HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: DANIELLE HARRIS

MZNJ_halloween_hotties

During the month long celebration of Halloween I thought we’d also take a look at some of the lovely ladies of Horror. Some of them have made hearts race and others have made blood spill. Some have run for their lives and others have taken lives. Whether it be a final girl, or a villainess, the girls of Horror will always have our hearts…sometimes literally.
So, what better way to kick off this look at the Horror Hotties then with a beautiful and talented young lady who has carved herself quite a career in horror film history and cemented her legacy as one of the all time great scream queens…

DANIELLE HARRIS

m_4863802_ZqaYIp4jGl9M

Danielle started her horror career with a bang at the age of 11 playing Jaime Lloyd, Michael Myers’ niece in 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers. She was then pursued again by her malevolent uncle the following year in Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers. After that she continued to work steadily, but it wasn’t till Harris returned to the world of Michael Myers all grown up in 2007 in the Rob Zombie Halloween re-imaging as Annie Brackett, that she really took the Horror world by storm. After starring in Zombie’s Halloween 2, Harris continued to appear in a prolific assortment of Horror flicks including Jim Mickle’s awesome Stake Land and taking over the role of final girl, Marybeth Dunston in the second and third Hatchet films. Recently Harris had graduated to director by directing her first Horror flick Among Friends and is now filming See No Evil 2 along with fellow scream queen Katharine Isabelle and directors to watch The Soska Sisters. Harris seems to genuinely love the Horror genre and making horror films and is renown for being very gracious, sweet and appreciative when meeting fans at conventions. A classy, talented and beautiful lady who can can warm our hearts and chill our blood at will.

heroine05_jamielloyd

A young Harris as Jaime Lloyd, Michael Myers niece in Halloween 4 & 5

Danielle-Harris-Halloween-Remake

…all grown up with co-stars in Rob Zombie’s Halloween

HATCHET III / Director BJ McDonnell

…as final girl Marybeth Dunston in Hatchet III

1375703_600251790013436_916135104_n

…and looking hot showing off her gorgeous tattoo in Inked Magazine!

top photo: Iheartgirls.com

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaKatharine IsabelleAmber HeardAlexandra Daddario, Katie FeatherstonKatrina Bowden and Briana Evigan! (just click on their names to go to their pages!

bars

Advertisements

HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: PHANTASM (1979)

MZNJ_halloween_favorites_02

now playing

Phantasm

bars

PHANTASM (1979)

Phantasm is a true horror classic and one of my all time favorite horror films. No matter how many times I watch it, it’s just as weird and creepy as when I first saw it back in 79. It may be considered slow moving and tame by today’s standards, but I still love it.

Phantasm tells the story of the Pearson brothers, Jody (Bill Thornbury) and younger sibling Mike (Michael Baldwin) who have recently lost their parents and now are burying their friend Tommy who is said to have committed suicide, but from the opening moments, we know different. All this time spent at the local mortuary has had an effect on the already traumatized Mike, who is starting to believe that the deaths are part of some supernatural conspiracy lead by the mysterious Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) who is the ominous undertaker at the Morningside Funeral Home. But as Mike continues to investigate the creepy mortuary to prove his beliefs to Jody and their best friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister), he finds that not only may he be right about the devious goings on, but the Tall Man may now have the brothers and their pal targeted as his next victims.

Phantasm is a creepy and surreal horror tale from writer/director Don Coscarelli who also made the cult favorites The Beastmaster and Bubba Ho-Tep. It is full of spooky atmosphere and Coscarelli and crew achieve some really nightmare worthy visuals and SPFX on a small budget. From it’s freakish horde of hooded dwarves…whose creation is a disturbing part of the Tall Man’s plan…to the murderous silver spheres that patrol Morningside’s hallways, Phantasm delivers an original and offbeat fright flick with plenty of chills and thrills. The cast for the young protagonists are basically amateurs and are fine, but it is Scrimm and his evil Tall Man that really helps make things work by crafting a malevolent and memorable villain who is now considered a classic horror icon. There is a decent amount of gore throughout the flick, but it’s rather tame compared to more modern horror…though ironically, back in the day, critics sighted it along with Alien and Dawn Of The Dead as examples of horror violence going too far…and the story nicely combines the supernatural with the extraterrestrial to make for a delightfully weird tale. The film does have a dream-like quality and doesn’t always follow a traditional straight and narrow narrative, but it is never hard to follow and it’s surreal tone adds to the overall effectiveness of the film. Phantasm’s equally goose-bump inducing electronic score by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave also adds a lot of atmosphere to an already atmospheric film and the sound effects guys came up with some pretty unsettling sound effects to accent the bizarre events occurring onscreen.

