TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE HILLS HAVE EYES part 2 (1985)

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THE HILLS HAVE EYES part 2 (1985)

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

One of Craven’s worst films, unnecessary sequel is most notable for being the first film released on VHS and into theaters on the same day. I myself was working at a Palmer Video at the time and remember it coming in for rent on the same day it opened at the Paramus Century Twin theater.

The story, written by Craven, takes place 8 years later with survivor Bobby (again Robert Houston) in a relationship with reformed cannibal clan member Ruby (a returning Janus Blythe) who is now called Rachel and the two have a motocross bike team and have invented a new fuel to race with. As fate would have it, there is a race they are participating in right in the area of Bobby’s ordeal with the cannibals. He refuses to go there, but Ruby takes the team on a bus and proceeds. It’s no surprise that they take a shortcut through the desert, the bus breaks down and now the bike team and Ruby/Rachel are trapped in an area stalked by the surviving Pluto (Michael Berryman) and his massive uncle Reaper (7’4″ actor John Bloom) who, one by one, slaughter the team and take their bodies into their underground slaughterhouse to make into happy meals.

Craven himself, is not proud of this film. It was a paycheck job and he was not given enough money to complete it and had to use a lot of flashbacks from the first film to get the film to feature length…and it is evident, especially in the first third. The film plays out more like a routine 80s slasher with Pluto and Reaper, one by one, killing off members of the biker team in various gory ways in an abandoned mining camp. The slasher vibe is strengthened by the presence of Henry Manfredini’s score which is very similar to his work on the Friday The 13th series. As for the proceedings, the story makes no sense, as Papa Jupiter’s father, in the first film, never mentions a second son, and why you would leave out a seven foot sibling in the telling, is silly. That and if Bobby is still traumatized by the events of the first flick, then why is he dating an ex-cannibal clan member? The film follows the generic slasher formula, quite closely and has little suspense, as it is obvious by the scene set-ups who’s getting it next. At least there is some effective gore when they do get it and if anything, the film moves quickly. Having a blind girl as our main heroine (Tamara Stafford) has little impact on the story, as her more acute hearing only works when the plot needs it to. The inclusion of Ruby doesn’t add much either, although she does have some fun fight scenes with her former clan members.

Cast are not really all that memorable aside for the iconic Berryman back as Pluto. At over seven feet, John Bloom certainly is physically impressive, but doesn’t really give Reaper the personality needed to put him anywhere near the slasher hall of fame. Tamara Stafford makes a fine enough heroine as Cass and she is pretty, likable and shows resilience like a good final girl should, especially with the character’s handicap. A returning Janus Blythe is almost unrecognizable as the now civilized Ruby, but she has some fun scenes with her former family members. They should have focused more on her physical scraps with Pluto and Reaper as they were one of the more entertaining aspects of the film and one which they wasted overall, as Ruby becomes a second tier character behind Cass. Supporting players are fine as generic slaughter fodder and are just stereotypical characters in a slasher flick, nothing more.

This is a bad movie. There is some entertainment value from the slasher aspects, if you are a fan of 80s slashers, but overall, it is every bit the paycheck job it’s said to be. The Hills Have Eyes is a cult classic horror and it’s sequel is a sad example of what happens when a filmmaker makes a film he doesn’t want to, in order to pay the bills…and a film he was barely given the resources to finish. If you are a completest of either Craven or 80s slashers, sure, give it a watch, but don’t expect much at all.

-MonsterZero NJ

1 and 1/2 Plutos.

hills have eyes 2 rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS IT’S NOT HALLOWEEN WITHOUT TOM ATKINS!!

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Watching horror flicks during the Halloween season, there might be one face, aside from Karloff, Lee and Lugosi, that you might see more than once…and that familiar face is Tom Atkins. A cult favorite actor, Tom has appeared in a number of horror classics…especially during the 80s. So, in honor of this unsung hero of horror, here are 10 horror flicks that illustrate why it’s not Halloween without Tom Atkins!

