Ain't It Cool News (


Logo by Kristian Horn
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. We’ve got some really good ones this week in our weekly stash. But first, here’s some info you might find interesting!

AICN HORROR has a brand new sponsor: Things From Another World—also known as TFAW!
20% Off Preorders for Suicide Squad Harley Quinn Statue

TFAW carries everything from comics to toys and any kind of collectible in between. Show your support for AICN HORROR and TFAW and click this link. You just might find something you can’t live without like that breathtaking Margot Robbie Harley Quinn statue up there!

Here’s a teaser trailer for a new low budget horror film from writer/director Kevin Kangas called TERRITORY. The film stars Johnny Alonso (COFFIN, GOTHAM), Melissa LaMartina (CALL GIRL OF CTHULHU), Bianca Allaine (THE EVIL INSIDE), Meadow Bosworth, Ryan Thomas (WITCH'S BREW, VHS2), Laura Kiser and M.T. Smith. You can find out more about this film on its Facebook page here! And check out the teaser trailer below.

On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Retro-review: GOG (1954)
Retro-review: PIECES (1982)
Retro-review: TRANSFORMATIONS (1988)
HOME (2016)
THE BOY (2015)
And finally…”Light’s Out: Revolt of the Worms!”

Retro-review: New this week on BluRay from Kino Lorber!

GOG (1954)

Directed by Herbert L. Strock
Written by Tom Taggart (screenplay), Richard G. Taylor(additional dialogue), Ivan Tors (story)
Starring Richard Egan, Constance Dowling, Herbert Marshall, John Wengraf, Philip Van Zandt, Valerie Vernon, Stephen Roberts, Byron Kane, David Alpert, Michael Fox, William Schallert, Marian Richman, Jean Dean, Tom Daly
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

GOG is a slow moving info-dump of a movie that makes up for its shortcomings with a lot of fun future predictions that actually sort of hit their mark.

When a government agent (Richard Egan) is sent to a secret military research base in the desert to survey their experiments, a rogue spy jet takes control of the robotics in the lab causing one catastrophe after another. When the jet begins to control Gog and Magog, the two ultra strong and ultra deadly lab robots, the trouble intensifies and it’s going to take a lot of screaming and a few flame throwers to stop them.

The biggest problem with GOG is its pacing. Setting up the narrative by following the government agent as he audits each and every section of the underground research bunker is a good way for the film to inform the viewer all of the info needed about the various scientific projects being tested in the facility. As the agent makes his way through the hallways and into the labs, he is told about and shown all sorts of experimental processes from zero gravity tests to extreme sounds wave measurements to advanced robotics, but the problem is that forty-five minutes of the film is filled with this type of info dumpage before the story actually starts moving. During every instance the worst case scenario is described in full detail, and wouldn’t you know it? Sure enough, that worst case scenario occurs later in the film. This type of clumsy exposition really bogs this film down.

I did like the science at work in GOG. The use of mirrors in space refracting light from the sun into deadly beams is fun. The wonkily moving robots named Gog and Magog, ominously named after the bringers of the apocalypse, give the humans something physical to fight as most of the other problems occurring are mechanical malfunctions. Think of this film as a really remedial TERMINATOR where the real threat is Skynet (in this case, the spy plane controlling the machinery from above), but the physical threat (Gog & Magog) is a tin-skeletoned Arnie.

I dug the flamethrower fight and the various deaths by technology, but again, they occurred way too late in the game. Those without patience are going to want to scroll past this tech terror, but if you want a laugh at old school notions of future science, GOG is full of it. GOG comes in 3D format for those lucky bastards with a 3D television and a 2D version for the rest of us schlubs. It also features an audio commentary by film historians Tom Weaver, Bob Furmanek & David Schecter.

Retro-review: New this week on a special edition BluRay from Grindhouse Releasing!

PIECES (1982)

Directed by Juan Piquer Simón (as J.Piquer Simon)
Written by Dick Randall (screenplay), Joe D'Amato (screenplay) (as John Shadow)
Starring Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor, Gérard Tichy, May Heatherly, Hilda Fuchs, Roxana Nieto, Cristina Cottrelli, Leticia Marfil, Silvia Gambino, Carmen Aguado, Paco Alvez, Alejandro Hernández, Isabel Luque, Bruce Le
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

If you’ve seen PIECES it’s an experience that you will never forget. Filled with plot holes, drippy and chunky gore, bad dialog, overacting, non-acting, sheer narrative lunacy and a lack of good taste, this old school slasher is the king of bad good movies.

