BARE BONES: MOHAWK (2017)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

MOHAWK (2017)

Flick takes place in 1814 with America once again at war with the British and both sides trying to win the allegiance of the local Native American tribes. A British soldier (Eamon Farren) becomes personally involved with Mohawk woman Okwaho (Kaniehtiio Horn) and her lover Calvin (Justin Rain) while on just such a mission. When Calvin murders a group of American soldiers in their sleep, this brings the surviving platoon members out for revenge and they ruthlessly pursue the trio through the wilderness.

Film is directed by Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) from a script by he and Grady Hendrix and not only does he cast Native American actors in Native American roles, but audaciously paints the American soldiers clearly as the bad guys. Low budget film has a very raw feel to it, shot in Upstate New York and with minimal sets. The acting is a bit uneven at times, but the casting, costumes and settings give atmosphere to this very violent and brutal period flick. It has a deliberately methodical pace and there is a slight supernatural edge to it, especially in the last act. Add to that a very effective electronic score by Wojciech Golczewski and you have an interesting and effective little movie from Ted Geoghegan. Also stars horror film familiar face Noah Segan (Some Kind of Hate, Starry Eyes) and WWE Superstar Luke Harper under his real name of Jonathan Huber. Recommended for something a little different.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars
Advertisements

BARE BONES: WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

Dull and sometimes annoying romantic comedy has Noah (an awful Adam Devine) watching the love of his life Avery (Alexandra Daddario) become engaged to another man (Robbie Amell). He somehow uses a photo-booth he and Avery used on the Halloween night they first met and travels back in time three years to that day, determined not to end up being just the best friend this time.

This is a terrible romantic comedy that sadly starts out OK till we once again use both the Groundhog Day and Big plot devices of both someone going back in time and reliving a fateful day over and over to try to get things right. None of it done cleverly like in Happy Death Day. It’s a simply unimaginative script by Miracle Jones, whose writing is anything but, lamely directed by Ari Sandel, who did much better helming The Duff . It’s monotonous and tedious to watch Noah keep going back to that day and trying more and more ludicrous ways to win Avery, all the while screwing things up even worse. Then two thirds of the way in, he switches his attention to Avery’s gal pal Carrie (Shelly Hennig). WHAT? This is a terribly written and generic rom-com that has no point or purpose and uses a now time worn plot device in the most unimaginative way possible. Add to that a truly smug and grating performance by lead Devine and there is little to no reason to waste time on this flick. At least Daddario’s cute and perky thing saved her dignity in this mess.

-MonsterZero NJ

Humerus-Bone1 

bars

BARE BONES: MARROWBONE (2017)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

MARROWBONE (2017)

Film takes place in the late 60s and finds an ailing mother (Nicola Harrison) traveling, with her four children, to the United States to her ancestral home to escape her husband. When the mother dies, eldest son Jack (George MacKay) decides to hide her death till he turns twenty-one and can take custody of his three siblings (Matthew Stagg, Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth). Now alone in the house, the four must deal with something that dwells in the abandoned home with them…is it something supernatural, or a dark secret that has taken a life of it’s own.

Written and directed by Sergio G. Sánchez this is an atmospheric mystery/thriller in the spirit of flicks like The Others and The Orphanage. We know something isn’t right in the house as the kids cover up mirrors and little Sam (Stagg) is convinced it is the ghost of their father, a cruel man who they say is now dead. We also have seen enough flicks like this to have our own suspicions, as to who or what lurks in the bricked-up attic. Once the credits role and the secrets are revealed, it is effective, though we have already figured out parts of it and aren’t exactly surprised at the rest. The very ending itself also doesn’t quite sit well, either, as we question a certain character’s choices. An atmospheric mystery, though one that doesn’t quite takes as by surprise as we would have liked and does leave some questions as it concludes. Also stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) as pretty neighbor, Allie, who takes in interest in Jack.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DRACULA’S DOG (1977)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

DRACULA’S DOG (1977)

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

Also known as Zoltan: Hound of Dracula and based on the book Hounds of Dracula by Ken Johnson, this 1977 horror features the legendary vampire’s mutt trying to recreate his master. After being accidentally revived by Romanian soldiers excavating a tomb, Dracula’s manservant Veidt Smit (Reggie Nalder) and his dog Zoltan, set off to America to find Michael Drake (Michael Pataki) who is the last surviving member of Dracula’s bloodline. Once they find him, they plan to turn him into a bloodsucker and their new master. In hot pursuit is Van Helsing-like Inspector Vaclav Branco (José Ferrer) who plans to stop them and their fiendish plot.

