Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News


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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. We’ve got an eclectic mix of indie, documentary, and foreign horror for you this week, and of course a zombie and slasher movie or two. And don’t forget this weekend’s Flashback Weekend if you’re in and around Chicago. It’s always a blast!

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Retro-Review: TWILIGHT ZONE SEASON FOUR Episodes 1-5 (1964)
Advance Review: JUG FACE (2012)
Advance Review: HOUSE IN THE ALLEY (2012)

Retro-Review: New on DVD this week from Image Entertainment!


Episodes 1-5
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

I could be wrong, but I believe Season Four of TWILIGHT ZONE is when the series began having hour long segments. Again, I might be wrong here, but the episodes in this disk set seem to all be of this length, or at least the ones I’ve seen so far. I’ll be checking out all of these episodes of the fourth season over the next few weeks, but I do feel the move to an hour long format takes away a bit from the compact storytelling we often associate with THE TWILIGHT ZONE which drops the THE in this season for some reason.

”In His Image”, Episode 4.1
Directed by Perry Lafferty
Written by Charles Beaumont
Starring George Grizzard, Gail Kobe, Katherine Squire

I can’t say I was bowled over by this first episode of the fourth season, as the story follows a man who discovers life and even himself is not all that he knows and understands. It starts out with a curious encounter in a subway with a weird old lady, then quickly juts our everyman George Grizzard back to a fairy tale existence. Though the revelation should have been somewhat shocking, it lacks the punch because the man discovers he may not be human halfway through, and the rest of the story feels like an overlong explanation. While I liked the elements going into the first half of this hour long episode, I think where it goes in the latter half lacks the oomph I’m used to when I’m getting my TZ fix.

”The Thirty Fathom Grave”, Episode 4.2
Directed by Perry Lafferty
Written by Rod Serling
Starring Mike Kellin, Simon Oakland, David Sheiner, John Considine

Rod Serling wrote “The Thirty Fathom Grave”, and it recaptures some of the tension of his earlier seasons of TWILIGHT ZONE. This one focuses on a strange noise heard in the middle of the ocean and a crew aboard a navy ship who is investigating it. There’s some nice mystery, as well as some ominous and downright frightening scenes as everything unspools. Without giving away the twist, I really like this haunted seas tale about battles gone wrong in the past. Mike Kellin is awesome as the guilt-ridden sailor and PSYCHO’s Simon Oakland is amazing as his superior on the ship trying to get to the bottom of it all. Nice suspenseful stuff!

”Valley of the Shadow”, Episode 4.3
Directed by Perry Lafferty
Written by Charles Beaumont
Starring Ed Nelson, Natalie Trundy, David Opatoshu, Dabbs Greer, Jacques Aubuchon

Ed Nelson stars as a man who accidentally takes a wrong turn on the way to Albuquerque and happens into a small town called Peaceful Valley that turns out to be anything but. Like all good TWILIGHT ZONE episodes, everything is sideways and off until the pieces fit together and then things make sense, albeit in a crazy way. Nelson plays Redfield, a man now trapped in Peaceful Valley, which has all the basics and some pretty advanced technology which cheats death, makes things disappear, and does all sorts of tech a normal small town should not have. I love the hokey sci-fi concepts at play in this episode. Anyone who’s seen a TZ episode already knows where this is going, but it makes for a compelling episode about a crude society stumbling into a more advanced one. A metaphor for the older generation’s struggle with a new one? Sure, it is. And it’s also a pretty great episode.

”He’s Alive”, Episode 4.4
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Written by Rod Serling
Starring Dennis Hopper, Ludwig Donath, Curt Conway

The best of this first quartet of episodes by far is “He’s Alive”. Starring Dennis Hopper, the episode deals with a controversial topic that is as timely when it aired as it is today. Hopper plays a leader of a hate group pointing its clawed fingers at not only the Jewish, but also African Americans, Catholics, and pretty much anyone else different than them. The episode is surprisingly risqué as Hopper’s speeches pull no punches and spouts some pretty horrid rhetoric. Though the revelation of the identity of the man who gives Hopper his inspiration is a bit heavy handed, it still is not your typical episode and unlike a lot of the others I’ve watched at an hour long length, this one makes every minute count and feels more like a mini-movie than a half hour twist. Hopper is amazing here as the conflicted hate monger who, behind closed doors is close friends with a Jewish man, but on the stage turns into a monster fueled by the summer heat, an angry crowd, and inner demons. In terms of script, Rod Serling delivers one of his best here.