PIECES opens with a young boy being caught putting together a pornographic puzzle. In retaliation, the boy murders his mom in an ultra-gory fashion. Fast forward and we get a murder mystery set on a college campus with a whole slew of suspects. Young ladies are being murdered and parts of them are being kept to whittle together one perfect woman. Is it the chainsaw-wielding groundskeeper? Or the new teacher who is “rumored to be one of those gays?” Or the MILFy lady who has her eye on young men? Or the crusty detective? Or maybe even the kung fu guy? You’re sure to be wrong whatever the guess in this cockeyed mystery.

PIECES is not really a mystery movie you go into trying to solve. It tries really hard to be clever, tossing red herrings and misleads at you in abundance, but really, not a lot of the film makes sense and trying to make it all fit together as neatly as the killer is trying to fit his woman puzzle together just doesn’t work. The key to enjoying PIECES is simply to toss out rhyme or reason and just have fun with it no matter what kind of batshit loony tune they toss at you.

I’ve seen PIECES quite a few times, but the most fun I had with it was with a theater full of horror fans (some of which had seen it, some hadn’t). Much like audience participatory films like THE ROOM, PIECES offers up some kind of undeniable charm when watched in a crowd. Characters pop in and out of the story and never come back. An Asian man leaps from the darkness to attack our heroine, only to collapse and blame the sudden attack on “bad sushi.” A Giallo-style mystery set in the real world suddenly becomes supernatural in one single, late segment, for no particular reason other than they needed a jump scare. Like I said, this is not a film that makes sense and it’s a blast because of it.

There is a kitschy charm to this entire film. As gory as it is, the film really wants to be a mystery. It sets up suspects and really teases the audience to guess who the killer is. In the idle moments of the film, all of the suspects are even lined up for one long shot as if to tell the audience, “The killer is one of these people!” But it’s the clumsiness with which these scenes are set up that makes the movie a the more enjoyable. The film is so transparent in its attempts to mislead that you can’t help but both feel sorry for the person who thinks this is what suspense/mystery is and charmed by the remedial yet wholehearted attempt.

As for boobs and gore, PIECES has a KFC bucketful of both. Right from the beginning bloody opener, PIECES lets the viewers know that this will be a gory good time. People are chopped to bits with a chainsaw. There’s a particularly adept scene filmed in slo mo where a woman is attacked on a waterbed and a knife is driven through the back of her head and through her screaming open mouth. This is one red-drenched film and colored in such a cartoony shade of red, it makes it all the more fun. Add in gratuitous nudity from pretty much any female who appears on screen, as well as an aerobics class that simply gawks at the females in their leotards for an extended period of time, and this is one film that isn’t afraid to shoot for the gutter.

PIECES is a film to be seen with a group of horror fans, drinking gallons of alcohol to match the gallons of bloods, boobs, and stupidity being unleashed in the film. It not only tries to imitate the slasher genre, it sets a new standard of gratuity which is something it should and seems to be very proud of. This excellent BluRay version of the film released through Grindhouse Releasing includes 2 versions of the classic film (one US version and the original uncensored director’s cut which runs 3 minutes longer), a new commentary by actor Jack Taylor, interviews with director Juan Piquer Simón and actor Paul L. Smith, the special featurette 42nd STREET MEMORIES documentary containing interviews with Bill Lustig, Larry Cohen, Frank Henenlotter, Buddy Giovinazzo, Jeff Lieberman, John Skipp, Lynn Lowry, Terry Levene, and many other exploitation icons, stills and poster gallery, notes by legendary horror journalists Rick Sullivan (GORE GAZETTE) and Chas. Balun (DEEP RED), a bonus CD containing the remastered original soundtrack, and as a special bonus, the first 3000 units include an actual jigsaw puzzle! Too much fun and almost as much fun as it is to watch this movie!

Retro-review: New this week on BluRay from Kino Lorber!


Directed by Jay Kamen
Written by Mitch Brian
Starring Rex Smith, Lisa Langlois, Patrick Macnee, Christopher Neame, Michael Hennessy, Cec Verrell, Benito Stefanelli, Donald Hodson, Pamela Prati, Ann Margaret Hughes, Loredana Romito
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug

This low budget sci fi tale is fun due to its Eighties style, fun effects, and a surprisingly deep and moral message.

