25 CULT CLASSIC HORROR FLICKS TO SPICE UP YOUR HALLOWEEN MOVIE LIST!

MZNJ_new_views

Need some spooky diversions for your Halloween movie watching this year? Something a little off-beat? These are 25 cult classic horrors that add some ghoulishly refreshing spice to your movie playlist for the upcoming Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. THE BOOGENS
  2. THE PROWLER
  3. BLACULA
  4. THE EVIL
  5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
  6. PROM NIGHT
  7. CHRISTNE
  8. SUPERSTITION
  9. THE CAR
  10. FIEND WITHOUT A FACE
  11. RE-ANIMATOR
  12. GALAXY OF TERROR
  13. PRINCE OF DARKNESS
  14. GARGOYLES
  15. DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
  16. THE BURNING
  17. HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP
  18. THE MONSTER SQUAD
  19. NIGHT OF THE CREEPS
  20. JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES
  21. MY BLOODY VALENTINE
  22. BUG
  23. DEADLY BLESSING
  24. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
  25. EATEN ALIVE

bars

Advertisements

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: FRIGHT NIGHT PART II (1988)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

FrightNight part21988

bars

FRIGHT NIGHT PART II (1988)

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

Fright Night Part II might be one of the most under-appreciated sequels…at least by it’s distributors as it does have a cult following…of all-time, as the film got an under-the-radar limited release back in the day, despite the success of the original and even worse treatment with sub-par full-screen VHS and DVD releases. I recently able to view a LTBX copy and finally was able to watch the film as originally intended. I’d seen it before, but not in it’s original aspect ratio. The filmmaker’s original vision.

The sequel takes place 3 years after the original Fright Night. Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) is now in college and finishing up years of therapy that has him believing Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) was only a serial killer and the delusion of him being a vampire was all created in Charlie’s head to cope with the horrible events. Charlie also has a hot new girlfriend, Alex (80s flick cutie Tracy Lind) and hasn’t talked to Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) in years. As for the Great Vampire Killer, all the attention has gotten Vincent his Fright Night TV show hosting job back and all seems well when the two finally get together to bring closure to their horrible experience…until Charlie sees large boxes being moved into the abandoned building next to Vincent’s apartment and gets a chilling feeling of familiarity. And his deja-vu is certainly warranted as Jerry Dandrige’s vampire sister Regine (a smoldering Julie Carmen) has come to exact revenge with her ghoulish entourage, the androgynous Belle (Russell Clark, who also choreographed Carmen’s performance art sequences), lupine shapeshifter Louie (Jon Gries, who also played the werewolf with nards in Monster Squad) and hulking, insect eating chauffeur Bozworth (genre favorite Brian Thompson). Regine’s plans are simple…turn Charlie into one of the undead, murder those he loves and take over as host of Fright Night for good measure…then torture Charlie for all eternity.

I have no idea why this sequel has been treated so badly over the years. It’s not quite as good as the first flick, but is actually a pretty solid follow-up and a good deal of fun. The film is directed by John Carpenter alumni Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III, Stephen King’s It) who co-wrote the script with Tim Metcalfe and Miguel Tejeda-Flores. Wallace delivers a good looking film, having learned a lot about shot framing from Carpenter, and while it’s not quite the fun-house that the original chiller is, it mixes horror with humor well and has a number of fun/spooky scenes with plenty of action. The plot also works in giving us a second installment that isn’t forced and provides us with enough elements from Fright Night to feel like a continuation, but also does it’s own thing as Regine is a known personality, recognized as a performance artist and she moves around out in the open, as when she takes over hosting duties on the Fright Night TV show. If the film falters a bit, it’s that it’s momentum slows down somewhat in the middle act as Regine continues to seduce Charlie and Vincent is institutionalized for attacking Regine on the show’s set. The film does pick up for it’s final confrontation, though it is not as bombastic and fun as the first film’s. Overall, the movie seems to have a slightly lower budget and thus the action is a bit scaled down, but I think Wallace makes up for it with some very clever bits and by having some ghoulish fun with his premise and characters such as Regine’s thugs having a gruesome bowling night while she is off premiering on TV. The make-up FX can be a bit rubbery at times, but that adds some charm now and Brad Fiedel returns to score, so it feels like a Fright Night  film. Not sure why all the disrespect from it’s labels.