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(Click on the highlighted titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews of the flicks covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo

2. The Fog

3. Creepshow

4. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

5. Night Of The Creeps

6. Maniac Cop

7. Two Evil Eyes

8. Bruiser

9. My Bloody Valentine (2009)

10. Drive Angry

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CREEPSHOW (1982)

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CREEPSHOW (1982)

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

In 1982, horror masters Stephen King and George A. Romero collaborated on this anthology movie that was inspired by the old horror comics from EC Comics. The film, written by King and directed by Romero, presented five horror-themed stories bookended by a segment about a young boy (Joe King) having his horror comic thrown out by his overbearing father (Tom Atkins). Outside in the garbage can, the pages of the book come to life, opening up and allowing the skeletal “Creep” to present it’s tales. Our first is Father’s Day which tells the story of Nathan Grantham (The Boogens‘ Jon Lormer) a rich curmudgeon murdered by his daughter (Viveca Lindfors). As his children and grandchildren gather for Father’s Day, Nathan comes back from the grave for ghostly revenge. Next is The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill which has King himself playing a country bumpkin who has an unfortunate encounter with a fallen meteorite. This is followed by Something to Tide You Over, a story of infidelity, murder and revenge from beyond the watery grave with Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson. Then we are treated to The Crate, a tale of an old crate discovered in a university basement and the horrific creature that lives within it. Finally we get They’re Creeping Up On You, a segment about a mean, old, germ-fearing, Howard Hughes-like recluse (E.G. Marshall) with a very nasty bug problem.

Back in the day, those expecting a fright-fest of epic proportions from the collaboration of Romero and King were sadly disappointed by this comic bookish and tongue-in-cheek anthology that focuses on ghoulish humor far more than scares. Creepshow is a lot of  fun, though, especially years later with the added 80s nostalgia, but while there are some chills, it is never really all that scary…and it wasn’t meant to be. The film retains the dark humor of the comics that inspired it and is even filmed as a comic book come to life, with comic style frames and scenes filmed like comic book panels, all with a ghostly animated creeper beginning each segment. First story Father’s Day is fun and spooky and features some nice visuals and make-up effects. The next story, Jordy Verrill, is OK. King can’t really act, but his exaggerated style oddly fits with the story. Despite a bit of a goofy amusement factor, as his nimrod Jordy turns into a form of alien plant-life, the story itself really doesn’t go anywhere or have much of a point. Third story, Something to Tide You Over, is the dullest, with Nielsen’s pontificating villain taking up most of the running time, happily laying out his diabolical plot to his captive audience. Creepshow picks up again for the last two stories which are, by far, the best. The Crate is spooky, gory and really works the dark humor as a beleaguered professor (Hal Holbrook) uses the discovery of a vicious and very hungry creature to rid himself of another monster, his overbearing wife (Adrienne Barbeau). They’re Creeping Up On You is fun and will make your skin crawl as the ruthless and heartless Upson Pratt is trapped in his germ-free apartment by a power outage with an army of invading cockroaches. You get three strong stories, two weak ones and a Halloween set bookend segment that is devious fun, too. So, overall Creepshow is not perfect, but is ghoulish entertainment made even more fun by a healthy dose of 80s nostalgia, brought on by it’s charming hand-drawn animation and live make-up and prosthetics…something sadly missing in today’s movies.

With five stories and a bookending segment, we have a large cast with many horror veterans and each seems to get the tone of the material and have a good over-the-top time with it, in the varying degrees their individual roles call for. Stand outs are…Tom Atkins (The Fog, Halloween III) as the bookending tales’ hard-nosed father. Atkins is no stranger to edgy characters and this time he gets to play a real jerk. Leslie Nielsen oozes malice in his segment and while it is the weakest story, the veteran actor makes a contemptible bad guy. Adrienne Barbeau is deliciously overbearing as the wife of her The Fog co-star Hal Holbrook’s meek professor, Northup. Barbeau really makes you hate her and beg for her comeuppance…call her Billie, everyone does! Last, but certainly not least, is E.G. Marshall who is a delight as the modern day Scrooge, Upson Pratt. Pratt is a ruthless and heartless individual and his skin crawling encounter with an army of cockroaches makes us cheer on the bugs! Also good are Viveca Lindfors, Carrie Nye, Fritz Weaver, Ted Danson and there is a fun cameo from make-up FX master Tom Savini and small roles from future Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Dawn Of The Dead‘s Gaylen Ross.

