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

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Below are some of the best horror films at this year’s Fantasia Fest 2015 which is wrapping up this week in Montreal. Those of you who can’t get up there to the Great White North to see these films can at least put them on your list as ones to look out for. But have no fear, when they get released in theaters, On Demand, digital, or on BluRay/DVD, I’ll be sure to remind you of how awesome they are!

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

LUDO (2015)
BITE (2015)


Directed by Victor Zarcoff
Written by Victor Zarcoff
Starring Neville Archambault, Brianne Moncrief, PJ McCabe, Sarah Baldwin, Jim Cummings, Heidi Niedermeyer
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

One of the most uncomfortable and fascinating films I’ve seen in a long time is SLUMLORD, a unrelentingly dark comedy of sorts with horrors that will keep you awake at night because they are so real and play on paranoias we’ve all experienced from time to time.

Clair (Brianne Moncrief) and Ryan (PJ McCabe) are a newlywed couple moving into their dream home, though their landlord Gerald (Neville Archambault) creeps them the hell out. But they don’t have to live with the landlord, right? So the newlyweds decide to take the home, but unbeknownst to them, Gerald has set up a multitude of security cameras throughout the apartment. As Clair and Ryan go about their everyday lives; cooking, cleaning, fighting, having sex, and what-not, Gerald is watching a wall of monitors and enjoying this 24 hour a day reality show starring them. But when infidelity shadows the home, Gerald puts into motion a plan to make things right and keep the home together in one piece so that his reality show doesn’t get cancelled—making him sort of a demented matchmaker of sorts, trying to manipulate things in order to feed his voyeuristic desires. As the film goes on, Gerald ups the ante and becomes more and more a part of their lives and crossing boundaries left and right without them knowing until it’s too late.

Everything about Gerald (Neville Archambault) is going to creep you out. From the kind of staggered way Gerald walks around to the heavy mouth-breathing and gravelly mutterings that escape his lips, Gerald is a character who made every inch of my skin squirm every time he was on screen. Director/writer Victor Zarcoff knows this quite well as the camera often just lingers on his wrinkled, sweaty face staring at the wall of TV monitors in his secret lair. Like the lost cousin of Laurence R. Harvey from THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II, Archambault commands every scene he is in with a sort of ultimate pathetic power that is absolutely overwhelming; fascinating to watch, yet disgusting all the same. Seeing Gerald attempt a normal interaction with Clair is as uncomfortable as jumping into a bathtub full of earthworms. Archambault’s performance is what makes this film a horror movie of the highest caliber and he creates one of the more memorable movie bad guys you’re likely to see this year.

What also works here is the relationship between Ryan and Clair which has all sorts of layers painting them in a multidimensional light rather than the usual cardboard characters you see in horror films. Ryan seems to be a different person with everyone he interacts with and most dis-genuine with Clair, the person who he is supposed to be closest with. But while I wanted to hate Ryan (and there was a part of me that did), the relationship with Clair is realized in a manner that highlights both characters’ faults and why they most likely are not good for each other. The reality of the relationship which is definitely not your typical Hollywood romance added to the reality of the threat Gerald embodies makes SLUMLORD one heavy dose of real world discomfort many folks will not be able to take.

I stated this film is a comedy as it is quite ludicrous the lengths Gerald takes in worming his way into the lives of Clair and Ryan. Sneaking in when they are gone, feeding the dog McDonalds, fixing cameras that get broken, and finding out just where some of these cameras have been placed throughout the house; all of which reach a level of horror that if you don’t laugh at it, you’ll crack at how uncomfortable it makes you feel. The fact that this sort of thing occurs in the real world is what makes it all the more effective as SLUMLORD informs us in the opening moments. SLUMLORD is not a film for those who can’t take real life horror. And while it does go to an absurd level of horror by the end, the way Zarcoff expertly inches up the tension and complexity of Gerald’s involvement in the couple’s lives makes this a thriller that is on par with few others you’ll see this year. SLUMLORD is filled to the brim with fantastic suspense and scares that will needle their way into paranoid spaces you didn’t think you had. Highly recommended.