Celebrating his birthday and on his way back to Earth, go-to sci fi hunk Rex Smith plays Wolf. This Han Solo-esque loner has a vivid dream of a Winger video reject (Pamela Prati) coming into his space cabin and bumping scruglies with him. After he wakes from the dream, which he swears was real, he finds himself in a med bay on a prison mining colony. Meeting the lovely Nurse Miranda (Lisa Langolis), Wolf begins to fall in love with the ginger-haired beauty, but he also has blackouts where he ventures to the colony bars and picks up loose women. What he doesn’t know is that he is carrying a space dream virus that is changing his cellular structure and is spreading throughout the colony, and to make matters worse a group of prisoners are planning a breakout using Wolf’s spaceship as a getaway vehicle.

A lot of ozone was massacred in order to make this movie. The hairstyles alone make this one of the most frightening films you’re bound to see this year--specifically the lead Red Smith, whose feathered hair has a mind of its own, and the evil dream succubus (Pamela Prati) whose head sports ALL THE HAIR from every hair metal band imaginable. Everyone here is sporting post-ROAD WARRIOR style future gear along with their frizzy locks, so things are laughable below the neck as well.

But while everyone looks pretty ridiculous, there’s a story at play that is actually somewhat interesting. Wolf is inadvertently spreading an alien dream virus to everyone he hooks up with on his nighttime blackouts, and with the planet being only inhabited by a few hundred people, it spreads fast. This AIDS allegory is not too subtle, but it does make its message effective as the make up effects are quite disgusting with green ooze and scales popping up all over those infected. The final transformation itself that Wolf undergoes is hokey, but nicely done as well, so while the styles here push the film into negative digits on the quality meter, the effects are actually quite impressive and nudge it back up a few notches.

TRANSFORMATIONS is a grimy yet cartoonishly acted extended STAR WARS cantina scene if Luke had womp rat fever and inadvertently spread it across Tantooine. Taking a lot of inspiration from THE FLY, TRANSFORMATIONS tries to be a budding love story between Nurse Miranda and Wolf, but his nighttime shenanigans kind of sour the taste of this union. And while I appreciate the thematic heft this film exudes, the dialog, acting, and styles distract a lot from the positives of this film.

Sorry, I wasn’t able to find a trailer for TRANSFORMATIONS…

…so here’s a video featuring my favorite Transformer Soundwave! “Llllllazerbeeeeeak! Eeeeeject!”

New this week On Demand, DVD, and VHS from Frolic Pictures!


Directed by Jared Masters
Written by Jared Masters
Starring Sydney Raye, Mindy Robinson, Jessica Knopf, Dallas Chandler, Dawna Lee Heising, Christopher Arias, Julia Faye West, Robert Evans, Jacqueline Marie Alberto, Kimberly Cohen, Laura Amelia, Marla Martinez, Shelise Hufstetler, Rubi Garcia, Georgie Borchardt
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

I know longtime readers may be sick of my “low budget doesn’t necessarily mean low quality” speech, but I feel it’s something that needs to be repeated, especially at a place like AICN which specializes mostly in big budget films. I say this because despite rough edges, some solid ideas can be found in low fi films; such is the case for BALLET OF BLOOD.

A ballet dance school is attacked by a drugged up and demented former dancer with an uzi in the opening moments of BALLET OF BLOOD, a low fi throwback to films like SUSPIRIA and CURTAINS and even more modern films like BLACK SWAN. Still shaken by the massacre, the dancers continue to practice and learn their craft, all the while berating each other and undergoing all forms of abuse from their teachers. But while that sort of drama is expected at any highly competitive dance school, there is something more insidious afoot, as a ballerina with a hobby of writing stories seems to have the power to bring her stories to life and she plans on writing about an even more diabolical attack on the school. As life begins to imitate art, no ballerina is safe.

Let’s get the rough stuff out of the way. First and foremost, the scope of this film is way too big for the abilities of all involved. There are just too many characters in BALLET OF BLOOD, and the fact that most of them are non- or semi-amateur actors and actresses make it hard to distinguish one flat performance from another. There are way too many times where the actors struggle to spout their lines or even glance at the camera here, and some more takes and a solid edit might be necessary in order to make this film a bit more watchable. There are also a lot of extraneous scenes in between the opening massacre and the final one. Multiple scenes of just two gals talking just go on and on, and there are numerous party scenes which seem to simply be put in there to fill it out to feature length.

