Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. As I steam through Cleveland waiting for a flight to take me to New York for the New York Comic Con, I had a chance to post this week’s AICN HORROR column. Look for another column on Monday covering a couple of premieres I’m seeing this weekend at the con, plus a film called SMILEY in limited release this weekend. We’ve got another crop of new horror on tap this week. But before we dive into that…there’s this!
I’ll be at the New York Comic Con this weekend and though I won’t be there on Sunday, those who are might want to swing Webster Hall at the 6th annual NYC Zombie Crawl after party! Lloyd Kaufman and Troma will also be in attendance screening premiere clips of RETURN TO THE CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH. At the same venue, clips from THE EVIL HEAD starring Joanna Angel in a more “adult oriented” version of the original cabin in the woods horror film. THE EVIL HEAD comes out at the end of the month and I’ll be covering it here on AICN HORROR, but to tide you over, here’s the trailer.
For more info on the NYC Zombie Crawl going on this weekend, click here!
Here’s a cool contest in celebration of the release of V/H/S. Interested in sending a personalized message from the freaky ass girl from the first V/H/S segment to someone you love? Check out the V/H/S Facebook page and register in a contest to have creepy actress Hanna Fierman send you a personalized video message saying "I LIKE YOU". Anyone who saw the flick knows how creepy that actually is.
Friend of AICN HORROR William Wilson has written up another one of his “Never Got Made Files” highlighting films that, for one reason or another, never saw the light of day. This time, William focuses on Texas raised director David Schmoeller. Two very diverse projects; one a werewolf feature he was going to do at Charles Band's Empire back in its heyday! Click on this link to enjoy the article!
I’m always up to highlight a noble cause, and the good folks at the sCare Foundation have made one. The organization will be holding it’s 2nd Annual Fundraising event on October 28, at the Conga Room in Los Angeles, CA. This is a great organization founded by Malek Akkad, producer of the successful HALLOWEEN franchise. Here’s the official lowdown about it: The sCare Foundation (Suspense Community Allocating Relief and Empowerment Foundation) is a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating the hardships of poverty and homelessness facing today’s youth throughout North America. sCare Foundation’s focus will be to provide financial support to existing youth programs throughout North America as well as arranging special sCare Foundation activities for the children such as set visits, movie screenings, celebrity meet-and-greets and more. In addition to working with children in need, the sCare Foundation aims to involve more young people in philanthropy and develop their passions and skills to give back to their own communities. Honorary board members include filmmakers John Carpenter and James Wan. sCare wholeheartedly believes that the suspense genre demographic is an untapped resource of unlimited potential in giving and changing our global community. It can be a part of the solution. To learn more about sCare Foundation and the Board members, please visit the website at www.scarefoundation.org.
On with the reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
DRACULA REBORN (2012)
THE PORKCHOP TRILOGY (2010-2012)
AMPHIBIOUS: CREATURE OF THE DEEP (2010)
THE COTTAGE (2012)
DEAD SOULS (2012)
And finally…Adam Green’s HALLOWEEN Deleted Scene: DRIVING LESSON!
Available now on Video on Demand from Phase 4 Films!
DRACULA REBORN (2012)Directed by Patrick McManus
Written by Patrick McManus, from the novel by Bram Stoker
Starring Stuart Rigby, Corey Landis, Victoria Summer, Dani Lennon, Preston James Hillier, Christianna Carmine, Krash Miller, Ian Pfister, Keith Reay
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Well, I have to give this film points for being ambitious. DRACULA REBORN attempts to bring the Bram Stoker tale to the modern day as a real estate salesman sells an abandoned warehouse to a foreign millionaire in a bad neighborhood filled with gangs. In many ways this film feels more like Hammer’s DRACULA 1972 AD or LOVE AT FIRST BITE, but I think I’m giving the film a bit too much credit in comparing them. At best, DRACULA REBORN is a low budget film that knows the source material and tries its damndest to make it all seem fresh and new.