Overall, I like Creepshow and it’s a lot of fun, especially now that it carries such heavy 80s nostalgia. I will admit I was a little disappointed back in the 80s that it wasn’t a more serious horror, considering who was involved, but it has grown on me considerably. It isn’t completely successful with all it’s stories, but the ones that are, really work and provide some fun and goosebumps to keep us entertained. The large cast gets the material completely and is filled with familiar faces to horror fans. An entertaining comic book style horror that sadly gets forgotten when people discuss comic book style films as it does convey the comic book feeling far better than many a superhero movie. Creepshow was followed by a sub-par sequel in 1987, directed by Michael Gornick and written by Romero, based on some Stephen King short stories. A third flick, without the involvement of Romero or King, was made in 2006 and seemed to go straight to DVD with little or no fanfare.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Creeps!

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 25-27

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

1. “Hotel Transylvania 2” $47.5 Million

2. “The Intern” $18 Million

3. “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” $14 Million

4. “Everest” $13 Million

5. “Black Mass” $11.5 Million

6. “The Visit” $6.75 Million

7. “The Perfect Guy” $4.75 Million

8. “War Room” $4.3 Million

9. “The Green Inferno” $3.5 Million

10. “Sicario” $1.7 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE GREEN INFERNO (2013)

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THE GREEN INFERNO (2013)

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

It’s been a while since Eli Roth has sat in the director’s chair and his latest film, though it’s waited two years for distribution, pays homage to the Italian cannibal films of the 70s and 80s, even acknowledging them by name in the credits (A nice touch!). The story focuses on college freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo) who falls under the charms of social and environmental activist Alejandro (Ariel Levy). So much so, that she agrees to join him and his fellow activists on a trip to the Peruvian jungle where a ruthless corporation is planning to tear down a portion of the rainforest inhabited by a primitive tribe, who will be slaughtered in the process. While their protest is a success and the destruction halted, their plane crashes in the jungle on the way home and the survivors, including Justine, are taken prisoner by the very tribe they set out to save…a tribe of cannibalistic headhunters who have a very frightening way of showing their gratitude.

Roth…who co-wrote with Guillermo Amoedo…definitely shows some growth as a filmmaker here, despite a six year period between flicks, as this film, for the most part, curbs his impulses towards the sophomoric, frat-boy humor that marred his earlier efforts. There still are some unnecessary sequences featuring diarrhea and masterbation that we could have done without, but, otherwise this is a straightforward horror/thriller and a very gruesome and disturbing one at that. Roth can be overindulgent but, despite the frequent blood spattering here, it is just enough to get under your skin without bludgeoning you over the head. We are treated to eye-gouging, dismemberment and witnessing someone being eaten alive and while it is quite the gore-fest, Roth knows when to give us a break, so we don’t become numb. Fans of his will be happy to know that his more devious sense of humor is still intact, such as a scene where the tribe becomes stoned on a stash of pot hidden in one of the bodies and get the ‘munchies’ in a truly bloodcurdling manner. So, he certainly won’t disappoint his fans despite some maturing as a director. What really works about the film, though, is we get some very likable characters here, especially Justine, so, we care about them and are horrified when they are hurt…and some get hurt in awful ways. Roth also manages some suspenseful and very intense sequences that don’t require devoured limbs and the film looks far bigger than his modest budget might suggest. It’s not perfect. There are those unnecessary sequences involving bodily fluids mentioned earlier and there are two bits that don’t quite work. One bit is a ‘dream sequence’ during the climactic scenes that only exists to add one last shock and it’s cliché, the other a mid-credits, scene, that undermines the ironic strength of his conclusion, somewhat, basically to set up a sequel. Otherwise this is a disturbing and intense horror flick and one that respectfully and quite gruesomely honors the films it pays homage to. The cinematography by Antonio Quercia is quite lush, the score by Manuel Riveiro is quite effective and the abundant gore excellently rendered and mostly, with what appear to be live effects.

Roth also has a good cast and avoids too many unlikable characters which hurt his first Hostel flick. Chilean actress Lorenza Izzo is quite a strong leading lady and is extremely likable and easy to get behind. She is obviously frightened out of her mind but, finds strength when she needs to and we rally to the character when she is able to overcome her fear and act. Not to mention, some of the sequences must have been very uncomfortable for Izzo and she handles them well. Ariel Levy is good as activist leader Alejandro. He appears noble at first, if not a bit smug, but, a plot twist finds him just another self-serving douchebag and then he becomes more of an outright villain than the cannibals. At least their motivation is simply hunger and survival with little malice…though the extras portraying them, seem to really enjoy their work. We also have Daryl Sabara as the stereotypical stoner Lars and Adam Burns as Jonah, a lovable teddy bear who has a crush on Justine…we may like him the most, which usually spells bad news in a horror flick. The rest of the cast are very likable and obviously, we don’t want to see them hurt and feel their fear through their performances as captured Roth’s lens.