The cast are having a good time, too. Ragsdale and McDowall pick up right where they left off in the original, but with Charlie being a slightly more mature character three years later and Vincent seems to have developed a bit more of a backbone since he last battled bloodsuckers. The two actors seem to really enjoy working together and their on-screen chemistry is infectious. Lind makes a welcome addition to the team as adorable and smart Alex. In a turn of events, it is she who comes to Charlie’s rescue and proves herself a resourceful and spunky heroine in true 80s fashion. I liked her better than Amanda Bearse’s whiny Amy. Julie Carmen is smoldering-ly sexy and conveys a definite lethal quality as Regine. It is completely believable she can seduce Charlie…and those scenes are hot…despite his dealings with her kind and it is a little disappointing the actress wasn’t given an opportunity to put up a bigger fight in the scaled-down climax. As her eccentric undead thugs, Clarke (whose character is mute), Gries and Thompson all seem to be having a good time, especially the nice touch of Thompson’s Bozworth reciting the Latin genus of his insect meals before consumption. Creepy fun! A good cast who all get the tone of the material and their individual characters.

So, in conclusion, I like this sequel a lot and will never understand the terrible treatment it continues to get. It is not as good as the first film, but is a worthy enough second go around and the cast is charming as always, as is the 80s nostalgia it now carries with it. It succeeds far more than it fails and despite a slow mid-section and a slightly less exciting ending, it is a solid sequel and left me wanting to see a third installment back when I first saw it and McDowall was still with us. This film is crying out for a Scream Factory special edition, but apparently the label who owns it (I believe it’s Lionsgate) won’t budge in allowing it (so I am told), or do anything with it on it’s own. With it’s cult following, I don’t see how a release wouldn’t do well. The film also stars Merritt Butrick (Kirk’s son in Wrath Of Khan and Search For Spock) in one of his last film appearances before his AIDS related death in 1989.

3 fangs.

blacula_2_rating

bars

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 26-28

MZNJ_New_WBO

Complete estimates are in for the  weekend and Denzel takes over the top spot!

1. “The Equalizer” $35 Million

2. “The Maze Runner” $17.5 Million

3. “The Boxtrolls” $17.25

4. “This Is Where I Leave You” $7

5. “Dolphin Tale 2” $4.8 Million

6. “No Good Deed” $4.6 Million

7. “A Walk Among The Tombstones” $4.2

8. “Guardians Of The Galaxy” $3.8 Million

9. “Let’s Be Cops” $1.5 Million

10. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” $1.45 Million

source: box office mojo

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: SWAMP THING and THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_ST_ROST

bars

This week’s double feature puts together two films based on DC Comics Swamp Thing character that were made during the 80s. One directed by horror legend Wes Craven and the other by prolific B-Movie director Jim Wynorski. So, head into the bayou for some comic book-style fun and action!…

Swampthing

SWAMP THING (1982)

As a big fan of Wes Craven it is rare to hear me say the legendary director may not have been right for a project but, this might be one of the few cases. I saw this flick with friends at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. and wasn’t all that impressed with his take on one of the more bizarre comic book heroes. It’s not a bad film but, it seemed to take itself a bit too seriously and didn’t have the fun it needed to really win me over.

The movie written and directed by Craven tells the comic-based story of government agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) who is sent into the Louisiana swamps to work with brilliant scientist Alec Holland (Ray Wise). Holland is doing genetic research to find a way to combine plant and animal DNA to make hardier plants to grow food in harsher environments (Monsanto anyone?). His resulting formula is a volatile one but, appears to allow plants to grow wherever it touches. When his lab is attacked by the evil Dr. Arcane (Louis Jordan) and his mercenary thugs, Holland is covered in his serum by accident and sent running into the swamp ablaze. Cable is the only one who escapes alive and is now being pursued by Arcane and his men for the notebook she has recovered. But, unknown to her and Arcane, Holland has undergone a transformation, merging him with the fauna of the swamp, and now he seeks to rescue Cable and exact revenge against Arcane as the powerful but, noble Swamp Thing (stuntman Dick Durock)!

