BARE BONES: 12 FEET DEEP (2017)

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12 FEET DEEP (2017)

Supposedly fact-based flick has two sisters, Bree (Nora-Jane Noone from The Descent and Doomsday) and Jonna (Alexandra Park), trapped by unfortunate circumstances over a holiday weekend in an indoor Olympic pool, with the fiberglass cover shut. That’s not the worst of their troubles as the emotionally disturbed maintenance woman (Diane Farr) discovers them and turns their misfortune into a night of extortion and terror.

Director Matt Eskandari’s thriller has it’s scenario born out of some unfortunate conveniences happening all at the right…or wrong…time, but as it is based on an actual incident, it can’t be all that much of a stretch. Eskandari’s script, that he wrote along with Michael Hultquist, does pack in a lot of melodramatic elements, such as the sisters sharing a tumultuous relationship, Bree being a diabetic, Jonna out of rehab and the whole ex-con with a grudge, maintenance woman thing, but they are used in just the right amounts and the director does build some nice tension and suspense from some of the clichés. Both Noone and Park give good performances, which make the melodramatics work better than they should and endear us to the two ladies in distress. Farr’s ex-con maintenance woman also starts out as a cliché bad guy, but turns out to be a bit more layered than the simple villain she first appears. The film doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at only 85 minutes and overall is a tense and entertaining time on the couch, at least as much as two girls stuck in a pool could be. A well made little thriller that takes a simple premise, that could have been silly, and makes it work to entertaining good use. Also stars “Jigsaw” himself Tobin Bell as the grumpy pool manager who carelessly locks the ladies in. Definitely worth watching.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER (2015)

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THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER (2015)

Flick is a spooky supernatural horror set at a Catholic all girls school and focuses on odd freshman Kathryn (Kiernan Shipka) and upperclassman Rose (Lucy Boynton). Break is coming, but Kat and Rose are not being picked up by their respective parents. Kat has been put in Rose’s charge and soon Rose begins to feel there is something off with the young girl. As they are alone at school with only two chaperones (Elana Krausz and Heather Tod Mitchell) on campus, Rose starts to realize something is not right with the increasingly creepy Kat. Intertwined is another story of a lone young woman who calls herself Joan (Emma Roberts) and a couple (James Remar and Lauren Holly) who are headed to the school who offer her a ride. These stories are destined to collide, but how and why?

This is a very impressive debut from writer/director Oz Perkins, son of legendary horror icon Anthony Perkins. He drenches the film in atmosphere which helps keeps us unnerved and attentive as his two narrative’s play out. It seems a bit unconventional at first, but as the separate, but connected stories progress, we start to realize just how they are related and by the end credits it makes disturbing sense. There is some shocking violence in it’s last act and Perkins is smart to hold it off till then as it has jarring impact because the film was relying on mood and shadows to establish it’s unsettling ambiance. Though, the director doesn’t go overboard with that violence either, so it doesn’t overshadow his established atmosphere, just embellishes it. The stories of Joan and Rose and Kat are connected indeed and the added mystery adds to a film that already has a good grip on us as we realize Kathryn has some very disturbing secrets and Rose may be in danger. To say anymore would be to spoil a very creepy film from first time director Perkins, who went on to direct the equally spooky I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, which was oddly released first.

The cast are all good. Young Kiernan Shipka is very effective as the somewhat odd Kathryn. She gives us a young girl who seems a bit emotionally detached and yet offers tinges that there is something a bit disturbing about Kat. The actress is very effective in both maintaining an air of mystery and then being outright scary once we find out what she is really all about. Lucy Boynton is also good as the rebellious Rose. We like Rose, who has her own secrets, though far more grounded ones, and are along with her suspicions when she starts to believe there is something very “off” about Kat. Emma Roberts is also very good as mystery woman Joan. We know there is definitely more to this drifter and as things progress, we find we are right. Remar and Holly also do good work as Bill and Linda. They are good at making us very unsure about their motives, especially Bill’s, in picking up the pretty young drifter. There is something just as off about them as with Joan and the film and actors keep us guessing as to who we should be wary of most. A good cast that add to the atmosphere as does brother Elvis Perkins’s effective score.

