HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ALL HALLOWS’ EVE (2013)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

all-hallows-eve

bars

ALL HALLOWS’ EVE (2013)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This is one of those low budget, direct to home media horror entries that deserves a bit more attention than it got, as it makes a really nice effort and overcomes the restrictions of it’s budget to deliver some chills and Halloween set fun.

Anthology flick has a clever wrap-around story of babysitter, Sarah (hot girl-next-door type Katie Maguire) watching two kids, Timmy and Tia (Cole Mathewson and Sydney Freihofer) on Halloween night. Timmy finds a VHS tape that someone has put in his trick ‘r’ treat bag and wants to watch it. Sarah reluctantly puts it on and it is revealed to be a horror flick starring a very disturbing clown (Mike Giannelli) as it’s centerpiece. After the first gruesome segment, Sarah sends the kids to bed, but decides to watch the rest by herself. As the young woman continues the movie, she is treated to two more vignettes of terror and strange things start to happen around her. Is there more to this tape and this mysterious clown than a simple low budget fright flick? Is this movie more trick than treat?

Written and directed by Damien Leone, this little flick overcomes budget restrictions and clichés to deliver some legitimate chills and a couple of gruesome sequences, all the while maintaining that Halloween spirit. One of the keys is establishing three likable characters in Sarah and the kids, so when they are scared, we are sympathetic. The heroines within the tape’s stories are likable and sympathetic as well. Leone also gives us one creepy clown as our host/villain and a strong bad guy is another plus in any horror. The three vignettes are a bit of a mixed bag, The first has pretty Casey (Kayla Lian) waiting alone for a train on Halloween night and being abducted by “Art The Clown” and taken to be held prisoner with two other girls in a tunnel beneath the city streets. Obviously, something awaits in that tunnel and they have gruesome plans for our young ladies. This segment is OK, but didn’t do that much for me. It doesn’t really go anywhere and despite a creepy start, doesn’t deliver too many chills until the final few minutes. The second segment has a woman (Catherine A. Callahan) alone in her big, new, remote home while her husband’s away and dealing with some very otherworldly intruders. Despite the villains of the piece looking like someone in costume for Comic-Con, Leone still generates some nice atmosphere and suspense aided by a good performance by Callahan as the trapped and isolated wife. Third segment is the best, as it brings Art back and the sinister clown stalks a pretty young costume designer (Marie Maser) lost on the backroads and looking to get home. This segment is really creepy and delivers some gruesome gore as well. We then wrap-up the film as life imitates art…or “Art”…and Sarah faces a babysitter’s worst Halloween nightmare right out of the movie. Overall, a good effort and definitely shows potential for Leone. There is also an atmospheric score by Noir Deco and each segment is given it’s own look and feel by having a different cinematographer film each one.

The cast help Leone along and he gets good work out of most. I liked that he chose a bit older actress to play Sarah instead of a screaming teen. Actually makes it more effective that a level-headed adult is starting to really get creeped out. Maguire is not only hot, but makes a good choice as one of mom’s pretty friends coerced into babysitting on a night you least want to babysit. Mathewson and Freihofer are solid as the siblings and avoid the annoying child syndrome. Lian, Callahan and Maser all do well in giving us our damsels in distress during their respective vignettes and Mike Giannelli creates a very disturbing and creepy clown in “Art” and does so without dialogue. Using just his eyes and facial expressions, Giannelli gives us a very effective villain and it helps make this little flick work so well.

I liked this little movie and am willing to cut it some slack for it’s shortcomings. Possibly more for the effort than the actual movie itself, but Leone does seem to love horror and knows a bit of what makes them work. Two of the three vignettes are very effective and the second even overcomes some low budget looking creatures to remain spooky, while the third really nails it. The wrap-around story does bring it all together, as intended and even if we’ve seen a lot of this before, the Halloween clichés are used well and are there for a reason. A well-intentioned little Halloween horror that shows some potential for it’s makers and gives us something else to watch during that special time of year. Great movie…no, fun little flick with it’s heart in the right gruesome place…yes!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clowns.

all hallows eve rating

bars
Advertisements

A SAD FAREWELL AND R.I.P. TO THE LEGENDARY LEONARD NIMOY!

