Clatto Reviews: ‘Dead Ant’ World Premiere at 2017 Screamfest!


Screamfest LA kicked off its 17th annual horror film festival with the world premiere of Dead Ant, a horror-comedy from writer-director Ron Carlson about an aging hair-metal outfit on the road to a big music festival in the hopes of pulling off the comeback performance of a lifetime.

Sonic Grave haven’t had a hit since their power ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes” topped the charts in the late 80s when glam-metal ruled the airwaves and the only thing bigger than their dreams was their hair. Armed with a never-say-die attitude and the promises and assurances of their loyal if not misguided manager, the band is determined to reach a new audience at the Coachella music festival.

Just one problem… they couldn’t get Coachella and are instead booked at fledgling new hipster festival No-Chella (sounds way cooler to us). Understandingly bummed, the band take it in stride and continue on their quest for new found relevance with a pit stop at Joshua Tree for hallucinogens and musical inspiration.


They purchase peyote from a native American called Bigfoot and his short-tempered cohort Firecracker, a seen-it-all-before duo happy to sell college kids their contraband of choice. Dubbed “The Sun,” the peyote is powerful and comes with a warning: don’t harm any living thing – big or small – or suffer the deadly consequences of an ancient curse.

We get a glimpse at those consequences – and so much more – during the film’s opening sequence when horror hottie Cortney Palm (Zombeavers) desperately attempts to outrun a giant ant across a desert plain, stripping away at her bikini in the process and racing right into our scream-queen loving hearts!

Prior to the screening, Carlson had compared his film to a Playboy magazine you enjoy and pass around to your buddies. It’s an accurate analogy. From the first sight of nudity to the campy CGI and the gleeful gore – this is exactly the kind of movie you love telling people about almost as much as watching. It’s a guilty pleasure you want everyone in on – like your Pretty Boy Floyd tape.


But, there’s more to Dead Ant than boobs, blood, and giant bugs. There’s heart and humor and, if you were part of the 80s rock scene or at least a fan, there’s familiarity – you know these guys!

Jake Busey (“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series”) plays Merrick, Sonic Grave’s earnest front-man, an impassioned Brett Michaels-like troubadour, lamenting modern music’s lack of showmanship and power ballads. He’s got a girl, Cameron Richardson’s Love, the apple of his mascaraed eye who still makes him feel like a rock star.

Rhys Coiro (“Entourage”) is Pager, the band’s guitar hero and an incorrigible Lothario who is not above dry-humping a distracted damsel in distress while facing impending doom. Sydney Sweeney (Spiders 3D) plays bikini-clad stunner Sam, the aforementioned damsel in distress and unexpected muse for the band’s new comeback anthem, “Side Boob.”


Leisha Hailey (“The L Word”) provides Sonic Grave’s thunder – and Mad Max desert racing skills – as drummer Stevie, while Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) rounds out the cast as Art, the band’s ill-fated, absent-minded bass player who inadvertently curses them all by drowning an ant in a stream of urine, pissing away whatever chance they had for a magical weekend of enhanced inspiration.

Tom Arnold, arguably in his best role since True Lies (or at least Big Bully), is the band’s seemingly insensitive – yet, oddly endearing – motor-mouthed manager, Danny.

Together they attempt to fight off a colony of ants that continue to get bigger and more aggressive. It’s Tremors meets Spinal Tap kind of fun – brilliantly acted and hilariously written. It really doesn’t even matter that the threat Sonic Grave face is enormous ants. It could have been aliens or sharks or grunge! It’s watching the group band together that makes Dead Ant rock… well, that and righteous Kix tunes!

3 comments so far

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  1. Cortney Palm completely naked running from a giant ant? Really? What a risque (and awesome) way to open a film. She’s truly becoming a top notch scream queen. Dare I say the Linnea Quigley of our generation?

  2. Sounds awesome! Do we get to see Sydney Sweeny topless too, that would make this film epic

  3. Only side boob from Sydney lol