HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: FINAL GIRL OF THE YEAR 2021!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: FINAL GIRL OF THE YEAR 2021!

It’s Halloween🎃!…and as it has become tradition, it’s time to announce MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hottie’s Final Girl of the Year!…an actress that has not only captured our hearts, but gotten our attention with a strong performance, in the traditional role of horror final girl!…
…and our Halloween Hotties: Final Girl of the Year 2021 is…

…A TIE!!!

It was was too hard to pick between these two talented ladies, so I am going with both! Without further ado, our dual winners for 2021 are…

Kiana Madeira…

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Kiana Madeira From Fear Street part 1, part 2 and Part 3!

Talented Canadian actress Kiana Madeira is no stranger to horror, but certainly got the attention of genre fans in Netflix’s Fear Street Trilogy, based on the books of R.L. Stine. Not only did this versatile actress play the tough and resourceful teen Deena, but the “Fier Witch” herself, Sarah Fier, when the third entry had Deena reliving Fier’s final days through her eyes. Not only playing our final girl, but the villainous witch—or was she?—as well!

Kiana Madeira as Deena in the Fear Street Trilogy!

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Headstrong student Deena must confront a witch’s curse to save the ones she loves!

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Deena vows to save her friends and must look to the past to find answers to the terrifying events of the present.

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Reliving Sarah Fier’s final days through her eyes brings some horrifying revelations!

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Deena must put her own life on the line in a final confrontation with evil.

…and our second winner, Rosa Salazar!

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Rosa Salazar from Brand New Cherry Flavor!

Canadian actress Rosa Salazar came to the attention of movie fans in the Maze Runner films and with a wonderfully emotion filled performance doing motion capture and vocals for droid Alita in Alita: Battle Angel! She really knocked our spooky socks off, though, with her performance in the creepy, weird Netflix series Brand New Cherry Flavor. The talented actress plays ambitious, young filmmaker Lisa Nova, a woman who gets involved with sleazy producers, witches and black magic when seeking fame, fortune and revenge in Hollywood! It’s a layered and emotion filled performance as back stabbing producers and eccentric witches are not the only ones with secrets.

Rosa Salazar as Lisa Nova in Brand New Cherry Flavor

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Lisa Nova, a hot new director headed to Hollywood where dreams can be fulfilled or shattered!

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Lisa gets mixed up with sleazy producers, witches and black magic fueled revenge!

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Be careful what you wish for is a lesson Lisa learns the hard way.

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Will this nightmare ever end for Lisa Nova?

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This year was, again, a tough choice…or maybe MonsterZero NJ is just an old softie when it comes to final girls. Both these ladies were great in their roles and really brought it as their respective film’s lead! Great work ladies and we hope we’ll be seeing more of you in our favorite genre!

-MonsterZero NJ

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(And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties by simply going to our Halloween Hotties main page!)

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S MOVIE MEMORIES: HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY HALLOWEEN II (1981)

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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY HALLOWEEN II (1981)

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The classic sequel turns 40 today!!

Halloween II was released 40 years ago today and it has brought back memories, as I was there opening night with friends. Fans of the original were both excited and cautious as Carpenter’s original was already considered a classic at this point. There was no internet to spoil any extensive details or story surprises. All we knew was it took place on the same night, Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence were back and Carpenter handed the reigns over to a promising young filmmaker named Rick Rosenthal. I was particularly excited, as I hadn’t seen the original Halloween in a theater. I recall getting to the now long gone Cinema 35 in Paramus, NJ early and waiting about an hour to buy tickets and go in. Remember, online ticket sales in the 80s meant getting on a line to buy tickets! If you got there late, you risked the show being sold out! We stood in line discussing the possibilities of what we were about to see, until the box office opened and we could go in. When the ticket booth opened and the line started moving, it brought the excitement to a boil! The opening credits of the film instantly chilled with a spooky pumpkin slowly splitting open to reveal a scary skull, while Carpenter’s classic theme pulsed from the theater speakers! It set the tone for the rest of night! After the show, we mutually decided we loved it, though based on passing comments, not all the theater goers felt the same way. I have been a fan of this sequel ever since and it’s watched every Halloween, along with the first flick and Season of the Witch, as part of the “Big Three.” Personally, I am not a fan of what followed after Carpenter left the franchise and would have loved to have seen his annual Halloween anthology plans come to pass.

