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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. Before we dive into the reviews, here are a few news bits of worth.

After posting the Kickstarter page for HARBINGER DOWN a few days ago, I’ve been following the progress pretty closely and seeing it creep closer and closer to its goal. This film made by the FX folks behind ALIEN, TERMINATOR, and tons of other films we all love and whose work was glossed over with CG imagery in the recent THE THING remake promises both Lance Henricksen and practical effects the like of which we rarely see these days in films. Now it looks like it’s reached its goal! It’s so cool that this project got the final support it needs. If you want to continue donating, the Kickstarter is open a few more hours! The campaign raised over $100,000 in these final three days alone, which is no small feat, so congratulations to everyone at HARBINGER DOWN! Now go make a kick ass practical effects horror film!!!

Here’s a preview of the film!

Another Kickstarter that looks to be a good one is the one for PERSONAL DEMONS, a film written and directed by Adam Cosco. It doesn’t have vampires or zombies or even witches--just a good old psycho moving next door to a troubled writer. The teaser trailer below gave me both thrills and a couple of chuckles. And if it did for you too, skip on over to their Kickstarter page and show some support! Best of luck to the PERSONAL DEMONS crew!

PERSONAL DEMONS Kickstarter Trailer from Adam Cosco on Vimeo.

No self-respecting horror fan in the Phoenixville, PA area should miss this one. The 14th Annual BlobFest will be taking place July 12-14th. This celebration of 1958’s THE BLOB culminates with a “Run Out Reenactment” from the Colonial Theater, which sounds like it would be too cool for words--or, if this occurs at rush hour, could be something rather problematic. Either way this seems to be an amazing event celebrating one of my favorite sci-fi films in the city it was filmed. The second feature of this fest is THE DEADLY MANTIS (1957) about (what else?) a giant praying mantis which causes a lot of trouble and eats a lot of people. Find out more info on this amazingly blobby event here!

Finally, I’ve got a new teaser trailer for the film, THE NIGHT VISITOR which describes itself as: When a suburban couple hires a new age spiritualist to help with their troubled marriage, her advice to video their lives 24/7 to help reunite the family turns out to reveal their son is having conversations with an unseen entity calling itself the Night Visitor.

The film is currently in post and more info about it can be found here and on more info about it can be found here Facebook here!

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

SADAKO 3D (2012)
DETOUR (2013)

Available now on DVD from Reality Entertainment!


Directed by William Burke
Written by William Burke
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I’m not going to spend much time on this one. It’s a documentary style set of ghost stories following a set of paranormal investigators who both recite the histories of such haunted sites as The Devil’s Stairs, Gallow’s Hill, and Waverly Hills Sanitarium, most of which have been covered to a greater extent on GHOST HUNTERS and shows like that. If you’re a sucker for these shows, then most likely you’ll find these mildly amusing, mainly because of the historical significance of the sites explored.

What you most likely will find somewhat humorous are the amateur ghost hunters roaming around these spooky grounds. One of the Scooby Doo teams even has a medium who reads the energies in the air. What’s funny is that these groups of investigators take these investigations for really realsy. Seeing some housewives walk around in the woods talking about K2 meters and orbs rings in as both sad and entertaining all at once.

Add some really bad special effects and you’ve got a lot budget collection of shorts that may mildly entertain and spook slightly.

Available now on DVD & Digital Download!
(Find this film on Netflix here)!


Directed by Ken Winkler
Written by Ken Winkler & Eric Rucker
Starring Nicole Moore, Scott Wilson, Scott Mitchell Nelson, Douglas Bennett, Ronnie Gene Blevins
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Take elements from Mary Shelley’s classic and mix them with a modern heist story and you’ve got KISS THE ABYSS, an ambitious little pic that despite its budget actually reaches most of the big goals it sets for itself. With some snappy practical effects and a pretty kick ass premise, I was surprised how much I dug this little indie number.