I wanted to get that harsh criticism out of the way first because there is a compelling story going on here. Having the real world of the movie play out a scenario in a story has been done before, but this mixture of life imitating art is a subject that has a lot of potential to plumb. The story of a seemingly good girl not necessarily writing a nice story is fun, especially with the meta-commentary that “nice stories” aren’t what the people want these days. There’s an extremely poetic sequence illustrating the mixture of the story, the real world (within the film), and the art of ballet that plays really well (especially with some nice Giallo colorful lighting added for effect). There is an appreciation for both the art of ballet as well as simply a nice vocabulary in which to articulate art at play all the way through this film that I appreciated a lot.

BALLET OF BLOOD doesn’t forget the baser needs of the horror audience, as it supplies copious amounts of blood and boobs within its runtime. But while the story is rather complex and intriguing, I wish the filmmakers would have been a bit more choosy with who they cast and taken more time to get better takes. That said, if you’re an appreciator of the art of low budget horror, BALLET OF BLOOD delivers big ideas and intriguing scenes of bloody bodies in motion.

New this week on DVD, digital, and On Demand from eOne/Momentum Pictures!


Directed by Maclain Nelson, Stephen Shimek
Written by Maclain Nelson, Stephen Shimek
Starring James Marsters, Kaitlin Doubleday, Luke Perry, Adam Johnson, Maclain Nelson, Clare Niederpruem, Jake Van Wagoner, Erik Denton, Shannon Engemann, Lauryn Kent, Jake Suazo, George Nelson, Leslie Nelson
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Goofy fun abounds in this spoof on fantasy films. DUDES & DRAGONS is something you’d see as a ScyFy feature, but it’s definitely one of the better ones.

The dashing Camilian (Maclain Nelson) is in love with the elf princess Larec (Clare Niederpruem). But an evil wizard named Lord Tensley (James Marsters) has put a curse on the land forbidding anyone to show affection or love lest a giant dragon will swoop down and scorch and eat everyone up. Enlisting the aid of his bachelor for life and sword for hire brother Ramicus (Adam Johnson), Camilian vows to save his love and destroy the curse upon the land. Along with his squire Samton (Jake Van Wagoner) and an Orc named Shokdor (Erik Denton), Ramicus and Camilian cross a dangerous land, fighting goblins and giants in order to slay the dragon, destroy the wizard, and maybe even woo the wizard’s captive/cousin/love interest (ew) Ennogard (Kaitlin Doubleday).

So yeah. Typical fantasy quest kind of stuff with swords and sorcery. But the fun lays in the fact that, despite Camilian’s earnest and sometimes too serious demeanor, no one else is taking this stuff too seriously. A lot of the charm of this film comes from lead Adam Johnson, who is really good here as the Han Solo-esque Ramicus. In fact, this entire film pretty much takes after the original STAR WARS. There’s even a bit where the captured princess sends out a message on a magic dragonfly that plays out like Leia’s hologram she sent out with R2-D2. While this homage might cause eye rolling, there’s an undeniable charm to this film that makes these winks and nods acceptable.

Mostly every moment of this film was made in front of a green screen and though the effects aren’t terrible, the effects are rather telling. But while bad effects often ruin films for me, in DUDES & DRAGONS it only kind of adds to it’s do it yourself charm. There’s even a 300-esque battle with a bunch of goblins done in slo mo that most likely done all in a studio that turned out to be pretty thrilling.

DUDES & DRAGONS is not a big budgeter nor is it anything epic, but most of the laughs work and it does seem to be having a lot of fun while trying to be a much bigger film than the budget allows. The acting is quite good across the board with Marsters especially good at chewing up the scenery as the evil wizard with a fondness for keeping it in the family. Luke Perry even shows up for a hot minute as a cocky knight. While it follows the fantasy quest film blueprint pretty closely, it still ended up entertaining me quite a bit in both a genuine and meta way. Witty throughout, well acted, heartwarming at times, and just plain fun, if you’re a fan of those fun fantasy films from the 80’s like BEASTMASTER and HAWK THE SLAYER, DUDES & DRAGONS just might float in your moat.

New this week on DVD from Indican Pictures!


Directed by Jim Lane, Eric Troop
Written by Eric Troop
Starring Jackie Moore, Daniel O'Meara, Tiffany Adams, Joelle Georgeff, Ria Huang, Stephanie Jones, Brett R. Miller, Anthony Powers, Eric Roberts
Find out more about this film here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though DEADLY FAMOUS is not particularly found footage, the use of first person and fixed perspectives are used throughout. Playing fast and loose with the narrative and how the footage links up usually drives me nuts, but the performances in this one really save it from the found footage trash heap.

