HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE (2016)

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I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE (2016)

Sophomore flick from Osgood Perkins, shows the filmmaker has indeed mastered spooky atmosphere with this tale of home care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) moving in with ailing horror novelist Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). As she cares for the woman, the easily scared Lily starts to believe that the house is more than just a home, but a direct inspiration as it appears one of Blum’s character’s, Polly (Lucy Boynton) was indeed murdered in the house…and her spirit may still be there.

While Perkins script presents a very thin story, the director loads it up with some really creepy atmosphere. Most of the film consists of Lily wandering about the house and seeing and hearing some very strange things as the film takes her on a journey of discovering that something happened in that house to inspire Blum’s most famous novel, The Woman Inside The Walls. Perkins accomplishes a lot with some very simple visuals and some very chilling moments as Lily discovers that Blum may have recounted an actually murder that took place in the house and relayed by the spirit of the victim herself, Polly. The story is far simpler than Perkins’ creepy The Blackcoat’s Daughter, but despite taking place solely in the house and mostly with just Lily, it still is quite unsettling at times. To say much more would be to spoil the effectiveness of this atmospheric tale. The equally atmospheric score for the film is once again by the director’s brother Elvis Perkins.

The minimal cast is quite good as it practically is a one woman show. Ruth Wilson creates a very meek and timid woman, possible a bit eccentric, too and takes her on a supernatural quest of discovery as Lily finds that the house has a dark secret that may have inspired her charge’s most famous tale. As Blum, Paula Prentiss doesn’t have many scenes, but is effective at portraying a woman with dementia, who is only adding to Lily’s mystery with her words, that may be more than babbling. Bob Balaban has a small part as a man who manages Blum’s affairs, Erin Boyles plays Blum in flashbacks and Lucy Boynton effectively plays Polly in flashbacks and when Lily has visions of her.

The film may be of a simpler nature than Oz Perkins’ first flick, but this is an old fashioned haunted house movie done in what is becoming the writer/director’s signature spooky style. It’s loaded with chilling atmosphere and unsettling scenes and while it is very economical in terms of story, it is still effective in giving chills for those patient enough to go with it’s slow burn.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 pretty things that live in the house.

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: BAYWATCH (2017)

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BAYWATCH (2017)

Comedy based on the popular 80s TV show has lifeguard legend Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) dealing with a hot shot new recruit (Zac Efron) and a sexy female drug dealer (Priyanka Chopra), who is dealing a new drug on his beaches. Now Mitch has to make this bunch a team and protect the sands and waters of Emerald Bay.

Directed by Seth Gordon from a script by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, this flick has some laughs and there is some wit behind the raunchy banter, but it drowns in the clichés of the band of misfits investigating the big bad drug queen, when no one else thinks there is anything wrong plot. The film does resemble a TV show episode and is very predictable, though the cast seems to be having fun and can be quite charming. Too bad there wasn’t a better script to go along with the muscles, cleavage and original show cameos. Also stars Alexandra Daddario as another new recruit.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: PHOENIX FORGOTTEN and MONSTER X

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PHOENIX FORGOTTEN (2017)

Second “Phoenix Lights” based found footage flick has an engaging plot, but a lackluster execution. Here we have a young woman (Florence Hartigan) searching for her brother Josh who disappeared twenty years earlier. Josh (Luke Spencer Roberts) witnessed The Phoenix Lights Incident along with she and her family at her sixth birthday and disappeared soon after upon investigating it with friends. Now decades later, she investigates his vanishing with a documentary crew and finds something they may not escape from themselves.

Directed by Justin Barber from his script with T.S. Nowlin, this had promise, but sadly isn’t all that much better than the awful Phoenix Incident, which had, obviously, a lot of the same plot elements. It has a few moments and the characters are nowhere near as annoying as the ones in that other film, but this is still a rather dull movie with a lot of Blair Witch scene retreads and some stuff already covered in Oren Peli’s Area 51. Too bad that a real life incident that still has people talking can’t inspire a movie that is actually as spooky as what it’s based on.

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTER X (2017)

Anthology flick has an amusing concept. A guy (Matt Tatroe) takes a first date (Stephanie June) to an all night horror festival and as they watch, the movies seem to take life around them. Now the couple are on the run from zombies, vampires and werewolves.

