The first footage of Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 is here! Bruce Campbell is back with chainsaw in hand…or as hand, as the case may be…as are Ray Santiago as Pablo, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly and Lucy Lawless as Ruby, with Aussie actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill joining the cast as Ash’s daughter Brandy. The series premiers on Starz on 2/25/18
MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2017…JESSICA ROTHE!
It’s Halloween🎃!…and as it has become tradition, it’s time to announce MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hottie of the Year!…
…and our Halloween Hottie of 2017 is the beautiful and very talented Jessica Rothe, who earns this title with her sassy performance in the hit slasher Happy Death Day. Rothe plays smart-ass sorority girl Theresa Gelbman, who is having the worst birthday possible. Someone is trying to kill her…and does, over and over again. Theresa is caught in a Groundhog Day style loop where she keeps waking up on the same morning, repeating the day leading up to her death. The only way this spirited girl can break the chain is by finding out who wants to kill her and stopping them. As Theresa sets out to solve and prevent her own murder, she transforms from snotty mean girl to feisty final girl and we are along for the ride! The Denver, Colorado born actress handles the role like a boss and gives us a smart, sexy heroine to root for, whose sarcastic sense of humor is as kick-ass as she is!
(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie poster to read a review of the hit horror flick that stars Halloween Hottie of 2017, Jessica Rothe!)
Jessica Rothe as feisty final girl, Theresa Gelbman!
Jessica’s versatility is on display here as Happy Death Day is a suspense thriller not without some very funny moments and intense action. We’d love to see her back in final girl duties, but she proves that she could probably play in any genre and play it well! So, who knows where we’ll see this charming actress next.
HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2017 RUNNER UP, ANYA TAYLOR-JOY!
This year was so close that it’s more like a co-winner than a runner up. Anya Taylor-Joy first got our attention in the acclaimed The Witch last year and then again this year in M. Night Shyamalan’s intense and creepy hit thriller Split. In this chilling tale, Anya plays Casey, a young woman who is kidnapped with two other girls by Kevin Wendell Crumb (a brilliant James McAvoy), a man with twenty-three separate personalities who is about to be unleash a horrifying twenty-fourth. Casey must use her own inner pain to strengthen her and find a way to escape her increasingly dangerous captor. Taylor-Joy shows once again that she is star in the making and a very versatile actress.
This year was a tough choice. Both these ladies were great in their roles and really brought it as final girls. If Rothe edged out the win, it was only because of the sheer energy, attitude and sassy sex appeal she brought to her role. Taylor-Joy’s brooding goth girl was excellently portrayed as well and both actresses will surely be delivering more strong work in films to come!
(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Stranger Things returns with nine new episodes on Netflix that take place a year later, delightfully around Halloween. The story returns us to Hawkins, Indiana, now in 1984 with new trouble brewing. Our four heroes, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Will (Noah Schnapp), are a year older, though still feeling the effects of their encounter with the Upside Down, especially Will. Unknown to the gang, a new threat is emerging from that paranormal dimension and has it’s sights set on Will. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has escaped and is now being hidden by police chief Hopper (David Harbour) from the Hawkins Laboratory folks who are still messing in otherworldly matters. While the group start to realize Will is once again in danger, Eleven goes on a journey to discover her real name and find her birth mother (Aimee Mullins) and half-sister (Linnea Berthelsen). Obviously all the characters’ stories will collide before the season is over.
Second season is just as good as the first and in some ways even more effective as now we are emotionally invested in the familiar characters. Ross and Matt Duffer (Hidden) again pay homage and give plentiful references to the sci-fi and horror flicks of the 80s, while still giving Stranger Things is very own heart and soul. They mange to expand the story, while keeping it familiar, also introducing us to some new characters like new gang member Maxine “Max” Hargrove (Sadie Sink) and her enormous jerk of a brother, Billy (Dacre Montgomery from Better Watch Out). The Duffer Brothers still manage to blend in so many 80s references and yet without them being intrusive or overwhelming, or becoming the main focus. There is another great soundtrack of 80s tunes and the original score, again by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, really adds atmosphere as it did for season one. The FX are top notch, like last time and this season helps give the proceedings a bit bigger scale to go with it’s massive monster. There’s plenty of action, suspense, drama and otherworldly critters to keep it’s core audience happy while rooting for our favorite characters to battle evil once more.