There are two big issues with this flick that stand in it’s way of being a far more entertaining movie. First off is that Craven had yet to really hit his stride with A Nightmare On Elm Street and directs this with the heavy hand of one of his early horror flicks. True, the comic has a serious atmosphere but, his script and tone take things far too seriously and the film is humorless and has the very moderate pace of this era’s horror movies. Adding comic book-style wipes between scenes doesn’t a comic book-style film make and this is simply too morose to really be fun and the action scenes too by-the-numbers. The other problem is that the make-up/creature FX are terrible. I understand that the Swamp Thing costume was originally made for stuntman Bob Minor who, for some reason, couldn’t do the film and there was no time or money to build a new suit so, it was ‘altered’ to fit Durock*. But, even so the costume is flat and rubbery and just looks awful. The creature costume for the transformed Arcane for the climactic fight is equally bad and when your main character is a man in a rubber suit, that suit needs to look good as he is on screen quite a lot. It kills the illusion that the costume is so bad looking. Also not helping is Harry Manfredini’s Friday The 13th-ish score witch adds to the horror film atmosphere instead of lightening things up a bit and adding a little energy to the proceedings. I get that this comic character certainly has horror film elements but, the film just takes itself far too seriously to be really fun. It looks good and has a good enough cast but, is too slow paced and just does’t have enough fun for even a horror-themed superhero like Swamp Thing.

As for that cast, Ray Wise is fine as Holland though he has little screen time to really solidify the character. Durock actually does a nice job emoting with his eyes behind all the rubber and does make a noble hero as the transformed Swamp Thing. Barbeau does her tough chick thing from Escape From New York again here but, it works OK and this was the legendary actress in her prime so, she does provide some eye-candy along with her hard-nosed heroine… who also has her damsel moments, too. Louis Jordan seems to be the only one who realizes this flick needs a little over-the-top and chews up the scenery just right as the evil genius Anton Arcane. He makes a good villain surrounded by bland characters. Rounding out is Last House On The Left villain David Hess and Don’t Answer The Phone psycho Nicholas Worth as Arcane’s lead henchmen and they are adequate though unremarkable. Some livelier performances or more larger than life characters would have really perked this film up.

In conclusion, Swamp Thing is an OK flick but, one that would have been a lot better with a bit lighter touch and a far less down-to-earth approach. The flick needed a bit more over-the-top and some of the fun and energy that Wes Craven gave Scream many years later. It’s watchable but, takes itself far too seriously to really entertain and perhaps Craven was still too early in his career to stray from his dire horror film style and tone to really give this comic book-based flick the color and life of the swamps it was set in.

* I read this account of the Bob Minor/Dick Durock costume issue in either Fangoria or Starlog back in the 80s when the film was released.-MZNJ

2 and 1/2 Swamp Things

swamp thing rating

plus

swampthing_return_of

THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING (1989)

Seven years after Craven’s film, the guardian of the swamps returned in a film that was a lot more fun and over-the-top… maybe a bit too much so, in comparison with the more serious tone of the comic, but, it is silly good fun and B-Movie auteur Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall) cranked up the camp and gave us a flick that is giddily comic book with a touch of James Bond… and we got a far more convincing suit for returning Dick Durock to wear.

Sequel has the villainous Dr. Arcane (Louis Jordan) back in action and trying to hunt down Holland/Swamp Thing in order to use his genetics to help Arcane and his beautiful assistant Lana (Sarah Douglas) defeat the aging process. At the same time Arcane’s ditzy valley girl step-daughter Abigail (Heather Locklear) comes to visit to ask questions about her mother’s death and one of Arcane’s mutant experiments has escaped and is chowing-down on anyone who gets too close to the swamp. But, Abby’s DNA could also be a help to Arcane’s work and the young girl has captured Swamp Thing’s heart, guaranteeing a showdown between these two mortal enemies once more!

While, overall, Wynorski and writers Neil Cuthbert and Grant Morris may have taken this goofy, fun flick a little too far in the opposite direction of Craven’s dour version but, it is a unapologetic good time with it’s bombastic creature battles and explosion filled action scenes. Gone are the bland henchman and stiff scientists, now Arcane is surrounding by a bevy of armed beauties, including exploitation film fixture/Penthouse model Monique Gabrielle and campy mad scientists like Ace Mask’s Dr. Rochelle. The tone of the film is a mix of the 60s Batman TV show and a Roger Moore James Bond movie, complete with underground lair and  dozens of uniformed soldiers more than anxious to use their machine guns. Wynorski gives it a fast pace and a candy-colored production design aided by Zoran Hochstatter’s cinematography and the film’s cartoonish atmosphere is enhanced by Chuck Cirino’s lively electronic score. The film may be silly but, far more resembles the panels of a comic book than Craven’s far too grounded flick. The creature FX are far better than the first flick and Durock really looks like the embodiment of the comic character with the much improved suit. He has a couple of amusing monsters to battle, though, he could have used a far more lethal opponent at the climax than the transformed but, still asthmatic, Dr. Rochelle. Wynorski is a B-Movie director through and through and he films this flick with enough explosions, carnage and cleavage as the PG rating would hold and brings it in at a tight 88 minutes. The movie never overstays it’s welcome.