Obviously Phantasm now also comes with that late 70s, early 80s nostalgia too and that only adds to the fun and while I understand why the newer generation of horror fans may not quite get what the fuss is about, this film for me is an influential classic that has yet to ever really be duplicated even by Coscarelli’s own amusing, but inferior 3 sequels. One of my top 5 Halloween season must watches!…and I still want the black 1971 Plymouth Barracuda the Pearson Brothers cruised around in!

4 silver spheres!

phantasm rating

cuda

Maybe the coolest car in horror history since The Munster Mobile!

bars

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPTEMBER 27-29

MZNJ_New_WBO

Complete estimates are in for this weekend’s box office and the #1 flick has balls!

1. “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2” $35 Million

2. “Prisoners” $11.3 Million

3. “Rush” $10.3 Million

4. “Baggage Claims” $9.3 million

5. “Don Jon” $9 Million

6. “Insidious Chapter 2”  $6.7 Million

7. “Instructions Not Included” $3.4 Million

8. “We’re The Millers” $2.9 Million

9. “The Butler” $2.4 Million

10. “Enough Said” $2.1 Million

source: box office mojo

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE FACULTY and DISTURBING BEHAVIOR

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_TF_DB

bars

Faculty_movie_poster

THE FACULTY (1998)

The Faculty plays basically like a high school version of The Thing with elements of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and Night Of The Creeps thrown in for good measure. But since it’s from pop-culture horror writer extraordinaire Kevin Williams (Scream) and director and film geek Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), we know this is intentional and they playfully acknowledge their homage with some high school versions of some of those movies’ most famous scenes and some outright character references to those original works.

This tale of an alien invasion that starts in a small town Ohio high school has a group of five students, including mean girl Delilah (Jordana Brewster), geek Casey (Elijah Wood), rebel Zeke (Josh Hartnett), goth Stokely (Clea DuVall) and new girl Marybeth (Laura Harris) facing the alien menace which starts by assimilating the school faculty. And what a faculty we have with Robert Patrick, Bebe Neuwirth, Famke Janssen, Salma Hayek and Piper Laurie, to name a few. Of course no one believes them that aliens are among us and up to no good and as the adults are assimilated by the alien’s slimy slug-like swarm, they are soon outnumbered and being hunted with no one to turn to but each other. Now the 5 must overcome their differences and mistrust, to find the alien queen, destroy it and save the school and the planet.

Rodriguez wisely plays it straight and lets the material provide the fun. He knows not to make a joke out of what basically is a silly sci-fi story, but he never takes things too seriously that we don’t have a good time watching our teens battling alien drones that once were their teachers and friends and trying to convince themselves that this is actually happening. Sure we’ve seen it all before, from the doubting adults to the paranoia over who is an alien and who is human, but that is part of the fun. Rodriguez knows we’re familiar with this type of story and uses our familiarity to sometimes pull the wool over our eyes and play with our expectations. And when he doesn’t do that, he simply delivers what we want expect, as with the final showdown between our heroes and the big bad alien bitch herself. It’s not perfect, sometimes the familiarity of the material works against it and a few of the classic film scenes recreated are a bit too obvious, but overall it’s an entertaining movie with some really good SPFX and a cast who knows exactly when to take things seriously and when to camp it up a bit and have a good time. And the large ensemble cast, also including Jon Stewart and Usher Raymond, are all up to the task with Patrick and Janssen especially chewing up the scenery when appropriate.

The 1998 film is a bit dated at this point, but if you enjoy the Scream era horror flicks then you won’t mind it. It’s not old enough for nostalgic charm just yet, but it will be soon enough. A fun movie from an era where pop-culture references and horror went hand in hand quite often.

3 high school hunting alien queens!

faculty_rating

plus

Disturbing_behavior

DISTURBING BEHAVIOR (1998) 

This late 90s flick tells the story of high school student Steve Clark (James Marsden) and his sister Lindsay (a pre-Ginger Snaps Katherine Isabelle) who move with their parents from Chicago to the quaint remote community of Cradle Bay, Wa. A community that seems to be run by the elite high school varsity Blue Ribbons, a group of clean cut teens with valedictorian goals. But Steve bonds with outcasts Strick (Nick Stahl), Rachel (Katie Holmes) and U.V. (Chad E. Donella) who warn him that all is not right with the picture perfect Blue Ribbons. Soon he finds out his friends are not being paranoid, as the Blue Ribbons acquire some surprising new members, including Strick and these honor society students seem to easily and violently react whenever they face normal teenage emotional turmoil. Even more suspicious, is the Jim Jones-like Dr. Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood) the man behind the ‘seminars’ that recruit Blue Ribbons members. Is this some kind of cult or is Caldicott more Dr. Frankenstein then Dr. Phil?

