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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. I’m trying to get back to a Friday schedule, but didn’t quite make it last week.

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Retro-review: THE WIZARD OF GORE (1970)
Retro-review: THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY (1982)
Retro-review: C.H.U.D. (1984)
RWD (2015)
SiREN (2016)
Advance Review: TRIP HOUSE (2016)
Advance Review: DON’T FUCK IN THE WOODS (2016)
Advance Review: DOMAIN (2016)
And finally… Alex DiVincenzo’s TROUSER SNAKE!

Retro-review: Recently released on BluRay with THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST Collection from Arrow Films/MVD Visual!


Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Written by Allen Kahn
Starring Ray Sager, Judy Cler, Wayne Ratay
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

The amazing Arrow Films and MVD Visual have put together the ultimate collection of films and specials focusing on the true Godfather of Gruesome, Herschell Gordon Lewis. I totally missed the news that Lewis passed away this past September and hearing the news really hit me this week as I had a chance to chat with Lewis a few years ago and found him to be an absolutely charming and fascinating man. Here’s another one of his best films from this awesome collection.

THE WIZARD OF GORE plays perfectly into Lewis’ penchant for theatrics. The spectacle of the ritual is evident in his earlier films, but here, Lewis’ monster is literally performing on stage--when Montag the Magnificent calls an audience member on stage to perform in his magic show, the person rarely makes it back to their seat. Touching upon everything from aspects of the Grand Guignol to Vegas show hypnosis to talk show television, Lewis explores the world of spectacle pretty superbly as the spectator becomes part of the experience and the lines between reality and stage theatrics blur.

Of course, as with many of Lewis’ films, the cast Lewis gets for his films never seem to live up the his story. Acting-wise, THE WIZARD OF GORE is pretty bad with people seemingly reading lines in between snores.

What THE WIZARD OF GORE does do well is the gore. Much of the bright red stuff flows freely in this film. Bodies are dissected, bisected, picked and pulled apart and defiled in numerous ways that serve as a disgusting echo of classic magic tricks. Lewis’ focus on this gore is unflinching as Montag takes apart one victim after another in gory fashion.

Somewhere Lewis is looking down and smiling that this collection was made and more people can be nauseated and offended by his legacy. I can’t wait to revisit the films in this collection. Look for more reviews of Lewis’ films featured in THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST in upcoming columns of AICN HORROR!

Other films in this collection reviewed on AICN HORROR!

Retro-review: New on DVD as part of the A WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON Collection from Camp Motion Pictures!


Directed by Ivan Cardoso
Written by Ivan Cardoso, Rubens Francisco Luchetti. Eduardo Viveiros
Starring Joel Barcellos, Rubem Barra, Carla Bayton, Maria Zilda Bethlem, Tania Boscoli, Hugo Brasiliense, Regina Casé, Carina Cooper, Leovegildo Cordeiro, Teresa Cristina, Oldar Fróes da Cruz, Felipe Falcao, Alexandra Falcão, Jardel Filho, Luiz Olavo Fontes, Dovir Gilho, Wilson Grey, Amauri Guarilha, Altair Lima, José Mojica Marins, Cláudio Marzo, Júlio Medaglia, Sabine Medaglia, Evandro Mesquita, Nelson Motta, Seu Mário, Hélio Oititica, Marcos Palmeira, Dora Pellegrino, Paulo César Peréio, Clarice Piovesan, Nina de Pádua, Silvana Rodrigues, Colé Santana, Sérgio Santeiro, Jane Silk, Sandro Solviatti, Patricya Travassos, Anselmo Vasconcelos, Marcos Viana, Carlos Wilson
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Continuing to plow through this A WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON collection of films by Ivan Cardoso, I present THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY. Now, this is not a good movie by a long shot, but if you love films like MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, and the aforementioned A WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON where all the filmmakers have is a dream, some stock footage, and a few actors who are willing to strip and shart out their lines, then this is the type of film for you.

After attaining all of the parts of a map long thought lost, a professor discovers a mummy and the secret elixir of life in a pyramid in Egypt, but once back in the states, the mummy awakens and wreaks holy havoc on the countryside, swiping girls and bringing them back to the professor’s dungeon. Meanwhile, the professor’s wife is plotting to leave and kill him with a rival millionaire, though the professor’s reanimated manservant Igor and his sultry maid may stand in the way. Also meanwhile, the mummy begins remembering his tragic past and his lost love.

There’s a lot of nonsensical plot developments in this often times difficult to follow film. For some reason (most likely budgetary, I’m assuming) the film is made in both black and white and color film. At first, I thought the color footage was saved only for the filming in Egypt (which is mostly stock footage of the pyramids that don’t match up with the rest of the film), but as the film pressed on, there is no real distinction as to what is in color and what is without.

