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What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Welcome to the darker side of AICN! Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Before we head into this week’s reviews, I wanted to let folks know about my own new website, which will serve as both an archive for my thousands of horror movie reviews as well as updates on my own upcoming comic book projects. I’m just beginning the archive, but it will be a one stop shop for all of my reviews all categorized and lumped in one place. So zip over to and let me know what you think of it!

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On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

THE HORDE (2016)
SHE KILLS (2015)
EMELIE (2015)
BITE (2015)
Advance Review: UNEARTHED & UNTOLD: THE PATH TO PET SEMATARY Documentary (2016)
And finally…”Light’s Out: He Dug It Up!”

New this week on Bluray and DVD from The Shout Factory!


Directed by Jim Wynorski
Written by William Dever, Corey Landis, Jim Wynorski
Starring Dominique Swain, Traci Lords, Christine Nguyen, Cindy Lucas, John Archer Lundgren, Corey Landis, Amy Holt, John Callahan, Skye McDonald, Serafin Falcon, Oscar DeRosa, Chris De Christopher, Steve Goldenberg, Tabitha Marie
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

There are times when brainless fun is just the amount of entertainment I need in a film, and times when the film snob in me just gets annoyed that stuff like SHARKANSAS WOMEN’S PRISON MASSACRE has been made. I’m sure there are plenty of films in Hollywood on the back burner or in limbo that are ten times the film this one is, but then again, if you’re looking to zone out and watch horrible CG devour horrible actors, then this is just the film you’ll be looking for.

Damn those frackers! They blew it again and let loose a gaggle of prehistoric sharks in the Arkansas swamp land. This occurs just in time when a bunch of soft core porn actresses dressed in skimpy tank tops and jorts are out doing their community service for a local women’s prison. Sure enough, someone tries to break the scantily clad gals out of prison, but the whole escape is mucked up by sharks that not only swim through the shallow swamplands, but also the land surrounding the murk.

The main problem with this film is that it fills its ranks with Z-list celebrities and Skinemax actresses and seems to want to pay homage to those women in prison grindhouse flicks, but it forgets to go the distance and actually deliver on any T&A. So you have porn stars bounding about trying (and failing) to get their Oscars, you have lesbians breaking other lesbians out of prison and hunky scientists falling for some of the inmates, yet not a shred of clothing is shed.

Had this film gone for the gold and delivered on some skin, I would have forgiven it for the awful acting and CG sharks. But because it tries to go out of its comfort range and be something it’s not, the film fails miserably. The one exception is soft core porn actress Christine Nguyen, who if you have any premium cable channel you will have seen a lot of her in after hours flicks too numerous to mention, who actually delivers a solid performance. This is with actual actors like Traci Lords and Dominique Swain sleeping through their performances. It’s possible Nguyen actually might have a career outside of the biz, but she remains the only bright spot in this otherwise lame SyFy monster mash we are all way too sick of by now.

New this week in select theaters and On Demand from Momentum Pictures!


Directed by Kelvin Tong
Written by Kelvin Tong
Starring Matthew Settle, Elizabeth Rice, Pamelyn Chee, Elizabeth Lazan, Jaymee Ong, Adina Herz, Kheng Hua Tan, Adrian Pang, Colin Borgonon, Rayann Condy, Shane Mardjuki, Crispian Chan, Marcus Mok, Victoria Mintey, Ravi Chandran, Gus Donald
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

A handful of effective scares and thrills are hidden within this rather convoluted tale of curses, disease, ghosts, possession, and resurrection.

Suffering from Huntington’s Disease, Jamie (Elizabeth Rice) is shocked to hear about the sudden death of her older sister Anna (Rayann Condy) living in Singapore and immediately flies out to find out what happened in the days leading up to her death. Anna suffered from Huntington’s as well, as does her daughter Katie (Adina Herz). Packing up her sister’s things and trying to help Katie cope with the loss of her mom, Jamie uncovers an ancient curse that may have something to do with the death of her sister, making her susceptible to the curse herself.

