This is MonsterZero NJ’s favorite day of the year so, I am taking the day off and enjoying horror flicks, pumpkin ale and dispensing candy to all the little monsters that dare ring the bell at my House Of Horrors! Have a happy and safe  HALLOWEEN!!!

mznj halloween 2015 movie hadnouse

source: MonsterZero NJ




halloween hottie 2014



This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features our Halloween Hottie Of 2015, the beautiful and very talented Maika Monroe, who easily earns this title by appearing in, not one, but two horror/thrillers this year! Now true, these films initially made their presence known at festivals in 2014, but it was not until 2015 that I saw Adam Wingard’s The Guest on home media and David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows in it’s limited theatrical release.

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of the film’s that have earned her Halloween Hottie of 2015!)



One of the best horror films of the year and one that launched it’s talented leading lady into the spotlight! Monroe plays Jay Height, a young college girl from suburban Detroit who is cursed with some sort of malicious entity through sexual intercourse. This fiend is only visible to those it targets and can assume the shape of anyone it chooses. While it can be passed to someone else in the same manner, noble Jay refuses to put another in harm’s way and thus begins a cat and mouse chase between supernatural terror and the brave young woman. Monroe made quite an impressive heroine in a very chilling film and we hope she returns to the horror genre soon.
Click HERE to read our in-depth comparison to John Carpenter’s classic masterpiece Halloween!

Maika Monroe as It Follows stalked heroine, Jay Height!

It Follows' Jay Height

it follows 08

It Follows-Cinematography by Mike Gioulakis

It Follows

And her disturbing second feature…



While The Guest is not strictly a horror film, it is a blood-soaked thriller that does take place at Halloween and has enough horror touches and trappings to earn it special consideration. In the film, Maika plays Anna a young woman who has recently lost her brother, Caleb in the armed services. When a mysterious stranger, David (Dan Stevens) shows up at her family’s door claiming to be a friend of Caleb’s, they welcome him in with open arms. David isn’t what he seems, though and when bodies start piling up, Anna is the only one who realizes something is wrong with their guest and puts her life on the line to stop him.

As another strong heroine, Maika Monroe as The Guest‘s Anna Peterson!

maika monroe_TG_01

maika monroe_TG_07

maika monroe_TG_06

maika monroe_TG_08

Maika Monroe will be returning to genre screens soon in two alien invasion flicks, the teen-centric The Fifth Wave and the long-awaited sequel Independence Day: Resurgence…for now, we can enjoy this talented young lady in two horror/thrillers that make her a more than worthy Halloween Hottie Of 2015!




This year I have a runner-up who seriously challenged Miss Monroe for her title. Chloe Rose made for quite a resourceful and strong-willed heroine as Dora Vogel in Bruce McDonald’s Halloween set fright flick Hellions. The young actress made quite an impression as a pregnant teen who must fend off a pack of demonic little fiends who want her unborn child. If not for Maika’s dual final girl roles, this might have been a tie!
halloween hottie 2014

And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties focusing on, last year’s Halloween Hottie Addison TimlinMelanie PapaliaBriana EviganKatrina BowdenAlexandra DaddarioKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!)




now playing



VISIONS (2015)

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

Routine story starts out with our heroine Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) having been in an automobile accident where a child is killed. We then jump forward a year later where Eveleigh is still haunted by the accident, which wasn’t her fault, but is now pregnant herself. She and her husband David (Anson Mount) have recently moved into an old winery and plan to start their own vineyard. Shortly after settling in, Eveleigh starts to see and hear strange things. Her husband and gynecologist (Jim Parsons) think it’s a combination of lingering guilt and her own pregnancy and refuse to believe anything supernatural may be occurring. Eveleigh starts to look into the past of their new home and…well, you can see where this is going…

