HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CARNAGE PARK (2016)

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CARNAGE PARK (2016)

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

Flick takes place in 1978 with country girl Vivian Fontaine (Ashley Bell) not having a good day. Her home is being sold out from under her and while at the bank getting turned down for a loan to save it, she’s taken hostage by two ex-cons (James Landry Hebert and Michael Villar) who rob the bank. That’s the least of her problems, as the three find themselves in a stretch of remote wilderness stalked by psychotic ex-soldier Wyatt Moss (Pat Healy), who slaughters anyone that enters his domain. Soon Vivian finds herself alone and in a battle for survival against the well-armed and quite deranged maniac.

Flick is written and directed by Mickey Keating who is proving himself quite diverse in his influences with films like the David Lynch-esque Darling and the X-Files-ish Pod under his belt. Here he delivers a brutal and twisted little movie that seems to have a bit of a Rob Zombie influence, as it did evoke some of the imagery, brutality and a bit of the deranged humor that was on display in Zombie’s first two flicks. But this is very much Keating’s own movie and he starts us out with the story in progress, with robber Lenny (Villar) wounded and Scorpion Joe (Hebert) pulling hostage Vivian out of the trunk to help him. We then get some brief flashbacks to fill us in on some character and plot details as the crazed Wyatt discovers the intruders on his land and the hunt/action begins. The film is stylish and off-beat and very entertaining as our girl-next-door Vivian tries to overcome a superior enemy and escape with her life. The film is intense, strange and very violent at times and does entertain as it intends with the oddball Wyatt tracking/tormenting the dazed and desperate, yet not totally defenseless, Vivian. It’s a twisted little flick, that tells it’s story in a Tarantino meets Rob Zombie kind of way. It’s not perfect, as Keating’s influences are a bit too obviously borrowed from at times and one character just disappears, which makes one question why they were included at all. But when all is said and done, Keating accomplishes what he set out to with splattered brains and all.

The cast go a long way in making this work and work well. Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism) delivers a strong heroine in her Vivian. She is a simple country girl who starts out trying to save her home and ends up trying to save her life. Bell gives her a dazed look of a woman who just got dumped into the frying pan and then the fire and is trying to just stay alive and somehow get home. She gives Vivian a simple tenacity and a strong will to survive with a touch of frustration and confusion. She is endearing and likable. Pat Healy (Innkeepers, Tales Of Halloween) portrays a true psychotic, but yet not one who doesn’t deliriously enjoy what he is doing. He is arrogant and self-righteous and while his motives are not completely explained, the religious symbolism around his lair and in what he says and does, implies he is doing God’s work in some form. Healy is threatening and dangerous and a touch humorously demented and it is a good role for an underrated and versatile actor who can play both hero and villain. Ex-con and thieves James Landry Hebert (Skateland) and Michael Villar have smaller parts, but Hebert succeeds in making an impression as Scorpion Joe. He’s another underrated character actor who does good work when on screen. There is also an appearance by Alan Ruck as Wyatt’s sheriff brother who keeps cleaning up his sibling’s messes, despite the emotional drain of the conflict of interest and indie icon Larry Fessenden as one of Wyatt’s prey.

So, not a perfect thriller, but one that is successful in being 80+ minutes of twisted entertainment. Mickey Keating’s films seem to illustrate a variety of influences with him channeling a bit of Rob Zombie in this, his latest film. It’s off the wall and sometimes brutally violent and has a good cast to make it work very well. A fun and demented little movie, that while not completely original, amuses with a healthy dose of bullets, blood and weirdness.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bullets.

ex2 rating

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COOL STUFF: TALES OF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY!

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TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015) Blu-Ray

Tales Of Halloween is a spooky fun 2015 Halloween anthology flick that has grown on me quite a lot since my initial review (see full review here) and has finally arrived on blu-ray a year later. This multi-story horror has been released by Epic pictures in a four disc special edition that is available from their website store, HERE.

As for the feature film itself, there is both a blu-ray and DVD version. As for the technical aspects of the blu-ray feature disc…

The picture is gorgeous, the colors vibrant and really represents well the visual styles of all the directors and their cinematographers on the ten tales told here. The disc is presented in the original 2.39.1 widescreen aspect ratio, preserving the film’s intended dimensions. The sound is in 5.1 surround sound with alternate 2.0 and basic stereo tracks for those without home theater sound systems. The menus are simple and easy to navigate. A nice presentation to enjoy this holiday horror!

