BARE BONES: CREED

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CREED (2015)

Creed tells the story of Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed. After his mother died, he has been bounced around foster care till taken in by Creed’s widow (Phylicia Rashad). Fighting is in his blood and no matter how hard he tries working nine to five, he wants to box. Adonis leaves L.A. and travels to Philadelphia to find the one man who can train him to be as great as his father…Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).

This is a very entertaining and heartfelt drama about a young man trying to live up to a legacy while also trying to cement his own. As directed by Ryan Coogler, from a script by he and Aaron Covington, it avoids the boxing movie clichés, for the first two thirds, by being about the man not the sport. There is also a wonderful passing of the torch element as Balboa trains the son of a man who was both his best friend and biggest rival. The acting is very strong from Jordan, who proves he is a star on the rise and Stallone, who proves that despite his larger than life action roles, when he plays humble, he is a damn good actor. Supporting cast such as Phylicia Rashad and Tessa Thompson as “Donnie’s” love interest Bianca are also very solid in their roles. If the film has any weakness it’s the actual fight in the last act. Adonis officially takes on the name of Creed to battle British bad boy “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew), the fight is rather by-the-numbers and pretty much plays out how you’d expect. It doesn’t quite have the thrills as the earlier Rocky film battles. Still, the film isn’t about the fight, it is about the fighter and the man behind him and as that, it is quite satisfying without being overly sentimental. A really good film with real good work from it’s cast and a script that smartly focuses on it’s well-written characters.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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BARE BONES: THE HATEFUL EIGHT

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015)

Latest flick from Quentin Tarantino finds bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) heading to the town of Red Rock with his latest acquisition, murderess Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). They are reluctantly in the company of another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and there is a massive blizzard on it’s way. Ruth, Warren and a group of others find themselves taking shelter at a remote haberdashery to wait out the storm. The owners are suspiciously absent and now Ruth begins to suspect he’s walked into a trap with possible associates of Miss Domergue. As they are all snowbound together, paranoia begins to take over as no one knows who they can trust. Accusations begin to fly, can bullets be far behind?

If I am to sum up Quentin Tarantino’s latest in one word it would be underwhelmed. The film is well directed and certainly looks great, as Tarantino knows how to frame a shot. It’s just that it is a very long winded mystery/thriller at almost three hours and there are tedious stretches of dialog that seem to drag on. Tarantino is known for his snappy dialog, but here it just seems to meander, taking a long time to accomplish something. Once the bullets and blood start to fly in the last act, it just comes off as gratuitous after such a long time of slowly unraveling what is going on. That and when it is all laid out before us, it’s not all that impressive or a big deal. You kind of feel like “I sat through almost three hours for this?”. There are some really good characters and performances in the flick and it has a great cast, but just takes a long time to not go anywhere all that interesting or far. Not an outright bad movie, just one that is only moderately engaging. Also stars Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen and Channing Tatum.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CHERRY FALLS (2000)

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CHERRY FALLS (2000)

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

Slasher takes place in the town of Cherry Falls, Virginia where in the opening scene, a teen couple parked in a secluded wooded area is slaughtered by what appears to be a women in black with bright red nails and long raven colored hair. The next day it’s all over school and soon after, another teen falls victim to a gruesome death. Local sheriff Marken (Michael Biehn) discovers one odd clue about the vicious serial killings, which is that the victims are all virgins. This is especially of concern to Marken’s daughter Jody (Brittany Murphy) who is a virgin herself. As Jody is indeed targeted by the mysterious killer, the town teens plan a massive party to end their virgin statuses and avoid the killer’s blade. Jody however discovers the story of Loralee Sherman, a high school girl who, twenty-seven years earlier, claimed she was raped by four affluent teens, including the now principal and Jody’s own father. Loralee disappeared after none of the boys were brought to justice and was never heard from again. Is this wronged woman the killer stalking the streets? Has Loralee finally returned for revenge on the town of Cherry Falls?

