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What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Before we dive into this week’s eclectic set of horrors, check out a little bit of this!

Here are a few new images from the in-production film DEEP DARK. I talked about this one a while back and it continues to be a film that sounds like it’s equal parts cool and weird all at once. Here’s the official synopsis: A failed sculptor finds a strange, talking hole in the wall. The hole has the power to fulfill his wildest dreams, or it just might become his worst nightmare.

I love weird shit like that. ON the left is the poster of the film and on the right are some brand new pics. Find out more info on DEEP DARK on their Facebook page here!

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Advance Review: GET OUT ALIVE (2012)
REVERB (2008)
23:59 (2011)
Advance Review: 100 BLOODY ACRES (2013)
Advance Review: DELIVERY (2013)
And finally… Joel Potrykus’ COYOTE!

Advance Review!


Directed by Clay DuMaw
Written by Clay DuMaw
Starring David Fichtenmayer, Rhiannon Skye Roberts, David Iannotti, Tyler Sutton, Jay Storey, Jesse Maner and Jarad Hooge
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

The key to enjoying low budget filmmaking is to look past the little things and focus more on the broader scope. For me, that means looking past things that big budget filmmaking doesn’t really take into consideration such as quality sound and talented acting, and focusing more on script, ideas, and tone. If you do that, no matter how low the budget, you’re going to find that there’s something about the perseverance of creativity which transcends budget that makes it all appealing to me. So while there are those who will automatically dismiss a film like GET OUT ALIVE because the acting it not top notch, they will be missing out on a surprisingly effective little horror movie that swipes from some old standbys in the genre while mixing and matching them up in interesting ways.

I’m going to get the acting issue out of the way first. The two leads in this film (David Fichtenmayer & Rhiannon Skye Roberts) are not the best at delivering lines. In fact, sometimes it’s downright painful to watch them go through the motions of the script. Then again, the actor who plays the Mechanic (David Iannotti) is actually quite menacing and much more convincing in his performance, which is a mix between The Cook from the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and Lance Henriksen in the deep lines and wrinkles in his face. Iannotti’s performance balances out this film in terms of acting and makes you kind of root for the bad guy the whole time.

And in a film like GET OUT ALIVE, there’s a lot of bad to root for. Not only do you have the evil yet smoothly conversational bits with The Mechanic, there’s the Leatherface-like menace of The Assistant (played by Tyler Dane Sutton), who wears a skull mask and brandishes all forms of weaponry. This one-two punch of evil would be good enough for most horror films which take a page from TCM, but GET OUT ALIVE goes a step further by having a wolf-like monster captured and ready to pounce in a cage just in the periphery to add to the menace.

What I love about the inclusion of this beast is that it adds a new layer to the film. All of a sudden, a TCM riff turns into something that dips their toe into the fantastical. And given the way the beast is shot, just out of focus and in the background most of the time, there’s a real sense of menace communicated on a pretty low budget film. Writer/director Clay DuMaw does a fantastic job of hinting at the horror of this creature without ruining it by showing the whole thing in one clear shot. Instead we see bits and pieces of the CG beastie, making it all the more threatening.

The extended fight sequence in the end of the film between the lead (David Fichtenmayer) and Innotti is truly something to behold as both men tear chunks out of each other. DuMaw punctuates this film with a fist, a gun, and any other blunt or sharp object these two exhausted men can find, and it’s all exhilarating to see. Though the opening moments focusing on the lead two actors soured me at first for GET OUT ALIVE, as I stuck with it, the ingenuity of the decisions by the director and the strength of both the threat level and the action made this film something you should definitely seek out for lo fi terror.