The script by Lucas Sussman is loaded with every cliché and trope these kinds of thrillers contain, though director Kevin Greutert (Saw VIJessabelle) does a good job translating the familiar elements to the screen. The only new touch is setting this spooky tale in the beautiful wine country of California, and it is a stark contrast to the things that go bump in the night…and day. Despite the lovely setting, we still get hooded figures, mysterious ruins, superstitious locals, a house that may have its own secrets and a heroine who is the only one who seems to see the strange goings on. The whole ‘is she imagining it or isn’t she’ is played out in grand tradition. Greutert does give the proceedings an air of mystery and guides the cliché story well, but if you are a fan of these type of movies, you know where it’s all heading. There are a few interesting twists, but the main reveal is far from a surprise as you know the film’s opening would figure in there somewhere. If you like these types of flicks than this one is entertaining enough to pass the time and at least gives you a likable heroine to follow.

We have a very good cast which ups things a notch. Fisher is a determined and strong-willed woman and makes a good heroine for this type of mystery/thriller. Anson (Hell on Wheels) Mount is fine as the doubting, yet caring husband and he and Fisher are a believable couple. Jim Parsons seems a bit out of place as a gynecologist, but maybe that’s because he has created such a memorable character on Big Bang Theory that he evokes Sheldon Cooper no matter what he does. Community‘s Gillian Jacobs plays a friendly neighbor who is also expecting, and Eva Longoria has a small role as Eveleigh’s friend, Eileen. Rounding out is Star Trek: TNG‘s John de Lancie as a local who provides exposition and Blade Runner‘s Joanna Cassidy as a wine distributor with a sense for the supernatural, as we need our paranormal expert and/or psychic in there somewhere.

There is nothing new or special about this very routine thriller, but it is well cast and is well directed. Aside from a somewhat less traditional setting, the familiar tropes of the ‘haunted wife in a new home’ type thriller are all here and accounted for. While the flick is not without its twists, you can probably see what’s coming a long way off. If you are a fan of these thrillers, you can do a lot worse, but if you are looking for something novel and different, than look elsewhere.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) wine grapes.
visions rating





During this season of ghouls and goblins, I decided to have fun with this list and share ten 70s TV horror movies that scared me as a kid. Most of them provide chuckles now, but some are still pretty spooky!

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

1. Gargoyles

2. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

3. The Night Stalker

4. The Night Strangler

5. Salem’s Lot

6. Trilogy Of Terror

7. The Cat Creature

8. Dead Of Night

9. The Possessed (with a young Harrison Ford!)

10. Killdozer

-MonsterZero NJ




now playing

vatican tapes



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

Yet another exorcism horror that tells the story of Angela Holmes (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension‘s Olivia Taylor Dudley) one of the demonic cases being investigated by the Vatican. Angela was doing a blog article on the biblical story of the Antichrist and soon started to exhibit disturbing behavior. Convinced there is something demonic involved, a local priest, Father Lozano (Michael Peña) contacts his superiors at the Vatican to join the fight against what might possibly be the Antichrist itself.

On the positive side, director Mark Neveldine (The Crank flicks) does give this horror some atmosphere from Christopher Borrelli and Chris Morgan’s story and script, but the film is so cliché and gets so overblown by it’s last act, that he accomplishes little with it. We get every exorcism scenario in the book from dive bombing black birds, to the demonic voices speaking in another language, to contorting limbs from our victim. The film delivers nothing new nor uses the familiar tropes in a fresh or interesting way, so the film fails to get our attention. When it is revealed in the last act that Angela is the embodiment of the Antichrist itself, it just feels overblown and silly. The exorcism attempt by Lozano and Vatican Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) is tired and by the numbers and our open ending implying apocalyptic doom just makes us roll our eyes instead of hide them behind our fingers. It’s all been done before and quite a lot recently, so it is just routine and un-involving. The film lacks any of the energy of Neveldine’s Crank movies and it could have used some to wake us and the tired story up.

