Legacy sequel to one of the greatest Christmas movies of all-time takes place in 1973 with an adult Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) now a married, down on his luck writer struggling as Christmas approaches. He sadly gets a call from his mother (Julie Hagerty) that his father (Darren McGavin in footage from the original) has died. With pennies to his name, Ralphie loads up his family into their car and heads back home to Hohman, Indiana to spend Christmas with his mother.
Well intended flick is directed by Clay Kaytis from a script and story by he, Nick Schenk and star Peter Billingsley. It really tries hard to recreate the magic and tone of the original, but it feels forced instead of part of the story as in the first film. No more evident than Ralphie’s elaborate daydream sequences. They fall flat here where they were absolutely delightful in the original movie. It lacks the heartfelt whimsy of A Christmas Story, though one can still appreciate what the makers were trying to do, even if it doesn’t work nearly as well as the first time around. This holiday flick is also a bit too drama heavy at times to be the light breezy fun the original film was and still is. Sure, it is amusing to see Ralphie, Flick (Scott Schwartz), Schwartz (R.D. Robb), Randy (Ian Petrella) and even Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) and Grover Dill (Yano Anaya) again played by the original actors, but even some of their roles seem forced in instead of a natural part of the story. Ralphie’s wife and kids (Erinn Hayes, River Drosche and Julianna Layne) aren’t nearly as memorable as they need to be either, especially amongst all the other classic characters. It’s not terrible and certainly not unwatchable, but it just doesn’t recapture the magic that it tries a little too hard to recreate.
Superhero flick takes place in the fictional country of Kahndaq, which is overrun by mercenaries. They are searching for the Crown of Sabbac to grant their leader Ishmael (Marwan Kenzari) great power. When resistance fighter Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) beats them to it and is cornered, she is forced to unleash the occupant of the tomb in which the crown rested. That occupant is Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson) a former slave who was gifted the powers of Shazam and imprisoned for his vengeful use of them. Now free, the newly dubbed Black Adam violently reacts to his home’s occupation and catches the attention of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who sends the heroic Justic Society to stop him. Now the newly awakened Black Adam must battle Ishmael and fend off the Justice Society.
DCEU flick is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra from an uneven script by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani. The makers want it both ways, as at times it’s a darker flick in the Snyder-verse vein with Black Adam gleefully killing those that attack him, and comic book fun another with the antics of the Justice Society heroes like the comical Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). The tone shifts back and forth with it being dead serious one minute and a bit goofy the next. The action sequences are good and plentiful, though once again a DC film chooses a CGI monster as its eventual main villain and in its human form, Marwan Kenzari is a rather dull and routine bad guy as Ishmael. As our anti-hero, Johnson does portray Adam a bit too stone-faced to make him a really engaging anti-hero, although he does convey his strength and power very well. It’s Pierce Brosnan who steals the film as the dry humored and wisely Doctor Fate and Aldis Hodge is solid as Hawkman. Shahi makes a strong heroine as Adrianna, though we could have done without Bodhi Sabongui as Adrianna’s super annoying son Amon. So, while the flick is a mixed bag, it’s not the worst superhero flick in recent memory, though far from the best. Also stars Quintessa (Trinkets) Swindell as Cyclone.
Cult classic director Albert Pyun May 19, 1953 to November 26, 2022.
Sad news for cult classic horror and sci-fi fans as prolific filmmaker Albert Pyun has passed away at age 69 after battling with multiple sclerosis and dementia. Pyun made many a cult classic such as the box office hit The Sword and the Sorcerer, the post-apocalyptic Van Damme vehicle Cyborg, Cannon’s Captain America, Full Moon’s Dollman, Nemesis and Knights among many others. His obvious love for movies and colorful style will be missed!
Netflix original series from Tim Burton finds a teenage Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) being sent to the Nevermore Academy by her parents (Luis Guzmán and Catherine Zeta-Jones) after getting near fatal revenge on a group of boys bullying her brother Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez). The academy is filled with supernatural misfits and while there, she is starting to show signs of her own psychic abilities while finding herself embroiled in a murder mystery to solve.