Still, this film is schlocky fun. Every woman in the film simply must get naked (some of the damsels in the dungeon are naked for the entire film, including a creepy bearded lady). While there is the story of lost love carried over from the mummy legend, the director also tosses in some Frankenstein-ian references during the scenes where the mummy is brought back to life via electricity in a rather effective scene shot entirely in shadow. Other random insanity includes an operatic solo by the manservant Igor in the middle of the film for no good reason. There’s another funny scene where the mummy brings a damsel flowers and seems ashamed of the way he looks with her that actually showed a little heart in this rather sleazy film. And the odd detail of giving the mummy bluish-green hands is equally odd, though it does highlight the hands every time the mummy appears.

THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY is not scary, not well told, and simply not made well at all. But there’s a DIY quality that makes me wish I would have seen this film in a drive in back in the day. It’s schlock. But it’s good schlock. Can’t wait to dive in headfirst to the rest of this fun collection.

Other films in this collection reviewed on AICN HORROR!

Retro-review: New on BluRay from Arrow Films/MVD Visual!

C.H.U.D. (1984)

Directed by Douglas Cheek
Written by Parnell Hall (screenplay), Shepard Abbott (story)
Starring John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist, Laure Mattos, Brenda Currin, Justin Hall, Michael O'Hare, Cordis Heard, Vic Polizos, Eddie Jones, Sam McMurray, Frank Adu, Ruth Maleczech, J.C. Quinn, Patricia Richardson, Ray Baker, Beverly Bentley, Graham Beckel, Gene O'Neill, Rocco Siclari, Bill Raymond, Peter Michael Goetz, Shana Lee Farrell, John Ramsey, George Martin, John Bedford Lloyd, Henry Yuk, Robert Toupin, Frankie Faison, Ivar Brogger, Parnell Hall, John Goodman, Jay Thomas, Hallie Foote, Jon Polito, Mark Mikulski, Dan Campbell, Kelly Nichols, Jan Saint, & Lou Leccese, Sanford Clark, James Dudley, Carey Eidel as the C.H.U.D.!
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

C.H.U.D. stands for "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller", but it also means "Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal" which is seemingly the cause of these monsters. It’s also an acronym for “Cinematic Happenings Under Development”, a site I have followed almost as long as I’ve followed AICN. But we’re talking about C.H.U.D. the film here and put simply, it’s a fun film, though it’s not a great one.

NY photographer George Cooper (John Heard) is but one of an expansive cast investigating a series of disappearances and murders in the sewers under New York. Turns out some toxic sludge is not only the cause of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but also Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers and the New York police end up taking on the monsters in an all out battle in the streets of New York (or as big a battle as the budget can manage).

Though the story is weak and downright illogical, what makes C.H.U.D. so much fun is playing a game finding recognizable actors in very small roles way before they were big names. Sure this film sports John Heard, Daniel Stern, Kim Greist, and STARSHIP TROOPERS Christopher Curry in lead roles, but shrewd eyes will be able to find character actors like Sam McMurray, Eddie Jones, Graham Becke, J.C. Quinn, Peter Michael Goetz, Bill Raymond, John Bedford Lloyd, Jon Polito, Frankie Faison, and Jay Thomas in minor roles. You may not know all of their names, but their faces are easily recognizable to movie fans. It’s also got a slim and unknown actor named John Goodman in a bit part that shows he was a talent even before he was discovered as his few seconds on the screen make you want to see lots more of him. Peppered through almost as if the filmmakers knew that if we see the future stars we can forget the plot holes and just illogical moves by the leading cast, this film is a who’s who of NY actors about to make it big.

But while the actors are of pretty high caliber, the story simply isn’t. Basically its another animals gone wild by radioactive waste films—except this time the animals are New York hobos. The homeless get their hands on some contaminated food rations and end up turning into hungry, slimy monsters with shiny eyes and sharp claws. But the story itself is disjointed and downright ambitious for what really is just a monster movie. The focuses on multiple characters such as photographer George Cooper (Heard) who is living with his girlfriend Lauren Daniels (Greist) who just told him she was pregnant. There’s also a storyline focusing on Captain Bosch (Curry) who is investigating a case of missing homeless people with an old informant A.J. 'The Reverend' Shepherd (Stern) which leads him in conflict with government stooge Wilson (George Martin) who is trying to cover up the fact that they’ve been dumping radioactive waste into the sewers. So the real star of this film is Bosch (Curry) and Heard’s Cooper is kind of a tertiary character until the end, and even in the end, he is sort of just running around like a damsel in distress for Bosch, the Reverend, and his girlfriend Lauren to rescue. It’s almost as if Heard’s star power rose in the middle of the film and they decided to do rewrites, expanding his role, though most of the film was already completed. Or more likely, the film was lacking in a more human element (which Heard definitely exudes with his conflict about finding a job and dealing with an unexpected pregnancy) while Bosch’s scenes are more of a gritty police procedural. So in an attempt to have the best of both worlds, they have a dual kind of story going on. Either way, the story seems scattered all over the place with two stars vying for the big hero slot.

