M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here! I posted my very first horror reviews on October 1, 2010 and have been posting every Friday ever since on AICN until just recently. I’ve uprooted the show and taken it to my own site just in time for this year’s Best of the Best in Horror Countdown. It’s going to be running all through October, counting down to the best horror film of the year. Some of these films can be found in theaters, but others have unfortunately only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews where you can check these films out.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked through my reviews over the last year since October 1st, 2016 and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth nothing or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
#31 THE DEMOLISHER #31
Why is THE DEMOLISHER #31? If you’re looking for the filmic expression of pure anger, look no further than this rage-filled revenge flick that pulls no punches and shows what the ugliness, the sadness, and the horror of untapped aggression look like. This is a brutal movie that combines the action, revenge, and horror genres. You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
Available on BluRay/DVD from Raven Banner/Dark Sky Films!
THE DEMOLISHER (2015)
Directed by Gabriel Carrer
Written by Gabriel Carrer
Starring Ry Barrett, Tianna Nori, Jessica Vano, Duncan McLellan, Gerrit Sepers, Bruce Turner, Duane Frey, Andrew Bussey, Owen Fawcett, Rich Piatkowski, Reese Eveneshen, Ashley Awde, John Cross, Brendan McKenna, Christian Burgess
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Bursting at the seams with rage and frustration is this walking frayed nerve of a film called THE DEMOLISHER.
The revenge film is a subgenre in and of itself that often straddles the line between action and horror. When the film simply focuses on the act of revenge, it tends to be seen in the action section with someone like Steven Segal or Jean Claude Van Damme in the lead role. But when the revenge runs deep and the film isn’t afraid to follow it, it can be the stuff of the most potent of psychological horrors as it shows what the human mind is capable of if the right things are taken away. That’s the type of film THE DEMOLISHER is. It highlights the horror of losing something and how that can be a devastating blow to one’s psyche.
Bruce (THE DROWNSMAN’s Ry Barrett) is a cable TV repairman whose police officer wife Samantha (Tianna Nori) was crippled and assaulted by a local gang. Overflowing with rage, Bruce dons riot gear and goes out at night beating the living shit out of gangs in the hope of tracking down the ones who hurt his wife. Meanwhile, Marie (Jessica Vano) is coping with violence herself in her own way in a support group. This tale of the impact of violence and the horror it often unleashes is intense from beginning to end, as it opens with Bruce punching a thug over and over again in the middle of the street. As Bruce and Marie’s paths cross, it becomes clear that once the subject of violence you remain forever changed. Bruce is coming undone at the seams with his rage overflowing into his day job, while Marie finds herself haunted by the violence that she endures during every waking minute. It’s a two-pronged assault of the impact of violence, and this film is not afraid to show how hard that impact can be.
While much of the film is without dialog and we simply see Bruce wandering the streets in full riot gear looking for a fight, the film speaks volumes in the distressed face of Bruce, the disappointed and understanding face of his wife Samantha who is aware of his vigilante exploits, and the pained look of despair in Marie’s face as she recounts the night she crosses paths with Bruce. The violence is ever-present as Bruce stares in absolute rancor at the viewer and we become privy to the primal dreams he has of simply destroying everything in his path. These dream sequences are fantastic and surreal, yet terrifying. Equal in effectiveness are the scenes of Bruce wandering the streets in riot gear surrounded by the empty Toronto streets. Misguided and looking for anyone to hurt, Bruce is not discerning in who he massacres with his billy clubs and fists. If you’re on the street at night, you’re a threat in his eyes, and the scenes of him on patrol are terrifying because we as the viewer are privy to his skewed perspective.
Unrelenting and powerful, THE DEMOLISHER is a bold statement on untapped rage. From start to finish, this film had me shaking with anticipation as to how far down the thorny rabbit hole the characters are going to plummet. If you like your horrors resonant and angry, THE DEMOLISHER will decimate expectations and show you what real anger is.
Worth noting: CHICAGO ROT!
A film worth nothing and a pretty dark revenge film in itself is the Chicago born and raised cornucopia of horror, sci-fi, revenge, and cosmic weirdness called CHICAGO ROT. This little film is a snapshot of Chicago’s underground scene as well as a gore-spattered mind-fuck. This is unconventional filmmaking from filmmaker Dorian Weinzimmer and his co-writer/star Brant McCrea. You can find CHICAGO ROT on iTunes and Amazon here! Here’s my review of the film;
New this week On Demand, DVD, Amazon, Itunes, Google Play, Vimeo, Xbox, Flix Fling, Vudu, and Youtube from Midnight Releasing!
