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!
#15: ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE!
You can find ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE on Amazon here and on Netflix here. Below is my review of ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE from July!
ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE (2013)Directed by Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Written by Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Starring Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Amanda Grace Cooper, Reanin Johannink, Tom Williamson, Chris Petrovski, Leigh Parker, Nicholas S. Morrison, Jordan Wilson, Felisha Cooper
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
While I haven’t seen the original ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, I am a huge fan of the works of director Lucky McKee. MAY, THE WOMAN (reviewed here), hell I even liked RED and his installment in THE MASTERS OF HORROR series about the bug woman. This time, McKee pairs with Chris Silvertson who directed the original ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE in a mainstream style film with sharper teeth than most of the horror released broad these days.
The story has a large cast filled with interesting characters, but the central character is Maddy (Caitlin Stasey from TV’s REIGN), who tapes her childhood friend Alexis, suffering from a freak cheerleader accident and then vows to socially destroy her asshole boyfriend and captain of the football team Terry (Tom Williamson) and his new girlfriend/Alexis’ best friend Tracy (the sizzling Brooke Butler). Maddy is also trying to distance herself from her ex girlfriend Leena (HUNG’s Sianoa Smit-McPhee) who happens to also be a Wiccan. When a party goes wrong, the football jocks run the cheerleaders off the road, wrecking their car and killing them, but Leena refuses to accept their deaths and brings them back to life. Now these undead cheerleaders want revenge and nothing will stop them from getting it.
Though the story might seem a bit complex and convoluted, it’s reflective of the complexities of high school where people break up and get together on an ever malleable basis. McKee and Silvertson have crafted a script that is reminiscent of high school horror films like THE CRAFT, JENNIFER’S BODY, and HEATHERS, yet never does it feel like a rip-off or swipe. Because the cast is so large, the story bops around from Maddy to Tracy to Terry and back again, making it feel like there’s enough time for all of them to have a voice and a story. Yes, this is a mean spirited movie, with everyone having dark motivations, but that plays right in with McKee’s previous films where no one is truly good and everyone is a little bit bad.
The fun here comes from the performances. The entire cast is strong. Stasey is phenomenal as Maddy, who makes you like her despite her dark motivations. Even the vapid Tracey is likable and relatable with Butler giving her all kinds of spunk and fire. And Tom Williamson is amazing as the budding psychopath footballer who has the thousand yard psycho-killer stare down pat. I also have to mention how much I love the FREAKY FRIDAY swap between the resurrected sisters where the bible thumping bombshell switches bodies with her shy sister and the trouble this switch causes when a sexually repressed wallflower all of a sudden gets the body and the attention of a lead cheerleader. Fun stuff, but seen through the lens of horror, it makes it all the more interesting.
And that’s what I love about this film. More so than any other high school horror film, it takes interesting situations you’ve seen in other films and casts them on a horrific screen. In doing so, everything feels fresh and new. McKee and Silvertson keep everything moving at a frantic pace throughout, with a fun soundtrack and tight editing, where we see a sex scene in a handicap bathroom one minute, then pop right over to a murder in a van the next. Unpredictable, unconventional, and utterly poppy in a good way, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE proves that McKee (with Silvertson) can do mainstream and he does it with the same dark flair he’s always had. Being a fan of McKee’s for years, I hope this film leads him to bigger and more mainstream things, as the mainstream could use some darkening up. I highly recommend ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE. It’s bold and dark, filled with moments that’ll make you gasp and characters you’ll actually give a shit about when they meet their gory end. With the hint that this is only part one of what looks to be a series of ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE movies, I can only hope McKee & Silvertson are going to team up for the follow up capturing the same wicked magic that this film is permeated with.
Worth Noting: THE SEASONING HOUSE!While the first half of this film plays out like a torture porn flick you might have unearthed from the grindhousey 70’s, the second half turns into a surprisingly electric cat and mouse game as a young girl who is sold to a brothel by Nazis gets her revenge on her captors and abductors. It’s a simple and brutal revenge tale, but there is a lot of edge of your seat-y goodness to the last half that makes this one definitely worth a look see.
Check out my full review of the film here and you can check it out here on Amazon!
#30: STALLED (worth noting: CHRYSALIS)!
#29: RIGOR MORTIS (worth noting: I AM A GHOST)!
#28: GHOST TEAM ONE (worth noting: HYSTERICAL PSYCHO!
#27: THANATOMORPHOSE (worth noting: CONTRACTED)!
#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) !
#19: DELIVERY: THE BEAST WITHIN (worth noting: THE HUNTED) !
#18: THE MACHINE (worth noting: BLOOD GLACIER) !
#17: GRAND PIANO (worth noting: OPEN GRAVE) !
#16: WILLOW CREEK (worth noting: WOLF CREEK 2) !
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!