BARE BONES: STATEN ISLAND SUMMER (2015)

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STATEN ISLAND SUMMER (2015)

Teen sex and party comedy tells the story of best buds Danny (Graham Phillips) and Frank (Zack Pearlman) who work as lifeguards at the Great Kills Pool Club. It’s the last weekend of summer before both must leave for college and the two plot with the rest of the lifeguard crew to throw one last big bash at the pool, before saying goodbye. Now they have to overcome all kinds of obstacles to get the party going and get laid before it’s off to school.

Directed by Rhys Thomas from a script by Colin Jost, this is a very routine teen comedy with all the clichés and tropes present. There is some amusement to be had, but it would rather be vulgar than clever and sometimes it seems to be a bit of a Staten Island in-joke, so those not familiar with this borough will feel a bit left out. There are jokes about drugs, sex and the usual bodily fluids and if that is enough than one should find this an amusing distraction. Those looking for something fresh and with a bit more wit in with the fart jokes than it probably won’t satisfy. At least there is plenty of eye candy with Ashley Green in a bikini as a love interest, Gina Gershon as a hot-to-trot MILF and the ladies may enjoy John DeLuca’s guido lifeguard Anthony. An OK flick though nothing special.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ROLLING THUNDER (1977)

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ROLLING THUNDER (1977)

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

It’s 1973 and Major Charles Rayne (William Devane) has finally come home after a seven year incarceration as a POW in Viet Nam. He receives a hero’s welcome, but the celebration is short lived. His wife has fallen for another and wants a divorce and his young son hardly knows him. His crumbling family is the least of his problems, though, as some thugs break into his home to steal some silver dollars he was given as a welcome home present. They torture and mutilate Charlie, grinding his hand in a garbage disposal to get him to talk. When they finally get what they want, they kill his wife and son and he is shot and left for dead. Now Charlie, wearing a hook for a hand, begins to hunt down his assailants, one by one, with payback on his mind!

Rolling Thunder is flatly directed by John Flynn from a script by Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould. It is considered a cult classic by many, but is actually kind of a dull revenge flick. All the characters speak their lines in the same monotone delivery and pacing of the film is slow, even for this era of filmmaking. Aside from the brutal torture/robbery scene, there are a few sparse scenes of action/violence till the bloody shoot-out at it’s climax, which is somewhat effective though not enough to really turn the film around. The flick just doesn’t really live up to it’s reputation and forty years later, the violence that does occur, including the trash compactor mutilation of William Devane’s Viet Nam vet, isn’t as startling as it may have been in 1977. The film is a bit too trashy to be an A-list thriller, yet there is not enough blood, boobs and bullets to be a true exploitation flick. The by-the-numbers direction really doesn’t help matters, either, as one wishes the film had a little more life to it, at least when the bullets finally start to fly. It’s another cult classic that doesn’t seem like all that big a deal when finally seen…or at least hasn’t aged well enough to still grab you all these years later.

The flick has a decent cast, though the monotone delivery of all the dialogue real keeps it from firing on all cylinders. William Devane is a good actor, yet here he adds little emotion to a man who is given much to emote about. His war veteran has been traumatized by his experiences as a POW, true, but he reacts to everything with the same emotional detachment including the murder of his young son and his own mutilation. He’s the emotional center of the film, yet he displays very little emotion. Same can be said of pretty Linda Haynes as Linda, a young woman who falls for Charlie and is along for most of the ride to revenge. Again that same monotone delivery although she is a bit livelier than Devane. Considering Charlie’s emotional flatline, Linda’s attraction to him never really clicks. As a fellow solider, Tommy Lee Jones also acts emotionally comatose and it also doesn’t help his character that he disappears for almost an hour and then simply follows along when Devane needs help during the final confrontation. We never really get to know him. As for the bad guys (Luke Askew, Charles Escamilla, Pete Ortega and James Best), they are all generic thugs and aside from their vile actions during the robbery, we don’t really get to know them well enough for them to really resonate as strong villains. They are just stereotypical bad guys. The only one that stands out a bit is Askew’s Automatic Slim, who is the one who torments Devane. Other than that, there is nothing special about these guys to make you really feel the hate for them.