Slumlord Trailer (2015) Fantasia Film Festival from McManus on Vimeo.

Follow Slumlord on Facebook and Instagram!
Instagram: @Slumlordmovie


Directed by Ben Blaine, Chris Blaine
Written by Ben Blaine, Chris Blaine
Starring Abigail Hardingham, Cian Barry, Fiona O'Shaughnessy, David Troughton, Elizabeth Elvin, Sean Verey, Javan Hirst, Richard Sandling, Phelim Kelly, Lee Nicholas Harris, Bill Holland, Katharine Bennett-Fox, Tamar Karabetyan
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Chock full with the type of quirk and sickness that I haven’t seen in a horror film since Lucky McKee’s MAY, NINA FOREVER turned out to be the right type of wrong for me.

Described as “a fucked up fairy tale,” NINA FOREVER follows an outcast named Holly (the beautiful Abigail Hardingham) who studies to be a paramedic and works her days away at a local grocery store. When her boyfriend proves to know nothing about her, they break things off and Holly immediately takes interest in a dark, brooding coworker at the grocery named Rob (Cian Barry), who recently lost his girlfriend Nina (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) in a traffic accident and is grief-stricken. As the two grow close, Holly begins to find out more about Rob’s ex and respects that he is still getting over her (and most likely is more attracted to Rob because of his overwhelming grief). When Holly and Rob finally make love, though, this guilt and sadness seems to bring Nina’s ghost back from the dead as she sprouts from the mattress stained in blood, sort of like HELLRAISER, but more romantical. Of course, both Rob and Holly are freaked out by the naked and bloody corpse writhing and talking to them from the blood stained mattress, but when Nina keeps on appearing to keep Holly and Rob from having sex, fear gives way to frustration and though Rob and Holly’s love is strong, Nina’s bloody ghost is a big, gory wedge getting in between their happiness.

As gory as this film is, it is quite heartfelt and sensitive to feelings of loss and guilt, as well as potent in capturing that magic that happens when two people meet and hit it off for the first time. This is a film that has powerful feelings as its backbone driving the story forward and all three actors (Hardingham, Barry, and O’Shaughnessy) convey this grab bag of emotions extremely well. The fact that Holly decides to roll with the fact that the ghost of Rob’s ex hanging around is a testament to the power of their love, but the film doesn’t really stop there in that these ghostly interruptions push Holly to the breaking point. Sure there’s a bit of comedy at the fact that everywhere Nina shows up is smeared with blood and gore, so the couple have to keep throwing out their sheets and cleaning the walls every time they have sex because Nina’s gory intrusions, but the film plays with the metaphor of how death affects a relationship and how one looks at relationships after one has experienced loss in a way that elevates it past mere comedy to a deeper and more soulful level.

The odd thing about NINA FOREVER is that it is told from Holly’s perspective. This all makes sense by the end of the film, but for most of the runtime, one would think this would be the type of tale told from Rob’s perspective as he is the one who experienced the loss of his girlfriend and is dealing with her return every time he is intimate with his new girlfriend. Sure we are given snippets into Rob’s morose world where he visits Nina’s grave and has dinner at her parent’s place every Sunday, but most of the real emotion comes through the experiences we endure from Holly’s perspective. Because of this odd point of view, everything feels a bit off kilter. This isn’t horrible, it’s just another aspect of this wonky and unconventional film that makes things feel even more out of whack, but Holly is such a likable character that I didn’t mind following her around most of the time.

Often wickedly funny, often sweetly sexual, but just when you find yourself laughing or falling for these characters, things flip to being potently poignant and then downright morose, NINA FOREVER is a film for folks who like unconventional love stories with endings that aren’t so happy. The lead three stars are going to be big someday if their performances here are any indication, especially the uniquely gorgeous Hardingham who is equal parts sexy and twisted all at once as Holly. If you’re the type who love stories that stray from the norm, NINA FOREVER may be the right kind of fucked up for you too.