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

REVERB (2008)

Directed by Eitan Arrusi
Written by Eitan Arrusi
Starring Leo Gregory, Eva Birthistle, Margo Stilley, Luke de Woolfson, Stephen Lord, Neil Newbon
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Sound is key in horror films. Imagine JAWS without the cellos, or HALLOWEEN without that distinctive tune. Or Manfredini’s “Kill-kill-kill-ma-ma-ma!” from FRIDAY THE 13TH. Master the sound of a film and make it unique and terrifying and most filmmakers will say half of your work is done. REVERB is a film which uses all sorts of sights and sounds to unsettle, unnerve, and make for an all around horrifying experience. And I mean that in a good way.

Alex, once great musician (Leo Gregory) takes a stab at recapturing the glory of his golden days and locks himself up in a music studio to create his next big album. Once there with his collaborator Maddy (Eva Birthistle), things start feeling wonky. Both of them acknowledge that this space is downright creepy, but Alex finds the creepiness inspiring while it just gives Maddy the willies. When Alex discovers a voice under a sample of music he finds, things start getting even more eerie. And once the voice is deciphered, the train’s completely gone off the rails into loony town.

That’s right, those 80’s housefraus who warned us that rock and roll was the devil’s music were right—at least according to REVERB and writer/director Eitan Arrusi, who incorporates satan worship and all sorts of rock clichés into this masterpiece of sound terror. Arrusi makes this film a slow mover, easing us into a creepy atmosphere and locking the door before cranking things up to 11.

Once cranked, though, the last half hour of this film assaults the ears and eyes with strobes of violent images and sounds straight from the devil’s mouth and buttocks. Sure, the material is a bit dated, but some things, like an evil force laying in secret just waiting to be decoded (as Alex and Maddy do with this music), just doesn’t get old. And while the possession by an evil force is something oft used in the world of horror, the unique way Arrusi assaults you with audio and visual stimuli makes this one of the more unique horror experiences in quite a while.

Watch this movie with the sound up high and freak the fuck out at all of those within earshot. REVERB makes noises I didn’t think possible and proved to be one of the more unsettling films I’ve seen in quite some time. I can’t scream my recommendation loud enough for the utterly unique REVERB.

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


Directed by Colin Theys
Written by Michael Laimo (novel), John Doolan
Starring Jesse James, Bill Moseley, Magda Apanowicz , Noah Fleiss, Jaiden Kaine, Geraldine Hughes
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

DEAD SOULS premiered on Chiller, a channel I frustratingly can't get in Chicago, and while Chiller's second cousin SyFy doesn't seem to care about the quality of films they dole out with regular dousings of Crockoshark, DinoLemur, and other badly done z-grade offerings every Saturday, Chiller seems to actually want to scare us with their made for TV movies. With DEAD SOULS, the attempts are there and coming from someone who fondly remembers watching such cool made for TV gems as SALEM'S LOT, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW and DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK as a kid, it's greatly appreciated.

DEAD SOULS feels a lot like a Stephen King story, with a young man returning to his hometown to learn about a secret past he never knew he had. The stark and pitch-black opening scene as a preacher kills his family then crucifies himself certainly set a dark tone. I'm not sure DEAD SOULS lives up to its impressive opening as the preacher nails his own arm to the cross the swings his other one around to drive his own hand into a nail already sticking out the other side, but there are quite a few moments of creep that try to do so. Worm ridden crows, phantom dogs, shapes in the dark and a creepy-looking ghost of a woman make for some nice twisted imagery.

That said, where the film falters a bit is in the somewhat wooden performances, especially by the group of town bullies who pick on this new strange kid coming to town to claim his birthright in an abandoned house on the edge of town. One of the bullies in particular is possessed and speaks in two voices, but because the actor is required to change his tone rather than an audio effect, it comes off and pretty laughable.

Bounding Bill Moseley appears in this one as a former police officer, now town drunk, who was present at the scene of the murders in the first minutes. As usual, the actor is a joy to see and despite not being given much to work with script-wise, he does his best to entertain and succeeds for the most part.

