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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. So it’s the final column of 2016 and no matter what you feel about the year, I will say it was a good one for horror. Those looking for a list of the best of horror in 2016 should check out my countdown here that I did in October (a more fitting month to do a best of horror list, IMHO). But there are still many great horrors to come and this column is going to feature a couple of horrors to be released in 2017 along with some released recently gems!

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Rob Zombie’s 31 (2016)
Advance Review: CANNIBAL CORPSE KILLERS (2016)
Advance Review: 3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS (2016)
Advance Review: THE REZORT (2016)
Advance Review: THE ANSWER (2016)
Advance Review: CAPTURE KILL RELEASE (2016)
And finally…Insane-O-Rama’s DON’T FEED THE TROLL Short Film!

New this week on DVD from MVD Visual!


Directed by Greg Lamberson
Written by Paul McGinnis
Starring Jessica Zwolak, Debbie Rochon, Paul McGinnis, Michael Thurber, Lloyd Kaufman, Sam Qualiana, Robert Bozek, Brittani Hare, Michael O'Hear, Alexander S. McBryde, Tim O'Hearn, Julian Dickman, Sephera Giron, and Brooke Lewis as The Killer Rack!
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I’m sure no one is going into KILLER RACK looking for Shakespeare, and if you go in with the right kind of attitude, you might just have some fun with this low fi boobie body horror.

Betty (Jessica Zwolak) suffers from an inferiority complex. Her female coworkers in the office get the promotions and raises, the other girls on the street get hooted and hollered at, and her boyfriend is more interested in going to the strip club than making out. All of these women in Betty’s life have one thing in common—big boobs. Betty, on the other hand, does not, But when she becomes fed up with society’s fascination with the well endowed, she goes to Dr. Thulu (scream queen Debbie Rochon), who offers up an almost supernatural method of plastic surgery that guarantees she will be noticed. But after her breast enhancement, her knockers start having a mind of their own and devour anyone who gets too close to the hungry areolas. Now Betty has to beat her admirers off with a stick, but as her popularity grows, so do her boobs’ hunger and the more the boobs feast, the bigger they get!

KILLER RACK has the same type of fun mixing sex and horror that films like FRANKENHOOKER have done before. Not a second of this film should be taken seriously and while most body horror goes for the gut, this one targets the funny bone and is pretty successful in doing so. Now, I’m not going to say that this is one of the smartest films ever made, but it does do gutter humor decently and has a lot of fun making crass boob jokes for its entire runtime.

The effects are equally decent, if not crude and rudimentary. There’s a heaping dose of blood and gore in this film, not including the boobs themselves that have spiked teeth for areolas and tear people apart in the final act. Like the humor and production level of this film, the effects are pretty crude, but I have to admit the effects in the final scenes are downright fun.

KILLER RACK is campy fun. I was especially surprised at how PG rated this film is. For a film centering on a killer set of funbags, there is very little nudity and a story that ends up being kind of sweet by the end. Adding to the fun are over the top performances by Debbie Rochon and Lloyd Kaufman as a boob-fixated psychologist. This is kitsch filmmaking from the corny humor to hammy delivery of dialog to the hokey theme music. There is no high caliber filmmaking at play here. KILLER RACK is filmmaking from the gutter and unabashedly proud of it!

New this week on BluRay/DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment!


Directed by D.J. Caruso
Written by D.J. Caruso, Wentworth Miller
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Lucas Till, Duncan Joiner, Gerald McRaney, Michaela Conlin, Michael Landes, Marcia DeRousse, Ella Jones, Jennifer Leigh Mann
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I’m not going to say THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM was a disappointment because I didn’t have high expectations going into it anyway. Still, I was hoping with the film starring UNDERWORLD’s Kate Beckinsale, at least I had a decent lead to root for. Turns out I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Beckinsale plays an utterly horrible piece of shit human being named Kara, married to a pushover named David (Mel Raido) and new owner of a decadent house in the countryside. With their young son (the very Danny Torrence-esque Duncan Joiner), Kara and David plan to rehab the house from top to bottom. Almost immediately, Kara is drawn to a locked room in the attic, and soon she discovers a dark secret of who occupies that room. But it seems Kara has some dark secrets herself.

The biggest problem with THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM is that Beckinsale’s character is absolutely unlikable. I understand making a lead flawed, but there is nothing redeemable about her from beginning to end of this film. First off, she sneaks smokes when no one is looking, so we know she’s not a good person according to Hollywood standards. But on top of that, she ignores her loving husband who cooks, cleans, and takes care of their child while she gets wrapped up in the history of the house. She stops taking her meds, which is never a good sign in horror films. She contemplates committing suicide and has attempted to do so before (the cake-taker of selfishness, especially if one has a family). And of course, she flirts daily with the young handyman (the monosyllabic stump with good hair that goes by the name of Lucas Till). Not only that, but she seems to be seeing ghosts haunting the house, which may or may not be there, but we can never know because your perspective of the story is through Beckinsale’s gorgeous but utterly irredeemable eyes. I understand in this age of feminism, we can’t have a cowering woman in the role and I wasn’t expecting Beckinsale’s leather clad character from the werewolf vs. vampire movies, but this film seems hell-bent on making you hate her character and while THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM does very little right, at least they accomplish that.

