Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I always get a bit glum after Halloween, knowing that the holiday I hold most near and dear is over. But then I remember that we have this column to share, and horror never takes a holiday!
Who’s had enough of Halloween? NOT ME!!! Here’s some more new horrors and a few oldies but goodies to enjoy and make sure Halloween lasts all year long!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-review: THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION BluRay Box Set: EDGAR ALLAN POE’S THE PIT & THE PENDULUM (1961)
Retro-review: THE AMITYVILLE HORROR TRILOGY BluRay Collection: AMITYVILLE 3D (1983)
Retro-review: ALL NIGHT HORROR MARATHON 4 PACK: THE VAGRANT (1992)
Retro-review: IDLE HANDS (1999)
ALL HALLOW’S EVE (2013)
MISCHIEF NIGHT (2013)
BOUNTY KILLER (2013)
SKINWALKER RANCH (2013)
Advance Review: 2/11: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (2013)
And finally…Matthew Forte’s ANNA!
New on BluRay from the Shout Factory!
THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION Bluray Box Set!
EDGAR ALLEN POE’S PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961)Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Richard Matheson, based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe
Starring Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele & Luana Anders
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
PIT AND THE PENDULUM was one of the first fright films I ever saw as a child, and definitely one of the first to introduce me to Vincent Price. Though the film is somewhat of a G-rated version of the recent torture porn we so often see in recent cinema and the torture device in the title is only teased at in the film until the end, it still stands the test of time as a true classic. Stuart Gordon remade the film in the late Eighties with a more sadistic tone featuring Lance Henriksen as Torquemada, but while Gordon took liberties with making his film closer to a retelling of the Spanish Inquisition, here Roger Corman chooses to remain closer to Edgar Allen Poe’s original masterpiece.
Vincent Price plays the tortured Nicholas, who is haunted my mental illness and nightmares from his childhood (vividly shot in Technicolor gorgeousness by Roger Corman). When Francis (played by John Kerr in a wooden performance comparable to a modern day Keanu) arrives at Nicholas’ castle to investigate the death of his sister (Nicholas’ wife, Elizabeth, played by the always sultry Barbara Steele), his presence stirs up all sorts of trouble. Price is at his best here playing both the tortured and the torturer as his sanity continues to slip, with visions of his dead wife lurking around the dark corridors of the castle. Once Price’s Nicholas snaps, it doesn’t take a genius to know the foreshadowing of the torture chamber scenes would come to play later in the film.
While watching PIT AND THE PENDULUM, I couldn’t help but become frustrated. Having endured sitting through recent turds with Roger Corman’s name attached such as DINOSHARK and SHARKTOPUS, it’s easy to forget that the man once had a firm hand on what was horror. Though Corman may have lost that grip today, PIT AND THE PENDULUM is one of those films that is as effective now as it was back when it was released: full of moody atmosphere, gothic themes, and twisted characters. Corman embraces all of the usual themes found in Poe’s work--an all too early burial, betrayal, and loss of sanity--in this perfect adaptation of one of the author’s best works. Price spent half of his career playing Poe’s characters; in PIT AND THE PENDULUM he gives one of his best performances in one of Poe’s best stories.
Retro-review: New on BluRay from The Shout Factory!
THE AMITYVILLE HORROR TRILOGY BluRay Collection: AMITYVILLE 3D: THE DEMON (1983)Directed by Richard Fleischer
Written by William Wales
Starring Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy, Candy Clark, Lori Loughlin, Meg Ryan, John Beal, Leora Dana, John Harkins, Neill Barry
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
The Shout Factory released a box set of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR containing all three of the original films. A few weeks ago, I checked out the first AMITYVILLE HORROR film (which you can find the full review here), and last week we looked at the creepy AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION (full review here). This week we finish the box with AMITYVILLE 3D: THE DEMON. While this series may be regarded as classic, I’m sorry to say that most of the scares are not going to be coming from this final film in the series.