The film switches back and forth between the brightly colored past and the blue hued present throughout the running time. In the past, a couple, Lesley and Mark, try to live a peaceful, happy life, though the neighbors are constantly arguing and they suffer financial woes. Pretty mundane problems until tragedy strikes when Lesley (Nicole Moore) is murdered, and Mark (Scott Wilson) will stop at nothing to get her back, and that means driving out into the boonies with her father and bumbling brother to see a nomad about a process that reverses death.

Yes, when the plot is explained it sounds hokey, but this one is played pretty straight. The dour mood runs throughout with only the bumbling brother and the creepy hermit scientist providing some breaks in the drama, but even those moments are of the blackest kind of humor. The hermit scientist, played by Ronnie Gene Blevins ,is pretty good too, and by good I mean, he’s good and getting you to hate his character. The true standout of this film is the effects. Some are more subtle, as in the contact lenses making the resurrected seem somewhat unhuman, while retaining human characteristics. But then you get the full body appliance that the character of Alyssa wears and you see that there were some really talented folks behind this film.

All around, the acting in KISS THE ABYSS is not top notch, but it serves the script well. I’m sure a stronger cast would have elevated this film to another level. But with some top quality special effects and a clever spin on an age old story, KISS THE ABYSS is going to surprise you if you give it a chance.

New on Video on Demand from Phase 4 Films!


Directed by Braden Croft
Written by Braden Croft
Starring Alex D. Mackie, Brittney Grabill, Ryland Alexander, Alex D. Mackie, Diane Wallace, Zachary Parsons-Lozinski, Samara Sedmak
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Reminiscent of both CLEAN, SHAVEN and BUFFALO 66, HEMORRAGE is an effective thriller with strong performances from a fresh pair of lead actors and some truly impressive restraint on the part of the director. This is a tale of a man trying to crawl out of a pit of madness and discovering how slippery the walls truly are.

HEMORRAGE starts out with a mash-up of different film stocks and styles. For a second it is a mock doc style as a psychiatrist is being interviewed about a particular patient. Then we are given scenes of actual brain operations and x-rays of the human noggin. After this mish mash of graphic and disturbing imagery we are introduced to Oliver, played by talented newcomer Alex D. Mackie. Like Peter Greene’s masterful performance as a man struggling with schizophrenia in CLEAN, SHAVEN, Mackie shows great range as the withdrawn and socially awkward Oliver. Though he attempts to reach out and join the real world and attests that he “wants to be a good person”, his mental instability prohibits that at every turn. When Oliver meets a nurse at the abortion clinic he works at as a janitor, things start out sweet enough, but Ray has difficulty keeping it together and soon things go horribly wrong. Brittney Grabill does a fantastic job as Claire, the nurse who is utterly conflicted in her feelings toward Oliver. At first, she is interested in him, but as Oliver’s symptoms begin to seep through, interest turns to fear posthaste.

And here’s where HEMORRAGE gets a little weird. Though some would think Grabill’s character would be absolutely freaked out by Oliver’s behavior, she decides to accompany him to his sister’s house. As awkward as Christina Ricci’s visit to Vincent Gallo’s house in BUFFALO 66 was, this visit is every bit as awkward, though much less sweet. Claire seems to feel sorry for Oliver, and though she is often bound and gagged by the psychopath, a twisted little love story begins to unfold here.

HEMORRAGE surprised the hell out of me and I absolutely never knew which way this one was going to go. I knew nothing good was going to come of the relationship between Ray and Claire as Oliver’s edges fray more and more, but part of me was hoping this bizarre little romance could somehow work out. This film is flooded with psychological horror and those interested in the mind and all of the dark twists it can bend will want to seek out HEMORRAGE when it becomes available to the masses.

Hemorrhage - Official Teaser [HD] from Braden Croft on Vimeo.

New this week on DVD & BluRay (Find this film on Netflix here)!

SADAKO 3D (2012)

Directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa
Written by Kôji Suzuki (novel), Yoshinobu Fujioka & Tsutomu Hanabusa (screenplay)
Starring Satomi Ishihara, Kôji Seto, Tsutomu Takahashi, Shôta Sometani, Hikari Takara, Yûsuke Yamamoto, Ryôsei Tayama
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Sadako of RINGU, known as Samara in the American version of THE RING, is back. And this time, it’s gettin’ stupid.

