BARE BONES: MA (2019)

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MA (2019)

Cliché filled thriller finds pretty high school student Maggie (Diana Silvers) moving back to her mother Erica’s (Juliette Lewis) home town after her parents separate. Maggie soon makes friends and when out in pursuit of some liquor to party, they meet lonely Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer). Sue Ann starts to buy them booze and soon invites them to use her basement to party in. As “Ma” gets more and more involved in their lives, her behavior starts to get stranger and stranger. Maggie soon starts to believe their new ‘friend’ has ulterior motives for her hospitality, but what is she up to and why?

Aside from an unsettling performance from veteran Spencer and a solid heroine in Silvers’ Maggie, there isn’t much to say about this flick. It’s a routine and very familiar thriller from writer Scotty Landes and director Tate Taylor, who don’t bring anything new to the stalker/crazy person sub-genres. Ma’s hidden agenda is no surprise, as it is revealed to us, over the course of the film, through flashbacks to Sue Ann’s days in high school and what pushed her over the edge, so to speak. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, plays out exactly as we expect and not portrayed in any way innovative or creative. Aside from good performances from the leads and from supporting cast members Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans, there would be very little to recommend here. The cast, especially Octavia Spencer, deserved better material and we deserved a better movie.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ACTUALS AUG 16-18

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Complete actuals are in for the weekend box office

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

1. “Good Boys” $21.4 Million

2. “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” $14.2 Million

3. “The Lion King” $12.3 Million

4. “The Angry Birds Movie 2” $10.35 Million

5. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” $10 Million

6. “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” $8.5 Million

7. “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” $8.4 Million

8. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” $7.7 million

9. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” $4.6 Million

10. “Blinded By the Light” $4.3 Million

 

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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REVIEW: GOOD BOYS (2019)

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GOOD BOYS (2019)

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

Disappointing coming of age comedy finds three sixth grade buddies Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and sensitive Lucas (Keith L. Williams) going to a “kissing party” run by the most popular kid in middle school, Soren (Izaac Wang). Max wants to go to finally show his class crush Brixlee (Millie Davis) how he feels, but there’s one problem…none of the the nerdy trio have never kissed a girl before. That is the least of their worries, however, as their path to the biggest party of the school year is blocked by a series of escalating misadventures involving, drugs, sex toys, a drone and two pissed-off college girls named Hannah (Molly Gordon) and Lily (Midori Francis).

The film is lifelessly directed by The Office veteran Gene Stupnitsky from a unimaginative script by he and Lee Eisenberg. It’s a shame because there was potential here for a really funny and heartfelt look at modern day Tweens at that crucial point where they leave childhood behind for the tumultuous teens. The film fails on every level. There are a few sentimental bits in the last act, but overall the film is far more concerned with being as vulgar as possible and by putting these kids in as many inappropriate situations as can be and even with that, it takes the easiest and laziest path. There were a few laughs, but very few and most of the moments involving drugs, internet porn, Thor’s parents’ sex toys and frat house drug dealers are either just uncomfortable or fall flat altogether. This film is a perfect example of the trailer showing the best bits and literally, anything slightly amusing was in the previews. The rest is bland, cliché and sometimes outright dull. Sorry, but having middle school kids doing things in slow motion to gangster rap music does not cleverness make…and is an overused cliché at this point, as well.

Biggest shame is the waste of a good cast. Tremblay, Noon and Williams are an endearing enough trio as the self proclaimed “Bean Bag Boys”. They’re likable nerds, full of mischief and suddenly emerging hormones and it’s sad the script isn’t better for them. They have a good chemistry together and are sadly put through the motions of a series of situations that strive for the lowest common denominators of humor. Also good were Molly Gordon and Midori Francis as college girls Hannah and Lily, two girls the boys cross paths with. All the girls want is to go to the city for a concert and get high, but the boys’ antics shatter their plans and put the girls in hot pursuit. Gordon and Francis work really well together and it would actually be fun to see the characters return in their own flick, with a much better script and director this time. Also good are Will Forte as Max’s dad and Lil Rel Howery and Retta as Lucas’ clueless, divorcing parents.

Despite having a good cast and the platform for a fun story of Tweens growing into their teens, Good Boys and it’s makers take the laziest route possible. It focuses on being vulgar and uncomfortable and forgets to actually be funny and engaging. It wastes a good cast with a series of bland and cliché situations, when it could have done something really funny with more of a story and a little substance beneath the dirty jokes. Worst of all, the trailer truly showed all the best bits, which are few and far between to begin with. If you want a coming of age comedy with intelligence, heart and yet still raunchy and hilariously funny, try Booksmart, a sadly overlooked flick from earlier this year.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) drones

 

 

 

 

 

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REVIEW: SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (2019)

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SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (2019)

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

Flick is based on the kids books by Alvin Schwartz and opens on Halloween night, 1968 in the small town of Mill Valley, Pennsylvania. Three friends Stella (Zoe Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush), Chuck (Austin Zajur) and new guy in town Ramón (Michael Garza) sneak into the supposedly haunted Bellows house, where Sarah Bellows is said to have poisoned a bunch of children after telling them scary stories. Stella finds and takes Sarah’s story book, which starts to write stories of it’s own, stories which come to life and deal out terrible fates to members of the group. Now the remaining friends must somehow find a way to save themselves, before they become just another scary story to be told in the dark.

