WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 28-30

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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. “Night School” $28 Million

2. “Smallfoot” $23 Million

3. “The House With A Clock In It’s Walls” $12.5 Million

4. “A Simple Favor” $6.6 Million

5. “The Nun” $5.4 Million

6. “Hell Fest” $5 Million

7. “Crazy Rich Asians” $4.1 Million

8. “The Predator” $3.7 Million

9. “White Boy RIck” $2.4 Million

10. “Peppermint” $1.7 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 1 & 2

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Haven’t done one of these in a long time! However, the Halloween season 🎃👻 is approaching and what better way to spend a Saturday night during the spooky season than with a good double feature. Here is a pair of found footage flicks that take place in the world of Halloween Haunts and makes a splendidly spooky double bill to enjoy with some popcorn and pumpkin ale!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Houses October Built is a found footage horror with a simple but fairly novel premise. During the Halloween season, five friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera. This includes tracking down an almost mythical attraction called The Blue Skeleton rumored to be the most extreme of all. Obviously, the more intense these attractions get, the stranger the individuals they run into and it increasingly appears this group might be getting more than they bargained for, until they actually find the elusive Blue Skeleton and…as the old saying goes…be careful what you wish for!

I liked this found footage horror, which seems to have grown out of director Bobby Roe’s own 2011 documentary about Halloween attractions with the same name and cast. The film sets up the intriguing idea that there are attractions out there that hire questionable individuals who have no problem crossing boundaries to get the appropriate scares…and are not to be trifled with. The film then illustrates what may happen when a group of thrill-seeking individuals goes looking for such fright experiences and unfortunately finds them. This is not a great flick, but has some very creepy moments, not only from some of the attractions our crew visit, but when they piss off the wrong people and it begins to be clear that they are being followed by some malevolent individuals…or are they being lead? The found footage format makes you feel like you are there with this fairly likable bunch, but the drawback is that I never felt like I was watching anything but actors. They never really make you feel like they are real people, so I wasn’t completely taken in when they appear to be threatened or in harm’s way. The film still has some very effective moments, especially in the last act when things start to go very wrong for our group and the only female, Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) seems to be singled out at times. I will admit, though, that the climax could have used a bit more intensity and shock value to offset the fact that we go into this knowing it won’t end well to some degree. It’s not a groundbreaking film, but it does work on quite a few levels and we can’t help but imagine ourselves in a spot where we are surrounded by individuals who may not know…or care..where the show ends and real terrorizing begins.

So, I did like this flick. I think it’s clever that Roe made a documentary about some really over-the-top Halloween attractions and used what he learned to turn it into a movie. It’s as if this actually happened to him and his crew while they were making the 2011 film. Almost a film within a film, though I have yet to see the original documentary and hope to remedy that. This isn’t a great horror, but it is a spooky enough flick about a hidden dark side to a favorite holiday pastime. It may not ever totally make us feel like we’re watching actual footage, but has enough effective imagery and situations to accomplish a good deal of what it sets out to do. Film was co-written by Roe along with Zack Andrews and Jason Zada and stars Roe, Andrews, Brandy Schaefer, Mikey Roe and Jeff Larson as themselves. If you like Halloween and all the trappings, you’ll probably enjoy this effective little flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clowns… and there are plenty in this flick!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Houses October Built was a  fun found footage horror with a simple premise. During the Halloween season, five friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera…of course they got more than they bargained for. The sequel picks up a year later with the group having become internet celebrities due to the broadcasting of their predicament at the hands of The Blue Skeleton on social media. Now Halloween haunts are paying them to come and promote their attractions…all but Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) who is still traumatized. Brandy…now known on the net as “Coffin Girl”…however, is the one the haunts all want promoting their attractions and the gang have to do a lot of convincing…and paying…to get her back in. Brandy eventually agrees, not knowing that someone is watching them and that the The Blue Skeleton group may not be done scaring them yet.

First flick was a lot of fun as it both worked both as a horror flick, yet also dove into the underground world of Halloween haunts. This sequel does the same but opens it up to include Zombie 5k’s and even an “adult” themed haunt. The script by director and actor Bobby Roe, with cast member Zack Andrews, cleverly gets the gang back out there by having them now being paid by the haunts themselves to do what they did last time. Roe keeps the found footage format somewhat, but this one plays more like a movie which works as the feel of legitimate found footage was one of the weaker aspects the first time around. The group’s use of a drone, also opens up the scale with some frequent aerial photography. This sequel does take a little while to get going and may not be as consistently Halloween spirited as the last one, but once things start to get spooky, when our group…Brandy in particular…are being stalked, it gets as fun as the last one. It also has a few surprises up it’s sleeve, especially when the group meets their intended fate at the Hellbent attraction where the familiar blue skull-ed creepers spring their trap. It provides an intense and entertaining last act and shows Bobby Roe has matured as a filmmaker, somewhat, providing some legitimate chills.