OK, that’s not the real tag line and it’s not completely fair to the film since it has its moments, but this film is the FREDDY’S REVENGE: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE or JASON GOES TO HELL of the RINGU movies. At this point, there are only the vaguest of hints of the original shocker which was a hit in both the original and remake form. Though it’s been done before in Japanese films like ONE MISSED CALL and KAIRO (remade into the Kirsten Bell film PULSE), the curse has gone viral and when a guy who looks a little bit like a young Little Richard decides to kill himself and post it on the internet, it sends the curse across the web, haunting those who watch the cursed video clip. Sure enough, it’s the hottest thing on the net and even though folks know people die after watching it, for some reason everyone is scouring the web for it. Once found, it begins to wreck one teacher’s life and all of those around her.

Soon enough Sadako, as usual, has hair issues and loves to reach out at’cha. And since this is a three dee movie, there’s a lot of that going on. There are also lots of other in your face moments involving flying butterflies, shattering glass, and more Sadako reachin’ out at’cha! Not that 3D movies always take advantage of the third dimension, but these days, when you see 3D on the box, you think you’ll get some attention to differing planes. Nope, this is strictly FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 3D action here with stuff comin’ at you over, and over, and over, and over again.

The thing is, the concept of Sadako is scary. Or at least the visage of the little beastie is. Based on the Onryo, a spirit of vengeance of Japanese lore, there is something damn scary about a faceless chick with pale skin and long black hair. The filmmakers do take advantage of the image here, amplifying and adding to it by making Sadako a spider-walking monstrosity. Using both puppetry and I believe animation, this is a very creepy design and makes for some of the better moments of the latter portion of the film.

Still, the size and scope of this film and the set pieces by far outweigh the depth of theme. In the end, they try to put the final nail in the coffin of the little creepy girl, but I’m sure, like Freddy and Jason, that freaky little girl will be seen again. Still, SADAKO 3D is only going to please the die hard RINGU fans, and barely at that.

Available now on DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment (Find this film on Netflix here)!


Directed by Sid Bennett
Written by Sid Bennett, Jay Basu, Tom Pridham
Starring Richard Dillane, Peter Brooke, Matt Kane, Natasha Loring, Stephen Jennings, Andre Weideman, Abena Ayivor, Sivu Nobongoza
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I loved this fun little found footager. Though just mentioning that this is one of those multi-camera, hand held films which reportedly was edited together from 10 hours of footage for no apparent reason is going to cause more than a few eyes to roll. But this film seems to have seen all of the mistakes most found footagers make and turns in a completely different direction when expectations dominate the alternative.

THE DINOSAUR PROJECT opens with a floating backpack found in the middle of the Congo River. We then cut back to the beginning as news reporters cover the launch of a group of DESTINATION TRUTH-style cryptozoologists who set out to investigate recent sightings of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé, which is Africa’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. Everything is set up with the local tribe, and adventurer Jonathan Merchant (Richard Dillane) and his crew are on their way into the Congo when first Jonathan discovers his rambunctious teenage son has stowed away in the cargo hold of the helicopter and then discovers a pack of pterodactyls flying right into the rotor blades, forcing the ground and the helicopter into an impromptu meeting. Now trapped in the jungle, the team discover a portal into a secret section of the jungle filled with dinosaurs.

What works amazingly well is the CG in this film. As good as any of the JURASSIC PARKs, THE DINOSAUR PROJECT seems to do quite a lot with very little. It wouldn’t seem this was a big budget film, but man if those little baby raptor dinos don’t look real and in the action with the actors as they splash through the water. Same goes for the pterodactyl helicopter mishap. I think what makes this movie so effective is that I went in expecting another SyFy level schlocker and got a quite capable little adventure that never forgets that dinosaurs can be frikkin’ scary.