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As the tagline proclaims…more of the night he came home!

Halloween II was not the best received sequel both critically and by many fans of the original, though it made money. Folks were unhappy with it being more of an 80s style slasher, with the emphasis being on higher body count and gory deaths more than scares or suspense. It also shocked fans by revealing that Laurie Strode was actually Michael Myers’ sister. That took away the scary randomness of the original and gave Michael’s pursuit of her a purpose. This would remain an important story element till Halloween 2018 reset the timeline and erased all sequels and remakes. Forty years later the film is now recognized as one of the better 80s slashers and one of the better Halloween sequels. It just shows, much like with Season of the Witch, that time heals all wounds. The film still carries some controversy, as Carpenter was unhappy with what Rosenthal delivered and made changes, conducting his own reshoots. In turn Rick Rosenthal was unhappy that Carpenter made changes to his film. Rosenthal’s version has not seen the light of day, so we will never know if Carpenter saved or sullied the sequel. Either way, Halloween II is now given it’s proper due and a place in horror film history and it has stood the test of time these last four decades. HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY HALLOWEEN II!

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Not the best received sequel, Halloween II has now taken it’s place as classic franchise canon!

-MonsterZero NJ

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2021!

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2021!

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features a relatively new girl on the block, though technically not a total rookie. She did appear in 10 episodes of season 2 of AMC’s The Terror series in 2019, but didn’t get her first lead role in a horror movie till the 2021 Netflix original No One Gets Out Alive. The Mexican born actress made an impression in her final girl debut as Ambar, an undocumented immigrant, who has moved into the wrong boarding house. The actress displayed some strong final girl/heroine qualifications, gave the role some nice emotional resonance and did some major ass-kicking! So without further ado…MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hotties rookie of the year 2021 is…

CRISTINA RODLO!

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 CRISTINA RODLO as AMBAR in NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE!

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Cristina as Ambar, an undocumented immigrant just looking to make a living.

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Harassed at work and taken advantage of, may be the least of Ambar’s problems!

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Something very wrong is going on at this boarding house!

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This was not part of the rental agreement!

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Cristina’s Ambar is a tough girl who won’t give up without a fight!

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Photo Credit: The Movie Database
There’s no telling where this beautiful and talented actress will show up next. She seems to keep busy and has been acting steadily since 2008. Hopefully she’ll return to the horror genre soon, as she made a kick-ass final girl!

-MonsterZero NJ

And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties!

Head over to the Halloween Hotties listings! to read them all!)

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BARE BONES: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY- NEXT OF KIN (2021)

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: NEXT OF KIN (2021)

Margot (Emily Bader) is a young filmmaker who was abandoned at birth, but now has found some blood relatives. They are Amish and Margot decides to document reuniting with her family and travels to Amish country with her two friends/crew Chris and Dale (Roland Buck III and Dan LIppert). When she gets to the community village, she finds there is something strange going on, both in the farmhouse and concerning her long lost mother. The longer they stay, the more escalated the strange activity gets and the more Margot starts to feel something sinister is happening there.

