HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: FENDER BENDER (2016)

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FENDER BENDER (2016)

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

Co-produced by Chiller TV and Shout! Factory this is an entertaining little slasher flick that has teen driver Hilary Diaz (Makenzie Vega) getting into a fender bender with a strange guy (Bill Sage) who may have caused the accident on purpose. Grounded by her parents for the accident and taking the car without permission, this leaves the young girl home all alone when they go away. Now Hilary and two of her friends (Dre Davis and The Guest’s Kelsey Leos Montoya) are at the mercy of the deranged masked individual who is apparently making a career out of stalking his fender bender victims.

Written and directed by Mark (The Night Flier) Pavia, this is actually an effective and fun slasher that also has it’s share of brutal moments. Pavia builds some nice suspense, especially when Hilary is alone in the house early on and Sage’s “Driver” is an effective enough stalker/slasher whose viciousness is demonstrated in the opening scene. The film is modestly budgeted and works well within it’s limited framework, confining most of the action to Hilary’s home and yard…despite the poster giving expectations for a more Mad Max-esque thriller. There are some plot holes, such as Hilary’s parents unrealistically making a 17 year-old stay home alone while they’re away and the teen being a little too quick to trade texts with a complete stranger she had an accident with…don’t even get me started on her not being creeped out when he leaves a cake on her car. But, the film entertains where most important and Vega makes for a very likable and resilient heroine. While it’s body count is limited and the gore is basically just spurting blood, the kills have impact and there is some intensity to the cat and mouse chases through and around Hilary’s house. There is also a really cool and atmospheric electronic score by Nightrunner that oozes John Carpenter and overall the film does play nostalgically like an 80s slasher.

I liked this little horror flick. It isn’t perfect, but was effective when it needed to be and had a killer who had some menace. The characters are likable, especially lead Mackenzie Vega, who gives us a cute and gutsy heroine to cheer. And while there were some flaws and plot holes, there was also tension and suspense and a nice 80s vibe to boot. A fun little movie that smartly doesn’t try to be any more than it is.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 creepy masks.

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RANDOM NONSENSE: DANA DeLORENZO as KELLY MAXWELL…JUST BECAUSE!

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Been busy lately, but just wanted to post something, so why not Ash vs. Evil Dead hottie Dana DeLorenzo as sexy sidekick and deadite fighter Kelly Maxwell! The show returns for season 2 October 2nd!

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Ash vs Evil Dead

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You’re welcome!- MonsterZero NJ

photos: Starz

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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: CAROLINE WILLIAMS as STRETCH in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2!

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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, or whose sexy stars shined only briefly not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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CAROLINE WILLIAMS as STRETCH in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is Tobe Hooper and Cannon Pictures’ 1986 sequel to the 1974 horror masterpiece. It features the Sawyer family continuing their murderous, cannibalistic ways, now peddling their secret ingredient in an award winning chili. When Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and brother Chop Top (Bill Mosley) get recorded on a radio talk show carving up a couple of yuppies, leggy DJ Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock becomes the family’s next target…and the object of Leatherface’s gruesome affection.
Who better to portray a sexy Texas radio DJ than sexy Texas born actress Caroline Williams!  Williams had appeared in a few film and TV roles before being cast in this slasher sequel, but this was her first lead role and she definitely caught the attention of horror film fans everywhere. Her sassy, spunky and resilient Stretch is quite the capable final girl and despite finding herself in the Sawyer family’s clutches, she proves that you should never mess with a girl from Texas…or wear their friend’s faces. Despite a strong and memorable performance, this was the only time Williams would do final girl duty despite appearing in a few more fright flicks over her long career.

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(click on the poster for a full review)

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Long-legged, Daisy Duke wearing Stretch is a texas girl through and through!

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The sexy DJ attracts the wrong attention when she records a murder over the radio!

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Now she finds herself at the wrong end of Leatherface’s attention…and chainsaw!

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…though maybe the cannibalistic Sawyer family picked the wrong Texas cutie to pick on!

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Never piss-off a girl from Texas!

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The actress has kept busy after her altercation with Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) and his demented kin. She continues working in movies and TV and has even has done a few more horror flicks, including an appearance in the Sweet Tooth segment in last year’s ghoulishly fun Halloween anthology, Tales Of Halloween. But it is her one final girl film appearance that captured our hearts, kicking cannibal ass with a sexy smile, long legs and a pair of Daisy Dukes and that certainly earns her the title Cult Classic Cutie!

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Still a beauty 30 years after teaching the Sawyers she can handle a chainsaw just as good, or better, than the good ole boys!