It doesn’t really do it though. Giving modern day names and variations on classic literary characters is fun, but without some meat, it’s just a hollow change to make a film originally set in the Victorian era without spending all of the money to make it look like a Victorian era style period piece. Instead, Dracula drives around in a fancy sports car instead of a horse and carriage. Jonathan sells the vampire a warehouse in a gang infested area rather than Carfax Abbey. These modern twists seem clever, but shallow.
On top of that, the heavy emotional lifting required by Stoker’s novel isn’t really possible by this cast who struggle to emote anything in long spans of screentime. Only Stuart Rigby’s portrayal of the Count is decent with most of the other actors having a lot of difficulty with making things believable, much less causing us to feel for the characters.
Though most of the effects are CG, they aren’t bad, especially the dead eyes look the vamps get when they fang out. The crooked false chompers of the vamps are a nice touch to make them feel a bit more visceral. That said, out of the million and one retellings of Stoker’s classic, this is one of the more forgettable ones.
New on DDVD/BluRay!
THE PORKCHOP TRILOGYDirected by Eamon Hardiman
Written by Eamon Hardiman (parts 1-3), Zack Bassham (part 1), James Collar (part 3)
Find out more about all three of these films here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Many will scoff at the low budget antics of the folks behind THE PORKCHOP TRILOGY but I’m not one of them. I remember not too “way back when” when I wanted to be a filmmaker and developed my own serial killer film and the story’s main focus was how many people can be killed and in how many different and interesting ways. That’s basically what the PORKCHOP films are all about; lining up the kids and watching a pig faced hillbilly madman go to town on them with various sharp and blunt instruments. And there’s some charm in the simplicity of this series, mainly because I can relate to the aspirations of the filmmakers behind it.
That said, these are not films for those looking for innovative filming techniques, Oscar caliber acting, and unexpected twists and turns script-wise. The three films focusing on the hillbilly serial killer by the name of Porkchop is crude, indie filmmaking at its most fun, rolling around in grossout effects like a pig in slop and trying its damndest to make Porkchop the next contender to be the king of cinematic serial killers. Does the series do that? Not really. It is a hell of a lot of fun though to waste an afternoon soaking in the big kills, big boobs, and of course one big pig head.
PORKCHOP (2010)Starring Ruby Larocca, Charles Sullivan, Chris Woodall, Erin Russ, Brandon Raker, Sierra Ferrell, Brian Gunnoe, Eamon Hardiman, Bill Hairston, Dan Hicks, Rob Cobb as Porkchop
Find out more about this film here!
Filmed on the low, low low, PORKCHOP starts out typically as a guy and a girl stroll through the woods and decide to go skinny dipping. After boob-shot number one occurs, Porkchop makes an appearance and kills them. On to the next group of crazy kids made up of a nerd, a ladies man, a tramp, a cheerleader, a good girl, and of course a British guy…oh yeah and a robot, as they pile into a van and go camping. Soon Porkchop shows up and kills them. The film has your checklist moments; the locals warn them to stay away from a camp, the kids don’t listen, there’s a sex scene. The British guy gets drunk on moonshine and more people die. Though everyone’s sole purpose is to die by the hands of Porkchop, I did find myself engaged in this story, as simplistic as it was. Though I doubt tramp stamps were popular back then, the film is set in the 80’s to suggest and even more retro feel. If anything, this first film does decent job of establishing the standard by which this film series sticks to, even though it is a standard we’ve seen in countless serial killer films before. That said, the gore is phenomenal and definitely an indication of where the filmmakers interest lies. That and there are a lot of nice boob shots.
Did I mention a girl has sex with a robot?
PORKCHOP II: RISE OF THE RIND (2011)aka PORKCHOPS
Starring Sam Qualiana, Angela Pritchett, Robert J. Haddy II, Missy Dawn, Brian Gunnoe, Bill Hairston, Penny Maple, and Rob Cobb as Porkchop
Find out more about this film here!
PROKCHOP II picks up a short time after the first film and though this film clocks in at a 110 minute run time, including credits, things are improved in many ways. The script is a lot tighter and the people speaking it seem more talented as well. Sure there are a few wooden performances, but the leads handle the heavy lifting well; especially the lead nerdy kid and his outcast girlfriend who has an obsession with the serial killer. There’s even a little musical number at the beginning as the two newly met lovebirds share a song while walking through the woods.
