BARE BONES: RADIOFLASH (2019)

 

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RADIOFLASH (2019)

Radioflash is another term for an EMP…electromagnetic pulse…an event which begins our story. When the power is knocked out, civilized behavior quickly becomes fear and panic and survivalist Frank (Will Patton) begs his teen granddaughter Reese (Brighton Sharbino) and her father Chris (Dominic Monaghan) to join him in the safety of his secluded house, deep in the mountains. The trip is treacherous and an unfortunate series of events finds Reese all alone. As the young girl runs afoul of murderous looters and a strange backwoods, mountain family, her concerned grandfather sets out to track his loved ones down.

Survival drama is directed by Ben McPherson from a script by he and Matt Redhawk. It’s a somber and low key film about a young girl trying to survive two harsh worlds, one created by a catastrophic event and the other that may have always been there. It’s well done and somewhat involving, but never really grabs us, or seems to really go anywhere. It’s refreshing to not have zombies or fetishistic biker gangs, in this kind of scenario, but it could have used a little more dramatic weight. It’s a little too laid back for it’s own good. Both the selfishness of people in panic and the weird rural mountain folk are both familiar elements at this point, but still work in the context of the story. It’s a bit questionable, though, that cellphones and laptops would still work after the EMP. Brighton Sharbino does make for a likable heroine, as the resourceful Reese and Fionnula Flanagan, Michael Filipowich and Kyle Collin are effective as the mountain clan that want to make Reese one of their own…whether she likes it or not. Well directed, but could have used a bit more intensity.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: BLOODSHOT (2020)

 

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BLOODSHOT (2020)

Comic book based superhero flick finds soldier Ray Garrison (Vin Diesal), murdered and his wife (Talulah Riley) killed by a vengeful terrorist (Toby Kebbell). They can rebuild him, they have the technology! Ray is brought back to life by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) and made better, stronger, faster…you get the idea. Nanite technology almost instantly heals his wounds and his mind is now a supercomputer. Problem is, Harting is actually using Ray as an assassin, recreating the murder of Ray’s wife, over and over, with the face of each intended target, under the deception of returning memories. Suffice to say Ray isn’t going to be happy when he finds out…which he does.

Flick is directed by David S. F. Wilson from a script by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer, based on the Valiant Comic. As such, it’s a very routine and by-the-numbers superhero/action flick. The FX are good and there is plenty of action, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, or presented in a way that makes it fresh. Diesel is a solid enough action hero, though even he seems to be going through the numbers here. At least it does liven up a bit for it’s free-for-all climax. Also stars Eiza González, Sam Heughan and Alex Hernandez as KT, Dalton and Tibbs, three other ex-soldiers enhanced by Harting’s Rising Spirit Tech and Wilfred Wigans as a computer genius, who helps Ray find the truth and get revenge. Not terrible, but not terribly special either.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 20 REASONS IFC MIDNIGHT HAS DELIVERED A DECADE OF HORROR!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 20 REASONS IFC MIDNIGHT HAS DELIVERED A DECADE OF HORROR!

IFC Midnight was created by IFC Films in 2010 as a distributor for their horror movie releases. They have been going strong for ten years, now delivering dozens of genre flicks! So, without further ado, here are twenty reasons why it’s been a decade of horror, because of the great folks at IFC Midnight! Their movies can be found on various streaming or VOD outlets!

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(To get to the reviews of the titles listed above covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: UNDERWATER (2020)

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UNDERWATER (2020)

Over six miles beneath the ocean surface, the Kepler drilling station suffers a massive, crippling earthquake (or is it?). Five survivors, including mechanical engineer Norah Price (Kristen Stewart), Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel) and crewmembers Emily (Jessica Henwick), Paul (T.J. Miller) and Liam (John Gallagher Jr), have no choice but to walk across the ocean floor in high pressure suits to another station. Something, however, is down there with them and is now hunting them, as they make a desperate attempt to get out of this catastrophe alive. Did the drilling station awaken something best left undiscovered?