The main cast, Zack Andrews, Mike and Bobby Roe, Jeff Larson and Brandy Schaefer, all return and are certainly fine, basically playing themselves. Schaefer stands out as she has the most emoting to do with her character being a reluctant participant, who is still haunted by almost being buried alive. Brandy has a couple of strong scenes expressing her fears and concerns over returning to these underground haunts and the climax gives her some solid material to work with. She would make a good final girl in a straight up horror. Mikey Roe also has some screen charisma as lovable party animal and joker of the group.

This was an enjoyable sequel and with some clever writing they may be able to get at least one more chapter out of this franchise. This follow-up pretty much equaled the first flick, which was a fun look at extreme Halloween haunts and a sometimes spooky little horror flick, too. The sequel freshens things up by opening up it’s spectrum of interested to include other types of Halloween attractions and figures out a way to get it’s characters back out there, after being scared out of their wits the last time. It does take a while to get going and the Halloween spirit isn’t as consistent as the last time…maybe too much of it was shot in the daytime?…but it does deliver some goods, especially in the last act. If you liked the first The Houses October Built you might enjoy this second romp as well and it would make a nice double feature during the spooky season to watch both films together.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clowns…they return too!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HELL FEST (2018)

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HELL FEST (2018)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Hell Fest is a slasher flick that finds pretty Natalie (Amy Forsyth) reluctantly going to a Halloween Haunt with her friends on All Hallow’s Eve. Hell Fest is almost a Renaissance faire for horror fans with costumed performers and dozens of mazes, fun houses and ghoulish games. What Natalie and company don’t know, is that a real serial killer (not listed in the cast 😱) has entered the park and she and her friends have gotten his attention in the worst way.

Flick is a routine but fun slasher, as directed by Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension) from a script and story by six people, no less. It’s not especially scary, though there are a few effective moments, mostly in the last act. The body count is unusually low for a modern day slasher, but there is some good gore and Plotkin at least has a very cool stetting that he can take advantage of…though more could have been done with the concept. All the tropes are followed and handled well enough to entertain, though there is nothing inventive enough to really make an impression and the generic masked boogie man was serviceable at best. The cast of characters are all fairly stereotypical, though the attractive cast does make them likable enough for us not to be completely apathetic with their fates. Lead Amy Forsyth (Torment) is a decent final girl, though she didn’t leave a strong enough impression to make her Natalie overly memorable. If any of the cast members stood out, it was Bex Taylor-Klaus as the cute but obnoxious horror buff Taylor. The rest of the supporting cast make decent killer fodder and there is a brief appearance by genre legend Tony Todd as a Hell Fest carnival performer. The film ends a bit suddenly and the denouement is both interesting and anti-climactic at the same time. Only time and box office numbers will tell if the makers can expand on that ending, if there ever is a Hell Fest 2.

Overall, Hell Fest is an entertaining enough horror flick as long as you are not expecting anything groundbreaking or innovative. Plot-wise it was by-the-numbers slasher hi-jinx and it’s killer was effective just enough, but not so much to make one look forward to an ongoing franchise. There was some nice gore, the Hell Fest setting was fun and the young cast was likable enough, so we weren’t detached from the proceedings. The film is also helped by the fact that it was nice to have a horror movie out this Halloween season that didn’t involve found footage or increasingly ridiculous traps. Routine but fun and you could do a lot worse during the spooky season..

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 masked killers…generous, but hey…it’s Halloween 🎃

 

 

 

 

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 MOVIES ABOUT HALLOWEEN HAUNTS and FUNHOUSES!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 MOVIES ABOUT HALLOWEEN HAUNTS and FUNHOUSES!

Two young couples unknowingly enter the gates of Hell when they take a ride on Captain Spaulding’s murder ride in House of 1000 Corpses.

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With Halloween 🎃 on the horizon, Halloween Haunts and Fun Houses will be soon opening to frighten and delight folks all across the country! So, here is a list of twelve horror flicks about, set in, or involving just such a spooky setting!… (Hell Fest will arrive in theaters on 9/28/18 and Extremity will arrive on VOD on 10/2/18!)

Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) might be regretting going with friends on a road trip to discover the ultimate Halloween Haunt in The Houses October Built.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: HELL HOUSE LLC 2 (2018)

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HELL HOUSE LLC 2 (2018)

Sequel to the spooky surprise Hell House LLC takes place eight years later with internet journalist Jessica Fox (Jillian Geurts) planning to find out actually what happened in the Abaddon Hotel turned Halloween Haunt, on that fateful night, documented in the first film. She convinces surviving documentarian Mitchell Cavanaugh (Vasile Flutur) to join her crew (Dustin Austen and Joy Shatz) and a pompous TV psychic (Kyle Ingleman) to go inside the allegedly haunted building. Obviously, breaking into the sinister Abaddon will turn out to be a very bad idea.

Film is once again written and directed by Stephen Cognetti and is a little disappointing, especially since the first film was such a creepy surprise. Flick starts off on shaky ground with a set-up from a TV show called Morning Mysteries. These opening segments are a bit hokey and the flick only starts to get spooky once Jessica and company sneak into the Abaddon and become trapped. Once inside, Cognetti proves he can still muster up some very creepy moments and scares. Unfortunately the film doesn’t maintain it’s atmosphere as we keep cutting back to the Morning Mysteries segment that occurred before they enter the sinister hotel and then to a police interrogation with a bloodied Jessica that takes place a few days later. Going back and forth breaks up some of the tension Cognetti started to build. The last act also looses some sinister steam as we finally meet the source of the hotel’s evil and they turn out to be a cliché pontificating villain. The momentum stops dead as they chatter away about their evil plot.

The sequel’s worth a look if you enjoyed the first flick and has some very spooky moments of it’s own, but it’s not as consistently unsettling like the first film and the climax is rather anti-climactic…not to mention predictable. Flick hints at yet another installment, but maybe it’s time Cognetti moved on from the Abaddon and gave us something new. You can find Hell House LLC 2 exclusively on Shudder.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 21-23

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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. “The House With A Clock In It’s Walls” $26.85 Million

2. “A Simple Favor” $10.4 Million

3. “The Nun” $10.25 Million

4. “The Predator” $8.7 Million

5. “Crazy Rich Asians” $6.5 Million

6. “White Boy RIck” $5 Million

7. “Peppermint” $3.7 Million

8. “Fahrenheit 11/9” $3.1 Million

9. “The Meg” $2.35 Million

10. “Searching” $2.1 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: PREDATORS (2010)

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PREDATORS (2010)

Second direct Predator sequel finds an assorted group of mercenaries, gangsters and killers (Adrian Brody, Danny Trejo and Alice Braga to name a few) kidnapped from Earth and dropped on a remote planet. There the group are hunted for sport by a group of familiar looking alien creatures.

Directed by Nimród Antal from a script by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, flick gets a lot right, far more then those AVP movies, but also falters in a few places that keep it from being the great movie Predator fans were hoping for. Returning to the jungle is fine, as is sending in another collection of badasses to challenge the hunting skills of the title creatures. The first half of the film is good, as is the cast and characters. It’s the middle of the film where the trouble begins when the film slows down for the scenes with Laurence Fishburn. These sequences serve only for exposition and really aren’t needed. It stops the film dead. The flick starts to pick up speed again, but only to deliver a climax far too derivative of the original and far too open ended to really satisfy. It works fine enough to an extent, but we’ve seen it all before. So far, Predators is the best of the sequels up to this point and a step in the right direction for those who haven’t tired of this series. There is a lot of action and an interesting plot element that there is more than one type of Predator and they don’t all get along. Entertaining if you don’t expect something that measures up too close to the Arnie original.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: MANDY (2018)

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MANDY (2018)

Mandy is a surreal and over-the-top revenge story from director Panos Cosmatos and starring Nicolas Cage, who is no stranger to over-the-top. The story is set in 1983 and finds logger Red (Cage) living in peaceful harmony with his artist/lover Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), in a secluded cabin in the woods. One night they are besieged by a group of apocalyptic bikers, who brutalize Red and abduct Mandy by order of Children of the New Dawn cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). When Mandy rejects the deranged Jeremiah, he and his people burn her alive right before Red’s eyes. Red frees himself, forges a weapon of vengeance that would make a Klingon cry tears of joy and tracks down biker and cultist alike for bloody revenge.

