MONSTERZERO NJ’S WORST HORROR FLICKS of 2016!

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It’s time to look back at the past year and see what I DIDN’T like. These are pretty much the worst flicks I saw this year in the horror genre with little to enjoy or recommend!

NOTE: There are a few titles here initially released in 2015, but I did not catch up to them till their release on VOD or home media in 2016 and felt it unfair not to include them!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Full review links for the worst of 2016!

1. Cabin Fever

2. The Darkness

3. The Devil Complex

4. #Horror

5. Cherry Tree

6. The Girl In The Photographs

7. Blair Witch

8. The Phoenix Incident

9. The Forest

10. Condemned 

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: SHELLEY

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SHELLEY (2016)

Danish horror has childless couple Kasper (Peter Christoffersen) and Louis (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) asking their Romanian housekeeper Elena (Cosmina Stratan) to be a surrogate mother for their child. Elena agrees, but then strange things start to happen, the child develops unnaturally fast and once baby Shelley is born, it’s obvious this is no normal child.

Directed by Ali Abbasi from a script by he and Maren Louise Käehne, this is an OK but fairly uneventful bad seen movie. There is some atmosphere and a few spooky scenes but it is rather too sedate to be really scary. It’s a familiar story and we never get any real explanation for why Shelley is more Hell spawn than Heaven sent. A little too vague and familiar for it’s own good.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBARA CRAMPTON!

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Today is not only my own birthday, but that of horror film legend Barbara Crampton! Not bad sharing a birthday with a horror icon! MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse wishes Barbara a very happy and healthy birthday!

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES DEC 23-25

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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. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” $64.3 Million

2. “Sing” $35.3 Million

3. “Passengers” $14.85 Million

4. “Why Him?” $11 Million

5. “Assassin’s Creed” $10.3 Million

6. “Moana” $7.4 Million

7. “Fences” $6.7

8. “La La Land” $5.7 Million

9. “Office Christmas Party” $5.1 Million

10. “Collateral Beauty” $4.2 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SANTA CLAUS (1959)

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SANTA CLAUS (1959)

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

Delightfully bad holiday flick was made in Mexico and dubbed into English making it even worse than it already is. The story has Santa (José Elías Moreno) preparing for Christmas from his workshop in space…yup, that’s right…where he is assisted, not by elves, but by children from every country…apparently Santa is totally fine with child labor. As Santa readies for the one day he comes to Earth, Satan…you also read that right…sends his demon henchman Pitch (José Luis Aguirre) to Earth to corrupt all the children into doing evil and ruining Christmas. Now it’s up to Santa to stop the Devil’s little helper from turning all the good kids bad!

Flick is directed by René Cardona from a scatterbrained script by he and Adolfo Torres Portillo and is simply a weird little movie that is quite amusing in it’s epic badness. Aside from having a child labor force, creepy Santa can also watch children 24/7 with his magic eye, has a key that can open any door, powers of invisibility and can even see into kid’s dreams…stalker much!?…and what’s with the shirtless blacksmith (Ángel Di Stefani) and that lip thing! Not sure I want to know! All the traditional Christmas elements are thrown out the window as Santa has his castle in space, mechanical reindeer and even has Merlin The Magician (Armando Arriola) working for him. From it’s hilariously cheap sets, horrible SPFX and disturbing children’s dream sequences, this is a hysterically awful…and sometimes uncomfortable…attempt at a Christmas movie from our filmmaking friends South Of The Border…and we’d love to know what they were smoking when they came up with this yuletide nonsense. The first half of this cheap flick is spent with Santa observing Pitch’s hi-jinx with his James Bond meets Pee Wee Herman spy equipment, as creepy St. Nick can only come to Earth on Christmas…a restraining order perhaps? We do see Santa scaring three boys out of being naughty, so this is a possibility. The second half is Santa vs Pitch as he tries to bring Christmas to all the boys and girls and Pitch plots with three bad kids to stop him. There is a fairly slow pace, some religious overtones and just overall seems like something out of a drug induced nightmare, far more than a holiday tale of everyone’s favorite jolly fellow…and is entertaining for all the wrong reasons.

