Its Pride Month and MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse commemorates by focusing on fifteen horrors with LGBTQIA+ themes or main characters. Horror is a genre with something for everyone and was one of the first to embrace LGBTQIA+ content into its stories, as far back as 1936, when it was still considered taboo! Enjoy! – MZNJ
Worth highlighting all on its own is Hammer Horror’s groundbreaking Karnstein Trilogy, three vampire flicks which featured openly lesbian themes at a time when it was bold to do so!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frank N Furter, a groundbreaking LGBTQIA+ main character!
(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!)
Flick is a remake of the 2014 Last Shift by the original film’s director for the purpose of expanding upon the scope and story with a somewhat larger budget. Again, rookie second generation police officer Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula) on her first assignment, volunteers to watch over the last shift at the closing Lanford police station. A year earlier her police officer father (Eric Olson) raided a cult compound, rescuing hostages and killing its leader, one John Malum (Chaney Morrow). Soon after, in that very station, Captain Wil Loren committed multiple murders than suicide. Jessica wants to get to the bottom of what actually happened with her dad. As the night progresses, rhe station and city fall under siege by deranged cult members and Jessica finds that the station is haunted by the malevolent spirits conjured by that bloody-thirsty cult…spirits that may now be coming for her.
Remake is again directed by Anthony DiBlasi (Cassadaga, Last Shift and Extremity) and co-written by him and Scott Poiley, and is basically an unnecessary redo of a really scary and effective flick. Diblasi wanted to expand upon the story and broaden the scope, but only proves the old adage that sometimes less is more. Bigger isn’t always better. The more intimate setting and some of the ambiguity is what made Last Shift work and work so well. The combination of intense scares, isolation and some really disturbing and effective imagery made that film a very scary ride. This remake does have a lot of its own spooky moments, disturbing imagery and gore, but adding back story, subplots, more characters and expanding the scope outside the station somewhat, doesn’t make it any scarier than the original…though some of the cult compound flashback footage is disturbing. It’s also not different enough to make it feel fresh or really worth sitting through the story again, save out of curiosity. At least Malum does prove Diblasi is still an effective filmmaker, even if we have seen the story before, though this film is never quite as scary as last time. It even drags in a few spots despite only a 92-minute runtime and the gloominess and bleak tone get a bit tiresome towards the end. Make-up and gore FX are top notch and quite plentiful making this quite a gruesome sit as well.
Maybe if there was no original than this would have been far more satisfying. As a remake, it’s an unneeded reboot from a filmmaker that has shown imagination, originality and diversity in his films, as well as some legitimate scares. He didn’t need to retread old ground. Now that Diblasi has gotten this out of his system, hopefully he will continue to show, moving forward, that he is a filmmaker horror fans need to be talking more about.
Memorial Day Weekend 🇺🇸 is here and that means the start to the summer vacation season!…It also means camping, barbecuing, swimming, cabins in the woods, summer camp and maniacs in hockey masks! Halloween isn’t the only time of the year when things go bump in the night, as these 25 fright flicks prove! (…and no, I didn’t forget the cabin set Evil Dead films, they take place in the fall!)
To find the reviews for the films listed below, just type the title in the above right search engine!
A summer marina job is the least of his worries as Ben might have a witch living next door in The Wretched!Photo: IFC MIDNIGHT
Yesterday 5/26 was the birthday of the immortal Peter Cushing and today 5/27 is the birthday of not only the legendary Christopher Lee, but, the incomparable Vincent Price as well! Three of the greatest horror icons of all time! Coincidence…I THINK NOT!!!
Joy (Hanna Emily Anderson) has finally gotten out of an abusive relationship with her prone-to-violence boyfriend Derek (Daniel Arnold). She agrees to go on a therapeutic camping trip with her fiend Carmen (Madison Walsh), two other women (Roseanne Supernault and Helen Belay), and a therapist (Kyra Harper). The camping trip starts to turn into a nightmare, as Joy begins to hear things and believes they are being pursued by some sort of creature. Is this a figment of her troubled mind or is there really something inhuman stalking the five women in the middle of the wilderness.
Flick is written and directed byBerkley Brady, and she does give us some strong imagery and intense scenes. It also has a disturbing creature and some well rendered gore. The effort here is well intended and Joy is a likable and sympathetic heroine as played by What Keeps You Alive‘s Hanna Emily Anderson. Obviously, the messages about abusive relationships and their effects are also presented and received well. What held it back a bit is that the editing is at times too tight. More than once the film jumps from one place or time to another where a simple establishing shot would have given us a better idea of time passing and distance traveled. It makes the film a bit jumpy and at only 85 minutes, Brady could have spent a few more moments making the narrative flow a little smoother. Also, the film just feels like it’s over a bit too quickly. We needed a bit more time with certain story elements to really give them resonance before the intense and bloody cave set climax. Add to that a major reveal about Joy was completely predictable and seen coming a mile away and the film does strongly resemble Neil Marshall’s similarly plotted The Descent. Otherwise, the FX and cinematography are effective and the small cast quite good, with Brady showing some promise as a filmmaker, given some more experience. Now streaming.
