TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WINTERBEAST (1992)

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WINTERBEAST (1992)

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

Winterbeast is a perfect example of just how entertaining a bad movie can be. Flick’s convoluted plot has a snowy mountaintop community being beset by creatures that are actually demons that the Native Americans that once lived on the land have tried to keep at bay. A demon spirit is trying to enter this world through a portal in this area and his stop motion animated minions are gruesomely paving the way. The only thing that stands in it’s path are a couple of local forest rangers (Tim R. Morgan and Mike Magri)…at least I think that’s it.

Written and directed by Christopher Thies, this is a sometimes incoherent flick that is one weird scene after another with this hodgepodge plot about ancient Native American totem poles and demonic creatures the lay siege to a mountain community. The acting is delightfully terrible, the dialogue is amusingly awful and the stop-motion animated creatures and gore are delightfully cheesy. It’s also a bizarre little movie filled with WTF moments, such as the disturbing dance sequence featuring weird local lodge owner, Dave Sheldon (Bob Harlow) in plaid suit and clown mask, no less and a topless cutie being slammed against the side of a house by a stop motion totem pole creature, for no apparent reason…and let’s not forget the giant chicken monster. The editing is choppy and one wonders if director Thies was even on set as there seems to be little in the way of actual direction…though with this hopelessly amateur cast, would it have mattered?

I liked this film a lot, but, of course, for all the wrong reasons. The narrative is barely coherent, some scenes are completely random, the plot is loopy and there are some hilarious WTF sequences. There is a host of cheesy stop-motion animated creatures, some equally cheesy gore and some of the worst acting and dialogue you’ll ever hope to see. It’s also a lot of fun and a perfect example of why so bad can be so good. It made a real fun double feature with Don Dohler’s Alien Factor here in MonsterZero NJ’s lair, if ‘so bad, it’s good’ is your thing!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scenes that made me giggle!

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BARE BONES: HAVENHURST and AMERICAN FABLE

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HAVENHURST (2016)

Havenhurst is a fairly entertaining if not familiar story of someone investigating strange goings on in a large house or apartment complex and finding out they live in a house of horrors. Here, it is pretty recovering alcoholic Jackie (Julie Benz), who has been released from rehab and has moved into Havenhurst, a NYC apartment that specializes in taking in hard luck cases. Weird things happen from the start, like Jackie’s former rehab friend Danielle (Danielle Harris) mysteriously disappearing and strange sounds eminating from within the walls at night. As Jackie begins to investigate, she starts to believe there is something truly sinister going on in the building, but no one will believe her. Her only ally is a child, young Sarah (Belle Shouse), whose own parents disappeared as well. Will Jackie expose the diabolical goings on, or is she the next victim of Havenhurst!?

Film is competently directed by Andrew C. Erin from a familiar script by he and Daniel Farrands. It has some effective moments and there is some surprisingly gory violence mixed in with the familiar tropes of someone with emotional problems being disbelieved when they cry wolf. Julie Benz is a solid heroine and Fionnula Flanagan makes for a creepy landlord, whom you know is up to no good despite her ability to fool everyone else. The building location is used with creepy effectiveness and the film does have an unsettling wrap-up. A decent watch if there is nothing else on.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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AMERICAN FABLE (2017)

Drama takes place in the Reagan Era with a family struggling to keep their farm. Imaginative young Gitty (Peyton Kennedy) makes a startling discovery one day when she goes to the farm silo she is forbidden to play around. There she discovers a man named Jonathan being held prisoner (Richard Schiff) and soon finds he is the real estate developer who has been buying up the folding farms in the area. Now Gitty is caught in the middle between her loved ones, who are committing a desperate act and doing what is right and helping Jonathan escape.