This is another much talked about flick that didn’t live up to it’s reputation when finally caught up to. Maybe it was effective back in it’s time, but now the violence isn’t all that shocking and the film’s pacing is rather slow for a revenge flick. The actors all deliver their lines in the same emotionally detached monotone and the direction is very by-the-numbers with no real flair, even in the climactic gunfight. It has some effective moments, like the cruel robbery Charlie suffers and the final shoot-out at it’s climax, but in-between the movie never maintained a firm grip to really keep one emotionally invested in the journey down the road to revenge. Ultimately the film was a bit too trashy to be considered an A-list thriller, yet not quite trashy enough to be a real solid exploitation film. I suppose it’s worth a look to see what the fuss is about, but not really worth all that fuss.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 prosthetic hooks.

 

 

 

 

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“THE HERETICS” GETS A POSTER and TRAILER!

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The Heretics is an interesting looking upcoming occult horror directed by Chad Archibald (Bite) from a script by Bite scribe Jayme LaForest. The spooky looking flick now has a trailer and poster to intrigue us, though no U.S. release date as of yet. It does look like it has some creepy potential. Right now it’s making the rounds at festivals and hopefully this Canadian chiller finds a distributor soon!

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source: Youtube/ Arrow in the head.com

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TV REVIEW: GLOW (2017)

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GLOW (2017)

Glow is a fun and nostalgic 2017 Netflix original show based on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling tv program that ran from 1986-1990. The original show featured a bevy of female wrestlers performing cartoon-ish stereotype characters and soap opera-esque story-lines along with in-ring matches…which isn’t too much removed from professional wrestling in general. This ten episode Netflix series fictionalizes the creation of the show when struggling exploitation director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) agrees to put an all girl wrestling show together for wannabe producer Sebastian (Chris Lowell) who has a rich mother. Sam’s actual goal is to get “Bash” to fund his next flick. Answering the audition call for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are down-on-her-luck actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), her former best friend and ex-soap opera actress Debbie (Betty Gilpin), along with ten other women. The show mixes comedy and drama as it chronicles Sam and the ladies’ struggle to train, come up with their characters and get along, without killing the show, or each other, before they even step into the ring.

Glow starts off a bit shaky, but after a few episodes hits it’s stride quite nicely. The shaky start is due to the need to get the story moving quickly as there are only ten, half-hour episodes to tell it. The show needs to establish Ruth and Debbie as friends, turn them into enemies…when Ruth sleeps with Debbie’s husband (Rich Sommer)…and then thrust them back together as they become the show’s intended star rivals. This is hastily done in the first two episodes and doesn’t quite gel as we never get a feel for them as friends before they are at each others throats, literally. Ruth’s motivations for sleeping with her friend’s husband are never really convincing either. Just not enough time to really make it work. Once this occurs, the show kicks into gear as the production seems doomed from the start, yet the group start to come together like a dysfunctional family to try to make it happen. Not everything works, like an abortion sub-plot that literally lasts for one episode and seems to add nothing, and occasionally some of the humor falls flat, though mostly it works. Otherwise, this is a lot of nostalgic fun, especially if you remember the actual show that inspired it, or are a fan of everything 80s. The finishing touch is that it’s all wrapped in some awesome 80s tunes across it’s ten episodes and the whole thing leaves us wanting more.

The cast work really well and as a character driven show that is important. Alison Brie has shown a flair for comedy in the TV sitcom Community and some of her recent film roles and she shines here as Ruth. Ruth sees herself as an actress and it takes a while for her to get used to this brand of acting, but once she does she dives in with both feet. Brie works very well in the part of a woman desperate to find her place and is adept as the physical comedy, too. Gilpin is solid as Debbie. A respected TV actress who left her soap opera role to be a wife and mother and now finds that home broken by Ruth and that she has a need to be more than a babysitter. Gilpin portrays well a woman with an axe to grind who wants to be star of the show and does so without making her unlikable. Marc Maron is perfectly cast as the somewhat sleazy filmmaker, who does have a heart underneath all that cynicism and sarcasm. He really does good work here at making the guy very likable, even when he’s being a bit of an ass. The supporting cast all are strong, including Sydelle Noel as “Cherry” who becomes the groups trainer, as well as, one of the wrestlers know as “Junkchain” and Britney Young as a gentle giant of a women who only wants to prove she can be a wrestler like her famous father and brothers. A well rounded and well cast group of eccentric and eclectic characters.