Cosmatos directs this wild film, from a script by he and Aaron Stewart-Ahn, with such a surreal touch that it almost feels like it’s set on another world…and maybe it is. It’s like Last House on the Left meets Phanstasm, with a lot of other movies mixed in, as Red uses bow, arrow, chainsaw and his axe of vengeance to slice and dice his way to Jeremiah. It’s not an easy path to revenge and Red earns his scars, but he gives as good as he gets and better. It’s weirdly atmospheric, delightfully unhinged, giddily gory and we get the Nicholas Cage we came for. It’s also has some stunning cinematography by Benjamin Loeb and an amazing 80s-esque score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away earlier this year. If there is one gripe, it’s that at 121 minutes, it is a bit too long for it’s own good and a few scenes…especially Jeremiah’s delirious pontificating…wear out their welcome before they are over. Otherwise this is an original and enjoyably out-there tale of bloody revenge with some vicious and brutal action scenes.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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CAPTAIN MARVEL GETS A TEASER TRAILER!

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The Adventures of Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) are headed our way on March 8, 2019 and we finally get a first trailer! Looks like it could be another hit for Marvel! Film is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck!

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source: Youtube

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REVIEW: THE PREDATOR (2018)

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THE PREDATOR (2018)

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

Messy story has a Predator (Brian A. Prince) crash landing on Earth right in the middle of a covert operation by military sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook). His men are killed, The Predator is captured and eventually McKenna is taken into custody by a black ops unit, only after sending his autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) some of the Predator tech as security. Biologist Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is brought in to examine the creature and discovers the species is using various collected DNA, including human, to improve themselves. What they don’t know is that their captive is a traitor and a massive 11 foot tall tracker has been sent to earth to eliminate it. When The Predator escapes, McKenna, a band of psychotic army inmates and Casey, must team up to evade slimy government operative Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) and get to Rory before The Predator…or the monster that hunts it…finds his son and ex-wife (Yvonne Strahovski) first…still with me?

Flick is directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3) from a script he co-wrote with Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps, Monster Squad) and it is a bit of a mess…though a fun one at times. One basic problem is that the film jumps around a lot with no transitional scenes to give us the illusion that characters traveled from one place to another or learned something that they suddenly know at a later point. While Rory is a savant with the alien technology, other characters including his dad and Munn’s Casey, suddenly know their way around the Predator technology when necessity serves. Let’s just say Black uses a lot of conveniences to move his story along. He also doesn’t seem to take his own story very seriously, as there is an overabundance of humor and it seems to overshadow the more serious moments, keeping the movie from building some real intensity. On a more positive side, Black doesn’t shy away from the gore and there are some very enjoyable action scenes. There is also some fun character banter and it is entertaining to see Predators stalking the suburbs on Halloween night…though they could have made better use of that aspect, too. Still, the film starts to feel like it’s being made up as it goes along once the mega-Predator arrives. The second half especially feels like they are not following a story, but going from one scene to another. The flick also starts out fairly seriously and then seems to get sillier and sillier as it progresses, till it ends in a goofy climactic confrontation of clichés and SPFX. It just doesn’t seem like Black trusted his own material enough to play it straight and tough like the first classic. Even the AVP films took themselves serious enough to get us to buy into them, even if they ultimately disappointed.

The film has an eclectic cast which works even if the material is weak. Boyd Holbrook makes a fine enough hero, though it seemed like he needed a bit stronger screen presence. Olivia Munn proves, after impressing as Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse, that she makes a solid action hero and when not left out of that action babysitting Rory, she can kick ass with the boys. Sterling K. Brown is OK as the government bad-guy. It’s a cliché role, but he works hard to make him a good bad guy despite being two dimension-ally written. Tremblay gives another good performance as the bullied and autistic Rory who has a gift for understanding the alien language and technology. As McKenna’s back-up, Trevante Rhodes is good as the soulful Nebraska, Keegan-Michael Key is fun as the joker of the group Coyle, Thomas Jane is solid as a soldier suffering from PTSD and touretts, Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones, John Wick) is good as the Irishman Lynch and Augusto Aguilera is amusing as the weird but likable Nettles. Rounding out is Yvonne Strahovski as Rory’s tough and protective mom and Jake Busey in an amusing role as the son of Predator 2‘s Peter Keyes, who was played by his father Gary Busey.

Overall, this was a bit of a disappointment yet, not without it’s entertaining moments. There was some cool action, some solid FX and the cast of eccentric characters worked well together. Unfortunately the script is weak and the director favored goofy humor and allowed the film to jump from place to place, where it should have taken itself a bit more seriously and a smoother narrative would have made things flow a lot better. The second half seems to be made up as it went along and despite a cool new Predator, the film was more silly than scary. Your move.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 updated Predators.

 

 

 

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