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What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I’ve got some really cool films for you this week, but before that, as always…is this!

Check out this Kickstarter campaign for the new film ARTIFICIAL HORIZON described as; Despite all the warnings about the overuse of antibiotics and efforts by the pharmaceutical companies to keep pace, an antibiotic resistant pandemic decimates the planet. Eight survivors escape on a dilapidated 747. Little is known about the effect of the outbreak, just that it is safer to be in the air than on the ground. What lengths are the passengers and crew prepared to go to in order to survive? Are they safe to land, and what will they find when they do? Can they outrun the pandemic, where every minute counts? Think 'Contagion', meets 'The Road', set on a 747.

Sounds pretty cool to me. You can support this film on their Kickstarter page here! And below is the teaser for the film…

The maniacs at Astron-6 who brought you FATHER’S DAY and MANBORG is up to their old tricks with THE EDITOR, described as a giallo comedy which is definitely something unique, that’s what I expect from these off the wall filmmakers. Here’s the synopsis; Once revered as the greatest editor of all time, an editing accident reduced him to a ridiculed amputee. When his co-workers are murdered one after another, the editor is the prime suspect! Has he lost control of his psycho-sexual subconscious like a modern day Dr. Jekyll or Wolfman? Not even he knows for sure! Find out more about their IndieGoGo campaign and how you can help bring THE EDITOR to cinematic life here!

I’ve got another Kickstarter here, this one focusing on a lesser known series of murders that occurred here in the states just before the Jack the Ripper murders occurred in London. The documentary is called BLOODY WORK and it focuses on the unsolved murders in Austin, TX in 1885. The film reached its goal 70 hours into the campaign, but in the last few days of the fundraiser, the money collected will help more people see it. Check out the link to the BLOODY WORK campaign here and the teaser for the film below to see if it’s something you might want to support!

Get ready to join the ever lovable Lloyd Kaufman, Toxie, and all of the other miscreants from Troma at TromaDance Detroit at the Tangent Gallery on Saturday, June 22, from 2PM-2AM. The info says “TromaDance is the first film festival wholeheartedly devoted to filmmakers and fans. There is no fee for filmmakers to submit a film. Entrance to all screenings is free and open to the public. Films, panels, and parties are open to one and all. The organizers of TromaDance believe films are meant to be seen, especially the work of new filmmakers. Art, in all its forms, is for the people!” This is the 14th year of TromaDance and it seems to indie studio just won’t let up bringing their special form of cinema to the masses.

Looking for more horror to support? How about a new film from the Godfather of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis? Well, H.G. Lewis has a new film in the works called ZOMBIFICADOR, an anthology of five short stories starring Bill Moseley, Michael, and Todd Farmer. He intends to use only practical, old school special effects, which he hopes will make the film stand out from the cheap, CGI laden features which permeate the horror genre today. And to make sure there’s no studio interference, he’s running an IndieGoGo campaign to help the production. Find out how you can support ZOMBIFICADOR here! And here’s H.G. Lewis himself to tell you what it’s all about!

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Retro-review: NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984)
Short Cuts: ONCE UPON A TIME IN 1977 (2013)
SKEW (2011)
Advance Review: DECAY (2013)
And finally…Lee Matthew’s 3:00 AM!

Retro-review: Available this week on BluRay/DVD from Shout Factory!


Directed by Sam Firstenberg
Written by James R. Silke
Starring Shô Kosugi, Lucinda Dickey, Jordan Bennett, Dale Ishimoto, James Hong, Bob Craig
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

From the director of BREAKIN’ and the actual mother lovin’ BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGLOO comes NINJA III: THE DOMINATION. If this film were put in a time capsule and unearthed thousands of years in the future, I’m sure our giant brained ancestors would want to bury their giant brained heads in the sand. Hell, I grew up in the eighties and I’m ashamed of the styles and sights this movie beholds in terms of 80’s culture. In NINJA III: THE DONINATION not only will you see big hair, headbands, and legwarmers, but you also get big moustaches, deep Frenching, giant video games, pouring canned tomato juice down the front off oneself seductively, enormous headphones, and most importantly, aerobics!