The C.H.U.D.’s themselves are pretty cool. They are just slimy monsters who stretch their necks rrrrrreeeeeeaaaallllly slllloooow, but still filmmaker Douglas Cheek amps the tension in some nicely edited scenes like the phone booth attack and the scene cutting between Greist in the shower and a little boy curious at the C.H.U.D. banging on the door. The following scene where Greist battles a C.H.U.D. in her apartment is pretty awesome, though the film is peppered with wtf moments such as during the aforementioned shower scene Greist is splattered with blood from the drain, but in the next scene she is drying herself as if that happens all of the time in her apartment. The over the top ending is hilarious as well with an unnecessary explosion and not much wrapped up in terms of what happened to all of the C.H.U.D. roaming the sewers. It just kind of ends in a head-slappingly dumb fashion, but you just can’t fault this film for it because it is so much fun to sit through.

Arrow, as always, puts out some of the best restorations in BluRay and this is no exception. This double disk set contains an audio commentary by director Douglas Cheek, writer Shepard Abbott, and actors John Heard, Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry, an interview with production designer William Bilowit, an interview with special make-up effects and creature creator John Caglione, Jr., a featurette hosted by journalist Michael Gingold and filmmaker Ted Geoghegan plotting out the NYC locations where the film was shot, an interview with composers Martin Cooper and David A. Hughes, and an extended shower scene featuring Kim Greist. All in all, more than some would say this film deserves, but fans of this film will definitely want to get this one.

New on DVD/BluRay from Severin Films!


Directed by David Mitchell
Written by David Mitchell
Starring Kim Newman, Professor Constantin Balaceanu-Stolnici, Professor Sabina Ispas, Dr Elizabeth Miller, John Florescu, and Catalin Gruia
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I think I’ve been spoiled by all of the fantastic narrative documentaries that have been released lately. It makes me think that, like a regular film, documentaries should dole out the information at a suspenseful pace to keep my interest all the way until the very end. I know not all documentaries are like this, but personally speaking, the best ones are the ones that tell a story and don’t really show their hand until the final reel. THE TRAIL OF DRACULA is a perfectly fun little documentary. It’s just that it explains it’s point early and continues to repeat and elaborate on it over and over until the credits roll. This makes it informative, though a little less entertaining.

The Dracula as we have come to know him is a hodge-podge of different legends and folklore. Even before Bram Stoker began writing his classic novel, the vampire was abundant in European culture. The documentary explains that the very first vampire story was written by John Polidori (once thought to be written by Lord Byron himself) in 1819 about a seducer of women who takes their virtues – something Lord Byron himself was often accused of and most likely was inspiration for the tale. Around the same time, the weekly periodical VARNEY THE VAMPIRE also made its debut depicting the vampire as more of a ghoulish zombie who curses god and thus becomes a vampire. Soon after came LeFaneau’s famous CARMILLA story and it wasn’t until all of those books were released that Bram Stoker released his book. But even before this, the vampire was a monster told around hearths and campfires in Romania and other areas of the world. What is most interesting about the way this is all broken down is that it seems while Stoker didn’t invent the vampire, he did distill a lot of different stories and legends in order to create his iconic character.

Other fun facts are that Dracula means devil in many languages and the myth connecting Vlad the Impaler and Dracula is false. These I knew, but I didn’t know Stoker’s original title for DRACULA was the less catchy THE UN-DEAD, so I guess we are lucky he decided on the title he stuck with.

The hour-long film talks with various vampire experts such as writer/film critic Kim Newman, a descendent of Vlad the Impaler Professor Constantin Balaceanu-Stolnici, Director of the Institute of Ethnography and Folklore in Romania Professor Sabina Ispas, vampire expert Dr Elizabeth Miller, historian John Florescu, and author Catalin Gruia. After the Stoker segments, almost equal time is spent on Dracula on the screen, focusing manly on Bela Lugosi, John Carradine and Christopher Lee, but also mentioning Francis Ford Coppola’s BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, BLACULA, and even Wes Craven’s DRACULA 2000, but this film seems to have been made before Argento’s abysmal DRACULA 3-D and fails to mention the recent trendsetters TRUE BLOOD and TWILIGHT. While I can’t say I learned a lot from THE TRAIL OF DRACULA, as Stoker did with his DRACULA novel, this film does a good job of distilling a lot of facts into one package. If you’re a die hard vamp fan, I’m sure you have to have this, but I doubt those with only a little interest in the subject matter will be entertained.