Beckinsale’s character aside, the rest of this film is dullsville. Sure there are a few moments of intensity involving some gruesome hammer to the head effects. Sure there is a dog attack that is a bit unnerving (mostly because of who the dog is attacking, but the quick edits quickly nullify any impact). Sure Kara’s dark past, which includes her (wait for it) falling asleep on her newborn and killing her, is horrific, but it’s also just plain stupid. But even those scenes don’t make this film deserve the R it received. For the most part, the film follows Beckinsale walking doe-eyed through the house and unexplainably wearing heavy mascara despite trying to dress down in jeans and a t-shirt while renovating. Clumsy discourse dumps come by way of older ladies Kara meets in the town and the wonky editing during the climax really doesn’t let on what is real and what isn’t. There is no real indication if Kara is crazy or if the house is haunted. No real resolution as to if Kara actually murdered someone or not. She simply bursts into tears and then they cut to the next day with her driving away from the house, still seeing the ghost of MAJOR DAD (Gerald McRaney) staring back at her.

In the end, what is the point of THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM? It seems we are supposed to be happy Kara overcame her demons in one night and was able to drive away without killing herself or her family. I don’t do those things on a daily basis and I don’t think that’s such a remarkable thing—let alone something to make a movie about. And while this is the umpteenth “family moves into a haunted house” flick we’ve seen in the last decade or so, that’s not the main reason this film is not worth the effort of watching. It’s the fact that there isn’t anyone likable in it and it’s bland from first act to last. The only way this would have been interesting would have been if they had the nihilist balls in the last act to actually have Beckinsale’s character go full blown batshit and murder her family then lock herself in the Disappointments Room. Sure, Beckinsale is smoking hot and talented to boot, but that only goes so far, and despite how gorgeous and skilled she is, this movie managed to do the impossible and make her utterly unwatchable.

Playing now on Netflix!


Directed by Oz Perkins
Written by Oz Perkins
Starring Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Lucy Boynton, Bob Balaban, Brad Milne, Erin Boyes
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I had a chance to check out the Netflix Original Film I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE and felt that the film was powerful enough for me to mention it here. Those with a short attention span who like jump scares every other minute might want to give this a pass, but this slow burner rises to a sizzle if you make it to the end.

A wide eyed hospice worker named Lily (Ruth Wilson) moves in to the house of an elderly woman named Iris (Paula Prentiss) once known for writing gothic horror novels. As her early narration indicates, Lily lasts only about a year at the home and the movie tells the story of what occurs to Lily while in this strange and haunted house.

Moving at a listless and dreamlike pace, I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE is going to be an exercise in patience for many modern horror moviegoers. Narrated slowly and particularly by Wilson, the film moves at its own pace, not really paying attention to the modern template of how a horror movie should look and feel. It’s because of that patience that this film is one of the better ghost stories you’re going to find this year. The film almost sleepwalks through the house, not really paying attention to the pace not only within the narrative (as many months are skipped to in order to tell the tale of one year in an hour and a half), but also within what one would expect. Much time is spent of Lily reading passages from Iris’ books as well as her speaking from some kind of dark place she ends up. Because Lily tells us early that she dies by the end of the film, there is an air of anticipation not for her to die, but for the house to make its move and where Lily ends up by the end of the film. Because so much is spoken about in past tense, there is an overwhelming sense of dread that permeates every frame of this one as we know it won’t end well and just are waiting for the axe to drop.

Son of Anthony Perkins, Oz Perkins does a fantastic job of making this film look and feel absolutely unique. We walk through this story as if it were whispering in our ear (and if you listen to Netflix on headphones it’ll make for a terrifying experience) and the haunting, double exposed images move in slow motion during the narration bits. These portions of the story where ghostly forms move across the screen, smearing specific features and making the normal look and feel surreal by slowing down the movements and washing out the colors. On top of that, the house itself that Lily finds herself in has all sorts of odd corridors and shadowy entranceways. While sometimes nothing at all comes out of the dark spaces, because the camera captures a dark void behind the character, there still is a buildup as we wait for something horrible to emerge from it. The furniture in the house is both elegant and surreal as well with chairs hanging upside down and antiquity all around lit dramatically. This is another decision to make the normal look abnormal and throws ones perceptions off despite the banality of what it happening in the scene. Once the ghost is revealed, she is normal, yet as the poster indicates, her head and body are on backwards---once again it’s the normal slightly skewed and twisted that makes this film burrow so deep in the viewers skin.