Despite being made in the post Scream era, slasher avoids the self-awareness and pop culture reference over-indulgence and gives us a more traditional slasher with the twist of it’s killer stalking the usually safe virgins. The script by Ken Selden is not without some sly humor, but is clearly more influenced by the 80s slasher era than with the films spawned by Wes Craven’s hip 90s classic. The film is well-directed by Geoffrey Wright, who plays it fairly straightforward, though it does have some style and atmosphere. It isn’t overly suspenseful and some of the sequences involving the subject of virginity and sex among the town’s teens don’t quite click…although one figures some of the awkwardness is exactly how parents would act and feel discussing the subject in public, or when Marken asks Jody to go all the way to protect herself. There are some intense action sequences, the kills are gruesome and quite bloody and the reveal is interesting and actually works in context of the story, if not a little over-the-top. There is a fitting score by Walter Werzowa and some atmospheric cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond.

The cast works well. Brittany Murphy is solid as Jody. She is a bit of an odd girl and Murphy plays her with an eclectic touch. As the sheriff’s daughter, she can handle herself and as our final girl, we certainly get a glimpse of that aspect of her character. Murphy adds some nice little character moments, such as a scene when Jody’s father lands on top of her during self defense training and she seems to have a brief moment of arousal. She also plays well an awkward attempt at sex with on-again, off-again boyfriend Kenny (Gabriel Mann) that shows Jody may have some budding fetishes as she comes of age. An underrated actress. Michael Biehn is good, as always, as Sheriff Marken. He plays him tough as nails and by-the-book, but not without some nice moments where the dad in him comes through with Jody. Gabriel Mann is a typical teen boy as Jody’s love interest Kenny. Doesn’t know what he wants. Candy Clarke is good as Jody’s mom who is trying a little hard to be a MILF or one of the girls, but has a good relationship with her daughter. Rounding out is Jay Mohr who gives English teacher Mr. Marliston a bit of an eccentric flair. Jody has an attraction toward Marliston which adds to the whole ‘coming of age’ scenario as the older crush which most of us had as teens at one point.

Overall this may not be a classic, but it is a good slasher. The flick is far more influenced by the classic slashers of the 80s than the pop culture reference filled slashers that came after Scream. It has a good cast with a refreshingly offbeat final girl/leading lady in Brittany Murphy’s Jody and there is plenty of vicious kills and some nice atmosphere. Not everything works and Geoffrey Wright’s style is fairly straightforward, but the reveal is fun and does gives us an entertaining and over-the-top finale, that shows just enough restraint to not appear unbalanced from the rest of the flick. A bit of an underrated horror, IMO.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 cherrys. Unbroken at the moment.

cherry falls rating

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)

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BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)

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

1981 slasher may not be a good movie in the traditional sense of the word, but is a fun little flick about a pack of diabolical and homicidal ten year-olds. Flick opens in 1970 where three children are born at the exact same time during a solar eclipse. We jump to 1980 where their birthday draws near and the three have started on a murder spree in their small town. Curtis (Billy Jayne), Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy) and Steven (Andy Freeman) will kill anyone who stands in their way or just for kicks, including Debbie’s sheriff father (Bert Kramer) and her hot sister (Julie Brown). It’s up to classmate Timmy (K.C. Martel) and his older sister Joyce (Lori Lethin) to stop them…if anyone will believe them!

Co-written, with Barry Pearson and directed by Ed Hunt, this is a fun 80s slasher flick. It’s not an overly well made movie, it’s quite cheesy in terms of dialog and acting, but there is some fun from watching the over-the-top trio of murderous tykes. These kids are quite bloodthirsty and quite happy with themselves for their bloody acts. That’s what takes this horror delightfully into camp territory, the absolute glee these three kids show in planning and executing their kills. Just the sight of a ten year old packing a revolver with a deranged smile on his face is worth watching it for. That and how easily these ten year-olds continue to outwit adults and police, even in the killing of the town sheriff and one of their stricter teachers. It’s a lot of fun to watch them take out innocents and members of their own families, not to mention trying to finish off Timmy and Joyce, who are the only ones to figure things out. On a filmmaking level, there is little or no suspense, the dialog is laughable at times and the bloodshed is fairly minimal, but watching this pre-teen Murder Inc. is just a lot of cheesy 80s fun.