Multiple directors (Patrick Rea, Sean van Leijenhorst, Daniel B. Iske and Jaysen P. Buterin) are listed for this flick which has it’s heart in the right place and earns points for taking place in an old style movie theater. The anthology segments…Banshee, Howl of a Good Time, Now That You’re Dead and Don’t Let The Light In…are amusing as is the framing segment, The Dead Hour, of our beleaguered couple trying to survive their first date. The individual segments do seem like short films that the anthology was built around, as the copyright’s for those segments vary and go back as far as 2008. This adds to the cleverness, as getting those short films seen as part of a multi-segment film is inventive thinking. Overall, it’s very low budget and a little amateurish in spots, but it’s intentions are well meant and there is credit for effort. Cute and fun little flick that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at only 70 minutes including credits.
Segments:
The Dead Hour– directed by Daniel B. Iske and written by Scott Coleman
Banshee– written and directed by Sean van Leijenhorst
Howl of a Good Time– written and directed by Patrick Rea
Now That You’re Dead– written and directed by Patrick Rea
Don’t Let The Light In– written and directed by Jaysen P. Buterin

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES AUG 11-13

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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. “Annabelle: Creation” $35 Million

2. “Dunkirk” $11.4 Million

3. “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” $8.9 Million

4. “The Dark Tower” $7.9 Million

5. “The Emoji Movie” $6.6 Million

6. “Girls Trip” $6.5 Million

7. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” $6.1 Million

8. “Kidnap” $5.2 Million

9. “The Glass Castle” $4.8 Million

10. “Atomic Blonde” $4.5 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and SLITHER

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Haven’t done one of these in a long time! These two features are paired up for obvious reasons, but let it be known that James Gunn sights David Cronenberg’s The Shivers as an inspiration for his gooey creature feature and not Night of the Creeps!…though they pair a bit better being both horror/comedies.

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NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986)

Fred Dekker wrote and directed 2 of my favorite 80’s guilty pleasures, the underrated The Monster Squad (our second feature) and this B-movie blast, Night of the Creeps. A fun sci-fi/ horror that is not only a homage to the drive-in flicks of the 50’s, but is nostalgically 80’s now, too. Creeps starts out with a desperate chase inside an alien spaceship where a fugitive releases a tube from the ship carrying an “experiment” before being gunned down by his fellow crew members. The tube lands on earth in 1959 where two college students are on a date at a make-out point. The young man sees the tube land and heads into the woods to find it. His pretty date remains behind and is killed by an escaped ax murder while her date gets a face full of alien slugs when he finds the tube and it opens. We then move forward almost 30 years later where dorky college freshman Chris (Jason Lively) and handicapped bud J.C. (Steve Marshall) are desperate to join a fraternity, so Chris can impress beautiful sorority girl Cindy (Jill Whitlow). A little too anxious to accomplish an initiation prank they are assigned to carry out at the morgue, the two wander into the wrong room and wind up letting loose a frozen corpse from suspended animation…that of the young man infected by the alien slugs in the opening sequence. Now with fellow students being infected by the freed creatures and zombifying, the two team up with Cindy and a detective with a past linked to the 1959 ax murder (a great Tom Atkins) to try to stop the alien invasion from spreading through the entire campus and then the world.

Night Of The Creeps is a lot of fun. The whole thing is tongue in cheek from the campy dialog to every major character having the last name of a horror movie director. And, best of all, the audience is in on the fun. Dekker does take his material seriously to a degree so not to make a complete joke out of it and so it does have some suspense and tension, but in the spirit of the drive-in movies of the 50s, lets the deliberately absurd material, bathed with homage, deliver the fun. The cast also play their parts straight and are all good with Atkins’ cynical and grumpy Detective Cameron stealing the show with his one liners and our three leads giving us some very likable heroes and heroines to root for. Whitlow also makes for a fetching flame thrower wielding sorority girl. The entire cast seems to get the tone of the material and it really makes this work. The FX are really good too and there is some nice and abundant gore to go along with the slimy critters and their army of co-ed zombies.

A real fun homage to the sci-fi horrors of yesteryear, as well as, a great slice of fun 80s horror, too. How can you not like a movie with the line “I’ve got good news and bad news, girls… the good news is your dates are here…’what’s the bad news?’… they’re dead!”

MONSTERZERO NJ TRIVIA: Keep an observant eye out as Dekker gives a little shout out to his next movie The Monster Squad in a scene with J.C.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 infected aliens!