Picking up some time after the last time we visited the creepy house in Amityville, we open on a couple trying to contact a lost loved one and a medium promising that they can make the contact. Soon tables rumble, whispers from beyond are heard, and ghostly apparitions start floating around, but just when you think the same old same old is happening again in Amityville, the couple show their cards to be ghost debunker journalists exposing frauds looking to cash in on the ghost craze. Now, I really liked this opening as it not only is an effectively fun scene, but it also makes a subtle comment on this film being the second sequel in the series as well as other films which spawned from the popularity of the AMITYVILLE movies in that time period. Smelling an opportunity, ghost hunter John Baxter (Tony Roberts) decides to buy the Amityville home for cheap to prove that ghosts aren’t real.
Joining John is his spiteful wife Nancy, played by Tess Harper, and his daughter Susan, played by a young and hot as ever Lori (FULL HOUSE) Loughlin. Now, in my review of AMITYVILLE 2, I commented on how Diane Franklin was my dream girl back in the day. A close second was Lori Loughlin, who was everyone’s dream girl back in the day, if my mind serves me right. You can say a lot of things about the AMITYVILLE series, but they knew how to pick some beautiful ladies for their films. This one even has Meg Ryan in a supporting role as Loughlin’s friend, and even back then Ryan shows a lot of the spunk that made her a star.
The film itself follows the Baxters as they move in, and while Susan and her friends are fascinated with the place’s history, John continues to assure them that there’s no such thing as ghosts. A few creepy things occur: a priest is swarmed and eaten by flies, doors slam shut, and some weird sounds are lingering in the air. And don’t forget that giant bottomless pit covered by some boards of varying length and strength in the cellar. Still, John is unconvinced. The thick-headedness of the cast to disbelieve the obvious strange occurrences around the house until disaster happens will cause some head slapping--that is, until the horrible happens.
While most of the film is pretty uninspired and idiotic, there is a scene halfway through that is worth the whole ordeal, and I hate to spoil it, so I’ll be vague. Basically, there’s a truly haunting scene where a person we know has died just moments before shows up to the home and mysteriously walks through the house. This scene is executed expertly as the rest of the family realizes both that the character has died, but also that the spirit is still lingering around the house as a ghost. It’s one of those haunting scenes that stands out and makes a mediocre movie worth watching simply for that scene.
That said, the 3D effects here are pretty asinine. Depth of field is never really considered, and the only thing the third dimension is used for is to take advantage of throwing things into the viewers’ faces such as Frisbees and other bric-a-brac, as well as the occasional demon from the bottomless pit and of course scores and scores of flies. Cashing in on the 3D boom right around the same time as FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3, JAWS 3D, and PARASITE 3D, tossing things in people’s faces seems to be the only thing the filmmakers seemed to be able to do back then…
It’s funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same as most filmmakers don’t seem to understand how to utilize 3D these days either.
AMITYVILLE 3D is saved by some decent performances from the cast, including Robert Joy, who suffers a fate that scars him much like the scar he had in the first season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Though the 3D is the pits and the puppety rubber effects are for shit, the film redeems itself with that key moment of sheer chilling creepiness I mentioned earlier. Not the strongest of the trilogy, which in my opinion goes to AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION, but AMITYVILLE 3D: THE DEMON has its moments--or moment, more accurately.
Retro-review: New on BluRay from The Shout Factory!
ALL NIGHT HORROR MARATHON 4 PACK
THE VAGRANT (1992)Directed by Chris Walas
Written by Richard Jefferies
Starring Bill Paxton, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell, Mitzi Kapture, Colleen Camp, Patrika Darbo, Marc McClure, Stuart Pankin, Teddy Wilson, Derek Mark Lochran, Mildred Brion
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Finishing up this four pack from The Scream Factory, glomming four dissimilar horror films together in one cheaply priced pack, I’ve yet to find one I can actually recommend. The four films include THE OUTING, THE GODSEND, THE VAGRANT, and WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? So far, I’ve been unimpressed with both THE OUTING (full review here) and THE GODSEND (full review here) and unintentionally creeped out by WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? (full review here). Let’s see how the final film, THE VAGRANT stacks up.