This is an engaging drama with a touch of fantasy as written and directed by Anne Hamilton. It has some nice emotional depth and young Peyton Kennedy really gives a very strong performance as the slightly eccentric young girl who dreams of things beyond her farm and is now caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s a little too slow moving for it’s own good at times, but otherwise is a solid drama. Gavin Macintosh also makes a truly detestable villain as Gitty’s cruel older brother Martin, who is enjoying the kidnapping a little too much and will resort to any means to carry out the plan…including murder. Hamilton makes a solid directorial debut for her first feature length film and has a nice visual eye to go along with her evident directing chops. No classic but, worth a look for sure, if you like indie dramas and a sign interesting things may be coming from Hamilton.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEB 17-19

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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. “The LEGO Batman Movie” $34.2 Million

2. “Fifty Shades Darker” $20.9 Million

3. “The Great Wall” $18 Million

4. “John Wick: Chapter Two” $16.5 Million

5. “Fist Fight” $12 Million

6. “Hidden Figures” $7.1 Million

7. “Split” $7 Million

8. “A Dog’s Purpose” $5.6 Million

9. “La La Land” $4.5 Million

10. “A Cure For Wellness” $4.2 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: DON’T HANG UP and ELOISE

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DON’T HANG UP (2016)

Very ho-hum horror has a group of Youtube pranksters who call themselves “Prank Monkey 69” apparently pranking the wrong person, who decides to take a cruel and gruesome revenge. The four members and some of their unsuspecting loved ones, all become targets of this deranged Saw-like individual. We might care somewhat if it weren’t for the fact that the Prank Money members all come across as a bunch of real assholes and we actually want to see them meet a horrible fate ourselves.

Flick is blandly directed by Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot from an uninspired script by Joe Johnson. It’s a dull movie about a bunch of jerks who basically get what’s coming to them and we never sympathize with them for a moment. The found footage genre is running out of gas quickly and mundane flicks like this are only speeding it towards it’s demise. A scant few effective scenes, but they are very few and far between.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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ELOISE (2017)

Flick takes place at a real and infamous asylum in Michigan and even has the audacity to dedicate itself to those interned there and their families. The plot has down on his luck Jacob Martin (Chace Crawford) learning his rich dad has passed away and he is set to inherit millions…but there is a catch. His aunt was a patient at the now abandoned Eloise asylum, where a doctor (Robert Patrick) was rumored to have conducted brutal experiments and cruel treatments on patients. His aunt apparently died there, but without a death certificate, the court can’t consider him the sole heir. Jacob can’t wait months for the paper work to be found through normal channels and thus plots to break into the asylum and find them himself…what he finds, however, is that something dark and evil still remains within the walls of Eloise Asylum.

OK haunted asylum flick is written by Christopher Borrelli and directed by Robert Logato, who is an Academy Award winning FX man. Logato guides the familiar tale competently and has a nice visual eye, but the film basically covers no new ground when it comes to these kind of pics and we’ve seen it all before. That would be fine if he just could muster up some real scares or suspense, instead of just putting us and the characters through the motions. There are some effective scenes, the asylum locations are well used and Patrick has fun chewing the scenery, but other than that it’s a little too familiar and a bit too by-the-numbers to really chew our popcorn with rapt attention. There are some amusing twists at the end, but it needed more punch along the way. Also stars genre favorite Eliza Dushku as a pretty bartender who gets dragged along for the ride. If there is nothing else on, you could give it a try.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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THE DEVIL’S CANDY GETS A TRAILER!

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A trailer has arrived for the new film from The Loved Ones’ Sean Byrne and it looks just as disturbing! Written and directed by Byrne, the film stars Ethan (Late Phases) Embry and Shiri Appleby and involves a musician/painter under demonic influences. Film is slated for release on March 17, 2017!

Source: Youtube

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: EAT MY DUST! (1976)

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EAT MY DUST! (1976)

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

A year before Smokey And The Bandit and a good three years before The Dukes Of Hazzard, Ron Howard led a cross county chase in this Roger Corman produced action/comedy. The story is simple…teen Hoover Niebold (Ron Howard) wants to impress beautiful blonde Darlene Kurtz (Christopher Norris) who has a love for fast cars. Hoover steals the fastest stock car on the track, belonging to local legend Big Bubba Jones (Dave “Mr. Kincaid” Madden) to take her for a ride. This joy ride turns into a hot pursuit as his sheriff father (Warren Kemmerling) leads the chase, followed by a posse of drunken stock car racers and inept deputies!

