A trailer and a cool poster have arrived for the new film The House On Willow Street. Directed by Alastair Orr and written by he and Jonathan Jordaan, the film stars Sharni (You’re Next) Vinson and is about a group of kidnappers abducting a girl (Carlyn Burchell) under demonic influences. Film is slated for release on VOD, streaming and select theaters on March 23, 2017 from IFC Midnight!
(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
I’m a huge fan of female filmmakers making their voices heard in the horror genre, so, obviously, I was intrigued about this new anthology featuring four stories all written and directed by women. Unfortunately, like in most anthologies, the flick is a bit of a mixed bag with not all stories being equal.
First story is the best and is based on a short tale by Jack Ketchum. It’s written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic and is a disturbing tale. The Box has mom, Susan (Natalie Brown) out in the city for the day with her kids, Danny (Peter DaCunha from Hellions) and Jenny (Peyton Kennedy). Danny spies a man with a present and his curiosity gets the man’s attention and he’s offered a look inside. Whatever he sees disturbs Danny greatly and he stops eating. He refuses to talk about it, but as he slowly opens up to his sister and dad (Jonathan Watton), they stop eating as well. With her family wasting away before her eyes, Susan is determined to find out what was in that box. This is a tense and unsettling episode with some disturbing imagery that has lasting effects even after it’s over.
Next story The Birthday Party, is directed by Annie Clark and is co-written by she and Roxanne Benjamin and is the least of the four tales. This one has self absorbed mom Mary (Melanie Lynskey) throwing a party for her little girl (Sanai Victoria) and finding her husband (Seth Duhame) dead in his home office. Not wanting to ruin the party, she now must find a way to hide his body. That’s it. It’s as uninteresting as it sounds.
Next story is written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin and is called Don’t Fall. This is a fun and effective episode finding a young woman (Breeda Wool) with a fear of heights going on a desert camping trip with friends. She runs afoul of an ancient evil entity in a cave and is transformed into a demonic creature that now stalks her companions. It’s simple, a bit gory and is a more straightforward and fun horror segment.
Anthology ends on a so-so note with Her Only Living Son. Directed and scripted by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation), this is a ho-hum tale of single mother, Cora (Christina Kirk) whose son, Andy (Kyle Allen) has suddenly turned violent. As she tries to find out what’s wrong with his behavior, she begins to suspect that his coming of age may have triggered both a horrifying transformation and unveiled a revelation about his true “father”. This segment is nothing new and ends rather abruptly and un-satisfyingly.
There are some really cool stop motion animated framing segments to the stories directed by Sofia Carrillo, that are probably the most effective thing about this uneven anthology. I still recommend one give it a look based on the framing bits and the stories that work, as it is still worth checking out…just not the total success one hoped for from some of the up and coming ladies of horror.
It is with a very heavy heart that MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse reports the sad passing of the talented and iconic Bill Paxton. It has been reported that the 61 year-old actor passed away due to complications from heart surgery. Paxton appeared in numerous classic and cult classic genre films such as The Terminator, Aliens, Near Dark, True Lies and other blockbusters such as Apollo 13 and Titanic. The actor also made prolific television appearances, currently appearing in the movie based show Training Day. He is considered an icon by genre fans and will be greatly missed. Bill Paxton leaves a legacy of classic film appearances that fans will cherish for all time!
This version of the classic tale is from Brotherhood of the Wolf director Christophe Gans and is a sumptuous telling of the story. French film has a merchant (André Dussollier) escaping a band of ruffians and wandering through a snowstorm into the castle of The Beast (Vincent Cassel). The creature commands he must stay, but will allow him one night to say goodbye to his family. When he returns home and relates his tale, his youngest daughter Belle (Léa Seydoux) sneaks out and goes to the Beast’s castle and offers herself in her father’s stead. The Beast is enchanted with her and thus begins a relationship that turns from fear and defiance to love…a love that may be The Beast’s only hope of becoming the man he once was. But, there is trouble ahead for Beast and Belle as her brother Maxime (Nicholas Gob) has offered up the riches of Beast’s castle to the gang leader Perducas (Eduardo Noriega) as payment for his debts.
Directed from a script by he and Sandra Vo-Anh this is a visually spectacular interpretation of the classic story and has a much welcome dark edge to it. It is entertaining and only looses it’s grip somewhat in a very CGI heavy last act when Perducas and his thugs raid Beast’s castle and he defends it with colossal moving statues and the local flora and fauna and it gets a little overindulgent. Belle’s disdain turning to love also could have been handled better as it happens a bit too quick, though her dreams of how The Beast came to be are well done and very effective. The costumes and make-up are elegant and the sets and FX are top notch and the cast all seem to fit and play their roles well, especially Vincent Cassel, who plays beast and prince equally well and the enchanting Miss Seydoux as Belle. It may be a bit of a flawed telling, but still very enjoyable and if nothing else, a visual feast for the eyes.
(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Winterbeast is a perfect example of just how entertaining a bad movie can be. Flick’s convoluted plot has a snowy mountaintop community being beset by creatures that are actually demons that the Native Americans that once lived on the land have tried to keep at bay. A demon spirit is trying to enter this world through a portal in this area and his stop motion animated minions are gruesomely paving the way. The only thing that stands in it’s path are a couple of local forest rangers (Tim R. Morgan and Mike Magri)…at least I think that’s it.
