BARE BONES: SNATCHERS (2019)

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SNATCHERS (2019)

Pretty high school girl Sara (Mary Nepi) finally loses her virginity to her ex-boyfriend Skyler (Austin Fryberger), who has just returned from a trip to Mexico. The next day she finds herself full-term pregnant and gives birth to a creature with another gestating inside her. Once that little monster is born, Sara tries desperately to find out what is going on. According to Aztec legend…don’t ask…the creatures she birthed will mate and multiply and it could spell doom for all mankind. Now Sara and nerdy friend Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse) have to hunt down the monsters and save the world…and Sara’s mom (J.J. Nolan), whom the creatures have taken to feed their impending brood.

Entertaining flick is directed by Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman from their script with Scott Yacyshyn. Sure the plot is a bit scatterbrained, with Skyler returning from Mexico with something both alien and out of Aztec mythology, in which he unknowingly impregnates the popularity seeking Sara. The result is a lot of bloody fun, so one can forgive any plot convolutions. The scenes of Sara dealing with her overnight pregnancy and then calmly putting the pieces together as to why she just birthed a pair of alien creatures is amusing enough, but it really cranks things up in the second act as she and her friend Hayley go on the monster hunt. There is some plentiful gore, including a gynecologist who hilariously gets his head exploded, and the cast are all charming and play their purposely stereotypical roles well. There is some commentary on teen pregnancy and the high school class system, and a few similarities to Night of the Creeps, but mostly this is just a blood-spattered good time with some well-rendered effects and creatures. A surprisingly amusing under the radar flick that deserves more attention.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: BLOOD BAGS (2018)

 

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BLOOD BAGS (2018)

Italian set horror finds student and shutterbug abroad, Tracy (Makenna Guyler) sneaking into a supposedly abandoned old house with her roommate and friend Petra (Marta Tananyan). As this is a horror film, Tracy, Petra and would-be thief Alex (Emanuele Turetta) find themselves trapped inside the large home with a deformed man (Mario Cellini) with a taste for blood and murder.

Flick is directed by Emiliano Ranzani from a script he co-wrote along with Davide Mela. It’s an amusing enough flick, though nothing remarkable, as we follow Tracy and the others as they try to evade the “creature”…as the credits call him…who is less monster than a man suffering from Porphyria or Gunther disease. The disease gives our villain characteristic of a vampire, though he is not supernatural. Other characters that find their way into the house are the creature’s brother Vittoria (Alberto Sette), Bruno (Franco Olivero), a man that watches the house for him, and two police officers (Salvatore Palombi and Denitza Diakovska). This provides a bit of a body count and puts the odds against Tracy when the number of her allies dwindles. There is some suspense and tension and plenty of well-rendered gore to hold one’s attention. The film looks good, especially a hallucination sequence about halfway through and Ranzani makes good use of the creepy old house location. Makenna Guyler makes for a cute enough heroine, though basically remained a damsel in distress for most of the movie. Overall this is nothing special, but entertaining enough and at 83 minutes, it doesn’t overstay it’s bloody welcome.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: COUNTDOWN (2019) and HARPOON (2019)

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COUNTDOWN (2019)

Generic horror flick finds morons downloading an app that is supposed to tell you when you are going to die…it works, as this is a horror film, and users start dropping. Pretty nurse Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) has the app and is now fighting to find out how to stop it and save herself and her teen sister (Talitha Bateman) from a horrible fate. If you’re dumb enough to download something like that, well, you get what you pay for.