Now on to the extensive extras which make this 4-disc set even more appealing!…

The extras start out with a production diary covering the 23 days of shooting that comes complete with interviews with cast and crew and some fun behind the scenes footage. In the bonus features, we get a behind the scenes reel…which does repeat a lot of what we saw in the production diaries…and an examination of the filming of one of the scenes from Mike Mendez’s gruesomely comic Friday The 31st, complete with storyboards. We also get a deleted scene from one of the best stories, Grim Grinning Ghost and are treated to replays of the segments Sweet Tooth, Trick, Ding Dong and This Means War all with additional bonus commentary, aside from the commentary track that accompanies the movie on the feature film discs. We also get eight short films from a few of the filmmakers involved, some of which are definitely worth checking out. There are also storyboards, a photo gallery, trailers and some pop-up video commentary that can be activated on certain stories on the feature blu-ray. A nice selection of extras.

The fourth and final disc is a CD featuring the film’s soundtrack which includes all the music from the segments and wraparound by artists like Lalo Schifrin, Christopher Drake, Joseph Bishara and more.

All of the discs are region free and can be played anywhere and the set also comes with two trading cards, too!

I really have come to appreciate and enjoy this flick beyond what my initial review reflects. It is now part of my traditional Halloween viewing, as it is loaded with Halloween spirit and imagery and I would love to see a follow-up with yet more filmmakers creating Halloween tales as in this film. If you liked this movie and have become endeared to it like I have, this 4-disc set is a must!

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES NOV 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. “Moana” $55.5 Million

2. “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” $45 Million

3. “Doctor Strange” $13.3 Million

4. “Allied” $13 Million

5. “Arrival” $11.2 Million

6. “Trolls” $10.3 Million

7. “Almost Christmas” $7.6 Million

8. “Bad Santa 2” $6 Million

9. “Hacksaw Ridge” $5.4 Million

10. “The Edge of Seventeen” $2.9 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE CAR and RACE WITH THE DEVIL

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Been a while since I did one of these and thought it would be fun to pair up these two 70s thrillers featuring cars, crashes and Old Scratch himself…

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THE CAR (1977)

I love this 1977 B-movie action/horror, it is a textbook example of how a good director… Cat Ballou’s Elliot Silverstein… can take even a ridiculous premise and turn it into a solidly entertaining flick. And The Car is exactly that. The plot is simple, a demonic looking black sedan comes thundering out of the desert one morning and heads into the small rural desert town of Santa Ynez and begins to mow down innocents like a hitchhiker and two young bicycle riders. While the Thomas County Sheriff’s office, including Captain…soon to be sheriff thanks to The Car…Wade Parent (James Brolin and an awesome 70s mustache), think there is a psycho on the loose, we already know something supernatural is afoot from the red tinted POV shots from within the vehicle and the mysterious wind that blows through right before it’s thunderous engines and blaring horn can be heard. Despite road blocks, the vehicle appears and disappears at will and Wade and his deputies start to realize something is satanically wrong here when the vehicle tries to run down a group of school children and is stopped when they flee into the hallowed ground of a cemetery and Wade himself confirms eye witness accounts that the vehicle has no driver. But something evil is inside as indicated by the gleeful sounding horn after a kill and the fact that single dad Wade’s pretty school teacher girlfriend (Kathleen Lloyd) finds out the hard way that calling the ‘driver’ a “chicken shit” is a bad idea. Now with the body count mounting and all signs pointing to the fact that Old Scratch himself might be out for a joyride, Wade and his rapidly diminishing police force must find a way to stop Satan’s Sedan before Santa Ynez becomes a ghost town.

As with  The Devil’s Rain… The Car is another film that employed Satanist Anton LaVey as a technical advisor and even opens with a quote from him. Not sure what he advised as there really is very little religious talk in the film and even when they start to believe something evil is going on, a priest is never even mentioned much less consulted. Who cares, as Silverstein takes this laughable idea and makes a really fun and suspenseful action/horror flick that actually has some goose bump inducing moments such as when The Car has the kids trapped in the cemetery and when Wade has an encounter with it in his own garage. Silverstein accomplishes this by taking his subject totally seriously and not only instilling his villain with a good deal of menace, but delivers some really intense chase and action sequences including a very thrilling climax where all Hell literally breaks loose. Obviously the 70s nostalgia adds a lot of fun to it too, but this is actually a well directed film and we enjoy it far more then we expect from a movie about a demon driven car. Another thing that adds to the effectiveness is that The Car appears in sleepy Santa Ynez for no reason, nor do we ever get one. It’s very spooky and random and that works far better than a hokey explanation and it gives The Car added personality to what Silverstein already imbues it with.