I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE is a film one needs to let envelop them in order to enjoy it. Step into the shoes of Lily, who is a wide-eyed bird hopping unknowingly past a ready-to-strike cobra. Perkins focuses on every slow step Lily takes in this descent into the darkness with a steady and confident hand. Much like slow burn classics like THE INNOCENTS and REPULSION, and more modern slow sizzlers like LAKE MUNGO, I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE is a horror not easy to forget. Having watched it a week ago, I still am thinking about how effective this waking nightmare of a ghost story was and if it has that effect on me, it’s got to be doing something right.

New this week on BluRay/DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment!

Rob Zombie’s 31 (2016)

Directed by Rob Zombie
Written by Rob Zombie
Starring Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Kevin Jackson, Jane Carr, Judy Geeson, Pancho Moler, David Ury, Lew Temple, Torsten Voges, E.G. Daily, Michael 'Red Bone' Alcott, Esperanza America, Andrea Dora, Tracey Walter, Ginger Lynn, Daniel Roebuck, Devin Sidell, Gabriel Pimentel
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

So Rob Zombie’s got another movie out. And this always intrigues me, as I don’t always like what the director delivers, but I respect aspects of all of his films. And while there is a strong shock factor in 31, there is little awe as it feels like a retread of things Zombie has done in the past, polished up and put into a new package.

In 31, Zombie returns to the same well tread territory he visited in HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES as a group of weary travelers--this time carnie grifters which include his wife Sheri Moon Zombie (of course) and her LORDS OF SALEM co-stars Jeff Daniel Phillips and Meg Foster, among others who are simply traveling from point A to point B when their mobile home comes to an impasse adorned with scarecrows. Leaving the van to investigate, they are abducted by clowns and forced to take part in a game of life and death (mostly death) at the mercy of a debaucherous cult lead by Father Murder (Malcolm MacDowell), Sister Serpent (Jane Carr) and Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson). Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie) and her crew must face off against freakish clown-like gladiators in a warehouse maze for 12 hours. If they survive the time allotted to them, they are set free, but no one has ever survived.

By now, we all have cemented our opinions about Rob Zombie. There is going to be very little I say in this review that is going to sway that opinion one way or another. Either you think he is a genius who just hasn’t lived up to the potential he showed in his best film to date (THE DEVIL’S REJECTS), or he is a one note hack with an eye for the weird, but that talent might be better put to use in music videos rather than films. Personally, I am right in the middle believing that Zombie has a lot of potential, but often returns to the same well over and over, never really challenging himself to do anything different. And that ok. With his roots in music, where we often love to see our rock and roll idols play the same songs over and over in concert, in videos, and on albums, Zombie is kind of performing his directorial duties as if he is giving a rock concert with each show only slightly different than the next (possibly a shuffle of a set list or a new band member or two). If you liked THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, and the slightly obnoxious, yet still quite mesmerizing LORDS OF SALEM, I’ll bet there will be something in this film you’ll like too. But if HALLOWEEN and it’s sequel had you cursing to the heavens and vowing to hate Zombie forever, you’re most likely not interested in any review of this film anyway and 31 will do nothing to sway that opinion either.

In it’s simplest state, 31 is Rob Zombie’s version of the 1987 Schwarzenegger/Stephen King film THE RUNNING MAN. It’s basically set up like an AMERICAN GLADIATORS episode if the participants were picked up and tossed into the show without their consent. Very little time is spent outside of the 31 arena warehouse and what we do get outside is a fleeting introduction and a quick ending. This film exists solely in Rob Zombie’s personally constructed funhouse of horrors which is pretty small in scope and most likely, not too expensive to make. I don’t mind the limited budget. Most of the films I review on AICN HORROR are made with a fraction of the cost of the bulk of movies covered on AICN proper, so knowing that Zombie made this film on the cheap actually endears me a bit more to it. While the structure of the film is as simple as they come; one insane clown tries to kill the group--a member dies--then another insane clown tries to kill the group--until there is only a handful left of both insane clowns and participants, Zombie’s scope of the film seems like he knew how to stay within those limitations and he made a decent looking film from that simple template.

Now, I know this film was cut quite a bit in order to be released as an R rated film. That said, I feel the biggest flaw of 31 arises mainly in its editing. From past viewings of Rob Zombie joints, you know you’re going to get grungy characters facing off against even grungier characters. But in previous films, the story itself was never as choppy as it is in 31. There are some action scenes where groups of people are facing off against other people where it is impossible to know what is going on. This isn’t during times of gore, mind you, which I can understand being cut to hell because of the censors. These strobe-like cuts are found during times when two people are facing off against one another. Maybe these scenes didn’t look well. Maybe the multiple angles were just so good through the eyes of Glen Garland (and ultimately Rob Zombie himself) that they couldn’t decide which angle, so they included them all. Either way, the staccato editing of practically every scene that involves some kind of action is cut like a Tasmanian Devil with a pair of Ginsu blades. And it’s too bad because some of the setups for the action sequences are pretty cool such as E.G. Daily’s character Sex-Head’s murder by seduction or the spastic Psycho-Head and Schitzo-Head’s double chainsaw attack. With the right directorial eye, these fights could have been as badass as they kind of sound. But hacked to bits as they are, you don’t really know what the hell is going on, who’s winning, or who’s losing until the action is over and you see whose body is bleeding out on the floor. Not good.

