BOOK REVIEW: TRUE INDIE-LIFE and DEATH in FILMMAKING by DON COSCARELLI

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I know this is the Movie Madhouse, but I will review a book now and then, one that I really loved or one that pertains to the movie world…and what pertains more than a memoir by the man behind the horror classic Phantasm…Don Coscarelli.

TRUE INDIE-LIFE and DEATH in FILMMAKING by DON COSCARELLI

Don Coscarelli is one of my favorite filmmakers and his Phantasm one of my all-time favorite horror films. So of course I was very excited to read his memoir, detailing an almost forty year career as an indie filmmaker…and it didn’t disappoint. Coscarelli gives a brief account of his upbringing and then on to his first attempt to make a feature film, a drama called Jim, The World’s Greatest. He then weaves a fun and informative account of his film career spanning from the making of Kenny & Co. in 1976, to his classic Phantasm, to the harrowing production of the Beastmaster, all the way up to his recent Phantasm: Ravager. The stories of what Don and family and friends went through to get some of his flicks made, and then released, will really give you an idea of how difficult it is make a movie, especially if you don’t have big studio backing…which comes with it’s own headaches. It’s a real treat to hear the production stories of how his movies were made…or not made in some cases…and how even now getting a film going is still not easy even for a man considered a horror legend.

True Indie is a fun true life story woven by a man with a talent for overcoming adversity and for telling an entertaining, sincere and heartfelt story…the account of the final moments he shared with his star and friend Angus Scrimm will have you in tears. A tale of arrogant investors, eccentric actors, the MPAA and those darn silver spheres! A great book if you are a fan of Don Coscarelli, horror films or just independent filmmaking in general, this is a must read!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 4 silver spheres!

 

 

 

 

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ACTUALS NOV 9-11

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Complete actuals are in for the weekend box office

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

1. “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” $67.5 Million

2. “Bohemian Rhapsody” $31.2 Million

3. “Overlord” $10.2 Million

4. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” $10 Million

5. “A Star Is Born” $8.1 Million

6. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story” $7.8 Million

7. “Nobody’s Fool” $6.6 Million

8. “Venom” $4.9 Million

9. “Halloween 2018” $3.9 Million

10. “The Hate U Give”” $2 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: OVERLORD (2018)

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OVERLORD (2018)

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

Hybrid war movie/horror flick takes place on the night before the Normandy invasion where a mission to take out a communications tower goes horribly awry. After their plane is hit, four surviving American soldiers, Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Ford (Wyatt Russell, Kurt’s son), Tibbet (John Magaro) and Chase (Iain De Caestecker) find themselves on the run from German soldiers in rural France. Now behind enemy lines, the commandos are snuck into a German occupied village by the beautiful Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who lives there with her little brother Paul (Gianny Taufer) and her sick aunt (Meg Foster). Soon the four find out that the Germans, under the command of sadistic Hauptsturmführer Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) are conducting sinister experiments under the local church…experiments right out of a nightmare and whose product may change the course of the war.

Flick is directed effectively and energetically by Julius Avery from a homage-filled script by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith. There are some solid action scenes, some good gore, when it gets going, and the heroes are a likable bunch as are the villains detestable. There are some nice nods to it’s influences and the makers have some fun with classic war movie tropes and characters, like the wise guy soldier with the NYC accent and the precocious foreign child who develops a liking towards him. It is a fun movie, though one that doesn’t fully deliver on it’s promises. Where the film falters, is that it doesn’t focus enough on the horror elements and spends a lot of time at Chloe’s home in the village, before our heroes finally assault the church. Then it’s over without really delivering the battle between man and Wafner’s squad of Frankenstein monsters we came to see. We hardly spend any time with the scientist actually conducting the experiments (Erich Redman), nor do we get any clue as to what the substance is bubbling out of the ground that is the basis for the Nazis’ work. We get glimpses of atrocities when Boyce sneaks into the Nazi stronghold, but when the climactic assault finally happens it focuses on a serum-jacked Wafner and the experimental soldiers barely play a part. What was the point of introducing them if they never really become part of the action? Make no mistake, the action scenes are fast and furious when they come and overall this is an enjoyable action/horror, it’s just one that fails to really live up to it’s promises and that is where it stumbles. On a technical level it’s a top notch production with an especially effective score by Jed Kurzel and strong cinematography by Laurie Rose and Fabian Wagner.