LUDO (2015)

Directed by Qaushiq Mukherjee, Nikon
Written by Qaushiq Mukherjee (story & screenplay), Nikon (story)
Starring Subholina Sen, Soumendra Bhattacharya, Ananya Biswas, Ranodeep Bose, Rii, Kamalika Banerjee, Joyraj Bhattacharya, Murari Mukherjee, Tillotama Shome
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

There’s a lot to like about LUDO, though I’m sure there are some that will disagree with me. The film takes what is expected in these types of films where a quartet of kids disobey their parents and go out for a night of drinking, drugging, and sexing only to find themselves so bored that they end up playing a game in an abandoned mall that turns out to be for life or death. It’s the way this film wraps up and chooses to dole out the scares that makes things so effective or possibly to some, ineffective.

LUDO is an Indian film steeped in the culture and proves to be a pretty amazing cross-section of how the boredom and tendency to do things against the rules are more of a universal thing than an American one. In the opening moments, we are introduced to four kids (two guys and two girls, though they look like twenty-somethings) who are sexting and making plans to go out on a double date. Ria (Subholina Sen) whose mother disagrees with her daughter’s rebellious behavior, skitters out of her home to join her friends and we are to assume the rest of the parents feel the same way, as all four kids spend the rest of the night getting drunk, getting into fights with random people, and finally breaking into an abandoned shopping mall when none of the hotels will put them up in order to have an orgy. In the mall, they run into a pair of homeless people who turn out to be some kind of mystics and are lured into a game called Ludo. The game itself looks to be a form of the American game Sorry where dares and other things less pleasing occur if one players chip lands on another’s. The game’s hypnotic power lures the kids into a trance like state that they may never escape from.

For a large part of the film; I’d say 40 minutes or so, you wouldn’t know this was a horror movie as the film most resembles an Indian version of Larry Clarke’s KIDS. There’s a bunch of youngsters saying and doing things that are way too adult for their age and getting sucked into adult situations before they are really prepared to deal with them, doing so in a reckless manner that makes you both feel sorry for them and angry at them for not enjoying their youth a bit longer. This opening portion of the film is entertaining in terms of a horror movie because it really does establish, pretty blatantly, that these kids deserve whatever hell is coming their way. So in that sense (in terms of conventional horror movie standards), the film really does an effective job of making us hate these kids who pick fights for no reason, get angry for no real reason, and only hang around one another because of what the other ones can to for them.

While they leave things rather vague, once the two drifters appear and the game begins, things get crazy pretty quickly. Yes, the kids are in a trance like state, but it really isn’t established why the quartet sit down to play this game with these crazy people, especially since they seem so judgmental towards so many people earlier in the night. Once the game begins, reality slowly chips away until nothing makes sense anymore and the film becomes a strobe light flash-show belching uncomfortable noises and images at the viewer’s eyeballs for what seems like a solid 40 minutes. There is a beauty to this sequence, mixing moments of false peace with loud sounds of death and destruction as each kid meets their fate, but not a lot of sense can be adhered to it as everything goes rather surreal and unexplainable. The simple fact that this goes on as long as it does shows a conviction that few filmmakers would make and sadly, most audiences in today’s society (including the kids receiving the horrors in the film by the ADHD way they act in the first half) wouldn’t be able to handle.

Personally, I found this extended slideshow of horror images and sounds to be pretty terrifying and soaked it all in, but I know modern moviegoers might get bored with it. The ending itself promises more horrors to come, but honestly by that time, even though I found the imagery to be transfixing, I was ready for things to end too. There’s a ballsyness to LUDO which can’t be denied, though it is a bit brazen about itself suggesting that the horrors you’ve witnessed are unparalleled. It’s not quite that, as anyone who has seen a Trent Reznor video will have seen a lot of these images before. Still LUDO is effective and unconventional and worth a look if you enjoy films that stray from the norm.

New this week in select theaters, On Demand, and on iTunes!


Directed by Ted Geoghegan
Written by Ted Geoghegan
Starring Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham, Susan Gibney, Michael Patrick Nicholson, Kelsea Dakota, Guy Gane, Elissa Dowling, Zorah Burress, Marvin Patterson, Connie Neer
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

WE ARE STILL HERE is the type of film they just don’t make anymore, and that’s a shame because it’s the type of film that I love. It’s a lived in film--one that feels like the world in which the film exists is well thought out and fully realized, so you don’t so much as watch the film as you experience it, as writer/director Ted Geoghegan patiently immerses you in this house and this horrifying situation to make a film that utterly transfixing.

