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AICN HORROR looks at the end of the world with MILLENIUM BUG, RATION, PHASE 7, BELLFOWER!!!

Logo by Kristian Horn

What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. A bum once told me “The end is nigh!” and if you pay attention to this latest batch of apocalyptic themed films, you might believe him. The one thing this collection of horror films reviewed today all have in common is that they all center on the end of the world. Though there’s nary a zombie to be seen in these armageddons, a lot of the same themes are prevalent. I guess you don’t need the shambling undead to bring about the end of society. But before we roll the credits on the Earth as we know it, there’s a convention of sorts going on that I seem to be at…

At the moment, I’m hip deep in all things SDCC. Yesterday was my panel AICN COMICS: HORROR ON THE PANELED PAGE. The panel went well and be on the lookout for a column featuring the panel in its entirety featuring panelists Steve Niles (30 DAYS OF NIGHT, CRIMINAL MACABRE), Joshua Hale Fialkov (ECHOES, I, VAMPIRE), David Quinn (FAUST), Tim Seeley (HACK/SLASH), Brandon Seifert (WITCH DOCTOR), Terrence Zdunich (REPO THE GENETIC OPERA, THE MOLTING), Matt Pizzolo (GODKILLER, HALO-8), Brea Grant (WE WILL BURY YOU, SUICIDE GIRLS) and Zane Grant (WE WILL BURY YOU, DETECTIVE WARLOCK) talking about all what makes for a good horror comic and what doesn’t.

Later today at 3:00-4:00 I’ll be sitting on a panel for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND where I’ll be making a special announcement about a future project I’ll be doing with FM (can’t wait to tell you all about it!).

Today I’ll also be moderating the MONSTERVERSE COMICS ATE MY BRAIN panel at 5:00-6:00 where I’ll be talking with Monsterverse's Kerry Gammill (SUPERMAN) and Sam F. Park (THE HALFWAY HOUSE), Bela Lugosi Jr., screenwriter Peter Briggs (HELLBOY), Michael Tabb (WEREWOLF), Robert Tinnell (FLESH AND BLOOD), James Farr (XOMBIE), Chris Moreno (WORLD WAR HULK), Dan Brereton (THE NOCTURNALS), James Groman (THE HOBBIT), and Mike Dubisch (ALIENS VS PREDATOR) about Monsterverse's horror projects such as FLESH & BLOOD and BELA LUGOSI’S TALES FROM THE GRAVE.

Tonight the winners of THE DIVIDE Contest we ran this week will be checking out yet another new end of the world film focusing on a group of survivors trapped in a bomb shelter when the nuclear bombs drop. Congrats to the winners of that contest and be sure to look for a review of THE DIVIDE soon here on AICN HORROR (I’ve gotta see it first…funny how that works).

Finally, tomorrow at 7:00-8:00 I’ll most likely be taking part in Halo-8’s panel featuring HALO-8 producer Matt Pizzolo and his talented creators Tim Seeley (HACK/SLASH), Ben Templesmith (WORMWOOD GENTLEMAN CORPSE, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT), producer FJ Desanto, and other special guests. We’ll be talking about HALO-8’s upcoming illustrated films and other future projects.

Now get ready for the end with these end of the world flicks.

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

RATION Short Film (2011)
PHASE 5 (2011)
And finally…gaRAGE!

RATION Short Film (2011)

Directed by Michael Robayo
Written by Michael Robayo
Starring Seth Lefberg & Charlie Gorrilla
Find out more info on RATION on its Facebook Page.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

RATION is a short film that doesn’t feel like one. It’s a fully realized concept that fits nicely into the 20 minute package Michael Robayo maps out about a pair of men trapped in an apartment after what looks to be a nuclear bomb has dropped. The budgets are low here, but not really noticeable mainly due to the strength of the two actors and the skill Robayo has behind the camera. Robayo concentrates on little details, constantly using his camera as a microscope noticing the most subtle movements, nuances, and details of the slowly emaciating actors and their slowly decaying environment around them.

