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!
#8 THE VOID #8
Why is THE VOID #8? This mind-blowing tribute to all things Carpenter is a modern masterpiece of horror. I loved every gory, cosmic, claustrophobic, twisted chunk of this film. From weird cultists to THE THING-like body horror to a trip to another horroric dimension. This one’s got it all. You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
THE VOID (2016)
Directed by Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Written by Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Starring Aaron Poole, Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Amy Groening, Art Hindle, Evan Stern, Stephanie Belding, Trish Rainone, Grace Munro, Daniel Fathers, Mik Byskov, James Millington, Mark Fisher
Find out more about this film here, @TheVoidMovie, and on Facebook here
While filmmakers Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski made festival splashes with their over the top goof and gorefests FATHER’S DAY and MANBORG, these guys have upped their game to a whole new level with THE VOID, a competent and confident entry into horror that will make fans of John Carpenter happy and proud.
A group of people converge on a newly renovated hospital as a cult of robed weirdos gather outside and strange otherworldly happening occur inside. That’s the basic premise of THE VOID and the simple setup gives filmmakers Gillespie and Kostanski the chance to pay homage to Carpenter in a way few others have done. Reminiscent of THE THING by way of PRINCE OF DARKNESS, THE VOID only shows us thee tip of the blood-spattered iceberg, but still manages to be compelling all the way through.
A lot of this has to do with some compelling character work from actors Aaron Poole who plays an out of his wheelhouse cop who has no idea what is going on. You also have genre greats Art Hindle and Kenneth Welsh as well as compelling young faces Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong and Stephanie Belding rounding out the cast—all playing pivotal roles in this intense horror show. The way these people interact is what makes the central conflict of the film, never mind the horrors that burst out of the dead bodies and surround all of the exits of the hospital.
But the real take-away from THE VOID is going to be outstanding practical horror effects that occur throughout. Monsters that defy description burst out of flesh, grow tentacles and devour anyone who comes near. The final moments of this film as a whole morgue-full of corpses shift, quake, awaken, and metamorphize make for an effects showcase that would make Rob Bottin proud. And these directors, who have much of their experience doing effects work for films such as PACIFIC RIM, HANNIBAL TV series, SUICIDE SQUAD, the upcoming IT film, and CRIMSON PEAK know what they are doing when it comes to making monsters on screen. These guys film these effects in a way that most directors don’t know how to BECAUSE THEY MADE THEM!
THE VOID is one of the best horror films of the year, hands down. It offers up practical effects that you’ve never seen before. It does the ‘trapped in one locale with monsters outside and evil inside” theme that Carpenter did to death with a fresh perspective. It ventures into otherworldly territories reminiscent of ALTERED STATES, HELLRAISER, and PHANTASM, but does so with originality and energy that makes you want more tales of this horrific world filmmakers Gillespie and Kostanski. THE VOID is a true achievement in horror that needs to be experienced by anyone calling themselves a serious horror fan. Highly recommended.
Worth noting: NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE!
Speaking of films cram-packed with action and horror, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE takes grossout horror to a whole new level. There’s horrifying sex monsters, necrophilia, unintentional homosexuality, vagina dentata, anal dentata, and tons more to gag at in this putrid horror romp. You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here!
NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016)
Directed by Jonathan Straiton
Written by Jonathan Straiton, Ron Bonk, Mean Gene, Jonathan Straiton
Starring Trey Harrison, Rebecca C. Kasek, Wayne W. Johnson, Michael Merchant, Toni Ann Gambale, Nicola Fiore, John Walsh, Janet Mayson, Tarrence Taylor, Kera O’Bryon, Wes Reid, Billy Garberina, Al Lawler, Kirk LaSalle, David Meadows, Brinke Stevens, Alexis Katherine, Brett Janeski, Jennie Russo
Find out more about this film here, @nightofsomethingstrange, and on Facebook here
There is highbrow horror and lowbrow horror, just as there is highbrow humor and lowbrow humor. And I love them both. I’ll fawn all over something like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but I’ll also give some love to DEAD ALIVE. Both are great movies. One just takes itself seriously while the other does not. NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is the latter and if you can appreciate a little gross humor with your gross-out horror, this is a low budget horror messterpiece you’re going to want to pay attention to.
A group of kids decide to take a hiking trip and spend the night in a cheap motel before taking to the trail. But they never get to that hike as they cross paths with a man-monster infected with a virus he caught from sleeping with a corpse. The disease transforms the host into a frothing, drooling, bleeding, horny, sex-crazed monster bent on spreading the virus through sexual contact. Being sex-minded kids guided by their own hormones, the group of kids prove to be the perfect means to spread the virus and they battle through the night simply to survive and get to a safe space that seems not to exist.
This IS a virus outbreak movie of sorts, but while all the tick boxes are ticked off following the outbreak movie format, the main interest of NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is to make you wince, scream, and laugh out loud. Little things like logic, believable acting, and any kind of a meaningful message is tossed out the window as this film seems to only want to highlight the grosses aspects of sex, life, and love. There isn’t a body fluid that isn’t spewed about, up the walls, and down the chimney of every frame of this film. Just when you think the film couldn’t get any grosser, it ends up topping itself once again. And while I can say I have seen quite a bit in terms of gross, this film manages to top even that list. For that, I applaud NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE. If you’re going to be king, you might as well go for the gold and NOSS is the new king of gross-out horror films.
The acting in NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE almost killed it for me in the beginning of this film. It’s pretty atrocious in the opening scenes at a poorly lit schoolroom filled with actors belching out flat lines. But I’m glad I stuck with this film because as the film proceeds, it really does improve in both quality and likability. The clichéd dialog that littered the first half seems to have been improved upon tenfold as the picture progressed and the actors playing the characters seem to improve as well. If you’re watching this one and start feeling like it’s too low budget with it’s rough acting, sound, and editing, I implore you to stick with it. This film seems to have been made over the span of a long time and like the sex virus afflicted in this film, it undergoes a transformation about twenty minutes in from unwatchable to something highly enjoyable.
Enormous ejaculation, mistaken butt-sex, vagina dentata, sharting, and unexpected death are just some of the can’t-believe-your-eyes-and-ears moments of this film. It’s downright wrong in every way and isn’t afraid to step in its own shit and laugh at itself. Bold, ballsy, and all around bowel-churning—NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is the best low-fi, gross-out, horror rollercoaster ride your bound to take. See it with a bucket close to you because you’re either going to barf from the gore or the laughs.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#31 – THE DEMOLISHER
#30 – PLANK FACE
#29 – LAST GIRL STANDING
#28 – DEVIL IN THE DARK
#27 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#26 – XX
#25 – THE SUBLET aka THE RESIDENT
#24 – PATCHWORK
#23 – Morgan Spurlock’s RATS
#22 – SPLIT
#21 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#20– I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE
#19 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#18 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#17 –SEOUL STATION
#16 – 47 METERS DOWN
#15 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#14 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#13 – THE SIMILARS
#12 – IT COMES AT NIGHT
#11 – SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL
#10 – SAVAGELAND
#9 – GET OUT
#8 – THE VOID
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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