While some might attribute BIG LOVE for giving Bill Paxton acting cred, I have to hand it to THE VAGRANT for giving Paxton a chance to star in his first movie. If not for this film, Paxton may still have been playing douchebag older brothers like he did in WEIRD SCIENCE to perfection or asshole tertiary characters in Cameron films like TERMINATOR, ALIENS, and TRUE LIES or Bigelow’s NEAR DARK. Now THE VAGRANT is not a great film, but it did give Paxton the opportunity to play a decent, albeit unhinged, lead character.
Paxton plays Graham Krakowski, a go-getter of a guy who wants a home of his own for his girlfriend and is trying to lead a peaceful life. The new home he buys is a fixer upper, but one thing he didn’t count on was the homeless person (played grotesquely awesomely by Marshall Bell) who somehow walks in and out of his home and seems to haunt his every move. Graham goes to great lengths to seal his home from the pesky hobo, but despite alarm systems, ten foot fences, and multiple locks on the doors, the vagrant keeps finding a way into Graham’s life, and his sanity is chipping away by the minute because of it.
This is a fun descent into madness tale and somewhat of a fun metaphor for the ever-increasing homeless problem in America. Try as he might to ignore the filthy person who eats pigeons and pisses in his backyard, Graham can’t keep him out of his life. As Graham’s sanity frays at the ends, Graham even starts to look a lot like the vagrant as the movie goes on, which is a nice touch in my opinion.
There are some moments of laugh out loud hilarity in THE VAGRANT, and the humor is pretty dark. The problem is the shifting of tone throughout the film from screwball cat and mouser to horror comedy with a message and back again from one minute to the next. Director Chris Walas seems to have wanted one type of film at the beginning, but went overly wacky by the time the credits roll. Maybe the descent is consistent, but still, I felt the humor was much more reality-based in the beginning, whereas it was tougher to relate to in the end.
While I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find a redeeming film in this four pack with WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?, THE OUTING, and THE GODSEND all being duds of the highest order, it seems like I saved the worthwhile one for last as THE VAGRANT is worth quite a few laughs, plus it’s got some nice gross-out horror as well as Bill Paxton in an early starring role before he went all Mormon on us in BIG LOVE.
New this month on BluRay!
IDLE HANDS (1999)Directed by Rodman Flender
Written by Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer
Starring Devon Sawa, Jessica Alba, Seth Green, Eldon Henson, Vivica A. Fox, Jack Noseworthy
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Oh, take a trip back with me to a time when music was shown on MTV. Before texting and iPhones. Back when the term “slacker” was just introduced into the world’s vocabulary. IDLE HANDS is not a perfect film by a long shot, but with a talented cast and a concept that borrows heavily from numerous iconic films, the film proves to be a snapshot of the time it was filmed in and turns out to be a lot of fun too. Plus, the film takes place during Halloween, which fits nicely into our Oktoberfest of Fears we’ve been celebrating throughout this month here on AICN HORROR.
Anton is your typical slacker. He sits on the couch eating crap food, smoking pot, and watching MTV. Basically, Anton was all of us if you were young in 1999. Devon Sawa (whatever the hell happened to him?) plays the role decently and convincingly, as do his equally lazy friends, Mick and Pnub (played by Seth Green and Elden Henson). Though made long before SHAUN OF THE DEAD, there are a lot of similarities at play here as our oblivious trio of stoners don’t even know until after the last minute that a murderer is on the loose. In fact, in the first five minutes of the film Anton’s parents (which include the always funny Fred Willard, a talent wasted in this film) are killed by the serial murderer and it takes Anton almost two days to figure out that they are missing (and after he does, almost two minutes to get over their loss). Soon it’s revealed that there’s not a murderer on the loose, but a possession, as an age-old entity possesses Anton’s hand and, unbeknownst to him, forces him to kill.
IDLE HANDS borrows heavily from Bruce Campbell’s slapstick possessed hand routine from EVIL DEAD II, and later from the Oliver Stone and Michael Caine classic THE HAND, as Anton fights his own hand, severs it, then spends the rest of the movie trying to find it before it murders someone else. Fans of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON will also rejoice as the concept of the hand’s victims returning to life to haunt the murderer is replayed as Green and Henson do their best to provide comic relief as the undead who are still as lazy as they were when they were alive.