Robayo is patient with what little info he allots the audience as far as who these guys are and why we should care that they are slowly dying in a littered apartment. The narrative marks off each day as the survivors are getting hungrier and more desperate. Though you know that it looks like these men will reach their breaking point where all bets are off and the rules of humanity don’t apply anymore, the question is how long will they hold out, will someone rescue them, and which will crack first.

Though somewhat predictable in the end, RATION kept me enthralled for the duration with Robayo’s deft camera work. This is a nicely constructed and gorgeously filmed little movie, deserving of a wider audience. Check out RATION’s Facebook Page for more info on where you can check this harrowing little flick out.


Directed by Kenneth Cran
Written by Kenneth Cran
Starring John Charles Meyer, Jessica Simons, Christine Haeberman, John Briddell, Ken McFarlane
Find out more about this film on Facebook and its website.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

THE MILLENIUM BUG plays out like a love song to all of the horror films we all grew up watching. There’s a dash of GODZILLA, a sprinkle of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and hell, even a bit of JURASSIC PARK mixed in. The folks behind this film seem to be fans of the genre and it shows in every frame. To top it all off, not an ounce of CGI is used in this film. Everything you see is hand made and happening in the frame…at least that what the makers of this film boast. Now, I’m sure that what they mean is that the monsters in this film are old school. That’s right it’s a man in a suit, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it may have you youngsters used to your green screen computer monsters rolling your eyes a bit. I guess I’m showing my age that I enjoyed the hell out of this film, mostly for the heart behind it and the dedication to making an old school horror romp.

The story of THE MILLENIUM BUG isn’t going to leave many scratching their heads. There’s a hillbilly family living in the woods who have inbred so much that all of their kids come out mutated or dead, so they set out to find some fresh meat for breeding. Along comes a vacationing family who are unlucky enough to run into the hillbillies and…well, you know what happens.

Or maybe you don’t. You see, this film is set during December 31, 1999--the last day of the millennium, when Y2K was a fear on everyone’s minds. On top of all of the breeding and threats of the world ending at the stroke of midnight, there’s a giant monster in a hole in the middle of the woods that comes out to mate every 100 years (yes, it’s a bit of a coincidence, but hell, let’s roll with it for the sake of fun). Soon the inbreds, the vacationing family, a crypto-zoologist, and a bug the size of Mothra collide in a climax that leaves no one left standing or not splattered with blood, gore, grue, and goo.

The best part of THE MILLEMIUM BUG is that it relishes in the real effects made famous by Tom Savini, Rick Baker, and Rob Bottin and also the rubber suited monster fiascos starring Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan. Fake heads are really whacked with axes. Giant monsters smash through mini replicas of barns and trees. Plus we get to witness an extremely gross third nipple! So there’s that.

Acting: spotty. Story: a bit lacking and owing a lot to the inbred families we’ve seen before in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, WRONG TURN, and a million others. But to me, none of that matters. I can’t help but get behind this film for the special effects above all else. Find out more about THE MILLENIUM BUG on Facebook and its website.

Part of Bloody Disgusting Selects!

PHASE 7 (2011)

Directed by Nicolas Goldbart
Written by Nicolas Goldbart
Starring Daniel Hendling, Jazmin Stuart, Federico Lupi
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Imagine SHAUN OF THE DEAD without zombies set in Argentina or a comedic version of REC and you’ll pretty much get the tone of PHASE 7 which refers to the most extreme case of emergency for a contagion to occur on a national level. Much like SHAUN OF THE DEAD, the lead characters (played by the mutton chopped Daniel Hendling and the very pregnant Jazmin Stuart) are oblivious to the world falling apart around them until the very last minute. While folks armor up their vehicles and loot groceries for supplies, the couple go about their normal existence. PHASE 7’s strength lies in these performances by these likable actors who endear themselves to the viewer by showing real emotion toward one another despite the quirks both of them possess.