The cast, also starring Ronny Cox, R.G. Armstrong and Kyle and Kim Richards as Wade’s precocious daughters, take their roles very seriously with Brolin making a very human and sometimes fallible hero. He and Lloyd really do come across as a cute couple, too. The film was criticized for it’s acting back in the day, but personally, I think they are just fine for being in a flick about a demon possessed car. And speaking of which… the real star is George Barris’ customized 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III and it’s an iconic movie vehicle and is very intimidating and effective. If Beezelbub had a car, I have no problem believing this is what it would look like. Leonard Rosenman’s score is appropriately spooky and incorporates bits of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique…the piece that open’s The Shining and Gerald Hirschfeld’s cinematography makes nice use of the desert locations. Despite being filmed mostly in the day, it has plenty of creepy atmosphere.

All in all, The Car is a really fun B-movie blast with a well deserved cult following and a favorite guilty pleasure of mine that I actually saw at The Park Lane theater in Palisades Park in 1977 when I was a kid…and it delightfully holds up all these years later! A fun action/ horror of the type they don’t make anymore!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 satanic sedans.

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RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975)

One of my favorite 70s B-movies. Race is now loaded with nostalgic charm, as well as, being an entertaining and sometimes spooky movie in it’s own right. Story of two couples on an RV road trip vacation crossing paths with a sinister cult and witnessing a human sacrifice is campy to be sure, but there are some creepy scenes and the are a number of good chase/action scenes as well. As the couple try to get out of town while being pursued by what appears to be everybody, director/actor Jack Starrett does a good job of creating tension as everyone seems suspicious and no one appears trustworthy. True, the cult’s actual subject of worship is unclear as our antagonists’ research drags up everything from witchcraft to Mayan sacrificial ceremonies and the cult creates far more attention and far more evidence of their existence by pursuing the RV cross country, leaving a wake of death and destruction behind. But if they had just cleaned up their tracks and left no evidence to support the couples’ claims, we wouldn’t have anything to entertain us for the next 90 minutes. The acting is surprisingly good and the cast…including Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Lara Parker and Loretta Switt…and crew wisely take the proceedings seriously and let the audience have all the fun with it. A 70s gem that is still fun today.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 fighting Fondas

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THANKSKILLING (2008)

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THANKSKILLING (2008)

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

 Low budget flick about a trash talking, homicidal turkey opens in 1621 with the foul mouthed fowl murdering a topless pilgrim woman. We then cut to the present with five friends heading home from college to the town of Crawl Berg for Thanksgiving with their families. In the meantime, a dog pees on a Native American burial site and unleashes the murderous bird from it’s temporary grave. As it goes after the college students and their families, they discover a local legend telling of an evil Native American sorcerer who cursed a turkey to kill any white people invading their lands. The bird is supposed to rise every 505 years to exact revenge…and guess how long it’s been since his last visit? Can it be stopped?

Holiday themed comedy/horror sadly makes the laziest effort, instead of trying to be legitimately funny or clever. It wallows in bargain basement toilet and sex humor with it’s vulgar talking muppet villain, which could have been funny with some wit behind it. The super low budget and terrible acting can be forgiven and the fact that the killer in this slasher is a muppet, could have been funny, even on a ‘so bad it’s good’ level, only if there was some effort to have a bit of ingenuity behind the humor. Instead we get jokes on the level of a horny twelve year old boy and despite some decent gore, the film is even technically lazy with amateur shot set-ups and choppy editing. With a running time at only 70 minutes long, this holiday horror still wears out it’s welcome quickly. It’s just a dumb flick where characters spout awful dialog and barely react when loved ones are slaughtered…and the fact that they are battling a talking turkey, barely registers. It’s a lazy effort and the scariest thing about it is that director Jordan Downey needed four additional co-writers to come up with this disappointingly terrible flick. Five writers for this lame and witless nonsense? Really?