So, the show does have a few flaws…and most shows take at least one season to hit their stride…but it overcomes them to become quite engaging. It’s a fun, nostalgic and clever look back not only an era, but one example of that era’s outrageousness. It’s well cast, has some fun moments and mixes the drama and comedy very well nicely. Another fun, entertaining and original show from Netflix!

The cast of Glow

EPISODE LIST

  1. Pilot – directed by Jesse Peretz and written by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch
  2. Slouch. Submit – directed by Wendey Stanzier and written by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch
  3. The Wrath of Kuntar – directed by Claire Scanlon and written by Nick Jones
  4. The Dusty Spur – directed by Melanie Mayron and written Sascha Rothchild
  5. Debbie Does Something – directed by Phil Abraham and written by Rachel Shukert
  6. This Is One Of Those Moments – directed by Kate Dennis and written by Jenji Kohan
  7. Live Studio Audience – directed by Jesse Peretz and written by Rachel Shukert
  8. Maybe It’s All The Disco – directed by Sian Heder and written by Nick Jones
  9. The Liberal Chokehold – directed by Lynn Shelton and written by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch
  10. Money’s In The Chase – directed by Tristram Shapeero and written by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch

-MonsterZero NJ

3 wrestling rings!
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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JUNE 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. “Transformers: The Last Knight” $45.3 Million

2. “Cars 3” $25.2 Million

3. “Wonder Woman” $25.2 Million

4. “47 Meters Down” $7.4 Million

5. “All Eyez on Me” $5.85 Million

6. “The Mummy” $5.8 Million

7. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” $5.2 Million

8. “Rough Night” $4.7 Million

9. “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” $4.3 Million

10. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” $3 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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REVIEW: THE YOUNG KIESLOWSKI (2014)

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THE YOUNG KIESLOWSKI (2014)

Indie comedy/drama finds nerdy college virgin Brian Kieslowski (Ryan Malgarini) going to a party one night and meeting adorable and opinionated also virgin Leslie Mallard (Haley Lu Richardson). After some awkward drunken moments, Brian and the young woman hook up. Weeks later Leslie finds out she is pregnant and with twins and wants to keep them, as she is Christian. When confronted with this news Brian, who is currently dealing with his mother’s (Melora Walters) terminal cancer, tries to appear supportive, but is actually quite terrified and the turmoil begins as they travel to tell both sets of parents.

Film is well directed by Kerem Sanga from his own script and is probably more realistic about how things would go in this scenario, especially with today’s self-absorbed generation of youth. It’s aggravating to watch Brian constantly lie about his support of Leslie’s decision to keep her babies and even more infuriating to watch him let his selfishness and fear govern how he treats her and the situation. You sit there waiting for him to man-up and take responsibility for his part in her pregnancy, but all he does is lie to her face and run from his responsibilities. In the meantime we feel terrible for poor Leslie whose own rich, self-absorbed author father (James LeGros) wants her to have an abortion, or he will cut off her college funding and money to live. Brian outwardly pretends to side with Leslie, but secretly hopes her father convinces her otherwise. It’s actually heartbreaking to watch so many other people trying to decide what’s right for the young woman without taking her feelings or opinion into consideration. The only ally she really has is Brian’s terminally ill mother. It’s a lot of drama for a film that sometimes quite awkwardly, tries to interject humor into it’s scenario, which doesn’t always work and occasionally makes one uncomfortable as this would be a serious situation in real-life. If the film has any major flaw, it’s the humor doesn’t always mix well with the subject and one would like to think writer/director Sanga isn’t trying to make light of a young woman in such a predicament and wanting to make her own choice. Perhaps there is a thinly veiled statement here as the male characters favor abortion, while the women favor keeping the babies. Echos of our own country where male politicians seem to feel they can speak for women’s right’s…without the woman’s point of view being considered. Hard to believe that this was unintentional as we watch Brian secretly hope Leslie doesn’t go through with having what are his children, too…another point he seems to miss. One other gripe is that at no point do any of the characters mention the option of adoption. It’s either abortion or nothing on the side of those opposed to her keeping her babies and it was infuriating that at no point does anyone suggest a possible compromise of giving the children up for adoption. You’d think at least Brian’s mom would have suggested it, being one of the only people who cared about how Leslie felt. Was this not touched upon for dramatic purposes? Only writer Sanga knows for sure.