The cast make this fun too, especially the kids. As our three homicidal maniacs, Jayne, Hoy and Freeman all perform with over-the-top glee as the plot and carry out heinous acts for their own pleasure, or to hide their evil doings. Jayne and Hoy give their characters a true diabolical malice, though Freeman’s Steven comes off more as a lackey to the other two tykes. Lori Lethin makes a solid and pretty heroine as big sister to Timmy, who has been targeted by the sinister trio. Martel is good as Timmy who is just trying to make someone believe his classmates are literally out to get him. In support, we have a pre-MTV Julie Brown (the white one) showing lots of welcome skin as Debbie’s older sister Beverly and soon to be Cannon Films action icon Michael Dudikoff as Beverly’s boyfriend Willard. Veteran actors José Ferrer and Susan Strasberg have small roles as the kids’ doctor and ill-fated teacher respectively.

In a filmmaking sense it’s not a very good movie, but as entertainment, this one is a lot of fun. We get three really evil bad seeds who gleefully kill with little provocation and do so often. We have an innocent kid caught in their crossfire with only his big sister to believe him, while adults and police remain oblivious. The gore and bloodshed are moderate, but there is some abundant nudity from a young Julie Brown before she became an MTV darling with her music videos and Just Say Julie show. It’s also very 80s and simply very entertaining all the more for taking it’s ridiculous story seriously.

Personal Note: Was it just me or was Debbie’s oblivious mom (Melinda Cordell) kind of a MILF?

-MonsterZero NJ

3 weapons of choice for a homicidal ten year-old.

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES MAR 25-27

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

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

1. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” $170.1 Million

2. “Zootopia” $23.1 Million

3. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” $18.1 Million

4. “Miracles From Heaven” $9.5 Million

5. “Allegiant” $9.5 Million

6. “10 Cloverfield Lane” $6 Million

7. “Deadpool” $5 Million

8. “London Has Fallen” $2.9 Million

9. “Hello, My Name is Doris” $1.6 Million

10. “Eye In The Sky” $1 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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REVIEW: BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)

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BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)

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

The much anticipated match-up between the two greatest comic book characters of all-time is a mess, no doubt about it, but there is a lot to like here, too. The story picks up 18 months after the battle in Metropolis between Superman and Zod and the world is starting to sour over the notion of a man with god-like powers running around of his own volition. Two men particularly being unhappy about it are billionaire Lex Luthor (a completely miscast Jesse Eisenberg) and billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). I guess rich people hate Superman. The Dark Knight saw many Wayne Enterprises employees die in Metropolis and starts to wonder if Superman (Henry Cavill) can be trusted and Lex Luthor is more than happy to give both men a push in the confrontational direction. Will The Bat of Gotham and The Man Of Steel go head to head…and will the world survive it?

The script by Chris Terrio and David Goyer is simply all over the place and a lot of it doesn’t gel. The reasons for Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent to suddenly become so concerned with the activities of The Batman in Gotham is never really clear, as it also doesn’t really completely work that Wayne would develop such an intense hatred for Superman, since he has done a lot of good. The first hour of the film bounces back and forth between a bunch of story-lines, including one about a possible conspiracy to frame Superman for death’s he’s not responsible for and a mysterious woman (Gal Gadot) that keeps popping up in Bruce Wayne’s life. It’s very fractured and takes over an hour to settle into a grove. Zack Snyder is a brilliant visual director, but I never felt he was a strong storyteller and with a very weak and fractured story, it is all the more obvious. The film wanders back and forth without much purpose in the first act when Snyder has little going on that he can turn into spectacle. There is some solid action within the film, though and some nice personal moments, too, but it all comes crashing down when Snyder delivers an even more overblown finale than with Man Of Steel. At that point the overlong film is already getting tiresome, we get an apocalyptic battle with Doomsday and then the film goes on for another 15 minutes, or so, for a very morose conclusion. The battle between Bats and Supes was starting to turn the film around somewhat, then Snyder throws in Doomsday and the film collapses under the weight of more bombastic destruction with a generic CGI monster that generates no menace, whatsoever. Throw in a somber and mopey Superman, some pointless dream sequences and the totally miscalculated portrayal of a creepy Lex Luthor by Eisenberg and it basically is a mess with a few shining moments.