Alan Miller (Daniel O’Meara) is an aging actor and former child star who still fancies himself a thespian of sorts. When a young actress named Pamela (Jackie Moore) rents out his guest house, he becomes determined to make her a star while still pursuing his own acting dreams. But when Pamela gets her big break without him, Miller’s already fragile psyche is shattered, which is bad news for the women he stalks in the park, his casting agents, and those stupid enough to come to his place for a casting call.

If the first person perspective doesn’t scare you away, the level of sleaze and torture porn slant of this film will. Miller likes to film everything, attesting that every interaction and moment in front of the camera is worth studying. This gives the film its excuse to exist in the frame of a lens most of the time, though it does switch between Miller’s camera, security camera, and other recording devices. As long as you can buy the fact that there is an omniscient editor cutting all of this footage all together (something we must all assume during cinematically filmed features), then you can go with the flow. Because this film doesn’t even try to be some kind of captured, accidental moment on film, I was more willing to take the leap.

Filming every moment of his life on camera, Miller (O’Meara) is pretty commanding here. He is vapid and completely full of himself, thinking he’s the once and future king of Hollywood, but it’s also pretty mesmerizing seeing his out of control and equally fragile ego play out in front of the camera. This is not an uncomfortable experience, as Miller is a deranged and sad individual. We see him stalking and then acting out violently towards a woman he interviews in the park in the opening moments, and these grisly scenes only get worse as the film goes on. While on the one hand this is a torture porn-esque film, the focus on one fascinatingly warped character makes it a more interesting one than your run of the mill chair strapper.

DEADLY FAMOUS is not a fun experience. It pulls the shades back on a truly warped individual and lets you watch his life fall apart slowly. The horrific things this character does in the name of his craft, taking his frustrations about his failures out on the young, the beautiful, the hopeful, and the naïve, is terrifying to witness and takes you to places many won’t want to venture to. Talking to the camera and having the characters know a camera is viewing adds a twisted sense of perverse voyeurism that is admittedly effective, but all the more disquieting.

New on DVD and On Demand!

HOME (2016)

Directed by Frank Lin
Written by Jeff Lam & Frank Lin
Starring Heather Langenkamp, Samantha Mumba, Kerry Knuppe, Alessandra Shelby Farmer, Aaron Hill, Lew Temple, Alison Dahlstrom, Lou Glenn, Oto Brezina
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

HOME is a pretty conventional thriller up until the shocking end which, I must admit, got me.

Newly married lesbian couple Heather and Samantha (Heather Langenkamp and Samantha Mumba) are getting settled in their new house in a new neighborhood with Samantha’s young daughter Tia (the cute as a button but stubborn as a rock Alessandra Shelby Farmer). Unexpectedly, Heather’s devoutly religious daughter Carrie (Kerry Knuppe) needs a place to stay but doesn’t approve of her mom’s new life choice. What none of them know is that the new house they moved into used to be owned by a creepy old man who had a weird attachment to a ventriloquist doll and could possibly still be haunting the place. When Heather and Samantha have to leave town, Carrie is in charge of watching Tia (a responsibility she screwed up before by being an hour late picking her up from school) and with the lesbians are away, the spirits doth play.

HOME is a long, arduous, and clichéd trek to a punch line that occurs in the final minutes. The final scene got me. It shocked me. And it almost convinced me to give this film a fully positive review. But looking back on the film, the problems with every minute leading up to those final five are pretty massive. No matter how big the ending is, the road there has to be worthwhile as well, and I don’t think it really is.

What HOME tries to do is be a few different horror films at once. It wants to be a haunted house shocker. It wants to be a haunted doll creeper. The whole time it holds its cards pretty close to its chest, and supplies many scenes we’ve seen in tons of other haunted house and object films we’ve been flooded with lately. There’s the young kids looking exorcism up on the internet and miraculously having the materials to perform one lying around in the kitchen. People are lifted in the air. Doors slam. Weird noises sound out. Handprints appear on walls and shadowy forms terrorize the youngsters alone in the house. Of course, the parents are conveniently absent for all of this (which is kind of inexplicable since this film takes place over the span of three days and there’s no real reason why they would immediately go on a trip after moving in for one day).

But HOME toys with your expectations and expects its viewers to feel as if they’ve been down this road before. It lulls the viewer in and really does a good job of tossing one cliché after another at you. But I fear, despite the decent performances by a cast of actors that mostly has the same names of their characters (a personal peeve of mine), HOME relies on too many clichés until way too late in the game and the final reveal might make for an awesome jaw-dropper of a short film resolution, but extended to feature length it’s just too long a wait.