For those looking for some wit and cleverness to your Thanksgiving themed horror, continue to hit Youtube to watch Eli Roth’s hilarious Thanksgiving trailer from the movie Grind House. If this ultra low budget flick had put half the effort and thought into it’s holiday themed horror, that Roth did in his trailer spoof, it would have been a true cult item to appreciate. Instead it’s just a lazy effort that appeals to the lowest common denominator and took five writers to accomplish even that. Stars Lindsey Anderson, Lance Predmore, Ryan Francis, Natasha Cordova and Aaron Carlson as the five ill-fated friends with director Downey voicing our feathered fiend. Actually spawned a sequel, too.

-MonsterZero NJ

1 and 1/2 turkey drumsticks.

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REVIEW: IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE (2016)

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IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE (2016)

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

Western homage is written and directed by Ti West who is known for horror films like The House Of The Devil and the recent The Sacrament. This is a departure for West and shows he can do more than just horror with this tale of revenge. Flick has ex-soldier Paul (Ethan Hawke) wandering into the small town of Denton, New Mexico. He is just passing through, but in true western fashion, has an altercation with the town bully/deputy, Gilly (James Ransone). Paul is commanded to leave town by Gilly’s sheriff father (John Travolta), but is pursued into the desert by Gilly and his thugs. Upon being ambushed, his beloved dog, Abbie is murdered and Paul himself left for dead. Surviving Gilly’s attempt at payback, the lone drifter heads back to Denton with death and revenge on his mind.

In A Valley Of Violence may not be perfect, but it is a fun homage to both spaghetti and American westerns. Ti West creates a classic drifter in Paul, a man who grew tired of killing Native Americans senselessly and left the army behind, too ashamed to return home to his own family. He wants no more to do with death, but is forced by the slimy Gilly and his father into picking up gun and knife once more. We also get the classic love interest in young Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga) who happens to be the sister of Gilly’s fiancé, Ellen (Karen Gillan) and takes a shine to the handsome drifter. In telling this classic story, West’s horror background does come through. Paul uses an assortment of weapons to gain revenge, including gun, straight razor and bludgeoning a man with his own boot heel. The flashback to the Native American massacre the broke him down is also very reminiscent of his set up for the sacrifice scene in The House Of The Devil. This western is also a bloody one, thought he does not go overboard with it. If West stumbles a bit, it’s with the film’s odd sense of humor. It is a bit intrusive in a few spots such as during the climactic scenes with Paul stalking Sheriff Martin and his posse throughout the town. There are a couple of moments where some humorous dialogue interrupts the tension that West has built, such as after witnessing a cohort gunned down, one of Martin’s thugs (Tommy Nohilly) declares, in a rant, that he no longer wants to be called “Tubby”. The humor is blended fine most of the time, but here it seems to slow the momentum a bit and break the suspense. It doesn’t damage the film, but the climactic showdown could have been tighter and more tense. On a technical level the film looks good. Cinematographer Eric Robbins makes good use of the New Mexico locations and Jeff Grace gives it a homage filled western score that evokes Morricone at times.

West also gets good work out of an impressive cast. Hawke may be no Clint Eastwood, but he plays the tortured drifter very well. Paul is a man who has come to abhor violence, but is forced back into it, reluctantly, by the bully Gilly. His dog Abbie is the rock that what humanity he has left clings to and when she is taken, the killer is unleashed again. Hawke makes Paul likable, yet a bit distant and we do believe he is lethal when the time comes. Travolta is very good as Sheriff Martin. He plays him as not quite a bad guy, but obviously someone who lets his son and thugs have their way around town. He knows enough to not mess with the ex-soldier Paul, but sadly is not convincing enough to his son. As Gilly, James Ransone is appropriately slimy and full of himself. Gilly is a bit too much of a jerk to really be completely menacing and Ransone plays him as someone a bit too over confident to know when to quit. Taissa Farmiga is sweet and spirited as Mary-Anne, the lonely impressionable young girl who falls for Paul and Karen Gillan is also entertaining as her snooty sister Ellen, who is engaged to the bully Gilly. Indie flick icon Larry Fesenden also appears as one of Gilly’s three thugs along with Toby Huss and Tommy Nohilly.