In the end, DEAD SOULS has enough creepy images and jump scares to be better than mostly every SyFy movie out there. Instead of monsters amok, the filmmakers made a modest scare show in DEAD SOULS, proving that less is most definitely more. There's a whole lot out there on cable worse than DEAD SOULS, and I commend Chiller for being somewhat successful at delivering the goods.

New on DVD/BluRay this week from Magnet Releasing (Find this film on Netflix here)!

23:59 (2011)

Directed by Gilbert Chan
Written by Gilbert Chan
Starring Tedd Chan, Stella Chung, Philip Hersh, Henley Hii, Lawrence Koh, Tommy Kuan, Josh Lai, Mark Lee, Susan Leong, Benjamin Lim
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

This twisted military ghost story out of Singapore feels a lot like an extended and supernatural take on the first half of FULL METAL JACKET. Many of the scenes seem lifted entirely from Kubrick’s military classic, and as if that film wasn’t scary enough, 23:59 added creepy Chinese ghost children and women to the mix.

When an officer dies on a routine training run it’s deemed an accident, but the troop are not so sure, especially when ghostly things begin happening such as hands coming out of the jungle and grabbing them, ghostly images of women and children pop up from the shadows, and dark soldiers appear out of the rainforest. This G.I. GRUDGE uses a lot of the same imagery often found in a lot of your standard J-horror films: the creepy women with hair covering their faces, weird distorted children, ghostly hands from the darkness. All of these things are handled capably, but they have become so cliché that their effectiveness in terms of scares given is a little low.

The performances from the cast amp things up a notch, as all around the actors do a good job at reacting to the things that go bump in the barracks. Things get all the more poetic and melancholy towards the end as the troops work to bring the restless souls to peace, which makes for a nice contradiction with these soldiers so used to war and gives a more meaningful weight to the film itself.

But for me, the scares weren’t there. Aside from one creepy moment when the soldiers are counting off and an extra soldier appears out of nowhere and places his hand on the soldier in front of him’s shoulder, I didn’t get the chills this one intended, sadly.

Still, I applaud the effort at doing something new. Military horror is a fertile ground for some effective horror, but in the case of 23:59, which signifies the time when most of these creepy occurrences happen, this ground is on well tread territory.

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


Directed by Calvin Reeder
Written by Calvin Reeder
Starring Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot, Paul Blott
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Wow. This just in from David Lynch-ville: THE RAMBLER by Calvin Reeder. This film is one of those sweaters that start out with some frayed edges, but as the story unwinds and the threads are pulled, all sorts of craziness is let loose. Go in expecting little with this film and you’re most assuredly going to be blown away at the sights and sounds this movie rambles around to.

Though the story is less of a story and more of a stream of consciousness riverboat ride that starts out with the rules of reality being adhered to but slowly losing its grip as the minutes tick past, THE RAMBLER begins with The Rambler himself (Dermont Mulroney) walking out of prison and joining the real world. At first, this feels like one of those ROLLING THUNDER-style films, about someone returning to a life of normalcy after a tumultuous time elsewhere. But it turns out that it is the landscape that has become pretzeltine and not The Rambler himself, who stays stoic and solid throughout.

Losing his job and his girl all at once, The Rambler bucks parole and goes on the open road, where he runs into one freaky character after another. I’m not sure which id the freak that crosses The Rambler’s path I like more-—maybe it’s the cab driver who feels an unnatural attraction to wounded women and Frankenstein, or maybe it’s the scientist whose machine does two things—-record dreams onto VHS tape and make heads explode, or maybe it’s the cowgirl who keeps dying throughout the film, or the dog-woman who vomits yellow bile, or the gecko, or the esfentriloquist brother, or—you get the idea. This is a mad, mad world The Rambler rambles around in.

Durmont Mulroney offers up a subdued performance as the Rambler, taking all of the insanity in stride and only looking to find that perfect tune to sing about his troubled life. Natasha Leonne makes an appearance as the Rambler’s old girlfriend and shows that she still is as spunky as ever. Lindsay Pulsipher also does a great job as the sweet and sassy cowgirl who runs in and out of the Rambler’s life.