The cast are just as good as last time with new facets being added to the characters. Winona Ryder is again solid as Will’s mother, who is now a bit overprotective, but more of a fighter when her boy is again in danger. Millie Bobby Brown really shines as Eleven, who is now frustrated at being kept from her friends and needing to find out who she really is and where her lost relatives are. As the gang, Wolfhard, Matarazzo, Schnapp and McLaughlin all are really strong and get to play the characters a year older, but still the lovable nerds we last saw, but now with an added strength of being heroes. Schnapp especially gets to show his stuff with Will being a far more present character this season with a strong connection to our story. Harbour is again, a good hero as police chief Hopper, who is going to great lengths to protect Eleven and has made a deal with the Devil, per say, to keep the bad guys out of Hawkins. The rest of the supporting cast get more to do and do it well and the new faces such as Sink, Montgomery and veteran Paul Reiser as Dr. Owens, a shady scientist, all add to the character mix quite nicely. The Duffers juggle a lot of characters, but everyone gets their moment.
This was another solid and very entertaining season. The 80s nostalgia was again very enjoyable as was the recreation of the look and feel of the 80s decade. It took the story in new directions, introduced new characters, yet never lost that Stranger Things feel. The cast are all good, both new and returning and the FX were top notch. There were plenty of chills, suspense, thrills and surprises and some cool critters, too. Can’t wait for season 3 and now there is little doubt the Duffer Brothers can deliver the goods.
MADMAX – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers
Trick or Treat, Freak – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers
The Pollywog – directed by Shawn Levy and written by Jessica Mecklenburg
Will the Wise – directed by Shawn Levy and written by Paul Dichter
Dig Dug – directed by Andrew Stanton written by Jessie Nickson-Lopez
The Spy – directed by Andrew Stanton and written by Kate Trefry
The Lost Sister – directed by Rebbeca Thomas and written by Justin Doble
The Mind Flayer – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers
The Gate – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers
Found footage flick begins by revealing there has been a fatal occurrence at the grand opening of a Halloween haunt called Hell House. A number of guests and crew were killed and there is a veil of secrecy as to what actually happened. Years later, a documentary filmmaker (Alice Bahlke) tries to find out the real story and is given some of the crew’s own footage by surviving member Sara (Ryan Jennifer), leading up to that fateful night. As the footage is reviewed, it’s found that strange things were happening during the event set-up at the former Abbadon Hotel, a place with an already dark history, and something sinister might have actually been the cause of the catastrophe.
Found footage horror is written and directed by Stephen Cognetti and not only is it’s premise clever and spooky, but there are some downright scary bits in this little chiller. The idea of an ambitious crew setting up a Halloween haunt in a building that is already rumored to be haunted, works well and Cognetti gets a lot of mileage out of his story. The location used has a lot of dark places, especially the creepy cellar and having it already dressed for Halloween makes the filmmaker’s specters and shadows all the more creepier. Add in the manipulation of some scary clown mannequins and this is one unsettling little flick at times. Not everything works, the shock ending didn’t seem as much of a shock/surprise as it should have been and the actual disaster doesn’t seem quite as spooky as expectations lead us to believe it would be. But there is a lot of fun, creepy stuff leading up to the finale and the cast of unfamiliar faces do perform well enough to give the illusion that this is someone’s footage and not actors. Director Cognetti knows how to build scares and smartly gets things started fairly quickly, where most found footage movies take a while to get going. The flick also spares us a lot of the shaky cam until all Hell breaks loose at Hell House during the climactic disaster.
Overall, this was a spooky surprise. It’s a found footage flick that has some very scary moments thanks to a clever idea and script by Stephen Cognetti and some skillful direction. The makers get some good use out of it’s location and really do well in establishing early on that there is a malevolent presence in this notorious hotel. The climactic scenes could have used a little more punch, but there is some outright scary stuff leading up to it. A spooky little Halloween found footage flick from Stephen Cognetti.
Rated 3 (out of 4) scary clown mannequins…or are they?
Creep had some disturbing and uncomfortable moments, even if it’s last act was a bit of a let-down. Sequel is the opposite with only its last few minutes showing some spark after over an hour of dull and borderline silly moments with Duplass’ serial killer. In this sequel the killer, now amusingly calling himself Aaron, invites a young woman (Desiree Akhavan) to his secluded cabin, who is making her own failing web series called Encounters. He reveals to her that he is a killer and that he wants to make a documentary about his homicidal habits. Sara sees a golden opportunity despite her fears and over the next 24 hours, she and “Aaron” start to form a strange bond as the filming progresses.