Though the plot contains holes you could drive a truck through, IDLE HANDS has a fun and somewhat charming cautionary message of the dangers of being a slacker, and clumsily stumbles onto the psychological delusion of “good hand/bad hand” usually referring to guilt and masturbation. Beyond all of that, there are quite a few fun moments of slapstick and gross-out humor as well as some heartwarming references to how music videos used to be such a huge part of culture back then. Plus you get to see some gratuitous T&A, a ton of potty humor, and the Offspring lead singer Dexter Holland gets his scalp ripped off. And expect a nostalgic blast from the past when Jack “Dead at 21” Noseworthy makes his appearance. All this and Jessica Alba’s toight pa-toot and you’ve got a winner on your…hands…ahem.
New this week on DVD!
ALL HALLOWS’ EVE (2013)Directed by Damien Leone
Written by Damien Leone
Starring Katie Maguire, Catherine A. Callahan, Marie Maser, Kayla Lian, Cole Mathewson, Sydney Freihofer, and Mike Giannelli as Art the Clown
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Iconic characters have saved many a film, and it does so again here in ALL HALLOWS’ EVE, another Halloween horror tale that tries to become the next big horror franchise. But while it did its homework on ways to make a movie monster scary, it kind of forgot to squeeze some kind of story into the mix too.
ALL HALLOWS’ EVE swipes a bit from THE RING, as a videotape turns up inside a trick or treater’s goodie bag. The kid doesn’t know where it came from, and though the babysitter doesn’t want them to watch it, the kids she is babysitting insist on putting it into the VCR. The film that plays is a short about a clown attacking some people intercut with images of brutality, insanity, and the bizarre. While the kids seem to love the show, the babysitter is thoroughly creeped out, and when she begins to get prank phone calls and hear creepy things in the house, her creep-o-meter goes off the scales.
While the story is highly derivative of everything from THE RING to WHEN A STRANGER CALLS to STEPHEN KING’S IT, ALL HALLOWS’ EVE stands out mainly because the killer clown, who goes by the name of Art the Clown (Mike Giannelli), is pretty terrifying. The black lipstick around corroded yellow teeth and bulging eyes makes for the stuff of nightmares, and seeing him pop up in the background and waddle his way towards the camera is bound to be enough to make any viewer shiver. Giannelli offers up a somewhat iconic role here as the creepy clown, making the most simple gestures and actions look as if they are coming from the most pants-filling nightmare you can think of.
It’s just too damn bad the story doesn’t match up, as what is not lifted from other iconic films is pretty paper-thin. The film serves as one random act of violence and stalking after another, as not only Art the Clown terrorizes the babysitter, but simultaneously another young girl is pursued by an alien robot thing for no apparent reason. There are also huge pacing issues in this film, as in between the clown and robot-alien attacks there are huge lulls of scenes of people slowly moving through houses being scared. I wish more content in regards to this found videotape and the origins of both the clown and the alien-robot were delved into and less was spent to add to the runtime with these dull scenes of young girls with flashlights.
As it is, ALL HALLOWS’ EVE has one damn scary clown that’s sure to cause you to sleep with the lights on. I can only imagine the fear would have been multiplied exponentially had the filmmakers spent as much time on the story as they did with coming up with the creepy as all get-out monster.
In select theaters this week,also available on premium Digital, Video On Demand, & iTunes!
MISCHIEF NIGHT (2013)Directed by Richard Schenkman
Written by Eric D. Wilkinson (story), Jesse Baget (story/screenplay), Richard Schenkman(screenplay)
Starring Noell Coet, Ally Walker, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Richard Riehle, Erica Leerhsen, Charlie O'Connell, Stephanie Erb, Shannon Makhanian, Ian Bamberg & Adam C. Edwards as the Intruder
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
There’s something to be said about a film that goes the traditional path. While I spent a bit of the second half of MISCHIEF NIGHT looking for some type of twist, I soon realized I was missing a fun little stalker film by thinking too much about it.