The cast is actually pretty good. Leading lady Olivia Taylor Dudley tries hard to look and act possessed and evil and if she were in a better film with better dialog we might have appreciated her efforts more. Peña is likable and solid as Father Lozano, but it is a cliché role as is Andersson’s Cardinal Bruun. Dijmon Hounsou appears briefly as a very concerned high level Vatican official and is also solid in a small role. Dougray Scott is a bit overbearing as Angela’s military dad, but that basically is the character. Rounding out is John Patrick Amedori as Angela’s boyfriend and Kathleen Robertson as Angela’s psychiatrist, while she is locked up for her increasingly violent behavior. Both their roles are fairly stereotypical.

Not much to recommend here. The film is of a subject that has become very routine in horror recently and done in a way that doesn’t freshen it up or make it interesting. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and tells a story oft told and told better. It has a good cast and a little atmosphere, but it’s not enough to recommend one sit through it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 cliché black birds.
vatican tapes rating








now playing

ed Wood poster


ED WOOD (1994)

Halloween Favorites is back and this Tim Burton classic is certainly a fun Halloween season watch when you need a break from decapitations, masked killers and lurking fiends.

Ed Wood is a twisted and funny film that delightfully tells the story of arguably the worst filmmaker in history, Edward Wood Jr. Johnny Depp plays the ambitious Wood whose passion for making amateurish sci-fi/horror movies by far eclipsed his actually talent. The film follows the wannabe director through the making of some of his most infamous flicks, like Glen Or Glenda, Bride Of The Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space and his relationship with an oddball assortment of characters, including a drug addicted Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau), TV hostess Vampira (Lisa Marie), wrestler/actor Tor Johnson (WWE’s George “The Animal” Steele), drag queen Bunny Breckinridge (Bill Murray) and fortune teller Criswell (Jeffrey Jones). It also takes us into his equally odd personal life, including his relationships with wannabe actress Dolores Fuller (Sarah Jessica Parker) and his future wife Kathy (Patrica Arquette) along with his love for wearing women’s clothes.

This is one of Burton’s best films, as he directs Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski’s script with healthy doses of respect and heart. While Burton has a lot of fun with Wood’s story and the making of some of his most notorious films, never at any time does he make fun of Wood, or treat the man with contempt. Wood’s life makes for a movie as strange and off-beat as one of his own productions and the director knows it and films the story in black and white and in the same whimsical style as if we were watching one of Wood’s films, only about Wood. The film is loaded with atmosphere, charm and a lot of entertaining and oddball bits as Wood certainly lived in his own little world and Burton takes us into it. Burton also captures the spirit of Hollywood in the 50s and and the spirit of a man who wants to break into movies and be remembered for his films…and he is…though not the way he wanted. The movie’s atmosphere is enhanced with Danny Elfman’s boisterous score and Stephan Czapsky’s sumptuous black and white cinematography.

The cast is fantastic, with Depp really having a blast as the goofy, cross-dressing amateur filmmaker. He gives him passion, a kind heart and wonderfully naive charm. He is only outshined by Landau who is truly incredible…and sympathetic…as the aging, morphine addicted Bela Lugosi. The two have a wonderful chemistry together and make this odd pairing work. Lisa Marie and George Steele are perfectly cast as Vampira and Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson, who appeared in a few of Wood’s flicks. Jones is also perfect as the bizarre psychic Criswell and Murray steals every scene as drag queen and Wood associate, Bunny Breckinridge. As his love interests, Parker gives us a frustrated woman who gradually snaps at being drawn into the bizarre world her boyfriend lives in and Arquette is sweet and has almost an innocent quality, as the woman that would become Wood’s wife till he died in 1978.

This is a great movie about one of the worst directors of all-time. A man now idolized for his awful…yet, oddly very entertaining…flicks. The film chooses to focus on the more off-beat aspects of Wood’s life, while avoiding the subject of his depression and alcoholism, though it does not shy away from Lugosi’s. Burton chooses to make a more whimsical take on Wood’s life and that works very well considering how bizarre and surreal his films were. It’s a spoof, that never makes fun of it’s subject and never looks down upon this amusingly terrible filmmaker. A fun movie that indirectly captures the Halloween spirit far better than some films with more direct intent. Sadly, the film was a box office disappointment, but has developed a much deserved cult following and Lugosi did get an Oscar for his amazing turn as Lugosi.

