TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE LOST EMPIRE (1983)

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THE LOST EMPIRE (1983)

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The Lost Empire is a fun B-movie exploitation flick from writer/director Jim Wynorski (The Return Of Swamp Thing, Chopping Mall), who made a career churning out comic book-style cheese like this. In his first film, Wynorski spins a James Bond-esque yarn with hot girls and evil bad guys, with some supernatural elements as well. An attempted robbery in a Chinatown antique store brings hot inspector Angel Wolfe (Melanie Vincz) on the case. As her policeman brother Rob (Phantasm’s Bill Thornbury) was mortally wounded during the incident, this one is personal. The trail leads to the mysterious and powerful jewels, The Eyes Of Avatar and to the island fortress of Golgatha where cult leader Sin Do (the legendary Angus Scrimm) is building an army. Wolfe needs to infiltrate the island and find out why Sin Do wants the Eyes Of Avatar so badly. She brings Native America warrior Whitestar (Raven De La Croix) and ex-con Heather McClure (Angela Aames) along with her, to even up the odds. Once there, the three women must somehow stop the mystical Sin Do’s diabolical plan and get off his island fortress alive.

Obviously, this flick is not to be taken seriously for one minute and Wynorski knows this and flaunts it. He has a fun time with his 007 style plot with it’s island fortress and megalomaniacal villain and instead of a dapper British agent, throws in three gorgeous stripper types instead. He fills the island with beautiful women and evil henchman…all seemingly played by movie bad guy Robert Tessier…and gives us a delightfully over the top villain from Scrimm. The sets are 70s TV show cheesy, as are Ernest D. Farino’s SPFX and Steve Neil’s make-up, but it’s all in good fun, so who cares? The acting by our three babes is fairly wooden, but they give it their all and the delivery of the cheesy dialogue…Raven De La Croix’s constant Native American puns are hysterically awful…makes one giggle in spite of one’s self. Wynorski takes any opportunity to show some skin from some of our female players, but evens things up by having his hotties kick some bad guy ass as often as they shed their clothes. It’s all in exploitation movie fun and and even comes wrapped in a very 80s electronic score by frequent John Carpenter collaborator Alan Howarth. It’s a B-movie good time and a good example of exploitation cinema at it’s most fun.

This is an entertaining, goofy B-movie that makes no apologies for it and revels in it. It has a silly sci-fi/spy movie plot that is a flimsy excuse to get it’s three beautiful leading ladies into flimsier outfits and less. It’s got low budget action, cheesy SPFX , over-the-top villains and a horde of hardbody hotties and just simply has a lot of fun with it all. Very 80s and sadly the type of movie they don’t make anymore.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Actor Blackie Dammett who stars as the evil Prager is the father of Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 butt kicking, clothes shedding hotties.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)

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MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)

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Old school slasher flick tells the story of an approaching ten year high school reunion being attended by a group of friends who meet beforehand at a remote house in the California hills. Obviously, by our opening scene, there is a killer stalking them and killing them in ways that reference their yearbook’s ‘most likely’ quotes about them. Is it the student they teased and tormented in school now back for revenge?…or does someone else have a grudge against these ill-fated alumni?

Flick is directed by Anthony DiBlasi (Cassadaga, Last Shift) who gives the proceedings a sense of grisly fun despite not having the strongest script from Laura Brennan. It’s hard to tell sometimes if Brennan is deliberately trying to pay homage to the 80s era slashers by having characters do dumb things, like separate individually to check the rooms of the house once they know a killer is at large, or stopping to bare each other’s souls while that killer is at large, who could attack at any minute. Some of the dialogue is a bit clunky and a few of the kills would have required the killer knowing exactly where someone is going beforehand for things to be set up and waiting. It’s just hard to tell if some of this is done on purpose, or just out of lack of imagination, as sometimes the script follows the classic 80s slasher formula and sometimes it seems like it wants to be it’s own thing. There is some cleverness, too, such as the killer’s yearbook based MO and his weapon of choice, a razor edged graduation cap. The script, thankfully, also avoids going the smarmy, pop culture reference imbued post-Scream route, which has been done to death. We also get a fairly surprising reveal and the film does have a bit of a twisted sense of humor. On a production level, DiBlasi again proves he is a talent to watch. He makes the most out of the script and turns this into an enjoyable slasher with some suspenseful scenes, intense action and some inventively gory kills with that razor edged graduation cap, a box cutter and some other handy items. Some of the demises are quite vicious and gives our killer some solid menace. As for the killer, they are very effective with graduation gown and spooky homemade mask and they seem quite giddy when they slaughter their victims. The gore is quite abundant and well done and DiBlasi’s visual style works well with the story. Not his strongest film, but still very entertaining.