Car chase flick is written and directed by Charles B. Griffith who wrote a lot of scripts for Corman during the 60s, 70s and 80s, including many of his classics. It is a light, fun and fast paced effort that made a lot of money for Corman and New World Pictures. The film was part of a deal with Ron Howard, who had star power from Happy Days and was looking to direct. If he starred in this, he could make another film for Corman from the director’s chair, which would become Grand Theft Auto. The result is a good time with a lot of slapstick comedy and an almost non-stop chase with young Hoover outwitting his dad’s deputies and Big Bubba’s drunken buddies. As with most Corman films, there is a lot accomplished with a little and Griffith brings a light, breezy fun to the proceedings and keeps things moving quickly. It’s silly and goofy, but energetic and there is plenty of stunts and crashes for car chase enthusiasts to enjoy.

Howard plays Hoover much like a grown up version of his Opie Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show. He’s a bit of a country bumpkin, but is clever enough to outwit his pursuers. Howard has charm and is very likable as the rebellious teen willing to do anything for love. Christopher Norris is pretty and spunky as the object of Hoover’s affection, Darlene. The two make an endearing pair as they outwit the nitwits in their county. The supporting cast all have a good time playing their roles with over-the-top, slapstick efficiency, too and it’s fun to watch them. The film also stars Howard’s brother Clint, a known cult favorite character actor himself.

This film is now considered a cult classic and in an indirect way got Ron Howard started on a career as a prolific and highly regarded director. It’s silly, funny and loaded with plenty of chases and crashes. It was a successful film for Corman’s New World Pictures and predated the “redneck” car chase craze started by Smokey And The Bandit by a year. A fun little movie and another example of Roger Corman’s craft as a producer.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 rebel caps.

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S “REVISED” 15 HORRORS TO WATCH ON VALENTINE’S DAY!

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During this season of candy and flowers, those with horror in our hearts can have plenty to watch with that special boy or ghoul…or for the single folk to calm the storm of sappy sentimentality they are enduring from their paired-up friends on social media! Not all are classics, but even the lesser titles are suitable for this day of grave emotional attachment!

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(Click on the titles below to get to our reviews of the titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. My Bloody Valentine 1981

2. Spring

3. The Bride Of Frankenstein

4. Return Of The Living Dead 3

5. Valentine

6. My Blood Valentine 2009

7. The Crow

8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

9. Burying The Ex

10. Let The Right One In

11. Blacula

12. A Chinese Ghost Story

13. The Love Witch

14. The Loved Ones

15. Only Lovers Left Alive

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: PASSENGERS (2016)

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PASSENGERS (2016)

Painfully generic Sci-fi/romance has the starship Avalon making a 100+ year journey to a new home world with it’s crew and passengers in hyper sleep for the trip. The ship sustains some damage during a trip through an asteroid field…guess, there is no safety contingency for that…and one of the results is the early awakening of engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) about 90 years too early, with no way (conveniently for the story) of getting back to hibernation…I guess no safety contingency for that either. After a year of loneliness, Jim reviews the ship’s passenger logs…a bit creepy…and finds and falls for pretty Aurora Lane and decides to awaken her, too…even creepier. Faster than you can say The Love Boat, the two fall head over heels, till the damage to the ship becomes critical and now they are the only hope of saving the lives of everyone sleeping on board…and did I mention that Jim is conveniently an engineer?