Let me get a little tangential here in stating that AEROBICIZE on SHOWTIME was responsible for the awakening of not only my own nether region, but of nether regions across the country in the mid 80’s. Anyone who remembers the show will most likely remember it for the gratuitous fades in and outs of women doing pelvic thrusts over and over and, of course, the song “Bounce! Oooooooh! Shake! Ay-yay-yay-yay-yay!” This type of aerobics is featured prominently in this film and brought back fond memories of pants awakenings.

That said, this is a pretty horrible action film that normally I wouldn’t cover on AICN HORROR if not for a few things. 1. It deals with an evil ninja possessing someone. 2. An exorcism occurs. 3. There are pretty amazing death sequences in here especially the opening sequence set on a golf course as a squad of cops gun down a ninja point blank and still don’t waste him completely.

When I say horrible, I mean the acting mostly as Lucinda Dickey, straight from her successful stint as Amy (an 80’s equivalent of Julia Styles role in SAVE THE LAST DANCE) on BREAKIN’ and the quintessential BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, plays Christie, a cable installer slash aerobics instructor slash video game enthusiast who doesn’t date cops…until one kills a ninja, of course! After finding a nearly dead ninja in the desert (like ya’ do!), Christie experiences blackouts and becomes increasingly violent towards everyone around her. Soon she’s bellowing smoke from her mouth, kicking the shit out of a group of fun loving weightlifters out for a good rape, and killing the police officers who murdered the ninja assassin.

Morally, this story is all over the place. The cops are definitely not good because they show an excessive amount of force by gunning down a single ninja at point blank range. Then again, the ninja is hard to root for because he killed a bunch of cops. And Christie, though not in possession of all of her faculties, not only kills the cops, but any innocent bystanders who happen to get in between her and her target. Still, we have to root for true love to prevail, except the cop Christie falls in love with is one of the ones who gunned the ninja possessing her down in the beginning! GAH! MORAL CONUNDRUM!

You have to see NINJA III: THE DOMINATION for the horribly awesome exorcism scene alone. Here’s the beginning of it;

Now, what you don’t see in that clip is how Dickey then spins around and around head over heels, chained at the sides in a stunt that I have no idea how it was pulled off. So, so horrible, yet so hard to look away!

None of this matters since the best part about this film is the amazing Sho Kosugi, the underappreciated king of late eighties kung fu. This third installment of the NINJA series (the first two being the amazing ENTER THE NINJA and the equally amazing REVENGE OF THE NINJA) is less badass than its predecessors mainly because it’s some white chick instead of an actual martial artist doing the ninja-ing. Still you have to love the hokey way the ninja is highlighted from every projected kung fu move to the precious way the ninja pulls out one of his many weapons and shows it clearly to the audience before using it. All in all, this is some good chop-sockery, even if it is dopey as all get out.

The whole thing ends abruptly but we know the movie’s over because Sho Kosugi says so right there before the credits. NINJA III: THE DOMINATION definitely works fine as a “so bad, it’s good” style movie worth laughing at.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN 1977 (2013)

Directed by Chris Lukeman
Written by Chris Lukeman
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Low budget sci fi is always a lot of fun to see play out of screen. Most of the time, sci fi equals state of the art special effects, but there’s something fun and nostalgic about the old days when sci fi meant iguanas with fins glued to them, spaceships on strings, and firecracker explosions. ONCE UPON A TIME IN 1977 is a tad more advanced in the effects department, but the appeal of the film lies in its low fi approach.

ONCE OPON A TIME IN 1977 is the third in what I hope to be a series of shorts focusing on a team of high tech (for the time) scientists who battle evil robots from other spaces and other times. Of course, all of the action happens in a disco because that’s where everything happened in the seventies. It all plays out in one big battle between the forces of scientific good versus the forces of robotic evil. The light-hearted tone suggests that not only the viewer is going to have a good time, but those behind the cameras are having a blast too.