Sometimes creepy flick has sentimental nostalgia, as I actually saw this as a teen at a Saturday matinee in the late 70s at the long gone Fairview cinema…hey, there was free popcorn and I took my hot MILF neighbor’s son to score points with his babe of a mom…and it is far funnier now that I am old enough to appreciate camp and unintentional laughs. Back then it was just awful and even my ten year-old charge knew it. Definitely worth a look for a holiday ‘so bad it’s good’ film festival with some brews definitely required as part of the show. Would make a great WTF Christmas double feature with Santa Clause Conquers The Martians!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 hilariously bad Mexican Christmas trees.

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Uh…Santa…what the f%&k is that?…

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SATURDAY MATINEE: ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS (1988)

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ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS (1988)

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

This light, sweet and fun Christmas comedy may be one of the most underrated Christmas flicks around. Flick has the late Jim Varney starring as his popular Ernest P. Worrell character, this time a cab driver who has a very special fare in his cab…Santa Claus (Douglas Seale)! A man claiming to be Santa Claus is in town looking for recently fired children’s TV show host Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark). It seems Santa is ready to hang up his red boots and hat and Joe is the perfect replacement. Things go askew and Santa winds up in jail, his magic sack stolen by precocious runaway, Pamela (Noelle Parker), who wants to be called Harmony Starr, and Joe balancing both the offer to be St. Nick and a horror film role, leaving only one person to right it all and save Christmas…the bumbling Ernest!

While the film’s story is nothing new or special, the script by Ed Turner and B. Kline is imbued with loads of heart and Christmas spirit by director John R. Cherry III. It’s the little touches that really make this work, like children recognizing Santa right away, despite being surrounded by doubting adults and two bumbling airport storage clerks (Gailard Sartain and Bill Byrge) dealing with crates containing Santa’s reindeer and sleigh. There are also a pair of Santa’s little helpers (Buddy Douglas and Patty Maloney) who come to get Santa out of trouble and Santa getting a cell full of inmates to join along in Christmas carols. Cherry also seems to restrain Varney’s over-the-top, motor-mouthed handyman just enough to keep him from getting tiresome and Ernest’s sincere love for Christmas, also comes across nicely. The flick has a lot of fun scenes…you know Ernest is getting behind the reins of that sleigh…and the characters all are appealing save for Robert Lesser as Joe’s slimy agent, Marty, who is supposed to be a jerk. It all works well and is filled with holiday spirit and charm, with a tone that is not too childish as to alienate adults and not too adult to bore the kids.

Another reason this works so well is the cast. Varney has his Ernest character balanced well between his babbling monologues, legend in his own mind ego and child-like love of Christmas. The bumbling Ernest also gets to don a few disguises to spring Santa from prison and help Mr. Claus convince Joe to saddle up as jolly old St. Nick and it’s fun to watch Varney have a good time with it, which the comedian obviously is. Douglas Seale makes the perfect Santa. A somewhat naive and innocent view of the world, yet with a passionate love for Christmas and a ‘never give up’ spirit when it comes to people. He is not overbearing, which is all the more fun when he gets the most unlikely folks in the Christmas spirit. A charming actor. Noelle Parker is pretty and feisty as rebellious teen “Harmony”. She and Varney work well together and she even gets in on the disguise fun with her co-star. The character works well as the troubled teen who has a grudge against Christmas, but is slowly won over by the spirit of the holiday. Oliver Clark is also solid as a man trying decide between a possible movie career, or believing the fantastic notion that this old man is really who he says he is and that Joe is destined to be the next Santa Claus. The rest of the cast are fine and fun as an assortment of eccentric and cartoonish characters in support. The whole cast seem to be having a good time and it translates to the audience.