Found footage flick is directed by William Eubank (Underwater) from a script by Paranormal Activity series veteran Christopher Landon. There is no connection to the original series and will probably disappoint those looking for a closing chapter on Katie’s story, or some sort of tie-in. No Toby either. It’s the most visually interesting of the series, with it’s snowy Amish countryside settings and old farmhouses and creepy churches giving atmosphere. The first half is more of the same with things going bump in the night, the traditional jump scares, ominous footsteps and doors opening by themselves. It switches gears and really ramps up in the second half, taking the action to different spooky locations and leading up to a creepy, disturbing last act that culminates in a bloody and bonkers finale. There are some actual scares here and the stuff set in the caverns under the abandoned church is quite creepy, though reminiscent of the finales of Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch and The Taking of Deborah Logan. It might be the bloodiest of the seven flicks, so far, with a lot of violent moments and some gore. The cast are fine, with Emily Bader making a solid heroine and Tom Nowicki giving a spooky performance as Jacob, the family patriarch. If you are a fan of the original films, it rates among one of the better sequels and you’ll probably like the mix of familiar and new. If you are not a fan of this franchise, it probably won’t win you over. Definitely worth catching if you like this series, or found footage flicks in general. Available for streaming on Paramount+.
 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 RETAIL HORROR FLICKS FOR HALLOWEEN!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 RETAIL HORROR FLICKS FOR HALLOWEEN!

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Shop smart, shop S Mart in Army of Darkness!

Anyone who works in retail knows it can be a nightmare even without horror elements. Some horror films have acknowledged this and have used a retail setting to portray it’s tales of terror, or feature memorable scenes set in a retail environment. So, to celebrate the horrors of retail, here are 12 retail themed horror flicks for Halloween 🎃!

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Kiana Madeira and Gillian Jacobs in the shopping mall set climax of Fear Street Part 3: 1666!

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(To get to the reviews of the titles listed that were 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: THE DEEP HOUSE (2021)

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THE DEEP HOUSE (2021)

French horror flick carries the unique label of being the first underwater haunted house movie. It finds urban explorers and vloggers Ben and Tina (James Jagger and Camille Rowe) hearing about a creepy old house that remains fully intact at the bottom of a lake, after a flood many years earlier. The two scuba dive to the location with their drone to capture footage and enter the house. Obviously they become trapped inside with dark forces beyond their comprehension surrounding them.

Flick is from French filmmakers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the directors of Inside, Livide and Among The Living. Despite the clever novelty of being the first haunted house flick to take place underwater, it’s disappointingly not very scary. There are some really creepy visuals and the filmmakers take very good advantage of their submerged old house setting to create atmosphere, but the film evokes very little actual frights. Rowe and Jagger do their best to try to act scared, but sadly can’t convince us, the audience. Even the spooks and specters can’t rise above a basic visual creepiness. They are spooky looking, but never feel overly threatening. There are the usual jump scares and a few moments that are effective, especially in the last act, but overall, it’s just a water-logged horror that squanders a very spooky idea. The underwater sequence in Dario Argento’s Inferno is scarier than this entire movie. Still worth a look for look for it’s submerged approach to the traditional haunted house tale, but go in with moderate expectations to actually being scared. Film also stars Eric Savin as Pierre, the man who leads them to the house and offers the traditional warnings. Watch through the end credits for one last chill. Flick will be available on VOD starting 11/5/21.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: DASHCAM (2021)

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DASHCAM (2021)

Indie thriller takes place on Halloween night and finds news editor Jake Caul (Eric Tabach) awaiting the press release of dashcam footage for a big story. A police officer (Rich Vience) and a discredited former Attorney General (Larry Fessenden) were both killed when a routine DUI stop went bad. When Jake is accidentally sent a classified file containing police bodycam footage, that isn’t supposed to exist, and the real coroner’s report, he realizes there was nothing routine about the deaths and there is a larger conspiracy at hand. Having always wanted to be a reporter himself, Jake sees revealing the truth as his big break—a truth someone may not want known.

Effective indie thriller is written and directed by Christian Nilsson and takes place mostly on Jake’s desktop, though it does leave the confines of his apartment in the last act. The real intensity comes as Jake compares the press release footage with the classified information that has fallen into his hands, and starts to see the lies being fed the public. There is also an ominous phone call with thinly veiled threats, if the information accidentally e-mailed to him ever gets out. It makes for a tense little thriller as Jake digs deeper into the conspiracy and at the same time, gets more and more paranoid that someone might come after him. The flick only stumbles in a few places with some weak dialogue spots and a few plot contrivances—such as someone being stupid enough to e-mail a news editor classified information—that keep the story going. Otherwise this is an intense and entertaining little thriller, even more so for anyone with an interest or experience in digital video editing. Also stars Zachary Booth as Jake’s reporter boss Tim and Crawlers and Punisher season 2 star Giorgia Whigham as his girlfriend Mara. Now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES OCT 22-24