-MonsterZero NJ

4 Woods!

ed wood rating




Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

1. “The Martian” $15.9 Million

2. “Goosebumps” $15.5 Million

3. “Bridge Of Spies” $11.4 Million

4. “The Last Witch Hunter” $10.8 Million

5. “Hotel Transylvania 2” $9 Million

6. “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” $8.2 Million

7. “Steve Jobs” $7.3 Million

8. “Crimson Peak” $5.6 Million

9. “The Intern” $3.85 Million

10. “Sicario” $2.95 Million

source: Box Office Mojo




now playing

paranormal activity the ghost dimension



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

I’ve enjoyed the Paranormal Activity series and while I admit it was starting to show definite signs of running out of gas with the much-maligned part 4, there did seem to be a bit of a second wind with the fun spin-off, The Marked Ones. Now we get Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, which is being sold as the series finale, but really doesn’t answer any more questions than the previous entries and doesn’t really make good on some of The Marked Ones‘ promise.

This entry takes place at Christmas time at the home of the Fleeges family. We have Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his pretty wife, Emily (Brit Shaw) and their adorable little girl Leila (Ivy George). They are joined by Ryan’s recently single brother Mike (Dan Gill) and pretty blonde “Auntie Skyler” (Olivia Taylor Dudley), whose actual relationship with the family is never really clear (Emily’s sister?) other than to provide exposition and look hot in Daisy Dukes. They discover a box with an old video camera and VHS tapes, in the house, which reveal young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristie (Jessica Tyler Brown) from Paranormal Activity 3. Upon watching these tapes, they observe some bizarre cult activity with the two girls and strange things begin to occur in their own home. The camera can apparently pick-up ‘spirit photography’ (as per our lovely Auntie Skyler) and Ryan begins to see strange things floating around the house. The activity seems to be focused on Leila and as the activity grows and Leila’s behavior begins to change, the Fleeges begin to fear there is something dark and dangerous in their home…and evidence indicates they have been targeted by something sinister. Somebody call an exorcist!

Series editor Gregory Plotkin directs from a story and script by no less than five people. While he actually doesn’t do a bad job for his first outing, the script doesn’t really give him that much new to work with till the last act, and while that adds a few new wrinkles, it doesn’t come close to providing a satisfying finale. Odd that five people working for two years couldn’t come up with anything more then basically just another installment. The spirit camera gimmick looses it’s novelty quickly and since our imaginations can concoct far worse than any FX technician, demon “Toby” is reduced to just another CGI phantom that has become all too common in this digital effects age. He’s not that impressive now that he’s been outed and we are no longer as afraid of him. At least in previous entries we never knew where he would strike from next. Here we can see him coming. Plotkin does give us some legitimate tension and chills, but the movie really doesn’t go too far from where any previous entry went and when we finally find out what the witch coven “The Mid-Wives” want, it’s basically nothing that the demon/exorcism movie of the week hasn’t done before. There is some cool stuff with the dimension portal introduced in Marked Ones and some fun use of PA3 footage, but the film seems to only casually address elements in the last two films with throwaway lines and even uses that same approach with a major character, leaving her fate a loose end. Even the climax leaves us at a point where there is obviously more to the story, so, as a finale, this feels far from final. The usual complaints are still here, too. Such as, why don’t they ever put the camera down, even when in danger and why don’t these people seem anything more than moderately curious when discovering there is a demonic entity stalking their child…and did no one think of Windex-ing the demonic symbols said child drew, off the wall? She’s continually allowed to sleep in a bed surrounded by writing that has been identified as demonic in nature. Bad parenting indeed! Suffice to say, characters do not behave logically or practically as the film progresses and we wonder if “The Mid-Wives” indeed made the right choice as this clan seems to be walking right into their sinister plot perfectly…and with predictable results.