Sequel is once again directed by Patrick Brice from a script by he and star Duplass, though this time without the effectiveness of their first effort. Most of the banter between Aaron and Sara is dull and she seems to accept and start to like the weird man way too soon and it’s not convincing. Aaron’s Primadonna approach to making the documentary is silly not scary and the film only starts to get effective in its last few minutes as their time together must come to a close according to Aaron’s constantly changing plans. It’s not enough to save the flick which up till this point was an effort to sit through and sadly lacks the uncomfortable vibe the first one used so well. Duplass and Akhavan do have a bit of chemistry and they do perform the underwhelming material well enough, but it comes across more ludicrous than scary. Concept was done better in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.
(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
College student Theresa (Jessica Rothe) is having a really bad day…over and over again. She wakes up in the dorm of a strange guy, she’s mean to those around her, she’s sleeping with one of her professors, it’s a birthday she doesn’t want to face and someone is trying to kill her…and does. But Theresa keeps waking up at the moment of her death, starting the day all over again. She soon realizes that if she is to break the loop, she has to find out who this masked killer is and stop them. Easier said than done if there weren’t so many people who might want her dead.
Obviously, the Groundhog Day routine with reliving the same day over and over has been done to death, but here it’s literally. Director Christopher B. Landon knows we’ve seen it all before and takes the derivative ball and runs with it. Landon is helped by a fun script he co-wrote with Scott Lobdell and a sassy stick of dynamite leading lady in Rothe’s Theresa. As it starts out, Theresa is an unlikable mean girl…though her mean quips are very funny…but as she embarks on her journey of identifying her masked killer and ending this loop, it takes her from snotty sorority girl to sarcastic and feisty heroine. It’s a blast to watch Theresa as she meets each day head on and each time finds a new piece of the puzzle, all the while discovering things about herself. If it sounds corny, it is and Landon knows it and revels in it. He also delivers some solid suspense, some intense action and a few surprises on the road to Theresa’s final confrontation with the killer in her midst. It’s also kind of fun to watch the spunky girl die over and over again in different ways, only to have to do it all again with increasing frustration. The humor and suspense are perfectly mixed here, making it all the more enjoyable. This is a prime example of a filmmaker taking familiar elements and having a good time with them and not just re-using them in a by-the-numbers manner. The result is a fun slasher/thriller with a very hip sense of humor and a heroine to really endear to and root for.
As for our leading lady, Jessica Rothe is having an outright blast with the plot contrivances and owns this flick from start to finish. She introduces us to a mean, snarky, sorority princess and slowly transforms her into a smart, sarcastic and resilient final girl, who grows with each repeat of the ill-fated Monday the 18th. She is firecracker of a leading lady and really makes even the corniest elements of her transformation believable, such as her having the courage and tenacity to face a killer head on. It’s her show and she handles it like a boss. In support is a charming turn by Israel Broussard, as Carter, the boy she wakes up with and bonds with over her dilemma. The two have a nice chemistry on screen and their forming relationship works very well. The rest of the cast is also solid with Rachel Matthews as Theresa’s even meaner sorority sister Danielle, Ruby Modine as her sweet and verbally abused roommate Lori, Charles Aitken as her professor/lover and Rob Mello as a captured serial killer who may, or may not, be her masked murderer.
So, maybe this is not the most original film in terms of story, but it knows it and just runs with it. Christopher B. Landon…who wrote four successive Paranormal Activity sequels and also directed the Marked Ones spin-off…has really sharpened his craft by having a blast with he and Scott Lobdell’s clever slasher variation on the Bill Murray classic…which is playfully acknowledged in the film. It’s a fun movie that succeeds beyond it’s means thanks to a filmmaker who gets how to handle the material and a star-making performances by leading lady Jessica Rothe.
MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS ABOUT HORROR FLICKS!
As horror fans, we obviously all love horror movies! And sometimes the horror movies we watch are even about a horror movie, is a movie within a movie, or about the making of one. So, here are twelve horror flicks…and they are not all classics…that are about horror flicks!
(To get to the reviews of the titles below that were covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)