I mentioned before that this film goes off the charts on the madness scale by the end, but I have to admire Calvin Reeder’s restraint to dole out the crazy sparsely at first, with hints of odd taking the form of glowing blips in the sky in the distance in the opening scenes. But that doesn’t prepare you for the insanity that occurs in the final moments, which venture into LOST HIGHWAY/ERASERHEAD debaucherous and grotesque imagery galore. Reeder also did THE OREGONIAN, a film I have yet to see, but look forward to after the depths I have witnessed in THE RAMBLER. Reeder is an exciting new voice in the cinema of the unusual. THE RAMBLER is going to turn off those who like linear, sensible filmmaking, but if you have a taste for the experimental and have the patience to stick with this one, I’ll bet you’re going to be blown back by what you see.

Advance Review: In theaters and Video on Demand today from Music Box Films (Find this film on Netflix here)!

100 BLOODY ACRES (2012)

Directed by Colin and Cameron Cairnes
Written by Colin and Cameron Cairnes
Starring Damon Herriman, Agnus Sampson, Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian & John Jarratt
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

With a surprisingly funny script and talented cast of goofy characters, 100 BLOODY ACRES feels a whole hell of a lot like a modern day retelling of one of my all time favorite horror films MOTEL HELL. The core concept is the same--a local family farm runs a very lucrative business, but the secret ingredient turns out to be humans. Now, 100 BLOODY ACRES doesn’t have a garden with people buried to the necks or a pig-headed butcher brandishing a chainsaw, but the blackly humorous tone permeates throughout.

In a surprising turn of events, this film stars Damon Herriman, who played dimwit drug dealer and all around miscreant Dewey Crowe on JUSTIFIED (one of my favorite series). What’s not surprising is that Herriman does a fantastic job as the earnest yet reluctantly murderous Reg Morgan here.’s What is surprising is that Herriman is actually an Australian! Who knew he was faking that country accent all this time on JUSTIFIED? Seeing the actor to talk in an Ozzie dialect freaked me the hell out. But that faded as Herriman plays Reg so well as he abducts a trio of kids on the way to a concert as a means to further his fertilizer business.

The rest of the cast does a great job, too, as the trio of kids don’t act as idiotic as most of the victims in these things often do. This is mainly because they aren’t given a chance to as they are captured during the opening moments and spend the rest of the film trying to get free. INSIDIOUS paranormal investigator Angus Sampson plays Lindsay, the other crazy brother, the muscle and brains of the two, who is much more deadly that Herriman’s Reg. Sampson’s menace is solid all the way through, even when he is made to look ridiculous as in the scene where he not only wears a hairnet for his head, but also one over his beard. WOLF LAKE’s John Harrat makes a cameo against psycho-type as a cop here which makes for some fun moments as brief as they are.

There are moments of laugh out loud gory delight in this film--the sort of humor one find in an EVIL DEAD or REANIMATOR film which is bathed in blood and balances itself between utterly ridiculous and absolutely dangerous for those involved. The threat is real and death occurs with enough gore to spread across the title of the film, but still from the safety of your seat watching it, you can’t help but laugh at it all.

Good, gory fun. That’s what 100 BLOODY ACRES is all about. A good gory comedy is a rarity these days with films trying to cater to those who like comedies and those who like horror, ultimately pleasing none of them. 100 BLOODY ACRES is bound to make you wonder whether you should gag or laugh your ass off.

Advance Review: Premiered last week at the LA Film Fest!