Except for Glee alumni Heather Morris, Jake Busey and a part played by internet gossip Perez Hilton, the cast are fairly unfamiliar faces. Morris shows the makings for a good heroine here and is solid as good girl Gaby. Busey is suitably creepy as the groundskeeper..always gotta have a creepy groundskeeper…and Hilton is actually good as a cowardly, ex-alcoholic returning to old habits once things get intense. The rest of the cast are all fine in their roles with Tess Christiansen showing some final girl potential herself as Gaby’s friend Jade.

I had fun with this despite it’s flaws. The script could have been tighter, but it’s heart is in the right place and it did follow the slasher formula well enough to entertain. There are some nice touches and Anthony DiBlasi guides things well, gives us some nice suspense, some outrageous and brutal kills and keeps the atmosphere going from the opening scenes. Not as intense as Last Shift but a fun slasher flick with an effective killer.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 graduation caps

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BARE BONES: SACRIFICE, KRÜEL and TREEHOUSE

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SACRIFICE (2016)

When Dr. Tora Hamilton (Radha Mitchell) moves to rural Scotland to live with her husband (Rupert Graves) in his ancestral homeland, it’s not soon after that she finds the body of a woman buried in her backyard. With the victim’s heart removed and strange runes carved in the flesh, it has all the markings of a ritualistic killing. The local officials seem to want to brush it off as a relic of the past, but Tora feels the corpse is far fresher than implied. As she begins her own investigation, she discovers not only a conspiracy, but the possibility that ancient ritualistic killings are still being conducted. Worse still, someone doesn’t want the truth revealed and Tora might be the next victim to silence her.

Written and directed by Peter A. Dowling from Sharon Bolton’s book, flick plays like a Lifetime drama with a female main character battling a dangerous conspiracy that may include someone close to her. It’s well done and the actors do adequate work, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before and many times. It adds nothing new to the ‘stranger in a strange land uncovering evil’ scenario and as thrillers go, is very routine and by-the-numbers. It’s never boring, but is predictable and lacks any real energy or innovation to keep it fresh. An OK diversion if there is nothing else on.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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KRÜEL (2015)

Pretty teen babysitter Jo (Kierney Nelson) has an unsettling run-in with a creepy ice cream man complete with clown face-paint and inappropriate advances towards her. Soon after, one of her charges, little Elliot, disappears on her watch and is thought drowned in a nearby lake. While Jo is devastated, she also believes the creepy ice cream man had something to do with the little boy’s disappearance. She starts her own investigation with her ex-boyfriend Ben (Dakota Morrissiey) and soon finds that odd loner Willie (J.T. Cinn) maybe be the suspect. As she investigates the strange local man further, she realizes she might have put herself in mortal danger.

Dull flick from writer/director Robert Henderson puts too much emphasis on the soap opera relationship between Jo and Ben and the sappy personal dramas going on, than actually trying to generate suspense or scares. It’s slow paced with some wooden acting from the cast and even peppers it’s soft-lit melodramatic scenes with cheesy piano music. Add in some awful dialog and every cliché you can think of and this is a tedious flick at just over 90 minutes. We know from the start who the creepy clown is, so its no surprise and we also know he will eventually get his mitts on the Nancy Drew-like Jo. It’s also quite obvious that this town has the laziest police force on the planet, who won’t investigate even when it is apparent that the plucky babysitter is in trouble. There actually is some creepy life to the scenes with Jo held in the backwoods campground that is Willie’s home, but it is over too soon and blows a chance for a daring ending by wrapping everything up in a neat and pretty bow. Dull, unoriginal and ends just as it was starting to be effective. Actress Kierney Nelson also produced.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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TREEHOUSE (2014)

Despite there being a curfew in town due to some recent disappearances, two brothers, Killian (J. Michael Trautmann) and Crawford (Daniel Fredrick) sneak out to join friends in shooting off fireworks in the nearby woods. When their friends don’t arrive, the brothers explore the area and discover an old treehouse. Inside they discover one of the missing teens Elzabeth (Dana Melanie) who is hiding there from some deranged individuals who have now set their sights on all three of them.