Undersea horror is competently directed by William Eubank from an Alien-esque script by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad. It’s a routine and derivative monster movie, but that’s not overwhelmingly a bad thing. The movie gets to the action quickly, with the quake hitting almost instantly, though this gives us no time for character or story development. We do learn a little about our characters as we go along, at least the ones that stick around and the cast are good, with Stewart making a solid heroine as Norah. We also learn, a la Alien, that the drilling company might have known something was amiss, but proceeded anyway. No surprise there. As for the horror, there is some suspense and a few spooky sequences, though those looking for a gory monster mash will be a bit disappointed, as the film is strictly PG-13. The creatures are kinda cool and wisely kept in shadows till the last act and are more H.P. Lovecraft than H. R. Giger in appearance. It has an effective and creepy climax, which might leave one with a few chills. On a production level, the flick moves at a decent pace and is economical at only 95 minutes long. The FX are well done, with most of the film’s $50+ Million budget on screen and it all looks good through Eubank’s visual eye. Underwater was a box office bomb when released in January, but, overall, is an enjoyable, if not familiar and forgettable monster movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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IFC MIDNIGHT’S “THE WRETCHED” GETS A TRAILER and POSTER!

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Theaters may be shut down, but VOD is still going strong. As streaming and in-demand is a common release platform for IFC Midnight, their new releases will keep coming. Today the trailer and poster for The Wretched debuted and it looks like a creepy tale of something sinister going on in a small rural town. The flick is scheduled to premier on digital streaming and VOD on May 1st and is written and directed by the sibling duo of Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce. The film stars John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Mahler and Kevin Bigley. Check the trailer below! Spooky stuff on the way from IFC Midnight!…

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-MonsterZero NJ

Source: youtube/IFC Midnight

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FAREWELL AND R.I.P. TO LEGENDARY HORROR DIRECTOR STUART GORDON!

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STUART GORDON 1947-2020

Very sad news comes to horror fans today, a legendary genre talent has passed away, Stuart Gordon. Chicago born Gordon made a number of horror and science fiction films in his career, a few considered classics, such as Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak and the Christopher Lambert sci-fi/action flick Fortress. He was also one of the writers on the Disney comedy classic Honey I Shrunk The Kids. He is a talent that will be missed, though left a legacy that will always be remembered. Farewell and R.I.P.

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-MonsterZero NJ

Source: internet

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THE BLOB (1958) and THE BLOB (1988): A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

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THE BLOB (1958) and THE BLOB (1988): A COMPARISON IN HORROR!

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING! In order to properly compare these two films, I have to give DETAILED SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen The Blob (1958) or The Blob (1988), there are MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW for each film. You have been warned!

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Comparison In Horror is back!…and in this installment the comparison is between the two versions of The Blob. One, of course, is the classic 1958 original, the other being the 1988 remake. Remember!…In order to discuss these flicks in-depth, the are some very important plot details that will be revealed, so if you haven’t seen one, the other, or both, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS! Otherwise, on to the comparison!…

(Click on the highlighted movie titles to go to the full length reviews and on the photos to enlarge them!)

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THE STORY

The Blob 1958 features a meteorite landing in the woods near a small Pennsylvania town. It carries within it a gelatinous space creature that absorbs anyone it comes in contact with. As it descends upon the town, getting bigger with every victim, teens Steve Andrews and Jane Martin to try to find a way to get the townsfolk to believe them and stop it.

The Blob (1988) takes place in the ski town of Arborville, California. What appears to be a meteorite crashes in the nearby woods and carries inside a gelatinous creature that eats anyone it comes in contact with. While the monster is quietly invading the town, a shady paramilitary containment group arrives, suspiciously soon after. It’s up to teens Meg Penny and Brian Flagg to outwit the military and try to find a way to stop the creature.

The initial story for both films are extremely similar, at least to start. The 1988 remake opens things up adding in the caveat of the military containment group and a conspiracy element about the creature’s origin. The remake also has a larger cast of characters.