Having just lost their son to a car crash, devastated parents Paul and Anne Sacchetti (Andrew Sensing and RE-ANIMATOR’s Barbara Crampton) move into an old home in a New England town to start over. But upon entering the home, Anne almost immediately feels a presence and, being overcome with desperation, she believes it is her son reaching out from beyond the grave to communicate to her. Anne invites her friends Jacob and May Lewis (writer/director/actor/all around great dude Larry Fessenden and Tim Burton’s ex Lisa Marie), who are sensitive to the paranormal, to give the house a reading. But what none of them understand is that the house has a long and horrific history, and the Sacchetti family is just the latest in what seems to be many families who move into the home and never leave.

The most prevalent aspect of this film is the pacing. While this might be a film that infuriates the ADHD masses, I found the long shots of the exteriors of the household interspersed with close up shots of the seemingly banal details of the house to set a mood that you can almost touch. One scene in particular focuses on the tendril-like trees with the bare limbs free of leaves due to the winter weather with the house in the background, then cuts to a close-up of a rusty hook on the side of the house. Little moments like this may seem throwaway, but they are crucial in ratcheting up the tension. Geoghegan channels his inner Kubrick here by patiently letting the scene envelop the viewer and pull them in to dangerous places. The long shots of the car driving at the reader down the snowy roads as well as the 80s style clothing reminded me so much of THE SHINING; though the story and content was vastly different, the tone is definitely the same type of creeping unease that permeates that classic film.

Another admirable aspect of the film is that this really feels like the tip of the iceberg in terms of the story involved. This film focuses on two different families’ plights, but there’s a greater evil at play here as you’re not really sure whether the recounting of the tragedies of the town are accurate or some elaborate ruse to cover up something more sinister. It’s this kind of ambiguity that adds to that sense of unease, as if the blacked-out spaces we don’t know make things all the more dangerous. The things we do see are horrifying. Geoghegan teases us with some clever play with shadows and forms in the background, but it’s the burning touch of the white-eyed ghosts with charred black skin that really up the horror. These original-looking specters are horrifying and reminiscent of the dark pirates from John Carpenter’s THE FOG in the way they look and move.

There are a few blips in the delivery of information that feel a bit info-dumpy, as when a neighboring couple stop by to educate the Sacchettis about the history of the house and again when the couple appear later in the film in a restaurant. Still, this exposition is necessary in filling in some of the gaps in the story. For the most part, WE ARE STILL HERE is proof positive that Geoghegan has not only done his homework on what causes effective scares, but is fully capable of delivering retro frights while making them feel fresh and new. All four of the main leads (Crampton, Sensing, Fessenden, and Marie) deliver rock solid and splendidly believable performances, with Crampton once again proving that her best acting years are ahead of her and not behind her in FROM BEYOND and RE-ANIMATOR. More horror films should take note of the patience used in this film. The need for a jump scare every two minutes is an insult and often leaves me feeling hollow upon leaving the theater. It’s almost impossible to leave this film unsatisfied as it is chock full of scares, thrills, and absolute horror. Highly recommended.

BITE (2015)

Directed by Chad Archibald
Written by Chad Archibald, Jayme Laforest
Starring Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak, Jordan Gray, Lawrene Denkers, Denise Yuen, Tianna Nori, Barry Birnberg
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

The structure of BITE is a familiar one, reminding me of body horror films of note over the last few years (CONTRACTED and THANATOMORPHOSE, to be precise), but the insectoid lens in which this film is cast through makes it feel more akin with Cronenberg’s THE FLY than anything else. This is good company to be in as all of these films made me squiggle and squirm. BITE will make you feel that way too, I guarantee it.