Available on Amazon for the first time and is FREE to all Amazon Prime members from Big Biting Pig Productions!


Written & directed by Steve Hudgins
Starring Steve Hudgins, P.J. Woodside, Grey Hurt, Randy Hardesty, Rusty James, Cindy Maples, Elaine Ruff, Steve Schwetma, Michael Coon, Sidney Shripka, Gary Hunt, Marty D. Cook, Kristine Renee Farley, Katherine Kelley
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Zombie films are a dime a dozen and 10 pennies is what a lot of them are worth. That's why zombie films with a bit of creativity and inspiration like this one should be celebrated. I don't want to mislead you to think that is one of those slickly produced big budget zombie films. HELL IS FULL isn't. It does try to tell a zombie story in an interesting and fresh way and for that, the film deserves some praise.

Like a zombified version of the telephone game in reverse, HELL IS FULL tells many interconnected tales of how a zombie virus is spread from a crashed meteor site. As the story goes on, the origin of the zombie plague is uncovered. This is a pretty complex way of telling a story and it could easily go off the rails, but writer / director Steve Hudgins keeps it all together with his meticulous attention to detail. I'm sure that making this film involved the use of some kind of continuity flow chart (something that would have been cool to see as a bonus feature, but sadly, one isn't included). But Hudgins does a good job of juggling the various plot lines and connecting them into one cohesive story. The result is an original way to tell a zombie tale. HELL IS FULL is somewhat of a mystery where the cause and spread of the zombie virus is patiently pieced together as the minutes pass, culminating in a pretty satisfying conclusion.

HELL IS FULL seems like a collaborative effort made up of people who love the genre. The actors in the film don't need to prepare their Oscar speeches any time soon, but they do a decent job of conveying the story and seem to have a blast zombie-ing it up for the cameras. I don't know for sure, but I'll bet the cast is made up of friends and family of the makers of this film. Hudgins has written a pretty complex story dealing with an array of emotions and back stories. At times, the actors are able to pull this off, but occasionally, the lengths to which Hudgins scripts asks them to go just isn't within their acting range. Still, for the most part, I found the amateur performances to be endearing. I can envision this film opening in the casts' hometown with the whole town gathering and guffawing at their involvement in this project.

The effects are pretty simplistic, but Hudgins does a great job of making do with what he's got. He seems to know that less is more and simple scenes like a zombie scratching on a blood stained window are done really well. There are other really effective scenes that show off Hudgins talent as a director, specifically the sequence filmed in the hospital basement as a maintenance crew flees from a zombified patient. There's another scene that stuck with me as truly scary where an elderly man is being treated by a doctor. He's obviously turning into a zombie, but as Hudgins himself (he is one of the actors in this film) passes by the room, the elderly soon-to-be-zombie simply stares into the camera. The audience knows what's going to happen next as the oblivious doctor pitters around the room treating the patient with that non-caring manner we all have experienced in the doctor's office. This is a well shot scene, one of many that elevates this seemingly amateur low budgeteer to a higher level.

HELL IS FULL doesn't have a big budget or big name actors, but it does have big ideas. Steve Hudgins did a great job with what he had and proved that you don't need a monster budget to make a monster movie. The film moves pretty quickly and is smartly put together. That can't be said for all zombie films, even ones that cost 100 times the budget of this film. For that reason alone, HELL IS FULL is worth checking out.

New on DVD from MVD Visual!


Directed by Bart Mastronardi, Alan Rowe Kelly
Written by Bart Mastronardi, Alan Rowe Kelly, Michael Varrati
Starring Caroline Williams, Debbie Rochon, Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Randy Jones, Desiree Gould, Lesleh Donaldson, Alan Rowe Kelly, Brian Dorton, Brewster McCall, Joe Zaso, Michael Varrati, Susan Adriensen, Carl Burrows, Harry Dugan, Andrew Glaszek, Douglas Rowan, Haley Turner, Amy Lynn Best, Zoe Daelman Chlanda, Bette Cassatt, Colin Cunliffe, David Marancik, Joe Quick, Cartier Williams
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

TALE S OF POE might have been done on the cheap, but the writing and scares are pretty potent for a film budgeted at any size. The film consists of three tales retelling Poe’s THE TELL TALE HEART, THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO, and DREAMS, but incorporates elements of other Poe works in a pretty seamless and intelligent manner making this a kind of “Best of Poe” medly of a horror film.