The true standouts are the robots, metal puppets all decked out in seventies pimp gear to fit in. As these bots walk through the club like low tech Terminators, I couldn’t help but laugh. And you’ll do a lot of that if you check out this latest installment of the ONE UPON A TIME IN THE ‘70’s series.

Available now of DVD!


Directed by Brad Mills
Written by Brad Mills
Starring Aaron Corbett, Bhreagh Lafitte, Brad Mills, Colleen MacIsaac, Elizabeth Mills, Gabriel A House, Jeannine MacLean, Joshua Demeyere, Keith Morrison, Ron Newcombe, Samuel MacDonald LeMoine, Stefanie Peters & Michael G MacDonald as the Psychotic Forest Ranger
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Tell me if you’ve heard this one. A group of kids take a trip out into the middle of the woods for some sex, some drugs, some beer, and some good old fashioned fun, but darn it if there’s not a killer out there killing them all in creative ways one by one by one. It’s a premise that’s been done to death and I know you’re all sick of it. The thing is, THE LEGEND OF THE PSYCHOTIC FOREST RANGER knows you’ve seen this story before. In fact, it’s counting on you all to have seen all of those films in order to really appreciate it.

Yes, everything about this film is a cliché, but it’s intentionally cliché. Not only do they tick all the proper markings of your typical Cabin in the Woods scenario, the take it to ludicrous lengths while playing it all straight as an arrow. After a group of four kids get stranded in the woods, they happen upon a cabin. Typical stuff, but in a stroke of sheer comedic genius, they run into another exact group of four who look almost just like them, doubling the kill list for our crazy forest ranger.

Turns out a noble intentioned forest ranger was killed in a forest fire. Or at least that’s how the legend goes. But it turns out the ranger isn’t dead, he’s alive and kicking and killing people in pretty ridiculous and gory ways such as stabbing a flaming log through someone or hacking him in half with an axe or maybe even poking them in the chest with a tiny key. Anything’s a weapon in the hands of this tubby ranger who giggles in glee while murderizing everything in his path.

Turns out there may be supernatural forces involved in this one as well. Everything is done on the low fi. Especially the over-acting from the extremely Canadian cast whose accents are stressed more here than ten screenings of STRANGE BREW.

Beware. The acting is as horrible as the plot is unoriginal, but I couldn’t help but giggle at the whole damn thing. This thing doesn’t even try to take itself seriously and it’s not trying to fool anyone about it either. As long as you have a good sense of humor aboot it, you’re going to have a good time with THE LEGEND OF THE PSYCHOTIC FOREST RANGER.

Available now of DVD!


Directed by Ivan Zuccon
Written by Gerardo Di Filippo, Ivan Zuccon
Starring Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon, Tara Cardinal, Domiziano Arcangeli, Suzi Lorraine, Michael Segal, Brian Fortune, Gerry Shanahan, Emanuele Cerman, Giuseppe Gobbato, John Game
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I’ve got to give this film points for a) embracing some nice giallo influences and b) doing something different other than zombies, vampires, or serial killers. Boiled down to basics, WRATH OF CROWS is a prison story set in a bizarre row of cells where the guards and a slobbering man-dog act as judges, juries, and executioners to a group of shady individuals. The close confines of the setting make for a claustrophobic space for this atmospheric yarn and highlights some real talent in director Ivan Zuccon.

Starring the gorgeous Tiffany Shepis who looks especially scrumptious as a mysterious new inmate in the cell block scantily clad in leather and a cape made of crows feathers. Shepis plays Princess, who riles up the entire cell block of women who are envious of her and men who want to be with her. Shepis really sizzles in this role as temptress and contrasts well against the seedy individuals along the block.