”Mute”, Episode 4.5
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Written by Richard Matheson
Starring Ann Jillian, Frank Overton, Barbara Baxley, Irene Dailey, Oscar Beregi

In concept, Richard Matheson’s “Mute” is one of those films which one might think would be inspiration for some of Stephen King’s work such as CARRIE or FIRESTARTER and even David Cronenberg’s SCANNERS or THE DEAD ZONE (another King psychic film) with his exploration into the world of experimental telepathy. No reasoning on how the group of scientists mastered the art of speaking with their minds is given, rather the focus is on an experiment of raising a child solely through telepathy is explored. It’s a cool concept, but one that feels somewhat over-saccharinated with a love conquers all theme. Still there are some fun performances here by Frank Overton and Barbara Baxley as a couple suffering from a loss of a child and finding salvation in the form of an apparently mute orphan girl. The girl is played by a young Ann Jillian and she acts the hell out of this episode. It’s a strong concept and one worthy of exploration, but an episode that feels somewhat off kilter by today’s standards due to the fact that Baxley feels a bit too overwrought by grief and desperate to replace her dead daughter with a new one. Rewarding her with the child in the end just doesn’t feel like the right decision, but it does wrap everything up in a pretty little bow.

Tune in next week as we check out Episodes 6-10 of Season Four of…


Available now from Reality Entertainment


Directed by William Burke
Written by William Burke
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

This is another one of those semi-documentaries—a lo-fi IN SEARCH OF where no matter when and where you set the camera down, sure enough, after a few minutes, some amazing never-before-seen footage waltzes across the panel. LEGEND OF THE GOATMAN: HORRIFYING MONSTERS, CRYPTIDS & GHOSTS consists of several short segments focusing on one particular urban legend at a time, some more interesting than others.

For the most part, the Goatman segment and the Sasquatch segment are throwaway as interviews with “real life witnesses” are documented as a guy in a store-bought Halloween costume trounces through the woods reenacting the action being told. All of these segments are pretty forgettable, save one.

The final installment, entitled “The Screaming Doppelganger”, actually was pretty interesting and was told in a manner that made me feel the heebies creepin’ up on my jeebies. It’s the tale of a bunch of eyewitnesses who see a woman frozen in a silent scream along a bike path and later find the same woman dead in the nearby woods wearing the exact same, but opposite colored, clothing and hair. Who knows if this is an actual urban legend or just a spooky story told in an effective manner; all I know is that last fifteen minutes of this hour long doc were actually pretty terrifying. As with last week’s Reality Entertainment endeavor AMERICAN SASQUATCH HUNTERS: BIGFOOT IN AMERICA, the doc has one or two moments making the whole thing worthwhile, but any crypto-heads out there who have watched as many docs about strange phenomena as I have will not find a lot worth screaming about in LEGEND OF THE GOATMAN: HORRIFYING MONSTERS, CRYPTIDS & GHOSTS.

New this week from Eagle One Media!


Directed by Knighten Richman, John Klappstein
Written by Knighten Richman, John Klappstein
Starring Anuj Saraswat, Caleb Fischer, Ashley Tallas, Sylvia Soo, Keltie Squires, Jeremy Hook, Danny Paul, Christine Gauthier, Sam Barone, Michael Wheeler, Christian Richman, Shaun Tisdale, Kym Masters, Olivia Sashuk, Jon Phippard, Don Chartrand, Cory Walsh
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Those who don’t mind a low budget are going to find themselves as surprised as I was at THE CORRUPTED, which could be categorized as Lovecraft meets CABIN IN THE WOODS. The story follows your typical group of kids who go out to a cabin by a lake for vacation, only to run afoul of some kind of diabolical forces which lurk in the waters and on the shores.

The acting in THE CORRUPTED is not the best. Many a line is delivered with little or no enthusiasm, and most of the actors aren’t able to perform up to the standards set by the script. Usually this is a deal-breaker for me in terms of becoming invested in the story, but here, I was surprised by how the lack of experience in the cast didn’t deter me from liking this one.

I think what appealed the most to me here is the script by Knighten Richman & John Klappstein (who also directed the film). These guys dole out the creepy in increasing doses from the beginning, starting with a man strumming a guitar on the beach and being approached by a woman from the shadows and ending with a congregation of horrors on the same beach. The road from beginning to end is expertly paced and made interesting all the way through. Most of these “cabin in the woods” stories begin with a startle, then cut to forty minutes of amateur acting for us to get to know the characters, and then finally in the last forty minutes shit starts happening. THE CORRUPTED’s script breaks this template by having the weird shit happen all the way through with bugs crawling out of ears, monstrous hillbillies, and mouths full of tentacles.

