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Ambush Bug counts down the best horror films on AICN HORROR since last Halloween – Number 18!

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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its fifth year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days that aren’t toothless remakes or watered down sequels. The theater just doesn’t seem to be the place where the horror is at these days, I’m sad to say. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay or digital download.

As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2013 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth noting or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.

So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!


Why is THE MACHINE #18? Because it’s probably the best sci fi horror film you don’t know about. Starring ARROW’s Caity Lotz, this futuristic Frankenstein tale has stunning visuals along with fantastic acting and a compelling story. While purists might want to keep this one from being on a horror countdown, I justify its place here as it can be seen as a downright amazing modern reinterpretation of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

You can find THE MACHINE on Amazon here and on Netflix here. Below is my review of THE MACHINE from April!!


Directed by Caradog W James
Written by Caradog W James
Starring Toby Stephens, Caity Lotz, Denis Lawson, Sam Hazeldine, Pooneh Hajimohammadi, & John Paul Macleod
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Probably the most pleasantly surprising film I saw this week was THE MACHINE, from writer/director Caradog W. James. Reading the description of the film and even seeing the trailer didn’t really fill me with hope, but upon viewing the film I found it to be like MOON and DISTRICT 9 before it--one of those low-scoped sci fi films that is the reason behind this big new wave of sci fi films inundating us in theaters at the moment. It’s too bad that this film is small- scale, as it is a film that deserves to be experienced by more people, but in this case I guess THE MACHINE will be one of those surprises you happen upon on cable and wonder why you haven’t heard much about.

The film stars BLACK SAILS’ Toby Stephens as Vincent, an expert in artificial intelligence who strives to make robots that think and reason for themselves, but his experiments seem to lack a human quality that prohibits the machines from going crazy from the flood of the other humanistic qualities he puts into the robots. Soon he meets the adorable Ava (played by ARROW’s Black Canary herself, Caity Lotz), a fellow programmer who seems to have developed a way to counteract this imbalance, but before Ava and Vincent can make the perfect AI, Ava is killed and Vincent decides to use Ava as the basis for his first perfect robot that he calls The Machine. But the corporate head of the company Vincent works for, played by Denis Lawson (that’s right, muther-effin’ Wedge from STAR WARS is in this film!) wants Ava for a perfect killing machine, of course, and that’s where Ava is torn between the peaceful designs of her creator and the deadly intentions of her owner.

Even that description makes this film seem like an EVE OF DESTRUCTION clone or some other sci fi B-movie you wouldn’t give two blinks to, but aside from fantastic acting from all of the cast, the film is visually stunning. From the glowing blue eyes of the robots to the Giger-esque yet unique sets and machinery this film used, THE MACHINE is a beauty to lay eyes on. Director James does things with a simple warehouse with water on the floor that are gorgeously lit and fantastically choreographed. While the old JJ Abrams lens flare is used quite a bit in this film, it’s done so only during the AI scenes, differentiating them from the gritty human scenes. From the brutal fight scenes as Ava murderizes scores of foes to the quiet ones of Vincent exhausting himself in the lab, every scene looks fantastic and original.

Little details like the aforementioned subtle blue-eyed glow in the robots and the fact that the robots talk to one another in a garbled kind of techspeak sets this film aside as something full of unique and engaging ideas. Robot gone amok stories are a dime a dozen, but the filmmakers’ eye, the actors’ talent, and the imagination of both those behind the effects and the camera make this one of the best sci fi films I’ve seen this year.

If you are hungry for good sci fi, THE MACHINE is going to satisfy your appetite and then some. Visually stunning and superbly made, THE MACHINE is going to surprise quite a few folks. It’s getting a limited theatrical run before it hits VOD and then DVD. However you catch THE MACHINE, just make sure you do as it’s a sci fi gem worth finding.

Worth Noting: BLOOD GLACIER!

While BLOOD GLACIER can be seen as almost a beat for beat redux of John Carpenter’s THE THING, I find it to be a hell of a lot more fun that the recent reboot with all kinds of fun animal mashups attacking a group of scientists in a snowy locale. While this one has a WTF ending that is beyond explanation, I still had a lot of fun with this one up until then. Great effects and fun horror action and well, worth a look see.

Check out my full review of the film here and you can check it out here on Amazon!

The Countdown so far!
#31: DISCOPATHE (worth noting: STAGE FRIGHT)!
#30: STALLED (worth noting: CHRYSALIS)!
#29: RIGOR MORTIS (worth noting: I AM A GHOST)!
#26: LIFE AFTER BETH (worth noting: EVIL FEED)!
#25: AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR (worth noting: THE DEVIL’S MUSIC) !
#24: CHIMERES (worth noting: THE RETURNED) !
#23: AFFLICTED (worth noting: DEAD WEIGHT) !
#22: TUSK (worth noting: BENEATH) !
#21: FOUND (worth noting: RABID LOVE) !
#20: DEVOURED (worth noting: CRAVE) !

See ya tomorrow, folks, as I count down the best of the best covered in AICN HORROR since October 1st, 2013!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.

Be sure to tell your comic shop to order his new comic PIROUETTE (out now!) from Black Mask Studios!

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

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