There’s a whole lot going on in THE OFFERING, which at first seems like a typical possession film until it starts piling on more and more details such as the ancient Tower of Babel, ghosts, a possible cure for Huntington’s disease through suicide, and promises of resurrection. The main problem with this film is that it tries to be too much as well as trying to be a CONJURING/INSIDIOUS/SINISTER type mishmash and only delivers base level details of all of these supernatural genres. And aside from some decently choreographed scares (which I’ll get to in a minute), the film has difficulty doing anything different and new. Of course, there’s a final scene with a possessed girl strapped to a chair with a priest screaming at her. Of course there’s a dark closet which pulls people into it. Of course there are little ghost children in old timey clothes appearing and disappearing here and there. All of these scenes can be seen in any of the Blumhouse films, and to see them here just makes things feel unoriginal.

That said, THE OFFERING does excel in setting up some great scares such as a moving telescope which taunts one of the actors to look through it. It’s this type of scare that makes me think some real thought and effort went into making this, as there are some interesting themes going on about the Tower of Babel and a curse that promises a cure and a resurrection after seven days. Yes, this again feels lifted from J-horror films like THE GRUDGE and THE RING, but the way the film presents its main conflict--that of a group of people who will stop at nothing to find a cure for a disease they have--is a winner. The whole thing, though, gets bogged down with possession/haunting mumbo-jumbo and never lets that winning concept shine through.

New this week On Demand and on DVD on July 5th from Uncork’d Entertainment!


Directed by Zack Ward
Written by Zack Ward & James Cullen Bressack
Starring Emily Roya O'Brien, Adrian Gaeta, Zack Ward, Sarah Ann Schultz, Anna Harr, Nick Principe, Kirsty Hill, Keith Jardine, Kevin Porter, Pilar Schneider, Pam Hyatt
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Though he probably hates bringing it up, Zack Ward is probably best known from his iconic role of Scut Farkus, the yellow-eyed bully from A CHRISTMAS STORY, but he also seems to be an appreciator of horror these days. He starred in and produced the pretty awesome DON’T BLINK which was released last year, and co-wrote and directed the subject to of this review, RESTORATION, which despite some pacing issues contains some promise that possibly one day Ward might get out from other his childhood role’s shadow.

Rebecca and Todd Jordan (Emily Roya O'Brien and Adrian Gaeta) move into a new home and decide to do some renovations immediately to make room for their new lives with their new and unplanned pregnancy. Upon moving in, they are met by their overzealous neighbors (Ward and Sarah Ann Schultz) who end up being very helpful when supernatural things begin to happen in the night in their new home. As things begin to bump louder in the night, it becomes apparent that Rebecca and Todd have stumbled into the middle of something they might not get out of alive.

While folks are tired of the found footage and zombie films, I think it’s important to note that one of the most overplayed concepts in horror (other than the cabin in the woods scenario) is the “couple buys a new home to find it is haunted/possessed or the site of a grisly murder/alien abduction/cult ritual/underground Teletubby counterfeit ring” scenario. That said, despite the overdone concept, Ward and Bressack do a good job at building the tension and making the payoff resonant in this film. While some of the twists are pretty obvious from the get go, Ward makes everything pretty interesting with some creative tweaks which seem to indicate Ward is a director with promise. This is a low budget film, but Ward works well within those limits and is able to give the film a creative opener and quite a few scenes of high suspense.

So if you can run with a concept that seems like a broken record, some solid performances and some slick filmmaking are to be expected from RESTORATION.

New this week on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Movies , Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, Microsoft Video Store, Playstation Network, Hoopla, and On Demand from Gravitas Ventures!

THE HORDE (2016)

Directed by Jared Cohn
Written by Paul Logan
Starring Paul Logan, Matthew Willig, Bill Moseley, Vernon Wells, Costas Mandylor, Nestor Serrano, Sydney Sweeney, Tiffany Brouwer, Nils Allen Stewart, Jonathan Erickson Eisley, Bobby C. King, John Omohundro, Elisabeth Ferrara, Zac Goodspeed, Frankie Ray, Steven Lambert, Thomas Ochoa, Amanda Godepski, Devin Reeve, Jos Deacon, Jeffrey Damnit, John J. Tierney, Zahra Susan Ingersoll, Jack David Frank, Cory Fisher, Eddie Aguglia, Cyle Conway, Belinda Cussins
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

THE HORDE isn’t a terrible mix of action and horror, pitting an ex-Navy SEAL against a group of mutants in the woods. While it views as a bare bones THE HILL HAVE EYES riff, the gore and action make up for the parts that feel a bit too familiar.

