BARE BONES: VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE (2021)

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VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE (2021)

Eddie Brock’s (Tom Hardy) career is on the downslide since meeting and joining with the symbiote Venom. He sees a chance to get his career back in gear, when serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) offers to be interviewed by him. An altercation during said interview affords Kasady the opportunity to bite Brock, thus allowing the serial killer to unwittingly ingest a small amount of symbiotic material. Kasady soon forms a symbiote of his own, one even more twisted and violent than he is. Venom and the newly dubbed Carnage are soon destined to collide.

Comic book-based mess is directed by Andy Serkis from a script and story by Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy himself. It’s a mind-numbingly bad series of comedy bits and loud, chaotic CGI action sequences, strung together with the weakest excuse for a story. Hardy is trying to have a good time, as his Brock argues with Venom as if this was a romantic comedy, and Harrelson is just going as over-the-top as possible. Both are fine actors worthy of far better material. When Venom and Carnage finally do fight, it’s another CGI mess of black and red blobs inside a church. No suspense or intensity. Overall, this is a very silly and annoying movie with some very noisy action sequences in-between the dumb comedy dialogue sequences. The popularity and success of these movies is baffling unless you are one of the Venom faithful. Also stars Michelle Willaims and Naomie Harris as the respective love interests of Brock and Kasady.

-MonsterZero NJ

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CHECK OUT WILCO C. RULLENS’ SPOOKY “STAY PRETTY, NO PITY” HORROR SHORT!

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CHECK OUT WILCO C. RULLENS’ SPOOKY “STAY PRETTY, NO PITY” HORROR SHORT!

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From the press release:

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From Tokyo Bay Films, and filmmaker Wilco C.Rullens, comes the terrifying STAY PRETTY, NO PITY – available exclusively and free on YouTube this holiday season.

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Starring Maria Ozawa, the 11-minute fright-fest is based on the Japanese folklore of Oiwa Yotsuya (Yotsuya Kaidan). A true story from the Edo period, it told of a samurai that had his beautiful wife killed because she became deformed, only to be haunted by her vision until he went insane and killed himself. Now hundreds of years later, Yotsuya is back! Out to punish more ugly characters by recruiting the pretty.

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Lucy (half Japanese/half American) just got out of an abusive relationship and took refuge with her new American roommate. Things turn horrible fast for her when a ghost shows her seemingly random images and gives her three days. The clock starts ticking. She will have to solve the mystery of the visions, find the clues within them, to discover what the ghost wants her to do before time runs out.

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Head over to Youtube, to check this flick out and give it a like! Let’s help these folks get their full-length version made!

Source: Tokyo Bay Films/Youtube

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES NOV 26-28

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES NOV 26-28

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

1. “Encanto” $27 Million

2. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” $24.5 Million

3. “House of Gucci” $14.2 Million

4. “Eternals” $7.9 Million

5. “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” $5.3 Million

6. “Clifford the Big Red Dog” $4.9 Million

7. “King Richard” $3.3 Million

8. “Dune” $2.2 Million

9. “No Time To Die” $1.75 Million

10. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” $1.6 Million

-MonsterZero NJ

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: BLACK FRIDAY (2021)

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BLACK FRIDAY (2021)

Black Friday takes place on the most dreaded shopping day of the year for retail employees. Crazed customers are the least of the worries for the staff of the We Love Toys store, though, as a meteor shower has brought an extraterrestrial organism to Earth, one that takes over and assimilates other lifeforms, so it may grow. Now the embattled staff must fend off the worst kind of customer…alien-controlled zombie shoppers!

Flick is sadly a ho-hum effort directed routinely by Casey Tebo from a script by Andy Greskoviak. The premise could have been a lot of fun if they took the ball and ran with it, but a lot of it is the cast sitting around and bemoaning their fate while talking about their own personal issues. The characters are colorful, but all underused, such as Bruce Campbell’s retail nerd, store manager Jonathan, Ryan Lee’s hyper clean-freak Chris and Ivana Baquero’s sexy, spunky Marnie. Even Devon Sawa’s hero Ken is kind of bland. The film is supposed to be a horror comedy, but is neither funny enough to satisfy us with laughs, nor scary enough to satisfy the horror elements. The zombies are routine, despite their alien origin, and only the climatic full-size alien is somewhat interesting. FX range from some decent make-up and gore to cheesy CGI.

A sad disappointment, as anyone who has retail experience and has worked this dreaded event, knows this could have been a blast of fun and a welcome satirical look at retail’s biggest shopping day, had it been in more creative and enthusiastic hands. The opening credits of Krampus accomplishes this far better than this entire movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2021 from MONSTERZERO NJ!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2021 from MONSTERZERO NJ!

MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! OK, so there aren’t a lot of horror films set on Turkey Day, but here’s a few, even if they aren’t all classics. Grindhouse for the obvious reason of enjoying Eli Roth’s legendary faux trailer and Galaxy of Terror is a personal addition, because I saw it on Thanksgiving night, 11/26/1981 at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. Have a happy and be safe! Gobble, gobble!