Film is directed competently by Michael Bartlett from a script by Miles Harrington and Alex Child. It’s a mildly entertaining entry in the psycho redneck sub-genre and has some suspenseful and effective scenes, if overall nothing new. The acting is decent enough with pretty Dana Melaine showing some potential as the strong-willed country girl Elizabeth. There are definitely some questions left unanswered, such as to why the trio of vicious rednecks don’t just go in the treehouse and finish them. There are also some conveniences that stick out, like the crash of a police car that enables our young protagonists to become armed. Add to that a very sudden ending that doesn’t quite complete the story and the film could have been more satisfying. There is some good stuff, too as the film is visually atmospheric and our villains are effectively sadistic and we do get hints as to why they have suddenly been unleashed upon the surrounding area. Overall, an amusing enough diversion, if not derivative and forgettable.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 13 CAMERAS (2015)

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13 CAMERAS (2015)

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Written and directed by Victor Zarcoff, this is a creepy little thriller about an invasion of privacy and then a disturbing escalation that includes kidnapping and murder. The story finds a pregnant Claire (Brianne Moncrief) and her husband Ryan (PJ McCabe) moving into a house owned by the creepy Gerald (Neville Archambault). Unknown to the young couple, Gerald has installed cameras all over their apartment and in places where they are most vulnerable…did he really need to put one IN the toilet, too? He watches them constantly and Claire especially, is very unnerved around him…and she should be. When Gerald witnesses Ryan having an affair with his beautiful assistant Hannah (Sarah Baldwin), he prepares the apartment’s “owners closet” for an insidious purpose and now Ryan, his wife and his lover are in for a far more horrible nightmare than they could ever imagine.

Despite being about hidden cameras, thankfully director Zarcoff chose NOT to make this yet another found footage movie and it works better that way. He crafts a disturbing and creepy flick and we see a young couple’s privacy violated in the worst ways as Gerald watches then constantly and in their most private moments. If his voyeurism isn’t unsettling enough, we get a sick individual who resorts to kidnapping and even murder to sate his deranged needs. Watching him enter the house while Claire showers is bad enough, but he takes advantage of the couple’s marital problems to set up an abduction of the beautiful Hannah with the same intentions for Claire. All the more disturbing as she is pregnant. Zarcoff builds a chilling atmosphere as we watch Gerald invade this couple’s lives in more ways than just as a peeping Tom and there is some nice tension especially in the last act when Gerald unravels his end game for the couple and there is a cat and mouse pursuit in and around the house. The film isn’t perfect. Some of the things Gerald gets away with are a bit of a stretch, such as getting from his home to theirs quick enough to ‘fix’ things that might get him discovered…sometimes while someone is there. It’s also hard to accept that the owner’s closet is that sound proof that the couple don’t realize Hannah is being held captive inside their very home. The couple also have a dog that appears and disappears when convenient. It’s hard to believe that even with winning the animal over with treats, that it would quietly snooze when Gerald gets violent against Ryan and Claire. During the final confrontation the dog is completely absent. That much excitement would have a dog going nuts. The last scene also teeters between creepy and silly, depending on how far you are willing to go with this. Some plot holes, yes…but the creepy good outweigh the bad.

Neville Archambault is one of the reasons this works so well, despite those plot holes. He exudes creepiness in both his sloth-like appearance and in his mannerisms and obviously, his actions. He provides a disturbing villain and that goes a long way with making this thriller work as he makes us very uneasy. Brianne Moncrief is good as Claire. We get a likable young woman who is having some problems in her marriage and we feel horrified for her when she is watched, especially when alone. PJ McCabe is fine as Ryan. We start out liking him, but as we realize he is cheating on his wife with the curvaceous Hanna, our opinion changes appropriately and McCabe makes it work. Sarah Baldwin is also good as Hannah. The character may be selfish, but she is not portrayed as a bimbo and we do feel for her when she catches Gerald’s attention in the worst way. A good cast that make this little thriller click.