The effects here are impressive, as well as the aforementioned mouth tentacles had me guessing whether or not they were CG or practical. Usually that’s pretty obvious in low budget fare, but it’s a testament to the filmmakers that I was fooled. Still, after a while, I quit wondering and just enjoyed the trip I was on.

THE CORRUPTED is filled with tentacular goodness. It delves into the Lovecraftian mythos without obviously doing so, making it much more creepy than your typical adaptation by the horror meister. The direction and script, and especially all of that tentacle horror, helped me not linger on the amateur acting. All in all, if you’re looking for low budget scares, THE CORRUPTED has them.

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


Directed by B.C. Furtney
Written by B.C. Furtney
Starring Stephen Geoffreys, Tiffany Shepis, Corey Haim, Ezra Buzzington, James Grabowski, Anthony Colliano, Robert DiDonato
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

This is one weird little mongrel of a movie. First and foremost, you’ll see that Corey Haim is in the film. The actor passed away in March of 2010, but everywhere I looked to try to find out about this long-shelved movie attests that it was made in 2013. Unless some bizarre space/time-bending filmmaking technique has been made, something is off. In the end, it doesn’t matter, though I’m not sure DO NOT DISTURB will be noted as one of Haim’s best performances.

The film itself is just plain weird, even without Haim (who only shows up for brief moments as a drunkard in a bar and sporting an British accent which is not very convincing). Starring the original FRIGHT NIGHT’s Evil Ed himself, Stephen Geoffreys, DO NOT DISTURB focuses on a burnt out screenwriter (Geoffreys) who, instead of working hard on his comeback screenplay as his agent (Tiffany Shepis) repeatedly asks him to do, decides to have a mid-life crisis and kill a bunch of people. The story takes place over the span of a few days as Geoffrey’s character Don Malek kills a number of people, then gives minimal effort in covering it up.

The thing with DO NOT DISTURB that makes it interesting is that you don’t know if actor Stephen Geoffreys doesn’t give a shit about anything in the film or that he’s just good at playing a character that doesn’t give a shit. Geoffreys kind of floats through the story as a jaded man beaten down by the bullshit Hollywood machine which works writers like a punching bag and leaves them for dead. That’s the state Geoffrey’s Don is in at the beginning, and as we are shown what led him there, you kind of don’t blame the guy for snapping. Still, there’s a weird reality/story meld going on with this one that makes me wonder if this was perfect casting or just no fucks given.

The script is actually quite good, and the deliveries from the actors involved are solid as well, especially Tiffany Shepis’ Ava, who plays Don’s agent. Shepis is really the main reason to check out this film, as she gives her all in a meatier role the scream queen usually doesn’t get. Shepis shows that she can carry the weight of a heftier role in spades. It only helps that she’s absolutely gorgeous to boot.

The story itself meanders a bit, and I must admit I was bored by the time the last act comes around. But despite the story and Haim’s walk on, this feels like a gritty 70’s MANIAC style psycho film, and I’ve got to respect that. Geoffrey’s mopey version of a half-assed Dexter is pretty good, and it’s funny seeing him try to cover his tracks, and seeing this new side of Shepis makes me want to root for her to get roles like this in the future. DO NOT DISTURB may have some dust on it from being on the shelf for so long, but some decent and quizzical performances make it one of those films that should be seen if only for its odd nature.

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


Directed by Luca Boni, Marco Ristori
Written by Luca Boni, Marco Ristori
Starring Christian Boeving, Mike Mitchell, Tara Cardinal, Ivy Corbin, Carl Wharton, Jon Campling, Daniel Vivian, Nathalia Henao, Gerry Shanahan, Alex Lucchesi, & Uwe Boll as the President of the United States
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Last week I ripped pretty hard into THE DEMENTED for being an uninspired zombie film that swipes aspects from better films and mashes them together with little skill or creativity. In some ways, the same can be said for the Uwe Boll-produced ZOMBIE MASSACRE, but in the end, I wound up liking this film for its fun attitude, its fantastic effects, and some of the decisions the filmmakers made along the way.

ZOMBIE MASSACRE starts out in typical fashion, as a chemical plant mishap unleashed toxins in the air creating undead monsters. Though there’s nothing particularly original about the opening, it does make for a nice showcase for some awesome zombie effects and some pretty bone-chilling scenes (especially one where a housewife is transformed and attacks her husband). After the initial cause of the outbreak is gotten out of the way, that’s where ZOMBIE MASSACRE gets interesting.