 

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THE BLOB

The Blob 1958 is a gelatinous creature from space that comes to earth in a meteorite. The creature is a formless mass that can squeeze in and out of almost any place and gets bigger the more people it absorbs. The Blob in this version seems to be a mindless organism simply in search of sustenance. It retains a somewhat globular shape. The creature is impervious to almost all weapons, except it has a sensitivity to cold, which is finally used to subdue it.

The Blob (1988) is also a gelatinous creature, but though it falls from space, it’s very earth-born in origin. It starts out as a germ created by the military as a weapon, being sent into space in a satellite, as part of an experiment. This mutates it into an aggressive multi-celled organism. The creature is a formless mass that can squeeze in and out of almost any place and gets bigger the more people it absorbs. This incarnation of the creature is given hints of an intelligence and described as a predator. It also seems to be able to form limb-like tentacles, or even a gaping maw, based on it’s needs. This also implies a form of intelligence. Any parts cut off, become it’s own monster, which is not addressed in the original film, but is in it’s 1972 sequel. The creature is impervious to almost all weapons, except it has a sensitivity to cold, which is finally used to subdue it.

 

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Heroes and Heroines 

In The Blob 1958 our hero is teen Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and our heroine is his date, Jane Martin (Aneta Corseaut). Steve is a typical teen male of this time period, interested in girls, rock n’ roll and drag racing. He has a sense of honor and of doing the right thing, so when authorities don’t believe him, he sets out to find a way to warn others and stop the invading creature. Jane is more of a damsel here. She is loyal and bravely tries to help Steve, while keeping her too curious little brother Danny (Kieth Almoney) out of harm’s way. She mostly follows Steve around and supports whatever he decides, while playing babysitter to Danny.

In The Blob (1988) writer/director Chuck Russell makes the roles more contemporary and throws us a curve as to our leads. It starts out giving the impression that our hero and heroine will be high school football player Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) and his date, cheerleader Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith). Paul is killed off early, however, and instead leather-jacketed, juvenile delinquent, Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillion) becomes out leading man. Flagg is a bit of a troublemaker, but he seems to care more than he lets on and goes up against The Blob and the military authorities to save the town and Meg. As for for Meg Penny, this girl is no damsel. She’s tough, a fighter and while also has a little brother (Michael Kenworthy) that needs kept out of danger, she’s not afraid to grab a fire extinguisher, or an M-16 to go up against the monster.

In comparison, Jane and Steve are the wholesome all-American teens of films of this era. Steve being the hero and Jane the loyal sidekick. Meg and Brian are more representative of movies of their era, with Meg being a spunky fighter and Brian, the rebellious bad boy with a heart. They are equals in the action, with Meg even stealing some of the heroic thunder in the last act, when she rescues Brian from the creatures clutches.

 

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THE SETTINGS

The setting for the classic original is a small, rural Pennsylvania town…the name on the diner implies it’s called Downingtown, which is a real PA town and one of the movie’s filming locations. Whatever the name, it’s the quintessential Norman Rockwell town with quaint houses, small local grocery store, movie theater and diner. The police force is minimal and the worst that usually happens is high school pranks and drag racing. There doesn’t seem to be a medical facility other than the town doctor.

The setting for the remake is the fictional ski resort town of Arborville, California, though it was filmed in Abbeville, Louisiana. Same can be said of this town as Blob 1958’s, in that it is the ideal picture of Americana. It also has a small police force, the whole town shows up for football games and everyone knows each other. Arborville is a town that relies on the ski season and has it’s own hospital, so it might be slightly larger than the home town of Steve Andrews and Jane Martin.

 

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THE OPENING SCENES

The Blob 1958 opens with a silly theme song over an animated background and it’s playful credits are a bit off-putting to the serious and scary tone of the movie. It wastes no time with us meeting Steve and Jane at a local make-out spot and having them witness the meteorite crash land. Within seven minutes, including credits, the old man (Olin Howland) gets The Blob on his hand and Steve and Jane find him and take him to the doctor’s office. Right to the action.