The stories of each of the prisoners are delved into in mini-vignettes, showing just enough perversity to indicate that everyone is there for a reason. These inmates truly deserve their sentence, still the tortures they receive from the guards are going to make even the strongest among the readers flinch and maybe even feel a twinge of empathy. This is mostly due to the close proximity with which Zuccon positions his camera, most likely due to the small spaces of the place this was filmed, but this also adds a layer of claustrophobia that otherwise wouldn’t have been captured.

The film borders on gratuitous as when its hat is tipped and the secrets of this prison are out, a whole other sequence of torture is played out. Had this sequence been edited down, it would have made much for of an impact, but then we wouldn’t have had the chance to see another woman being bound, stripped, and whipped.

Gratuity aside, this film is surprisingly clean and clear for my tastes. Digitally shot, I would have loved to see this film through a seedier filter. I think it would have added to the dank feel of the atmosphere and the creepy characters lurking in the cells. Still WRATH OF THE CROWS is a wicked and original little number that is going to please a lot of those who seek it out.

Available now of DVD (Find this film on Netflix here)!


Directed by Russell Leigh Sharman
Written by Russell Leigh Sharman
Starring Nicole Beharie, Christopher J. Domig
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though the poster looks pretty insidious, I struggle to call this one a horror. Maybe it functions as a thriller, but mostly APARTMENT 4E is a character study with two people trapped in a room together forced to try to understand one another. Personally, I love films like these. This one was originally a play and it shows as the locale basically stays in once cramped apartment. Making the film in this way, we don’t have to worry about expansive special effects, big budget thrills, and explosives, we are forced to rely on the interaction between the two leads for the action.

And for the most part, APARTMENT 4E delivers all of that as a man (Christopher J. Domig) shows up at the apartment of Piper, a shut in (Nicole Beharie) offering help, claiming to be a therapist and the brother of a woman she has been having a relationship with online. When we are introduced to Piper, we see her talking to herself in a manic state, writing down gibberish on post it notes and sticking it to her wall. Immediately we know this one is not all there. When the stranger shows up, she is suspicious, but so lonely that she can’t help but let him in. Soon, a game of verbal cat and mouse occurs with Piper frantically interrogating the man who is not exactly who he claims to be.

What works with this film is the interaction between the two actors. Beharie talks a mile a minute, with pressured speech and rapid pacing. She does crazy extremely well. Contrasting to Piper’s speech is the nebbish, nervous, yet even keeled responses from Domig who appears to be there with good intentions, but there is definitely something off in his delivery, as if he’s not being completely truthful. Seeing the two characters interact for an hour and a half may be exhausting for some, but to me, it was riveting that neither breaks character, and not a minute passed that had me wondering when this bizarre interaction was going to end.

Of course, the visit is not what it seems, but I won’t reveal the twist here. Some might be able to predict where this thing is going, but even though I was right by the end, I felt satisfied with it nevertheless.

In the end, APARTMENT 4E was a film I am glad I had a chance to see. As a horror film, it’s not really much. But as an intense character study of trust, mistrust, insanity, and connection, APARTMENT 4E excels.

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

SKEW (2011)

Directed by Sevé Schelenz
Written by Sevé Schelenz
Starring Rob Scattergood, Amber Lewis, Richard Olak, Taneal Cutting
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

It’s another found footage film. Yes, it is. Now, if you’re the kind who instantly roll your eyes at the subgenre and dismiss it because there have been a million and one found footage films released these days, then scroll to the next review. I know how you feel. Hell, every week I seem to find a new one to review, so I understand the feeling. Still, I’m of the mind that every film should be judged by its own merits. I find I happen upon surprises in film form by doing so. I know there are good found footage films out there. Ones that clutch the viewer and place them in the moment with the terror, with the horror, and take them on a ride through their eyes. SKEW is one of the good ones.