MISCHIEF NIGHT is about a young girl named Emily (Noelle Coet) who was somatically blinded as a child after a car accident which took her mother’s life. Her psychiatrist says there’s nothing physically wrong with her, but the guilt she feels about her mother’s death keeps her from seeing anything. When her father leaves to go on a date, Emily finds herself home alone on Mischief Night and what begins with pranks like eggs on the windows and spray paint on the garage door ends with a creep in a yellow raincoat and mask stalking her in the shadows. It’s your typical babysitter horror story, with the twist being Emily’s blindness and a lot of the scares in this film happening when the killer is right there in the room with her and she can’t see them, but we can.
In terms of tense scenes, this film’s got a lot of them. Coet is a likable actress, which immediately makes you want her to stay out of trouble, and writer/director Richard Schenkman puts her in a lot of those situations. There are quite a few red herrings lobbed around during this story, which had me guessing who was under the mask, and you might find yourself in the same place I was during most of this film--distracted from the more tension-filled scenes by guessing who’s hiding under the mask--but this film doesn’t seem to be about all of that. Sure, I was looking for a reveal that tied more into Emily’s blindness, but the more random factors of the attack do add a bit to the deadliness of it all.
The acting here is solid, especially from Coet, who is an easy character to root for showing a spunky charm despite her disability. There are a couple of moments in the story that left me scratching my head. People pop back and forth in and out of the narrative and while Emily is never really alone, it’s always her and someone else and never two people at once. There’s another subplot that never really gets addressed as Emily really wants to go snow skiing in Colorado despite her blindness that had me scratching my head. Call me crazy, but a blind person skiing sounds like a pretty bad idea.
Despite that head-scratcher, MISCHIEF NIGHT is a fun Halloween holiday stalker tale with some definite scenes of tension as the creep in the mask lurks in the shadows unseen by Emily. The film ends rather abruptly, and the reveal of who the killer is proves to be somewhat of a letdown, but the scares are solid throughout. MISCHIEF NIGHT does the stalker film justice by being old-school enough to know what to expect, yet it still does the job of scaring anyway.
New this week on DVD!
BOUNTY KILLER (2013)Directed by Henry Saine
Written by Jason Dodson (story), Colin Ebeling, Henry Saine
Starring Matthew Marsden, Kristanna Loken, Christian Pitre, Barak Hardley, Abraham Benrubi, Gary Busey, Beverly D'Angelo, Eve, Kevin McNally, Alexa Vega, Jolene Andersen, Chasty Ballesteros, Ivar Brogger, Tyra Colar, Will Collyer
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
If the future is anything like the future depicted in BOUNTY KILLER it’s going to be cool as shit. Despite the fact that the earth is a dustball and owned and divided by evil corporations, the action is fast and funky, you’ll be able to toil around in a bounty hunter gang, and all of the women are hot as all get-out. Plus if you’re a really good bounty hunter, you get your own gun caddy, which is pretty sweet.
Impressingly funded by a Kickstarter, BOUNTY HUNTER is the tale of Drifter (Matthew Marsden), the best there is at what he does and what he does is hunting down humans and cashing them in for bounties. At his side is his noble gun caddy Jack (Barak Hardley), who is always there supplying Drifter with bullets and guns when he runs out--think of him as Drifter’s perfect Bagger Vance, in golf terms. Competing for best of the best is Drifter’s former trainee Mary Death (Christian Pitre), who is probably the hottest woman I’ve seen on film in quite a while. And she’s equally as deadly, as she proves when both she and Drifter go after the same bounty, putting them at odds with one another despite some obvious chemistry between the two. Throw in a batshit Gary Busey in a role that is a bit more than a cameo, Kristanna Loken as the Big Bad with ties to Drifter’s past as well, Beverly D’Angelo as a whorehouse madame, PARKER LOUIS CAN’T LOSE’s Kubiak Abraham Benrubi as a nutzo weapons master, and popstar Eve as another bounty hunter from a tribe of cannibalistic deviants and you’ve got one fun cast of characters.
Even better than the cast are the highly energetic and creative action scenes. You might think that you’ve seen all the ways you can ever imagine someone killing someone, but this film finds brand new methods of murder and dismemberment. From gun fu to downright fisticuffs ass-kickery, every time a fight occurs you’re in for something fresh and fun. Filmed at a distance for the audience to follow the action (something even the big guns like Nolan can’t seem to get right), it’s all the more impressive seeing this talented cast perform these amazing feats of violence.