Pregnant Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and her meek husband Jaime (Douglas Booth) move to rural Ireland after a vicious home invasion in their London apartment. They are left a home when Jaime’s Aunt Maeve dies, and they decide to raise their child in quieter surroundings. The couple are not as welcomed there as they had hoped and soon Maya finds out that Maeve made a bargain with local creatures of fairy and the mother-to-be may be expected to keep that bargain now that Maeve is gone. Add in some violent and unhinged locals and maybe London wasn’t so bad after all.
Flick is directed by Jon Wright from a script and story by he and Mark Stay. While Weight and his cast take the proceedings very seriously and do provide some dark and spooky moments, the film starts to resemble a Charles Band Full Moon Pictures production when the redcap elves appear and start to talk. It evokes one of those little creature movies Band’s company churned out like wheat in the 80s and it’s hard to take the little buggers seriously, with their baby talk babble even with the gory violence they wreck on Maya’s enemies. That and seeing them out in the open and so often kills their mystique. As such, Colm Meaney, Niamh Cusack, Chris Walley and the hulking Kristian Nairn are far scarier and more disturbing as a vicious local family that the couple piss off. Wright has a really good visual eye, and the FX work is solid, but the redcap creatures are too unintentionally silly to keep the tone of the film as frightening as the makers and us the audience would have liked. If you are a fan of those old Full Moon pictures flicks, then by all means have a look. Corin Hardy’s The Hallow handled a similar tale of Irish folk horror much better.
Classic sixties comedy has newspaper typesetter Luther Heggs (Don Knotts) dreaming of becoming a big-time reporter. He gets his chance when his editor (Dick Sargent) reads a piece he sneaks into the paper on a local haunted house. The site of a horrible murder/suicide, Luther is now tasked with staying overnight at the Simmons Mansion and writing about it. His spooky experiences make him an overnight sensation, in his small town, but the story is just beginning for the star reporter as there is more to this haunted house than meets the eye. Can Luther solve the house’s mysteries, outwit his naysayers and win the heart of his crush, Alma (Joan Staley)?
Spooky and silly flick is directed by Alan Rafkin from a script by Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum with alleged input from Knotts himself and Andy Griffith*. As everyone involved were veterans of The Andy Griffith Show, the film does resemble an expanded version of a TV show in scope and scale and in terms of its very slim story that’s told over its feature length 90 minutes. It is cute, harmless and quite charming and is a perfect showcase for Knotts’ talents. It’s obviously very modestly budgeted and there are no real scares to be had…not that we expected any in a Don Knotts movie. It’s entertaining and the nostalgia helps a lot, though it surprisingly spends very little time in the Simmon Mansion save for Luther’s brief stay and the mystery solving at the climax. Most of the flick has Luther dealing with doubters, angry Simmons relatives, rival reporter Ollie (Skip Homeier) and of course wooing Alma. It’s harmless, wholesome fluff though a little more time in the spooky mansion would have been a bit more fun and not all of the comic bits are as completely successful as others.
The cast here are all good. Knotts is fun doing his trademarked big mouth coward routine. He carries the picture well and proves he was ready to transition to movies from TV. Dick Sargent plays the cliché newspaper editor just fine, while Skip Homeier plays jerk rival/reporter Ollie equally as well. Joan Staley is cute and perky as Alma, though is given very little to do. Rounding out, Liam Redmond is fine as the newspaper janitor Kelsy, who has links to the Simmons house, and Philip Ober makes a suitable villain as Nicholas Simmons, whose plans are foiled by Luther’s story. A solid cast for this type of flick.
Maybe it’s not quite the laugh riot we hoped for, nor does it spend as much time in the haunted mansion as we’d have liked. It is still very charming, nostalgic and fun with Knotts making for a likable if not bumbling and cowardly hero. It comes across more as an extended TV show episode than a feature film, but it is harmless and amusing and is a good example of the kind of wholesome entertainment that folks went to see back then.
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Fright Night Part II might be one of the most under-appreciated sequels…at least by its distributors, as it does have a cult following…of all-time, as the film got an under-the-radar limited release back in the day, despite the success of the original and even worse treatment with sub-par full-screen VHS and DVD releases. A proper release is still eagerly awaited as this underrated sequel turns 35 today.