Overall this is a very impressive debut film from a new voice in the horror genre. Being the son of legendary actor Anthony Perkins may be an  interesting footnote, but Osgood Perkins is making his own name with two impressive and really spooky first features. The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a very atmospheric and creepy little movie with a good dose of mystery and Perkins connects all the dots in disturbing fashion by it’s end. It’s chilling, has a very effective visual style and even surprises us with some moments of shocking violence. A bone chilling debut from Oz Perkins!

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 carnivorous critters

 

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017)

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GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017)

Based on the classic Anime of the same name, flick tells the future-set story of The Major (Scarlett Johansson), who is the first of her kind, a completely cybernetic being with a human brain. The Major is part of an anti-terrorist unit and is called to action when members of Hanka Robotics, the folks that created her, are being murdered. The Major’s journey to find those responsible takes a very personal turn which may compromise her mission and cost her, her life.

On one hand it’s amazing that Blade Runner and The Matrix are still influencing movies and film-makers today, while on the other hand it’s getting kind of tiresome to see the same neon drenched city-scapes and slow motion gunfight scenes. As for the 1989 Anime by Masamune Shirow, it was ground breaking in it’s day, but almost twenty years later, the story elements have been reused and warn out. So despite some hefty influences and classic source material, this live action version has nothing really to offer and director Rupert Sanders and his script by three writers can’t change that. It’s a dull affair with plot and visual elements that we’ve all seen countless times since the films that inspired them. Even Ms. Johansson’s charms are lost among-st all the “been there, done that” and barely make this watchable for. A cyberpunk snoozefest. At least the score by Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe was 80s electronic cool.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: DIARY of the DEAD (2007)

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DIARY of the DEAD (2007)

With the loss of horror great George A. Romero earlier this week, I thought I’d “dig up” this old review of one of his last zombie flicks…

After an unpleasant experience filming Land of the Dead with a big studio, Romero returned to his low budget roots and applied the camera POV style to his latest zombie opus. He starts from scratch telling the story of a new zombie outbreak through the camera of a group of film students making a horror movie…when the real horror begins and the dead begin to rise. It’s not perfect, but it is successful at making the zombies scary again by viewing them through the eyes of the terrified students. There is the trademarked gore and the gritty low budget style suits Romero far better then Land’s big budget gloss. Romero can be preachy at times with his social views and if you’re not a fan of the POV style films, this probably won’t win you over, even if it is far less shaky than most. It’s a return to form in many respects for the master of horror, though not quite a classic like the films of his original dead trilogy. Stars Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Amy Lalonde, Joe Dinicol, Scott Wentworth, Philip Riccio and Alan van Sprang whose rogue soldier character returns in the follow-up Survival of the Dead.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

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FAREWELL AND R.I.P. MARTIN LANDAU!

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MARTIN LANDAU 1928-2017

We lost another legendary talent yesterday. Actor Martin Landau passed away at age 89. He was a long time veteran of TV and film work, including appearing on Mission: Impossible and the British sci-fi show Space:1999. Horror fans will remember him most for his oscar winning portrayal of legendary boogieman Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. He appeared in a few other horror flicks, too, such as Without Warning and Alone In The Dark. Landau enjoyed an acting career lasting almost 60 years with his last film, The Last Poker Game, being released earlier this year.

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-MonsterZero NJ

Sources: internet

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FAREWELL AND R.I.P. TO THE LEGENDARY GEORGE A. ROMERO!

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GEORGE ANDREW ROMERO 1940-2017

Tragic and heartbreaking news as legendary horror director George A. Romero has lost his battle with lung cancer and passed away today at age 77. Romero may not have invented zombies, but his take on them, in the classic Night of the Living Dead, turned them into their own genre and his portrayal of them is imitated and still inspires to this very day. He made a few studio films, but remained an independent filmmaker for most of his life and career. He is immortalized in his work and will always be celebrated as one of the greatest horror film directors of all time! Farewell and RIP George!

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-MonsterZero NJ

Sources: internet

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JULY 14-16

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!)

