsic, Norwood Fisher, Gregg Gilmore, Paul Ill, Loki, Drettie Page, Jeff F. Renfro
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

So say you’re walking along the side of the road and a semi truck pulls up next to you and the scuzzy old guy inside asks you to get in. Now say, you lack the better judgment to say “No, thank you, scuzzy old guy. I think I’m fine walking.” and get in the car. Now already if you got in, we’ve established that you lack good judgment if you got in, but since you did get in, I feel the need to inform you that if said scuzzy old guy asks you if you want to play something called the Bunny Game, the word “Sure.” should never, EVER pass your mouth hole.

Proving that there’s always lower to go, THE BUNNY GAME scrapes through the bottom of the barrel when it comes to torture porn depravity. Now, I know there’s a market for this. There’s no other reason for it to be out there if there wasn’t. But I’ll bet THE BUNNY GAME will make even the most hardcore of you wince a bit.

Inside this film is rape, prostitution, torture, drug use, nudity, humiliation, shaving, objectification, foul language, loud music, suffocation, bondage, and bunny costumes. Now some of you might find that awesome, but without a story to hinge it upon, it makes me wonder what the point of it all is. There is a story of sorts; a prostitute who has next to nothing is abducted by a gnarly looking trucker and tortured for a week in the back of his trailer in the middle of the desert, but as far as story arcs, climaxes, internal conflicts, and resonant resolutions, you’re going to come up empty handed once the credits roll. Some can say that this is film at it’s most bare bones. It unapologetically is torture porn and while I might admire it for not even attempting insult the viewer by trying to weave a plot in between the acts of torture as with the SAW films, I had a lot of trouble sitting and watching one woman being treated in such a horrific manner. Sure there is a sliver of hope for the lead actress in the end with a resolution which leaves us wondering if she is crying because she knows she’s being freed or accepting death as a reward, but even though I am jaded at most horror films these days, this once got to me.

And for that, it does categorize itself as an effective horror film for me. It made me uncomfortable, as all good horror does. It also made me feel pity for the women tortured, so it was able to incite emotion, which is what a film should do. Because of that, I can separate my distaste for the subject matter and say that it does press all of the right buttons to ensure unease. Writer/director Adam Rehmeier edits the film frantically filling the screen with extremely quick cuts, slurred and blurred imagery, and grinding industrial music. Rehmeier definitely knows how to set a tone of unease and does so by assaulting the eyes and ears until they need bandages and a morning after pill.

Is THE BUNNY GAME a good horror story? No. Its function is to make you uncomfortable. Apart from knowing the prostitute is a drug addict and scraping through the shit of life and the trucker is a depraved lunatic torturer, not a lot of character happens. There’s an arc, but this is simply one chess piece putting another chess piece through living hell. That’s just not a story to me. This functions much more like the non stories the MTV generation is used to which attempt to assault the senses with risqué imagery and noise that makes you feel like you’re in an anvil factory. I can appreciate the film as horrific and if the story would be as strong as the imagery playing out in black and white, the director might be on to something here. But without a story or characters to be invested in, THE BUNNY GAME serves only to make the viewer uncomfortable. I know it worked that way with me.

This trailer is absotively, posilutely not fucking safe for work!!!

And finally…Jerry Pyle brings us BURN a twisted revenge tale that definitely leaves a mark. The tagline says “Revenge is best served burned.” And so it does. Check out this wicked little flick and don’t feel bad for wincing a few times. I sure did upon watching. Enjoy this NOT SAFE FOR WORK short film…Jerry Pyle’s BURN!

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 late 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 March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.

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