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SLITHER (2006)

Slither is a really fun sci-fi/comedy from writer/director James Gunn who helmed Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy flick. This creepy, gooey story is set in the small town of Wheelsy, South Carolina where a meteorite crash lands in the woods and is happened upon by two-timing husband Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) while out messing around with a local girl. Grant is stuck in the chest by some kind of organic dart from within the object and immediately starts to change physically and behaviorally. At first he tells his wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) it’s an allergic reaction to a bee sting, but as Grant starts chowing down on the local pets and begins transforming into something otherworldly, Starla turns to Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) for help. As fate would have it, Starla Grant has also been the apple of Sheriff Pardy’s eye since they were kids and as the two former school sweethearts try to figure out why Grant is transforming into a ‘squid’. Meanwhile Grant impregnates local girl-toy Brenda (Brenda James), who then gives birth to hundreds of slug-like creatures who set upon the town entering their victims through their mouths and turning the locals into zombies at alien infected Grant’s command. Can Bill, Starla and whoever is left stop this extraterrestrial threat and save Wheesley and the world from this slimy alien incursion?

Gunn directs this fun flick with tongue firmly in cheek. The film doesn’t make a joke out of it’s homage filled story, but never takes itself too seriously either. And while it is light in tone, it is not without it’s share of suspense and chills. The cast are all having a good time with Fillion once again showing he can play comedy and be a charming leading man. Rooker is delightfully over the top as the infected Grant. The actor is having a blast as he transforms into an alien creature who seems to enjoy some of the side benefits of being human, such as his host’s pretty wife. Banks is quite feisty as Starla and makes a fun combo of damsel and heroine and has a great chemistry with both Rooker and Fillion. Also in the cast is Gregg Henry as the obnoxious ass of a Mayor who goes by the name of R.J. MacReady (a nod to Carpenter’s The Thing) and The Office’s Jenna Fischer in a small role as Sheriff Pardy’s sassy receptionist Shelby. The make-up FX are excellent with Grant going through numerous stages as he transforms and of course the activities of his slug-like minions and their carnage are well portrayed. It is a mix of practical and CGI, but it appears mostly practical with some very well done CGI in support, the way it should be. The production value is high on this modestly budgeted film and there is an effective score by Tyler Bates to add atmosphere.

Whether it’s paying homage to The Thing, The Shivers, Night Of The Creeps or The Blob to name a few, Slither is just a real fun, gory and very entertaining night at the movies with a great cast and it’s heart in the right place. Much like some of the films it pays tribute to, Slither was sadly overlooked when it first came out, but seems to have now found it’s audience and developed a bit of a cult following. A highly recommended and delightfully gooey movie.

3 and 1/2 disturbingly shaped alien slugs.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971)

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THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971)

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

Count Yorga (Robert Quarry) is back…though not sure how…and takes up refuge in an old mansion opposite an orphanage. He sets his sights on pretty teacher Cynthia (Mariette Hartley) and his fangs on all her family and friends. Can anyone stop this fiend before he takes Cynthia as his bride and everyone else as his dinner?

Sequel is directed again by Bob Kelljan from a script he co-wrote with Yvonne Wilder and is a rather dull return for Quarry’s suave Bulgarian count. Much like the first film, there are some spooky scenes, but there is also a lot of talk and the story never gets interesting enough to lure us in. Oddly the addition of an orphanage doesn’t amount to much as only one child seems to fit into Yorga’s plans and the action takes place, for the most part, in Yorga’s Mansion. Yorga himself is absent for stretches of time as the film focuses on Cynthia trapped in his lair and being taunted by his minions. As for Yorga, Quarry again makes a good vampire, but the rest of the cast is fairly wooden and Hartley isn’t given much to do but look frightened. Roger Perry again stars, but not as the same character he portrayed in the first film…which is a little off-putting. Technically the film looks good through cinematographer Bill Butler’s lens and Bill Marx’s score adds some atmosphere.

Not a big fan of the first Yorga film and this one won’t convert anyone who is not. It’s slow moving, has long stretches with no action and it’s story is routine for a vampire flick. The placement of Yorga’s lair near an orphanage doesn’t get used to it’s full potential and the fact that Yorga allows his minions to taunt his intended bride, doesn’t really make much sense either…unless he likes nutty women. A dull sequel.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 fangs.