The director does have a very good cast even if we want to punch his lead character sometimes. Ryan Malgarini does convey well the terror and selfishness of an already somewhat immature young man who now has to grow up and do the right thing. It makes one angry to see how little consideration Brian gives to Leslie’s feelings and how selfishly he runs from being there to support her and being a man and taking responsibility. It’s a good stretch of the film where Brian becomes unlikable for his lack of maturity and how he hurts Leslie and in that, the actor plays the part very well. We are actually proud of Brian when he finally grows up and steps up and Malgarini makes that work even though we wanted to throttle Brian for the last hour. As Leslie, Hayley Lu Richardson (The Last Survivors, Split, Edge of Seventeen) once again proves she is a star in the making. Her Leslie is a fiery, opinionated young woman and seems to have a good heart and a pretty good head on her shoulders, even if she can be impulsive. Despite her strength and resolve, she still generates a lot of sympathy when the person she should most trust in, Brian, doesn’t support her and outwardly betrays her. That and having her own father try to force her to make a decision she feels isn’t right, is heartbreaking and Richardson has us by the heartstrings without taking her character into over-the-top melodrama. She has a strong screen presence and once again shows her versatility in yet another type of film. The girl has talent. James LeGros is an underrated actor and once again gives a strong performance as the self-absorbed Walter Mallard. He wants his daughter to do what HE thinks is right, ignoring her opinion and the fact that he was a young dad and his life and daughter turned out alright. He doesn’t even consider letting her make her own decision and being supportive and respectful of that. Legros, as with Malgarini, is a good enough actor to make us smile when Walter changes his mind. There is also good work from Joshua Malina as Brian’s father Robert, who is not ready to become a grandfather yet, and a wonderful supporting performance by Melora Walters as Brian’s terminally ill mother who becomes Leslie’s only true supporter and whose only concern is to see her grandchildren before she leaves this world.

I liked this movie. It stirred up some emotions and dealt with the difficult situation of pregnancy at a young age and the resulting turmoil, probably more honestly than one wants to admit. It boldly allowed it’s lead character to behave in a irresponsible and sometimes borderline cold manner and really makes us wait for him to do the right thing. Director/writer Kerem Sanga gets some really strong work from his cast and quite possibly was making a statement about men arrogantly making decisions about a woman’s right to choose. If the film has any flaws, it’s that sometimes the attempts at humor don’t fit the situation and we would like to think Sanga wasn’t making light of a serious subject, just choosing awkward moments to lighten the tone. If you like indie flicks, this is worth checking out.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 pregnancy tests!

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET (2017)

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HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET (2017)

Flick has four kidnappers snatching a girl (Carlyn Burchell) whom they plan to ransom, only to find she is possessed by a demon and now they can’t get rid of her as she takes them down one by one. Silly flick is flatly directed by Alastair Orr from a script by he, Jonathan Jordaan and Catherine Blackman. Despite that it gets goofier and goofier as it moves along, this flick takes itself way too seriously, so we can’t even have fun with the ridiculousness of it all. It’s an endless parade of horror clichés and movie scene rip-offs that doesn’t even have the decency to allow us to laugh at it, as it’s just so dull. There is some nice make-up FX and gore, but the CGI is laughably bad and the performances and dialog are wooden and weak. Overall it’s a tedious mess of things we’ve seen so many times before and not reused with any cleverness or ingenuity. Yawn.

There was some good advanced word on this, though not sure where it came from. Stars Sharni Vinson (You’re Next, Patrick: Evil Awakens), who looks uncomfortable and like she’d rather be elsewhere, during the entire movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

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IT CAME FROM ASIAN CINEMA: THE COLLABORATIONS OF KEITA AMEMIYA AND YÛKO MORIYAMA

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THE COLLABORATIONS OF KEITA AMEMIYA AND YÛKO MORIYAMA

Keita Amemiya is an artist and designer who got a start writing and directing for TV before breaking into feature filmmaking in 1988 with Murai Ninja, a film that was a mash-up of ancient Japan sword epic and Star Wars-esque sci-fi flick. The film showed evidence of a director still in need of some experience at the helm, but it also had a unique look and design that displayed some interesting potential. Amemiya lived up to that potential in 1991 with the now cult classic Alien, The ThingTerminator, hybrid Zeiram and hasn’t stopped working since.