Basically, ZOMBIE MASSACRE is THE EXPENDABLES with zombies. A group of mercenaries who are the best of the best are brought together to plant a bomb in the middle of the chemical plant and be rid of this mess before it spreads any further. Now of course, Sly, Arnie, Bruno, and Chuck were busy on other projects, so we don’t get the action stars of yesteryear teamed up together to fight the undead, as fun as that may sound. Instead, we kind of get copies of those types of characters fighting the undead, and because this is an unapologetic mix of 80’s action and undead horror, it actually works as a fun film.

The acting here is not the greatest, as the bodybuilders in the lead roles (Christian Boeving & Mike Mitchell) seem to be cast because of their strength and size rather than acting chops, but they do have some fun banter which makes it all digestible. In a more fun role is the beautiful Tara Cardinal, who is really good as the Michonne-style silent swordswoman of the group. She’s got some really fun scenes of martial arts and bladed mayhem slicing through the infected horde. There’s also a special cameo in the over-the-top ending by Alex Lucchesi, who starred in this directing/writing/producing team’s last zombie opus EATERS (reviewed here and another example of over the top zombie fun) as a way to link those two films together. Also be on the look out for President Uwe Boll…so there’s that.

Not to be taken seriously, but still a hell of a lot of fun, ZOMBIE MASSACRE succeeds where most new zombie films fail in that it delivers awesome effects, supplies some inventive action, and never takes itself too seriously. Go in not expecting Romero-style metaphor or WALKING DEAD-quality acting, and you’ll have a decent time with this one.

New this week on Video On Demand, BluRay, DVD ( Available on DVD here)!


Directed by Boris Rodriguez
Written by Boris Rodriguez, Jonathan Rannells, Alex Epstein
Starring Thure Lindhardt, Georgina Reilly, Dylan Smith, Alain Goulem, Paul Braunstein, Stephen McHattie, Peter Michael Dillon, Alexis Maitland
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

It’s been said that there is nothing more frightening to an artist than a blank canvas--that moment when every possibility one can imagine or, worse yet, no ideas are there for the artist to choose from. It is in this moment that the creative soul is challenged and sometimes threatened. It’s no doubt that inspiration or lack thereof has been the basis of many a horror film.

Much like Roger Corman’s A BUCKET OF BLOOD (reviewed here), starring Dick Miller as a would-be sculptor who gains fame from murdering people and making them into modern art sculptures, EDDIE THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL does the same for modern painters. Lars (Thure Lindhardt) is a famous modern painter who has seen better days. Lacking inspiration, he takes a job at a Canadian university as an art teacher and in turn volunteers to look after the local mute Eddie, who has a tendency to go sleepwalking and may stop for a midnight snack along the way. After finding a few bunnies and the neighbor’s dog partially devoured, Lars runs afoul of a neighbor. Sensing his new friend’s frustration, Eddie starts eating those who get on Lars’ nerves. In turn, after finding the bodies, Lars finds himself overcome by inspiration, causing him to paint the best paintings in his career. But this feeling is fleeting, and Lars finds himself finding new folks for Eddie to eat as inspiration. Thus plays out the playful and poetic tale of murder, art, and ever-elusive inspiration.

Director Boris Rodriguez keeps things simple and pretty straightforward, focusing mainly on Lars and Eddie’s complex relationship and how far Lars will go to make his art. Exemplifying the tortured artist well is Thure Lindhardt, who compliments the silent Eddie (Dylan Smith) well. The pairing is fun to watch, with the circumstances playing out with tongue in cheek, but still there is a dire feeling to the whole thing. Rodriguez juggles the tone well, amping up the horror while playing his characters as straight as can be.

Scanning across the gorgeous Canadian wilderness and topped with a melodically pleasing classical score, EDDIE THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL may have a goofy name, but the story takes its gore and art seriously while commenting on how dog eat dog, or maybe that’s Eddie eat dog, the world of art truly is.

Available on Video on Demand, digital download, & in select theaters from IFC Midnight


Directed by Peter Strickland
Written by Peter Strickland
Starring Toby Jones, Susanna Cappellaro, Antonio Mancino, Eugenia Caruso, Cosimo Fusco, Jozef Cseres, Chiara D'Anna, Katalin Ladik, Salvatore Li Causi, Antonio Mancino Fatma Mohamed, Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Tonia Sotiropoulou and Pál Tóth
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I had heard a lot about BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO as to how it was sort of a dud of a film. I can understand why folks came to that conclusion with the film, as it is a very slow moving movie. At the same time, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the film in terms of pulling the curtain back on an element of film which rarely gets the spotlight—sound design.