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-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (2021)

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LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (2021)

British thriller finds a young girl named Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) traveling to London to become a fashion designer. Eloise also has a bit of a gift of sight and her sight activates upon taking a room in the home of the elderly Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg). She starts traveling back to the 60s where she begins to follow and live in the footsteps of a pretty young socialite named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy). First, she’s enjoying the experience and nightlife, until Sandie meets the mysterious Jack (Matt Smith) and things start to take a dangerous and dark turn for both Sandie and Eloise.

Flick is directed by Edgar (Shaun of the Dead) Wright from a script and story by he and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. As with all of Wright’s films the cinematography is sumptuous, the editing sharp and innovative and the soundtrack nearly perfect. Yet, despite being very well done, there is something missing here. Maybe it’s that we never really bond with McKenzie’s Eloise, or Taylor-Joy’s mysterious and aloof Sandie, to really get emotionally involved in what happens to them. Maybe it’s also that the clever and sometimes trippy set-up leads to a fairly routine murder thriller when all is said and done. The glitzy time traveling, spooky visions and Argento-like death scenes are well done, but it isn’t enough to really make us care about where this is all going. A pointless romantic subplot concerning Eloise and one of her coworkers doesn’t add anything either. There is an interesting twist in the last act, but once you peel back all the inventive smoke and mirrors, the story isn’t as involving as we would have liked and that twist not as impactful as it should have been. The cast, including Dame Diana Rigg and the legendary Terrance Stamp, are all good, though as stated, we never really warm up to McKenzie’s Eloise or Anya Taylor-Joy’s Sandie. Without the emotional anchor of being endeared to the lead characters, we just drift through the visual sea of Wright’s certainly interesting concoction. Odd, as endearing characters are usually one of Wright’s strengths. Liked it to a degree, but didn’t love it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ACTUALS NOV 19-21

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ACTUALS NOV 19-21

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

1. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” $44 Million

2. “Eternals” $11 Million

3. “Clifford the Big Red Dog” $8.1 Million

4. “King Richard” $5.4 Million

5. “Dune” $3.2 Million

6. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” $2.9 Million

7. “No Time To Die” $2.7 Million

8. “The French Dispatch” $1 Million

9. “Belfast” $945,425

10. “Ron’s Gone Wrong” $942,066

-MonsterZero NJ

source: Box Office Mojo

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REVIEW: GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (2021)

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GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (2021)

Ghostbuster: Afterlife opens with down on her luck single mom Cassie (Carrie Coon) receiving word her estranged and eccentric father has died and she has no choice but to move to his broken-down farm in Summerville, Oklahoma with her kids Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). Upon arrival, science nerd Phoebe begins to sense a presence in the house and soon discovers her grandfather was Ghostbuster Egon Spengler and that he was out there trying to stop the next prophesied coming of Gozer the Gozerian (a cameo that won’t be spoiled here). Now Phoebe, Trevor, new friend Podcast (Logan Kim) and teacher Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) must get those proton packs working and save the world, like their grandfather did thirty-seven years ago.

Sequel is directed wonderfully by Jason Reitman from his script with Gil Kenan and obviously based on the 1984 film. It is not just a sequel though, but a heartfelt love letter to not only the iconic pop culture classic, but 80s coming of age adventures as well. As such, Reitman gives us a very likable bunch of characters to populate this film with, especially Phoebe, and links it back to and pays homage to Ghostbusters in many clever and nostalgic ways. He films the flick like one of those coming-of-age movies and delivers some nice goosebumps when Phoebe, led by a certain spirit, begins to find the hidden away ghostbusting equipment, as Trevor finds and repairs the Ecto-1. The trail leads the kids to an old mine and soon some familiar sites and ghoulish faces start to surface, as the clock counts down to Gozer’s return. The tone is a bit more serious than the original, with some drama between mother and kids, especially since Cassie is still bitter towards her father for leaving her. It lightens up as Rudd’s Gooberson becomes a romantic interest for her and a believing friend for Phoebe, and the kids slowly transform into a new generation of Ghostbusters. Technically, film is nicely shot with some really solid visuals, from Egon’s spooky old house, the Midwest farm country setting, and the Gozer temple within the mine that was delightfully nostalgic. The SPFX are top notch and even if it is a little slow to get started, it delivers a fun and tear-jerking climax with Ghostbusters old and new facing the paranormal threat. A film with a big heart that knows when to be subtle and when to let the ectoplasm fly.

Reitman has assembled a great cast. Grace McKenna is simply wonderful as nerdy genius Phoebe and she evokes the great Harold Ramis as Egon nicely, while being totally her own character. Wolfhard is good as the more cynical Trevor, who is struggling to just be a normal teenager. Carrie Coon is also very good as their bitter and angry mom, who’s still hurting over Egon’s abandonment of his family. Rudd is fun as summer school teacher and science nerd Mr. Grooberson. He adds a little levity to the proceedings early on, when the film is at its most dramatic. We also have Celeste O’Connor as Trevor love interest Lucky, Bokeem Woodbine as her sheriff father, and Logan Kim is fun as the eager to help Podcast. As for the appearances from original cast members, everyone who does appear fits back into their roles with nostalgic fun and see if you can recognize a certain actress as Gozer the Gozarian. A great cast.