SKEW follows a trio of twenty somethings as they take a road trip to a wedding. Right off the bat, things seem a bit off as the relationships between the three change when one of the group is not around. Turns out our cameraman Simon (Rob Scattergood) is having an affair with Eva (Amber Lewis) behind Richard (Richard Olak) his best friend’s back. This makes things complicated since all three are on this trip together. What complicates things more is that Simon might either be slowly going insane or his camera is capturing supernatural images in its viewfinder.

What makes SKEW stand out is the real feeling of dark unknowns at work that snowballs pretty much from the beginning of the film. The effect used, a swirling effect over the faces of those who are about to die, is original and something that may have been seen in creepy photographs, but there’s something cool about seeing it play out on camera. Though the film later resorts to shock, in your face, funhouse trickery, it’s these first moments that set the dire tone of the film and gives it a haunting feel.

All around, the acting is pretty good here. In these found footage films, the trick is to act as if you are not doing staged things. I know that’s the trick of all films, but there’s something more immediate in these found footage films that makes the performances of those in them all important to the believability. One chunkily delivered line can shatter the myth that this is real shit playing out, and that’s a bubble burster. But for the most part, there were no bubble bursting moments in SKEW. All three main actors do a great job of trying to make us feel this is as real as it can be.

One of the best things about SKEW is the ending, which actually is quite ballsy in its ambiguity. I don’t want to reveal it here, but the final moments of this film, though quite quiet, are pretty damn powerful. While still, we might not be certain we know the rules of the film as far as what happens when Simon’s camera captures someone in its view finder, we know it’s not good. And while some might be frustrated that everything is not tied up in a bow, there’s a bravery in the final frames that exudes more of a feeling of dread than anything else and sometimes that’s enough. It certainly is with SKEW, a found footage film worth finding.

Advance Review: The whole thing’s available on Vimeo download!

DECAY (2012)

Directed by Luke Thompson & Michael Mazur
Written by Luke Thompson
Starring Zoë Hatherell, Tom Proctor, Stewart Martin-Haugh, Sara Mahmoud and William P. Martin
Find out more about this film on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Here’s another zombie flick for you to feast on. While it’s getting hard to distinguish one of these zombie movies from the next, DECAY goes out of its way to stand above the herd with some lofty ideas, but it’s the spooky scenes that really make this film stand out.

Set in a particle accelerator power plant, a group of low level scientists get locked in the facility during a near meltdown. Not only do they have to worry about radiation, but also the fact that there are mysterious happenings going on in the tunnels underneath the facility. With the plant on lock down, the only way the scientists can get out is through those tunnels of course, forcing them to come face to face with the radioactive monsters lurking below.

Though somewhat uneven, I liked DECAY a lot. It has a nice sense of dread and danger and the mood is definitely set on creepy as most of the film takes place in the labyrinthine levels below the facility. There’s a great attention to depth in this film as often, something is happening in both the foreground and further on down the tunnel in the background. Many a scare is formed because of this attention to space in the frame.

The acting is hit and miss, with the standout being the lead heroine Zoë Hatherell who bounces in quite an appealing way away from the radioactive zombies running after her. There are some nice moments of humor injected in as well as it takes a bit of time for the group of scientists to really understand the level of danger they are in.

Though the set up feels much like an old school radioactive monster movie, the film towards the end unravels into the typical zombie chase scenes through the tunnels. Had writer/director Luke Thompson and director Michael Mazur maintained the level of wit throughout, I would have liked this better, but once the zombies are discovered, it becomes interchangeable with the other zombie flicks we’ve all seen. Still, the film does a great job maximizing the claustrophobic feels of the tunnels and also uses darkness quite well to hide the horrors shambling around in them until it’s too late. DECAY is worth seeking out if you are looking for some capable zombie scares.

And finally…here is a downright suspenseful and scary story that utilizes freaky ass sounds and juxtaposes them with incredibly tense imagery and situations. Don’t watch Lee Matthew’s 3:00 AM alone in the dark. You’ve been warned.

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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