Toby Jones plays a sound man brought over from America in order to be the sound man for a film made by an Italian horror director. This is a fish out of water story, as the meek and timid Jones makes his way through a culture he is unfamiliar with and is working in a genre which he really doesn’t like. I know it’s hard for the readers of this column to conceive of someone who dislikes horror, but they’re out there and Jones plays one to a T here as he winces and shakes at the thought of being a part of the Italian director’s gory and macabre film.

Across the board, the acting in this film is top notch. Given a film to star in (though granted Jones is often the star in all films he appears in, whether he gets top billing or not), Jones shines as Gilderoy, the technician who undergoes a transformation at the sights and sounds he witnesses in this foreign land. It’s interesting to see this metamorphosis play out, and as Jones’ dreams and the film playing in front of his sound booth play out, the final moments of this film are some of the most surreal and most effective in terms of seeing a man start out as one thing then bloom (or in this case wither) into something all together different. The other players here are fabulous, from Tonia Sotiropoulou as the talent hired to provide the screams and find a kindred spirit in Gilderoy to Antonio Mancino, who plays Santini, the overzealous director who demands that Gilderoy immerse himself in the horrors that are playing out.

But the most fascinating thing about BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO is the way writer/director Peter Strickland dances his camera along the sound equipment, the sound notes, and all of the other aspects of what it takes to bring all of those glorious noises to the big screen. Much like DePalma’s BLOW OUT, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO allows you to appreciate the art of bringing sound to cinema. Seeing all of these scenes of sound recording and all of the work involved made me appreciate the job all the more. It’s a wonderful love letter to sound in all film, especially in the horror genre, in which sounds is key for so many scares.

The attention to how sound is brought to films beats out any quibble I might have with the pacing of this film. I do agree that the film lags in bits, but Jones’ fantastic performance as a man struggling with a crisis of conscience and the attention to the often underappreciated job of sound technician makes up for any and all of BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO’s faults.

Advance Review: In limited theatrical release ( find out where you can see it here)!

JUG FACE (2013)

Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Written by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Starring Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Katie Groshong, Alex Maizus, Daniel Manche, Sean Young
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Now playing in select theaters across the country is JUG FACE, and if you’re a fan of this column, you’re definitely going to know this is my type of horror as it is produced by THE WOMAN director Lucky McKee, stars two of that film’s stars, and even has a soundtrack by the same musician, Shawn Spillane. Though this is an entirely different film in tone and story, one can’t help but feel the magic captured in THE WOMAN in this new film JUG FACE.

The story is an unconventional one focusing on a community of hillbillies in the woods of Tennessee. Lead by patriarch Sustin (Larry Fessenden, the mastermind behind the excellent teleplay series TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE), the family worship a creature that lives in a shallow pit. In order to appease this beast, a sacrifice must be made, and when the potter of family Dewai (played by THE WOMAN’s Sean Bridgers) receives a vision, a ceramic jug with the face of the sacrifice is made. This is a ritual that seemingly has gone on for ages, and it is viewed as an honor for those chosen to be put to death at its edge, but the wide-eyed Ada (THE WOMAN’s Lauren Ashley Carter) finds out she is to be the next sacrifice and hides the jug before anyone can see. That’s not the only secret she has, as she has had an incestuous relationship with her brother Jessaby (Daniel Manche) under the nose of her protective mother (played by Sean Young). Hiding the pot and the unborn incest baby in her belly, Ada causes a series of events that topple the delicate peace treaty the hillbilly family has with the beast in the pit.

Oozing with everything from hillbilly culture to Chthulhuian cultism, director Chad Crawford Kinkle plays out an intricate plot of love, betrayal, and a pit monster. The talented actors who make up the cast make everything engaging. Every one of the actors gives it their all, and Carter shows star chops carrying most of the film with her petite frame but powerful performance. Sean Bridgers, who was so good at being bad in THE WOMAN, is equally talented here as the slightly delayed psychic link to the beast in the pit, and Fessenden and Young play overprotective parents and religious zealots, making them dislikable and likable all at once. Every character is developed well, which made the story easy to dice into.

There are plenty of horrific scenes as the sacrifices are bloody and many. As people are bled out into the pit, others are left as piles of guts and gore after the beast attacks. Though some of the effects shots are definitely of the lower budget caliber, it still makes for some creepy scenes of ghostly specters and creepy monsters.