When the boy’s parents leave town, that gives his wild girlfriend to throw a party and invite the local douchebags and you know what happens to douchebags and sluts in these movies, right? It involves gore and boobs and gory boobs. There are some really nice moments of gore as Porkchop gets inventive with a tiki torch (see the pic on the left) and some other grossout scenes that make for a fun time. There are also a few very nice boobs and a post credit sequence with the cheapest special effects involving one victim choking on a toilet paper roll and another being killed with a shoelace string. Though the plot is basically wash, rinse, repeat, everything that was in the first film is done bigger and better in the second. The film also takes a few unexpected twists throughout as one cast member I assumed would last until the end dies early on and another turns out to be something unexpected as well.
PORKCHOP 3-D! (2012)Starring Kaylee Williams, Sam Qualiana, Angela Pritchett, Stephen Hensley, Brian Gunnoe, Scott Gregg, Chris Woodall, Evan Wilson, Missy Dawn, Shawn C. Phillips, Dan Hicks, Bill Hairston, Kaylee Williams and Rob Cobb as Porkchop
Find out more about this film here!
Taking a trip into the third dimension is always fun, especially when done so cheaply. The tried and true knife thrown into the camera and other cheap tricks we have seen in a million and one low fi 3D films is ever present here. While the second installment in this series makes things bigger and better, pushing the story forward, the third installment takes a step back and fills in some holes, bringing back some of the survivors of the first two films and folks you didn’t think survived but did. Having the pleasure of sitting through all three PORKCHOPs in one afternoon, it was fun to see these characters pop up again, though I imagine had I not seen them in such close procession, I wouldn’t have recognized them.
The acting is about the same here with a lot of the same actors showing up in different roles this time around. Porkchop continues to be the same, but this time around he’s got a female companion in a pig mask as well, plus a brood of porky little kids all set to go a murderizin’! The film comes to a fitting close with this one and should this be the last one, it goes out on a fun and solid note. As with most slasher films, there is a sequence leaving room for another, so fear not, we may see another Porkchop film in the future.
I can’t lie to you guys and say everyone will like this, but having grown up in the eighties and seen so many of these slashers, director/writer of the trilogy Eamon Hardiman seems to have the same sense of nostalgia for those goofy slasher films of the time. This serves a fun low budget throwback and those in the mood for that type of thing will have as much fun as I did with PORKCHOP.
New on Video on Demand this week!
AMPHIBIOUS: CREATURE OF THE DEEP (2010)Directed by Brian Yuzna
Written by John Penney, Somtow Sucharitkul, San Fu Maltha, Brian Yuzna
Starring Michael Paré, Janna Fassaert, Verdi Solaiman, Mohammad Aditya, Steven Baray, Dorman Borisman, Francis Bosco, Mikael Cakrawala Jehian, Francis Magee, Timo Ottevanger, Joshua Pandelaki, Ida Jessica Peter, Elke Salverda, Monica Sayangbati
Find out more about these films here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Having been a big fan of Brian Yuzna’s SOCIETY and BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR, I was excited to see this film when I heard of the director’s involvement. What I got was an interesting little movie, but I don’t know if I would call me completely entertained.
Taking advantage of the budgetary restrictions this film obviously had, AMPHIBIOUS: CREATURE OF THE DEEP’s main fault lies in it’s ambition to be a bigger film than it is. A giant set piece was made for this film or possibly was found in a giant ocean fishing platform and dammit if Yuzna doesn’t film every inch of the ramshackle wooden set for this film. Basically the entire movie takes place on this platform. If the beast from the fathoms below isn’t swimming around underneath the platform and nabbing them with it’s giant scorpion tail, it’s climbing up directly in the center of the platform (which is exactly just enough room for the beast to fit and fight each crew member one on one center stage) and clacking it’s claws and hollering. The set is cool looking, built on stilts high above the water, but halfway through the movie as the film lingers around the house and stage on stilts, I realized and said to myself, “Huh, this is actually all we’re going to get, isn’t it?”
And indeed I was right. Apart from a few sequences on another boat and a few from a farmhouse at the beginning and the end, we’re stuck on that fishing platform for the long haul.