Acting-wise, the movie has little to brag about. Louis Jordan is once again a fun villain who understands just how serious to play it and how much scenery to chew on. Durock again emotes very well under the rubber and, while I’m not sure if it was his voice used, overall creates a very noble and likable plant man/hero. Douglas is sexy and sinister as Arcane’s assistant Dr. Lana Zurrell and these three help keep things somewhat respectable in the performance dept. Not fairing so well are Loclkear who just mugs for the camera though, is a good sport considering her dialogue and having to romp in the swamp with a 7 foot plant man. The rest of the acting is shamelessly over-the-top such as Ace Mask’s Dr. Rochelle, Joey Sagal as security head Gunn and the lovely buxom Ms. Gabrielle… who was hired  because she is lovely and buxom and not to perform Hamlet. Thanks to the giddy over-the-top tone, some of the bad acting fits right in.

I like this flick. It’s certainly an 80s guilty pleasure action flick and a fun movie if you cut it some slack and go with it’s outrageously cartoonish style. Sure some of the acting is pretty bad but, as it does resemble the 60s Batman series but, with more of an 80s slant, it fits right in with the unabashedly goofy tone. It’s a lot of fun and best enjoyed with a few of your favorite brews.

This movie was followed in 1990 by a TV series that lasted for 3 seasons and not only saw Durock return to the role once more but, found a happy medium for it’s tone which was more serious then Wynorski’s flick but, not quite as droll as Craven’s movie. It also stared Kari Wurher as Abigail and Mark Lindsay Chapman taking over as Arcane.

3 Swamp Things!

swamp thing return rating

bars

BLACK WIDOW in ACTION from AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON!

 

MZNJ_NEW_news

A large size shot of the vivacious Black Widow in action from Avengers: Age Of Ultron! Pic has been out a while but, I am too tired to post anything more elaborate but, didn’t want to leave you all with nothing…

black-widow-the-avengers-age-of-ultron

avengers-age-of-ultron-logo

source: comingsoon.net

bars

25 LESSER-KNOWN or OVERLOOKED HORROR FLICKS TO ADD TO YOUR HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST!

MZNJ_new_views

Need a little variety for your Halloween viewing this year? These are 25 lesser-known, overlooked or more obscure horrors from recent years that certainly are worthy of a spot on your movie playlist for the upcoming Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. BEREAVEMENT
  2. THE LOVED ONES
  3. STAKE LAND
  4. THE DEAD
  5. THE INNKEEPERS
  6. AMERICAN MARY
  7. THE LORDS OF SALEM
  8. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  9. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013)
  10.  ABSENTIA
  11. MALEVOLENCE
  12. GINGER SNAPS
  13. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
  14. THE LAST EXORCISM
  15. THE HILLS RUN RED
  16. THE PACT
  17. LOVELY MOLLY
  18. WAKE WOOD
  19. THE AWAKENING
  20. ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
  21. THE SHRINE
  22. BABYSITTER WANTED
  23. LAKE MUNGO
  24. HAUTE TENSION
  25. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES

Also check out my MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 MUST WATCH HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

boogeyman-movie-poster-1980-1020193459

bars

THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)

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

The Boogeyman is another film I saw in a theater back in the day when low budget stuff like this could be seen on the big screen. It’s a cheesy, somewhat amateurish, slasher/supernatural horror that has earned a reputation as a cult classic.

The movie opens with two small children Lacey (Natasha Schiano) and Willy (Jay Wright) watching their philandering mother (Gillian Gordon) getting it on with one of her various lovers. They get caught and her partner (Howard Grant) takes it out on the older Willy, cruelly tying him to his bed. Lacey waits till her mother and the jerk she’s with move their activities to the bedroom and cuts Willy free with a large kitchen knife. Willy then takes the knife and goes to his mom’s bedroom where the little boy carves up the man, while Lacey watches it reflected in a mirror on the wall. We then cut to 20 years later where Lacey (Suzanna Love) is grown up with a family of her own and still taking care of Willy (Nicholas Love), who hasn’t spoken since the incident. Lacey has her own mental scars and her husband Jake (Ron James), in an effort to free her of what haunts her, takes her back to her mom’s old house. Seeing the mirror again triggers a vision of the murdered man and she breaks it in a fear filled rage. Her husband takes the broken mirror back to their home…this guy’s a real therapist, isn’t he…where they soon discover the angry spirit of the murdered lover resides within the mirror and breaking it has set him free to kill anyone caught in the mirror’s glare!