Yûko Moriyama was a Japanese TV and movie actress who had a brief acting career from 1991 to 2000. She was very pretty and only five foot four, but could convey a toughness and strength that made her believable as an action star. She worked for Keita Amemiya in three films ranging from 1991 to 1997, including his breakaway hit, Zeiram. In all three she played women warriors and that seemed to get her typecast as such for the rest of her short career. She made an impression, however, that has earned her cult status despite acting for less than a decade.

Zeiram had a beautiful bounty hunter from space coming to earth to hunt a biological weapon which could absorb the genetic material of victims and use it to it’s advantage. That beautiful bounty hunter was named Iria and played by the adorable yet tough Yûko Moriyama, who was twenty-three at the time and it was her first feature film. The flick became an instant fan favorite with it’s live action anime style and the incredible creatures, costumes and gadgets from the mind of Amemiya. It also made an instant cult star out of Moriyama, whose Iria had the beauty of a Japanese anime girl and the kick-ass combat skills of Natasha Romanov. The FX were quite good for a low budget flick, ranging from animation to prosthetics to old fashioned stop-motion. There was plenty of action and the film is now considered a cult classic of Japanese fantasy/sci-fi cinema.

Three years later Amemiya brought his genetic horror back and his leading lady with him, as Iria returned to Earth to battle another Zeiram creature, this time infused into a combat robot. Her A.I. partner Bob was back, too, as well as, her bungling earth sidekicks Teppei (Kunihiro Ida) and Kamiya (Yukijiro Hotaru). Zeiram 2 wisely kept it fresh by having a different look and abilities for it’s title creature and for Iria as well. The sequel once again featured the stunning and unique design work of it’s visionary director and the traditional genre mixing action. Moriyama was sexy and cool as Iria and while the film didn’t quite live up to it’s predecessor, it is still an action-packed, fun flick with the trademark look of an Amemiya film and with bounty hunter Iria being kick-ass as ever. Unfortunatley for fans, it would be another three years before director and actress would team again…

The artistic director and his leading lady worked together one last time, but sadly not a third go around for his heroine from space, Iria and her arch enemy. Moon Over Tao took place in feudal Japan with an object falling to earth that contains a hideous and almost indestructible creature that would kill anything it crosses paths with if unleashed. The ever-pretty Moriyama plays not one, but three alien women, Abira, Marien and Kuzto, who all have come to Earth to reclaim the object for their own personal reasons. The actress doesn’t disappoint, being beautiful and badass as usual. Amemiya would provide yet another entertaining genre mash-up with three times the Moriyama. The flick is a gory good time and once agin has some very unique design work, but still doesn’t quite equal the fun and action of his 1991 cult classic. 

Keita Amemiya continues to write, direct and design for films, TV and video games to this day. Moriyama apparently retired from acting after 2000 with her final film being a Hong Kong flick set partially in Japan called Tokyo Raiders. The actress is still a cult favorite among fans for her portrayal of Iria and it’s disappointing that she left acting so soon and never reunited with Amemiya at least one more time to make the Zeiram flicks a trilogy. Their collaborations are available on DVD and for those looking for more, there was a Zeiram animated prequel series that brought the titular creature and a younger Iria back, though Amemiya and Moriyama were not involved.

(You can read my full reviews for their three collaborations by clicking the highlighted titles, or on the movie posters above -MZNJ)

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 -MonsterZero NJ

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SUSPENSE THRILLER “MIDNIGHTERS” GETS A TRAILER!

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As a big fan of actress Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes, Tales Of Halloween, The Neighbor) we’re always happy around here to see she’s got another flick coming out. This looks like it could be another impressive role for the actress, as well as, a solid feature debut for director Julius Ramsay from Alston Ramsey’s script. Flick premiers at The Los Angeles Film Festival on 6/19/17 and hopefully a more mainstream release of some kind soon after!

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source: internet

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JUNE 16-18

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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. “Cars 3” $53.5 Million

2. “Wonder Woman” $40.7 Million

3. “All Eyez on Me” $27 Million

4. “The Mummy” $13.9 Million

5. “47 Meters Down” $11.5 Million

6. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” $8.5 Million

7. “Rough Night” $8 Million

8. “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” $7.3 Million

9. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” $4.9 Million

10. “It Comes At Night” $2.6 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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