The cast are good and using lesser known faces only helps one suspend disbelief in what they are watching. Jovan Adepo makes a solid hero as Boyce, a compassionate man who may not be cut out for war, but does have courage when needed. The actor is charming and engaging. Wyatt Russell is a chip off of his father as the war hardened corporal Ford. He’s a bit of a hard-ass, but one endears to him nonetheless. Magaro is fun as the clichéd soldier from New York talking like he just came from an old Bowery Boys movie. Caestecker is good as Chase, more photographer than soldier and a bit too timid for this kind of mission. Mathilde Ollivier makes an impression as Chloe. She’s strong and a fighter and makes the sacrifices she needs to, to keep her family safe. Pilou Asbæk has a stereotypical role as the power-hungry and sadistic Wafner, but one feels that this is on purpose and the character is a homage to classic war movie bad guys. Gianny Taufer is cute as Paul and sadly Meg Foster has no dialogue and is unrecognizable under her make-up as Chloe’s aunt.

In conclusion, this is not a film one needs to run out and see, yet is still fun and entertaining, especially if one reigns in the expectations. The action is well-choreographed and when the horror elements present themselves, they are effective and can be quite gruesome. Where the film lets it’s audience down is that it takes quite some time to really get going and then it’s over too quickly once it does. It promises us freakish products of horrible experiments, but they are actually not as large a part of the action as we were led to believe…or hoped they would be. They kind of sit on the sidelines save for a few appearances. It’s a bit of a letdown, despite the fact that the film is well made and effective in what it does do. Not a bad movie at all, just one that doesn’t fully deliver what the trailers promised.

On a personal note…IMO, running a mediocre rap song over the end credits, instead of the more fitting, classic AC/DC song that played perfectly in the trailer, just didn’t work at all. Just came across as awkward and didn’t fit the tone of the film we just watched.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 bullets.

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: WELCOME TO MERCY (2018)

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WELCOME TO MERCY (2018)

Unconventional possession flick finds Madaline (Kristen Ruhlin) and her young daughter Willow (Sophia Massa) returning to the rural home of her estranged parents. Once there, she starts to experience stigmata and priest Father Joseph (Juris Strenga) sends her to a convent to find out what is happening to her. Thus Madaline embarks on a journey of demonic entities and secrets that have been kept for decades.

Film is atmospherically directed by Tommy Bertelsen, but it is the script by star Kristen Ruhlin that sets this apart from traditional possession flicks, or other religious themed horror. It takes a while to realize what is actually going on at the convent and that’s on purpose, as this flick is equal parts mystery as it is supernatural thriller. It’s no secret that there is a demon fighting for Madaline’s soul, but why it has targeted her, or how events of her past are responsible are what we find out during the course of this spooky and sometimes clever flick. There are some nice red herrings along the way and we may not be watching what we think we are. The performances are also solid, characters well-written and director Bertelsen creates some good tension while making effective use of the Gothic Latvian locations. Worth a look for something that isn’t as conventional as it first appears.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: TERRIFIED aka ATERRADOS (2017)

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TERRIFIED aka ATERRADOS (2017)

Argentinian supernatural horror finds a police detective (Maxi Ghione) teaming up with three paranormal investigators (Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto and George Lewis) when a neighborhood starts to suffer horrific…and fatal… supernatural occurrences.

Written and directed by Demián Rugna, Aterrados can be one disturbing and scary flick at times. It has some very creepy sequences, some shocking and brutal violence and a very steady atmosphere of dread and mystery. The ghost FX are all executed in camera with actors in very effective make-up and the gore is very well done and quite gruesome. Rugna creates some very scary moments and it helps that even his valiant leads, despite their expertise in their fields, are all quite afraid too…and they should be. What really holds the film back is that none of it is ever given any explanation, or are we given any reason why these spirits decide to suddenly attack this one block and start quite brutally killing residents. Who are they even? Ambiguity can be useful in stories like this, but getting no hints or exposition at all, as for what is happening and why, leaves us very unsatisfied by it’s conclusion. We get a lot of good scares and graphic deaths, but it all leads nowhere and we are given no clues as to why it suddenly starts happening. Still worth a look, but you won’t know any more at the beginning than you do at it’s end. Terrified, or Aterrados in Spanishis a Shudder exclusive only on their streaming horror network.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SUSPIRIA (2018)