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES OCT 22-24

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

1. “Dune” $40.1 Million

2. “Halloween Kills” $14.5 Million

3. “No Time To Die” $11.9 Million

4. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” $9.1 Million

5. “Ron’s Gone Wrong” $7.3 Million

6. “The Addams Family 2” $4.3 Million

7. “The Last Duel” $2.1 Million

8. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” $2 Million

9. “The French Dispatch” $1.3 Million

10. “Honsla Rakh” $490,000

-MonsterZero NJ

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: TIME NOW (2021)

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TIME NOW (2021)

Time Now is an indie drama with a thriller element, as single mother Jenny (Eleanor Lambert) returns home to Detroit to reunite with her estranged family after the death of her twin brother Victor (Sebastian Beacon) in a car accident. There are hard feelings and resentment on both sides, but as Jenny tries to reconnect with her family and meets with some of Victor’s friends, she comes to believe that something is not right with Victor’s death.

Flick is written and directed by Spencer King from his own script and he wisely avoids the theatrical melodrama that studio dramas of this type can have and that would only serve to distance audiences from the matters at hand. It’s played very low key and thus on a more realistic level, as Jenny confronts her family and faces not only some resentment on their part, but some of her own guilt and hard feelings over not having had a better relationship with her artist brother. Then there is the added caveat of mystery, as Jenny starts to get the feeling Victor’s DUI death behind the wheel, may not be the whole story. Again, the flick avoids theatrics and presents a slow burn as Jenny is trying to deal with family issues while investigating what happen to her sibling on that fateful night. Sometimes the flick is a little too laid back for it’s own good and as a result, the last act reveal is almost anti-climactic. It should have had more of a punch than it does. The flick rebounds with a last scene that does give us some stronger emotional resonance in which to leave us with, as the credits roll. Overall, this is an interesting and simmering indie flick with a strong performance from leading lady Eleanor Lambert, who is surrounded by a solid cast of fresh faces in support. Flick opens in limited theatrical release and On Demand on 10/26/21!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: DUNE (2021)

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DUNE (2021)

Dune is the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic Sci-Fi novel—well, the first half. Story has Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Issac) and his family being assigned to takeover spice production on the desert planet of Arrakis from the vile Baron Harkonnen (Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd). It turns out to be a trap and after a massacre, Leto’s escaped son Paul (TimothĂ©e Chalamet) is now left on the hostile planet with his mother Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). They must somehow survive heat, sandworms and the mystical natives called The Fremen. Lady Jessica, however, is a woman of mystical abilities herself and her powerful son Paul may be the prophesized savior The Freman are waiting for—The Kwisatz Haderach!
 
Adaptation is directed by Denis Villeneuve from his script with Eric Roth and John Spaihts. Having read the book, this is an epic task and as an adaptation, this is a far better one than David Lynch’s bombastic but entertaining 1984 flick. The problem is it’s far less fun or involving. Villeneuve’s first half of the story looks great and has a solid cast, but aside from a couple of sequences, meanders along till it’s abrupt conclusion. The Harkonnen attack on House Atreides aside, the film has a ponderous pace and feels far longer than it’s 156 minute runtime. Dune was not an action heavy book, but this flick seems to drag, not to mention TimothĂ©e Chalamet is kind of a dull lead as Paul. He doesn’t have the charisma to be the savior of Arrakis he is supposed to be. The FX and visuals are spectacular and the action is equally so, the few times we get some, but overall this flick moves slower than a sandworm and isn’t nearly as involving as the detail and intrigue filled literary classic it’s trying to adapt. Maybe a Game of Thrones style series would have been a more efficient approach. Hopefully the planned Dune Part 2 will gives us both the story and entertainment we came for in this part. Also stars Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa and Zendaya, all in roles far smaller than they deserved. 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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