Written and directed by Ulli Lommel this film has a few effective moments here and there, but is a slightly amateurish film with some very cheesy sequences…though that can be fun. The film combines a slasher flick, with victims being slain by the murderous spirit one by one in graphic ways, with a supernatural horror, as our killer is a ghost and eventually a priest is called in to try to stop him. The heavy Halloween influence is obvious with certain camera shots and the electronic score by Tim Krog, which evokes Carpenter’s scoring work, and the title itself referencing the legendary character as did the classic Carpenter thriller. The film does do it’s own thing, but Lommel really doesn’t generate much suspense and some of the kills are borderline silly and poorly executed. The most effective sequences are the opening flashback…the scene with young Willy being bound to his bed by their mother’s guest, who is wearing a stocking over his head, is very uncomfortable…and a surreal dream sequence where Lacey finds herself bound and gagged to a bed like Willy was, but with someone (Willy?) about to savage her with a kitchen knife. The overblown final confrontation with the malevolent spirit is also kinda fun, if not a little silly. The plot as a whole is a bit convoluted. The idea that Lacey’s husband would bring her to her old house so abruptly and then take the broken mirror home and put it up, is quite a stretch. The fact that shards wind up all over the place and that anyone caught in a shard’s glare is murdered, is a plot device that only serves to up the body count and it makes no sense that the dead man would kill random victims instead of focusing his rage on the family…was he a serial killer to begin with?… We never find out, not even his name. And since most of our victims are random, they evoke little emotional reaction from the audience as they are no one you really care about or particularly like. There are some funny scenes along the way, including some of the murders and I, even upon my recent revisit, have trouble deciding if they are intentional or not. But they are cheesy fun.

The cast are all fairly wooden. The pretty Suzanna Love (who was also Mrs. Lommel at the time) has a few moments here and there, but is otherwise a bit bland. Her best scenes are when acting with the boy playing her son (Raymond Boyden), so maybe the mommy thing suits her. She does have a girl-next-door beauty that definitely qualifies her as a MILF and that certainly gives her appeal. Nicholas Love (Suzanna’s real-life brother) basically does little but stand around looking distressed as Willy and Ron James is pretty wooden as Lacey’s husband Jake. The only person who performs with a little life is legendary actor John Carradine, in a small role, as Lacey’s psychiatrist Dr. Warren.

Overall, the nostalgia factors of both being a very early 80s style movie and having seen it with friends at the now long-gone Fox Theater in Hackensack, are far more effective than much of the movie itself. It has a few moments and the cheese factor can be entertaining, but as a serious attempt at horror it’s a bit goofy and has a slightly amateurish feel…though it does have it’s chills and Lommel creates some atmosphere in the flashback opening, dream sequences and the final confrontation climax. The cast are all fairly bland and the fact that we know little or nothing about the ghostly killer doesn’t help strengthen his character either. I still recommend this to anyone who is a fan of, or is discovering films of this era. It is fun, but just don’t quite expect the classic it is sometimes referred to as. The film was fairly successful and spawned two semi-sequels.

2 and 1/2 mirror shards.

boogey man rating

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 MUST WATCH HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON

MZNJ_new_views

While I watch dozens of horror films during the month of October… these are 25 favorite horror flicks that I feel are absolute musts to watch during the Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HALLOWEEN
  2. TRICK ‘r’ TREAT
  3. PHANTASM
  4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
  5. THE FOG
  6. ANY (OR ALL) OF THE UNIVERSAL CLASSIC B/W HORRORS!
  7. PUMPKINHEAD
  8. EVIL DEAD
  9. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
  10. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  11. ZOMBIE
  12. THE THING
  13. THE HOWLING
  14. THE FLY
  15. HORROR HOTEL
  16. DAWN OF THE DEAD
  17. DAY OF THE DEAD
  18. FRIDAY THE 13th
  19. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
  20. HALLOWEEN II
  21. HALLOWEEN III
  22. THE VIY
  23. WRONG TURN
  24. THE OLD DARK HOUSE
  25. THE DESCENT