Some of the acting is not the best, especially the less than wholesome sidekick who has dreams of having his own monster hunting show. Though it helps the plot along, personally, I wanted more exploration in this savage and secret land. There’s also a little conspiracy theory subplot that makes things a bit more interesting as well, involving the tribe who meet the adventurers and their original intentions. All in all, this is not only a good looking film, but one that rings as thematically depthy.

In the end, THE DINOSAUR PROJECT feels more like it owes a lot more to Jules Verne more than the Blair Witch as there is a real sense of JURASSIC PARK awe that you get with it as well as the high stakes adventuring where anyone and everyone is in danger. THE DINOSAUR PROJECT was a surprise; mainly because of the decent acting, surprisingly high production values, and of course the fantastically done dinosaur effects.

New this week on Video on Demand (Find this film on Netflix here)!

DETOUR (2013)

Directed by William Dickerson
Written by William Dickerson & Dwight Moody
Starring Neil Hopkins, Brea Grant
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

The simplest of concepts sometimes can be the best ones. It’s all in the presentation and who the camera focuses on sometimes. In DETOUR, the concept is as simple as it gets. A man gets caught in his car during a mudslide while driving home from work along the California coast. Now, with BURIED, I was entertained through the entire film because Ryan Reynolds is an actor one can watch for an extended amount of time and still be interested. DETOUR takes a great chance with casting a relative unknown in the lead role of “guy buried in the car”, but it’s a chance that pays off.

What makes the whole thing work is actor Neil Hopkins, who plays our trapped driver Jackson. Though flashbacks show that he is not the best of people, he proves he is likable through his quick wit and one-liners spouted in order to keep his sanity in this insane situation. We laugh with him early on as he assumes his fake reporter voice documenting the discovery of his remains in the future. This helps later on, as hope begins to fade and we begin to wonder if he will be getting out of this predicament at all.

Hopkins as Jackson is charismatic enough to make us feel as if we are right there next to him the entire time. This is also due to some great camera work by William Dickerson, who takes full advantage of every angle of the car, completely submerged in mud. Dickerson is able to convey a true sense of claustrophobia. Though BURIED relied on vast contrast between lights and darks to exude a sense that the walls were closing in, DETOUR does the same through the sound of creaking metal and the sight of sloshing mud pouring into the vehicle every time our trapped driver makes a wrong move, and it works just as well.

Actress Brea Grant (HEROES) is, as always, cute as a truckload of puppies, and does a great job in this film as our trapped victim’s light at the end of a mud-covered tunnel. She offers some nice moments of home and comfort in these flashbacks, making it easy to understand why Jackson is fighting to survive.

While most of the action happens in a single locale, not one second was I bored with DETOUR. Though most of these types of films begin to lose steam in the third act, this one used flashbacks and clever attempts to escape well in order to make the time pass. By the end of the film, I had gotten to know this character so well that I was rooting for him to be able to somehow get himself out of this predicament and back home to his life. And if I found myself rooting for that, I think DETOUR was a success.

New this week on DVD, BluRay, Digital Download (Find this film on Netflix here)!


Directed by Jonathan Levine
Written by Jonathan Levine & Isaac Marion
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Now, I know this was probably a film most of you were torn about when it was released in theaters. I know I was. Do I go out and support a film that is basically TWILIGHT WITH ZOMBIES? On the other hand, I kept reminding myself, maybe this could be good. I mean it’s got John Malkovich and “HEY that’s Rob Corddry!” I mean, I liked ZOMBIELAND, right? And unlike many think, I go into films hoping for the best.

Now, what I got was pretty much a watered down version of a zombie movie that attempting to make the teen girls swoon and their teen dates to go cool. But there were some important problems going on with this film that most assuredly made it hard to be accepted even for a light hearted teen comedy about corpse running around eating living things.