Overall, this was a delightful and very sincere tribute to and continuation of a true comedy classic. It was great to see returning familiar faces, and the new editions were very welcome ones. It starts out a little slowly, with a more serious tone, but once its momentum starts, it’s a blast of fun as it pays homage to both Ghostbusters and the coming-of-age flicks of the 80s. The climax is simply wonderful and will find any fan of this franchise getting a little choked up. Highly recommended and watch through the entire credits!

On a more personal note…I was there in 1984 on opening night when I saw the original Ghostbusters and it became an important and much beloved film in my movie loving life. There are so many parts of Ghostbusters: Afterlife that made me smile, gave me nostalgic goosebumps and yea, that ending had me crying life a schoolgirl. Thank you, Jason Reitman for bringing back the magic that Ghostbusters fans thought was long past! -MZNJ

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 swords

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BARE BONES BOOK REVIEW: CELLULOID WARS: THE MAKING OF BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS by ALLAN HOLZMAN

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CELLULOID WARS: THE MAKING OF BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS by ALLAN HOLZMAN

Battle Beyond The Stars is a cult classic Roger Corman production that was made to cash in on the Star Wars sci-fi craze of the 70s and 80s, but is now recognized on it’s own merit. Allan Holzman was an editor on the film and after four decades, has released his journal of the making of this legendary flick that he wrote while the film was in production.

This is a wonderful and fun look at the making of a cult classic by a man whose task it was to put all the fractured pieces together and make a movie out of them. Holzman’s entries detail a very troubled production, populated by a large group of artists and creative people struggling to make it all work, delivering an FX filled epic on a shoestring budget and tight schedule. There are tales of cramped work spaces, unexperienced directors, demanding producers and almost unusable footage. We get Holzman’s account of trying to make an almost impossible release date, with FX work falling dangerously behind and the shots he was getting, an editor’s nightmare to piece together. It’s is a fascinating look at filmmaking, especially from the perspective of the unsung editing process. It’s also a fun look back at how legendary producer Roger Corman made movies back then and a nostalgic look at how some now acclaimed film talents, like James Cameron, John Sayles, James Horner, Gale Anne Hurd and Holzman himself, started out.

If you love movies, Roger Corman films, are a fan of some of today’s most heralded filmmakers, or all of the above, this is a must have book that also features some great bonus interviews with model builders and FX legends Robert and Dennis Skotak and Battle’s costume designer Durinda Wood! Allan Holzman is planning a sequel about his directorial debut on Corman’s Forbidden World and one can’t wait for that after enjoying this delightful book.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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BARE BONES: ACHOURA (2021)

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ACHOURA (2021)

Twenty years ago, four friends, Samir (Omar Lotfi), his brother Ali (Younes Bouab), Nadia (Sofia Manousha) and Stephen (Moussa Maaskri) were lured into an abandoned house where they encountered a creature of folklore. Bougatate feeds on children and three of the friends barely escaped with their lives. Samir did not return and after two decades, Ali and Nadia have convinced themselves he was simply abducted, while Stephen still suffers nightmares about the malevolent entity they saw. When Samir suddenly resurfaces, Nadia, Ali and Stephen must confront the truth about Bougatate and find a way to stop the creature from harming anymore children, especially Nadia and Ali’s son Youssef (Mohamed Wahib Abkari).

French/Moroccan horror is well directed by Talal Selhami from a script by he, Jawad Lahlou and David Villemin. The film’s press materials call it a cross between The Babadook and IT and that the film certainly is, story-wise. Selhami still delivers a spooky and atmospheric mash-up and certainly has a strong visual eye, as the film looks impressive and like a horror flick should. He gives the film some tension and quite a few creepy moments and that this supernatural thriller is steeped in Moroccan folklore, makes it a refreshingly new perspective, even if the story evokes things we’ve already seen. The title is derived from The Festival of Achoura, a festival for children, where the film’s malevolent being can have it’s fiendish pick of potential victims. As for the film’s villain itself, Bougatate is an interestingly designed and effective enough specter, that helps add to the elements that make this movie work, despite it familiar story elements. Add to that, is a strong and effective cast, especially our four leads and the kids who play them twenty years earlier.

Supernatural horror is from Dark Star Pictures and is set for premiere on VOD and home media on 12/14/21. If you are interested in horror from other cultures, you might want to give this one a look. Achoura also stars Jade Beloued, Abdellah El Yousfi, Gabriel Fracola and Noé Lahlou as the younger Nadia, Ali, Stephen and Samir respectively, in the spooky IT-esque flashback sequences.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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