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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

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 23-25

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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 Magnificent Seven” $35 Million

2. “Storks” $21.8 Million

3. “Sully” $13.8 Million

4. “Bridget Jones’s Baby” $4.5 Million

5. “Snowden” $4.1 million

6. “Blair Witch” $3.95 Million

7. “Don’t Breathe” $3.8 Million

8. “Suicide Squad” $3.1 Million

9. “When The Bough Breaks” $2.5 Million

10. “Kubo and the Two Strings” $1.1 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ABATTOIR (2016)

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ABATTOIR (2016)

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

Pretty reporter Julia (Jessica Lowndes) has recently suffered a tragedy when a random psychopath murders her sister and family in their own home. Before she even has time to get over her grief, she finds her sister’s house has been bought by a mysterious individual and the crime scene room completely removed. Julia begins to investigate along with her cop love interest, Grady (Joe Anderson) and finds that there is a history of homes bought after tragedies and in each case, the room containing the deaths has been completely removed. Her investigation leads to a small dying town called New English, a town she has personal connections to, and a enigmatic individual by the name of Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie) who is collecting places that hosted horrific events…but why?

Flick is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman from a script by Christopher Monfette based on a graphic novel. While it has some interesting ideas and the concept of someone building a house made out of crime scene rooms is quite intriguing, the details surrounding our villain’s actions are a bit cloudy…especially as to how this is going to accomplish his proposed goals. There are some questions that seem only vaguely answered, such as what did Crone promise the citizens of New English that they would so easily kill, and of their own blood to get it and why does his house made of the ghosts of the horribly slain need a ‘fresh’ tragedy to be finished? Also, what is Crone? Demon? Ghost? We are never quite sure why he walks the earth now, after apparently meeting his demise years earlier and where he gets his power from. Some weak dialog throughout also doesn’t help matters, either and it seems there are some good ideas here that could have been better developed or conveyed more effectively to the audience. Bousman does direct this stylishly and with a lot of atmosphere, especially in the second half after a bit of a stale start. He makes great use of the Louisiana locations and despite the overloaded story, the last half hour set in Crone’s house of horrors is spooky and effective, even if we aren’t all that clear on where exactly all this is leading. Crone states his purpose but nothing indicating why he believes so. Bousman gives the movie a film noir flavor and it works with the supernatural subject matter very well. There is some violence, but it is done with restraint and not as prevalent as some of Bousman’s past films. The cinematography by Michael Fimognari is loaded with atmosphere as is the score by Mark Sayfritz which helps give the film a chill factory despite it’s flaws.

Even if Bousman and Monfette are being purposely a bit ambiguous on the ultimate point of all that occurs, it also doesn’t help that the film is also dragged down a bit by some sadly sub-par performances by some of it’s leads. Jessica Lowndes is beautiful and has the look of a film noir character, but isn’t much of an actress and it hurts as she is our main character. She’s not terrible, but far too wooden and limited in range to really pull this off. Anderson growls all his dialog and is simply weak as the love interest/cop Grady. Dayton Callie is creepy and mysterious as Jebediah Crone and it helps make the enigmatic nature of the character work, even though we’d like a clearer picture as to who he is and why he has the power to do what he does. Rounding out is the always delightful Lin Shaye as Allie, one of the few citizens of New English that is receptive to Julia…but one with a secret, too.

An interesting if not totally successful flick. On one hand the dialog is weak and the story is a bit convoluted. We are never completely clear on who our antagonist really is and how what he does is going to accomplish what he desires…and where is he getting his power to do it? On the other hand, the film is atmospheric and despite being a bit ambiguous, is quite spooky in it’s last act. The house Crone assembles from the tragedies of others is quite impressive and imaginative and works even if we are not totally convinced of it’s purpose. And while our leads are weak, Callie presents a creepy mystery man in his Jebediah Crone that makes this work as well as it does. Worth a look as it has some original and spooky ideas.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 Crones.

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BARE BONES: SMILEY FACE

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SMILEY FACE (2007)

One-note stoner comedy tells the story of continually high Jane (Anna Faris). Jane’s day gets even more complicated when she accidentally eats pot-laced cupcakes and must now accomplish a series of errands and tasks even more stoned than usual.

Comedy from indie filmmaker Gregg Araki is basically a three minute Saturday Night Live type skit stretched out over 80 minutes from Dylan Haggerty’s script. Despite a cute and funny performance from Faris, as the perpetually-in-a-fog Jane and some funny bits, the film and it’s scenario wear out it’s welcome long before we reach the amusement park-set finale. Araki has a buoyant and colorful style, but there just isn’t enough laughs or story to make it worth sitting through almost 90 minutes of Jane’s weed induced hi-jinxs. Also stars Adam Brody, Jane Lynch, John Krasinski and with narration by Roscoe Lee Brown.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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FIRST TRAILER FOR SCI-FI EPIC PASSENGERS!