Written and directed by Christopher Thies, this is a sometimes incoherent flick that is one weird scene after another with this hodgepodge plot about ancient Native American totem poles and demonic creatures the lay siege to a mountain community. The acting is delightfully terrible, the dialogue is amusingly awful and the stop-motion animated creatures and gore are delightfully cheesy. It’s also a bizarre little movie filled with WTF moments, such as the disturbing dance sequence featuring weird local lodge owner, Dave Sheldon (Bob Harlow) in plaid suit and clown mask, no less and a topless cutie being slammed against the side of a house by a stop motion totem pole creature, for no apparent reason…and let’s not forget the giant chicken monster. The editing is choppy and one wonders if director Thies was even on set as there seems to be little in the way of actual direction…though with this hopelessly amateur cast, would it have mattered?
I liked this film a lot, but, of course, for all the wrong reasons. The narrative is barely coherent, some scenes are completely random, the plot is loopy and there are some hilarious WTF sequences. There is a host of cheesy stop-motion animated creatures, some equally cheesy gore and some of the worst acting and dialogue you’ll ever hope to see. It’s also a lot of fun and a perfect example of why so bad can be so good. It made a real fun double feature with Don Dohler’s Alien Factor here in MonsterZero NJ’s lair, if ‘so bad, it’s good’ is your thing!
Havenhurst is a fairly entertaining if not familiar story of someone investigating strange goings on in a large house or apartment complex and finding out they live in a house of horrors. Here, it is pretty recovering alcoholic Jackie (Julie Benz), who has been released from rehab and has moved into Havenhurst, a NYC apartment that specializes in taking in hard luck cases. Weird things happen from the start, like Jackie’s former rehab friend Danielle (Danielle Harris) mysteriously disappearing and strange sounds eminating from within the walls at night. As Jackie begins to investigate, she starts to believe there is something truly sinister going on in the building, but no one will believe her. Her only ally is a child, young Sarah (Belle Shouse), whose own parents disappeared as well. Will Jackie expose the diabolical goings on, or is she the next victim of Havenhurst!?
Film is competently directed by Andrew C. Erin from a familiar script by he and Daniel Farrands. It has some effective moments and there is some surprisingly gory violence mixed in with the familiar tropes of someone with emotional problems being disbelieved when they cry wolf. Julie Benz is a solid heroine and Fionnula Flanagan makes for a creepy landlord, whom you know is up to no good despite her ability to fool everyone else. The building location is used with creepy effectiveness and the film does have an unsettling wrap-up. A decent watch if there is nothing else on.
AMERICAN FABLE (2017)
Drama takes place in the Reagan Era with a family struggling to keep their farm. Imaginative young Gitty (Peyton Kennedy) makes a startling discovery one day when she goes to the farm silo she is forbidden to play around. There she discovers a man named Jonathan being held prisoner (Richard Schiff) and soon finds he is the real estate developer who has been buying up the folding farms in the area. Now Gitty is caught in the middle between her loved ones, who are committing a desperate act and doing what is right and helping Jonathan escape.
This is an engaging drama with a touch of fantasy as written and directed by Anne Hamilton. It has some nice emotional depth and young Peyton Kennedy really gives a very strong performance as the slightly eccentric young girl who dreams of things beyond her farm and is now caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s a little too slow moving for it’s own good at times, but otherwise is a solid drama. Gavin Macintosh also makes a truly detestable villain as Gitty’s cruel older brother Martin, who is enjoying the kidnapping a little too much and will resort to any means to carry out the plan…including murder. Hamilton makes a solid directorial debut for her first feature length film and has a nice visual eye to go along with her evident directing chops. No classic, but worth a look for sure, if you like indie dramas and a sign interesting things may be coming from Hamilton.
Very ho-hum horror has a group of Youtube pranksters who call themselves “Prank Monkey 69” apparently pranking the wrong person, who decides to take a cruel and gruesome revenge. The four members and some of their unsuspecting loved ones, all become targets of this deranged Saw-like individual. We might care somewhat if it weren’t for the fact that the Prank Money members all come across as a bunch of real assholes and we actually want to see them meet a horrible fate ourselves.
Flick is blandly directed by Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot from an uninspired script by Joe Johnson. It’s a dull movie about a bunch of jerks who basically get what’s coming to them and we never sympathize with them for a moment. The found footage genre is running out of gas quickly and mundane flicks like this are only speeding it towards it’s demise. A scant few effective scenes, but they are very few and far between.
Flick takes place at a real and infamous asylum in Michigan and even has the audacity to dedicate itself to those interned there and their families. The plot has down on his luck Jacob Martin (Chace Crawford) learning his rich dad has passed away and he is set to inherit millions…but there is a catch. His aunt was a patient at the now abandoned Eloise asylum, where a doctor (Robert Patrick) was rumored to have conducted brutal experiments and cruel treatments on patients. His aunt apparently died there, but without a death certificate, the court can’t consider him the sole heir. Jacob can’t wait months for the paper work to be found through normal channels and thus plots to break into the asylum and find them himself…what he finds, however, is that something dark and evil still remains within the walls of Eloise Asylum.
OK haunted asylum flick is written by Christopher Borrelli and directed by Robert Logato, who is an Academy Award winning FX man. Logato guides the familiar tale competently and has a nice visual eye, but the film basically covers no new ground when it comes to these kind of pics and we’ve seen it all before. That would be fine if he just could muster up some real scares or suspense, instead of just putting us and the characters through the motions. There are some effective scenes, the asylum locations are well used and Patrick has fun chewing the scenery, but other than that it’s a little too familiar and a bit too by-the-numbers to really chew our popcorn with rapt attention. There are some amusing twists at the end, but it needed more punch along the way. Also stars genre favorite Eliza Dushku as a pretty bartender who gets dragged along for the ride. If there is nothing else on, you could give it a try.
A trailer has arrived for the new film from The Loved Ones’ Sean Byrne and it looks just as disturbing! Written and directed by Byrne, the film stars Ethan (Late Phases) Embry and Shiri Appleby and involves a musician/painter under demonic influences. Film is slated for release on March 17, 2017!