 

 

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BARE BONES: THE MUMMY and SNATCHED

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THE MUMMY (2017)

Universal’s second attempt…Dracula Untold was the first, but they distanced themselves from it when it failed to draw box office blood… to start their Dark Universe is a bigger clunker than their Dracula flick. Convoluted plot has adventurer Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) finding the tomb of cursed Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) who gets unleashed and now raises the dead across England as she tries to find both Morton…who she has plans for…and a sacred dagger…which she also has plans for. Also interested in the little mummy honey is a certain Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe)…who has his own plans for the Egyptian princess.

Directed by Alex Kurtzman from a messy script by three writers, the flick is a CGI drenched bore that won’t do Universal any favors in starting it’s Marvel-esque monster series. Cruise is strictly phoning it in and has far more screen time than the actually mummy whose schtick is basically rehashing the same gimmick from the Stephen Sommers movies, but with a girl mummy this time. It’s just plain silly to have Jekyll involved, though at least Crowe got the material and would probably be a fun Jekyll/Hyde in a much better movie. Boutella had a few effective scenes, but otherwise it’s a snoozefest of CGI and a very miscast TomCruise.

-MonsterZero NJ

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SNATCHED (2017)

The idea of teaming up comic legend Goldie Hawn and funny girl of the moment Amy Schumer wasn’t a bad one, it’s just too bad they weren’t in a much more solid comedy. Flick has recently dumped and fired Emily (Schumer) going on a vacation originally planned with her now ex-boyfriend. She takes her mom (Hawn) instead and the two head off to Ecuador. The mother and daughter are kidnapped by an Ecuadorian crime lord (Óscar Jaenada) and now must find a way to escape both the criminal and the jungle in one piece.

Directed by Jonathan Levine from a so-so script by Katie Dippold, this flick starts out funny when it is about mother and daughter trying to bond and get along at the resort. It takes a more serious and far less funny tone once they are kidnapped and then escape with the vengeful criminals hot on their heels. There are some deaths along the way, which the film unsuccessfully tries to make funny and the film only regains a little of it’s comic footing when Schumer’s Emily and some strange women (Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack) mount a half-assed rescue when Hawn is recaptured. Shame the script wasn’t funnier as Schumer and Hawn had a nice chemistry.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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COOL STUFF: SLITHER SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY!

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SLITHER (2006) Blu-Ray

Slither is a fun and delightfully gory horror/comedy from Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn, that is sadly overlooked and underrated…until now! Once again the awesome folks at Scream Factory have given a flick the respect and treatment it deserves with this new special edition. This title in particular has always been a personal favorite and this disc was obviously anxiously awaited. Let’s find out if it delivered…

On a technical level the film image is clear and sharp with some nice contrast, while maintaining the original color palette that Gunn filmed it in. The flesh tones, both human and in-human being the most vibrant colors aside from the gore. The movie is presented in the original 1.85.1 aspect ratio, preserving the film’s original dimensions. The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with alternate 2.0 DTS-HD for those without home theater sound systems. The original extras from the DVD are presented in the video format ratio of 1:33:1 that they were filmed in. Remember it was 2006 and the TVs those extras were made for still came in the square format.

Now on to the extensive extras which make this disc so worth having!…

Scream Factory has added some new features in addition to including all the fun extras from the initial DVD release. We get new commentary from James Gunn with Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker, aside from the original commentary with Gunn and actor Nathan Fillion. We also get new interviews with both writer/director Gunn and actor Gregg Henry and it is interesting to hear Gunn reminisce about the flick now that he’s had such success with the Guardians of the Galaxy films. From there we get deleted and extended scenes with optional James Gunn commentary. We get a step by step of some of the film’s visual FX. We get a fun tour of the set with actor Nathon Fillion, followed by an amusing profile of his character Bill Pardy. There’s a documentary from the original release called The Sick Minds And Slimy Days Of Slither. One of the FX crew humorously gives us a fake blood recipe in Brewing The Blood. There is another FX documentary about how the slimy critters were brought to life and a short video diary with Troma creator Lloyd Kaufman on set for a cameo, which sadly was cut from the final print. The extras wrap up with a fun gag reel and the original theatrical trailer. A nice batch of extras for a movie only now starting to get the notice it deserves.

This is a personal favorite and a flick that is finally finding an audience after being overlooked upon initial release. It’s a fun horror/sci-fi flick that pays homage to many of it’s influences, yet not without having it’s own identity. (my full review HERE) If you’re a fan of the film, it’s a must have disc. If you are just discovering James Gunn through his Guardian’s movies, than this is definitely an item you may want to check out. Another great disc from Scream Factory.