Flick is directed completely by-the-numbers by Justin Dec, who also wrote the cookie cutter, PG-13 horror script. Once again we have a group of young people doing something dumb to get themselves cursed and followed around by a generic boogieman. This time it’s the Ozhin, supposedly a demonic entity from The Bible, but, funny, it’s not mentioned in the actual Bible. No surprise, as this info comes from a priest with tattoos, which, ironically, is mentioned in the Bible, as a sin. Just shows you how little thought actually went into this flick. It’s as pedestrian as these teen-centric horror movies come and despite an attractive cast and likable characters, you never really care about what happens to them. It’s also totally lacking in any suspense or scares, which at least would have made it worth a look, still forgettable, but at least worth a look. A complete waste of time unless you happen to be a completist of these kinda flicks, or a fan of certain cast members.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HARPOON (2019)

Another flick in the sub, sub genre of unlikable, yuppie a-holes getting into deep…and fatal…trouble. Here we have the grating trio of Jonah (Munro Chambers), Richard (Christopher Gray) and the girl caught between them, Sasha (Emily Tyra) who while on a supposedly brief boat ride (a three hour tour, maybe?) get into some boring personal drama and try to kill each other. In a series of events too stupid to bother detailing, they become lost at sea, without power, food or water. Now, the three try to decide who will be sacrificed as sustenance, so the other two may survive.

Annoying and dumb flick is directed by Rob Grant from his script with Mike Kovac. It sets up a ridiculous series of events and melodramatic contrivances to get our three unlikable subjects lost at sea together in a small space, now that they all hate each other and have reasons to do each other harm. An even more ridiculous plot contrivance sets up the three realizing that to survive, one of them has to be sacrificed so the others may live, but who?…more like, who cares? A late last act reveal does work and there is some effective and nasty violence, but, overall, it takes far too long to get interesting and far too late to change one’s non-interest in the rest of it. Tedious even at only a merciful 83 minutes in length.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

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IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

In Search of Darkness is a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from writer/director David A. Weiner. It might be one of the most comprehensive documentaries there is about one of the most prolific decades in horror film history. Weiner covers each year of the decade and some of the films that best represent that year. He also covers the main franchises that are now legendary and some other subjects such as scoring, FX and sound design. He accomplishes this, not only with scenes from a vast number of films, but with some impressive interview subjects from both the era itself, along with some contemporary talents and experts, too. We get legendary filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Tom Holland and Sean S. Cunningham. Actors like Doug Bradley, Heather Langenkamp, Kane Hodder, Kelli Maroney and even Paranormal Activity’s Katie Featherston. There is also commentary from horror aficionados such as Dead Meat’s James A. Janisse, the legendary Joe Bob Briggs and Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson along with former Fangoria Editor in Chief Michael Gingold and current Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, to name a few. It creates a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share, as well as, some really interesting anecdotes and stories from the talent who where part of this great era. Perfect examples of this are Kane Hodder’s gleeful recounting of almost being killed by a fire stunt in his first outing as Jason and John Carpenter’s apparent dislike of 80s hair fashion. Who knew? It’s a lot of fun and for the uninitiated, offers a large selection of movies to catch up with and is a virtual history lesson of this great time in horror.

The documentary’s flaws are minor and few. While never boring, four hours is a long haul, but if you can sit still for such a period of time, it is well worth it. The documentary only covers the mainstream titles, so if you were there during the era or well versed in the flicks of the time, there is nothing obscure or surprising for you. There was also a little too much commentary from the host/creator of Youtube’s Dead Meat, James A. Janisse. While one can appreciate the enthusiasm for films of this era from someone who doesn’t look old enough to have even been alive during the 80s, his over-animated delivery starts to get grating after a while and by the third and fourth hour, you wish he’d take it down a notch. The amount of footage of him used also seems uneven compared to the contributions from the other interviewees. Other than that, if you have a healthy attention span and love this era of horror filmmaking, this is definitely a recommended watch.

Take it from one who was there in the 80s and saw most of the films discussed, in a theater, this was a wonderful trip back to a favorite decade for horror films. It was great to hear stories and facts from the filmmakers and personalities involved and heartwarming to see some of the new generation horror fans embracing the style and films of the time. Four hours well spent returning to a treasured time and many a favorite classic. A must for horror fans of any age.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks.