So, what was there to like about it…and surprisingly there is a lot to like. First off, Ben Affleck makes an awesome Bruce Wayne and Batman. While story-wise I wasn’t really sold on his intense hatred for Superman, the character itself was different than we have seen previously, yet really nailed the darkness and the whole Bat persona. His action scenes also really rock and capture the ferocity of a man working out his own inner turmoil. Another very pleasant surprise is Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot isn’t the strongest actress, but when she wades into battle during the climax, she steals the show. Another character the film nails and she was a lot of fun to watch and really lays into Doomsday like a badass. As for the battle between Superman and Batman, it was the highlight of the film and here Snyder showed some surprising restraint. Also we get to really see Batman’s ingenuity and preparedness come to bare as he battles someone who could squash him easily. It’s a shame they had to sully the moment by going into extra innings with Doomsday…though they did need a reason for the World’s Finest to unite. It’s just too bad it’s back to over-the-top and out of control. Obviously the FX are top notch, the film looks great and there is another solid score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.

The cast are a solid except for you-know-who. Cavill is good as Superman, but the script has him pouting and grimacing in anger most of the time and it’s disappointing that we see so little of the hope Superman is supposed to bring. Affleck is great as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. He portrays a man starting to show the effects of aging, who has his own demons and bitterness to deal with and which also motivates him. As Batman, he is truly intimidating and his fight scenes are really nasty and intense like they should be. As his loyal butler Alfred, Jeremy Irons is impeccable and gives us a man who we believe can actually take care of and assist both Bruce Wayne and The Dark Knight. He has a subtle smart-ass quality that really worked. Gal Gadot is a little wooden in her dialog sequences as Diana Prince, but when Wonder Woman joins the fun, she gives her the fire and spirit of a true amazon warrior. She really does steal the scenes she’s in, once she is in battle. Now the big question…Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, what were they thinking? Not everything he does is bad and his part is badly written, but he was more Renfield or Gollum than super villain and his Luthor seems too unhinged to be in control of a multi-billion dollar empire. He comes across as that weird uncle that makes everyone uncomfortable, not a formidable opponent for our heroes. Amy Adams is good again as Lois Lane, but isn’t given much to do but be a damsel in distress. The same goes for Diane Lane. A waste of both their talents as is the same for the barely seen Lawrence Fishburn as Perry White.

So, the eagerly awaited meeting and mash-up of the World’s Finest is a bit of a mess and a mixed bag. On one hand, it delivers a great new Batman, a scene stealing Wonder Woman and a well-done battle between The Dark Knight and The Last Son Of Krypton. On the other hand it’s way too long, gives us a creepy and far too eccentric Lex Luthor, has a really muddled first act and follows up the Bats/Supes battle royal with a ridiculously overblown orgy of destruction featuring a generic CGI monster. There is a lot to like here, but, overall, this dream match is more of a dream mess.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 World’s Finest.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SHROOMS (2007)

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SHROOMS (2007)

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A group of five American college friends travel to Ireland for a backwoods camping trip to sample the local hallucinogenic mushrooms. Their guide Jake (Jack Huston) takes them in the woods to harvest what they came for and later that night tells them a campfire story of a cruel religious sect called The Black Brothers and a massacre they were involved in, in a nearby monastery. He tells them ingesting dangerous mushrooms were the cause of the killings and the only two survivors were a burned young boy and the most heinous of the monks. These two are said to even today haunt the surrounding woods. The more the mushrooms take effect, the more the story begins to impact them. To make matters worse, Tara (Lindsey Haun) has accidentally ingested one of those dangerous mushrooms and begins to see visions of horrible fates befalling her friends…or are they premonitions of what is yet to come? Is it all hallucination, or is there something sinister lurking in the surrounding countryside?