1. “War for the Planet of the Apes” $56.5 Million

2. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” $45.2 Million

3. “Despicable Me 3” $18.9 Million

4. “Baby Driver” $8.75 Million

5. “The Big Sick” $7.6 Million

6. “Wonder Woman” $6.9 Million

7. “Wish Upon” $5.6 Million

8. “Cars 3” $3.2 Million

9. “Transformers: The Last Knight” $2.8 Million

10. “The House” $1.8 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: FULCI FOX DANIELA DORIA

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Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks. They’re femme fatales and final girls whose sexy stars shined only briefly, not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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FULCI FEMME FATALE DANIELA DORIA

This installment of Cult Classic Cuties is going to be a little different as it won’t profile an actress in a particular role, but in a series of roles for the same director over a short period of time. Italian actress Daniela Doria made only a handful of films between 1976 and 1982, but interestingly enough, a number of those films were with Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci. In fact, she appears in four films in a row, between 1980 and 1982, for the gore master. While none of the roles were major ones, Daniela caught one’s eye with her beautiful features, not being afraid to bare her natural charms and the fact that she seemed to always meet a grim fate. Daniela’s four Fulci films are City Of The Living Dead (aka The Gates of Hell), The New York Ripper, House By The Cemetery and The Black Cat! Since a lot of her scenes are NSFW and she left acting over 30 years ago, it was not easy finding photos…

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Wandering around The House By The Cemetery is not a good idea.

Seconds before her classic gore soaked demise in City of the Living Dead.

“Oh, hello Mr. Fulci!…you have another unpleasant death scene for me? OK!”

Doria in one of her rare clothes on and sans gore moments for Lucio Fulci!

Daniela as prostitute Kitty in another grim predicament in The New York Ripper!

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Not much is known about the actress before or since her Fulci days. She wasn’t afraid to be photographed or filmed “au natural” and certainly was brave enough to perform in some unpleasant death scenes for Fulci, including a few in the vulnerable state of being nude and/or bound. She played her last film role in an Italian comedy in 1982 and then disappeared from acting, or at least in films, after that. She was a beautiful young woman who apparently caught Fulci’s eye and was, from appearances, a good sport about disrobing in spooky settings and being splattered with plenty of trademarked Fulci gore. Either that or she simply found the legendary Lucio Fulci…a director to die for!

The beautiful Daniela Doria!

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Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

source/ IMDB

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BARE BONES: TAKE ME (2017)

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TAKE ME (2017)

Indie comedy has the interesting premise of a man named Ray (Pat Healy) who performs kidnap scenarios at a client’s request. He has recently relocated to his family home in California and is quite down on his luck. He gets an opportunity for financial redemption when a client named Anna St. Blair (Taylor Schilling) contacts him for a $5,000 weekend scenario with all the trimmings. But once Ray has Anna in his clutches, he starts to get the impression that something is very wrong and this kidnapping may be far more real than even he bargained for, as the lines between fantasy and reality start to blur.

Flick is directed by star Healy from a fairly clever script by Mike Makowsky. Actor Healy is a first time director here, who also has to star in the production and maybe this was a bit much as his first flick could have used a bit more spark. It does have an intriguing premise and does throw us some fun twists that make one wonder if Ray has the right victim, or if she is far too into her own fantasy than even he can handle. With this novel plot, though, we do feel Makowsky could have gotten more use out of some elements of the scenario, such as a police visit that could have taken things a bit further. And while it’s amusing to see it all play out, we do wish the flick had just a touch more fun with it’s story. Healy and Schilling work well together and have a nice chemistry. Healy keeps Ray somewhat likable despite being a bit of a creep and Schilling has a blast keeping us guessing if she is a real victim or way too into what’s going on. It’s amusing to watch her turn the tables on a man who is used to being in control. Not a great movie, but entertaining enough thanks to an amusing premise and a good cast.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 FAVORITE CLASSICS AND CULT CLASSICS I SAW AT THE LEGENDARY ORITANI THEATER!

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The Oritani Theater

Photo from the Mitchell Dvoskin collection

If you’ve been visiting this site for a while you’ve probably heard me mention more than once, The Oritani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. The Oritani was a grind house, that presented badly dubbed martial arts movies, horror flicks, and raunchy low budget comedies during the late seventies and early 80s. I lived only a town away, so this was a go-to theater on a Friday and Saturday night for my friends and I, who shared a love of B-Movie horror and sci-fi. I decided to compose a list of 12 favorite flicks that I saw there, which are now regarded as classics, cult classics, or fan favorites. Some of these were seen when first released and a few of the older titles were at revivals or midnight shows there!

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. Escape From New York
  2. Galaxy of Terror
  3. Humanoids from the Deep
  4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  5. Night of the Living Dead
  6. Scanners
  7. Mad Max
  8. The Boogens
  9. Shogun Assassin
  10. The Incredible Melting Man
  11. Laserblast
  12. Without Warning

 

-MonsterZero NJbars