Series from executive producer and director Tim Burton is a fun eight-episode show featuring Addams Family classic character Wednesday as a Buffy/Sabrina type anti-heroine with special powers and working to solve a dark mystery. If you can appreciate the dry, droll humor and a delightfully morbid and twisted tone, then you should enjoy this series a lot. It follows Wednesday as the rebellious teen begins to develop psychic visions and discovers there is a killer afoot at the academy…and a mystery that goes back centuries and involves her own family bloodline. She also reluctantly makes some friends, definitely makes some enemies and even might find a little romance. None of the episodes feel like filler as Wednesday gathers clues and begins to find out about herself and her family history, both near past and distant. Jenna Ortega is simply perfect as a teenage Wednesday Addams and there are some colorful and engaging characters in support. The Addams Family members themselves don’t all fair as well as Guzmán and Zeta-Jones are sadly miscast as Gomez and Morticia. They just don’t work and have no chemistry together. Thankfully, aside from appearances by some familiar faces, it’s Ortega’s show and she takes the Goth ball and runs with it. A school dance sequences is a perfect example of just how well she nails the role. It’s a fun and spooky show to binge on a rainy afternoon and despite the before mentioned casting and some weak CGI, it’s otherwise an entertaining Sabrina-esque series giving a classic character a nice update and a wonderful actress to play her. Wednesday also features Christina Ricci as teacher Marilyn Thornhill, Fred Armisen, clearly having fun, as a visiting Uncle Fester, and GOT‘s Gwendoline Christie as the academy principal Larissa Weems. Currently streaming on Netflix!
“Wednesday’s Child Is Full of Woe” written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and directed by Tim Burton
“Woe Is the Loneliest Number” written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and directed by Tim Burton
“Friend or Woe” written by Kayla Alpert and directed by Tim Burton
“Woe What a Night” written by Kayla Alpert and directed by Tim Burton
“You Reap What You Woe” written by April Blair and directed by Gandja Monteiro
“Quid Pro Woe” written by April Blair and directed by Gandja Monteiro
“If You Don’t Woe Me by Now” written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Matt Lambert and directed by James Marshall
“A Murder of Woes” written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and directed by James Marshall
MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! OK, so there aren’t a lot of horror films set on Turkey Day, but here’s a few, even if they aren’t all classics. Grindhouse for the obvious reason of enjoying Eli Roth’s legendary faux trailer and Galaxy of Terroris a personal addition, because I saw it on Thanksgiving night, 11/26/1981 at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. Have a happy and be safe! Gobble, gobble!
The Barn Part II takes place three years later with sole survivor Michelle (Lexi Dripps) in college and trying to move on from the events of that fateful night, by heading up the building of her sorority’s annual Halloween haunt. She and her sorority pal Heather (Sable Griedel) choose an old farmhouse as the location, and history repeats as the demonic entities she once escaped return to haunt the haunt on Halloween night and start killing anyone whose paths they cross. Will Michelle escape their grasp a second time?
Sequel to The Barn is again written and directed by Justin M. Seaman and sadly seems to be missing the enthusiasm, heart and Halloween spirit that made the first film so endearing. The sequel seems to meander along from scene to scene without any real energy or life. Even a dialogue sequence from horror icon Doug Bradley elicits more snores than scares. The film looks cheap, something the first did not, and comes across more like some local theater company production than a movie, with fake looking sets and even faker looking make-up effects. The demons look exactly like what they are, actors in rubbery masks. They look fake and aren’t scary. Even the abundant gore is hit or miss. The pace is slow, some scenes drag on longer than they need to, and the final confrontation lacks the impact it needs, like the fun climax of the first installment. This sequel is very by the numbers where the first flick had a lot of heart and spirit. This flick doesn’t even feel like it’s taking place on Halloween. On the plus side, Lexi Dripps makes a fun heroine as Michelle, as does cute and spunky Sable Griedel as Heather. There are some fun cameos by the likes of Joe Bob Briggs and Llyod Kaufman, though having forty plus year-old Diana “Darcy the Mail Girl” Prince playing a sorority girl is asking for a little too much suspension of disbelief. She’s fun, but it just doesn’t work. All in all, a disappointing sequel though one still hopes a Part III might get this indie horror franchise back on track. Also stars Linnea Quigley and Ari Lehman returning in their original roles, as Sara Barnhart and Dr. Rock respectively, expanded for this latest round of hijinks.
INDIE HORROR “MR. CREEP” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!
From the official synopsis…
“Three college students stumble upon a lost television broadcast of a deceased serial killer and search for its location. They discover a nightmarish cover-up of a clown-faced man who killed hundreds and may still be around long after his death.
From writer/director Isaac Rodriguez, and starring Thomas Burke, Ali Alkhafaji, Amber Lee Solis, and Judy McMillan, come face to face with MISTER CREEP on digital December 5.”
INDIE HORROR “THE DEATH of APRIL” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!
From the official synopsis…
“Meagan Mullen, freshly moved in her new home, keeps in touch with her friends and family through a video blog. As her entries (and her life) become more complex and emotional, strange things begin to happen in her room: and the camera captures all of it. Told primarily from the point of view of an ordinary wireless webcam, The Death of April documents the unsettling activity in an otherwise average girl’s bedroom – and the mysteries that surround it.”
Flick from Terror Films arrives on digital on 12/9/22, is written and directed by Ruben Rodriguez and stars Amy Rutledge, Stephanie Domini, Adam Lowder, RayMartell Moore and Katarina Hughes.