The first of the three is “The Tell Tale Heart” which focuses on a new inmate at a asylum (Debbie Rochon) who is committed for murder. As she retells her tale of woe, she is ridiculed and mocked by her fellow inmates. This is my favorite Poe tale and I reread the original often as it is the perfect example of the way Poe’s writing can grab a hold of your throat and make the heart race. The same thing happens here as we hear the new inmates tale and it erupts with a bloody fun climax.

Entry two is probably my favorite of these three shorts as it molds THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO with THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, and THE FACT IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR really well as a conniving wife plans to get rid of her rich husband through poison, premature burial, and burning, though she just can’t seem to get it right. The story unfolds really well and ends on a high note in terms of makeup effects and scares. This one’s got a whole lot of indie horror talent in it including Randy Jones as Montresor and Alan Rowe Kelly as the conniving wife GoGo.

While I loved the cast of the final installment adapting the Poe poem “Dreams,” the story itself proves to be a bit too fluffily experimental for my tastes. Moving along with dream-like logic and random scary images like a devil at the end of the bed and angels of death roaming the woods, this installment stars TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE II’s Caroline Williams, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II’s Amy Steel, and FRIDAY THE 13TH’s Adrienne King in smaller parts haunting a young lady who can’t seem to wake up from her dream. The imagery is nice here, filmed in a soft and ghostly manner, but the story is threadbare which makes it all feel a bit pointless. Still it was cool seeing all of those 80’s final girls in one story.

I applaud this low fi homage to Poe for getting a lot of bang for its buck. Much is done with camera trickery and simple suggestion and the strong performances throughout make you forget about how cheap this was made for. Many of Poe’s stories have similar themes, but this one mashes up many of Poe’s greatest into one really satisfying package. Recommended to low budget horror fans everywhere!

New On Demand from Osiris Entertainment!

RWD (2015)

Directed by Matt Stuertz
Written by Adam Hartley, Matt Stuertz
Starring Adam Hartley, Matt Stuertz
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I tried this last week with my found footage review and I think I’m going to stick to it since it really does boil things down to whether or not I’ll like a found footage movie or not. The most important thing to me is believability. If I believe in the performances, in the story, and most importantly that everything on the footage happens in the footage, then I don’t care if I’ve seen a million and one of these types of films (and I think I have), I’ll like it. Let’s see how RWD stacks up to the quiz.

What’s the premise?
A pair of doofs record an internet show where they explore creepy houses and locations, most of the time making shit up as they go along, in hopes to get famous and get girls. They stumble upon a weird gateway in the woods and once they cross it, they begin feeling like they aren’t alone in the woods. And they aren’t. They are trapped in an ouroboros like time warp where they keep running into versions of themselves running away from versions of themselves.

Are the actors believably acting like they aren’t acting?

The two doofy guys in the film (who also wrote and directed the film) are indeed doofy but likable. This film is going to hinge on whether you are going to want to follow these two bros as they try to find their way out of this predicament. I found them to be decent fun as their banter runs from bro-talk to actual funny barbs back and forth. They take some time in between to answer viewer emails who claim to have their own paranormal encounters and their answers go from douchey to somewhat meaningful as they situation gets worse. I tolerated them and therefore dug following them. But I know there will be those who can’t stand these two and won’t care if they live or die.

Does is seem like this footage was actually found and not untouched by additional production (which means there is no omniscient editor making multiple edits or an invisible orchestra providing music)?
This is where the film crumbles for me as music is added to heighten tension and multiple cuts do occur in the film as if this film was somehow spliced together by some unseen editor. Now, because of the strange effects of time and recording in this film and the presence of two cameras by the two guys, I’m willing to give the latter a pass since who knows? Maybe the weird time warp they are in gives them time to splice this stuff together. But the addition of music is unnecessary and unneeded since the shaky cam, heavy breathing and rapid dialog cause an equal amount of tension. The addition of music is a cheat that doesn’t work here and does what no found footager wants its audience to do—take the viewer out of the movie.

Is there a valid reason the camera isn’t dropped and they just get the hell out of there?
Not really. Other than the fact that occasionally they rewind the tape to verify what they just saw and they, at least at first, are taping an internet show, once things get dire, there is no real reason to keep the production going and just run for their lives. Actually, the two characters take this situation with stride, not really freaking out that there are multiple versions of themselves walking around the woods trying to kill each other.

Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
No the banter is entertaining for the first twenty minutes and weird stuff happens throughout that keeps things fun. If anything, I kind of wish things would have slowed down a tick in the end so we understood the cause of what was going on.

Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional?
No. Thank god. Which immediately gives this film a leg up on most found footagers.

Does someone get REC-dragged away from the camera?