 

 

 

 

 

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEB 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. “Sonic The Hedgehog” $26.3 Million

2, “Call of the Wild” $24.8 Million

3. “Birds of Prey” $7 Million

4. “Brahms: The Boy II” $5.9 Million

5. “Bad Boys For Life” $5.86 Million

6. “1917” $4.4 Million

7. “Fantasy Island” $4.2 Million

8. “Parasite” $3.1 Million

9. “Jumanji: The Next Level” $3 Million

10. “The Photograph” $2.8 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and VFW

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MonsterZero NJ’s Saturday Night Double Feature is back again and featuring another flick from director to watch Joe Begos. His latest flick VFW throws some serious love at John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13, so, what better feature to pair it up with than the film that Begos so affectionately pays homage to. It’s a Saturday night of awesome siege flicks, with the master John Carpenter and the next generation Joe Begos!

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ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)

Tasked by producer J.S. Kaplan to make a low budget film for him, John Carpenter came up with this violent and action filled urban version of one of his favorite Howard Hawks westerns, Rio Bravo. Two years before he hit big with Halloween, Carpenter wrote, directed, edited and composed the score for this cult classic about a remote and soon to close ghetto police station, under siege by a vengeful and well armed youth gang. Lt. Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) is sent to oversee the closing night of the Anderson ghetto police precinct, an assignment he expects to be routine and dull. But across town a youth gang with a cache of stolen guns and already sworn to avenge the death of some members by a police ambush, roam the streets looking to take their anger out on someone. They pick a poor ice cream vendor (Peter Bruni) and when a little girl (Kim Richards) gets in the way, both vendor and his young customer are brutally murdered. When the little girl’s father (Martin West) follows and kills a gang member, the rest chase him across Anderson where he finds himself at the skeleton crewed police station. Add to that the arrival of a bus carrying prisoners being transported to a state correctional facility who stop at the precinct when one prisoner takes ill and we have a recipe for a night of violence, revenge and a fight to survive. Now Bishop and the meager staff of the precinct must decide if they can trust two hardened criminals as the gang Street Thunder lays siege to the station with intensions of killing everyone inside.

Assault On Precinct 13 is a great little action flick that definitely foreshadows the type of intensity, suspense and style that John Carpenter would become known for. The film is loaded with tense action as the gang tries to get into the station and slaughter all inside and the uneasy alliance of cop and inmate must somehow fend them off with very little arms or ammo. And it works, because not only has Carpenter set up this claustrophobic situation of a remote and small building surrounded by vicious enemies, but fills it with great and endearing characters like the noble Bishop, the death row inmate with a sense of honor, Napoleon Wilson (a great Darwin Joston) and resilient and tough secretary, Leigh (Laurie Zimmer).

The acting is top notch with Stoker, Joston and Zimmer really giving intense and well rounded performances in their respective roles and a good supporting cast including Carpenter familiar faces Charles Cyphers, as the prison bus commanding officer and Nancy Loomis as meek secretary Julie, along with Tony Burton as prison inmate Wells. We never get to personally interact much with the vengeful gang, instead they are presented as a malevolent and deadly force, a faceless wall of death that surrounds and closes in on the station’s occupants and this approach keeps them a dangerous and unpredictable element whom we fear because, like Michael Myers in Halloween, they appear less human and more a force of homicidal rage. It gives them a supernatural quality despite being very much flesh and bone.

The action scenes are very intimate but intense, fast paced and well shot and, as with all Carpenter’s movies, the film has a great visual style that makes good use of it’s desolate locations and it’s largely night set scenes. While the film didn’t get much notice upon release, it was a hit in Europe and, as with a lot of Carpenter’s work, is now recognized for the classic film that it is. In my opinion it is one of what I call ‘Carpenter’s Core 5’ which in my opinion are his best films… or at least my favorites… Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York and The Thing. A great low budget action classic!

Rated 4 (out of 4) classic bullets.

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VFW (2019)

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

Bliss director Joe Begos’ latest flick takes place in a very near future where a highly addictive drug called “hype” has turned it’s users into violent addicts and city streets into war zones. Inside one of those war zones lives Viet Nam war veteran Fred (Stephen Lang) who runs a VFW hall where his friends and fellow soldiers Walter (William Sadler), Abe (Fred Williamson), Thomas (George Wendt), Lou (Martin Kove) and Doug (David Patrick Kelly) hang out. One night a young woman called Lizard (Sierra McCormick) steals some hype from drug dealer Boz (Travis Hammer), to get revenge on Boz for killing her sister (Linnea Wilson). On the run from Boz and his gang, Lizard runs into the VFW hall for cover. Still men of honor, Fred and the other veterans vow to protect Lizard as Boz, his thugs and an army of frantic hype addicts lay siege to the VFW hall.