It’s a shame because when Zombie slows down to let us soak some of this carnival atmosphere in, it really does make an impact. But those scenes are so few and far between that it wouldn’t be a stretch to call them scant—I’m thinking of a slow zoom in on the wounded participants sitting in between rounds and catching their breath set to classic rock and the opening introduction of Doom-Head (Richard Brake) in particular. Unlike the over-indulgent final scenes of LORDS OF SALEM, 31 keeps things pretty grimy and real. It’s definitely an ultra-violent film, but because of the editing, it’s hard to make out what body parts are being decimated, whose body parts are being decimated, and therefore why I give a shit about whose body parts are being decimated. There is a whole bunch of brutal violence as well as suggested gore—I especially love the off-screen action that Doom-Head paints the red parts of his clown face with his own blood (and the blood spatter of his victims) as he punches his own face to pump himself up for the match. These are good ideas in a film I would call good looking if it would slow down the cuts to more than one millisecond at a time.

There are also some fun characters here. I like Jeff Daniel Phillips’ noble, but selfish Roscoe and Sheri Moon Zombie’s Charly is a nice tweak of her Baby Firefly character using her sexuality as a weapon at times, yet putting that aspect aside to fight tooth and nail to survive as the protagonist here rather than the antagonist in THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. I am happy to say that E.G. Daily is still hot as a tamale on Texas asphalt and despite her scenes being edited all to hell, she sizzles here as Sex-Head. And Meg Foster is pretty amazing as the long-in-the-tooth, but physically formidable Venus Virgo. But the show is stolen by Richard Brake as Doom-Head. His performance is what everyone will take from the film as the most disturbing and most memorable. He’s given the coolest lines to say and the most evil shit to do. If anything, 31 has a great lead villain in Doom-Head and I hope this isn’t the last we see of this makeup wearing monster.

At times, 31 is underwritten with characters simply cursing to fill space and time. Zombie seems to be most interested in Doom-Head and gives him the best lines of the film. The opening monologue by Brake and pretty much any other time he opens his blood-stained mouth is perverse, badass, and poetic all at once. Zombie loves his villains, it’s quite clear. I just wish Zombie would have spent as much time on making the story a bit more nuanced and given better lines to more characters. At least Zombie knows that the strength of this movie lays with Doom-Head and knows how to highlight Brake’s scenes.

Rob Zombie is doing his thing and I don’t hate him for it. He made some missteps with the HALLOWEEN franchise, but this one falls somewhere in between LORDS OF SALEM and HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES (which suffers from the same detrimental editing as this film did). I hope Zombie didn’t peak with THE DEVIL’S REJECTS and the director has more depravity to share. If he hires an editor that doesn’t believe in the strobe effect as a method of cutting scenes, I think he has more good nightmares to bring us. 31 is extremely flawed mainly in the way scenes and shots are put together, but the familiar but simple story, slick opening monologue, and fun cast of horror festival regulars, most importantly Richard Brake as Doom-Head, all make for a twisted film that is a solid editor away from greatness.

New in select theaters and On Demand from IFC Midnight!


Directed by André Øvredal
Written by Ian B. Goldberg, Richard Naing
Starring Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Parker Sawyers, Jane Perry, Yves O'Hara, & Olwen Catherine Kelly as Jane Doe!
Find out more about this on Facebook!
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Andre Øvredal could have done anything with his second feature film after his imaginative and expansive modern found footage fairy tale debut TROLLHUNTER, but instead of going bigger, he reels the scope back in to tell a more claustrophobic and ominous tale with equal potency entitled THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE.

When the body of a woman is found in the basement of a home, the Jane Doe is taken to the local morgue where a father and son team of morticians (Emile Hirsch & Brian Cox) attempt to find out the cause of death and uncover something beyond scientific explanation. With a storm of epic proportions brewing outside and strange occurrences happening in the dark hallways of the morgue, the morticians find out that this is much more than a simple unnamed corpse.

As with TROLLHUNTER, Øvredal chooses to reveal the horror piece by piece in this film which, for the most part, is all about well timed suspense and thrills rather than fantastical elements like giant man-eating monsters. The first half of THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE is a mystery procedural where the morticians rulebook is followed to investigate the cause of death. This is where the compelling detective work comes in as Cox and Hirsch proceed to dissect the corpse and hypothesize what were the events that lead up to her demise. Øvredal is methodical in doling out slivers of info at a torturous pace that kept my attention all the way through. If you’re looking for a movie you cannot predict, this is the one, and most of that is because of Øvredal’s selfish way of leaking information in the first half.