A group of horrifically clichéd college students must complete a photography class assignment on a hiking trip in the very woodland that a group of hillbilly miners have lived in for ages. When a trio of prisoners escape from a prison, they take over the group of mutants and use them to run a meth lab/cannibal cookery, preying on any campers who happen into the woods. But they weren’t counting on ex-Navy SEAL John Crenshaw (Paul Logan, who also wrote this one) to be along for the camping trip and planning on popping the question to the teacher of the group. When the mutants and inmates attack, Crenshaw unleashes a Rambo fury on them.

It’s obvious writer Logan and director Jared Cohn (who directed LITTLE DEAD ROTTING HOOD) were looking to make an action/horror vehicle to launch some kind of action star career for Logan al la Van Damme, Lundgren, and Jeff Speakman from the 80s. The problem is that it’s not the 80s anymore, yet this film is written like it is as it features the lead only in a completely positive light, being the noble ex-Navy SEAL, the sensitive lover, yet still the deadly killing machine who breaks limbs and ends lives without mercy. Had this film any depth, it would have gone into the shock his bride to be might have experienced seeing her sensitive lover ripping off arms and shooting flaming arrows through people with no remorse, but because Logan is the unabashed hero here, never is her seen as anything but the peak of perfection. Entering the film shirtless and cut all to hell, Logan clearly takes care of himself, but as a writer he should realize that what makes us interesting is our flaws, not a sterling outer shell.

This made me care not a shit for the people in peril, who are beyond clichéd and horribly written. Each of the innocents are worse than the next: two of them simply make out the entire time they are onscreen until they are killed, another harbors a crush on the virginal girl (but is killed before anything develops), and lastly there’s the effeminate, pompous rich asshole who is there to simply have us root for him to die (don’t worry--he is given a gory death scene). The rich asshole is especially horribly acted and, again, seems to be there only to make our hero (the guy who wrote the film) look good. The biggest problem is that it seems some thought was put into the three inmates (played by Vernon Wells, Costas Mandylor, and Matthew Willig) who have taken over the inbred mutant horde. Personally, the backstory Mandylor describes about how the three inmates took over the horde seems more interesting than anything that occurs on screen.

On the surface level, there are things to like about THE HORDE. The gore is pretty intense, as is the violence. Vernon Wells by far gets the most intense scene as he delivers a monologue about tasting fear in the meat he cuts from his victims, and a film focusing solely on him would be miles better than what we got. But to me, a little too much was put in this film to make a career rather than focusing on making this an original and interesting story. Other things of note: though he is given top billing, Bill Moseley is only in this for about four minutes and there’s an inexplicable cameo by Don “The Dragon” Wilson that, for me, is the best part of the film. The action is fun if you like seeing overly buff guys kicking, punching, shooting arrows, and snapping necks, but if you’re looking for anything deeper, this one doesn’t deliver.

Advance copies available by participating in the IndieGoGo campaign for the new film HOUSE SHARK which ends at the end of March – so donate and pick up your copy now!

SHE KILLS (2015)

Directed by Ron Bonk
Written by Ron Bonk
Starring Jennie Russo, Trey Harrison, Michael Merchant, Jody Pucello, David Royal, Martha Zemsta
Find out more about this film here, on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

SHE KILLS lets you know it is something extremely unconventional as Sadie (Jennie Russo) walks though a lovely field of wildflowers set to sweeping piano music. As she comes to rest on a grassy spot, she opens her blouse and tickles her nipple with a flower as a biker punk wearing a leather jacket with “The Touchers” painted across the back watches intently and licks his lips. Right off the bat, the film lets you know that it is not your typical movie. SHE KILLS is raunchy, gory, and altogether wrong in so many ways. It’s also a pretty damn good time.

As the credits attest, SHE KILLS is based on the fictional novel “She Kills with Her Crotch” by Sir Bertrand Covington. This may not be true, in fact, I’m sure it isn’t, but it only adds to the layers of raunchy fun this film oozes from every orifice. Taking the tone of some of the best Troma farces, SHE KILLS spoofs the grindhouse revenge genre with all kinds of clichés gone gory and wrong.