The Blob (1988)  opens with far more ominous credits, with moody electronic music accompanying images of space and then takes us down to earth and introduces us to the streets of Arborville. It takes a few minutes to introduce us to the town and some of our main characters, before homeless “Can Man”(Billy Beck) gets The Blob on his arm at about fifteen minutes in. There’s a few more minutes of character interaction again, before Paul, Meg and Flagg find him and get him to the hospital.

Both openings serve their respective stories well. The original’s goofy opening song is an odd choice for the more serious toned action that follows. The film recovers quickly, as like many films of this era, it’s economical and gets it’s story started right away and the scene of the old man meeting the extraterrestrial invader is very effective. Blob (1988) benefits from setting a mood with more ominous opening credits and giving us a little introduction to the characters and town. It’s equally effective when Can Man gets “blobbed” and the more contemporary (at the time) FX make the scene intense and disturbing. Both films open effectively, though the remake takes a little more time to let us know our leads and setting before starting things up.

 

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THE ENDINGS

Both films end with it’s respective Blobs frozen solid.

In the original, when Steve and Jane are trapped by The Blob in a supermarket, they hide in the freezer. The Blob is repulsed by the cold and thus they discover it’s weakness. Once it engulfs the diner, the fire department and Steve and Jane’s high school classmates, converge on the distracted Blob and freeze it with fire extinguishers. The last scene is the Blob being deposited at the North Pole to hopefully remain a Blob-sickle. The words THE END appear across the screen and a question mark appears after it. There was in fact a more humor-laced sequel Beware! The Blob in 1972 where a polar oil pipeline employee brings home a sample of something he hit with his bulldozer…guess what!?

The remake has Flagg and Meg trapped in the freezer at the diner and learning the creature’s aversion to cold in the same way. The climax here is on a far larger scale as the military and townsfolk are battling the massive Blob in the center of town. Flagg attacks it with a snowmaker and an M-16 bearing Meg straps explosives to the tank, dousing the monster in a storm of snow. The last scene of this version, shows the scarred Reverend Meeker (Del Close) preaching end times scripture in a tent, where it is revealed he still has the frozen Blob samples in a jar he took from the diner, only now they are quite active. Despite the set-up, the remake never got a sequel, though there has been talk recently of yet another remake, that hasn’t materialized yet.

 

 

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MISC

The Blob 1958 is directed by Irvin Yeaworth from a script by Theodore Simonson and Kay LInaker, based on a story by Irving H. Millgate. The remake is directed by Chuck Russell from a script by he and Frank Darabont, based on the original film. They both share key scenes, such as the old man getting Blob on his hand, a diner attack scene and a theater attack scene. While the original climaxes at the diner, the remake has the diner attack about half-way through. The original cost a mere $110,000 to make, while the remake cost an impressive at the time $10 million. The original grossed around $4 million and was a hit, while the remake grossed only $8.5 million and was considered a box office failure. Both films were the second feature films for their respective directors and obviously 30 years of movie FX progress allowed the remake to be far more graphic with it’s Blob carnage and have a much bigger scale to the action. The original opens with an amusing song called Beware of the Blob sung by Bernie Knee (billed as The 5 Blobs) and the remake ends with a very 80s metal song Brave New Love performed by the band Alien. The original Blob was made for general audiences, while the remake was R-rated and quite gory. Would have it been more of a hit with a teen friendly PG-13? Who knows? The original clocks in at around 86 minutes, while the remake is about 95 minutes in length. 

 

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IN CONCLUSION

Both films are very entertaining in their own right. The original is considered a horror/sci-fi classic, while the remake has taken years to develop a well deserved cult following. The original is a perfect example of what films back then were like in terms of characters, settings and story, while the remake is very 80s with it’s hair and clothes styles and characters, most notably it’s female lead getting far more physically involved in the action. Let’s not forget the cheese metal end credits song. The remake also took a little extra time for character and story development, including adding a conspiracy sub-plot, that was not in the original. Story-wise and character-wise the remake has a bit more of an edge, as the original’s bare bones approach, left little development in either area. The original doesn’t even have an appearance by any sort of scientists to at least give some speculation on what this creature is. In the remake we have the sinister Dr. Meddows (Joe Seneca). Budget and technical advancements obviously also give the remake an edge, but the original was and will always be the first version of the story to be filmed. One can love both equally.