New this week in select theaters and On Demand from eOne/Momentum Pictures!


Directed by Jordan Galland
Written by Jordan Galland
Starring Louisa Krause, Whitney Able, Lou Taylor Pucci, William Sadler, Deborah Rush, Carol Kane, Geneva Carr, Dan Fogler, John Ventimiglia, Jemima Kirke, Zachary Booth, Joel de la Fuente, Wass Stevens, Alysia Reiner, Tarik Lowe, Roe Hartrampf, Aurelie Claudel, George Aloi, Erik Potempa, Nelly Weiser, Tim Beirne
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

A fantastically original concept, a stellar genre cast, and a very cool tone makes AVA’S POSSESSIONS the most fun you’re going to have at an exorcism this year!

Ava (Louisa Krause) was possessed by a demon named Naphula, but don’t worry, she was exorcized and it’s all good now. Well, not all good. Not remembering the crazy shit she did while possessed, Ava now must try to put the pieces of her life back together. But the holy terror she unleashed while under the demon’s thrall left her with much to atone for, so her lawyer (Dan Fogler) gives her the option of jail time or signing up for a program called Spirit Possession Anonymous, a self help group for people who have been possessed like her and are trying to move on. But with the demon continuing to beat at her subconscious, the pieces from the blackout coming to light, her friends and family tiptoeing around her in fear that she’ll have a relapse, and the members of the group trying to convince her of the positive aspects of being possessed, Ava finds moving on to be pretty difficult.

I absolutely loved this quirky little film. I constantly am looking for films with stories I haven’t seen before, and AVA’S POSSESSIONS is one of those films. Every exorcism movie seems to spend the bulk of its time with its lead strapped to a bed and thrashing around while a priest is compelling them with Christ’s power and it ends with the possessed rid of its demon and her family gathered around crying in relief. AVA’S POSSESSIONS gets through all of that in the opening credits and leaves the rest of the film to answer the burning question; “Now that the demon is out of my body and no longer causing me to spit pea soup at people, how do I put my life back together?” Ava is faced with this problem, and the film goes about answering it in fun and scary ways. This is not a comedy, though. There are comedic elements. Lousia Krause plays Ava as a snarky and funny person, but she is also someone whose actions have completely destroyed her life and now, not knowing everything she has done, she must try to put it back together, and it’s fun to see her do this. The comedy doesn’t really come out as if we are laughing at Ava through her troubles. The comedy comes from the cleverness of using possession as a metaphor for any kind of addiction where a person wants to change who they are and was once a person not in control of their actions. It’s a resonant theme and one that has its moments of heft. Still, seeing therapeutic exercises of the possessed playing in sand trays with toy demons, popping balloons with demons faces sharpied onto them, and cathartically facing their actual demons in self help groups is downright fun.

Krause is amazing in this role, jumping between self pity and laughing at the situation she finds herself in. She plays it all straight, as a woman who first can’t believe she was actually possessed and second can’t really buy into this possession therapy crap. Seeing her come around through successes and failures makes the character absolutely endearing. The rest of the cast is great—from character actors William Sadler and Deborah Rush playing Ava’s bruised and battered parents, to Fogler’s likable lawyer, to the always fun Carol Kane as a mystic, to the potential romance for Ava with SPRING’s Lou Taylor Pucci, to Ava’s misguided group-mate (Geneva Carr) who sees possession as a good thing. The whole cast is filled with names and faces you’ve seen before and gathered here together makes for a fantastically acted film.

If there’s a weakness in AVA’S POSSESSIONS, it’s that it seems to drop a bombshell into the script a bit too late in the game and there’s not a lot of resolution to it by the time the bomb is dropped. AVA’S POSSESSIONS feels like, at one point, it might have been the pilot for a series, as there is a lot going on in terms of Ava’s relationships with this broad cast. I wanted more development with these characters in relation to Ava and I simply wanted more of this film. Still, I can’t recommend this film more. The humor is spot on and works every time, the scary parts are effective as well, and the soundtrack, done by Sean Lennon, makes the whole film feel as unique as the premise. AVA’S POSSESSIONS doesn’t waste its time on territory well tread. It’s a film that blazes new trails in the horror genre and deserves your attention. Highly recommended for its unique story, amazing cast, and metaphorical heft.

New this week on BluRay/DVD from The Shout Factory!