Casey (Elma Begovic) goes on a bachelorette vacation on a tropical locale. The found footage handheld opening minutes of this film (don’t worry, it’s not for the whole film) establishes that Casey has some doubts about marrying her beau Jared (Jordan Gray), Jared has a domineering mother in law, and Jared is waiting to have sex until marriage. All of this proves to be too much for the party girl who gets drunk and sleeps with a random guy at a bar. The next day, as Casey and her two friends are swimming in a secluded pond, something under the water bites her. Ignoring the pain and brushing the whole thing off as simple bite, Casey comes home to America and plans on having whatever happened on vacation stay on vacation. But these sins of the past come back to haunt Casey as the bite on her leg becomes infected and she begins metamorphosizing into some kind of monster. Holing herself up in her apartment, Casey is changing into some kind of creature and woe to the friend or lover who crosses her doorstep to see if she is ok.

As with THANATOMORPHOSE and CONTRACTED, the message here is, quite plainly, unprotected and reckless sex will kill you. All three films play with the metaphor of the horror of picking up an STD from a one night stand and what that does to a woman, her relationships, and her life. Not only is there a physical transformation, but there’s also the shame in receiving this disease that hurts and looks horrible, making you feel like a monster. It’s a metaphor that is ripe with potential and just as THE FLY did this with cancer, BITE does the same for STD’s as Casey is guilt-ridden first at what she did behind Jared’s back, but instead of telling him, she decides to keep it a secret. Later, the inner guilt evolves into Casey literally turning into a monster and makes her adulterous behavior impossible to hide for long. While the metaphor isn’t subtle, it speaks volumes and makes for some fantastic moments throughout the film that end up being very real, despite the fact that Casey is turning into a giant bug monster.

The effects in BITE is over the top gross and amazing to witness. Just when you think things can’t get more disgusting, it does as Casey is vomiting up little see thru eggs housing larvae, sprouting a tail, and losing all of her hair. The effects look to be pretty practical (though the prehensile stinger tail is definitely CG), so to see actress Begovic go through this transformation is pretty gnarly. The effects crew really makes not only Casey look horrific, but make her entire apartment a disgusting nest covered with egg sacs, mucous, webs, and other sticky secretions. This looks like an absolutely disgusting movie to make with all of the actors having to slosh around in slime, ooze, and what looks to be KY jelly for most of the latter half of the film.

Begovic does a fantastic job of convincingly turning from a beautiful guilt-ridden girl who made a mistake to a cold-blooded monster by the final act. Every step of the way she straddles the line of being both sympathetic and menacing. Director Chad Archibald continues to evolve in a positive direction as a filmmaker. While I found flaws in his last two films (THE DROWNSMAN and EJECTA), there is an undeniable talent to both films and I feel it has come together much more successfully in BITE by telling a simple allegory focusing on a common predicament and taking it to monstrous proportions. BITE is disgusting, depraved, disturbing, and diabolical…in a way that will please gore-appreciative horror fans in the fullest!


Directed by Joonas Makkonen
Written by Joonas Makkonen (screenplay & story), Miika J. Norvanto(story)
Starring Enni Ojutkangas, Veera W. Vilo, Gareth Lawrence, Roope Olenius, Joonas Makkonen, Marcus Massey, Katja Jaskari, Jari Manninen, Olli Saarenpää, Ari Savonen, Miika J. Norvanto, Maria Kunnari, Henry Saari, Marika Pekkarinen, Juho Jaakkonen, Marko Moilanen, Vincent Tsang, Juha-Matti Halonen, Orwi Imanuel Ameh, Ari Karhunen, Erno Michelsson, Harri Korkiakoski, Hiski Hämäläinen, Harri Marttinen, Alisa Kyllönen, Simo Räsänen, Orwi Manny Ameh, Simo Räsänen, & Matti Kiviniemi as Bunny the Killer Thing!
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Art snobs beware, BUNNY THE KILLER THING will take that upturned nose of yours and fuck it raw. But if you don’t mind guttural, potty humor to the maximum, this is going to be one hell of an experience you’re going to want to seek out asap.