Overall, I liked this odd little western homage and was entertained. The story is common to the genre as are the stereotypical characters, but that is completely on purpose. This is some nice tension and suspense to go with the bloody action and the cast all perform their parts well. If the film falters somewhat, it is in that sometimes it’s quirky humor comes at the wrong moments when things should stay tense. Otherwise this is a fun western from a man who has already impressed with his horror flicks and Blumhouse who continues to support indie filmmakers. Also stars Burn Gorman as a less than typical priest.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 six-shooters.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAMIE LEE CURTIS!

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MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse wishes a very happy and healthy 58th birthday to the greatest Scream Queen of them all, Jamie Lee Curtis!

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: STREETS OF FIRE (1984)

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STREETS OF FIRE (1984)

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

Hot on the heels of the smash hit, Eddie Murphy debut 48 Hours, Walter Hill indulged himself with this “Rock & Roll Fable” about an up and coming rock star named Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) who is kidnaped by biker gang leader Raven (Willem Dafoe) at a concert in her home town. Her ex-soldier, ex-boyfriend Tom Cody (Michael Paré) comes to rescue her, along with her current manager/boyfriend Billy Fish (Rick Moranis) and another gruff ex-soldier McCoy (Amy Madigan). That’s kinda it, plot wise.

After a huge success with the action, buddy comedy 48 Hours, Hill took a stumble that he would never really recover from. Streets Of Fire is a bit of a mess and was a box office disappointment after the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte flick becoming a runaway hit. Co-written with Larry Gross, Streets is a combination 40s, 50s, 80s meets a bit of Blade Runner and never quite clicks and is definitely missing something. One of the big problems is the lack of a real story. The set-up is over within the first 40 minutes with Aim being rescued by Cody and company. The next 50 minutes is a meandering journey back home and then some soap opera level romantic melodrama when they get there. In the mean time, we wait for Dafoe’s villain to come after them, which he finally does in the last 10 minutes. Even at slightly above 90 minutes it gets tedious real fast. Another problem is that there is no energy or excitement to the action. The various fisticuffs and gunfights are very by-the-numbers and have none of the intensity of Hill’s previous films like The Warriors. On a technical level, the film looks really good, thought the time period mash-up doesn’t quite visually click either. There are some really good tunes from the music numbers on the soundtrack and Ry Cooder’s score adds some atmosphere to the proceedings. The legendary Andrew Laszlo delivers some top notch cinematography, as well. It’s that just for a “Rock & Roll Fable” there is very little “Rock & Roll” spirit in this flick and overall it’s kinda dull when all is said and done.

As for the cast they are all good enough, despite given sadly little to really do other than the lead males. Michael Paré is a solid hero. He does the smoldering intensity thing well and his loner Cody might have been more impressive in a better movie. Dafoe is also good as the slimy, somewhat androgynous Raven. His motivations for kidnapping Aim are thin, but that is the script’s fault and he is a good villain that sadly disappears for a good portion of the second half. Diane Lane is a bit bland, but again the character is little more than a damsel to be rescued and isn’t given much to do but stare with doe eyes at Cody. Rick Moranis’ douchey Billy Fish is a bit annoying, but the character is supposed to be, so we can cut him some slack. Rounding out the leads, is Amy Madigan who is fine and likable as the tough ex-solider McCoy and probably would have made even more of an impression with better material. There are supporting roles by Bill Paxton as an old friend of Cody’s, 80s icon E.G. Daily as a groupie and The Warriors Deborah Van Valkenburgh as Cody’s sister Reva, who calls him when Ellen is abducted.

This is a flick that had a lot of potential, but drops the ball with a paper thin story and delivering some very by-the-numbers action from a director who was becoming known for his action flicks. It’s a self-indulgent misfire that could have been something special with a better script and it’s director not falling asleep at the wheel. There are some now classic tunes on the soundtrack…including a couple produced by Jim Steinman, who produced Meatloaf’s classic Bat OutOf Hell album…and there is some nice 80s nostalgia, but, overall, Streets Of Fire fizzles instead of blazes. This 1984 movie has developed a bit of a cult following and there was an unofficial sequel from Albert Pyun made in 2008 called Road To Hell reuniting Paré and Van Valkenburgh as “Cody” and “sister” with Anita Leeman playing “Ellen” and Lauren Sutherland as “Mc Coy”.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 bullets.