THE BOY (2015)

Directed by Craig William Macneill
Written by Craig William Macneill, Clay McLeod Chapman (novel)
Starring David Morse, Jared Breeze, Rainn Wilson, Bill Sage, Mike Vogel, Zuleikha Robinson, Aiden Lovekamp, David Valencia, Sam Morse, Andres Echavarria, Maria Luisa Ruiz, Amalia Santamaria, Manuela Guerra, Hong Kyu Park, Victoria Escobar, Susana Jaramillo, Tomas Eastman,
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

If you get this film confused with the mannequin movie with THE WALKING DEAD chick you’re going to be sorely disappointed. THE BOY is a tense and engrossing psychological nightmare through the eyes of a wide-eyed and widely receptive young mind just waiting to turn to darkness.

Ted (Jared Breeze) lives with his father (David Morse) in a rundown motel off of the highway. With no other friends to play with and his dad busy running the motel, Ted spends his day having adventures by himself and collecting a quarter for every dead animal he collects off the highway. Little does his father know that Ted is collecting this money to save for a one way bus trip to Florida, the place where his mother left for when Ted was young. Ted cheats a bit by tossing trash and feed into the road to entice the animals to go out, eat, and eventually get squashed, but his plan to reunite with his mom works a bit too well as his bait lures a deer out into the road, causing passerby Colby (Rainn Wilson) to wreck his car. This accident leads to a series of events that seems to awaken what looks to be a budding psychopath growing within Ted.

THE BOY is a film which draws its power from its silences. As a viewer, we simply follow Ted on his enthusiastic, but tedious day to day attempts to rectify his boredom. Left on his own, of course, Ted gets into mischief. But as much as this might be the beginnings of a serial killer who may rival Norman Bates one day, filmmaker Craig William Macneill smartly avoids clumsily and simply tossing in symptoms of the homicidal triangle. Ted does end up torturing animals (off screen, for you sensitive types) and setting fires, the bed-wetting isn’t really delved into, but Macneil spaces out these factors throughout the story and makes it integral and more complicated than simply ticking off symptoms on a scorecard. Ted’s acts of violence towards animals come from his desire to collect money to see his mom, and since his dad paid him to keep the road leading up to the motel clean, his father sort of encourages this behavior, not knowing it will take such a grisly turn. Ted first gets the idea of burning things from talking with Colby (Wilson), a passerby who is endeared to the boy and reveals his wife died in a fire. It’s not like Ted all of a sudden starts being a psychopath. We see it all unfold evenly throughout the film in a mesmerizing and quiet fashion. Every beat, every turn, every decision Ted makes is understood because we spend so much time with him in this film, and Macneil isn’t afraid to just let the camera linger on Ted’s fascinating day to day to foster that understanding.

Jared Breeze is fascinating as the titular Boy. Breeze isn’t so much giving a performance as he is simply being a young boy doing young boy things for much of the film. The ominous music and dead silence convey a much more insidious undercurrent to his actions, but much of the time the film feels almost like a wildlife video where a kid is filmed in its natural environment left on his own. Breeze’s wide eyes soak in every little action from his father and latch onto anyone else who stays at the hotel. Morse gives the usual silent and strengthened performance that has made him famous. His stilted attempts to connect with Ted feel genuine, and I likethat this film didn’t go for the stereotypical abusive father route. Morse’s character truly feels for Ted, having grown up with his own father who ran the motel before him, and sympathizes with him because of it. Wilson also surprised me in a restrained and serious role here as Colby. He goes through a ton of emotions in this film that I’ve rarely seen from the actor, and does so convincingly.

THE BOY is mesmerizing, engrossing, fascinating, and a billion other words that all boil down to just plain good. It is a patient film that slides its knife into you and twists it so slow that you don’t really know you’re dead until long after it’s too late. Smartly written and acted perfectly, THE BOY is one stellar bad kid film.

New this week on BluRay/DVD from RLJ Entertainment!


Directed by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks
Written by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks
Starring Justin Meeks, Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Greg Kelly, Bridger Zadina, Deon Lucas, Larry Grant Harbin, Arianne Margot, Luce Rains, Timothy McKinney, Karrie Cox, Pepe Serna, Edwin Neal, Bill Johnson, Sonny Carl Davis and Michael Berryman
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

They don’t make Westerns like this anymore. This is no YOUNG GUNS or any other Hollywood polished films with big name actors roughing it on horseback and posting shots of their quick draw on Instagram. KILL OR BE KILLED is a gritty, rough and tumble Western reminiscent of the spaghetti Westerns of old with a thick layer of grime and gore slathered on top of it.