Reminiscent of another over the top, overseas gorefest DEAD DNOW and especially it’s gory sequel ( reviewed here), BUNNY THE KILLER THING starts out running at full blast as a man and a woman are abducted by men in ski masks and taken to a shady operating room to be experimented on. Injected with a needle full of white fluid seemingly taken from a harmless widdle bunny, the man undergoes a rapid transformation into a giant man-shaped bunny with an enormous penis with the sole purpose to fuck things to death. Screaming “PUSSY!” at the top of its lungs, this creature goes on a rampage after a group of camping kids who have picked up a bumbling trio of kidnappers on the side of the road. Agreeing to party the night away, the kids and kidnappers have no idea a giant man-rabbit with a raging hard-on is barreling towards them and fucking anything that moves. Who will live? Who will die? Who will survive an encounter with the two foot long penis of Bunny the Killer Thing?

Don’t take a minute of this film seriously and you’re bound to have a blast. If you’re the type who is going to cringe, be offended, and point of how politically incorrect this film is, please just move on to the next film and keep your accusatory digit to yourself. The film is masochistic. It is horrifying. It involves a giant rabbit man raping and killing everything in his path be it man, woman, or beast. And while films set to a serious tone deeply disturb me when it deals with subjects like rape, torture, animal cruelty, and death, when these subjects are dealt with such a level of cartoonish and manic lunacy as it does here, I can’t help but be impressed at the no fucks given attitude on display. Playing on stereotypes, clichés, and many other non-PC tropes, this movie will offend and if it does, then it seems like it is doing just what it set out to do. BUNNY THE KILLER THING seems proud of being inappropriate and dammit if it isn’t refreshing to see this type of brazen wrong-ness displayed for all to see whether they like it or not.

Wall to wall gore and unbridled mayhem occurs from minute one to minute last. There’s a story—it’s not the most original, but it’s there. Each character has some nice moments and an arc that brings them out the other end of this film a different person. And it’s because we kind of care about the kid who masturbates a lot and wants to lose his virginity or the Chinese kidnapper who is falling for the drunk college kid or the thinly veiled gay relationship between one of the kidnappers and one of the party animal kids that makes it all the more fun and horrific when they come into contact with this monstrous walking erection. Like DEAD SNOW, the mayhem is grounded by the offbeat and somewhat goofy, but likable characters, so it’s a film that resonates despite its oddity.

Again, this is not a film to be taken seriously. From start to finish, this is a whirlwind of a gore and wrong that’ll leave you gasping for breath by the time the credits roll. So wrong. So much fun. I loved every minute of it, but if you don’t mind an excessive amount of bodily fluids, double and triple entendre, and a healthy amount of slapstick violence that makes EVIL DEAD II look like GHANDI, BUNNY THE KILLER THING is going to entertain your freaking taint off!

BEWARE: There’s nothing in this trailer that is appropriate enough to be watched at work!

New today in select theaters and On Demand from Vertical Entertainment!


Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas
Written by Juan de Dios Garduño (novel), Alberto Marini, Miguel Ángel Vivas
Starring Matthew Fox, Jeffrey Donovan, Quinn McColgan, Valeria Vereau, Clara Lago, Eduardo Fedriani, Matt Devere, Alex Hafner, Jeremy Wheeler, Katharine Bubbear
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

While zombie movies have become passé these days, I really think folks are just sick of uninspired zombie films retreading material we’ve seen a thousand times before. Add a new element or give it a new spin and zombies can be just as terrifying as any old monster. This is the case for the excellent new zombie flick EXTINCTION, which may have a somewhat uninspired name (I kind of like the original name of the film WELCOME TO HARMONY myself), but it delivers on just about every level a good zombie movie should.

The film opens with Patrick (LOST’s Matthew Fox) and Jack (BURN NOTICE’s Jeffrey Donovan) packed into a school bus filled with people on their way…somewhere. Right off the bat we are not really told what type of film this is, but you definitely know the mood is dire and everyone is terrified. When the bus ahead comes to a stop the second bus becomes even more concerned, and when one of the armed soldiers goes to investigate, an outbreak occurs and we see how fast this undead virus passes from one person to the next as well as how violent these infected become. Reminiscent of the outbreak scene in 28 WEEKS LATER, this opener packs a huge emotional and suspenseful punch and is an excellent opener to the white knuckle intensity that follows for pretty much the entire film.