The film is directed by André Øvredal (The Autopsy Of Jane Doe) from a script by Dan and Kevin Hageman. That script is based on a story by producer Guillermo del Toro, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan from Schwartz’s book. As such it’s a well made movie, but one that is not really all that scary, at least not consistently. There are a few spooky moments, but in between there is a lot of tedious and somewhat stale melodrama, as we get a very familiar ‘kids in supernatural peril trying to solve a mystery’ scenario, that we’ve seen so many times before. It’s nothing new and not presented in a fresh or innovative way. It was kinda dull. Maybe those endeared to the stories would find the film’s presentation of the material far more entertaining, but for the uninitiated, it’s very been there, done that. The PG-13 rating keeps things fairly tame, it is based on children’s stories after all, not that a film needs gore to be scary, as the recent Annabelle Comes Home proves. The make-up effects are very well done and the flick looks good, as Øvredal has a good eye, especially when represented by Roman Osin’s cinematography. The cast of young performers all play their roles well, as do the supporting adults. There is some atmosphere, especially in the opening Halloween segments, though it should have stayed set on Halloween night, as it looses some of it’s spookiness, once the story goes past All Hallow’s Eve.

Overall, it’s a well made movie, just not an overly scary one. To those not familiar with the books, the material is nothing we haven’t seen before and there are long stretches of tedium between the spooky parts. It looks good and is well acted by it’s cast, but really didn’t provide the chills the books, or Stephen Gammell’s illustrations for that matter, are famous for. A good horror flick for kids, or adults who scare easily, but hardcore horror fans might find themselves yawning through a lot of it.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) books it’s based on.

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE (2019)

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THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE (2019)

Comedy/horror takes the goofy late 60s, early 70s Hanna-Barbera kids show and turns it into a horror movie. Young fan Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) is being taken, for his birthday, by his mom (Dani Kind), brother Austin (Romeo Carere) and jerk step-dad Mitch (Steve Lund) to see his favorite show live, The Banana Splits. What Harley doesn’t know is that the characters, Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and his favorite, Snorky, are all robots. Robots who get a bit twitchy when the show’s canceled and go on a killing spree, with Harley and family trapped in the studio.

Taking a psychedelic TV kids show and turning it into a horror movie is an amusing idea, that is sadly bungled here. The flick is lazily directed by Danishka Esterhazy from a dull script from Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas. The creative element seemed to think the horror spin was cleverness enough and we get a generic story and very by-the-numbers direction. The pace is also very slow and what should have been an Evil Dead II style roller coaster ride becomes a tedious and dull ninety minutes. It does pick up a bit at the climax and there is some good gore, but it’s a little too late. The cast was mostly unremarkable, save for pretty Dani Kind as Harley’s mom. She shows some resilience and spunk in the last act and made a good hot mom final girl. Otherwise, what should have been a fun and gory blast is a half-assed mishandling of a really amusing idea.

The Banana Splits was one of my favorite shows as a kid growing up in the 70s, so I went a little easy on the rating for nostalgia’s sake. -MZNJ

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES AUG 9-11

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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. “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” $25.4 Million

2. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” $20.8 Million

3. “The Lion King” $20 Million

4. “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” $17 Million

5. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” $11.6 million

6. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” $8.1 Million

7. “The Kitchen” $5.5 Million

8. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” $5.3 Million

9. “Toy Story 4” $4.4 Million

10. “Bring the Soul: The Movie” $2.3 Million

 

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR TV YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SWAMP THING season 1 (2019)

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SWAMP THING season 1 (2019)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Swamp Thing was sadly canceled after it’s first episode aired and before it was even given a chance…and it’s a shame. The ten episode first season nailed so many aspects of the comics and also managed to be one of the better horror shows currently on TV. Was that the problem? Was it too edgy? Right now there are few answers to the questions of why a great first season was also it’s last.

The story takes place in Marais, Louisiana, where an outbreak of some strange illness has occurred. CDC doctor Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) arrives on the scene to try to find some answers and a cure. She meets eccentric scientist Alec Holland (Andy Bean) who tells her the answer is in the swamps. There they find that someone has been dumping a chemical growth accelerator in the swamp that has had a bizarre effect on the plant life. Alec is murdered in the swamp one night for what he knows and his body is regenerated by the plants into a massive human/plant hybrid..The Swamp Thing (Derek Mears)! Now Holland must not only come to terms with what he’s become, but protect Abby from those who would harm her and protect himself for those who find him a curious object of study.