Irish horror is written by Pearse Elliot and directed by Paddy Breathnach and has a good time with having it’s cast stoned and thus not sure what they are seeing or hearing is real…which translates to the audience. It also has fun with Tara seeing horrible things that may…or may not…be coming to pass and having her frantic over trying to prevent her friends’ possible fates. It’s not a great movie and isn’t exactly overly suspenseful or intense, but it does have a good time with it’s premise. Breathnach has a nice visual eye and uses some varied digital effects to portray the constant hallucinogenic state of our six characters. There is some decent bloodshed…or is there?…and if the film really falters is that you can easily guess the big reveal long before the climax. Other than that, it is an amusing enough slasher where it takes a while to find out if any of the slashing is really occurring and if so, who or what is responsible. On a production level, the film looks good under Nanu Segal’s lens, the score by Dario Marianelli is suiting and the locations and well-rendered FX help enhance the atmosphere of the moody Irish backwoods setting. Not a classic, but an enjoyable horror flick with an amusing stoner twist.

The cast are all adequate. Girl-next-door type Lindsay Haun makes a cute and suitable leading lady. She conveys well the confusion and horror of a women who is having terrible visions pertaining to her friends and is trying to prevent them from coming to pass. As the Irish guide and Tara’s love interest, Jack Huston has some charisma though his thick accent isn’t always clearly understandable. The supporting players are all adequate as stereotypical American college characters with Robert Hoffman as the obnoxious and loud, Bluto (an Animal House reference?), Alice Greczyn as the hippie chick, Holly, Max Kasch as the stoner, Troy and Maya Hazen as the party girl, Lisa.

Overall, this is an enjoyable enough flick. It takes the ‘Americans in a strange land finding peril’ scenario and adds a hallucinogenic twist to keep us guessing as to if what we see happening is real or not. Our characters also are having trouble discerning hallucination from reality and that’s fun too. There is some some decent bloodshed and if anything really takes this down a few pegs, it’s that we can see the big reveal coming a mile away. An amusing Irish horror.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 psilocybin mushrooms.

shrooms rating

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DEATH WISH (1974)

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DEATH WISH (1974)

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Death Wish is a classic film and one of the most renown for legendary star Charles Bronson before Cannon Films turned it into a overblown franchise. The grim tale is of Paul Kersey (Bronson), a successful NYC architect with a beautiful daughter (Kathleen Tolan) and a loving wife (Hope Lang). The crime rate in the city is rising and it hits home for Kersey as a group of thugs (including a young Jeff Goldblum) targets his wife and daughter. His wife is beaten to death and his daughter brutally raped to the point of being non-resposive. The peaceful, former combat medic then changes his liberal thinking and takes to the streets to teach the criminal element a lesson…one bullet at a time.

The film is based on a book by Brian Garfield and written for the screen by Wendell Mayes. Michael Winner was chosen to direct, having worked with Bronson before on The Mechanic and The Stone Killer. Winner has a very by-the-numbers directing style and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as anything flashier would have taken this into exploitation territory, which it skates quite close to already. The scene of the thugs assaulting Kersey’s wife and daughter is still as brutally effective as it was back in 1974 and it gives us reason to be behind Kersey when he starts slimming the NYC mugger population. The scenes of Bronson stalking the streets are effective, as is the turmoil inside the NYC police department when they realize someone is doing their job with far more brutal efficiency. There is obviously violence and Winner does give the NYC streets of that era a very desolate look at night, where danger does lurk on every corner. If the film stumbles, it’s for an over-obvious trip to Arizona that introduces Kersey to a community not afraid to bare arms and even has him returning to NYC with a gift of a six shooter. It’s a big plot contrivance to get Kersey armed and in kill mode and thankfully the film settles down to a more down to earth second half when Kersey becomes a vigilante folk hero cleaning up the streets. Racial issues are touched on briefly, but not made a major issue and the script does lay out some sequences and dialog that seem a bit corny at this point in time. There is an effective score by Herbie Hancock and Arthur J. Ornitz captures the urban jungle quite nicely with his camera work. A film that resonated with audiences at a time where NYC was more known for it’s crime wave than it’s Broadway shows.