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SUSPIRIA (2018)

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

Film is a remake…of sorts…of Dario Argento’s classic 1977 horror of the same name. It uses the very basic plot framework of a coven of witches in a German dance academy, along with a few character names, but otherwise is it’s own thing. This re-imagining takes place in 1977 West Berlin during the Lufthansa Flight 181 hostage crisis. A former Mennonite from Ohio, Susie Bannion (Dakatoa Johnson) comes to study dance at the Markos Dance Academy. There is, as with Argento’s version, something very sinister going on at the academy and headmistress Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) may have plans for the pretty new student.

Remake is directed by Luca Guadagnino from a script by David Kajganich based on the original screenplay by Argento and Daria Nicolodi and does involve Argento’s “Three Mothers”. It’s an intriguing film to be sure and is far more art house than grind house. It is also, however, a bit of a meandering film at 150 minutes long. It takes an hour longer to tell the story and that wouldn’t be a bad thing, if that story was expanded, gave the characters more depth, or added emotional resonance…and there is the film’s major problem. Despite adding a lot of details to Argento’s simple tale, such as Susie’s Mennonite past, the hostage crisis occurring at the same time, or the sub-plot of a German Doctor (also Swinton, billed as Lutz Ebersdorf) who lost his wife during the war, none of it really adds anything to the story or enhances the characters. It simply just makes the movie longer, but not especially richer. There is some feminist and social commentary, but it’s not enough to really resonate or make this any more relevant than it’s predecessor. What the remake does have in it’s favor, is that there are a lot of disturbing and unsettling moments and the movie can get quite grotesque, especially in the last act when all hell breaks loose, quite literally. We are treated to some creepy dream sequences and some squirm inducing moments, such as when dancer Olga (Elena Fokina) learns the hard way that leaving the academy is not so easy. The sequences in the witches’ lair behind the academy walls are also quite effective and the film can be very atmospheric when it wants to be…though in contrast, some of the earlier moments are a bit bland to be honest. It takes a while to get going and that’s when the atmosphere starts to kick in. With all the subtext and subplots, Guadagnino does avoid outright pretension and that helps keep the film from imploding from taking itself too seriously, which some may feel it does. The cinematography is quite the opposite of Argento’s vibrantly colored set pieces, with the colors here being muted and the set and costume design far more grounded till things start to delve into the supernatural in the last act.

The cast is another plus. Johnson is good as Susie. She is a bit more mysterious than Argento’s heroine and the actress again shows she is fine with daring roles. Thankfully here she is given more to work with than those awful Shades of Grey movies. Tilda Swinton is mesmerizing both as Madame Blanc and in a very impressive performance as Dr. Josef Klemperer. Unfortunately, Klemperer’s character and subplot could have been removed completely and not done harm to the story, though it would have robbed us of seeing Swinton in a very unconventional part. In support we have a solid performance by Chloe Grace Moretz as a student that alerts Dr. Klemperer to the shady goings on at the academy and a likable Mia Goth as Sara, a student who befriends Susie. The rest of the cast are fine and do efficient work as minor supporting and background characters.

This remake does enough of it’s own thing to not fall under the unnecessary banner. There are some gruesome and grotesque moments and some disturbing and unsetting scenes that effectively chill. The cast do very good work, especially Swinton and the flick can be atmospheric at times. What keeps this from really being something special is that there are a lot of details added to what was a simple story and they don’t really enhance that story or add any depth or resonance. The film can be bland at times, when not focusing on the supernatural elements and some of the detailed subplots simply make the film longer and not necessarily better. Intriguing and worth watching once, but not something one feels the need to revisit again like Argento’s film. Keep an eye out for original star Jessica Harper in a cameo and stay through the credits for one last bit of spookiness.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 broken bones…you’ll know the scene when you see it. OUCH!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES NOV 2-4

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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. “Bohemian Rhapsody” $50 Million

2. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” $20 Million

3. “Nobody’s Fool” $14 Million

4. “A Star Is Born” $11.1 Million

5. “Halloween 2018” $11 Million

6. “Venom” $7.85 Million

7. “Smallfoot” $3.8 Million

8. “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” $3.7 Million

9. “Hunter Killer” $3.5 Million

10. “The Hate U Give”” $3.4 Million

source: Box Office Mojo

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS IT’S NOT HALLOWEEN WITHOUT BARBARA CRAMPTON!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS IT’S NOT HALLOWEEN WITHOUT BARBARA CRAMPTON!