Sadie is a virginal young woman, looking forward to marrying her fiancée and starting a family, but on her wedding night, a ruthless gang named “The Touchers” murder her husband and as they attempt to rape Sadie, one whiff from her crotch whips them into an uncontrollable rage. The Touchers wake up the next morning to find out that they ate her husband and that Sadie’s honeypot has the power to drive people mad. Vowing revenge against the Touchers, Sadie goes to a mystic who says she is cursed with “the fire crotch” and that Sadie can have her revenge, though she can never be with a man again. The spell is performed and Sadie busts out to unleash some vaginal revenge on her tormentors.

So, this is a film that centers on rape and tosses every gory and crude thing plus the kitchen sink at you. And while rape is not usually a subject to take so lightly, this film does so in a way that is so wrong, you’re going to feel kind of raunchy just tittering at it. There will be those sensitive types that will get their panties in a bunch about the frivolous way the subject matter is dealt with, but this isn’t really a movie for folks who take things that seriously. There’s not a sincere bone in this film’s body and I have to admire the balls this film has for going full on grossout the way it did.

Balls are kicked so hard they are coughed up. Much 70’s bush is unleashed. People are dry humped to death. And you will believe a vagina will eat a human being. These are but a few of the horrifically wrong things that happen in SHE KILLS, a film made for a particular gore-minded folks who laugh uncontrollably at times when one is supposed to be offended. The cast and filmmakers of this film committed to make something truly disgusting and juvenile and they succeeded in spades. If you’re a fan of Troma films, SHE KILLS is going to be your flavor, guaranteed.

New this week on BluRay and DVD from IFC Midnight and The Shout Factory!


Directed by Steven C. Miller
Written by Scott Milam
Starring Rosa Salazar, Talulah Riley, Jonathan Bennett, Tim Daly, Cody Christian, Mario Van Peebles, Samuel C. Hunt, Willa Ford, Denzel Whitaker, Sam Daly, Giles Matthey, Mario Perez
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

The strongest parts of SUBMERGED pay homage to the old Hitchcockian single locale thrillers of old. A group of young good-lookings wake up trapped in a sealed limousine at the bottom of a body of water. Opening with this scenario, you are immediately asking questions like “How did these guys get here?”, “Who are they?” and “How do they get the hell out of this?” All will be answered in Steven C. Miller’s new thriller.

Steven C. Miller, the director of SILENT NIGHT (reviewed here), UNDER THE BED (reviewed here), and THE AGGRESSION SCALE (reviewed here), is back with a story steeped in reality about crime, relationships, and tension. The filmmaker has shown a penchant for vivid style, but this film really highlights that style like never before as the opening moments follow the limousine sinking to the ocean floor. We go through the tailpipe, through the engine, and into the inside of the car in a really nicely done opening sequence. It’s a fun way of letting us know that inside of this cramped space is where the bulk of the action takes place. Miller repeats this swooping camera technique later in the film as guns are drawn and the camera zooms around and up and down the extended arms of the gunmen. There are sequences that make films memorable, and these are two that show Miller’s eye for kinetic action like few other new directors I’ve seen recently.

The film is not entirely set inside the car, and I think that’s the only thing that bothered me about this film. I think that it would have been stronger had this been more in the car and less outside of it telling the tale of how this group of kids ended up in there. Sure some flashbacks are necessary, but I think a stronger script could have made this a really awesome locked room mystery. The cramped locale is what makes this film unique. I just wish there was more time spent there.

The acting here by the pretty cast is decent. There are a few instances when things get hairy or when more complex emotion is necessary that are not quite achieved by the young cast. There is a lot of time spent on the whole cast screaming at one another that gets old pretty quick. The lead, Jonathan Benner, is pretty good (though his eyebrows remind me of Peter Gallagher for some reason) and appearances by Mario Van Peebles and Tim Daly give the cast a little heft.

The tension conveyed in SUBMERGED is good, as Miller’s attention to how he moves the camera can elicit a feeling of unease and thrill for the viewer. More of a crime thriller than a straight up horror film, the claustrophobia and terror of being trapped underwater are communicated well in this film. So while the cast might bog the film down at times and I think that it was a mistake to have so much outside of the limo, if you appreciate a strong directorial eye, you’re going to find something to appreciate here.