The cast were fine and at least the characters where likable. Murray is fun as dad Ryan who is quite fascinated at first by the camera, tapes and odd goings on. The script doesn’t have him or anyone else as scared or concerned as they should be, but that’s not the actor’s fault. Gill is amusing as Ryan’s goofball brother and provides the comic relief, which is welcome at times. Ivy George is adorable as little Leila and escapes annoying child syndrome, so, we like and care about her. She does good work for a tyke. The Paranormal Activity series continues the tradition of hot mom’s and good-looking supporting characters with Brit Shaw’s pretty girl-next-door mom Emily, who seems a little more concerned about the lurking demon than her husband, and Olivia Taylor Dudley (also seen recently in The Vatican Tapes) whose character’s purpose may be questionable, but she’s hot, so we’ll tolerate it. We also get familiar faces such as Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown and Hallie Foote returning as young Katie, Kristie and Grandma Lois respectively. Notice anybody missing?…grrrr!*

Didn’t hate it, but it is a big disappointment for those looking for a solid finale and tied up loose ends. New director Gregory Plotkin doesn’t do a bad job but is working from a script compiled by five people and it does teeter on the edge of mess at times. The flick has a few new wrinkles that are amusing enough but falls back on familiar series tropes and makes a bit of a mistake in revealing its series villain as just another CGI spook, after five films left him to our own overactive imaginations. There are…as usual with this series…just as many loose ends as there are questions answered, leaving the door ajar in case this makes a boatload of cash and Toby returns once more.

*As a personal gripe, how can you end a series without its lead character (aside from Toby) is beyond me. Boo!

-MonsterZero NJ

  Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) spooks…it earns a few ‘hottie in Daisy Dukes’ extra points.

paranormal activity 5 rating





now playing

dark was the night



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

I remember reading a supposedly true story when I was a little kid called The Devil Walked In Devon about the citizens of a snow covered English town in 1855 awaking to find a trail of cloven hoof footprints leading all through the village and neighboring towns, then stopping suddenly as if the maker vanished into thin air. As a kid, the story spooked me and stayed with me. I was delighted then to see that screenwriter Tyler Hisee cleverly incorporated that chilling tale in his story of a mysterious creature stalking a remote town.

As the film opens, we see the death of some logging crew members and then are taken 90 miles south to the remote town of Maiden Woods, whose population is well below 300. We are introduced to emotionally troubled sheriff, Paul Shields (Kevin Duran) who is suffering the effects of the accidental death of one of his young sons. He blames himself. His wife, Susan (Bianca Kajlich) has moved out and his other son, Adam (Ethan Khusidman) is caught in the middle. Soon, martial problems are the least of his worries as pets are disappearing and the usually abundant wildlife has all but fled the area. One morning, a trail of strange cloven footprints is found making it’s way through the entire town and paranoia begins to spread. Something is stalking the town of Maiden Woods, something vicious, strong and very hungry. Now it’s up to Shields and his transplanted New York deputy (Lukas Haas) to stop the mysterious creature before it begins to feed on the only source of food left…the citizens of Maiden Woods.

Directed by Jack Heller from Hisee’s script this is an atmospheric and spooky little movie that smartly keeps it’s mysterious monster in the dark for most of the film. It’s a slow burning horror/thriller in a time of rapid pace and the film benefits from it, as we get to know the characters and care about them as the threat looms and grows. Heller never lets us forget there is something formidable in the surrounding woods and we are constantly treated to spooky close calls with it, as well as, the effects of it’s nocturnal visits. He builds the tension slowly till we are treated to a tense final act with the desperate townsfolk huddled in a church during a snow storm with a creature lurking outside. If the film has any flaws, and it has a few, it’s that the ending could have been a bit more intense, with a little more cat and mouse inside the large church and when we finally see our fiend, the brief CGI is less than convincing. It’s a bit of a disappointment as we’ve been treated to shots of prosthetic limbs throughout, but the full creature is only moderately successful computer generation. It doesn’t drag the film down too bad as Heller has given his creature a formidable personality, it just didn’t have the impact it needed. Adding to the look and feel of the film are Ryan Samul’s atmospheric cinematography and Darren Morze’s moody score, which help us ease past those flaws a bit.