I can’t say enough good things about BOUNTY KILLER. It’s reminiscent of 80s ROAD WARRIOR riffs like SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE and CHERRY 3000, while still heavily borrowing from everything from STAR WARS to RUNNING MAN to THE ROAD WARRIOR itself. Sure we’ve seen car chases with beat up cars putting the pedal to the metal across the desert, but director Henry Saine makes every scene count in terms of advancing the simple yet effective story as well as making it kick you in the balls with the intensity of the action involved. There’s an especially effective scene where Drifter is being held captive in a room behind soundproof glass. As the bad guy taunts him, she doesn’t know that behind the soundproofing, her stronghold is under attack. It’s hilarious to see her silently and confidently monologueing to him as all of her troops are torn to shreds behind her in an extremely gory fashion.
The lead actors involved here playing Drifter (Matthew Marsden) and his gun caddy Jack (Barak Hardley) are pitch perfect, with their adversarial relationship making it fun to watch and to see them grow closer as partners is an effective little subplot. But nothing matches the sheer spunk and gumption the gorgeous Christian Pitre conveys as the bounty killer Mary Death. Someone big is going to see this film and swipe her up to play something in a big budget ass-kicker of a film, I guarantee. Not only is she beautiful, but she gets down and dirty here in the multiple action scenes and she looks damn fine shooting a handgun.
If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic adventure and have a hankering for over the top gore and violence, BOUNTY KILLER is the stuff you’ve been dreaming of. Since it isn’t an established superhero property or a remake or sequel, I understand why it didn’t hit major distribution in theaters, but it’s the type of film that deserved to be. I’d love to see more BOUNTY KILLERs if it were handled in the same fashion. As is, you’re going to love this film.
In limited theaters, on iTunes, and available on Video On Demand!
SKINWALKER RANCH (2013)Directed by Devin McGinn
Written by Adam Ohler
Starring Devin McGinn, Carol Call, Kyle Davis, Michael Black, John Gries, Taylor Bateman, Erin Cahill, Michael Horse, Nash Lucas, Matthew Rocheleau
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I don’t really know why, but while I, like most of you, are growing tired of found footagers, films focusing on UFO abductions and paranormal alien encounters always get my spine a tinglin’. Films like FIRE IN THE SKY, COMMUNION, the recent found footage film ABSENCE ( full review here), and even the Keri Russell flick DARK SKIES ( full review here) hit me in a place where few films do. Maybe I was abducted at one time and it’s triggering something in me? Who knows? What I do know is that, though the cam is a shakin’ and the POV is used a plenty, SKINWALKER RANCH is a UFO found footager that was a lot of fun to experience.
While the events that have occurred on the real life Skinwalker Ranch have been well documented by everyone from Joe Rogan to Jesse “The Body” Ventura, this film SKINWALKER RANCH is a fictionalized account of an investigation that is said to have been done in 2011 with the footage just “showing up” recently and released for all of us to decide what to believe. Riiiiiiiiight.
I recognize a lot of the actors in this film, which at first I found to be a detriment to the film since I associate them with other movies such as John Gries (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE’s Uncle Rico) who is the Wolfman in possession of nards in MONSTER SQUAD, I believe and also played a wolfman in FRIGHT NIGHT II. Here he is the father of a little boy whose abduction was caught on tape and who continues to be haunted by his disappearance today. Kyle Davis plays a gung ho tech guy, but is also recognizable from THE LAST LOVECRAFT, the remake of FRIDAY THE 13TH, and DEXTER, while director/actor Devin McGinn is also from THE LAST LOVECRAFT. Recognizing these actors may be tough for those who don’t see a lot of films, but if you’re like me and have seen more films than most will see in a lifetime (and I know there are a lot of you out there), seeing actors you’ve seen before kind of takes away from the real life quality that they’re trying to convey in the film.