Does anything actually happen?
Yeah, but not much is explained. There are wild assumptions the two make along the way as to what is going on and things get bloodthirsty rather quickly. Once could say that the bloodlust the two guys feel is all a part of the location and it’s “curse,” but nothing is explained.

Does the film add anything to the subgenre and is this one worth watching?
RWD is better than most. It’s like it swiped the lost in time motif from BLAIR WITCH and just left out all of the witch stuff. As a ground level sci-fi, alternate reality film, it’s definitely low budget, but it’s got a fun premise and is quite unsettling in moments. I’d recommend it to folks who don’t mind following a pair of doofuses around in the woods for an hour twenty.

Premiering in select theaters and On Demand this week from Uncork'd Entertainment!


Directed by Jose Prendes
Written by Jose Prendes
Starring Graham Denman, Jon Kondelik, Hannah Levien, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree, Bailey Ryan, Sean Whalen, Shawn C. Phillips
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

BLOOD BROTHERS is a confident little bastard of a film, trusting that the characters and the story is going to be compelling enough for you to stick around long enough to figure out the ups and downs of the weird little universe the film lives in. And it turns out, the film delivers on that confident beginning and never really lets up until the ultra-powerful final beats.

Taking a page or two from NATURAL BORN KILLERS and maybe some nuances from a David Lynch film, BLOOD BROTHERS is still one of the most original and entertaining films I’ve seen in ages. The opening scene focuses on two brothers Charles (Graham Denman) and Thomas (Jon Kondelik), two evil bastards who are playing a game with a crackhead they used to go to school with as kids. As the scene progresses, the conversation bips and bops, riffs and raps a lot like a Tarantino joint. There are sidebars and diatribes, discourses and distracting conversations before the actual violence they’ve been talking about occurs. The way it plays out, surely we won’t be following around these two devious sons of bitches for the whole movie. Surely, these two guys are the ones who get wiped out in the first scene in order to establish the real heroes. That’s what writer/director Jose Prendes seems to want us to think. But turns out we have it all wrong and this is a film about these two evil fucks. Beginning in such an off kilter manner gives us a hint that all bets are off and by following these two nicely dressed monsters, we’re headed into dangerous territory.

But while Thomas and Charles talk a big game, they seem to have a softer side. They take care of their ailing and bed-ridden mother (Barbara Crampton) and are obviously living a very privileged life. All of this makes their plans to murder someone for the first time all the more shocking and deliciously evil. As it walks through the two brothers’ first kill, BLOOD BROTHERS turns out to be an unpredictable little number, never really going the expected route and proving to be full of surprises all the way until the end.

A lot of the power of this film comes from the bizarre portrayal of Thomas and Charles by Denman and Kondelik. Kondelik seems to be the eviler of the two, more verbal and confident, definitely the bully of the two. But it’s the Crispin Glover-esque performance by Graham Denman that really stands out here. Denman goes through such a transformation in this film. Both brothers do, really. And to see these two brothers metamorphose after blood is spilled is brilliant to see from these two up and coming actors.

DAWN OF THE DEAD’s Ken Foree appears as a cop with psychic powers and with Crampton, really adds some solid acting foundation for these two newcomer actors to play off of. But it is the performances by Denman and Kondelik and the words and twists from writer/director Jose Prendes that make this film one to remember. Though there is copious amounts of blood and violence, the real horror comes from how fucked up these two brothers really are and how it plays out with everyone unlucky enough to cross their path. The heavy reliance on dialog is definitely going to make or break this film depending on whether you like Tarantino-ian wordplay or Mamet-esque bullet-speak. But for my tastes, BLOOD BROTHERS is a dangerous and perfect little nightmare that needs to be seen.

New this week in select theaters this week and On Demand, digital platforms, and DVD next week from Chiller Films!

SiREN (2016)

Directed by Gregg Bishop
Written by David Bruckner, Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, Nicholas Tecosky, (based on characters created by David Bruckner from the original screenplay: Amateur Night on V/H/S)
Starring Hannah Fierman, Chase Williamson, Justin Welborn, Michael Aaron Milligan, Hayes Mercure, Randy McDowell, Lindsey Garrett, William Mark McCullough, Stephen Caudill, Elyse Dufour, Brian F. Durkin, Preston James Hillier, Brittany S. Hall
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Films like DOGHOUSE and recently BACHELOR GAMES have explored the cautionary horror tale of going too far on a bachelor party bender weekend. SiREN is the latest to explore that territory. The little “I Like You” girl (Hannah Fierman) from the original V/H/S film gets her own spinoff movie with SiREN and while it is a rather typical monster movie, it still manages to be a rock solid one.