Flick is basically John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 on crack as directed by Begos from a script by Matthew McArdle and Max Brallier. That is in no way a bad thing, as this is a bloody blast of an action flick as the war veterans take on an army of zoned-out drug addicts and a psychotic gang of thugs. We are treated to spurting blood, flying limbs and exploding heads, as the war vets use guns, axes and a host of homemade booby traps and weapons to keep the vicious gang at bay. It’s fast paced, though not enough that we don’t get to know this endearing bunch of men who never stopped being soldiers at heart. That is what makes this click all the better, is that despite all the fast and furious action, Begos lets the script’s messages about respecting and honoring those who have served, shine through. One of the very few issues with the flick is that the army of crazed drug addicts seems to come and go at the needs of the script, instead of consistently laying siege to the VFW hall. They disappear conveniently when the film needs a quiet moment for our characters to regroup. Other than that, Begos accomplishes a lot on a small budget, delivers the blood and action and has assembled a great cast of veteran actors to play his aged warriors…

…and how can you not like this cast!…Stephan Lang makes his Fred a world weary yet still honorable and strong man, one who still has nobility and honor. Sadler makes for a very likable Walter, a good-natured man who remembers the days of war as a time of loyalty and friends made. Williamson still kicks ass as the tough yet somewhat mellowing Abe and Martin Kove is solid as the business man of the group, car salesman Lou. Lou is the only one wanting to “deal” with Boz and his gang to save his own skin. Wendt and Kelly are also likable as grizzled vets Thomas and Doug, who still have their senses of humor about them. As our bad guys, Travis Hammers is a bit weak as Boz. He’s more sleazy than scary or intimidating, but he isn’t a hinderance to the blood soaked fun. Making up for it is Bliss’ Dora Madison as gang member Gutter. She’s ruthless, vicious and deadly and probably should have been the main villain…just sayin’. Any girl that takes on Fred “The Hammer” Williamson is not to be taken lightly. Rounding out is Tom Williamson (All Cheerleaders Die ) as a young vet named Shawn who wanders into the hall just home from the Middle East, Sierra McCormick (Some Kind of Hate), who is solid as the tough Lizard and Begos regular Graham Skipper as Boz’s brother, Roadie. A good cast.

Overall, this was a blood-soaked blast of a good time that manages to not only be bloody entertaining, but heartfelt about how we should view our war veterans. It’s got a lot of bloody action, but doesn’t move too fast that we don’t endear to these grizzled vets. It has some well rendered and plentiful gore, a great John Carpenter-esque score by Steve Moore and some effective cinematography by Mike Testin. All in all, it might be the most fun you’ll have at a bloodbath in quite some time. Flick is available on Amazon Prime and definitely worth the rental!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) bullets.

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: AFTER MIDNIGHT (2019)

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AFTER MIDNIGHT (2019)

Flick finds a man named Hank (Jeremy Gardner) alone in his rural home after his longtime girlfriend suddenly up and leaves him. Well, not totally alone. The night Abby (Brea Grant from Midnight Movie and RZ’s Halloween II) leaves, he begins to receive visits from a vicious creature, but can prove nothing. Is there really a monster at his door, or is loneliness and not knowing where Abby is driving him crazy?