 

MZNJ_NEW_news

 

color_nimoy_headshot

LEONARD NIMOY 1931-2015

I have been watching this man portray one of TV and Sci-Fi’s most iconic characters since I was a little kid in the late 60s. So, it is with a heavy heart that I bid a sad farewell and R.I.P. to the legendary Leonard Nimoy! Nimoy passed away at his home at age 83 due to the effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He will be missed and has left a legacy that shall live forever as will his Mr. Spock!

ogAcRjB

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

BARE BONES: THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 and BLOOD GLACIER

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

abcs_of_death_two

THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 (2014)

My opinion on the first ABCs Of Death was simple and to the point… “Intriguing premise has 26 filmmakers from around the globe each given a letter of the alphabet. They then must choose a word and make a film focusing on a death from that word. Too bad that out of 26 short films, only about 5 are actually worth watching.”…I am happy to say the sequel continues the intriguing premise, but also delivers far more quality vignettes to spook or gross out the intended horror audience. Sure there are a few clunkers and head-scratchers, but there are also far more effective and worth watching entries than the first installment. Directors include indie fixture Larry Fessenden (Beneath) and The Soska Sisters (American Mary, See No Evil 2).

An improvement and definitely worth a look with a variety of styles and stories…and some of the stories are quite gruesome!

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

blood glacier

BLOOD GLACIER (2013)

Austrian horror is a refreshing return to an old fashioned monster movie with charming prosthetics to represent it’s creatures instead of CGI. The film centers on a small weather observation station in the Swiss Alps that happens upon a bizarre single celled organism that turns the snow of the melting glacier it resides in, blood red. It also has a nasty habit of absorbing the genetic material of whatever ingests it and before you can say John Carpenter’s The Thing…there are a host of insect/animal hybrids running around. Now our crew and some visiting dignitaries must fend for their very lives against a variety of vicious genetic mutants.

Directed by Marvin Kren and written by Benjamin Hessler, this is nothing we haven’t seen before, but it is done well and is a fun and entertaining monster flick. The creatures are creatively designed and fairly well rendered and there is plenty of bloodletting to go along with their carnage. No classic, but an entertaining creature feature.

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1
bars

OFFICIAL POSTER FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON GETS A RELEASE!

 

MZNJ_NEW_news

 

PZYwQRv

The official poster for Avengers: Age Of Ultron has been released! I can’t wait for the flick which arrives in the U.S. on 5/1/2015!

source: CBM

bars

RETRO HORROR “THE BARN” LOOKS TO HAVE A FUN 80s VIBE!

 

MZNJ_NEW_news

 

the-barn-poster

I am a huge fan of 80s horror, it’s the era I came of age and the horrors I love most so, I am really intrigued by this retro 80s horror, especially from it’s nostalgic trailer and poster! Directed and written by Justin Seaman, this cool looking throwback flick looks like it may be appearing appropriately in October of 2015!

Official plot synopsis from The Barn Facebook page… Its Halloween 1989, best friends Sam and Josh are trying to enjoy what’s left of their final Devil’s Night before graduating high school. But trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within “The Barn”.

Sounds fun!

source: Facebook/Youtube

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HOUSEBOUND (2014)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

HouseBound_Poster_11_Alt2

bars

HOUSEBOUND (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Housebound is a New Zealand horror/comedy/mystery that has gotten a lot of high praise at festivals, even a passionate rave from Peter Jackson himself. Personally I think it’s become tradition to over-hype things seen at film festivals and while Housebound is enjoyable, especially in it’s last act, I really wasn’t knocked-out by it, as those who saw it at the South By South-West film festival seem to have been.

The story finds failed ATM thief with a chip on her shoulder, Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) sent back to her childhood home for an 8 month sentence of house arrest and therapy. Kylie finds out rather quickly that her mother (Rima Te Wiata) thinks the house is haunted and after a few things go bump in the night, the skeptical Kylie begins to agree with her. Kylie decides to get to the bottom of things with the help of her supervising security officer, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), who is also a paranormal investigator. Together they find out that the house used to be a former insane asylum and that a young girl was murdered there. Is it her spirit that lurks in the shadows or the killer who was never caught?

Written and directed by Gerard Johnstone, there is a lot to like about this off-beat flick though it’s not quite the masterpiece it’s been made out to be. On the downside it’s not nearly as scary as it’s reputation suggests, thought there are some spooky bits, nor is it as funny. It also takes a while to really get going and deliver the goods. It was never boring but, there are scenes of exposition that have you checking your watch. The dialogue is well-written but, there’s only so much of Kylie being mean and resentful to her mother and step-father that we need to see to get the point that she’s anti-social and unappreciative. Another minor point that bugged me was Amos deactivating/ignoring her ankle monitor so she can go about investigating the neighboring homes. What was the point of having the character on house arrest if she can be conveniently freed by her security officer turned partner to roam about? Once the investigation goes full swing then the film gets moving and we are treated to some fun bits and a third act that really delivers as Kylie’s detective work rattles the right, or wrong depending on your point of view, cage. There is some fun off-beat humor, though not all of it works and some surprisingly bloody moments considering the lighter tone of a lot of it. The film looks great. Johnstone has a nice visual style that cinematographer Simon Riera captures nicely and there is an effective score by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper.

The cast also go a long way to making this fun, too. Morgana O’Reilly is a firecracker and she is really good as the sarcastic and anti-social Kylie and the actress makes her transformation into a more caring person work very well. Equally effective is Rima Te Wiata as her constantly blabbering mother. She may sound like she’s uttering nonsense but, if you listen carefully there is a deft logic at work and she knows more than she appears to. Glen-Paul Waru is fun as Amos who is in charge of monitoring Kylie’s ankle bracelet and becomes her partner in ghost hunting/mystery solving. He makes an engaging character. Rounding out is Ross Harper as Kylie’s step-father Graeme who seems to just want to be left to himself and Cameron Rhodes as Kylie’s creepy putz of a counselor. A very good cast.

So, I did like this movie but, didn’t fall head over heels in love like many seem to. It was fun and had some really strong performances/characterizations but, took a long time to get going and wasn’t as scary or funny as it could have been. I still certainly recommend it to those interested to take a look but, be wary of the high praise coming out of film festivals and directors looking to give their fellow Kiwis a boost. An entertaining flick but, not something that had my inner fan-boy in an uproar.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 ankle monitors

housebound rating

 

 

 

 

bars

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEBRUARY 20-22

MZNJ_New_WBO

Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office!

1. “Fifty Shades Of Grey” $23.2 Million

2. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” $17.5 Million

3. “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water” $15.5 Million

4. “McFarland, USA” $11.3 Million

5. “The DUFF” $11 Million

6. “American Sniper” $9.65 Million

7. “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” $5.8 Million

8. “Jupiter Ascending” $3.7 Million

9. “The Imitation Game” $2.6 Million

10. “Paddington” $2.3 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE STRANGENESS (1985)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

strangeness

bars

THE STRANGENESS (1985)

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

You know when the only thing really recommendable about a film is it’s cheesy stop-motion animated monster, that looks like a green penis with a vagina on it’s tip, you’ve got trouble. In a plot reminiscent of the 1981 The Boogens, a group of people are going into an abandoned mine to determine if it should be re-opened again. The mine was initially closed for decades because of a number of disappearances and deaths and the local Native Americans also say there is a creature there who is not happy about the intrusion of the white man on sacred land. If that is not a recipe for a cheesy horror movie, I don’t know what is, so…add a group of explorers/victims and off we go!

Despite a premise ripe for cheesy entertainment, this flick is very slow moving and dull with very little actual monster action. It was directed, co-produced and co-written by Melanie Anne Phillips under the male pseudonym of David Michael Hillman and she directs with a very leaden hand. The pace is lethargic and the actors either perform with a complete deadpan delivery or over-the-top yelling and eye-rolling. Very little middle ground performance-wise. If the dialog by Phillips and co-writer/co-producer Chris Huntley wasn’t so dreadfully awful, we might actually enjoy their bad thesbian-ship. The actors are all unknowns and it appears they stayed that way and for good reason. On a technical side, the production looks cheap though, a lot was shot on dark mine sets, so they get away with it. There is some limited and phony looking gore as our creature seems to coat it’s victims in some sort of corrosive liquid and the stop-motion animation of the sex organ-looking critter is decent at best. Being a sucker for old fashioned stop-motion animation though, I still thought it was kinda cool. The film does have a very 80s electronic score, too. Some of it is lawsuit-worthy close to segments of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York score.

Overall, there isn’t too much to recommend about this flick other than a curiosity watch. I’ve never even heard of it till recently and it looks like exactly what it appears to be, a horror flick put together by people who wanted to be filmmakers. And while I always champion the amateur filmmaker, it doesn’t seem like a big surprise that they went on to other things. A curiosity and a rarity, but don’t expect much unless animated monsters resembling human genitalia is your bag, baby!

-MonsterZero NJ

2 cheesy stop-motion hybrid penis/vagina creatures.

strangeness rating

Couldn’t find a trailer but, how about the whole movie!…

bars

BARE BONES: PROXY and VHS: VIRAL

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

proxy

PROXY (2013)

Proxy has some disturbing scenes, especially the opening assault on a pregnant women, but ultimately drowns in it’s indecision on what it is actually is about. Film directed by Zack Parker, who co-wrote with Kevin Donner, starts out about single, pregnant Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) who is attacked in a brutal robbery and looses her unborn child. She meets a strange woman in her support group Melanie (Alexa Havens), who claims to have lost her child and husband, but actually hasn’t. In a strange and bloody turn of events, the film jarringly switches focus to Melanie, as her child actually is taken from her and she and her grieving husband (Joe Swanberg) are stalked by the killed culprit’s angry, vengeful lover (Kristina Klebe). Not only can’t this film decide what it’s about, or what it’s point is…at the end we question if there ever was one…but it’s slow paced and at least 10-15 minutes too long. Scenes drag out and especially in the last half, seem to go nowhere until the climactic act. The lack of a focused story or point, render what effective scenes it has…and it has a few…mute. Overall, mostly dull and pointless and tries for some last minute relevance with it’s faux shock ending.

2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

VHS viralr

VHS: VIRAL (2014)

Third installment of this found footage anthology series is the worst of the three and I’m not a huge fan of any of them. The first film has some effective bits, but was ultimately disappointing considering the hype. The second was a step below that with little that really resonated. This third flick is just pointless, annoying and goes absolutely nowhere with a head scratching wrap-around story about a dork on a bicycle pursuing his kidnapped girlfriend in an ice cream truck during a police chase. The film then cuts away to a bunch of vignettes that all seem to serve no purpose or have any sort of solid story. Just an excuse for excessive violence and headache inducing shaky cam. A complete waste of time even at only 80+ minutes.

1 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1
bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ALONE IN THE DARK (1982)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

Alone_in_the_dark_ver1

bars

ALONE IN THE DARK (1982)

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

This is an odd 80s movie directed and co-written by Jack Sholder, who went on to direct the lackluster ANOES 2: Freddy’s Revenge and the awesome The Hidden. The movie tells the twisted story of Dr. Dan Potter (The A-Team’s Dwight Schultz) who goes to work at the psychiatric clinic of the renown but, eccentric Dr. Leo Bain (Donald Pleasence). The most dangerous of Bain’s patients are resigned to the 3rd floor and consist of former priest and arsonist, Byron (Martin Landau), enormous child molester, Ronald (Running Man’s Erland van Lidth), “The Bleeder” (Phillip Clark), who never shows his face and former POW, Col. Frank Hawkes (Jack Palance). Unfortunately for Potter, Hawkes’ paranoid delusions make him come to believe the new doctor has killed their former handler, Dr. Merton. When a massive blackout neutralizes the institute’s security systems, Hawkes convinces his psychotic compatriots to escape and hunt down Potter and exact revenge. Now the four leave a trail of bodies as they head toward Potter’s house where he and his unsuspecting family sit “alone in the dark.”

While this movie has it’s entertainment value, I just expect more with a cast and premise such as this. The film has some odd moments…especially the last head-scratching scene…and just should have been either a lot more fun or a lot more frightening. Jack Sholder seems to take the middle road with his directing and script…co-written with Robert Shaye and Michael Harrpster…and delivers something more of a fairly tame slasher with some oddly humorous moments peppered throughout. Either he wasn’t sure which direction to go with the material, or wanted it both ways, which takes a deft hand to pull off. There are some effective moments and there are some uncomfortable giggles, such as the murder of a bicycle deliver man but, the film never really takes off with any horrific intensity or over-the-top lunacy. It could have used one, the other, or both! It’s body count is also remotely tame and the gore FX are average and simple. It just never fully takes advantage of the premise, or it’s great cast of veteran character actors whose loonies never really get to ‘cut’ loose. There are a few good kills and some disturbing moments but, not enough to make this unevenly toned film completely satisfying. I personally enjoyed the film to an extent but, ultimately still feel disappointed that it never lives up to it’s giddy potential. Palance and Landau were much more effective in similar roles in the 1980 Without Warning, where they were allowed to ham it up and give their roles some energy. There is some atmosphere, though and Joseph Mangine’s nice cinematography adds to that, as does Renato Serio’s very 80s score. There is also some added 80s nostalgia, now and despite being underutilized, it is still great to see all these character actors together. Too bad Sholder couldn’t have really taken this flick and run with it, one way or the other.

Alone In The Dark is an Ok flick but, one comes away feeling that it missed being something really special. It has a bit of a reputation and following and I can understand that but, I still feel with it’s story and the cast assembled to tell it, that it should have been so much more. If the Jack Sholder who directed the fast paced and over-the-top The Hidden had directed this one, it would have been a real treat and a true cult classic at this point. Not a complete failure but, not a complete success either.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 delivery guy hats.

alone in the dark rating

bars