The second half of the film is somewhat more predictable as the supernatural stuff begins to begin. And while I was hooked into this movie by this time, it does seem to lose a skosh of luster as the mystery gives away to more supernatural elements. Still in these scenes, there are terrifying moments where Hirsch and Cox really do go for their all. Cox especially is very physical in this role, but is cool to see from one of his age. I also loved the way the supernatural is something the morticians finally get to and sort of accept by the end of the movie. While some scientist types are seen to be closed minded towards the occult and the supernatural, it’s nice to see these two accept it as unexplained phenomena begin to occur. So when Cox says “Let’s get the hell out of here.” instead of “Let’s investigate this further scientifically” this is a believable moment of realism that you don’t often see in horror films. But this acceptance that there might be supernatural things one cannot explain in the world of this film is foreshadowed early on when Cox’s Tommy admits to being superstitious by tying a bell to the corpses’ ankles just in case they aren’t dead. This little detail also serves as a wonderful setup for a really effective scare later on.

Out of all of the newcomers to horror, Øvredal is one I am most excited about seeing develop as a filmmaker. I hope he sticks around in the world of horror and is able to explore that dark side of fantasy he did so brazenly with TROLLHUNTER and so subtly here with THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE. While there are some conventions that are peppered through the film such as a cat that is just asking to be killed (and sadly is, poor kitty) and the role of Hirsch’s girlfriend which is less of a role and more of a plot device than anything, Øvredal makes up for it with some nail-whitening moments of tension and suspense as well as some fantastically dark moments of sheer terror. He also gets some great performances from Cox and Hirsch who are extremely convincing as father and son morticians.

One thing I could have done without was the weird “Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sun Shine In)” song used in the film every time something weird is about to occur. This song used to be at the end of some of those old FLINTSTONES cartoons and was featured in one of the episodes where Fred and Barney want to make their kids Pebbles and Bamm Bamm into child stars. I always loved the Flintstones and remember that one to be particularly good. See below.

Now, a little research shows this song as being written in 1954 and then rising to popularity when it appeared almost ten years later on that FLINTSTONES episode. While I attest it is a rather creepy song, especially if you listen to the lyrics mentioning the devil numerous times, the evil in THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE is considerably older, so I don’t know why this particular piece of music was used. Odd choice in music aside, THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE is a potent and powerful horror film that utilizes elements of mystery and fantasy in ways to make it totally unique from anything else out there.

Coming soon: find out more about when and where to see it here!


Directed by Joaquin Montalvan
Written by S.E. Feinberg, Eunice Font, Joaquin Montalvan
Starring Katherine Norland, Theresa Holly, Nate Philo, Dennis Haggard, Evan Michael Putjenter, Ron Jason, Chris Shumway, Charlotte Bjornbak, Jes Selane, Suzanne Rick, Mariko Van Kampen, James Killebrew, Jennifer Lynn Warren, Nicole Greenwood, Tina Lee Johnson, Shirley Wilson, Andris Freimanis, & Joaquin Montalvan as the Drifter!
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

While saying something is Rob Zombie-esque these days is not really a compliment these days, I mean it as one when I apply it to CANNIBAL CORPSE KILLERS as it does feel like the bastard child of a Zombie film and THE ROAD WARRIOR on a smaller budget. Joaquin Montalvan, who delivered the grungy experimental goodie that was THE LEGEND OF THE HILLBILLY BUTCHER a few years ago, descends down a more narrative path about a band of post-apocalyptic demon-possessed undead killers.

Those looking for high budgets and top of the line effects should just press on. This is a film from a writer/director that shows some nice growth between his first film (LEGEND OF THE HILLYBILLY BUTCHER) and this one. While there are plenty of moments that could have moved a bit faster in my opinion, Montalvan takes his time with establishing scenes of dirty landscapes and even dirtier protagonists, each with a tragic backstory birthed from the onslaught of the demon dead. This is no virus outbreak. This is an old school, monsters from hell more akin to Bava’s DEMONS and Fulci’s THE BOYOND than Romero’s DEAD series. Montalvan distinguishes these demons by having their tortured souls fly from the bodies after they are perished through shots that look to be taken either through helicopter or through camera drone. Either way, this effect is fun and while it doesn’t show the souls themselves, it does indicate that the folks killing the demons can see something escaping from the undead.

There is a real evolution both as a filmmaker (involving more complicated shots) and as a storyteller with the detailed histories of each of the characters. While this sometimes bogs down the pacing of the film, it really does make CANNIBAL CORPSE KILLERS a hearty meal of a western horror road movie clocking in at about two hours. Again, those who aren’t into this type of post-apocalyptic stuff filmed in a desert most likely just outside of LA have plenty of other films to rag on. But for me, having seen his first and second films, I feel Montalvan has some solid work ahead of him. Reminiscent of the grungy western feel of the films of Duane Graves & Justin Meeks (THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD, BUTCHER BOYS, and KILL OR BE KILLED) with a bit of the Hellbilly terror Zombie induces in all his works, Montalvan has a fantastic eye for style and a gift at creating tough, but nuanced characters. I look forward to seeing what this filmmaker has in store for the future of horror as CANNIBAL CORPSE KILLERS is another big leap in the right direction.