Despite some obvious plot holes, this little thriller still remained effective enough to get the job done. It gave us a really creepy…and dangerous…bad guy and a likable young couple as his prey. There was a lot to get creeped out about and some unsettling violence when the unhinged landlord acts on his deranged desires. The ending evoked both chills and some eye-rolling, but may effect viewers differently depending on their willingness to go alone with things. A bit flawed, but overall, an enjoyably unnerving little thriller.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 surveillance cameras.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: MONSTER DOG (1984)

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MONSTER DOG (1984)

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This is a delightfully awful Italian horror movie most notable for starring rock legend Alice Cooper as it’s leading man. Cooper (dubbed by another actor for some reason) plays Vincent Roberts, known to the world as rock star Vincent Raven, who returns to his ancestral home to shoot a music video. The area is being plagued by a pack of wild dogs, that have caused a few deaths and the locals feel that somehow Vincent and his family are involved. Is this just the overactive minds of superstitious locals, or is there lycanthropy running in the veins of rock star Vincent Raven? Soon the old house is besieged by both crazed canines and vengeful locals. Will Vincent, girlfriend Sandra (Victoria Vera) and their friends survive the night?

Written and directed by Claudio Fragasso (under the pseudonym of Clyde Anderson), this is a hysterically bad flick. It’s cheesy in every way from the ridiculously fake rubber Monster Dog prop, to the terrible music videos, to the fact that star Cooper is dubbed by another actor. The acting is quite wooden, though it’s hard to tell with the bad dubbing just where the fault lies. At least the dialog is delightfully as awful as most everything else. Leading lady Victoria Vera is appropriate eye candy as Raven’s girlfriend/video director, as is co-star Pepa Sarsa, so there is that. The flick delivers some gore and violence and it is amusing to see Cooper running around with a shotgun in a blue leather outfit and loads of make-up and guy-liner. The old house it’s filmed in is atmospheric and spooky and it’s sad this amusing misfire doesn’t provide something more solid to make use of the Spanish settings. This is a fun movie for all the wrong reasons in true ‘so bad it’s good’ style and certainly notable for it’s rock star lead. It would be totally forgettable without Cooper, dubbed or not, though why Cooper got involved in this to begin with, is possibly more the question…that and why the poster refers to him as “Lou” when his character is named Vincent.

I won’t deny I had fun with this flick. It is entertainingly bad in every way and has rock legend Alice Cooper as a shotgun carrying werewolf suspect. It’s cheesy, it’s awful and yet somehow, very watchable for exactly those reasons. Good movie?…definitely not. Fun movie?…to a degree, yes.

-MonsterZero NJ

As a movie, it rates 2 Coopers…add another Cooper for cheesy, entertainment value!

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES MAY 13-15

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

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1. “Captain America: Civil War” $72.5 Million

2. “The Jungle Book” $17.7 Million

3. “Money Monster” $15 Million

4. “The Darkness” $5.1 Million

5. “Mother’s Day” $3.25 Million

6. “Zootopia” $2.8 Million

7. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” $2.6 Million

8. “Keanu” $1.9 Million

9. “Barbershop: The Next Cut” $1.7 Million

10. “The Boss” $1.2 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SCHERZO DIABOLICO (2015)

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SCHERZO DIABOLICO (2015)

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Latest film from Adrián García Bogliano (Here Comes The Devil, Late Phases) tells the story of Aram (Francisco Barreiro), who works for an accounting firm and despite being their best and hardest working employee, seems to be going nowhere. He hatches a devious plan to kidnap pretty Anabela (Daniela Soto Vell), his boss’s (Jorge Molina) teenage daughter. She’s not to be taken for ransom, but only to be held long enough to turn his boss into an emotional wreck, so that he looses his job and Aram can replace him. The kidnapping goes off without a hitch and as he holds the poor girl in an abandoned warehouse, he soon finds himself at the top of his firm and living the good life. But one thing Aram didn’t count on, was having pushed Anabela far enough over the edge that she would figure things out and come after him with a bloody vengeance.