So, I did like this flick. It’s not perfect but, I think it’s Roth’s best film so far and he treated us to not only a highly disturbing and gruesome film…even a horror vet like me felt some of the scenes were very uncomfortable to watch…but, gave us some real intensity and suspense as we watched horrible things befall a group who, mostly, doesn’t deserve it. One of the film’s tag lines is “No good deed goes unpunished” and the film is a shining example of the horrible irony when do-gooders are down-in by those they’re trying to help. Certainly not for everyone but, a tense and blood-soaked horror/adventure that gives us some likable characters to fear for and some legitimate suspense, when not spattering the screen with body parts. A worthy tribute to a long gone genre and era of films from a filmmaker who has an obvious appreciation for grind house style movies…which under the professional gloss, this is.

…and don’t forget to watch through the credits…

-MonsterZero NJ

3 femurs…at least I think it’s a femur.

green inferno rating

 

 

 

 

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 VAMPIRE FLICKS TO WATCH DURING THE HALLOWEEN SEASON!

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Nothing says Halloween like vampires, so, here are 25 vampire flicks that you might want to sink your teeth into during the Halloween season! I tried to add a little diversity and sadly left off a few good titles due to there unavailability (like Salem’s Lot 1979 and Fright Night II 1988).

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews of the titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

 

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

1. Nosferatu 

2. Dracula 1931

3. Horror of Dracula

4. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave

5. Count Yorga, Vampire

6. Blacula

7. Count Dracula BBC

8. The Hunger

9. Fright Night

10. Vamp

11. The Lost Boys

12. Near Dark

13. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

14. Cronos

15. Interview With A Vampire

16. From Dusk Till Dawn

17. Blade

18. John Carpenter’s Vampires

19. Blade II

20. Underworld

21. 30 Days Of Night

22. Let The Right One In

23. Stake Land

24. Only Lovers Left Alive

25. From The Dark

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)

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THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)

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

Five years after The Last House On The Left, Wes Craven returned with this, his sophomore effort…and begat another cult classic. The film also continues his exploration of the theme of good people driven to violence in self-defense or revenge. Here, a vacationing family passing through the desert, takes a turn off the main road to do some sightseeing and encounters a clan of vicious, feral cannibals that target them for their next meal. As the savages, one by one, reduce the Carter family’s numbers, the surviving members must turn savage themselves in order to survive.

Once again Craven wrote and directed and with a somewhat larger budget, the film is less crude than Last House and the director is starting to show his visual style with the desolate desert setting. The film also has some brutal violence and an offbeat sense of humor, though here, Craven mixes the humor and violence much better than in Last House where the humorous bits stuck out. In Hills it’s mostly relegated to the oddball behavior of the feral clan and while it lessens their threat level a bit, it makes sense for those raised outside civilization. It also gives us a breather from the brutality, rape and violence that comes quite frequently. And there are some brutal moments and some suspenseful ones too and Craven shows definite growth as a filmmaker in both his style and his technique. It’s interesting to watch the wholesome Carter family revert to some of their own viciousness when faced with extermination. It’s an offbeat horror flick with a bit of a Chainsaw Massacre slant, but despite the story similarities, is quite it’s own movie and has become a cult classic in it’s own right.

The cast of mostly unknowns are all fine with only Dee Wallace and Michael Berryman having gone on to become genre favorites and horror icons. Wallace plays the older Carter daughter Lynne whose baby is abducted by the cannibal family during one of their raids on their RV. Berryman, of course, plays one of the mutant cannibals named Pluto and it is a role that started him on a cult icon career. He is certainly fitting in the role and provides much of the odd humor the film mixes with the more brutal moments. Some may recognize James Whitworth, who plays the clan patriarch Jupiter, from the cult classic monster movie Planet Of Dinosaurs. His Jupiter is fierce and threatening and far less ‘goofy’ than son Pluto. There is also prolific character actor John Steadman, who is the old gas station owner, Fred and father to clan leader Jupiter. The rest of the cast perform their roles as either Carter or clan family members appropriately, with standouts being Russ Grieve as ex-cop and family patriarch Bob Carter, pretty Susan Lanier as the younger Carter daughter Brenda, Janus Blythe as the sympathetic clan daughter Ruby and future filmmaker Robert Houston as Carter son Bobby.