Coming soon: Gearing up to hit the festival circuit (find out when and where here at Candle Flame Films)!


Directed by Torin Langen
Written by Torin Langen
Starring Holden Levack, Jeremy Charles Singer, Raven Cousens, Youp Zondag, Emma McDonald, Rebecca McAulay, Mickey Conde, Erin Stuart, Rebeca MacKinnon, Eric Repke, Maxwell Lantz, Olivia Susan Pluard, Mike McCarville, Andrew Smart, Lindsay Stewart, Ryan Leandres, Kate Cox, Stephen Schooley
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

It’s ambitious to commit to make any type of film, let alone one without dialog, but that’s just what filmmaker Torin Langen set out to do with 3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS and he knocks this concept out of the park in this edgy and sometimes all together gruesome anthology.

Made up of four short stories and one tale tying them all together, 3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS is not your typical anthology. The film begins with a young man investigating the disappearance of three kids on Halloween night and finding himself at the doorstep of a creepy house of a failed writer with three newly dug plots in the backyard. On each of the crosses marking these plots are a mask and a piece of paper with a short story written on them. The young man reads each of these papers, which leads into each of the stories in the anthology. But the man is so engrossed in the stories he is unaware of someone stalking him.

The best part of 3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS is the bookend portions of the film. Lately, while anthologies are on the rise, a premise tying all of the stories together are threadbare if even there at all. It’s refreshing to see an actual story tying these stories together rather than nothing at all but text. It’s this type of attention to the strength of story that permeates this entire film in each of the four tales.

Adhering to the silent film format (it’s not really silent, there’s just no dialog), the short stories are all filled with Halloween pastiches as well as twisted takes on them. “Fondue” tells the story of a pair of kids who don masks and seek out a special treat from a witch in an old cabin. But this treat comes with a price. “Malleus Maleficarum” is a twisted tale of modern witch-hunting with one of the witch-hunters developing a conscience as they stalk their latest sacrifice. The third story is “Stash” focusing on a trio of homeless kids who stash their Halloween candy and whatever they get on the street in a hole in the middle of the woods. When one of the stashers doesn’t carry his weight, the hunger of the other two get the better of them and desperation leads to murder. Of all of stories, “Stash” was my favorite as the story is more thought out with higher stakes of personal survival. It ends similarly to “Fondue” but just feels like a more mature story than the first one. Finally, “Delivery” follows a pair of cops who are investigating an increase of disappearances of people in the city. Or at least that’s what it seems to be. Again, the twist is what gets under your skin in this one and it’s a good one.

Adding to the creepiness are dime-store Halloween masks all of the cast wears that have that retro-unfitted quality to them. The masks hide most emotions, leaving the viewer to piece the story together through the actions of these characters. This might be challenging for some, but makes for an interesting experiment to see how well a story can be conveyed without seeing the character’s facial expression or hearing them talk. It’s a testament to Langen’s filmmaking skills that each of these stories come across loud and clear, even without sound and emotion. Langen makes up the lack of dialog with intense close-ups, bizarre décor, haunted house sound effects, and some grungy punk songs adding holiday chaos to your earholes. All of the stories have a twist that I won’t spoil here, but each has a distinct closure that sears itself into your brain with vivid and horrific imagery.

3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS might be seen as an experimental film. It’s all filmed in washed out colors that oozes that autumn feel with leaves covering the ground and trees bursting out of the ground like black skeleton hands. Langen is a talented filmmaker and I can’t wait to see what he has coming up next. This film is one I hope to rewatch this Halloween, as it embraces the holiday and celebrates all of the devious and dangerous aspects of it. As far as anthologies go, this is by far the most successful one in terms of a solid structure and effective stories throughout. Highly recommended.

Couldn’t find a trailer for this one, but here’s a trailer for one of the shorts, FONDUE!

Coming soon: yet to be released in the US!


Directed by Steve Barker
Written by Paul Gerstenberger
Starring Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, Claire Goose, Martin McCann, Robert Firth, Jamie Ward, Jassa Ahluwalia, Sam Douglas, Elen Rhys, Shane Zaza, Manuela Maletta, Bentley Kalu, Richard Laing, Sean Power, Rebecca James, Kevin Shen, Jonathan Sawdon, Catarina Mira, Stefan Pejic, Derek Siow, Lawrence Walker, Dave Wong
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

JURASSIC PARK with zombies is the simple elevator pitch for THE REZORT and while this film occurs on the tail end of the zombie craze, it does a lot right and makes for a damn fun time.