Flick is a bit offbeat as is Bogliano’s style and doesn’t really get intense till the last act. It is disturbing to see how thoroughly Aram plans out the abduction, to the point of even practicing his timing on his son and his restraint techniques on a hooker he frequents regularly. We certainly feel for Anabela as he holds her against her will in a rat infested building and takes unsettling…and inappropriate… videos and photos of her to turn her dad into a mess. This takes up the first hour of the flick and is fine, but the film really doesn’t take off till he releases Anabela thinking he has it made. He has a beautiful home, his secretary/lover (Pau Alva) set up in a nice apartment…and a really pissed off schoolgirl who figures things out and plans a far more vicious payback. This is where the film finally kicks into gear and one wishes this plot element was brought in a little sooner, as it really doesn’t seem like we are given enough time to savor Anabela’s brutal revenge…though we did need time spent to understand how a sweet kid got so violently unraveled. Aram’s cruel treatment of the innocent girl pales in comparison to the payback she exacts and there is some very brutal violence as the now psychotic girl turns the tables in a game of cat and mouse. Again, while the film is an economical 90 minutes, this segment could have used a bit more time as she turns the screws.

The film has a few obvious flaws. One of them is plainly that if Aram has the balls to kidnap a young girl..and cheat on his wife (Milena Pezzi) with a voluptuous hooker (Vita Vargas)…than why did he not have the stones to stick up for himself at work and demand his due? Why go through the whole kidnapping ordeal and involve an innocent girl?…just stand up to your boss! Also, where are the police during all this? The girl is kidnapped and held for what appears to be weeks and yet the cops are mentioned only in a brief throwaway line, after the fact. We never get to see them question the office workers to potentially see Aram squirm. Perhaps Bogliano thought this was too cliché…and he wouldn’t be wrong…but it seemed out of place that the police barely figure into the film till Anabela’s revenge has her breaking into Aram’s office to mess with him…then they show up. That and for a schoolgirl, the pushed over the edge Anabela proves quite the little terminator. While it’s disturbing and fun to watch, it’s also a little hard to swallow that she can easily take out two gangsters who have obviously killed before. We also never get a proper grasp of how much time lapses as Anabela  scopes out Aram to discover all his habits…like he did her…and secrets, like where he keeps his mistress and important files. It gives the last act a feeling of being rushed after taking so much time with the set-up.

The cast are all good. Francisco Barreiro’s Aram is a little bit of a contradiction as mentioned. He is a hard worker, but very meek in standing up to his boss or his wife, yet has the guts to cheat on that wife and stage a daring and mean-spirited kidnapping. The actor does a good job, though, especially when we get to see him squirm, as the tables are turned in the last act. Daniela Soto Vell also shines as a typical teen thrust into a horrible situation. We feel for her as she is held prisoner by Aram and we see her slowly crack. Then when a twist of fate sends her over the edge and on the path to vicious revenge, she is quite good as schoolgirl turned psychotic killer. Pezzi is good as Aram’s demanding wife and she plays it just low key enough to not send her into over-the-top cliché territory. Rounding out, Molina is solid as the boss/heartbroken father, Vargas is hot and sexy as Aram’s hooker lover and so is Alva as his secretary/mistress…which brings up another point…kinda hard to believe that bookish Aram was getting so many caliente mamas, if he can’t even ask for a raise.

Overall, this is a fairly entertaining flick with some disturbing moments, especially in the last act. The lead character is a bit of a contradiction, but Daniela Soto Vell’s Anabela impresses with her schoolgirl turned unbalanced killer. The kidnapping portion of the film is done well enough, though it is the last act where the film really ignites and we wish a little more time was spent with this portion of the story, too. There are some flaws in it’s story telling, but it still entertains despite that. Definitely worth a look, especially if you have enjoyed Adrián García Bogliano other movies

-MonsterZero NJ

3 baseball bats.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: DEMONIC (2015)

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DEMONIC (2015)

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Demonic is a supernatural thriller produced by James (The Conjuring) Wan and set in an abandoned house were a grisly massacre took place. In 1988 Martha Livingston had a group of friends over for a seance, which ended in her murdering all but one of them before killing herself. It was believed to be part of some satanic ceremony and the house has been empty since. The film opens with detective Mark Lewis (Frank Grillo) discovering the bodies of a paranormal investigation team inside the house with one, John (Dustin Milligan), still alive and two others missing. Now, along with police psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Klein (Maria Bello) the detective must try to pice together what happened, who did this and where the missing team members are.