The cast is top notch. Bronson does the stone faced performance that he is famous for, though does give Kersey some heart especially in the early scenes with his family and the aftermath of the attack. He takes the tough guy thing down a few notches so Kersey is believable as a normal family man driven to drastic measures for revenge. Hope Lang paints a portrait of a loving wife and mother in her brief screen time and it helps makes us sympathetic to her cruel end. Vincent Gardenia is the NY cop caught between catching a killer and the political backlash of the vigilante lowering the crime rate. Steven Keats is also effective as Kersey’s son-in-law and conveys his heartache well. Some future stars also appear as muggers, such as the before mentioned Jeff Goldblum, an uncredited Denzel Washington and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, who would become a star in Cooley High and on Welcome Back Kotter a year later.

Death Wish may be a little dated, especially since the NYC clean-up of the early 90s, but it’s strength still remains. It’s a story of an average man driven to desperate acts to avenge the brutal crimes randomly committed on his loved ones. It portrays NYC as a crime ridden jungle with Bronson doing what he is a film legend for and stalking the stalkers. Sure some of the dialog is corny, and it can be a bit over obvious too…especially the contrived Arizona scenes…but is still an effective thriller even today and has the guts to not give it’s story a neat and clean ending either. Death Wish spawned a bunch of imitators, including the trash classic The Exterminator and it’s own franchise that brought Kersey and his guns out for four more movies. Now there is talk of a remake.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 bullets.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ISOLATION (2005)

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ISOLATION (2005)

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Irish horror finds down-on-his-luck farmer Dan (John Lynch) allowing John (Marcel Iureș), a scientist from a bio-corporation, to do genetic experiments on his cows for money. It is not only supposed to accelerate their growth, but increase fertility at an earlier age. The experiment goes awry and a calf is not only born with genetic defects, but pregnant with strange little creatures. The pretty local vet Orla (The Babadook’s Essie Davis), who is assisting John, tries to destroy them all, but one gets away and the parasitic creature now seeks a host to gestate and reproduce. It’s bite is also infectious making it even more dangerous. This puts Dan, Orla, two drifters camped out near Dan’s property (Sean Harris and Ruth Negga) and John in deep trouble as they try to stop it. Can they escape Dan’s isolated farm alive…should they?

Written and directed by Billy O’Brien, this is an effective and entertaining horror despite some familiar plot elements. We have seen stories about genetic experiments gone wrong, often, as we have ones about mutations that can reproduce and infect others very quickly. O’Brien uses these tropes well in creating atmosphere and tension as our small group of people try to stop the little bugger from getting off the farm or reproducing. His script gives us realistic characters throw into a nightmarish situation and he also plays around with our expectations as to who will survive…if any…and who is monster fodder. This keeps us off balance and unnerved, as on that level he doesn’t deliver what’s expected. This adds to the tension and if O’Brien is not keeping us in suspense as to where our beastie is and what it’s up to, he’s delivering some generous blood and gore and a vey unusual looking creature. It all makes for a solid little horror that may not be the most original in terms of story, but has a director who uses the familiar elements very well and to good effect.