We get a solid cast here, too. Durand, usually known for supporting roles, is a fine and humanly flawed hero. His Paul has both a strength and an obvious sadness than makes him endearing and refreshingly vulnerable. Haas makes a likable Deputy Donny. He’s a bit of a fish out of water being a former NYC cop, who came to Maiden Woods to escape his own personal pains and he is a loyal partner for Shields. Bianca Kajlich is also fine as the wife who has lost a child and is maybe running away from the fact that she is loosing her husband too, to grief. She and Durand have a nice chemistry onscreen so we believe the emotions of their strained relationship. We also get some solid support from indie horror fixture Nick Damici (Stake Land, Late Phases) and Skateland‘s Heath Freeman as town locals.

This was an enjoyable monster flick with some nice atmosphere and chills from director Jack Heller. The script from Tyler Hisee cleverly incorporates a real life spooky folk tale in it’s story which helps build the sense of foreboding. The climax could have used a bit more intensity and the creature’s final unveiling could have had more impact but, it’s a little horror flick with it’s heart and chills in the right place. A fun and spooky movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 deer…though you’d be hard-pressed to find that many in Maiden Woods.
dark was the night rating



MZNJ_New_TONnow playing

nightmare city posterbars


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

Italian filmmaker Umberto Lenzi is probably most known for his notorious cannibal film Cannibal Ferox, thought, many believe this to be his best film. Story has a radioactive spill occurring at a nuclear power facility and a group of people becoming contaminated by the radiation. It gives them a mutated appearance, superhuman strength and an appetite for blood, as the radiation depletes their red blood cells. These mutated, zombie-like creatures lay siege to a nearby city and soon all bloody hell is breaking loose as they kill and spread the contamination. The film focuses on the efforts of the military to contain and stop the outbreak, while a news reporter (Hugo Stiglitz) and his doctor wife (Laura Trotter) try to get out of the city alive.

The fact that this nonsensical flick has three writers attached to it is actually the most entertaining thing about it. The film has a bare bones plot, but is basically a series of random ultra-violent attack sequences as the creatures butcher their victims in a variety of ways. It gets tiresome quickly and despite a lot of gore, it and the make-up effects are cheesy, even for an 1980s Italian gore movie. The story makes little sense as the ‘zombies’ appear to be animalistic and bloodthirsty one moment, then very coordinated and strategic the next. They savagely rip their victims apart yet, seem to be organized enough in their attack patterns and smart enough to hijack and fly a plane, then later take out the airports to avoid military bombings. They seem crazed and don’t speak, but act as if their is distinct communication between them and possibly leadership, but we never see or hear evidence of it. Even more ridiculous is that the army figures out quite early that they can be stopped by a bullet to the brain, yet soldiers and police rarely use that option when in direct combat. It’s just silly. There is no suspense and Lenzi doesn’t seem to have much in terms of choreographing in the mayhem, so the film almost seems made up as it goes along. If not for the continual violence and bloodshed, which as stated, gets quite monotonous early on, there really isn’t much to recommend as the acting, dialog, story and action are all bad…and it’s up to you as to how much entertainment you can find in such epic fail badness.

So, despite liking these 80s Italian flicks and certainly having a strong tolerance for bad in my movies, I found Nightmare City to be tedious, repetitive and just, overall, bad. This flick has it’s fans and I can understand why, but even my ‘so bad it’s good’ tastes couldn’t find much to entertain me with this. I was not a big fan of Cannibal Ferox either, but did find some amusement in Lenzi’s scatterbrained Ghosthouse. Apparently this flick is set to be remade with horror legend Tom Savini in the director’s chair…and this is one flick that could use an update!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) irradiated zombies with make-up and acting of equal badness!

nightmare city rating