JOHN DIES AT THE END’s Chase Williamson stars as the likable Jonah who agrees to go on a bachelor party weekend put together by his obnoxious brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan) and two best friends Rand (Hayes Mercure) and Elliot (Randy McDowell). Leaving his lovely bride to be Eva (Lindsey Garrett) behind, he embarks on a weekend of strippers, drinks, and drugs, but promises to not go too far. After being nonplussed by the strip club, Mac talks with a guy who knows about a more exciting time at an underground club. Taking the bait, the guys end up at Mr. Nyx’s (Justin Welborn) mansion where all of your darkest fantasies can come true. After Nyx collects his payment from the bachelors, he takes Jonah to a back room for a show like no other as Lily (Fierman) finally makes her appearance. Jonah believes Lily to be trapped against her will, so he busts her loose unleashing the fury of the siren upon them all.

While the setup has been the setting for many a horror film, what sets this one apart from the rest is the unique design of Lily and the iconic performance by Fierman as Lily. The fifteen minute “Amateur Night” segment of V/H/S established quite a fascinating creature and while some of the additions to her mythos are somewhat reminiscent of the SPECIES movies, these unique characteristics transfer pretty well to a full length movie format. Details like Lily mating for life and the demonic nature of her origin are quite fun as is the backwoods mysticism of Mr. Nyx and his order of debauchery. Despite the fact that Lily has a limited vocabulary, Fierman has a strong presence about her and really does a great job at playing a ferocious she-predator, especially since she is naked for the entire film.

If there’s a weakness to this film, it’s just that it follows the monster movie format pretty tightly with few derivations. There’s the discovery, the chase, the revelation that the monster isn’t as bad as the people who created (or in this case, summoned and contained it), and the big climax where all of the shit goes down. The relationship between Jonah and Lily is fun to see play out (especially a truly uncomfortable sex scene), but I was able to predict this film pretty much from start to finish.

The monster effects look pretty good here. They are definitely a step up from the usual ScyFy fare, but the CG is pretty shoddy in parts where we see Lily flying and when another demoness reveals her slithering leech-like Medusa hair. But I can forgive that as every scene with Fierman is electric and the rest of the cast is funny and likable as well. So while this is a sometimes witty, sometimes creepy monster movie with an absolutely riveting lead beastie in Fierman, SiREN’s story is its weak point as it is just too predictable.

Advance Review: Prepping to begin touring fests 2017 – Find out when and where here!


Directed by Patrick Meaney
Written by Patrick Meaney
Starring Kaytlin Borgen, Amber Benson, Helene Udy, Whitney Moore, Taliesin Jaffe, Morgan Peter Brown, Chloe Dykstra, Dove Meir, Jeff Berg, Jeff Torres, Daisy McCrackin, Alexia Dox, Tiffany Smith, Jennifer Wenger, Jen Araki, Jordan Byrne, Bonnie Gordon, Mickey Faerch, Maryna Sokolovska, Paradox Pollack, Brian Townes, Xhuliano Ujka, Julia Lambson, & Fredy Ingels as Santa Claus!
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Ambitious and trippy are two words I’d use to describe director Patrick Meaney’s first feature film, TRIP HOUSE.

A group of estranged friends who have veered off in different directions reunite in a cabin to celebrate the marriage of one of their own. But the locale has a dark history involving a cult, psychotropic drugs, and traveling through time.

What I liked about this film was the reality bending premise which revolves around a group of hippies who follow a leader who is equal parts Charles Manson and Timothy Leary. While it is a concept reminiscent of BAD DREAMS, the exploration of that concept is less wannabe 80’s slasher and more of a deeper character analysis of this group of friends. And the angst is deep here, with everything wrong with the group coming to a head at this wedding. It feels very genuine as who isn’t guilty of measuring ones own life when attending a friend’s wedding? The whole thing is ripe for a potentially great horror film.

And the story is pretty scary and the situations quite dire. This has everything to do with an extremely talented cast of up and coming actors and actresses. Leading the pack is BIRDEMIC’s Whitney Moore, Kaytlin Borgen, and Morgan Peter Brown who have fascinating arcs and problems to overcome and do so in different ways with grit and power that shows these actors have long careers ahead of them. The rest of the cast is good as well with each of the friends having an obstacle to overcome. Props to filmmaker Meaney who is able to pull off telling a story with multiple characters without letting one feel short changed or lost in the shuffle.

There are a few solid scares in TRIP HOUSE and a bizarre appearance of Santa Claus to be expected in this weird little film. The budget is low, but the solid acting and deft story really covers that up pretty well. Intense character dissections and great performances are what you’re going to get when you enter this TRIP HOUSE.

Advance Review: Gearing up to begin touring festivals!