New this week on DVD and digital from RLJ Entertainment!


Directed by Jessica Sonneborn
Written by Jessica Sonneborn
Starring Kristina Page, Megan Hensley, Aaron Massey, Kane Hodder, Michael Reed, Juan Riedinger, Al Snow, Jessica Sonneborn, Eliza Swenson, Josh Hammond, Julianne Tura, Chanel Ryan, Sarah Nicklin, Barry Ratcliffe, Kaylee Signore
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Cruel and unpredictable are two qualifiers I’d use to describe ALICE D, a twisted haunted house tale that defies convention and ends up being a pretty damn effective spookfest.

The film opens at the turn of the century as Kane Hodder plays Sr. Davenport, a sadistic old school brothel owner who gets his rocks off breaking the wills of his prostitutes, most of which are at the Davenport House against their will in the first place. One such young prostitute named Alice (who Sr. Davenport dubs Alice D) puts up the most of the fight and ends up being on the receiving end of rape, torture, and eventually death. A century later in the present day, Davenport’s descendant Joe carries on the Davenport misogynistic tradition, thinking he’s a pimp and treating pretty much every woman like a plaything he can chew up and spit out. Inviting his buddies up to the Davenport House for a weekend party, Joe hires a flock of prostitutes to come up and entertain his boys, one of which is his cousin Michael (Aaron Massey) who isn’t too keen on the whole prostitute thing. While the guys and gals commence partaking in drugs and alcohol, they begin to experience some pretty freaky phenomena suggesting that the women, treated horribly in the house’s sordid past, may be in a state of unrest and ready to lash out against the modern day lords of the manor.

While this film is riddled with clichés involving partying kids hanging out in an old house with a dark history, I couldn’t help but love this film because it adheres to a well-trod path and is still able to pull of some absolutely terrifying scenes of bloody horror. There were scenes in this film that were timed to such terrifying perfection that I was in downright awe at how palpably scary it all is. Simple CG, some effective practical effects, and some on the nose suspenseful direction really does make the last act of ALICE D one of the more effective haunted house flicks I’ve experienced in a while.

There are some pacing issues in ALICE D. The partying scenes do seem to go on a bit long, and there are a few characters that really seem to only function to explain some kind of extended discourse about the history of the house and then promptly disappear from the rest of the movie. It seems the kids in question here had a lot of fun in the extravagant digs of Davenport House, and a lot of it seems like it could have been snipped here and there, along with some of the more extraneous dialog scenes, but because so much fun was had, they just threw it all in there.

Still, that ending delivers in spades and I found myself completely unnerved by the end of ALICE D. Writer/director Jessica Sonneborn definitely has a gift for building suspense, but more admirably, she delivers the knockout shock as well, which most directors these days forget to do. So while there are a lot of typicalities to ALICE D, the shocks and horrors in the latter portion make this haunted house flick much more effective than most.

New on BluRay/DVD from Dark Sky Films!

EMELIE (2015)

Directed by Michael Thelin
Written by Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck & Michael Thelin
Starring Sarah Bolger, Chris Beetem, Susan Pourfar, Joshua Rush, Carly Adams, Thomas Bair, Dante Hoagland, Elizabeth Jayne, Randi Langdon
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

A few narrative missteps keep EMELIE from being an absolutely perfect thriller, but even with those stumbles, it’s a damn fine piece of squirm-inducing cinema!

Emelie (THE MOTH DIARIES’ Sarah Bolger) seems to be a perfectly nice and competent babysitter, but as soon as parents Dan and Joyce Thompson (Chris Beetem and Susan Pourfar) leave their three kids (Jacob - Joshua Rush, Sally - Carly Adams, and little Christopher - Thomas Bair) alone with her, it’s quite obvious that this innocent waif is not what she seems, and as the Thompsons have an enjoyable anniversary dinner it becomes apparent that the well-being of the children is the furthest thing from Emelie’s intentions.