That said, there are some seriously creepy ass moments in this film as it covers everything from UFO’s to chupacabra to alternate realities to grey aliens to cattle mutilations. Skinwalker Ranch seems to be a Mecca for paranormal happenings and it all shows up in this film. The giant wolf monster is especially effective. This film features a giant wolf unique from anything you have seen before and it’s equally scary. The greys are not the type you see on AMERICAN DAD, but lumpy tumorous creatures with lengthy arms and legs. And even the spaceships are distinct from the norm. All in all, the effects and horrors in this film are some of the most original portrayals of the subject matter put to film.
The story itself focuses mainly on the investigation, whether or not the organization that sent the team into this prairie version of the Bermuda Triangle did so on purpose, and the mystery of the abducted boy. There’s a lot to cover in this film and most is just covered breezily before something even weirder happens, making me wish just one of these aspects was investigated at length. But the film chooses the roller coaster motif and for the most part, it works. While there are a lot of found footagers put there to choose from, be sure not to write off SKINWALKER RANCH. If you do, you might miss one of the better ones.
In limited theatrical release this weekend!
2/11: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (2013)aka NOVEMBER 2: DAY OF THE DEAD, 2/11: A HORROR FABLE
Directed by Ezio Massa
Written by Ezio Massa, Sebastian Tabany
Starring Juan Gil Navarro, Agustina Lecouna, Carlos Kaspar, German Baudino, Nicolas Alberti, Galit Gurovich, Matías Firenze, Fernando Roa, Julio Zarza, Chucho Fernandez,
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
This film from Argentina is most likely not going to be available for anyone outside of its home country yet, but since the date the film focuses on is so close, I couldn’t help but give 2/11: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS some love before it hits the fests here in the States.
The film opens with a man Elias caked in blood wandering out of a forested area and into the street. Cut then to a man telling a campfire tale to a bunch of kids about a female wolf leading a pack of dogs out to the forest so they can be slaughtered by her male wolf pack. The scene from the campfire story plays out almost exactly later on when a woman leads a group of young men (Elias included) into the forest from a club and to their doom. We then realize that the scene from the beginning is the aftermath of the bloody encounter and Elias is not only the only survivor, but the prime suspect of the others’ murder. Elias’ brother, a police officer named Santiago (Juan Gil Navarro who looks uncannily like Josh Brolin) becomes obsessed with what happened to the slain men and finds himself toppling into a hidden cult celebrating a devious ritual.
Though there are some definite scenes of horror, mostly involving the way the film flashes shocking images almost subliminally during scenes of increasing tension, 2/11: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS is much more of a police procedural thriller. While there are a lot of devious things going on, the most thrilling part is Santiago’s investigation as he inches closer to the truth behind his brother’s death and how it involves the specific date of November 2nd. Director Ezio Massa keeps his poker face for most of the film, despite the flashes of horrific imagery, and delivery an extremely patient and well crafted mystery where you’re not sure you really want to know the truth of what happened in the woods that night as we in closer and closer.
There are some moments that require quite a lot of exposition in 2/11: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS. As the rituals and date are in need of quite a bit of explanation and there’s a lot of history at play here. While I don’t mind the campfire tale, the expositional scenes do weigh a bit heavy as a hermit in the woods is introduced only to give more clues to the mystery and then, when his purpose is finished, he is immediately killed off. I wish the filmmakers incorporated that info into the story more naturally than have it told to us by news report, computer article read aloud, and other expositionary methods.
That said, there’s a lot of tense scenes and the film is incredibly acted. Massa also ends his film on a high and exciting note, which is refreshing given the somber tone. It may not be an ending that will satisfy all, but it does do a good job of bringing things full circle back to the beginning and I like that type of thing. 2/11: DIA DE LOS MUERTE may mean zombies and military bunkers to us in the States, but in this film it’s something entirely different and pretty entertaining at that.
And finally…here’s a zombie short film with a serious tone that really struck me the first time I caught it. I thought since we’re all coming down from our Feast of All Saints, this would be a great short to sober up with. Rounding out the column this week is Matthew Forte’s excellent mix of drama and horror, ANNA!
If you like what you see, follow ANNA on Facebook!
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 4. Mark’s written comics such as THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be a feature film from Uptown 6 Films), Zenescope’sGRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13 & UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES – THE HUNGER and a chapter in Black Mask Studios’OCCUPY COMICS. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark also wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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