Star Jeremy Gardner co directs, along with Christian Stella, from his own script. It’s an interesting mix of relationship drama and monster movie. The scenes at night with the creature lurking about are spooky and, surprising enough, it’s not bad as a flick about a relationship crumbling apart. Is Hank imagining his nocturnal visitor due to emotional duress, as local cop Shane (Justin Benson, who co-directed Spring with Aaron Moorhead) believes, or is there really some kind creature targeting Hank in his remote home? The film keeps one guessing and a solid cast helps make the story work. Not to mention Gardner and Stella effectively direct both the scenes of creature carnage…imaginary or not…and the scenes of Hank trying to figure out where his relationship with Abby went wrong. An effective and entertaining little movie from prolific indie actor Gardner (Bliss, Mind’s Eye, Spring), who has apparently been paying attention to some of the talented filmmakers he’s worked for and with.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIE ON THE RISE: DORA MADISON

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Photo:  IMDB/Johnny Marlow

HALLOWEEN HOTTIE ON THE RISE: DORA MADISON

This latest installment of Halloween Hotties features an actress who is not entirely new to horror, but one who is finally getting the attention she deserves. Director Joe Begos has been on fire as of late, with his two latest features Bliss and VFW . One of the many reasons these flicks have made an impact, is due to the presence of actress/singer Dora Madison! Born in Hutto, Texas, Madison, who has also acted under the names Dora Madison Burge and Madison Burge, has been a very busy actress since beginning her career in 2005. She had already done a variety of TV and film work, when in 2011, she had her first horror role in the college kids vs zombies flick Humans vs Zombies, as a gamer battling real zombies. Her Tommi is no damsel and a take charge kind of girl! She would go on to be featured in season 8 of the Showtime serial killer series Dexter as Masuka’s daughter, Niki, before a starring role in another horror flick, the 2014 found footage, Sasquatch horror Exists. It wasn’t until last year, however, that Madison made waves in the horror community, when she starred as struggling artist and drug user, Dezzy, in Joe Begos’ psychedelic, contemporary update on vampirism, Bliss. Her raw and realistic performance of a an artist already on the edge gave the film an added realism in it’s portrayal of L.A.’s underground nightlife and the people who inhabit it. A designer drug turns the down-on-her luck Dez into a blood thirsty fiend and Madison really makes us feel the many faceted effects of her transformation. The actress would star for Begos again that same year in his action packed, bloodbath VFW as ruthless gang member, Gutter. Any girl who can take on action legend Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, is definitely worth keeping our eyes on!
(Click on the highlighted links to read reviews of the films that our Halloween Hottie has appeared in)

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HUMANS vs ZOMBIES (2011)

As Tommi, a gamer forced into a battle with actual zombies when a role playing game becomes all too real!

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EXISTS (2014)

As Dora, a young woman who, when camping with friends, cross paths with a vicious Sasquatch.

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BLISS (2019)

As struggling artist Dezzy. Has a new designer drug called Bliss transformed her into something unearthly?

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VFW (2019)

As vicious…and scene stealing…gang member, Gutter in VFW!

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photo: IMDB/Elza Burkhart

There’s no telling where this versatile and talented actress will show up next. She shows no sign of slowing down with new projects already in phases of production! We can only hope she and Joe Begos will team up again, soon! For now her body of work, especially her two recent roles, qualifies Dora Madison as one of MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hotties!

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And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties profiles…just click on the following link to head over to the Halloween Hotties listings!)

 

-MonsterZero NJ

source: IMDB

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 ACTION/SCI-FI FLICKS FOR PRESIDENTS DAY!

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Donald Pleasence as the President of the U.S. in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.

MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 ACTION/SCI-FI FLICKS FOR PRESIDENTS DAY!

It’s President’s Day and ole MonsterZero NJ has put together a bunch of action/sci-fi flicks where U.S. Presidents played a major part in the story, or took part in the action themselves. So, hail to the chiefs with MonsterZero NJ’s 10 Action/Sci-Fi Flicks for President’s Day!

Jack Nicholson as the beleaguered President Dale in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!

 

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEB 14-16

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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. “Sonic The Hedgehog” $57 Million

2. “Birds of Prey” $17.1 Million

3. “Fantasy Island” $12.4 Million

4. “The Photograph” $12.2 Million

5. “Bad Boys For Life” $11.3 Million

6. “1917” $8 Million

7. “Jumanji: The Next Level” $5.7 Million

8. “Parasite” $5.5 Million

9. “Doolittle” $5 Million

10. “Downhill” $4.6 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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