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and the trailer to the unofficial sequel, Road ToHell…

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATE NOV 18-20

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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. “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” $75 Million

2. “Doctor Strange” $17.7 Million

3. “Trolls” $17.5 Million

4. “Arrival” $11.8 Million

5. “Almost Christmas” $7 Million

6. “Hacksaw Ridge” $6.7 Million

7. “The Edge of Seventeen” $4.8 Million

8. “Bleed For This” $2.3 Million

9. “The Accountant” $2.1 Million

10. “Shut In” $1.6 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: LAST GIRL STANDING (2015)

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LAST GIRL STANDING (2015)

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

Interesting little movie takes a look at the traditional slasher film, but from a different direction…what happens to the final girl after the massacre is over. Pretty young Camryn (Akasha Banks Villalobos) is the only survivor when a masked serial killer called “The Hunter” (Jason Vines) murders all her friends. Camryn barely escaped with her life, but managed to kill the maniac before he killed her. Four years later, her life is a mess. She works a minimum wage dry cleaning job and is a shy introvert still haunted by the memories of what befell her on that terrible night in the woods. When new guy Nick (Brian Villalobos, Akasha’s real-life husband) starts working at the dry cleaners, Camryn starts to slowly open up and join Nick and his group of friends. But, the closer she gets to them, the more she starts seeing The Hunter again. Has the killer somehow returned from the dead to stalk her new friends, or is Camryn far more haunted by that fateful night than she imagined?

Written and directed by Benjamin R. Moody, this is an intriguing look at what happens in a slasher movie to the victim’s life, after the events of the movie are over. He opens his film with the gruesome final moments of Camryn fighting for her life against the masked madman and then barely surviving as she kills the fiend trying to save herself. He then takes us for years later with the scars, both physical and mental still apparent. He presents a young women in emotional and social withdrawal who is haunted by the memories of the murder of her friends. We then get a glimmer of hope for her as Nick arrives and introduces her to a new group of people. Obviously, the fear of losing her new friends takes it’s toll and she begins to see the killer and evidence of his return…or does she? Moody keeps us guessing a bit as to if the killer truly has returned, as so many in slasher sequels do, or is Camryn far more damaged that even she suspects. Just as the premise starts to wear out it’s welcome, the blood starts to spatter again…but who is spilling it? If the film falters a bit, it’s that it does remain mostly a drama till it’s last act and it’s not always as gripping as we’d like, but the director/writer balances that with some interesting and effective scenes such as one of Camryn being taken to The Hunter’s grave by new friend Danielle (Danielle Evon Ploeger) to try and give her closure. Emotionally the scene is one of the best in the film. For those wanting a horror movie here, your patience pays off and there is a quite bloody finale to go along with the gruesome beginning and “The Hunter” is effective enough to work as the character needs to. We may see the end coming but it still ironic, still works and very well.

As for our actors, Akasha Banks Villalobos does a very good job evoking our sympathy as Camryn. The role is wisely played low key, as over-the-top would have taken the film in a more theatrical direction and keeping it grounded makes it work nicely. Villalobos is effective as both final girl and presenting the effects of a victim haunted by dire events. She also shines in the climactic last act where Moody turns this back into a slasher movie. The actress’ husband Brian Villalobos is also good as Nick. He portrays a likable guy who is interested in his shy co-worker and portrays well a character who is trying to be patient with someone he is starting to care about but who has issues he doesn’t fully understand. Danielle Evon Ploeger really makes an impression as Nick’s friend Danielle, who takes a sympathetic liking to Camryn. The actress creates a very likable and sweet girl-next-door type and she has some really nice scenes together with Villalobos as she tries to help Camryn heal. Ploeger and her character are final girl material in themselves and that may not be unintentional.

I liked this movie. Maybe it was a bit too low key at times and there are a few questions, like why Camryn isn’t in therapy, but it tells a side of a beloved horror mainstay that we rarely see…what happens to the final girl’s life long after the killer is gone. Director Benjamin R. Moody gives us a sad and sympathetic portrayal of a young women whose life has been tragically damaged by horrific events and then makes us watch as the prospect of new friends to care about both entices and terrifies her. And just as the film starts to wear out it’s welcome, Moody turns it back into the horror flick it started out as, but with a twist. The acting is effective and the gore is surprisingly abundant once it does get bloody. Definitely a flick worth taking a look at if you are a horror/slasher fan.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 hand axes.

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