The zombie apocalypse is over and the humans won. With most of the world’s zombies eliminated, the world is trying to put itself back together and that means good old capitalism is on the rise as an exclusive resort offers up the opportunity to hunt and kill their own zombies for those who have the money to do so. Meanwhile, as if they don’t have enough things to protest about, a bunch of zombie rights activists protest the idea of exploiting the rights of the recently deceased at the park. When a group of survivors come to the island for their tour of the resort, a glitch in the mechanics release the penned up zombies leaving everyone in the group to face a real zombie Armageddon all over again.

What works is the entire JURASSIC PARK angle. This is an original take on the zombie story and while it pretty much follows the Spielberg movie beat for beat only substituting the undead for dinosaurs, doing so was enough of a change for me to keep my interest. There is the usual parts where the participants venture through the grounds, play target practice on chained up zombies, and check out the massive zombie herd the park picks from for their activities. This film also does a decent job of giving the participants individual reasons for attending the park with most of them being there to overcome some kind of psychosis they experienced during the real zombie apocalypse. Lost your loved one to a zombie, feel the catharsis by plunking one in the brains from a safe distance. What could go wrong? These are all intriguing ideas and a tried and true setup for a lot of fun.

And while there is a lot of fun to be had, a lot of time is spent on the getting to know you stages of the film, leaving a somewhat rushed resolution. Ideas like zombie farms, zombie rights sabotage, and how the whole damn thing is going to be contained are all sped through at a breakneck pace towards the end, leaving one with a dissatisfied feeling at all counts. On top of that, no one seems to understand how to close a door in this film. Most of the zombie pursuit would have been quelled if only the fleeing participants would have been able to close a door behind them. It’s bone headed moves like this that leads one to root for the zombies rather than the morons who don’t understand how a door works.

Dougray Scott is really good in this film as the jaded hunter out to take out as many zombies as he can in the park and when things go pear-shaped. The rest of the cast is decent, though sometimes one can see the script through the acting which is never a good sign. THE REZORT still is a whole lot of fun. JURASSIC PARK is just a riff on WESTWORLD, so I can’t fault THE REZORT for lifting and morphing a good idea when it was done successfully before. As is, if you’re not sick of zombies by now, THE REZORT is a pretty solid littler action film with fun zombie gore and a premise that holds up pretty much until the dramatic, yet RESIDENT EVIL-esque ending.

Coming soon: Released later in 2017 (find out when and where here)!


Directed by Iqbal Ahmed
Written by Iqbal Ahmed
Starring Austin Hébert, Alexis Carra, David S. Lee, Adam Shapiro, Mark Deklin, Denisha Saunders, Cranston Johnson, Tyler Richardson, Chris Horne, Katherine Meixel, Terrence McGee, Mark Tyburski, Kasey Rising
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Part suspense thriller, part sci fi super hero flick, THE ANSWER is a subtle homage to Cronenberg’s SCANNERS and DePalma’s THE FURY.

Bridd Cole (Austin Hébert) is a mail room attendant at a stocks firm and tries to keep his head low, despite the fact that he seems to have an uncanny knack to picking the right stocks to trade at the right time. Seems Cole is like that with a lot of things, but his unnatural power to pretty much do everything well has given him a complex and he has learned not to stick his neck out and use these powers lest they bring bad things into his life. When he takes a chance with the new office temp Charlotte (Alexis Carra) the two have a great first date, but when they get home he finds his house turned upside down and two Snake-Eyes looking ninjas there waiting for him. This begins a non-stop run for their lives as Cole tries to find out what exactly he really is and what his destiny has in store for him.

What I loved about THE ANSWER was the subtle and ground level effects going on throughout the film. Filmmakeer Iqbal Ahmed is able to tell a strong story of intergalactic proportions, but on a relatable ground level that neither breaks the bank or betrays the story he is telling. Simple effects like glowing eyes and some sped up action make Cole’s powers fun to watch as he takes on the bad guys. Everything looks sleek and slick and never goes too far past the parameters of what this budget is capable of.

The other thing that works with THE ANSWER is the likable and talented main players in Austin Hebert as Cole and Alexis Carra as Charlotte. While this could have been a run of the mill sort of story, these two actors bring a lot of character to their roles. Hebert looks like a long lost brother of Martin Freeman and has that same type of everyman quality he had in THE OFFICE and pretty much any other role he’s played that makes you root for him. Carra is immediately likable with her long curly locks and outgoing personality that perfectly counters Cole’s introverted qualities. Seeing these two different types of people try to form a relationship within the chaos of what’s going on around them is truly engaging.

THE ANSWER is the perfect double feature film to see with the Joe Begos’ latest THE MIND’S EYE (reviewed here). Both have that ground level and human take on super powers that you just don’t see in the super hero movies of today. Subtle effects and likable performances make THE ANSWER a really strong entry into the horror of super powers subgenre made popular by Cronenberg and DePalma.

Coming soon: Making the rounds at festivals (find out when and where here)!