Overall, this is both a mean and yet sometimes darkly funny flick. There are some very brutal moments offset by some oddball humor, especially from our villainous cannibals. It’s a cult classic and another example of Wes Craven’s versatility and the potential he would live up to with his future works. There was a remake (click here to see my review) in 2006 by Alexandre Aja which is actually quite brutal and removes the oddball humor for a very intense take on Craven’s story.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 propane tanks…which come in handy battling cannibals.

hills have eyes rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SOME KIND OF HATE (2015)

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SOME KIND OF HATE (2015)

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

Some Kind Of Hate is a vicious, vengeful and yet, sometimes heartfelt slasher about bullying and the effect it can have on those bullied.

Lincoln (Ronen Rubenstein) is an emotionally troubled young man who is bullied by his father (Andrew Bryniarski) and bullied at school for his quiet and withdrawn ways. When he finally strikes back viciously at one such bully, he is sent to the cult-like Mind’s Eye Academy for troubled youths. Nothing is different as the academy has it’s own bullies, such as Willie (Maestro Harrell), who, along with his thugs, starts to victimize Lincoln like back in high school. Lincoln has found some allies, though, one is the beautiful but troubled, Kaitlin (Grace Phipps) and the other is the vengeful spirit, Moira (Sierra McCormick) who died as a result of her cruel treatment at the academy. Now Moira begins to exact gruesome revenge on those who hurt her, using Lincoln’s hate as a driving force…but does Lincoln’s hate run deep enough to want to see his tormentors slaughtered?

Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer who co-wrote with Brian DeLeeuw, this is a nasty tale of revenge from beyond the grave that is also a hard look at bullying and the effects it has on the victims. The hate and anger of those bullied towards their tormentors and themselves, for not being able to fight back, is personified in the cruel and vengeful spirit of Moira, who uses Lincoln’s fury (like Freddy Krueger used fear) to fuel her gruesome acts of revenge…and it is quite brutal. This is an angry movie at times and a nasty one, as not only are we treated to watching the mean Willie (Harrell) relentlessly provoke Lincoln, but the payback of the razor wearing and wielding Moira. Moira is not a wise-cracking gremlin like Freddy Krueger, but a deeply hurt and angry spirit filled with rage and hatred, yet still wanting the friendship of kindred souls like Lincoln and Kaitlin. It was a bit bold for Mortimer and DeLeeuw to give their ‘boogeyman’ such complex emotions, but she is symbolic, after all, of the victims of bullying and the turmoil they suffer. Making her a main character is also risky and sometimes the ‘rules’ of her appearance vary. At times she seems quite coporeal and can be touched and yet she can appear out of nowhere. To harm her victims, she has to inflict the wound on herself and it transfers to them without physically being touched by her razor blades. It all works most of the time, though and effectively creates a vicious slasher with some important issues felt with under all the blood and gore. Despite tackling the bully issues head on, the film never felt preachy and is very satisfying as the horror flick it’s meant to be.

We have a good cast here. Ronen Rubenstein is solid as the soft spoken, introvert Lincoln. He conveys not only the youth’s sadness at being the target of the abuse of others, but the anger and rage both at them and at himself for not being able to fight back…till pushed. Grace Phipps is not only beautiful, but gives her Kaitlin a sexy mischievousness on the outside and also her own inner pain, which draws her to the troubled Lincoln. Maestro Harrell is very effective as the bully Willie and the role is quite the contrast to his lovable Malik on Suburgatory. It shows the actors versatility and his Willie is certainly far from lovable. Sierra McCormick is very effective as Moira. She can make her cruel and hateful one moment but sad and sympathetic the next. It’s never quite clear if she was the ‘evil girl’ her victimizers make her out to be, or if that is just a defense they created to hide their guilt. McCormick does certainly gives her a maliciousness that makes one wonder if she isn’t as much a victim as Moira herself would have you believe. Also stars Lexi Atkins from Zombeavers, former child actor Spencer Breslin as Issac, who bonds with Lincoln and is his only friend at academy other than Kaitlin and Andrew “Leatherface” Bryniarski as Lincoln’s abusive biker father.