Directed by Brian Netto
Written by Brian Netto & Adam Schindler
Starring Laurel Vail, Danny Barclay, Colter Allison, Rebecca Brooks, Lance Buckner, Rob Cobuzio, David Alan Graf
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

There’s something precious about a pregnant woman that’s almost taboo in horror. When Jason murders the pregnant girl in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3, for me, it was one of the most shocking of his kills. Usually in horror, the pregnant one lives, mainly because of the message that the unborn is supposed to be the ultimate in innocence—there to be protected at all costs and the hope that something good can come from all of the terror we have witnessed. Yet in one of the most infamous pregnancies in horror, at the end of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, and in many films afterward, the pregnancy is often used as that final shockeroo moment to keep the audience screaming. Still, what a pregnant woman is put in danger, I still can’t help but wince.

And that’s what makes DELIVERY such an effective film. Maybe it’s because of what I tried to explain above, or maybe it’s because I just became an uncle for the first time, but I found this found footage meets ROSEMARY’S BABY flick to be one of the more intense films of the subgenre. Centering around a reality television show, which at first had the intention of being a light hearted look at a couple during their first pregnancy, the tone of DELIVERY turns deathly serious when Rachel (Laurel Vail) has a scare with the baby in the pilot episode. Ever since that night, Rachel and her husband Kyle (Danny Barclay) begin to experience strange things occurring around them. Things get even more strange as the pregnancy progresses.

I want to keep things vague because I think you’ll enjoy DELIVERY if you go in expecting another hum drum found footage flick. I did that and couldn’t believe how powerful it hit me. The final moments of this film literally knocked the wind out of me. Again, the concept is one that evokes a protective feeling and Laurel Vail makes it all easy since she is extremely likable as Rachel. The set up, that the couple has experienced miscarriages before, makes it almost impossible not to root for them and the filmmakers take full advantage of that notion and use that investment to scare the shit out of the viewer time and time again.

Though the first section of the film is set up to be the pilot episode of the intended series and is set to strumming guitars and quick montages of the couple maneuvering through the city, DELIVERY quickly turns more into a documentary. Rick (Rob Cobuzio) the director of the DELIVERY series, talks stoically to the camera, explaining that the rest of the film is made up of raw footage taken from the rest of the unaired season. Deciding to have Rick pop in occasionally to explain what’s going on in the periphery at first feels as if the film is taking the wind out of the scares by announcing when something bad is going to happen. But Cobuzio does such a good job here that it feels like a blessing in disguise that he warns us before hand and definitely puts a dire tone to the film which starkly contrasts with the joy the couple is feeling in the opening moments. It also gives the promise that something horrible is going to happen and holy shit does it.

I was completely entranced by this film, internally begging for Rachel and Kyle to somehow have the baby of their dreams and fearing what kind of monster is growing inside of her. The final moments of this film are so intense, so frightening, and so real that even though you know it’s a movie, you’re going to be fooled by the reality of it all. The trailer below doesn’t do the film justice, as it makes the film feel like it’s a PARANORMAL ACITVITY riff and while the haters will dismiss this film immediately, DELIVERY is more effective than the last three PA films combined. If the final moments of this film don’t affect you in some way, you must already be dead. I was hit hard by this film which feels more like a documentary than a true found footage film. The scares are intense, the mood is dire, and the people in danger are worth rooting for. DELIVERY is one hell of a pregnancy horror movie and feels like a modern day ROSEMARY’S BABY. That’s high praise from this reviewer who holds Polanski’s film up to be one of the best of the best in horror. I’ll definitely be letting you know when DELIVERY is going to be available for the masses. It’s a horror movie you’re going to want to seek out.

And finally…this short 23 minute film, shot on Super 8 is pretty damn amazing. It was brought to my attention by a reader of the column and it makes me feel great that those who check out this column every week have great taste in horror. Below is COYOTE directed/written by Joel Potrykus and starring Joshua Burge as a man struggling to contain the werewolf within. It’s got drugs, a transformation, and even a dance number. I really dug the grungy feel to this entire film which reminded me strangely of the work of early Richard Linklater. Enjoy this fantastically retro lycanthropy tale!

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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