AMPHIBIOUS focuses on a marine biologist who hires the cleanest crusty boatman I’ve ever seen in Michael Pere then is sidetracked into discovering a fishing platform filled with pirates and their slave children survivors of the Japanese Tsunami. The biologist, of course, wants to save the kids, while Pere just wants to get a paycheck. Soon, we realize one of the kids has a connection with a creature swimming around the platform and we’ve got a giant monster movie on our hands. It surprises me at how straight forward Yuzna plays this film as a typical monster movie which follows the serial killer format as the cast is whittled down to the few that has the most lines. It’s straight up, no frills filmmaking and not entirely interesting.
That said, there are two things that make this film worth checking out, one being the monster itself. Though heavily CG, it still is an ugly and mean critter, nicely designed and well integrated into the scenes. On top of that, this film has an absolutely killer ending. If Yuzna would have gone as batshit on the rest of the film as he does in the final moments, my review for the film would have been the opposite of the meh the above paragraphs are filled with. As is, AMPHIBIOUS turns out to be typical until the insane final moments.
New this week on DVD!
THE COTTAGE (2012)Directed by Chris Jaymes
Written by Nick Antosca
Starring David Arquette, Kristen Dalton, Victor Browne, Morissa O'Mara, Alana O'Mara, Franny Hocking, Ken Baumann, Lorraine Nicholson, Bellamy Young, Rome Shadanloo, Kyle Slabotsky,
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Though the plot feels more like a Lifetime movie of the week, there's one thing that elevates THE COTTAGE above soap opera network level entertainment; David Arquette. Say what you will about the quirky actor, but he does creep well and since that's what the script of THE COTTAGE requires, all of the factors fit to make for a creepy little film.
I don't want to oversell. Aside from Arquette the acting is capable but not stellar. The script isn't the most revolutionary either as financial woes force the parents of two teenage girls to hastily take in a border in the cottage in their backyard. When Arquette appears he first seems to be the answer to their prayers, but a few creepy glances and some odd dialog later and they are beginning to think the elevator in their new tenant's head is not stopping on all floors.
While relatively bloodless, the revelation of what Arquette's character really is makes for some interestingly bizarre moments. Not going to reveal it here but Arquette's interest in the teenage daughter is not wholesome.
What saves this film is that Arquette is weird and does weird well with his soft spoken yet guilty looking demeanor. THE COTTAGE isn't one of those films that's going to dazzle but Arquette's performance will most definitely get under your skin.
Premiering tonight on Phase Chiller Cable Channel!
DEAD SOULS (2012)Directed by Colin Theys
Written by Michael Laimo (novel), John Doolan
Starring Jesse James, Bill Moseley, Magda Apanowicz , Noah Fleiss, Jaiden Kaine, Geraldine Hughes
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Tonight DEAD SOULS premieres on Chiller, a channel I frustratingly can't get in Chicago and while Chiller's 2nd cousin ScyFy doesn't seem to care about the quality of films they dole out with regular dousings of Crockoshark, DinoLemur, and other badly done z-grade offerings every Saturday, Chiller seems to actually want to scare us with their made for TV movies. With DEAD SOULS, the attempts are there and coming from someone who fondly remembers watching such cool made for TV gems as SALEM'S LOT, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW and DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK as a kid, it's greatly appreciated.
DEAD SOULS feels a lot like a Stephen King story with a young man returning to his hometown to learn about a secret past he never knew he had. The stark and pitch black opening scene as a preacher kills his family then crucified himself certainly set a dark tone. I'm not sure DEAD SOULS lives up to its impressive opening as the preacher nails his own arm to the cross the swings his other one around to drive his own hand into a nail already sticking out the other side, but there are quite a few moments of creep that try to do so. Worm ridden crows, phantom dogs, shapes in the dark and a creepy looking ghost of a woman make for some nice twisted imagery.
That said, where the film falters a bit is in the somewhat wooden performances especially by the group of town bullies who pick on this new strange kid coming in town to claim his birthright in an abandoned house on the edge of town. One of the bullies in particular is possessed and speaks in two voices, but because the actor is required to change his tone rather than an audio effect, it comes off and pretty laughable.