This is a fun holiday flick that may have gotten overlooked by some of the more popular classics, but really deserves to be recognized for it’s spirit and charm. It’s an entertaining movie that makes good use of Jim Varney’s classic Ernest character in just the right doses and has plenty of Christmas feel despite it’s Florida location. It’s story of Santa in trouble and Christmas in peril is nothing new, but pulled off nicely here with a lot of heart and zero pretensions. It’s cast gets the tone and has a good time and along with John Cherry’s directorial touch deliver a fun and spirited Christmas comedy that is perfectly balanced for kid and adult alike.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating

 

 

 

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REVIEW: UNCLE NICK (2015)

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UNCLE NICK (2015)

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

Nick (Brian Posehn) is a down-on-his-luck slob who has been in a slump since loosing the love of his life, Emily (Annie Savage in flashbacks) to an aneurism. He reluctantly runs the family landscaping business while his younger brother Cody (Beau Ballinger) seems to get all the breaks. Case in point, Cody has recently married wealthy older woman Sophie (Paget Brewster) and lives in her luxurious home while doing little work for a living. They have invited Nick and sister Michelle (Missi Pyle) over for Christmas dinner and the only reason Nick is going, is to try to score with Cody’s hot and flirty twenty year-old step-daughter Valerie (Melia Renee). But with his jealousy and bitterness over his brother’s fortune bubbling to the surface, this could be a Christmas none of them will ever forget.

Ohio set Christmas comedy is rude, crude and has it’s share of dark humor, but is actually funny at times, too as directed by Chris Kasick from Mike Demski’s script. The story of the slobs vs the snobs, the train wreck character having his day and the Christmas dinner turned disaster, have all been done before, but the formula works fairly well here thanks to some legitimate laughs and a few moments of surprising sentimentality as when Nick relays during dinner the discovery of Emily’s body upon waking up. There are some very cliché moments, too, such as Nick finally getting his moment with the vixenish Valerie, but doing the noble thing, only to find out Cody is having an affair with her, under his new wife’s nose. Again, we’ve seen it all before, but writer Demski does come up with some funny bits and Cody is such a douche that we side with the oafish Nick even when he is wallowing in self-pity. The film also uses an interesting framework of being told in nine sections each in comparison to an inning in the June 4th, 1974 “Ten Cent Beer Night” Indians/Rangers baseball game that ended in a riot. This bit of cleverness does add an interesting slant as Nick relates the tale of that infamous ballgame, inning by inning, which echoes how his Christmas dinner outing is playing out. Maybe the only original thing the movie does, but it did add an interesting touch and was amusing in itself if nothing else.

The cast works well in portraying their misfit characters. There are some good performances here and Posehn’s deadpan delivery make a lot of the lines work better than they should. His Nick may be feeling sorry for himself, but Posehn does make him likable even with his boorish behavior and slightly creepy pursuit of his younger step-niece. As for that, there is a basic bond between the two that does work. Melia Renee is perfectly cast as the sexy, tease Valerie and the actress gives her a little depth beyond the kittenish behavior. There does seem to be an actual affection for Nick, who shares her dislike for her new family situation and she has moments where we understand her rebellious behavior. Sleeping with Cody is just a way to hurt her mother for divorcing her dad. The actress has sex appeal and a bit of a presence and it would be nice to see her in something else, such as final girl duty in a good slasher. Paget Brewster also gives what could have been a stereotypical rich shrew role…though to degree it still is…a bit more three dimensionality, especially after the film’s big family showdown. She’s a woman who may realize she was selfish in her decisions. Beau Ballinger is fine as douche Cody, his role is shortchanged of any sort of depth in the writing, but the character works as it’s supposed to. The rest of the cast are fine from Pyle’s, oddball sister to Scott Adsit as her clueless companion and Jacob Houston as Sophie’s teen son Marcus.

The film doesn’t have much in terms of originality, but does have some laughs and there are some moments of depth character-wise through all the smoking, drinking and cursing the main protagonists do. The actors are fine and lead Posehn has a solid deadpan delivery to get some extra milage out of the lines. It may be a forgettable comedy when all is said and done, but an amusing enough holiday diversion to add to your list of Christmas-in-ruins flicks, if that’s your thing.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 christmas trees.

fred clause rating

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (2016)

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THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (2016)

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

Spooky flick tells of the unidentified corpse of a young women (Olwen Kelly) found buried in the cellar of a house that is already the scene of two gruesome deaths. The body is turned over to Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin Tilden (Emile Hirsch), who are a father and son team of coroners who run their own morgue. The autopsy of this “Jane Doe” is most perplexing. On the outside her body seems perfect, yet as they explore deeper, her insides appear to show signs the women was horribly tortured. Add to that mysterious ritualistic symbols found on a cloth inside her body, the Tildens are getting deeper into a mystery they are having trouble solving. Worse still, the further they examine the women’s body, the more it seems some kind of malevolent presence has been unleashed. Who was this woman and what evil has entered their morgue through her.