Some will be disappointed, as the beast in the pit is not revealed, most likely due to budgetary constraints. Also, the film seems to loose steam in the last act as the emotional whirlwind that goes on in the first hour seems to die down and the final scenes are spent dealing with the revelations and ramifications of Ada and Dewai’s actions.

The film also ends oddly, and though I was thoroughly entertained by the performances, I was left a bit nonplussed by the end with the story resolving in an abrupt manner. Still, the drama and intensity of the script as spouted by the talented cast make up for the cut short final moments.

JUG FACE in no way is tied to THE WOMAN, though it does seem to have a lot of the folks in front of and behind the camera involved in it. Still, I couldn’t help but feel as if these two films are linked in some way as they both deal with unconventional and ugly family rules, mores, and customs and how those things can become twisted manacles around the ankles of those who have the unfortunate luck of being born into it. JUG FACE has some fantastic acting and offers up an interesting view on the hillbilly culture. It’s also quite bloody to appease my appetite for that type of thing. Though not as controversial as THE WOMAN, it does get pretty intense, and if you’re a fan of McKee and Ketchum’s film, you’re bound to find things to like with JUG FACE as well.

Advance Review: In select theaters October 25th-30th from Pathfinder Films!


Directed by Le-Van Kiet
Written by Le-Van Kiet
Starring Thanh Van Ngo, Son Bao Tran, Van Hai Bui
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Being touted as the first true horror film out of Vietnam, HOUSE IN THE ALLEY deals with both some horrific themes, as well as women’s issues in the same sense as such classic horror films as ROSEMARY’S BABY and even more recently THE ORPHANAGE, THE DESCENT, GRACE, and INSIDE. In HOUSE IN THE ALLEY, the focus is on postpartum depression and losing a child--not uncharted territory in the realm of horror, but seen through an international lens, it all feels brand new.

Director Le-Van Kiet starts mid-action as Son Bao Tran’s character Thanh is helping his wife Thao (Thanh Van Ngo) during a difficult labor. As the blood starts spurting by the bucketful, he knows something is wrong, and while Thanh flails around uselessly, his wife ends up losing the baby. Flash forward a week, and Thao is still depressed and bedridden over the loss of the child. Soon, bizarre events suggest that something is wrong with Thao and it looks like Thanh is going to take the bulk of the punishment.

For the most part, HOUSE IN THE ALLEY is a ghost story about a young spirit haunting a couple after losing a child. It’s got all the trappings of a ghost story—bumps in the night, the sounds of bare feet running across the floor, ghostly images of children in the periphery. Thao is haunted too, not acting like herself and devolving into a more animalistic state. Thanh, being the loving husband that he is, sticks with Thao through the thick of it, a testament to his character as I would have been out the door as soon as I saw my first pale white ghost.

But HOUSE IN THE ALLEY has a lot of rich texture going for it thematically. Thanh’s mother doesn’t understand why Thao is so depressed and lacks compassion as Thao is looked at as weak for being overwhelmed with emotion. Thanh’s friend pushes him to be the man in the relationship and demand her to get out of bed and get over it. Still, Thanh stays noble to his wife when everyone else has given up. That’s the heart of this delicate yet devilish little movie which highlights the fragility of life while showing the ugliness one can undergo when dealing with death. Though deathly serious throughout, Le-Van Kiet maintains a tone that feels like he is dealing with this subject matter with a soft hand. All of the effects themselves are simple, be they a ghostly image of a boy reflected in the television or footprints burned into the ceiling. All of these images are impactful within their simplicity.

There’s a lot of rich theme regarding womanhood and what the Vietnamese culture sees it as in this film. More so than any horror movie, that can scare a lot of folks who are not used to thinking about women’s rights. Here, in HOUSE IN THE ALLEY, Le-Van Kiet explores that metaphor of the strength of womanhood and the role of it in the family structure with a tender touch, yet doesn’t flinch when it comes to scares.

And finally…our fifth installment of the Norwegian horror short series HORROR BIZARRE is called WILLIAM WILSON. It’s a little tale of woe as an old man believes he is a doppelganger! Enjoy the Norwegian weirdness.

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.

Check out the FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND Website for all things horror!

Interested in illustrated films, fringe cinema, and other oddities?
Check out Halo-8 and challenge everything!

Find out what are BLACK MASK STUDIOS and OCCUPY COMICS here and on Facebook here!

Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN HORROR’s Facebook page!

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus