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Bugs, mold, zombies, ghosts, & dinosaurs! AICN HORROR says Everybody Dies Film Festival is the place to find excellent indie horror this weekend!

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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. In this special column, I’m highlighting some of the cooler flicks showing at this year’s EVERYBODY DIES HORROR FILM FESTIVAL in Brea, CA this weekend. The show starts tonight and tickets are still available here.

Below are just a few of the horrors to take in at this, one of the best indie horror film festivals around.

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Short Film: TASTY BRAINS (2013)
Short Film: SLEEPWALK (2012)
And finally…GIRL AT THE DOOR (2013)

Playing at tonight (9/13) at Everybody Dies Horror Film Festival!


Directed by Dan Bishop & Michael Beberashvili
Written by Dan Bishop, Shlomo May-Zur
Starring Lorenzo Lamas, Jana Mashonee, Cole Brown, Donny Boaz, Cody Vaughan, Alexandra Hulme, Kimberly Matula, Rowdy Arroyo, Marcus M. Mauldin, Declan Joyce, Carrie Newell, Jack Gould, Ines Brigman, Al Burke, Kyle Little
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Dinosaur films are not usually the kind of movies you see done in a low budget fashion. Usually they are the stuff of big effects from the big houses. But RAPTOR RANCH somehow manages to make things entertaining while keeping things on the cheap.

The story is simple. A group of kids out partying run into a singer and his two backup singers who were just run out of town for being pretty awful and for being too “colorful” for the local disposition with their meeting spot happening to be the same location where there have been recent attacks by what looks to be a large animal. In the first scene, we’re clued in that these animals are not coyotes, but velociraptors, long thought to be extinct. Turns out a local crazy is bringing up a herd of raptors (and one tyrannosaurus rex, of course) at his ranch and when the crazy falls ill, the raptors get hungry and go wild. This is bad news for all involved.

There are definitely aspects of this feels a whole lot like a ScyFy movie and in many ways it is. The effects are not the best with the renderings of the CG dinos being slightly off when animated over the film stock. The movements of the dinosaurs and the use of weight is off too, always a good indicator of cheap effects. So when you actually see the scenes with the dinos, visions of SHARKNADO, DINOGATOR, and MANSQUITO come popping up.

But the difference between RAPTOR RANCH and those other ScyFy flicks is that the acting isn’t as bad and there appears to be someone human other than 1000 monkeys writing the script. A lot of the humor here works with the deliveries from the mostly unknown cast members actually showing some skill behind them. And though I don’t often associate Lorenzo Lamas with good acting, he adds a little heft to his role as an FBI investigator and does a decent job of being the name talent associated with this film.

RAPTOR RANCH is goofy fun and not to be taken seriously for one tick. My initial head shaking toward this film comes from being burned by one too many stupid ScyFy films, but RAPTOR RANCH is the type of film those dull and uninspired ScyFy films wish they could be.

Short Film: Playing tomorrow (9/14) at Everybody Dies Film Festival!


Directed by Andy Morrish
Written by Andy Morrish & Jon Northrup
Starring Ron Elliott, Neal Polister, Juliana A. Morgan, Kate Froehlich
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

The setting is 2022 and the world has been overrun by zombies. It happens a lot, it seems. But have no fear, Chase Hunter, a guy who just wanted to be a sword slinging landscape architect, is here to chase and hunt zombies.

This little zombie ditty hits all the rights notes as Ron Elliot plays Chase Hunter, a cross between Kenny Powers and Ash, trekking across Middle America to a magical place called Wichita, where his lost love and unborn child was sent while the world was being unraveled. Writer/director Andy Morrish keeps the story simple and the shotgun and sword action fast from beginning to end and doesn’t forget to backload it all with a lot of laughs. The short running time is just enough to follow this tough talking guy who in most cases would probably not stand a chance against the zombie hordes.

But here, Chase Hunter is the guy to root for. Though the CG blood is as unrealistic as it usually is, I found myself laughing enough not to care. Hopefully, the zombies will not get to taste Chase Hunter or his son Punch’s tasty brains, so we can get more TASTY BRAINS shorts in the future.

Playing tomorrow (9/14) at Everybody Dies Film Festival!


Directed by Patrick Shearer
Written by Jessi Gotta
Starring Jessi Gotta, Nat Cassidy, Alyssa Simon, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Desmond Dutcher, Gavin Starr Kendall, Pete Boisvert, Christopher Yustin
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Many low budget films have big ideas well beyond their mean and 9 times out of 10 the stretching to make the movie feel like a big budget are obviously seen. What impresses me most as a reviewer is when a low budget comes along and plays within its own means, yet still is able to dazzle and surprise. This is exactly what THEY WILL OUTLIVE US ALL does.

Undeniably charming and utterly unique, THEY WILL OUTLIVE US ALL is an after the apocalypse tale like little others. Though the world might be ending around then with superstorms, rodent infestations, rancid water, and possibly zombies in the back alley, Margot (Jessi Gotta, who wrote the film as well) and Daniel (Nat Cassidy) are somewhat nonplussed about it as they have bigger problems like what to do with the dysfunctional coffee machine, the lack of hot water for their shower, and the neighbor guy coming home drunk and thinking their apartment is his place. When everything starts falling apart around them, Margot and Daniel take refuge in their home and just shut themselves up for the apocalypse, vowing to watch movies and get high and drunk until it passes. Unfortunately, the zombie in the basement and a puppy sized cockroach have other plans.

The best thing about THEY WILL OUTLIVE US ALL, and there’s a lot to like, is that it is intelligently and wittily written. Both Margot and Daniel are likable sorts, most likely working at a coffee shop or restaurant or bar. They are somewhat ambitious, but too caught up with the day to day grind to be bothered by the bigger things. These two characters are like my friends and they’re like me, and there’s something about them that is immediately likable, which is good since 98% of the movie focuses on them in their apartment. Margot is full of energy and Jessi Gotta is not only beautiful, but I’d put her comedy chops against any big league actor any old day. You can’t help but root for her and when the films gets darker later in the film, all of the time we spent getting to know her humdrum lifestyle pays off.

And this film does get dark, though it maintains it’s darkly comedic edge. There are some very well executed scenes where action is happening in two parts of the building which are edited together really well. The cockroach attack is bound to cause just as many shakes and shivers as it does laughs and the finale where Daniel fights to save his best friend Margot is both heartfelt and exhilarating. I was also impressed with not only the effects involving the cockroaches, but also the slime mouthed zombies lurching about.

The sole complaint in the film is the choice of music which is too much like 28 DAYS LATER’s “In the House” music. Though not exact, it’s all there and is too iconic not to be noticed. I wish they could have either done something simpler or gone for music more unique since it proves to be too distracting for an otherwise awesome film.

THEY WILL OUTLIVE US ALL is filled with one scene after another of either quality laughs that will make stuff jiggle, shivers that hit the spine with precision, and action sequences filled with both from start to finish. Both Gotti and Cassidy are talented enough to carry this entire film and never remind you that this little movie was done so cheaply. Cleverly written and uproariously effective in every possible way, THEY WILL OUTLIVE US ALL is exactly the type of gem I look for in indie cinema. Don’t miss this film!

They Will Outlive Us All trailer from Jessi Gotta on Vimeo.

Playing Sunday (9/15) at Everybody Dies Film Festival!


Directed by John Northam
Written by John Northam
Starring Jacob Edward, Stephanie Androsoff, Michelle Martin, Troy Anthony Young
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Sure there are definitely going to be comparisons tossed out there to MAMA after experiencing this short shocker, but I have to admit, SLEEPWALK got me and it got me good.

Some loving parents are concerned about their adopted son Simon’s abnormal sleep activities. New to the home, the youngster is known to sleep walk and have nightmares, but when Simon disappears in the night, there may be more than childhood imagination at play here. John Northam, who wrote and directed this terrifying taste of tension squeezes a whole lot of scares in just nine minutes. The filmmaker has an expert eye for building tension and sets up quite a few scares that caused my black heart to go a flutter.

Soon to be developed into a feature film called THICKER THAN WATER by the same filmmakers, SLEEPWALK is going to make you jump whether you like it or not. Personally, anything that makes me jump this high gets a solid recommendation from me.

Playing Sunday (9/15) at Everybody Dies Film Festival!


Directed by Don Thacker
Written by Don Thacker
Starring Adrian DiGiovanni, Jeffrey Combs, Danielle Doetsch, Ken Brown, Pete Giovagnoli, Robert Kramer, Erica Highberg
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Like THEY WILL OUTLIVE US ALL, MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH focuses mainly on the occupants of one apartment for most of the film. Unlike that film, which has two human protagonists, MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH has one male protagonist and a talking pile of mold voiced by Jeffrey Combs. From that description alone there are going to be a few differences between two films using a single locale for most of the action.

The other similarity is that both films are awesome. MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH is a fantastic character study of a man defeated, sitting around with months worth of grime, filth, and hair growth on his body with a path carved through pizza boxes and other garbage from the couch to the bathroom to the door and back again. Though it doesn’t go into too much detail in regards to why Ian (Adrian DiGiovanni) is so down and the actor’s performance makes us forget about asking these questions since his performance is so captivatingly sad and fascinating all at once. Ian talks directly to the camera through the film, walking us through his humdrum life. In most cases, this would he horribly pretentious, but there’s a sense of real soul in his performance that loses all pretention and made me want to go along for the ride.

When Ian’s antique television he calls Kent dies on him, it motivates him to find other means of entertainment. Only able to sleep for so long, Ian futzes around talking to the camera about this and that until he realizes that something must be done about the faulty TV. When he slips and falls in the bathroom, hitting his head on the floor, a pile of mold in the corner forms a mouth and begins talking with him. And that voice sounds an awful lot like the Re-Animator. Combs does a fantastic job as the pile of fungi who becomes Ian’s motivator to get his life back together. Though it takes a while for Ian to trust the pile of goo, soon he finds that it is trying to help him and the two embark on a quest to put his life back together.

All taking place in one locale, the charm comes from scenes of utter lunacy as Ian eats pieces of mold sprouting from the pile and goes on some gravity bending acid trips. Soon he’s starring in the television episodes he zoned out on, cleaning his apartment with new vigor, and shaving off his disgusting beard. The effects in the film are minimal, but the ones used are highly effective, especially the Muppet like pile of mold that undulates convincingly. There are also some amazing sequences of 8 bit pixilation animation that proves to be fun as well as the vertigo inducing slo mo falls Ian tends to endure.

The fact that 90% of this film takes place with a guy talking to the camera on his couch, all the while maintaining a creative, interesting, and intelligent edge all the way through is a testament as to how great MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH truly is. The alternating dark and light tones give this film a unique texture never really letting on as to where it will go next. Sure to poke, prod, and play with your brain in ways normal cinema does not, MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Coming from someone who has seen a lot, it’s refreshing to see so much ingenuity crammed into one little movie.

And finally…I posted this short GIRL AT THE DOOR written and directed by Colin Campbell a few weeks ago. The film stars the gorgeous Kristen Renton and Jeffrey Vincent Parise as a guy who bites off more than he can chew when he brings a girl home one night from a bar. The film is a haunting tale with a nice twist on the repeater ghost type. Campbell does a great job of amping up the tension with a very tight plot and some repeated lines which gain in power after every sounding.

But don’t take my word for it. You can see the whole thing here and the writer/director Colin Campbell will be at the Everybody Dies Horror Film Festival on Sunday afternoon to show the short film and answer questions. Enjoy the short, but beware, some may think this one is not safe for work (NSFW)!

Those of you in the Brea, CA area need to do your duty and support indie horror by checking out this awesome festival. You can still pick up tickets for the fest here! There are more films shown at the fest, so get on over there and soak in the indie horror!

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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