Entertaining and chilling flick is written by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing and directed by Trollhunter director André Øvredal and has a novel premise with it’s story of an autopsy, first causing a mystery for it’s examiners and then releasing some spooky supernatural goings on. The film is well directed by Øvredal who slowly builds tension and atmosphere as our father/son duo dig deeper into examining the corpse of this women and everything they find defies logic and science. At first it appears to just be a crime thriller about an unusual cause of death, but slowly becomes something darker and more unnatural as we proceed. Once things go fully supernatural, the film is quite spooky and delivers some nice chills till the unnerving final moments. If anything holds the film back, it’s that the big reveal doesn’t seem to quite fit comfortably with the rest of the film. The explanation is full blown supernatural/fantasy and while it is surprising, it doesn’t seem to mesh well with a film that began as scientific investigation. The autopsy performed may have been delivering information that made no sense to our main characters, but the shift from scientific mystery to a full blown…and very familiar…occult/supernatural explanation is a bit jarring, even though the supernatural occurrences that were building as a result of their examination do work well. The otherworldly elements were being slowly mixed in, it’s just that the actually reveal is a bit ‘out there’ considering how grounded the film starts out. It doesn’t sink the film, it just seems to unbalance the mix of science and supernatural that was working well till this point. That and our two examiners seem to accept the supernatural a bit too quickly for men who have based their careers in scientific investigation. The film is, overall still effective and chilling, it’s just that perhaps something a bit more clever was expected where the answer we get is very old school horror. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just we were hoping for something less common for a horror flick, due to the intriguing set-up. Obviously, also expect some gore due to the nature of the story and it is rendered well.

The cast is small. Save for a few supporting characters that make brief appearances, like Austin’s girlfriend (Ophelia Lovibond) and the local sheriff (Michael McElhatton), it’s all Cox and Hirsch who are very good. Cox is a veteran and has turned in many a good performance and he is solid here as Tommy Tilden. He is a medical man and a man of science who is diving deeper into a mystery that challenges his scientific beliefs….although he seems to accept the supernatural explanation a little too quickly for a man whose career is based in facts, but that is the script and not the actor, who is first rate here. Hirsch is equally good. His character accepts that something unnatural is going on here much quicker and the actor conveys well a young man willing to accept something supernatural is occurring, as his veteran father takes a bit longer to believe this is not science they are dealing with. The two actors have a good chemistry and are believable as father and son. It makes the film click that these two are so convincing in their roles. As for poor Olwen Kelly, the actress plays a corpse and appears to have been quite a trooper playing the entire part completely nude and remaining perfectly still while be poked and prodded by the two leads. Using a real person here, instead of a prosthetic, adds to the effectiveness.

So, it’s not perfect, but still effective and entertaining. It has a clever premise and the director builds the story nicely along with some strong atmosphere and some very spooky sequences. I may not have been completely onboard with the big reveal, as it seemed to tilt the balance of science and supernatural more into familiar horror flick territory, when something more inventive or unexpected was what one was waiting for. Overall, definitely worth a watch and for the most part, a very spooky flick that only slightly disappoints when it set us up with such an intriguing mystery and solves it with something a little too familiar.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scalpels.

harvest rating

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S HO HO HORROR FLICKS TO ADD A CHILL TO YOUR HOLIDAYS!

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That “other” holiday season is here, the one that doesn’t involve jack-o-lanterns, witches and goblins, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some chills and thrills. I tried to add some variety here, so not all of them are classics and not all strictly horrors…though A Christmas Carol IS a ghost story after all. Here are ten flicks to add some chills and thrills to your ho ho holidays!

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(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

  1. Black Christmas
  2. Silent Night Deadly Night
  3. Christmas Evil
  4. Krampus
  5. A Christmas Carol
  6. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  7. Gremlins
  8. Rare Exports
  9. A Christmas Horror Story
  10. Tales From The Crypt

-MonsterZero NJ

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