The main thing is that no matter how dreamy you try to make your protagonist, no matter how oceanic his eyes are or trendy his hoody is or hip his Josh Hartnett in H2O haircut is, what you still have is a fetid, decaying, rotting corpse. Zombies just aren’t sexy, except maybe Melinda Clarke from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 and of course Linnea Quigley from the original ROTLD (both female characters, which maybe proves guys just aren’t that picky). My point is that the moment you show your protagonist eat brains, especially the brains of the female star’s dreamy boyfriend, it’s going to make most of the viewers find it hard to root for him. On top of that R (Nicholas Hoult) goes full on retard here, mumbling and stiff, making it really hard to understand what it exactly is that this girl sees in him.

Now had the film gone total whack-a-doo freak show and not made it such a PG love story, the fact that the girl ends up with the zombie that ate her boyfriend makes more sense. But when everything is set up to be a boppy teen romance, things are too light for that kind of darkness. For example, the scene from THE WALKING DEAD where Rick and Glen walk through a zombie herd by dousing themselves in guts is used, but that’s icky, right? All it takes is a little zombie poo wiped on someone’s cheek in order to fool these zombies. It just doesn’t work, no matter how lovable you try to make the zombie. There were plenty of moments I felt that maybe this wasn’t going to be so squeaky clean and the original scene where R chomps down on Julie’s (Kristen Stewart lookalike Teresa Palmer’s) boyfriend Dave Franco (whose eyebrows were the scariest thing in the movie) was one of them. But as soon as they start driving with the top down on the car, as soon as the quirky girl friend shows up, as soon as “retro” 80-90’s songs like Guns N Roses “Patience” plays, all hope of this being edgy are kind of tossed out. By the end, the film shows its cards with everything coming up rosy with narrators talking about eternal love never dying and all of that. There’s even the cursive rom com THE END at the end. Ugh.

There are moments of cool. Malkovich is, as usual, awesome as the no nonsense dad who literally meets his daughter’s boyfriends at the door with a gun. He’s basically the Bill Murray of this film if you’re looking at it in ZOMBIELAND terms. But while Murray’s role was inspired, Malkovich is given very little to do other than be the cliché hard-nosed military father. Here it’s just the Malkovich we all know and love SPEAKING. LOUDLY. AND. OVER-ENUNCIATING. EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. It’s even more of a shame the way they used Choddry, giving him very uninspired lines and not allowing the often brilliant comedian to shine and riff, as I’m sure he was itching to do so being stuck in a rigor most of the film. Still, the line “Bitches, man” was pretty great.

I do have to mention the Bonies, the final evolution of the zombie, who basically sheds their humanity along with all of their skin and muscle, yet for some reason are able to move faster and be stronger. Though the physics are off and it’s most definitely CG, the spindly monsters are hurky jerky as if something out of a Harryhausen flick. I’m sure 0% of the target audience got that, but still the moments the bonies are on screen and runnin’ at’cha are going to be the sole bits hardcore fans of the genre will enjoy. At the same time, like most of the rest of the movie, the carnage the bonies enact is pretty bloodless and mostly offscreen.

Look, I wasn’t expecting NECROMANTIK going into WARM BODIES. I know things had to be sanitized for a broader market. Still, I think had the film cared a bit less about pleasing everyone and taken a few more chances, it might have been more of a ZOMBIELAND which was much more of an across the board crowd pleaser. Instead, WARM BODIES plays it safe while trying to play it cool and call itself a zombie movie when it’s really about a girl who falls in love with a special needs boy. This movie is the shy girl who wears a hot dress to the party and then doesn’t know what to do when the guys hit on her. Malkovich, Choddry, and the bonies try their damnedest to make the thing cool and succeed minimally, but the sappy story between the dead guy and his necrophiliac girl is not going to do it for most of you who want a little bite in your zombie films. In the end, WARM BODIES is going to alienate its target audience early on by being too gross and do the same to the hard core horror fans for playing it safe in the latter half.

And finally…here’s another installment of the LIGHT’S OUT Radio Plays. This one is called THE LITTLE PEOPLE and it is another one of those classic chillers from yesteryear. Enjoy and remember, it’s later…than…you think!

See ya next week, folks!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.

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