The scream heard round the world, as the horror community is introduced to Barbara Crampton in Re-Animator!

Watching horror flicks during the Halloween 🎃 season, there might be one face, aside from Karloff, Lee, Lugosi and Tom Atkins, that you might see more than once…and that pretty face is actress and horror icon Barbara Crampton! A cult favorite, Barbara Crampton has appeared in a number of horror classics and cult classics from the 80s to present day and shows no sign of stopping! So, in honor of this queen of horror, here are 10 horror flicks that illustrate why it’s not Halloween 🎃 without Barbara Crampton!

Crampton chews up the scenery playing an evil politician…well, more evil than usual…in the recent Dead Night.

(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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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2018!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2018…NICOLE MUÑOZ!

It’s Halloween🎃!…and as it has become tradition, it’s time to announce MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hottie of the Year!…an actress that has not only captured our hearts, but gotten our attention with a strong performance, be it as a final girl or a femme fatale!…
…and our Halloween Hottie of 2018 is…Nicole Muñoz!
This pretty, Canadian actress helped make Pyewacket one of this year’s best horrors with an impressive performance as emotionally troubled, teen Leah. Dealing with the loss of her father, Leah has turned to a more Gothic lifestyle with an interest in Death Metal and the occult. She is currently in conflict with her mother (Laurie Holden), who is dealing with her grief by removing everything that reminds her of her late husband. This conflict escalates to the point where a desperate Leah turns to an evil entity to kill her mother. Leah realizes too late that she has made a horrible mistake, as her summoning comes with a terrible cost and Pyewacket comes to collect. Muñoz skillfully portrays a very emotionally wounded teen who can’t turn to the one person she should be able to…her mother. She perfectly captures the anger and frustration of her situation. She then turns Leah’s anger into fright as the character realizes that one should be careful what they wish for.

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie poster to read a review of, Pyewacket, the hit horror flick that stars Halloween Hottie of 2018, Nicole Muñoz!)

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Nicole Muñoz as troubled teen, Leah!

Leah, a young girl with a lot on her mind.

Desperation leads Leah to conduct a ritual to summon an ancient evil.

Her actions come with a terrible price as a dark presence stalks her.

Has she realized her mistake too late?

Can anyone save Leah from what she’s called upon?

Nicole’s resume shows that not only has this TV and film actress been working since she was ten years-old, but has the versatility to play many different roles. She is also no stranger to horror with films like 2006’s The Tooth Fairy, 2013’s Scarecrow and now Pyewacket on her filmography. Whatever her next project is, we hope this talented young woman returns to our favorite genre soon!

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2018 RUNNER UP, SCOUT TAYLOR-COMPTON!

Again this year it was so close that it’s more like a co-winner than a runner up. Compton gave us a strong woman to root for as she and her friends come under attack from zombie-like creatures in Feral. Compton’s Alice takes charge to protect her friends, including her lover, Jules (It Follows’ Olivia Luccardi). Alice is a fighter, but a compassionate one and it is this contrast between tough and tender that makes her so interesting and endearing. A woman coming out to her friends and then having to fight to protect them, it’s a very non-stereotype character portrayed very well by this horror flick veteran!

Scout Taylor-Compton as Alice!

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This year was, again, a tough choice. Both these ladies were great in their roles and really brought it as their respective film’s lead!

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

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 21 HORROR FLICKS WITH BABYSITTERS!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 21 HORROR FLICKS WITH BABYSITTERS!

Is babysitter Emelie in traditional peril?…or causing it? You’ll have to watch Emelie to find out!

As we approach Halloween🎃, it might be fun to take a look at a classic horror film trope, the babysitter in peril! Here are twenty-one horror flicks which revolve around or include sequences of babysitters in peril…or sometimes, causing it!

( You can find reviews for the below titles covered here by using the search engine at the top of the page!)

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN

-MonsterZero NJ

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