Directed by Shawn Burkett
Written by Shawn Burkett
Starring Nadia White, Brandy Mason, Ayse Howard, Brittany Blanton, Roman Jossart, Hannah Herdt, Kayla Stone, Deryk Wehrley, Brian Cornell, Joe Vollman, & Scott Gillespie as the Creature!
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Winning the most honest and straight to the point (not to mention ballsiest) title to a new horror film award is DON’T FUCK IN THE WOODS, a low budget comedy that gives no fucks about trying to be polite or decent. This is the movie equivalent to a fart in an elevator and I love it!

There’s barely a premise here as a group of youngsters make their way into the woods for a camping trip all ready to get liquored up, doobied up, and get right to bumpin’ scruglies. But unbeknownst to them, a monster in the woods is attracted to the scent of sex and makes sure to tear apart anyone who is having it in his woods.

Taking the sex = death motif to heart, DON’T FUCK IN THE WOODS is fun because it just doesn’t care about being taken seriously. The budget is low. The acting is sub par. And the story only serves to set up one killing after the next. There’s a final person, like most of the 80’s slasher films, but unlike those films which seem to follow a set of rules as to who survives and who doesn’t, this one flips the script so you have no idea who is going to live or die. And while its self aware, it doesn’t pull an eye muscle winking at the camera. It simply is what it says it is in the title and that’s it, which to me, is kind of adorable.

As with much of the slasher horror in the decade it is homaging, DON’T FUCK IN THE WOODS’ strong point is its gore. There’s plenty of red stuff flung around after it’s been sliced out of these horny campers. All sorts of gruesome guts are flung too and fro by a monster who is simply a guy in a monster suit with an articulated mouth. While the monster isn’t very impressive, the gore is and the filmmakers do a decent job of cutting quick so as not to linger on the suit so as not to see all of the seams and zippers.

Movie snobs, piss off. DON’T FUCK IN THE WOODS is a damn fun ode to 80’s slasher film despite its zero budget makings. It’s got a great sense of humor from start to finish and is one of those films that looks like it was a blast to be a part of. Expect blood and tons of raunchy sex (including copious amounts of boobage) behind every tree in this woods, but don’t take part in all of that beast-with-two-backing, lest you will be the next to fall victim to DON’T FUCK IN THE WOODS!

WARNING: Here is the NSFW teaser trailer that went with the Indiegogo Campaign that does not appear in the film itself, but it has boobies, blood, and sex, so don’t watch it where you can get into the troubles!

Advance Review: World Premiering this week at Other Worlds Austin!

DOMAIN (2016)

Directed by Nathaniel Atcheson
Written by Nathaniel Atcheson
Starring Britt Lower, Ryan Merriman, Sonja Sohn, Beth Grant, William Gregory Lee, Kevin Sizemore, Nick Gomez, Cedric Sanders
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

The claustrophobic locked room mystery takes a new and deadly level of intensity in DOMAIN, a sci fi end of the world thriller that is top notch from beginning to end.

As a plague spreads across the globe, a lottery is given to the survivors. The winners get to reside in state of the art, single room bunkers far below the surface of the world to wait out the effects of the plague. The losers simply die. Connecting the bunkers is a system called “Domain” invented by DONNIE DARKO’s Sparkle Motion trainer Beth Grant. The facetime like system allows seven of the survivors (all miles apart from one another) to chat while the years pass and the plague subsides. But when the group decides to banish one of the members of the Domain for lewd language and behavior, a domino is toppled which leads to the dissolution of the group. And as one member of the chat room after another begins to die, the survivors begin to suspect they are the target of someone or something that can pass from one bunker to the next.

DOMAIN is a complex story about the dangers of online interaction. You can never know and fully trust people you “connect” with on a computer screen and this film rings this point home poignantly. This film is very much a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end and fun to watch twice once the veil of truth is lifted. Writer/director Nathaniel Atcheson has woven together a complex and nuanced tale of mystery and suspense that is bound to surprise some with how it all turns out. The actors here are great as well with Britt Lower and Ryan Merriman both shining here as Phoenix and Denver, two of the survivors who have fallen for one another through the Domain. It’s through these two that we experience this complex cautionary tale.

The less known about this film the better as it does have some pretty fun twists and turns along the way. With some smart writing and a fun cast to bring it to life, DOMAIN is the gritty, ground level sci fi that I love. Those who loved CUBE and MOON will definitely keep your eyes peeled for DOMAIN.

And finally…here’s a short that was just recently released online called TROUSER SNAKE. And yes, it’s exactly what you think it is. From director Alex DiVincenzo, get ready for TROUSER SNAKE!

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

Look for our bi-weekly rambling about random horror films on Poptards and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday!

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

Finally, if the text is running over the pics in the body of the article, refresh the screen and that should fix it. I still have no idea why this is happening lately…
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