As directed by Morten Tyldum from Jon Saithts’ hopelessly cliché script, this is a dull and predictable flick despite Lawrence and Pratt having some real chemistry. Everything happens for convenience, whether to help or hinder our couple, like Lawrence Fishburn’s Captain waking up just long enough to point our couple in the right direction before leaving the scenario, or just the right miscommunication at the wrong time allowing Aurora to find out her awakening wasn’t an accident. And that is another mistake, having Jim cruelly and selfishly awakening Aurora to suffer his own fate, just for company, is something we can never forgive the character for, even if Aurora does…and it’s no surprise in this dreck that she unrealistically will. The FX are top notch and the cast give it their all, but a weak script and by-the-numbers direction sink the Avalon far quicker than any asteroids. Would love to see Lawrence and Pratt in a far better flick; they were good together.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BORNLESS ONES (2016)

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BORNLESS ONES (2016)

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

At it’s core, flick is a basically an Evil Dead (both old and new) retread with a group of people in an isolated cabin and an ancient evil taking them one by one. This cabin in the woods horror has pretty Emily (Margaret Judson) moving into a remote house/cabin so she can be near her brother Zack (Michael Johnston), who she is going to send to a nearby institution for his spastic monoplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. Her boyfriend Jesse (Devin Goodsell) is with her and their friends Woodrow (Mark Furze) and Michelle (Bobby T) have come along to help set things up. When they enter the house…which they apparently bought sight unseen…they find evidence some kind of cult ceremony or witchcraft was performed there previously. When they remove some creepy symbol adorned boards, something malevolent moves into the house with them. It first possesses poor Zack, who can now walk and talk…saying scary things, of course…and makes it known that they all shall fall prey to The Bornless. Sound familiar?

Flick is written and directed by Alexander Babaev with very little originality or novel additions to the cabin in the woods sub-genre. Zack’s affliction is one of the scant few original wrinkles and with it does come an interesting element that the demons healed him somewhat to use him more efficiently and there is evidence that this healing power is what provoked the original owner to invoke them. This is, however, for the most part, a retread of a classic using elements from it and it’s remake, thought sometimes effectively and I can’t say it wasn’t somewhat entertaining. Babaev may have little originality in his screenplay, but it’s atmospheric and he does direct some of the zombie/possession scenes well. He also has a good visual eye, too and there are some amusing bits where possessed cabin mates reveal their host’s darkest secrets just to be nasty and where some are visited by ‘spirits’ from their past to taunt them. There is some decent and effective gore, but unfortunately the “bornless” demon spirits are represented by some cheesy CGI and aren’t nearly as effective. The one time Babaev tries to deviate and actually show his demons, is a time he should have taken a cue from Raimi and let our imaginations do the work instead. Sometimes less is more. Thankfully they don’t have all that much screen time.

Cast are all fine. Margaret Judson makes a solid heroine. She nicely conveyed her character’s concern and affection for her illness inflicted brother and that makes her Emily endearing. She also turns into a resilient fighter once things start going bump in the night and proves to be effective final girl material. Michael Johnston was good as Zack. He at first has to emote with very little due to Zack’s condition and then gets to have a little fun once he is possessed and becomes fully functional. He has some creepy moments once things get going. Goodsell is fine as boyfriend Jesse whose deeper secrets and feelings are brought to the surface by the demonic presence and he’s not the person he pretends to be, though that’s not all that much of a surprise. Furze and Bobby T are also efficient as the friends who have secrets of their own and wind up not having a good time at the cabin…if you know what I mean.

I can’t give this flick much credit for originality, as it borrows far more from Evil Dead both past and present than it comes up with on it’s own. There are a few original ideas and they do work, but instead writer/director Alexander Babaev seems content to replay a lot from Raimi’s classic and Alvarez’s remake. It’s a shame. He does show some chops with some effective scenes and some nice atmosphere. A compassionate and strong heroine played by Margaret Judson also helps keep this from being a dull retread and the cast, overall, are fine in their roles. There is some nice gore and the cabin setting works well despite being so blatantly familiar. Ultimately, it’s definitely worth a look and was entertaining, but expect extreme amounts of Evil Dead envy.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 scared sh*tless sisters.

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEB 10-12

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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. “The LEGO Batman Movie” $55.6 Million

2. “Fifty Shades Darker” $46.8 Million

3. “John Wick: Chapter Two” $30 Million

4. “Split” $9.6 Million

5. “Hidden Figures” $8 Million

6. “A Dog’s Purpose” $7.3 Million

7. “Rings” $5.8 Million

8. “La La Land” $5 Million

9. “Lion” $4 Million

10. “The Space Between Us” $1.8 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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