-MonsterZero NJ

Check out more editions of A Comparison In Horror here!

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COOL STUFF: THE BLOB (1988) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

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THE BLOB (1988) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

 

The Blob (1988) (full review HERE) is an 80s remake of the 1958 classic, that sadly underperformed at the box office when it was released on August 5, 1988. The film has gained a strong cult following all these years later and is finally getting the respect it deserves. No more evidence of this is Scream Factory’s recent collector’s edition, which gives this fun flick the proper treatment.

 

As for the disc itself….

The transfer of this 80s monster movie is great and the print looks fantastic. The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and as it is over three decades old, there is some grain in the picture, but that is to be expected at this point. The colors are bright and vibrant, which makes the gelatinous creature all the more effective as a colorful beastie it is. The sound is in HD DTS 5.1 or DTS 2.0 and makes this action/sci-fi/horror really come alive, as the sound design on the film is already very strong. Once again Scream Factory gives a film the royal treatment all films deserve and if you are a fan of this flick, the technical presentation is reason alone to have this.

 

Now on to the extras….

The extras included are generous and features some fun stuff. For starters, there is an extensive two-part interview with Chuck Russell. In the first part he describes his journey into being a filmmaker, from his early days with Roger Corman, working on Hell Night, to his directorial debut on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. In the second part, Russell goes into extensive detail on filming this 1988 remake. A great interview! Other interviews include, production designer Craig Stearns, FX man Chris Gilman, cinematographer Mark Irwin, FX man Peter Abrahamson, FX man Mark Setrakian, SPFX expert Tony Gardner and cast members, Candy Clark, Jeffrey DeMunn, Donovan Leitch and Bill Mosley. That’s a lot of personal insight into the making of this film! Be advised though, the box art also lists an interview with star Ricky Paull Goldin, but it does not appear with the extras. There is also some new commentary on the film, with Russell, Mark Irwin and Tony Gardner with a second solo commentary track featuring star Shawnee Smith. Scream Factory has also included a previous commentary with Chuck Russell and producer Ryan Turek. Rounding out the extras are some behind the scenes footage and, of course, the traditional theatrical trailer, TV spot and still gallery.

 

The Blob (1988) was sadly a box office disappointment when first released. A shame, as this is a fun, energetic and chilling monster movie with a lot of inventive filmmaking done to bring it’s creature to life. Today, the film has finally been recognized by genre fans and now has a well-deserved cult following. Thanks to Scream Factory, that following finally has a great way to enjoy it. Highly recommended!

 

-MonsterZero NJ

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: RETRIBUTION (1987)

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RETRIBUTION (1987)

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

80s supernatural horror opens on Halloween night with lonely artist George (Dennis Lipscomb) trying to commit suicide. He is revived, but begins to have horrifying nightmares of people he doesn’t know, being murdered in terrible ways. His psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Curtis (Leslie Wing) is baffled and cop Lt. Ashley (Hoyt Axton) is suspicious, as George’s dreams are coming true. It appears George was born on the same day and initially died at the same moment as gangster Vito Minelli, who is using George’s body to get revenge on those who murdered him.