Co-writer/co-director Justin Meeks plays Claude 'Sweet Tooth' Barbee, an outlaw of the tallest order. With knowledge of a hidden stash of gold coins, Barbee and his gang of miscreants make their way to the Texas Mexico border and leave a path of bodies in their wake. The law is on their tail, and while Barbee doesn’t fancy the nickname of “Sweet Tooth” (given to him because he tends to hit the local candy stores as he passes through town), he dislikes the fact that his men are dropping like flies every night even more. As they get closer to the hidden treasure, his men are mysteriously killed with a yellowish tint to their eyes, a greenish pallor to their skins, and a weird red and yellow mark left on their corpses. Blazing down the trail and getting ever closer to his prize, paranoia and the law get the better of Barbee in this twisted and dark outlaw tale.

Though more of a pitch dark Western than an actual horror film, KILL OR BE KILLED manages to toss in quite a few nods to both genres while never betraying the essentials needed in an outlaw Western story. Like many other outlaws in the Old West, Barbee’s greed is his biggest fault. Meeks and Graves’ tale tells of Barbee’s epic journey across Texas taking on seemingly supernatural and real world threats every step of the way. This is an expansive tale, running almost two hours long, but I was riveted the entire way through. Akin to APOCALYPSE NOW in story, where the horrors intensify the closer Barbee gets to his goal, it’s fantastic to see these two filmmakers evolve and use a broader canvas to paint their films on. I first took notice of the two filmmakers with their fantastic first effort THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD (reviewed here) and their follow-up, THE BUTCHER BOYS (reviewed here) was hit and miss. Their grindhouse style is something truly unique in today’s cinema. Here’s hoping more will take notice of these two talented creators with this film.

And while there are a few rough edges acting-wise, I was blown away at Justin Meeks’ portrayal of lead character Barbee. Meeks is a natural in front of the camera, offering up an authentic grunginess and wear and tear to the role. He’s not your typical leading man, but his presence is undeniable and a lot of the reason why this film works so well rests on his shoulders. The supporting cast is great as well as the wily Paul McCarthy-Boyington and the man-mountain Gregory Kelly both play despicable yet honorable outlaws in the Barbee Gang. Cameos by TCM’s hitchhiker Edwin Neal, TCM 2’s Leatherface Bill Johnson, HILLS HAVE EYES’ Michael Berryman, and SILVERADO’s Pepe Serna flesh out the obstacles along Barbee’s trail to find his hidden gold.

The film takes some dark turns throughout, with all sorts of evil deeds performed by this gang. One minute you’re going to be rooting for them to make it. The other, you’ll be hoping they meet a most grisly end. And things get really gnarly as their bodies and minds give out on the gang along the way. Some well-placed practical effects along the way make for some grueling scenes of frontier hardship. Gaping gun wounds and other gore remind us that Meeks and Graves are accomplished horror filmmakers, but this is a solid Western through and through.

If you hear Western and you think of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood or even Emilio Estevez riding in slo mo to some Bon Jovi song, this might not be the type of film you’re used to. If you thrilled at BONE TOMAHAWK and THE HATEFUL EIGHT, this is the type of gritty Western you’re going to want to seek out. This one has dirt and sweat and spit on it. This one is a mean Western that pulls no punches. This one doesn’t have any big stars, but it doesn’t need them. This is an ambitious tale that somehow tells an expansive story on what looks to be a meager budget. Graves and Meeks are a talented pair of gentlemen who are making films that show their appreciation for late 60s- and 70s-style filmmaking. I’m a huge fan of their work because they seem to be working pretty much outside of the system and their films are clean of the usual studio polish we see too much of in genre films these days. KILL OR BE KILLED is one of those fantastic genre mash-ups that work because it feels authentic and real. The scallywags who populate this universe are ugly folks, and this isn’t a story for the frail at heart. But if you’re looking for a bloody drenched Western with a pitch black sensibility, KILL OR BE KILLED is the one for you.

And finally…it’s time for another “Light’s Out” radio play! So sit back, maybe light a candle, pull the covers up to your nose, and give a listen to this week’s tale of terror…”Revolt of the Worms!”

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.

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!

20% Off Preorders for Suicide Squad Harley Quinn Statue

Please support AICN HORROR by clicking the Things From Another World banner and checking out all of their amazing collectibles!

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

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus