FAREWELL AND R.I.P. ROBERT Z’DAR!

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Robert Z’Dar (Zdarsky) 1950-2015

Based on a Twitter post from Big Ass Spider director Mike Mendez and the below article that was his source, it appears Maniac Cop star and B-Movie horror icon Robert Z’Dar passed away monday night at the age of 64 in Pensacola, while in town for a convention. Farewell and RIP to one of the most recognizable faces in modern horror and a veteran of over 100 films.

http://www.pnj.com/story/entertainment/events/pensacon/2015/03/31/cult-actor-robert-zdar-dies-pensacola/70745990/

Sources: Mike Mendez/Pensacola News Journal

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12 HORROR FLICKS THAT STARTED 2015 WITH A BANG!

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We’re just past the first quarter of 2015 and I have already seen quite a few damn good horror flicks. Hopefully this trend won’t fade out and we’ll have a banner year for horror movies… only time will tell! Here’s 12 flicks that got my horror year started with a bang!

(Just click on the links below the poster gallery to go to our reviews of these outstanding new flicks!)

(A lot of these flicks first made their presence known in 2014 but, I only caught up with them in 2015!)

Review Links:

1. It Follows

2. Wyrmwood

3. Late Phases

4. Girlhouse

5. Starry Eyes

6. The Taking Of Deborah Logan

7. The Houses October Built

8. [REC] 4: Apocalypse

9. As Above, So Below

10. Clown

11. Honeymoon

12. Exists

source: MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT and CHALET GIRL

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MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT (2014)

Sequel to Gareth (Godzilla) Edwards’ Monsters takes place years after the first film with the monsters spreading to the Middle East. As the U.S. military attempts to eradicate the creatures, the heavy bombing of Arab cities has not only produced a lot of civilian casualties but, a rising anger towards American troops and a growing and dangerous insurgency. The film focuses on a group of soldiers from Detroit whose squad goes deep in enemy territory to find some missing troops. They face danger on all sides as they are surrounded by monsters and insurgents alike. Sequel is actually not a bad movie though, it is a very somber and bleak one. It focuses on the human element much like Edwards’ first film and presents a seemingly hopeless situation as the monsters are spreading and so is the division between those trying to stop them. It raises questions about U.S. involvement in Middle East affairs while presenting a fairly engaging film about troops being overwhelmed by the horror of war both on the human and inhuman fronts. Definitely about 10-15 minutes too long but, actually far better than expected from some heavily unfavorable early word. Film is written by Jay Basu and competently directed by Tom Green.

3 star rating

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CHALET GIRL (2011)

A really engaging cast elevates this routine British romantic comedy about skater girl Kim (an endearing and adorable Felicity Jones) who becomes a chalet girl in the Austrian Alps to help support her out of work, widower father (Bill Bailey). There she finds friends, love and her inner ski boarding champion amongst the rich vacationers and the free-spirts who work for them. The flick is harmless and fun and actually very energetic as directed by Phil Traill from Tom Williams script. But, it is a top-notch cast including Brooke Shields, Ed Westwick, Sophia Bush and the incomparable Bill Nighy, the really gives this a heavy dose of charm. It’s harmless and cute and never takes itself too seriously and the fun the cast appear to be having making it…no more evident than the outtakes during the credits that illustrate the actors’ camaraderie…translates to the screen. A very enjoyable little movie that is a lot of fun and has a cast that lifts it above it’s familiar trappings.

3 star rating

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 -MonsterZero NJ
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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES MARCH 27-29

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office!

1. “Home” $54 Million

2. “Get Hard” $34.6 Million

3. “Insurgent” $22 Million

4. “Cinderella” $17.5 Million

5. “It Follows” $4 Million

6. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” $3 Million

7. “Run All Night” $2.2 Million

8. “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” $2.18 Million

9. “Do You Believe?” $2.15 Million

10. “The Gunman” $2 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: GHOSTHOUSE (1988)

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GHOSTHOUSE (1988)

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

Ghosthouse is a 1988 Italian haunted house flick written and directed by Umberto Lenzi under the amusing pseudonym of Humphrey Humbert. Lenzi is best known for the cult classic Cannibal Ferox which also goes by the name Make Them Die Slowly.

This oddball supernatural thriller opens in 1967 where funeral director Sam Baker (Alain Smith) has given his daughter Henrietta (Kristen Fougerousse) a creepy looking clown doll that was supposed to be buried with it’s owner. He locks the now strange behaving girl in the cellar for killing their cat with a pair of scissors and soon he and his wife (Susan Muller) are brutally murdered and the young girl dies locked away there. Still with me? The film jumps to 20 years later where HAM radio operator Paul (Greg Scott) and his girlfriend Martha (Lara Wendel) get a strange signal that they track back to the now abandoned Baker house. Joined by a group of people who are camped out by the house in an RV…don’t ask…they decide to investigate. Obviously, something evil lurks within the house and if malevolent entities, creepy clown dolls and ghostly dobermans don’t get them, the mentally unbalanced caretaker Valkos (Donald O’Brien) will.

This is not a good movie in the strict definition of the word, but I did have fun with Ghosthouse for the entertaining mess it is. The plot is nonsensical and all over the place. There is no reason ever given as to why Paul and Martha are contacted…and by HAM radio, no less. Also, once it quickly becomes obvious that there is nothing but danger and death in this creepy old house, why do these nimrods stay and continue to enter it…even when their numbers start to gruesomely dwindle? As for the backstory…what funeral director in his right mind would give his daughter a doll from a deceased child, especially a creepy one like this. And since no background is ever given on that child, we have no idea why such malevolent forces are so pissed and vengeful about it. Also, why does Henrietta…who died when she was about seven or eight years old in 1967…have a tomb that says she was born in 1933. That would make her 34 at the time of her death. I could go on and on about the plot holes, character illogic and delightful stupidity, but that would ruin a fun ‘so bad it’s good’ horror. Lenzi does manage a few creepy moments. There is a spooky score by Piero Montanari and Franco Delli Colli creates some nice atmospheric cinematography. Lenzi’s dialogue writer Sheila Goldberg needs to be left in a haunted house for her awful lines, though, they provide a lot of the chuckles, and the acting is as entertainingly bad as one might expect. The FX are amusingly cheesy, except for some nice gore, but there’s not as much bloodshed as I would expect from an Italian horror of this era.

I enjoyed this flick, but obviously for all the wrong reasons. The plot is entertainingly nonsensical, the dialogue and acting is laughably terrible and the FX are, for the most part, delightfully cheesy. There is some decent gore and Lenzi does manage some creepiness despite how silly and random his script is. Definitely a ‘so bad it’s good’ Italian horror that can be thoroughly enjoyed with the lights out and your pint glass kept full…and just try getting that annoying song that plays whenever the clown doll appears, out of your head!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 creepy clown dolls.

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JAMES BOND RETURNS IN “SPECTRE” and GETS A TRAILER!

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Daniel Craig is returning for his fourth outing as James Bond 007…and Skyfall’s Sam Mendes returns to direct…and he’s up against an old and familiar nemesis. Here is the first trailer for SpectreSpectre opens 11/6/15 and also stars Christoph Waltz and Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Dave Bautista.

MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GIRLHOUSE (2014)

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GIRLHOUSE (2014)

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

Girlhouse is simply one of the best old school style slashers that I have seen in years. Yes, it has some modern touches, but at heart, it’s right out of the 80s slasher era.

The story opens in 1988 with a chubby and shy boy (Issac Faulkner) being teased and humiliated by two mean girls (Camren Bicondova and Baylee Wall)…and a bit later, his vicious revenge. We then cut to modern times where pretty, down-on-her-luck college student, Kylie (Ali Cobrin) has accepted an invitation to join Girlhouse, a secluded and hidden mansion where a group of nubile young woman live and are filmed on webcams, non-stop, for broadcast on the Girlhouse site. Members pay to watch and chat with the girls who are free to get as sexual as they want with their viewers. It’s up to them how far they go for their internet voyuers and Kylie needs the cash the site pays for her tuition at school. She gives it a go with some playful striptease, and her girl-next-door beauty is an overnight hit. Kylie also attracts the attention of Girlhouse regular Loverboy (Slaine) who is a somewhat chubby, reclusive and disturbed computer tech. When a mean prank by one of the other girls sets him off, Loverboy blames Kylie and uses his skills to track down the location of Girlhouse and take out his revenge…online for all the members to witness.

Written by Nick Gordon and directed by Trevor Matthews and Jon Knautz, this is both old-fashioned slasher flick and a cleverly contemporary one, with it’s use of webcams and it’s reality TV/Cyber Sex set-up. Sure, there are a lot of films that use laptops and cameras to convey action nowadays, but this is not found footage and only uses the format occasionally to successfully generate suspense. Strip away the modern tech and approach and you still get the classic slasher formula of a deranged individual stalking a girl-next-door type to avenge a prank or humiliation. The film establishes immediately that Loverboy is the chubby kid in the prologue, all grown up and all the more twisted. It gives him personality and establishes him as an unnerving threat long before he puts on his equally disturbing mask and enters Girlhouse to exact his cruel and vicious revenge. The girls are all given enough time to let their personalities sink in before the killing starts and thus we are sympathetic and if that’s not enough, the kills are quite brutal and graphic and it’s hard to not feel bad for even the least likable of the women. Kylie is obviously our final girl and is smart, resourceful and fills the classic shoes very well, especially in the chilling and suspenseful last act. Matthews and Knautz know and use the formula well. They generate some nice chills and suspense and the brutal opening sequence establishes the atmosphere almost immediately. Even when the film is introducing our characters, the audience knows that something bad is coming…and when it does, the filmmakers orchestrate the night of terror in classic form. There is a very effective score by Tomandandy and some stylish cinematography by Chris Norr to support the filmmakers vision.

As for the players in this slasher, Ali Corbin makes a hell of a good final girl. She’s sweet, yet sexy and when her lethal admirer comes knocking, Corbin gives us a clever and resourceful fighter in her Kylie. A classic and yet, quite modern final girl. Actor Slaine makes for a very disturbing Loverboy. He oozes creepiness and there is a lot of smoldering anger and frustration behind his blank stare. His character gets established early, so when he puts on his bizarre mask we don’t need to see his eyes or facial expressions to know what is going on under there. Slaine is also a large man and he has enough physical presence to make quite a satisfactory killer. The mostly female supporting cast are all effective in being varied types that avoid being too stereotypical. Adam Dimarco makes a charming romantic interest for Kylie and James Thomas makes Girlhouse entrepreneur Gary Preston a fairly likable person when a role like this is usually reserved for a generic sleazy creep. A good and functional cast that serve the film’s purposes well.

Overall, I really liked this flick a lot. As a fan of the 80s slasher movies I really enjoyed how this film used the formula loyally and updated it at the same time. It reminded me of some of the better flicks of the 80s slasher era and yet had it’s own style and remained contemporary. Matthews and Knautz have some definite potential and know their material. They gave the film atmosphere, style, suspense and some brutally shocking moments. They used the modern technology angles well…and cleverly…and were equally successful in presenting the time-honored trappings of an effective killer and a endearing final girl. A damn good slasher and a fun/scary horror flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Loverboys.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CLOWN (2014)

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CLOWN (2014)

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

Eli Roth produced horror tells the ill-fated story of realtor Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) whose son Jack (Christian Distefano) is having a birthday. The clown scheduled to appear cancels at the last minute, leaving Kent in a bind. But as luck would have it, Kent finds an old clown suit in one of the homes he’s showing and saves the party. Unfortunately, it’s bad luck, as the suit is not a suit, but the skin of an ancient Nordic demon called a Cloyne. This creature of legend is the genesis of the modern clown, but instead of entertaining children, it lured them to it’s lair and ate them. Now Kent is facing a horrific nightmare as the ‘suit’ won’t come off and his son and wife Meg (Laura Allen) watch him slowly turn into a monster…one that sees Jack as a potential meal.

As silly as this horror sounds, it is actually portrayed very seriously by co-writer…with Christopher D. Ford…and director, Jon Watts. Watts takes what could have been a spoof and makes an effective little horror film out of it by avoiding milking the clown clichés and treating his film more like a werewolf flick, with a likable subject reluctantly turning into a vicious monster…one that eats children. Watts gives his horror a strong atmosphere of dread and is not afraid to graphically show Kent/the Cloyne’s hunger being sated on some unfortunate youths. The pace of the film is actually moderate and while it could have used a bit more energy at times, there are some very effective sequences and the serious take on the story does not come without having a little fun with the subject matter, such as a gruesome yet amusing scene at a Chuck E Cheese. The gore is plentiful and well executed, the film can be creepy and intense at times and we even get Peter Stormare as the suit’s previous owner/wearer, Karlsson, who has some grim news about how the ‘suit’ can be removed and the demon stopped. A solid little horror for a potentially comical premise.

As for the cast, Andy Powers plays Kent as the bland family man he is and then as both sympathetic victim and vicious monster. He works in the role well, though could have had a bit stronger presence. Laura Allen is very effective as the hot mom forced to deal with the living nightmare of watching the man she loves turn into monster and having to make some terrible choices to deal with it and protect her son. As the son, Distefano is effective and never strays into the annoying child zone and is quite sympathetic as Jack. Stomare is fun as Karlsson. He provides the Cloyne background and details and tries to assist Meg in stopping, or saving, her husband and acts as a sort of Van Helsing character with his experience with the fiend being very personal.

Flick isn’t perfect. A little more character development with the McCoy family could have strengthened their characters and the moderate pace sometimes works against it. Otherwise this was a solid and effective little horror flick, despite what is a very silly premise. Director Jon Watts takes the subject matter seriously and crafts a pretty good horror movie out of it, without drowning it in the clown clichés…though they aren’t completely avoided either. Definitely an an entertaining little flick with a novel twist on the scary clown movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 ill-fated realtors.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: INFLICTION (2014)

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INFLICTION (2014)

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

Infliction is a found footage horror from writer/director Jack Thomas Smith (Disorder) that claims to be the actual footage of a murder spree committed in 2011 in the state of North Carolina but, never seems anything but a staged movie. The story has brothers John (Jason Mac) and Kenny (Elliot Armstrong) going on a vendetta fueled killing spree and they have decided to document the whole thing as they torment and murder their victims…all for what they see as wrongs committed against them. And that’s basically it.

The main problem with this film is the same problem that haunted Smith’s Disorder, scenes just ramble on and the dialogue keeps covering the same ground. The pace of the film is incredibly slow and its gets quite tedious as the two siblings voice their grievances with each of their bound victims and then brutally slaughter them. Between the murder scenes, we get long dialogue exchanges with the two waxing philosophical about their actions with them usually arriving at the opinion that their vengeance is just…and they do this after each and every victim. The final confrontation with their sister and parents makes the film feel far longer than the 100 minute running time that it actually is. The reason for their bloody revenge is also kind of weak when we slowly…and I do mean slowly…get the whole story as to why they are stalking seemingly random victims, who are actually connected to the two, leading up to the confrontation with their family. The reason makes sense but, isn’t overly interesting and we’ve seen it all before. The acting across the board is very wooden and when mixed with the endless rambling dialogue sequences, makes this quite a chore to sit through. Add to this that the film never feels like actual footage, no matter how much random static is used, and appears like exactly what it is, stiffly staged sequences. It all amounts to very little here to warrant sitting through this. Very disappointing considering the peeks of promise Smith’s last film showed.

While Disorder was flawed but showed promise, this dull flick seems like more of a step back. It’s got a ho-hum plot as an excuse to film some torment/murder sequences that are sandwiched between long dialogue sequences. And these sequences basically keep hammering home the already obvious point, that these two are damaged and want to blame/punish everyone involved for what they see as injustices done to them. The also have the brazen audacity to blame everyone else for their homicidal behavior, as well. They are the whiniest serial killers to be captured on film…by their own hands…in quite some time. Also stars Ana Shaw, Catherine Trail and Don Henderson Baker as their sister, mother and father respectively.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 knives.

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