Bounding Bill Moseley appears in this one as a former police officer now town drunk who was present at the scene of the murders in the first minutes. As usual, the actor is a joy to see and despite not being given much to work with script wise, he does his best to entertain and succeeds for the most part.
In the end, DEAD SOULS has enough creepy images and jump scares to be better than mostly every ScyFy movie out there. Instead of monsters amok, the filmmakers made a modest scare show in DEAD SOULS, proving that less is most definitely more. There's a whole lot out there on cable worse than DEAD SOULS and I commend Chiller for being somewhat successful at delivering the goods.
New on DVD!
BEDIVILLED (2010)Directed by Chul-soo Jang
Written by Kwang-young Choi
Starring Yeong-hie Seo, Seong-won Ji, Min-ho Hwang, Min Je, Ji-Eun Lee, Jeong-hak Park
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
The best film I saw this week was BEDEVILLED, a new-ish import from South Korea and an unflinching look as a woman abused and her vicious fight back. Though this film is entrenched in the revenge film genre, the depth at which it explores the character and the brutality of the violence elevates it above and beyond the stigma often attached to that type of film.
BEDEVILLED starts out as a Korean woman, Hae Won (played by the demure but icy Ji Sung-won) witnesses another woman being assaulted by a group of teen boys in the streets of Seoul. When asked to identify the youths in a police lineup, she seems uninterested in helping point out the killers and chooses to act as if she saw nothing even though the crime was witnessed clearly. This is a scene that is repeated numerous times in the film as Hae Won, stressed at her job, is forced to go on vacation by her boss. Hae Won returns to an island where she used to spend her summers to find her childhood friend, Kim Bok-nam (played by the bold and sympathetic Seo Young-hee) delighted to see her but caught in a physically and sexually abusive relationship with her husband and his brother who are the sole men on the island, save a senile old man sitting in the middle of a field. Hae Won initially doesn’t want to become involved, but when Bok-nam’s daughter Yeon-hee begins to grow of age and starts attracting the eye of her husband, Bok-nam wishes to leave the island to save her from the life of abuse she has endured.
Though the abusive aspects of this film will most likely make viewers cringe at the sexual and physical abuse Bok-nam takes, the unflinching eye and patience director Chul-soo Jang uses has a point. It makes us actually feel for and root for Bok-nam when she realizes that enough is enough. There are a few integral moments in the film involving Hae Won’s choice to not intervene and Bok-nam’s unrelenting optimism despite a life of abuse that will cause your heart to wrench and ache. You’ll cheer when Bok-nam goes on her gory rampage, then feel a bit bad for doing so.
If this film has a flaw it is that it follows Hae Won as its star. I had a lot of difficulty feeling for this character. Maybe it is a cultural gap, but even as Bok-nam goes on her spree, I still felt for her, while loathed Hae Won for turning a blind eye rather than helping. In doing so, BEDEVILLED becomes a morally complex little masterpiece that is bound to be the cause of conversation long after the film is over.
The film is absolutely gorgeous as Chul-soo Jang soaks in the atmosphere of the nature engulfed island. Tall reeds give that chain-link-fence effect as it cuts vertical strips into the picture. The water surrounding the island is ever present; a reminder of no escape. Even during the day to day lives of upkeeping the farm, the camera zooms in to give a hyper-real feeling of being immersed in this foreign land.
I loved this film. From the way it was filmed to the complex feelings it leaves you with. It’s also quite a gory little film as well. BEDEVILLED is another fantastic ordeal of a film from Korea, who are on a role lately with MODUS ANOMALI and I SAW THE DEVIL. BEDEVILLED elevates the revenge film to high art and intellectual debate.
And finally…taking a throwaway line from the original HALLOWEEN, filmmaker Adam Green (HATCHET, FROZEN) and the crew from ArieScope Pictures directs Kane “Jason Voorhees” Hodder (making a leap to another horror franchise) and comedic actor Joel David Moore (as the driving instructor). Here’s HALLOWEEN Deleted Scene: DRIVING LESSON! Happy Halloween!
See ya next week, folks!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
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