-MonsterZero NJ

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FAREWELL AND R.I.P. TO HARUO NAKAJIMA!

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HARUO NAKAJIMA 1929-2017

Heartbreaking news for Godzilla fans all over the world as original Godzilla suitmation actor Haruo Nakajima has passed away at age 88! Najaima played the world’s most famous radioactive behemoth from the original Gojira in 1954 up to and including Godzilla vs Gigan in 1972. Nakajima also worked with Akira Kurosawa playing roles in Seven Samurai and Hidden Fortress.

As a huge Godzilla fan myself, it was an honor and a dream come true when I met him at the Chiller Theater convention in 1994 and he signed my Gojira fortieth anniversary Japanese laser disc box set. It is a memory I’ll never forget and an heirloom I will always cherish!-MZNJ

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A cherished keepsake signed by the legend himself!

-MonsterZero NJ

Sources: internet

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REVIEW: 68 KILL (2017)

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68 KILL (2017)

Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler) makes a meager living draining septic tanks. His crazy, abusive girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynne McCord) is a hooker who has hatched a plan to get them out of squalor quick. She wants to rob her sugar daddy Ken (David Maldonado) of the $68,000 in cash from his safe. She promises the meek Chip that no one will get hurt. Two dead bodies and a hostage (Alisha Boe) in the trunk later, Chip has had enough and double crosses Liza and takes off with her car, the hostage and the cash. But Chip is not about to escape the current situation unscathed, as his path to freedom is blocked by all sorts of unsavory characters, not to mention a furious Liza in hot pursuit.

This sleazy grind house style flick from writer/director Trent Haaga starts out fun mostly due to a delightfully over-the-top AnnaLynne McCord. Where it falters and loses it’s grip somewhat is having McCord’s Liza disappear for most of the second half of the movie as Chip falls for pretty hostage Violet (Boe) and then encounters a group of trailer trash sleazebags who want his money and his life. The story then loses that grimy fun as Chip becomes a hostage himself and is brutalized by this group and the film starts to wallow in the sleaze and viciousness a bit too much for it’s own good. Also, getting back to Violet…SPOILERS

why introduce a potential romance between Violet and Chip, only to have her leave the story a few scenes later? Why have her character there at all, if the story isn’t going anywhere with their romance and Chip must face the trailer park group alone. It seems like filler and a waste of time, not to mention it happens way too quickly and her reason for being in Ken’s house is a bit convoluted to begin with…

END SPOILERS. The film does pick-up when McCord catches up with Chip and finally reappears, but then it is over too quickly to really enjoy the character’s return. When Liza isn’t present the film becomes just another Quentin Tarantino grind house revival style flick which have been all too common since the Pulp Fiction director made them cool again. There is nothing to set it apart from others of it’s ilk.

Gubler makes a fine enough schlep of a hero. Chip’s meek and let’s Liza walk all over him and predictably he finally “grows a pair”…in Liza’s own words…by the film’s end. The character is not as interesting as his psycho girlfriend and the film loses something when Chip takes center stage and Gubler has little more to do than look like he’s in over his head. As Liza, AnnaLynne McCord is a stick of bad girl dynamite and is having a blast of a good time chewing up the scenery and the men in it. She showed she had some real acting chops in Excision and here she is really lighting up the screen as sexy, trashy, crazy Liza. It’s her show and the film makes a big mistake keeping her off screen for most of the second half…a BIG mistake. Alisha Boe is pretty and sexy as hostage Violet, but the character doesn’t amount to much and there seems to be no point to her even being there once the story changes gears after she and Chip hook up.

Overall, there was some fun to be had here, but mostly when star AnnaLynne McCord was onscreen tearing it up with her sexy, out-of-her-mind, bad girl Liza. When McCord’s character is absent, the fun fades and sadly filmmaker Haaga wallows a bit too much in the violence and trash of his story as it progresses. The flick only crackles when Liza is involved and it is a big mistake to have her absent for so long to pursue a romantic sub-plot that is discarded a few scenes later. Having his start with Troma Films, Haaga knows trash cinema, but he also needs to recognize when it’s a bit too much and when he’s messing up a good thing by letting the best part of the movie sit on the sidelines for far too long. Worth a look, but not the sleazy roller coaster ride it wants to be.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 bullets!

 

 

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