Despite a few logical stumbles, I loved this film. Sarah Bolger is amazing as the worst babysitter you could ever imagine, putting the children on the frontline of danger as well as having devious intentions for them. Seeing Emelie take great pleasure in seeing the children acting out, doing things they shouldn’t, and abusing them in cringe-worthy ways is something that will definitely cause unease in those with or without children. EMELIE goes there in terms of pushing the taboo subject matter in the abuse Emelie unleashes upon the young children in her care. And while the scenes where one of the kid’s pets is given to another pet to eat is something that made me squirm beyond belief, I have to give this film credit for going to places that most are afraid to dare. The videotape scene alone is enough to unsettle most folks, but the fact that Emelie seems to get off on psychologically torturing those she is looking after makes the film ballsy enough to surprise me at how ballsy the film truly is.

***SPOILER ***Still, there are huge holes in EMELIE as she doles out some sleep-inducing drugs to the children late in the game in order to fulfill her devious goals. Aside from making things interesting to fulfill the feature length runtime, there is no reason why Emelie wouldn’t have drugged the children immediately in order to attain her evil goal. Having her drug the children in the final act just makes it more evident that this is a film needing a final act hurdle rather than sustaining the suspension of disbelief of the action in the film that these characters would act in more logical ways. I understand why the filmmakers decided to do this, but within the logic of the movie, it would have been much easier for our evil babysitter to do this immediately instead of time it so that it ramps up the tension while the parents are on their way home. As is, within the movie Emelie seems to enjoy tormenting the kids a little bit too much and gets sidetracked from her real motivation.***END SPOILER***

But despite this one flaw, this is a damn suspenseful, completely unnerving, and totally wicked little film that I loved quite a bit. Sarah Bolger delivers a star-making turn as the evil nanny and the child actors are actually really good, as director Michael Thelin really gets some realistic performances out of them. EMELIE goes to dark places, and you’re definitely going to be made to feel uncomfortable in a scene or two as this babysitter makes you never want to leave your kids with anyone ever again. I’m willing to look past some of the late in the game decisions of the film due to the quality of the performances and the sheer size of balls this film has. EMELIE is a film I definitely recommend to lovers of tense, wicked, real life horror.

New this week in select theaters, VOD and On Demand from The Scream Factory!

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 Mark L. Miller aka 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!

New this week on DVD and iTunes from Dark Sky Films!


Directed by Adrián García Bogliano
Written by Adrián García Bogliano
Starring Francisco Barreiro, Daniela Soto Vell, Jorge Molina, Milena Pezzi, Vita Vargas, Evan Alducin, Pau Alva, Tito Guillén, Pablo Guisa Koestinger
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I tend to pay close attention when I hear Adrián García Bogliano is connected to a project. Every one of his past films have been something astounding and unlike most of what you see out there right now in the horror world. Films like the creepy PENUMBRA (reviewed here), the kinetic COLD SWEAT (reviewed here), and the truly spellbinding HERE COMES THE DEVIL (reviewed here) all stand as distinct, yet all bear the same odd sense of surreal horror that Bogliano excels in. His latest, SCHERZO DIABOLICO is probably his most subtle of his films, but still it packs quite a powerful punch in the latter half.

In SCHERZO DIABOLICO (which translates to “Diabolical Prank”), a worn down accountant who can’t seem to catch a break hatches a plan to kidnap his boss’ daughter in order to unnerve him and get him fired. The scheme works and the accountant lets the boss’ daughter go, he gets fired, and the accountant slides into his boss’ shoes. Living the high life, buying new things for his wife and kid, and schtupping the new secretary who wouldn’t give him the time of day in his old position, the accountant thinks he has gotten away with the caper scot free. Of course, he hasn’t and bad things are on the horizon for all involved.

Like much of Bogliano’s work, SCHERZO DIABOLICO is a film that relies on sound quite a bit for its more powerful moments. Bolgliano does some fantastic things with simple classical music here that proves he really is a master at his craft. Having a beautiful piano concerto morph into a hard rock concert when it is heard by the right ears offers up a glimpse into a warped mind like never before shown on film. The film uses an awful lot of quick cuts and edits set to classical music making it a film that assaults both the eyes and ears in equal capacity. Bogliano did this masterfully in COLD SWEAT and uses this zooming in and overlapping of sound just as well in this film as well to make everything seem to happen in a world that is bathed in music and actions made more resonant with music attached to it.