Disturbing Behavior is an entertaining flick from X-Files episode director David Nutter and does play very much like an episode of that classic show. Which isn’t a bad thing. Nutter gets some good suspense and chills out of Scott Rosenberg’s script and gives this high school Stepford Wives some nice atmoshere. Not everything works. There are a few of the Blue Ribbon melt-down scenes that come across as silly rather then disturbing and the film’s climactic confrontation with Steve and Rachel being hunted down by the Blue Ribbons and their deranged creator at the edge of a dam ends in an equally silly denouement.

The cast perform well, for the most part, with Marsden making a fine hero, Holmes making a feisty rebel-chick and Greenwood an appropriately charismatic yet slimy villain. Sadly, the usually dependable William Sadler overacts as the school janitor Dorian and A.J. Buckley hams it up a bit too much as the short circuiting Blue Ribbon with a crush on Rachel and it stands out as the rest of the cast play it straight including bad guy Greenwood. Both these performances give their scenes an element of camp that is not present in the rest of the film, except for the unintentionally goofy climax.

Overall Disturbing Behavior is an entertaining enough thriller that is brought down a few notches by some campy performances and a few scenes that didn’t quite work, but David Nutter does provide enough suspense and chills to keep it afloat and it deserves credit for doing it’s own thing and avoiding the pop-culture heavy teen horror of this era. Flawed, but still an entertaining watch.

3 hot pre-Cruise Holmes!

Disturbing_behavior_rating

bars

HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001)

MZNJ_halloween_favorites_02

now playing

jeepers-creepers-movie-poster

bars

JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001)

Jeepers Creepers tells the ill-fated story of twin siblings Darry (Justin Long) and Trish (Gina Philips) who are headed home through rural countryside on break from college. On the way they encounter a sinister truck who toys with them and nearly runs them off the road. They later see it again, parked by an abandoned church and the cloaked driver looks like he is dumping something resembling a body into an old storm drain. The twins decide to investigate to see if someone needs help and find a cache of preserved bodies hidden underground. Their discovery triggers a pursuit by what turns out to be an unstoppable mythical creature called The Creeper (Jonathan Breck) who comes out once every 23 years to feed for 23 days to regenerate it’s body with parts from it’s victims… and one of the twins is it’s next meal.

Jeepers Creepers is a fun and spooky Saturday night horror best enjoyed with a brew or two. There are some good scares and some nice FX work and the film moves at a very brisk pace. Writer/Director Victor Silva has an understanding of the visual style a film like this needs and the film looks great and he doesn’t waste time as the story begins right away and never slows down. He builds some suspenseful sequences and gives us some very spooky moments. The Creeper is a very cool creature that is given a very threatening presence and that is always a plus in a film like this. Philips and Long have a great chemistry and work very well together and their brother and sister are very likable and are sympathetic in their plight and we care if this hellish creature catches up to them.

The film is not perfect. There are some lapses in logic… such as how did this elusive creature get a specialized license plate from the DMV?… and the psychic character, Jezelle (Patricia Belcher) brings things down a bit. Her part is badly written exposition and serves only to fill us in on information about our Creeper that we wouldn’t know otherwise. It’s understood why the character is there but, is a bit too obvious and Belcher isn’t winning any awards here either as her performance is weak and forced. Veteran actress Eileen Brennan appears in a small role as an ill-fated cat lady and she would have been far more effective in the role of the psychic, Jezelle then Belcher. There are a lot of suspenseful pursuits and a bloody police station attack that leads to a truly unsettling climax that helps keep the film’s effectiveness despite it’s flaws and leaves one fairly spooked and entertained by the time the credits finally roll. And you should watch through the credits, too.

Not a great movie, but, still a fun Halloween treat or a good part of a weekend spook-fest with friends. The Creeper returned in a sub-par sequel involving a bus full of high school kids and there have been rumors for years of Silva making a third film, supposedly titled Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral but, nothing has yet to materialize. The Creeper is a cool monster who has been sadly underused.

3 Creepers!

jeepers-creepers-rating

bars

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5 FINALLY GETS IT’S CREATIVE TEAM

MZNJ_NEW_news

paranormal Activity

bars

After receiving news a while back that we would not be getting a Paranormal Activity movie this Halloween and the fifth installment had been postponed till October 2014, things have been pretty quiet. Sources said the producers had yet to find a story they liked and after what was considered a disappointing entry even by fans in last year’s Paranormal Activity 4 (Which I personally didn’t think was as bad as it’s made out to be), it looked liked they were going to take their time developing the next in the series. Now world comes that not only does PA5 have a writing team with series newcomers Jason Pagan and Andrew Stark, but, rumors have proven true and series editor and co-producer Gregory Plotkin is taking the helm as director. Usually we don’t get this kind of news till Spring with this series so, I hope it means they plan to take their time with this entry and give this series the second wind it needs and hopefully take it in some new directions. There are no details on the story but, that is no surprise as this series keeps things under wraps as long as they can. These films split horror fans right down the middle but, I find them harmless, spooky fun and they are a good time to watch with an audience. Till then we have the Latin centric spin off movie Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones to look forward to on January 3rd 2014.
Source: Dread Central
bars

HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: PUMPKINHEAD (1988)

MZNJ_halloween_favorites_02

now playing

pumpkinhead poster

bars

PUMPKINHEAD (1988)

Keep away from Pumpkinhead,
Unless you’re tired of living,
His enemies are mostly dead,
He’s mean and unforgiving,
Laugh at him and you’re undone,
But in some dreadful fashion,
Vengeance, he considers fun,
And plans it with a passion,
Time will not erase or blot,
A plot that he has brewing,
It’s when you think that he’s forgot,
He’ll conjure your undoing,
Bolted doors and windows barred,
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won’t protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead.

– Ed Justin

The Halloween season is upon us and in celebration, Tomb Of Nostalgia and Horror You Might Have Missed will be taking a break while MonsterZero NJ presents Halloween Favorites which will obviously focus on horror films I consider essential viewing for this spooky time of year. And what better way to kick off this look at some of my favorite films for my favorite time of year then with a film that is one of my top Halloween season flicks… Pumpkinhead!

Pumpkinhead tells the grim tale of a group of partying twenty-somethings from the city who head into the Appalachian Mountains for a weekend of drinking and dirt biking in a secluded cabin and run afoul of a local legend who is quite real. While stopped at the rural general store of kind, local man Ed Harley (the legendary Lance Henriksen), drunk jerk Joel (John D’Aquino), who already has injured a girl in a drunk driving accident, takes out his dirt bike and proceeds to carelessly run over and kill Harley’s son Billy (Matthew Hurley). Enraged with grief, Harley turns to a mountain woman who is rumored to be a witch named Haggis (Florence Schauffer) to evoke the demon Pumpkinhead that Harley saw once as a boy. The demon is said to grant vengeance to those who call upon it. But as both Harley and the young vacationers find out, evoking Pumpkinhead comes with a powerful price, as not only will it stop at nothing till all it’s prey, including good natured Chris (Jeff East) and his girlfriend Tracy (Cynthia Bain), are dead, but may take Harley back to Hell with it when it’s done. Can a now regretful Harley stop what he started and save the remaining youths or will the demon of vengeance have all their souls before it returns to the pumpkin patch from whence it was called?

Pumpkinhead is a very spooky horror dripping with Halloween atmosphere thanks to the great visuals from first time director and make-up SPFX legend Stan Winston. With a truly great looking creature and production design that oozes All Hallow’s Eve, this is a welcome edition to any Halloween season movie viewing. Aside from his awesome monster, Winston not only gives us some great settings…such as Haggis’ cabin, the pumpkin patch from which Pumpkinhead originates and an abandoned church where our remaining characters flee to…but he also creates some nice suspense, tension and chills. The biggest factor in the film’s effectiveness, though, is imbuing the title creature with a great sense of character and menace. Pumpkinhead is a vicious and unforgiving demon who shows no mercy and even seems to enjoy taunting and then killing his victims. When Ed Harley, who is cursed to feel it’s victims’ pain, changes his mind about calling it, the creature still will not stop till all are dead. Winston, who also co-wrote, also creates likable characters for us to fear for. They are all pretty good people with Joel being the exception and even he shows us he has a soul when he realizes that his friends are being slaughtered because of his selfish actions. A key to a good horror is empathy with it’s characters and here we feel for them as the backwoods demon relentlessly pursues them for a nasty death.

Winston gets good performances out of his cast with Henriksen creating one of his best roles in Ed Harley and the young cast members, like East and Bain, creating likable victims to root for. D’Aquino does a great job of making Joel an unlikable jerk and yet being very convincing in his moment of redemption when it comes. Film vet Buck Flower has a strong presence as mountain man Mr. Wallace and Schauffer is downright chilling as the witch, Haggis.

Overall, Pumpkinhead is part slasher, part backwoods horror and part monster movie with some great special FX to present it’s title creature and the carnage it creates and surrounded in some very spooky visuals that evoke the spirit of Halloween in almost every shot. It is an underrated horror that got a sadly ineffective limited release back in October of 1988 and then dumped onto VHS and then DVD. It should have gotten better and thankfully, it has developed the cult following it deserves and Pumpkinhead himself is now regarded along with Giger’s Alien as one of modern horrors most iconic creatures.

Sadly, the film was followed by three awful sequels and if any character deserves a reboot and another chance, it’s dear ole Pumpkinhead! Also stars Brian Bremer as Bunt Wallce, a local boy trying to help the city folk escape the monster’s wrath and Big Bang Theory’s own Mayim Bialik as one of the Wallace kids.

3 and 1/2 Pumpkinheads!

pumpkinhead rating

bars