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Big fan of both Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, as well as Sci-fi flicks, so this 12/21/2016 release has my attention…and now it has a trailer too! Film is written by Jon Spaihts and directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game).

Source: Youtube

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 16-18

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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. “Sully” $22 Million

2. “Blair Witch” $9.65 Million

3. “Bridget Jones’s Baby” $8.2 Million

4. “Snowden” $8 million

5. “Don’t Breathe” $5.6 Million

6. “When The Bough Breaks” $5.5 Million

7. “Suicide Squad” $4.7 Million

8. “The Wild Life” $2.65 Million

9. “Kubo and the Two Strings” $2.5 Million

10. “Pete’s Dragon” $2 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ROB ZOMBIE’S 31 (2016)

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ROB ZOMBIE’S 31 (2016)

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

With The Lords Of Salem, Rob Zombie delivered his best film and one where he showed a lot of growth as a filmmaker. He also showed he was capable of writing outside his grind house influences and even some maturity in the writing of his characters. With 31 Zombie unfortunately takes quite a few steps back with this dull, vulgar flick that is simply a series of brutal vignettes where a group of uninteresting characters are beset upon by a group of equally mundane villains. Story takes place on Halloween in 1976 where five carnival workers (Kevin Jackson, Meg Foster, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Sheri Moon Zombie) are kidnaped by a group of rich weirdos (Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson and Jane Carr) who force them to play a sick game called “31”. The rules are simple…the five have twelve hours to survive against a group of hired killer clowns, Sick-Head (Pancho Moler), Psycho-Head (Lew Temple), Schizo-Head (David Ury), Sex-Head (E.G. Daily), Death-Head (Torsten Voges) and the worst of them all, Doom-Head (Richard Brake). Locked in an abandoned factory, they must kill or be killed as their aristocratic hosts watch and wager on their survival.

If it sounds interesting, it isn’t. It’s basically yet another version of The Most Dangerous Game with innocents being hunted by killers while the haves cheer the deaths of the have-nots. Zombie directs from his own script and it’s one of his more uninspired stories, that lacks even the fun, homage heavy atmosphere of his first flick, House of 1,000 CorpsesSalem showed a lot of progress in his dialog and characters and with this mundane flick we’re back to obscenity spouting, two-dimensional characters that aren’t endearing or particularly likable…and those are the good guys. We just don’t care what happens to this bunch. The only person that earns our sympathy is Daniel Roebuck’s pre-credits scene preacher. The villains are all bland and generic loonies with only Brake’s Doom-Head projecting any menace, because he is the only one who doesn’t go over-the-top turning his killer-for-hire into a cartoon character that loses their threat factor. Zombie does still have a good visual eye and gives us interesting things to look at, despite the simple setting and crowd-funded budget. The violence once again returns to that of his earlier films and once again we are bludgeoned with so much brutality that we become numb to it long before the film’s 102 minutes are over. The movie does have a few moments, such as when our protagonists decide to go on the offensive against Psycho-Head and his brother Schizo-Head, but the overall effect is that the heroes become as vicious as the killers and it becomes hard to side with them as they match brutality with brutality. After a few more bloody battles, the film just ends suddenly with a sort of “That’s it, thanks for coming”. On a production level it is well made for a low budget flick and Zombie does pepper the soundtrack with some great tunes, like he always does. It’s just a sad disappointment that the maturing filmmaker that made the intriguing Lords Of Salem turned back into a horny 13 year-old who thinks endless vulgarity and gallons of spurting blood is all you need to be entertaining. Even his first feature, House of 1,000 Corpses was more interesting and a more solid movie.

The cast also seems to have regressed. Both Phillips and Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon were really good in Salem and here they are given very little to work with and don’t seem to really be into this flick. Their characters are bland, lifeless and have nothing all that interesting to say between curse words, sexual banter and violent death. We never really get to know them enough to care. Veteran Foster gives her Venus some gusto when under attack and Brake does give Doom-Head some real menace, but the rest of the cast seem to be operating on a paycheck level, not that they have much to work with from what might be Zombie’s weakest script.

In conclusion, this film was a major disappointment from a filmmaker who has been progressing from film to film. Even his much maligned Halloween II had some brilliant imagery and had the guts to do it’s own thing with a classic character and franchise. 31 has a minimal plot, that pits a group of cardboard good guys against some generic, vulgar and violent villains for another group of sadistic aristocrats. Nothing we haven’t seen often before. All the vulgarity and violence would be fine if there was some genuine wit, intensity or suspense here, but there isn’t…it’s just a series of increasingly violent interludes. It’s a dull and brutal movie that wears out it’s welcome long before the first hour is up and shows you all it has to offer in even less time. Would much rather have seen Zombie make his canceled Broad Street Bullies hockey flick than this dull regression.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 very disappointing butcher knives.

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