CHICAGO ROT (2015)
Directed by Dorian Weinzimmer
Written by Brant McCrea, Dorian Weinzimmer
Starring Brant McCrea, Dave Cartwright, Jonez Jones, Lee Kanne, Ryan Oliver, Shira Barber, Jojo Baby, Paul Barile, Roy Burgess, Robin Anne Christopher, Johnny Colon, Cody Evans-Gan, Quentin Gilliatte, Mike Madgiak, Matthew W. Miles, Rachel Morgan, Tony Papaleo, Obie Perez, Peter Renaud, Karl Stein, Preston Taub, Jeremy Vranich
Find out more about this film here, @ChicagoRot, and on Facebook here
While Scorsese and Ferrara are often associated with being able to capture the seedy underbelly of New York, I always thought Frank Hennenlotter was much more successful in giving light to those unsavory and dark places. Filmmaker Dorian Weinsimmer seems to have the same kind of eye Hennenlotter did. And while Chicago has been the setting for many a film, CHICAGO ROT is one that will show you a Chicago that exists only after the sun goes down. CHICAGO ROT is part gory horror, part superhero adventure, part sci fi mindfuck, part rock and roll nightmare, and part crime revenge thriller. It’s a film that smashes genres together like an epileptic expressionist painter and unapologetically represents the Chicago underground scene better than any other.
The story of CHICAGO ROT focuses on the intersecting lives of Les aka “The Ghoul” (played by co-writer/co-producer/co-score-writer/costumer Brant McCrea), Detective David Simmons (David Cartwright), Les’ girlfriend Alex (Shira Barber), and a crime boss named Elion (Jonez Jones). Detective Simmons inadvertently stops Les’ vigilante killing spree and puts him away in Joliet prison, but not before he kills’ Simmons’ partner. After a decade in the slammer, Les is released and immediately finds himself in trouble with Elion who is at first hesitant to rekindle his war with the Ghoul, but after the Ghoul makes short work of his hit squad, Elion is forced to retaliate. Meanwhile, Simmons has become a shell of a man, drinking away his sorrows and disappointing his super-cop father, now on a respirator at home. When Simmons plan for revenge for his partner’s death goes wrong, he ends up being just a few steps behind Les as he cuts a bloody swath through the criminal element of Chicago in order to get to Elion. Meanwhile, Alex is hoping Les can survive this rampage so they can disappear and live happily ever after.
Plain and simple, you’re going to see a whole lot of shit in this film that you’ve never seen before in any other film. While there are recognizable elements to CHICAGO ROT, director Dorian Weinzimmer and his co-writer Brant McCrea give this film a look and feel like few other films out there. Not only are we taken to dark back alleys, strobed underground sex clubs, and neon lit rock and roll concert halls, but this film plunges the viewer into a literal nightmare-hell, the other end of the cosmos, and back again. Tossing story structure and linear thinking out the window in the final reel, CHICAGO ROT switches genres like a diva between songs, but somehow through the astute eye of Weinzimmer, never skips a beat in telling a story with a bloody beating heart and raw emotion. One second Les is ripping hitmen apart with his bare hands, the other he’s done up in full barbarian gear and battling an elephant headed minotaur in a cage match that would make George Miller proud, and the next he’s finding the key to all creation at the end of the universe with a celestial metal band. This story is fucking nuts and all over the place and I loved every second of it.
But while there are all kinds of sights, sounds, gore, and grotesqueries to ooo and ahhh at, the little things are what made me smile the most. This is no simple tale. The storylines of the characters intersect and twist around and under each other. There is so much thought put into each and every character that appears. There’s the ever-changing t-shirts of the insane Charles (co-producer Jeremy Vranich) which seem to psychically say “fuck you” to the immediate situation he is in every time he appears. There’s a fucking berserker and his handler in this film. There’s a clown psychic. There’s a man in leather who barks like a dog. As I said, there are sights, sounds, and details little and big that you simply won’t find anywhere else.
And the real achievement of the film is how grand it feels despite the limited budget. From the Road Warrior meets Tron glowing metal costumes to the score which grates and grinds at the heart (both produced by Brant McCrea), this film looks, sounds, and feels so much bigger than it is. Weinzimmer and McCrea flesh out an entire world and beyond filling them with moments both brutal (the killdo scene taking the cake in gore) and beautiful (a muse played by Rachel Morgan sings and plays a piano in the back of a pickup truck speeding down Lakeshore Drive over the opening credits). While made on the cheap, the blood, sweat, tears, and other unmentionable fluids from the creative madmen in front of and behind the lens show more passion than most company-made films released this year.
Evoking nuances from everyone from David Lynch to Tarantino to Ken Russell to Rob Zombie (DEVIL’S REJECT Zombie not HALLOWEEN Zombie) to the aforementioned Hennenlotter, CHICAGO ROT still manages to feel utterly original. CHICAGO ROT is a wonderful low-fi ode to Chicago’s glorious dark side, shedding light on a culture that is rarely seen, but once you do, you’re never going to forget the experience. Sometimes ugly. Sometimes tragic. Sometimes chilling. Sometimes breathtaking. Try to box this film in to one specific genre and then see it fight itself out of its confines with a steel-toed boot, bloody knuckles, and a mouth full of broken teeth. CHICAGO ROT is an off-the-rails rollercoaster ride into a brick wall that will leave you in traction by the time the credits appear.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#31 – THE DEMOLISHER
Best of lists from previous years;
2015-16 #1 – THE VVITCH
2014-15 #1 – THE CANAL
2013-14 #1 – PROXY
2012-13 #1 – MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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