Skipping ahead nine years, the situation has changed dramatically with Patrick and Jack not talking to one another and the baby who was born in the first moments of the film, which happens to be Patrick’s, is now being raised by Jack. This nine year old child named Lu (Quinn McColgan) is full of energy, questions, and a streak of rebelliousness that strikes the fear of god in Jack, whose rigid and controlled lifestyle has been crucial in surviving in this post-apocalyptic world. Though something has happened in between the opener and this new time in which the story takes place, the viewer isn’t let in on the secret until much later. The relationship between Patrick, Jack, and Lu is the driving force for the film and it’s a strong one as Patrick and Jack seem to have a bitter hatred towards one another, but not so much that Patrick has moved any further than the house across the street from where Jack and Lu live. Drinking the nights away and reaching out on a ham radio to find survivors, Patrick is a shell of a man in an arctic northern tundra seemingly far away from the threat of the infected. But when a naked and pale monster in the shape of a man crawls around outside in the snow sniffing for prey, it looks as if the infected have evolved into something even more menacing and adapted to the cold weather, posing a new threat that might be just the thing to repair the three’s strained relationship.

Matthew Fox and Jeffrey Donovan are fantastic here as best friends pushed apart by the toll of the plague that befell humanity. Fox is soulful and grief-stricken at what he has lost (at times reminiscent of the season on LOST where he returns home and is down and out), but retains his humor at times which comes out as he plays loud music and gives mock radio shows to no one drunkenly over the loudspeakers surrounding his home. Next door, Donovan’s Jack is trying his best to keep a rambunctious pre-teen entertained, educating her to survive, but also trying to be the father Patrick is not able to be. The contemptuous relationship between the two is amazingly fleshed out and really makes for some fine drama as these two are avoiding one another but can’t bring themselves to move away from one another given that they need each other to survive. Even as bitter enemies they have each other’s backs, and there’s something awesome about how this movie conveys this relationship.

The zombies themselves have evolved into something much more threatening in EXTINCTION. Reminiscent of the underground monsters from THE DESCENT with their noses and lips frost burnt off, these creatures make this much more threatening than your usual zombie fodder. The way the creatures move, interact, and attack are all unique, which also makes this zombie film so good and unlike the rest.

The arctic setting is another win for this film, as I have a tendency to love most horror films set in the snow. Something about the bitter cold and the stark landscape that looks innocent but is deadly adds to whatever beastie is lurking about in the shadows. Here the bitter cold is used as protection from the monsters, but as they have evolve it becomes just another obstacle for our heroes to be entombed in as the monsters descend on their homes.

Director Miguel Ángel Vivas has delivered a gorgeous movie which soaks in the golden sun, the twinkling and stark snowdrifts, and simple settings within the homes. Vivas also delivers all the right emotional beats that made me fall in love with these characters and root for all of them to survive. The climax of the film is jaw-droppingly good as Vivas splits the action into three locales, moving the camera through walls and across spaces vertically and horizontally to take in all of the action. It’s the type of sophisticated storytelling through camera movement you don’t normally see in films and a true indication that Vivas has many amazing films ahead of him.

So don’t be scared away thinking EXTINCTION is just another zombie movie. It’s filled with amazing action, drama that will make your heart swell and burst, and monsters that have evolved past your typical zombie fodder. If more films evolved the zombie concept like this, much of the stigma attached to zombie films would be dispersed. As is, EXTINCTION is an amazing little slice of cinema that thrills on all levels.

Coming to BluRay/DVD on September 8th from The Shout Factory!


Directed by Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy
Written by Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney
Starring Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Matthew Kennedy, Paz de la Huerta, Udo Kier, Laurence R. Harvey, Tristan Risk, Sheila Campbell, Jerry Wasserman, Samantha Hill, Brent Neale, Lance 'The Snake' Cartwright, Jasmine Mae, John Paizs, William O'Donnell, Mackenzie Murdock
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Reviewed by Ambush Bug

After dazzling me with the off kilter awesomeness of MANBORG and FATHER’S DAY, I was afraid the talented writers/directors/actors at Astron-6 were hanging up their funny and going a more serious route from what I saw of their newest feature THE EDITOR’s trailers. But this love song to all things Giallo is a tune set to a wonky beat as the film doesn’t so much as make fun of those Italian gore/mystery noir films of the 70’s as much as it just tells a goofy tale surrounded by what made those films so distinct in the first place.

The film follows a washed up film editor named Rey Cisco (writer/director Adam Brooks) who suffered a tragic editing accident which left him fingerless on his editing hand. He now wears four wooden fingers in a glove in order to look normal, but he relies heavily on his assistant Bella (Samantha Hill) to be his hands and cut the films for him. Forced to work on low budget crap films, Rey finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery when someone murders the film’s star and leaves him with stubs for fingers just like Rey has. Detective Peter Porfiry (co-director/co-writer Matthew Kennedy), who happens to be married to the film’s star Margaurite (Sheila Campbell) and also happens to look like a young Donald Sutherland as one character points out, is on the case to solve the murders. Meanwhile, second billed actor Cal Konitz (co-writer Conor Sweeney) is lapping up the opportunity to step into the role of star of the film. The expansive cast also stars Paz de la Huerta as Cicso’s sultry and conniving wife, HUMAN CENTIPEDE II’s Laurence R. Harvey as a priest with information about the ancient mystical history of editors, the legendary Udo Kier as a shrink looking to hospitalize all of them, and AMERICAN MARY’s Betty Boop Tristan Risk as one of the stars who is most likely not going to survive the film. Who is doing the killing? Who lives? Who dies? Eventually, after much goofing off, the mystery will be solved.

The beauty of THE EDITOR is how is straddles the line between being a serious film set in the Italian Giallo 70’s and a farce of those same films. Those films were melodramatic to the nth degree with ultra-machismo sensibilities, dubbed voices, and reactions that are way over the top and beyond. So the antics that go in on THE EDITOR aren’t really that far off from the way those “so bad they’re good” Italian movies from the 70’s actually played as. Most likely and obviously given the authenticity of the film, the folks behind this film feel like super fans of this genre of filmmaking as they are spot on with the gritty and Grindhousey way things were filmed, the overly-complicated plot twists, the obvious red herrings, and clichéd actions and dialog. While this film is absolutely outrageous at times, for a good long time, this film could play off as an unearthed gem from the seventies if no one were the wiser it was a farce. It’s this authentic method with which Astron-6 tells this story with attention to deep focus, layered action in the foreground and background, the color palette of deep crimsons and blues, stiff acting, bad dubbing, and the gratuitous gore and nudity that makes it all the more entertaining and fun.

Everyone, from the lead members of Astron-6 to the smaller roles given to key genre greats do a fantastic job in THE EDITOR. Brooks, Kennedy, and Sweeney bounce off of one another as if they’ve been acting out these antics for years with comedy timing that is impeccable. But add in creepy Lawrence Harvey who is dubbed a wizard, though he plays a priest and a pouty Paz De La Huerta and the ante is upped. Seeing these bigger named stars appear in this film with the goofballs of Astron-6 make it feel like these guys (most deservedly) have finally hit the big time. While FATHER’S DAY and MANBORG have indie sensibilities, with THE EDITOR, these filmmakers have reached a new level of hilarity, madcappery, and blood-drenched mayhem.

Loaded with gratuitous nudity, raunchy and ridiculous sex, uncoordinated action sequences, and sopping wet gore, THE EDITOR is a film you watch with your horror-appreciative friends with massive amounts of beer and a bellyful of laughs just waiting to escape. If you’re not familiar with Italian Giallo films THE EDITOR is paying homage to, first, I recommend you go out and check out as many of those films as you can as they are most definitely awesome. You can start with Argento and Bava and then move on from there. I could see this film falling flat for a lot of folks who have not experienced this type of cinema before. But if you’ve seen even a few Italian Giallo films from the 70’s and 80’s, you’re going to get a lot of the jokes and send ups here. I laughed out loud almost the entire way through THE EDITOR, a film that is equal parts gory farce and authentic Giallo. Astron-6 are a cadre of creative souls that I can’t get enough of and having conquered the world of Giallo here, it’ll be interesting to see what they will come up with next.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 14 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.

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