Flick is written by director Will Canon along with Doug Simon and Max La Bella and moves back and forth between days earlier and present time to piece together what happened. It follows the paranormal team as they enter the house and start to discover something is not right there, to Lewis and Klein trying to get answers out of the dazed and confused John and from the evidence collected by the team. While the film is never particularly scary or offers anything we haven’t seen before, Canon does direct competently and the police investigation angle works well enough. The film really loses it’s grip in the last act, though, where it goes a little overboard and gets a bit silly and very cliché. The more subtle approach was working better and when the film goes all The Omen, it induces eye rolling instead of goosebumps. The flick did have some spooky moments and the house setting is creepy, but Canon and company opt for a more outlandish wrap-up and one we have seen countless times before. Too bad, as the film is somewhat entertaining till then and on a production level, it’s well made.

The cast is a mixed bag. Frank Grillo is strong as Det. Lewis and he is one of the reasons the film is as enjoyable as it is. He is a veteran detective faced with something out of his element in terms of the occult and supernatural and he is trying to make sense of a very unusual crime. Grillo creates a very likable character and conveys his frustration well. Bello is also strong as Dr. Klein. She is trying to get answers out of John through psychological means and the answers she is getting, puzzle and frighten her. Bello also creates a strong and likable character here. Sadly Dustin Milligan and the rest of the paranormal crew are kind of bland and are generic egotistical young hot shots. None of them are really that memorable or as strong as the veteran performers.

I was never bored by this and for the first two thirds was reasonably amused. We have a familiar story with some very common elements for this kind of tale, but early on they are used competently. The movie is never scary, but it had a few spooky moments until the filmmakers went all cliché in the last act and lost what grip they had. The film is elevated by the performances of two veteran actors, but at the same time, our younger leads are bland and forgettable. As a mild diversion it works fine, but overall very familiar, ultimately unremarkable and didn’t know enough to keep it subtle, which was working.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

2 and 1/2 axes, as veteran actors Grillo and Bello earn some extra points for this.

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BARE BONES: BLOOD PUNCH and JERUZALEM

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BLOOD PUNCH (2013)

Odd little movie has nerdy but brainy Milton (Deathgasm’s Milo Cawthorne) sent off to rehab after getting caught cooking meth. There he meets the seductive Skyler (Olivia Tennent), who says she will break him out if he cooks meth, for just one day, for her and her drug dealer boyfriend Russell (Ari Boyland). Things don’t go as planned, as the cabin they are in lies on ancient Indian ground and now they are reliving the same day in a loop, betrayals, murder and all. Having fallen for each other, Skyler and Milton have to kill Russell over and over again, as they try to find a way escape the loop to be together…unknown to them, there is a deadly catch to gaining their freedom.

As yet another variation of Groundhog Day, it took a while for me to warm up to this flick. As the story moved on, the characters started to grow on me, especially Tennent’s sassy Skylar. Eddie Guzelian’s script started to show a little life once we start delving into the actual causes of the loop and the filmmakers did have fun with the continual deaths of the psychotic and abusive Russell. Madellaine Paxson directs with a bit of a Tarantino wannabe style and isn’t totally successful in getting past the done-to-death premise of reliving a day over and over. There is some cleverness here and there and the film actually got more involving as it went along, though never makes a strong enough impression. It passed the time, but was nothing memorable, though I would like to see New Zealand actress Olivia Tennant in more roles (She actually did appear as a child in The Two Towers as little Freda and was on the 2009 Power Rangers R.P.M.). Also stars The Purge’s Adelaide Kane as a sexy hench-woman.

EXTRA TRIVIA: Co-stars Cawthorne and Tennent are married in real-life having met on the set of Power Rangers R.P.M.!