That said, the film really isn’t as crazy as one might think. It gets crazy by the end, but this is Bogliano putting things on a slow burn, more in tune with his more subtle terrors of HERE COMES THE DEVIL and PENUMBRA. As with those films, much of the film is used to build up the tension and while none of the supernatural stuff that pops up in those movies surface in SCHERZO DIABOLICA, it still takes its time getting to the shocking stuff. The initial kidnapping and the preparation for the act is suspenseful, but for some reason it didn’t shock me as much as the thunderpunching final moments as retribution is doled out in heaping spoonfuls.

SCHERZO DIABOLICO is a taut little thriller that definitely has you by the short hairs early on and doesn’t let go. While it takes it time for the payoff, Bogliano makes every step of the way look and sound interesting. The film isn’t as unpredictable as Bogliano’s previous films, but still is rock solidly made. The gonzo ending is filled with all kinds of shocking acts and gore never feels as if it is a broad leap in tone because from the get-go this is a plan that is destined to fail. Seeing it and especially hearing it happen is what makes SCHERZO DIABOLICO so much fun to watch.

Available in October from Terror Films!


Directed by John Campopiano & Justin White
Written by John Campopiano & Justin White
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

One of Stephen King’s most effective adaptations gets the documentary treatment in UNEARTHED & UNTOLD: THE PATH TO PET SEMATARY; a thorough and entertaining little doc which details the film from initial inception to the last day of filming.

John Campopiano & Justin White are obviously fans of PET SEMATARY as they have dedicated a feature length to this documentary. Beginning with King’s inspirations for the film which include obviously FRANKENSTEIN and THE MONKEY’S PAW, the film goes into some nice details pointing out the bits and pieces from literature that King might have pulled from. I also really enjoyed the way the filmmakers focused on King’s hesitancy to print the story as it deals with very dark themes; including the taboo subject of the death of a child. These details of the origin of PET SEMATARY, which include King’s recounting of the death of his own family cat, his children’s first experience with death, and an emotional story where King experienced the horror of seeing his own child wander towards a busy road, were fascinating to see.

Campopiano and White do a fantastic job of gathering everyone even remotely involved in the making of PET SEMATARY. Everyone from the gal who built the elaborate children’s pet cemetery and the Micmac burial ground to the extra who played the truck driver who runs down Gage is interviewed and it paints an elaborate tapestry of what it was like to work on this film. King himself worked hard to make this film in his home state of Maine, so many of the cast and crew were locals who still live in the area, so it seemed like it was easy to go back to the locations and find those with stories of the shoot. Another interesting aspect of this film is that it revisits those locales, which still look familiar all these years later.

Some rather heavy moments of the doc were the scenes looking back at Fred Gwynn’s career and how much he brought to the role of Judd in the film as well as how Gwynn the actor touched the hearts and souls of all of the cast he worked with. The resonant and powerful theme of losing a child is also delved into by the cast and crew as they recall how difficult the scenes were building up to Gage’s death scene and the memorable funeral sequence. These pieces feel like the heart of the film and get the right time that they deserve.

The filmmakers were able to get everyone involved in the film, except for Gwynn and King himself (though some interviews of King are referred to). It was nice to see Lambert look back on her first feature film as well as actors Dale Midkiff and Denise Crosby look back on how it affected their lives. It was even more fun seeing the child actors who played Gage (Miko Hughes) and the twins playing Ellie (Blaze and Beau Berdahl) looking back on their performances and what they did and didn’t know about the film as child actors protected from the more intense bits of the film.

If there’s a criticism to be made about UNEARTHED & UNTOLD, it is that this is obviously a doc told from undeniable fans of the film. It is definitely more of a celebration of the film than an objective take on it, so much of the not-so-successful moments of the film and any other critical thinking applied to the actual film itself are glossed over. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely isn’t very objective in its approach. Still, UNEARTHED & UNTOLD is a doc I would recommend to any fan of the original film (and who isn’t a fan, really?). It’s a remarkable tribute to a thoroughly effective story of life, death, and beyond with some of the more grueling moments in modern horror.

And finally…here’s another grave tale from the old timey radio series “Light’s Out” called “He Dug It Up!” Turn out the lights, hunker down in front of the speaker, and listen to tonight’s tale!

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 15 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller and on his new website collecting posts for AICN HORROR as well as all of the most recent updates on his various comic book projects on

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