Flick is produced and directed by Guy Magar who also co-wrote with Lee Wasserman. Despite some unintentionally goofy scenes, the film has a more serious tone than most horrors of the later 80s generally had. Vito in George’s body is a vicious and vengeful spirit, who murders people in sadistic and gory ways. We follow George’s emotional torment as he is forced to watch and take part in Vito’s gruesome vengeance and it is effective. The gore is pretty good and Magar does bring some intensity to the proceedings. On the down side, flick is about 10 minutes too long and by it’s last act it starts to wear us down with it’s brutality, but it is still an entertaining mix of slasher and supernatural horror. Magar uses some very colorful lighting filters on scenes, something that would become popular again with up and coming directors in today’s contemporary filmmaking. Despite being a malevolent spirit, Magar does earn Vito (Mike Muscat) a little sympathy when we flashback to his brutal death, though the scene also reveals his killers as equally cruel and thus removes any residual sympathy we might have had for them. In contrast, George comes across as a very sweet, if not emotionally troubled man and his romance with hooker with a heart of gold Angel (Killer Klowns’ Suzanne Snyder) adds to our empathy for him. George never really gets a break in the flick and it does resonate. Retribution would have left it’s audience with a lingering bittersweet conclusion, had Magar not opted for the cliché shock ending. Concluding it this way also doesn’t make any sense, as Vito’s vengeance is complete and there is no reason for him to continue to hang around. There was also no reason for him to attack Dr. Curtis either in the last act, other than to set up the climax, as she had nothing to do with his murder. On a production level, the film looks good for a slightly over $1 million budget. Magar uses the L.A. street locations effectively, Gary Thieltges’ cinematography is colorful and the electronic score from frequent John Carpenter collaborator Alan Howarth, adds atmosphere and 80s nostalgia.

The cast is good. Dennis Lipscomb is very likable as the troubled artist George. He’s a lonely guy, but not a creep as most characters like this are portrayed. We do feel bad for him when Vito starts to use him to kill. Leslie Wing is pretty and does a good job as the psychiatrist who seems to legitimately care for George. Axton is solid as the stereotypical cop character and Suzanne Snyder is very sweet as Angel. Snyder and Lipscomb have some chemistry together and their scenes together come across as genuine. It makes Angel and George’s tragic romance really click to the story’s benefit.

In conclusion, not a perfect movie, but an effective slasher. It’s a bit slow paced and maybe a few minutes too long, but it has a more serious tone at a time when horrors in the late 80s were becoming more humorous and self-aware. The cast add some depth to their roles and the scenes of horror are colorful and have some intensity. A bit too brutal for it’s own good at times, but otherwise a lesser known 80s horror worth checking out if you haven’t seen it.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack o lanterns as it does open on Halloween.

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE PROWLER and FRIDAY THE 13th:THE FINAL CHAPTER

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NYC born Joseph Zito

MonsterZero NJ’s Saturday Night Double Feature is back! This time our double feature consists of two 80s slasher classics from director Joseph Zito. Zito made three horror films in his career, including the 1980 Bloodrage, before leaving the genre to make action movies with the likes of Chuck Norris and Dolph Lundgren. Shame, these two are among the best examples of the slasher genre of the late 70s and early 80s.

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THE PROWLER (1981)

This 1981 slasher opens up in 1945 as soldiers are coming home from the war and we hear a young woman reading a ‘dear John’ break-up letter, intended for a boyfriend away on duty. We cut to Avalon Bay which is having it’s annual college graduation dance and a young couple leave the dance for a romantic walk. Their romance is cut short by someone dressed as a combat-ready soldier, who promptly runs the embracing couple through with a pitch fork, leaving a rose in the female victim’s hand. We then pick our story up in 1980 where the Avalon Bay Graduation Dance is being revived after having been halted 35 years earlier by the father of the murdered girl, Major Chatham (Lawrence Tierney). Someone is reviving another activity from that night, as a killer dressed in military gear descends on the partying co-eds with bayonet and pitchfork and starts leaving a bloody trail of bodies and roses behind. Can sweet Pam (Vicky Dawson) and her deputy boyfriend Mark (Christopher Goutman) stop this deranged killer, or will they join his list of victims?