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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JERUZALEM (2015)

Flick has two pretty friends, Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) and Rachel (Yael Grobglas), going on vacation to Tel Aviv and getting convinced to go to Jerusalem instead by handsome adventurer, Kevin (Yon Tumarkin). Sarah is documenting the trip with a pair of camera glasses and once in Jerusalem strange things start to occur, such as people going mad in startling numbers and soon winged creatures begin to appear about the city. All the religious leaders seem to feel an apocalyptic event from out of scripture is occuring and Jerusalem is ground zero with the young vacationers trapped inside.

Written and directed by Yoav and Doron Paz, apocalyptic found footage flick starts out well. They come up with a clever reason to eliminate the ‘why are they still filming’ dilemma by having Sarah wearing glasses that have camera’s in them, so there is no camera to drop when running for your life. It starts out slowly with the girls sightseeing and having romantic entanglements with Kevin and handsome local man, Omar (Tom Graziani), then begins to get spooky as things start to get all biblical. There are some really creepy moments as we glimpse the insane transformed into winged demons and giants walking the streets of the Holy City, while our young characters try to find a way out. It’s only in the last act when they get into the catacombs under the city that the film looses momentum as the characters wander around aimlessly and start to dwindle in number. It should have been the most frightening part but looses steam instead. Then there is the final scene which was a bit silly and it ends. The first two thirds held attention with likable characters and some really spooky stuff, especially if you are familiar with end times mythology in the various cultures. It’s in the last act the film stumbles in the dark along with it’s characters in the tunnels that weakens what started out as one of the better recent found footage horrors. Worth a look for some great Israeli locations and that The Paz Brothers did deliver some effective spookiness in the strong middle third.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BLOOD RUNS COLD (2011)

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BLOOD RUNS COLD (2011)

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

When recording artist Winona (cute Hanna Oldenburg) needs a getaway, her manager books her a large secluded house near her hometown. Hanna hooks up with her ex-boyfriend and some of his pals at a bar and they return to the house to party. But in the hidden crawlspaces and rooms in the home lurks a killer, who soon starts to thin the group’s numbers and quite gruesomely.

Swedish horror is an odd slasher as directed by Sonny Laguna and co-written by he, David Liljeblad and Tommy Wiklund. There is literally no backstory on the creepy killer, not even the traditional local legend and he even seems to be some sort of zombie as he bleeds dust and eats his victims. The film has some very good and abundant gore as a result, but we are still left a bit cold as we never know who or what exactly Winona is dealing with. The film also is light on suspense and only whips up some tension when Winona is left for final girl duty and battles her attacker within the hidden walls, rooms and tunnels of the house. There are definitely some questions raised here by some very obvious plot holes. Why has no one heard of this killer, or resulting disappearances, as he seems to have been in this house for some time? As the killer seems to remain in and around the house, why doesn’t Hanna simply run for it when given the chance, she didn’t seem that far from town. Does Hanna not know blood when she sees it in large puddles? And where the hell did that fully loaded machine gun come from? The film may also get the award for most gratuitous nose drool in film history. Suffice to say, this is not the most solidly scripted slasher and a bit too much is left to our imaginations. It does deliver some really well-done gore, there is some nice nudity from Hanna Oldenburg and Elin Hugoson and Oldenburg does show some spunk as our heroine and is not the virginal type usually given final girl duty. The rest of the cast are generic and unremarkable with the killer himself looking creepy and is effective, despite no backstory or exposition. The snowy scenery also worked in the film’s favor and the house setting was fairly spooky. The film is also less than 80 minutes, so is economically short, which works in it’s favor.

This flick certainly was a mixed bag. There was plenty of gore, a creepy killer and a cute and feisty final girl in Hanna Oldenburg. On the other hand, the rest of the cast was bland, the script underdeveloped and some crucial plot points were left unaddressed. Director Laguna delivered very little tension or suspense and the atmosphere the film had was provided by the snowy Swedish locations and the spooky old house it was filmed it. Passed the time inoffensively, but nothing remarkable or memorable about it. Nice effort on certain levels considering a reported budget of only about $5,000.

-MonsterZero NJ

A generous 2 and 1/2 pick axes, mostly for the gore, locations and cute heroine.

blood runs cold rating

 

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