What makes PHASE 7 so strong is the culture it is filmed in. There’s an air of polite sincerity in the tone, lines, and posturings of all of the Argentinean actors in this film, who are trapped in this building. Though the situation is absolutely dire, composure and manners are always remembered while the characters interact with each other. Even when the government shuts down the apartment complex, the tenants politely answer questions and accept what the government explains to them. Had this been an American film, I’m sure the tenants’ reactions to the government lockdown would not have been so cordial.

But manners begin to fray at the edges the longer the tenants are trapped in the building. With only TV and radio reports to let them know what’s going on outside of the apartment, the tenants begin turning on one another. Again, like SHAUN OF THE DEAD, while things start out almost farcical, the tone shifts to dire towards the end. Like SHAUN OF THE DEAD, PHASE 7 seems to be commenting on how much is taken for granted as well in society and how we often walk around so wrapped up in our own problems that we don’t notice the world crumbling around us. It’s a effective film focusing on a small story during a large scale problem. Though played for fun most of the time, when things get serious and bloody, it’s all the more shocking due to the abrupt change in tone. PHASE 7 is definitely yet another winner from Bloody Disgusting Selects! Check out Bloody Disgusting for dates and places this darkly comical tale can be seen.


Directed by Evan Glodell
Written by Evan Glodell
Starring Evan Glodell, Tyler Dawson, Jessie Wiseman, Rebekah Brandes
Find out more about BELLFLOWER on Facebook and website.
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

One can’t help but become wrapped up in the psychodrama and real life horror that unfolds in BELLFLOWER. This isn’t necessarily a film about the end of the world, exactly; the main characters do worship THE ROAD WARRIOR (specifically the muscle bound villain, Humongous), and prepare for the end of the world by building a flamethrower and wrenching up a muscle car. But at its center, BELLFLOWER exemplifies that feeling that the world is ending when one suffers from a broken heart.

The film starts out innocently enough. A pair of hipsters reminisce about the loss of one of their girlfriends. Choosing to focus on hypothetical scenarios of what they would do when the world ends, Woodrow (Evan Glodell) convinces his buddy Tyler Dawson to go out for a night of drinks to forget his woes. There he meets a plucky young sprite named Milly played by the girl next door cutie Jessie Wiseman. Woodrow and Milly immediately hit it off, take an impromptu trip to Texas, and come the halfway point of BELLFLOWER, I was wondering why I was watching this for review for AICN HORROR.

Then, all of a sudden, shit gets dark. Really, really fucking dark.

I don’t want to necessarily reveal any major spoilers for this film other than the fact that fans of horror should be patient with this one. The events that occur in the last half of the film are not only grueling, but they are also all the more difficult to sit through because this is drama that can and does actually occur. The final moments of BELLFLOWER play out like a drug induced dream where you’ll end up questioning what actually happened and what didn’t. It’s not a film that offers easy answers to what happens when one suffers from a break up or why folks do the things they do when extreme emotion is involved. But if you’re feeling down and your life is getting more and more similar to an old country song, BELLFLOWER is a film that will cure you from that broken heart by showing the absolute worse case scenario and leaving you thinking, “Well, at least I’m not that guy…”

Though the conversations held between the lead actors may make you bonk your head a few times as most of the cast’s back and forthings make Bill and Ted seem like valedictorians, it is representational of many a conversation I’ve overheard between the unwashed masses. Director/actor Evan Glodell is a talented guy. Using washed out scenes of normalcy, one might be fooled that this film is actually taking place at the end of the world. BELLFOWER’s story flame-blasts the heart. And though the main characters may be a bit dim, the ups and downs of life that happens around them is palpable, touching, and gut-wrenching all at once.

Find out more about BELLFLOWER on Facebook and website.

And finally…here’s a horror short called gaRAGE! Enjoy this creepy treat written and directed by John Keefer!

See ya, next week, folks!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!

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