Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth 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 said, there were more on this list that DID have a theatrical run than in previous years which means the horror genre does seem to be on the upswing. 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, 2015 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked the 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 nothing 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!
New on BluRay/DVD from Artsploitation Films!
DER BUNKER (2015)Directed by Nikias Chryssos
Written by Nikias Chryssos
Starring Pit Bukowski, Daniel Fripan, Oona von Maydell, David Scheller
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Nikias Chryssos, who directed the rather straight-forward and rock solid actioner TOWER BLOCK (reviewed here), goes into the realm of absurdity with DER BUNKER. This is a film that seems to be riding a wave of oddity and eccentricity along with films like RUBBER, DOGTOOTH, THE TAINT, and the upcoming king of oddball cinema THE GREASY STRANGLER.
When a weary nameless traveler referred to as The Student (Pit Bukowski from last year’s unforgettable DER SAMURAI) shows up at an underground residence in the middle of the woods, the seemingly normal family politely takes him in and gives him a room in order for him to work on his studies. But once he is all set up in the room, he is introduced to Klaus (Daniel Fripan), an simple adult who is treated like a young boy by Mother (Oona von Maydell) and Father (David Scheller). The Student is soon convinced, or more accurately blackmailed into teaching Klaus as Father’s supervised studies do not seem to be working. Klaus is destined to become the President according to his eccentric family, but his remedial marks in school indicate he is not as bright as his parents believe.While Father cleans the house and wears an apron while spouting his qualifications as both a comedian and an award winning scientist and Mother speaks to a spirit in the walls while breastfeeding Klaus before bedtime, The Student is finding it increasingly difficult to get his own work done as he tries to educate Klaus about the world.
DER BUNKER is an odd bird of a film, but once you get past the weird peculiarities of the four members of the cast, it becomes a fable of sorts about unrealistic expectations of family, the state of education, the frustrations of the educator, the distinction of the educated bs the uneducated, and sheer perversity of the typical family unit. Sure there are odd moments such as the Student’s method of drawing scribbles and finding the deepest of meanings in them or Father’s joke night where he dons clown makeup and reads a joke to the family, only to explain it in great detail afterwards or Mother’s disgusting open wound on her leg that seems to be the source of the voice she has heard since adolescence, or even Klaus’ bizarre choice in clothing and little hats. But apart from that there is a heartwarming tale of a friendship made between the Student and Klaus, as well as a powerful message about education and everything that is wrong with it. Decorating these themes with weirdness, DER BUNKER is a sort of odd little Christmas tree with all sorts of meaning beyond the strange baubles and gaudy tinsel.
Pit Bukowski is a force to b reckoned with and I can’t wait until he breaks through as an international star. His memorable performance as the titular character in DER SAMURAI showed he has the fortitude to deliver shocks, but here he gives a more reserved performance as the Student that is just as powerful. The entire cast is brilliant. Oona von Maydell is plainly beautiful, yet seductive and menacing all at once. David Scheller’s delivers a complex performance as a man who is basically demasculined by his wife and the appearance of the Student. And the simple oddity that is Daniel Fripan steals every scene he is in as the not so little Klaus. Fripan is a child in a man’s body and while this could have been an opportunity to play this role for laughs, he instead mimics the movements in his hands, posture, and phonetic delivery that makes you forget he is a man and believe he is actually 8 years old as he says.
Things get extremely dark by the end of this one and if a grown ass man being treated as a child doesn’t disturb you, the bleak and bloody final moments most likely will. Things get extremely stylish towards the end with fantastic lighting, bizarre twists, and breathtaking beauty to all of that madness unfolding. DER BUNKER is another indie gem that I felt enveloped by while watching.
#17 – DER BUNKER
#18 – HUSH
#19 – HOLIDAYS
#20– CARNAGE PARK
#21 – THE CONJURING 2
#22 – THE MIND’S EYE
#23 – DARLING
#24 – SUN CHOKE
#25 – THE HALLOWS
#26 – OVER YOUR DEAD BODY
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – EMELIE
#29 – BASKIN
#30 – I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
#31 – SOUTHBOUND
2015 #1 – THE CANAL
2014 #1 – PROXY
2013 #1 - MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
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 MLMillerWrites.com.
A quick plug for my own work. I have a new comic book coming out this December called THE JUNGLE BOOK HOLIDAY SPECIAL: BAGHEERA’S SECRET. It’s a one shot reteaming my original JUNGLE BOOK artist Carlos Granda and myself (the same team who created PIROUETTE) and it is available to order now via Previews order# OCT162113. I’m getting pages of this book by the day and this book looks absolutely amazing so far. Fans of jungle adventure are going to love it! Please support me by telling your local comic book store to order tons of issues of this comic! Much appreciated, folks.
Look for Johnny Destructo, Stephen Andrade, Christian DiBari, and my own ramblings about random horror films on CultPop/PoptardsGo and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday (or so…)!
Finally, if you’re having problems with the texts going over the image in this article, refresh the screen and that should do the trick!