Written and directed by a number of talents (see list below) Swamp Thing is a fun, atmospheric and delightfully gory show, that takes itself seriously despite it’s comic book roots. The show uses the North Carolina locations very well and the production and set design is perfectly spooky and fitting of the overall tone. There is a lot of action and intrigue as Abby and Holland uncover a conspiracy led by local businessman Avery Sunderland (Will Patton), his chief scientist Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) and crooked sheriff Lucilia Cable (Jennifer Beals), who are trying to exploit the swamp for profit. This puts Abby in danger and makes Holland/Swamp Thing a hunted man/thing. The episodes are each slightly under an hour and with the variety of directors and writers, the show maintains a consistent look and tone. The FX are good, especially the prosthetics and the CGI ranges from good to passable with some weak spots here and there. This show had a lot of potential and whatever the reasons for it’s canceling, unfortunately there will be some loose ends that will never get tightened unless, somehow, there is a continuation either by revival or a feature film. Sad, this show had a lot of potential and a strong first season start that was thrilling and enjoyable for comic and horror fans especially.

The cast really click here. Crystal Reed makes a solid heroine in the determined and resilient Abby Arcane. The actress presents a strong, intelligent and caring young woman that makes her very likable and endearing. Andy Dean is good as Holland, thought we only see him in the first episode and a few other spots. He builds a likable character in limited time. Derek Mears shines as the plant hero. He does a very good job giving Swamp Thing some complex emotions as he tries to figure out who and what he has become. He can be fierce and dangerous and yet kind, gentle and very sympathetic. Too bad we can’t see where he could take the character. Mears and Reed also had some nice on-screen chemistry, too. Patton makes a nice villain as the scheming and greedy Avery Sunderland, He’s a man that will kill for what he wants and does. Kevin Durand’s Woodrue is a scientist blinded and made cruel by his work. The post credits scene at the end of the last episode signals a side of him we would liked to have seen more of. The rest of the supporting cast, including Jennifer Beals and Ian Ziering, all play their parts well, A very solid cast for a really well done production.

In conclusion, This is a sad example of studio chaos ending a good show before it had a chance. This had some great atmosphere, a cool horror movie tone, yet didn’t ignore it’s comic book roots. There was some great production design, some spooky visuals and settings and a healthy amount of blood, gore and creatures. One of DC’s best representations of their properties as of late and it’s canceling is as mysterious as it’s swamp setting!

-MonsterZero NJ

Photo Credit: Fred Norris / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

EPISODE LIST

  1. Pilot – directed by Len Wiseman and written by Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden
  2. Worlds Apart – directed by Len Wiseman and written by Mark Verheiden and Doris Egan
  3. He Speaks – directed by Deran Sarafian and written by Rob Fresco
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Town – directed by Carol Banker and written by Erin Maher and Kay Reindl
  5. Drive All Night – directed by Greg Beeman and written by Franklin Rho
  6. The Price You Pay – directed by Toa Fraser and written by Tania Lotia
  7. Brilliant Disguise – directed by Alexis Ostrander and written by Andrew Preston and Rob Fresco
  8. Long Walk Home – directed by E. L. Katz and written by Doris Egan
  9. The Anatomy Lesson – directed by Michael Goi and written by Mark Verheiden, Noah Griffith and Daniel Stewart
  10. Loose Ends – directed by Deran Sarafian and written by Erin Maher, Kay Reindl and Rob Fresco

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-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 swamp things.

 

 

 

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 15 HORROR THEMED COMIC BOOK MOVIES!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 15 HORROR THEMED COMIC BOOK MOVIES!

The comic book based Blade trilogy brought the horror…and Guillermo del Toro!

Catching up with DC ‘s delightfully gory, yet sadly canceled, Swamp Thing series gets one nostalgic for other horror themed comic book movies. So, here are 15 of them that brought the horror while delivering comic book movie entertainment!

Keanu Reeves battled supernatural forces in the comic book based Constantine!

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(To get to the reviews of the titles listed that were covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES AUG 2-4

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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. “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” $60.8 Million

2. “The Lion King” $38.2 Million

3. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” $20 million

4. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” $7.75 Million

5. “Toy Story 4” $7.15 Million

6. “Yesterday” $2.44 Million

7. “The Farewell” $2.42 Million

8. “Crawl” $2.15 Million

9. “Aladdin” $2 Million

10. “Annabelle Comes Home” $875,000

 

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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SATANIC PANIC GETS A TRAILER AND POSTER!

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What happens when an adorable pizza delivery girl (Hayley Griffith), delivers to the wrong house?… Satanic Panic of course! Delightfully fun looking horror/comedy is directed by Chelsea Stardust from a script by Grady Hendrix (Mohawk) based on a story by Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here, Mohawk). The devilishly fun sounding flick also stars Jerry O’Connell (Piranha 3D), Ruby Modine (Happy Death Day 1 & 2) and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men‘s Mystique) and comes to us from Fangoria Films and Aperture Entertainment! Satanic Panic premieres on 9/6/2019 in limited theatrical and VOD release!

-MonsterZero NJ

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source: internet/youtube

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