One of the reasons the film also works is that we do like most of the characters and the actors help. John Lynch gives us a simple farmer in Dan, who makes a bad decision to save his farm and now regrets it greatly. He conveys that regret and the desire to make things right and stop the monster, very well. Nine years before she delivered a stunning performance in The Babadook, Essie Davis gives us a likable women in Orla, who has also has made a bad decision in helping the genetics firm mess with Dan’s cows. Like Dan, she is horrified at the result and yearns to see it stopped before it spreads. Marcel Iureș gives us a scientist, who while is basically the human villain of the piece, at first doesn’t seem so bad. He has us fooled for a while, then delivers a solid bad guy scientist when his true colors come through. As the drifters, Negga and Harris make a likable duo of not so innocents who get drawn into a nightmare, but valiantly try to help. A small but effective cast.

Not a perfect flick or overly original, but a solidly entertaining one from Billy O’Brien. It has plot elements we’ve seen before, but uses them well and effectively. The director creates some nice mood, atmosphere and tension and doesn’t skimp on the gore or critters either. The FX are well rendered, without any CGI and the cast all do good work with their respective characters, which helps make them believable and identifiable. A solid horror from Irish filmmaker O’Brien.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 cows who don’t remember being asked about participating in genetic experiments.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: A COLD NIGHT’S DEATH (1973)

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A COLD NIGHT’S DEATH (1973)

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Flick is a 1973 TV thriller that aired on ABC’s Tuesday Night Movie. Mystery/horror involves two scientists (Robert Culp and Eli Wallach) who are sent to take over research duties from a third scientist at a remote mountain top base. They are doing behavioral experiments on monkeys for space travel and the current scientist sent some bizarre messages before losing contact. They arrive and find him dead under some very odd circumstances, but are ordered to continue his work. Soon strange occurrences haunt the remote base such as lights going on and off, doors and windows being opened and the heat being turned off. The two scientists start to point fingers at each other and as their time there stretches on, they begin to turn on each other refusing to believe that they and their test subjects, may not be alone.

Written by Christopher Knopf and directed by Jerrold Freedman, this is actually a very tense and disturbing little thriller from a time where television was producing a lot of quality horror, supernatural and Sci-fi TV movies. We get a cold and remote setting, which sets us up already with a sense of claustrophobia and then throws in some very unsettling circumstances in the mysterious death of the previous inhabitant, who seemed to allow himself to freeze to death. The two men don’t seem to agree as to how this man died and it sets up a growing distance between the two scientists as strange things start to happen around them. The suspense and tension cranks as they start to suspect each other of first, some sort of game, then possibly of some sort of psychological imbalance. It’s a great two man play as these men start to unravel and turn on each other, pointing fingers and making accusations as to what is going on around them. The big reveal comes in the last moments and the final frames will stick with you when we finally find out what is happening at Summit Base.

Aside from the simians this is a tight two man cast with Michael C. Gwynne’s helicopter pilot only seen briefly at the beginning. The rest of the 74 minutes it’s just Culp and Wallach, who do excellent work. They start out as two men who are colleagues and have worked together before. Both actors work well together and convey being unnerved at the death of ‘Dr. Vogel’ from the start. Each man has conflicting theories, which plants a bit of a seed of discontent right from the beginning. Soon as the activity inside the snow surrounded base gets weirder and weirder, the men are ripe to start blaming each other. Both actors really do well in portraying the gradual sense of mistrust that becomes suspicion and paranoia and then finally outright hostility. It’s a nice character study that really focuses on the destruction of these men’s professional and personal relationship due to some outside influence neither seems to be able to identify…and thus they point fingers at each other. Great performances from both actors..

This was a really cool flick! It was taunt and suspenseful and really kept you guessing until the final few scenes. The portrayal of paranoia and suspicion was really well done, as was the element of two people basically trapped together with the possibility of one or both losing their marbles and being a danger to the other…or is that what they are supposed to believe? The revelations comes almost at the very end and it will really unsettle you and take you by surprise. A really good little thriller with a classy cast!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scientists à la Mode.

a cold nights death rating

 

 

 

 

 

Couldn’t find a trailer so, how about the full movie…

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