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

q poster

bars

Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982)

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

Q: The Winged Serpent is a fun and very self-aware… long before term even existed… movie about a winged Aztec god named Quetzalcoatl who nests in the Chrysler Building and begins to snack on NYC residents. The film follows both a series of ritual killings, where victims are skinned alive and a series of disappearances and murders that are rumored to be caused by some large bird stalking the NYC skyline. Detective Shepard (David Carradine) seems convinced they are related and his investigation proves true as it appears the skinnings where part of an Aztec ritual to summon Quetzalcoatl from it’s centuries long slumber. Enter petty crook and getaway driver Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) who stumbles upon the creature’s nest when hiding from police after a botched robbery. But, Jimmy sees not an opportunity to become a hero but, an opportunity to become rich, famous and be pardoned for all his criminal activity. So, the third rate crook holds the city hostage as the winged serpent continues to feed on it’s citizens and Shepard continues to try to convince his superiors that there is a centuries old Aztec god slaughtering the people of New York City.

What makes Q fun is that writer/director Larry (It’s Alive, The Stuff) Cohen knows this is a silly movie with a silly concept but, takes it and runs with it. He has his cast play it straight and yet with a wink and it works far better than it should. The film has a very Roger Corman feel as characters spout some very silly dialog but, with complete earnest and we smile with delight as FX masters Randall Cook and David Allen bring our monster to life with some charming old- fashioned stop motion animation. Cohen fills his movie with some very gory moments earning it an R-Rating and throws in some breasts to go along with the blood. Cohen got his start working for Corman’s New World Pictures and making blaxploitation flicks for AIP and his exploitation roots are on perfect display here. He knows just how serious to take his monster movie but, also knows enough to let audiences in on the fun. The film isn’t perfect. The pace is a bit slow but, this is the early 80s, there is some very cheesy dialog… though that is probably on purpose if you are familiar with Cohen’s films… and the monster effects look cheesy at this point but, the clay critter adds to the charm in my book. There are a lot of witty touches to look out for as Cohen builds up to his fun King Kong -esque finale with momma Q… where there is a nest, there are eggs… battling it out with a heavily armed squad of NYC cops in and around the spire of one of NYC’s oldest landmarks. Sure the film is very dated but, the 80s nostalgia and wonderful shots of 80s era New York City only add to the enjoyment of this flick and I think I actually did enjoy it far more now then when I first saw it years ago.

The cast are obviously having a good time, especially Moriarty as he chews up the scenery with a furious passion as low level crook Jimmy. He really gives Jimmy that thick New York street punk swagger and accent and it adds a lot of flavor when contrasted with Carradine’s aloof, tough-guy cop. Carradine recites his dialog about Aztec sacrifice and giant monster birds with a seriousness and a smirk as if to let us know that this is ridiculous but, he’s going to go with it. And it helps the audience to relax and go with it too. We also get movie legend Richard (Shaft) Roundtree as another hard-nosed cop on the case and 70s-80s movie regular Candy (American Graffiti) Clark as Jimmy’s fed-up girlfriend. The cast all take things serious enough and never make a joke out of it but, also seem to be having fun chasing a monster around New York City. A good example of a director and cast on the same page as to how to treat the material.

While I will admit, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this when I first saw it. I think I expected something a bit more serious and was a bit taken back by the more Roger Corman-ish approach but, I have really come to appreciate it over the years especially with all the great nostalgia involved and you know how much I love Roger Corman flicks. It’s a delightfully cheesy and fun monster movie that takes a very ridiculous premise and runs with it. There is some wonderful nostalgia and there is a lot of charming fun watching the old-style animated monster wreak havoc on the the rooftops of New York. A fun monster flick that is both charmingly old-fashioned and delightfully Corman-esque.

3 Q’s.

q rating

bars

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 19-21

MZNJ_New_WBO

Complete estimates are in for the  weekend and more new titles take over the top spot!

1. “The Maze Runner” $32.5 Million

2 “A Walk Among The Tombstones” $13.1

3. “This Is Where I Leave You” $11.9

4. “No Good Deed” $10.2 Million

5. “Dolphin Tale 2” $9 Million

6. “Guardians Of The Galaxy” $5.2 Million

7. “Let’s Be Cops” $2.67 Million

8. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” $2.65 Million

9. “The Drop” $2 Million

10. “If I Stay” $1.8 Million

source: box office mojo

bars