Directed by Nick McAnulty, Brian Allan Stewart
Written by Nick McAnulty
Starring Jennifer Fraser, Farhang Ghajar, Jon Gates, Rich Piatkowski, Christina Schimmel
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Some of the best horror films are much more than just horror films and CAPTURE KILL RELEASE definitely falls into that category. This is a film that is not only chilling and gory, but it is also a wonderful look at a dysfunctional relationship between two extremely flawed characters. Being a found footage film, CAPTURE KILL RELEASE is going to be a film many scoff at given the inundation of films made in this format we’ve seen recently, but recently I’ve come to accept found footage not as a fad, but a legitimate subgenre of horror, mainly because, at least for me, this sort of film can still grab me and great films such as this one can still be made—making the subgenre feel fresh as it was when BLAIR WITCH PROJECT first came out.

I have a certain criteria for found footage films that take the form of the below questionnaire that I will apply to CAPTURE KILL RELEASE, but this is a film, I believe fans of the subgenre and those who aren’t will both want to seek out.

What’s the premise?
A married couple, Jen and Farhang (Jennifer Fraser & Farhang Ghajar) have decided to plan a murder. The film goes through their process from planning stages, to prep work, to the stalking, to the actual execution. But as they get closer and closer to making the actual kill, one of them becomes reluctant to do it.

Are the actors believably acting like they aren’t acting?
The acting in this film is it’s strongest asset, besides the unpredictability of the story. Jennifer Fraser plays Jen as a deeply unhinged person who has attached herself to a pushover in Farhang (Farhang Ghajar). While the words coming from her mouth are utterly bone-chilling, she is utterly seducing and manipulative in the way she leads Farhang around in order to appease a bloodlust inside of her. Jenn is downright giddy in some scenes preparing for this kill and her charisma is intoxicating. One understands why someone like Farhang might fall for her and do whatever she wants to make her happy. On the other side of the spectrum is Farhang, who is equally strong and believable here. The fact that these two actors are able to be so comfortable with one another and as well as have such distinct personalities is what makes this film all the more convincing and engrossing. Without these two particular actors, I don’t think they would have been able to pull off this movie at all.

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)?
Yes, nothing in this film seems to be added. No music. No major edits other than turning on and off the camera. This is a film that tries to make it as believable as possible that this might be a film stumbled upon with the only things happening in the footage occurring within the universe of the story, making it all the more believable.

Is there a valid reason the camera isn’t dropped and they just get the hell out of there?
Most definitely. Jenn is addicted to making this footage to rewatch it later. She is obviously a very sick person and she wants to map out every single detail in front of the camera from a playful gathering of tools at home depot to stalking their intended victim and leading him into their home. Later, the main conflict between Jenn and Fahhang is the fact that Jenn must keep the camera rolling at all times and seems to love this recording more than the relationship itself.

Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
Quite the opposite. We hit the ground running with this film and actually have to catch up with Jenn’s manic excitement in plotting and planning this kill. This reason why this film is so good is because it keeps things interesting from beginning to end. A lot of that has to do with the amazing performances by Jenn and Farhang, but they are doing a lot of stuff to fill that time as well. I was entranced with this film from beginning to end wondering how far down the abyss it would go.

Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional or a REC-drag away from the camera?
Nope, and I love this film for not succumbing to these tired clichés which need to be retired in the found footage subgenre.

Does anything actually happen?
A whole hell of a lot happens. While many found footagers seem to end abruptly with no real feeling of resolution, CAPTURE KILL RELEASE tells a complete story about a flawed relationship.

Does the film add anything to the subgenre and is this one worth watching?
CAPTURE KILL RELEASE is one of the best found footage films you’re going to find. It embraces the found footage blueprint, but never lets it hinder the story. The film uses the format in new and exciting ways by telling an intimate story of flawed romance, twisted morals, and the horror of love. One warning though; cat lovers might want to take a break at about the halfway point in this film as one kitty meets an untimely end. While I hate animal cruelty and usually don’t want to see it in my movies, this scene does serve a purpose and is the first indication that there are going to be problems with Jenn and Farhang’s plans. Playing out like a found footage version of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (with the way the killers plot their murders and the rules they live by) with less tongue and cheekiness of MAN BITES DOG and BEHIND THE MASK, CAPTURE KILL RELEASE is one film you don’t want to miss. Fans of found footage are going to love this, as will those who don’t like the format, as it has engaging characters you can’t help but like, despite their obvious flaws.

And finally…here’s a timely little horror short about an online troller who gets tormented by a real troll. Directed and written by Matt Fratto from Insane-O-Rama Productions. DON’T FEED THE TROLL has some fantastic creature effects as well as some great acting from Gaetano Iacono and production design (though prepare yourself for some pretty horrific language used in this one). There are some nice scares and a moral to this one that we all can benefit from. I think it’d be good for everyone to take a moment to watch this one and maybe we can all treat each other a little better in the upcoming year. Here’s DON’T FEED THE TROLL!

See ya next year, 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!

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