The sequel takes place 3 years after the original Fright Night. Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is now in college and finishing up years of therapy that has him believing Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) was only a serial killer and the delusion of him being a vampire was all created in Charley’s head to cope with the horrible events. Charley also has a hot new girlfriend, Alex (80s flick cutie Tracy Lind) and hasn’t talked to Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) in years. As for the Great Vampire Killer, all the attention has gotten Vincent his Fright Night TV show hosting job back and all seems well when the two finally get together to bring closure to their horrible experience…until Charley sees large boxes being moved into Vincent’s very apartment building and gets a chilling feeling of familiarity. And his DeJa’Vu is certainly warranted as Jerry Dandrige’s vampire sister Regine (a smoldering Julie Carmen) has come to exact revenge with her ghoulish entourage, the androgynous Belle (Russell Clark, who also choreographed Carmen’s performance art sequences), lupine shapeshifter Louie (Jon Gries, who also played the werewolf with nards in Monster Squad) and hulking, insect eating chauffeur Bozworth (genre favorite Brian Thompson). Regine’s plans are simple…turn Charley into one of the undead, murder those he loves and take over as host of Fright Night for good measure…then torture Charley for all eternity.
I have no idea why this sequel has been treated so badly over the years. It’s not quite as good as the first flick, but is actually a pretty solid follow-up and a good deal of fun. The film is directed by John Carpenter alumni Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III, Stephen King’s It) who co-wrote the script with Tim Metcalfe and Miguel Tejeda-Flores. Wallace delivers a good-looking film, having learned a lot about shot framing from Carpenter, and while it’s not quite the funhouse that the original chiller is, it mixes horror with humor well and has a number of fun/spooky scenes with plenty of action. The plot also works in giving us a second installment that isn’t forced and provides us with enough elements from Fright Nightto feel like a continuation, but also does it’s own thing. Regine is a known personality, recognized as a performance artist and she moves around out in the open, as when she takes over hosting duties on the Fright Night TV show. If the film falters a bit, it’s that it’s momentum slows down somewhat in the middle act as Regine continues to seduce Charley and Vincent is institutionalized for attacking Regine on the show’s set. The film does pick up for its final confrontation, though it is not as bombastic and fun as the first film’s. Overall, the movie seems to have a slightly lower budget and thus the action is a bit scaled down, but I think Wallace makes up for it with some very clever bits and by having some ghoulish fun with his premise and characters such as Regine’s thugs having a gruesome bowling night while she is off premiering on TV. The make-up FX can be a bit rubbery at times, but that adds some charm now and Brad Fiedel returns to score, so it feels like a Fright Night film. Not sure why all the disrespect from its labels.
The cast are having a good time, too. Ragsdale and McDowall pick up right where they left off in the original, but with Charley being a slightly more mature character three years later and Vincent seems to have developed a bit more of a backbone since he last battled bloodsuckers. The two actors seem to really enjoy working together and their on-screen chemistry is infectious. Lind makes a welcome addition to the team as adorable and smart Alex. In a turn of events, it is she who comes to Charley’s rescue and proves herself a resourceful and spunky heroine in true 80s fashion. I liked her better than Amanda Bearse’s whiny Amy. Julie Carmen is smoldering-ly sexy and conveys a definite lethal quality as Regine. It is completely believable she can seduce Charley…and those scenes are hot…despite his dealings with her kind and it is a little disappointing the actress wasn’t given an opportunity to put up a bigger fight in the scaled-down climax. As her eccentric undead thugs, Clarke (whose character is mute), Gries and Thompson all seem to be having a good time, especially the nice touch of Thompson’s Bozworth reciting the Latin genus of his insect meals before consumption. Creepy fun! A good cast who all get the tone of the material and their individual characters.
So, in conclusion, I like this sequel a lot and will never understand the terrible treatment it continues to get. It is not as good as the first film but is a worthy enough second go around and the cast is charming as always, as is the 80s nostalgia it now carries with it. It succeeds far more than it fails and despite a slow mid-section and a slightly less exciting ending, it is a solid sequel and left me wanting to see a third installment back when I first saw it and McDowall was still with us. This film is crying out for a Scream Factory special edition, but apparently the label who owns it (I believe it’s Lionsgate) won’t budge in allowing it (so I am told), or do anything with it on it’s own. With it’s cult following, I don’t see how a release wouldn’t do well. The film also stars Merritt Butrick (Kirk’s son in Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock) in one of his last film appearances before his AIDS related death in 1989.