I really liked this slasher. It was nasty and vicious, but with an important message at it’s core…but one that is never obtrusive or preachy despite it’s weight. It has some very emotionally troubled characters as both protagonists and antagonists including it’s vengeful slasher spirit, Moira. The cast are all solid in their roles and there is a lot of gruesome carnage, though not enough to wash away the film’s anti-bullying theme. This horror is certainly offbeat and may not appeal to everyone, but it does provide the slasher goods and gives us a vengeful spirit who can hold her own amongst the more time-honored horror characters.

…and don’t forget to watch through the credits…

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 razors.

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 18-20

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

 

1. “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” $30.3 Million

2. “Black Mass” $23.4 Million

3. “The Visit” $11.4 Million

4. “The Perfect Guy” $9.6 Million

5. “War Room” $6.25 Million

6. “A Walk In The Woods” $2.7 Million

7. “Mission:Impossible-Rogue Nation” $2.25 Million

8. “Straight Outta Compton” $1.97 Million

9. “Captive” $1.4 Million

10. “No Escape” $1 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HELLIONS (2015)

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HELLIONS (2015)

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

Simply put, Hellions is one of the best horror films of the year and possibly a new Halloween cult classic. Spooky, fairy tale-like story has 17 year-old teen Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) finding out on Halloween that she is pregnant. Being an expectant mother is the least of her worries as Dora finds herself home alone on Halloween night with a blood moon in the sky and her house besieged by a pack of bizarre and vicious, costumed ‘children’ who want her unborn child. Now, as her child grows at an unnatural rate, Dora must fight for her life against this demonic brood who want ‘blood for baby’ and turn Halloween night into a nightmare.

Written by Pascal Trottier and directed by Pontypool‘s Bruce McDonald, this is a spooky and sometimes downright surreal Halloween tale that not only evoked parts of Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, but Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm as well. Even so, it is it’s own movie with it’s own style and a style filled with Halloween spirit it is! With fields of pumpkins and it’s creepy costumed gremlins that haunt and hunt our pretty heroine, the film does ooze All Hallows Eve. McDonald gives this loads of atmosphere and there are some scenes that border on hallucinogenic, as the world around Dora changes into some kind of nightmarish dimension under the blood moon. There are some suspenseful sequences as the demonic little fiends try to get at Dora and chases once she’s forced to flee with the help of a local cop (Robert Patrick). There are also some delightfully gory moments, our little demons are creepy as hell and McDonald uses the traditional Halloween tropes in a gleefully ghoulish manner. McDonald’s creepy visuals and dark fairy tale ambience for the film are captured perfectly by Norayr Kasper’s spooky cinematography and there is a very atmospheric score by Todor Kobakov and Ian LeFeuvre. If the film has a weak point, much like this year’s It Follows, it’s that it’s climax is possibly a bit too ambiguous for it’s own good. While the ambiguity of exactly who or what Dora is carrying inside her and who exactly our little “Hellions” are works fine, the ending leaves us scratching our heads a little…or maybe it was all in Dora’s head? Other than that, this is a nightmarish and creepy little Halloween-steeped horror that doesn’t spare us on chills, thrills and splashes of gore.

We have a small, but very effective cast. As Dora, Chloe Rose makes quite an impression and has strong star potential delivering a frightened teen who becomes a resourceful fighter when threatened. She has a strong screen presence and not just because she is beautiful, but she radiates a strength even in the sequences where she is afraid. She brings Dora’s range of emotions to the screen well and can kick demon ass when she needs to. Robert Patrick is good as Office “Corman”…a nice nod to Roger Corman…and  while it’s Rose’s show, he has some strong moments as a cop dealing with something he has encountered before and trying to help Dora escape a fate he once witnessed. The small supporting cast are all fine in minor roles with Rossif Sutherland as Dr. Henry, Rachel Wilson as Dora’s Mother and Peter DaCunha as her little brother Remi.

Some may not like this film due to it’s somewhat surreal nature and an ending that is maybe a touch too ambiguous, but it is filled with Halloween spirit and has plenty of spooky atmosphere, chills and spattered blood. Our diminutive spooks are very effective and we have a very memorable horror heroine in Chloe Rose. As a big fan of the horrors this film sometimes evoked, I really enjoyed this diabolically mischievous horror thriller and highly recommend it, especially to those who love films that embrace the spirit of Halloween.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Hellions.

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