Directed by Joseph Zito, who is mostly known for directing the fourth Friday The 13th flick and two of Chuck Norris’ biggest hits Missing In Action and Invasion U.S.A., this bloody slasher follows the 80s slasher format very well. We get a bunch of nubile young intended victims being stalked by an unbalanced killer with a grudge, who is dispatching them in gruesome and versatile fashion. We also get a pretty young heroine to serve as our ‘final girl’ and the doomed slutty girls who’ll show us their boobs! Zito also manages to serve up some suspense and some tension, too. He’s not the most stylish director, but his directing here is far less by-the-numbers than his Norris action flicks. And there is some decent cinematography from frequent Zito D.O.P. João Fernandes. The horror genre seems to suit Zito better than his generic action movies. The film has some atmosphere, a touch of Scooby-Doo-ish mystery and it is an entertaining 90 minutes of horror that represents the era well. It’s not perfect, we really aren’t given enough suspects, or red herrings, to make it really interesting, though when we do get the big reveal, it is still kind of a surprise. We never really get to know the victims all that well, so most of their deaths have little impact other than Tom Savini’s still effective gore FX.

The cast are fine, even though we only really get to know Pam and Mark. Actors Dawson and Goutman make them likable enough. The rest are generic horny college kids, who are there to be victims and they serve that purpose well. Vet Tierney doesn’t get to have any lines, despite the film implying he’s a suspect, so not sure why they even hired a name actor for the part.

In conclusion, The Prowler is still one of the better slashers of this era. Maybe not in the same league as Halloween, or the original Friday The 13th, but it is a solid enough slasher and is a fun and nostalgic sample of the type of film made in the early 80s before films like Evil Dead, ScannersRe-Animator and A Nightmare On Elm Street took horror in new directions. A fun, gory example of what made 80s slashers fun. Extra credit for filming in my home stomping ground of New Jersey!

Rated a solid 3 (out of 4) pitchforks!

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WARNING: this trailer does show a lot of plot elements…

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FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is one of my favorites of the sequels and the one that comes closest to matching the original. The film saw not only a return to the more serious tone and atmosphere of the original film, but with the return of Tom Savini to the make-up FX duties, also brought back the more intense and graphic kills and gore.

This entry opens right where Part 3 left off with Jason (stuntman Ted White) and his victims carted off to the morgue from the Higgins place only to have Jason revive and escape, but not before gruesomely murdering two horny hospital employees. We then switch to two houses deep in the woods near Crystal Lake, one occupied by single mother Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and her daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) and young son Tommy (Corey Feldman), the other occupied by a group of partying youths on a make-out and drinking getaway. A certain someone has returned home to his stomping grounds and now has targeted both young partiers and innocent family alike. Will any of them survive his relentless rage?

This installment brought in The Prowler director Joseph Zito and he brings the suspense, atmosphere and intensity to the proceedings that made that 1981 slasher one of the more entertaining of the time period. He comes very close to providing an equal to the original Friday with what was supposed to be Jason’s final film. The kills are brutal, as well, and with Savini’s return, the make-up FX are quite inventive and gory. Zito leaves some of the lighter humor that appeared in Part 3 behind and it keeps the atmosphere taunt and foreboding, as it should be. The film also added an interesting plot element in the character of Rob (Erich Anderson), who at first seems like a hunter/camper, but turns out to be the vengeful brother of a girl murdered by Jason (Sandra played by Marta Kober from Part 2) and he is now stalking the lethal serial killer with the intent of ending his reign of terror. One of the film’s few faults is the confrontation between these two could have been a bit more epic. The character of young Tommy (Feldman) being a bit of a geek/make-up artist also adds a fun twist to the proceedings.

As for the rest of the characters, this bunch are a lot livelier then most of the generic victims and with the inclusion of Crispin Glover in one of his most ‘normal’ roles as a shy teen and 80s movie fixture Judy Aronson as a one of the babes, we get a nice group of likable, horny teens to fall under Jason’s varied weapons. It gives their deaths impact because we like them and the young cast give them life and personality. Also stars Hell Night’s Peter Barton as one of the party goers who meets Jason’s wrath and the score is one again by Harry Manfredini.

A really good entry in the series and by far the best of the sequels.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: There is a small mistake here in this installment. When driving past a graveyard, they spot Mrs. Voorhees’ tombstone which has her date of death being 1979. But, as we all know, she actually died on Friday June 13th, 1980 by having her head removed by final girl Alice in the original Friday The 13th.

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

friday 13 1980 rating

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