Canine-centric vampire flick is written by Frank Ray Perilli, based on Johnson’s book and directed by Albert Band, father of Full Moon Studio’s Charles Band. It’s a silly movie for sure, though played very straight and if there is anything that actually works here it’s that Zoltan and his pack of vampire dogs are kinda fierce and spooky thanks to trainer Karl Miller. There are some fun goof-ups, along the way, like the opening scene that takes place in Romania, with the Romanian army, where a military jeep clearly says “U.S. Navy” on the hood. It’s low budget is no better illustrated than by the fact that it mostly takes place outdoors during a Drake family camping trip, reducing the need for sets. The make-up and gore FX are by Stan Winston, so at least they are done well and director Band does give the silly proceedings a bit of atmosphere. The fact that it’s a film about Dracula’s dog and is taken as seriously as it is, at the very least gives it’s makers some audacity points.

As for the cast, the doberman playing Zoltan is definitely the standout. He is a spooky pooch. Reggie Nalder (Salem’s Lot) is creepy as Smit, but Nalder always did nail creepy in his performances. Pataki plays it straight as the clueless last heir to Dracula’s coffin and José Ferrer takes the material very seriously as the valiant Inspector Branco. The supporting players are a mixed bag and the other dogs in the film prove the most effective actors in their roles.

This is a silly flick, though taken very seriously by the cast and crew. It makes it all the more watchable, but it still is about Dracula’s best friend, after all. There is some decent make-up and gore courtesy of a young Stan Winston and it does have some atmosphere to go along with the unintentional chuckles. Worth a look. Only in the 70s, folks!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 hounds of Dracula.

bars

REVIEW: BLACK PANTHER (2018)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

BLACK PANTHER (2018)

Black Panther is the latest edition to the MCU and once again Marvel comes up with a way to keep this series fresh after ten years and eighteen films. The movie opens with a brief introduction to the history of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells of the fateful meteorite landing which introduced the miracle metal vibranium to the land, which transformed Wakanda into a technically advanced civilization. They’ve long kept hidden their technology from the world, though, to prevent ill use of their weaponry. Enter the newly crowned King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who is also The Black Panther, Wakanda’s protector as well as ruler. While still mourning the death of his father, T’Challa finds out a hard truth about the death of his uncle and of a cousin he didn’t know he had…a cousin known as the mercenary Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who wants to take the throne and use Wakanda’s arms technology to start a global revolution.

This sometimes stunning film is directed by Ryan Coogler from a script by he and Joe Robert Cole. Coogler has a wonderfully sumptuous visual eye and making full use of African cultural influence turns this into a film worth seeing for the sights alone. His script with Cole takes things deeper than that with a story rich in depth, not only in it’s cultural surroundings but in the political, racial and social issues effecting it’s African characters and the continent’s descendants around the world. It weaves this context into it’s action/adventure story-line very well, so it’s never preaching, but the issues are boldly there. It represents those who have a more aggressive way of dealing with these issues in it’s antagonist N’Jadaka / Killmonger and those who see a more peaceful solution in it’s hero T’Challa. It also doesn’t shy away from the fact that these differences can pit brother against brother, too. Black Panther is still also very much a superhero movie and we gets some spectacular action, some amazing gadgets and even a James Bond-ish trip to South Korea, where T’Challa meets old friend Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and old foe Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) who is aligned with Killmonger. Panther is given some wonderful support in his sister Suri (Letitia Wright) who is technology savvy and is the “Q” to T’Challa’s Bond. There is king’s bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira) who is Wakanda’s greatest warrior, elder Zuri (Forest Whitaker) and his proud and strong mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett). The SPFX are amazing, there is a wonderfully African infused soundtrack by Ludwig Göransson and some beautifully realized dream sequences that add even more depth to a film that has spirit and heart as well as action.

Simply put this movie also has a great cast. Boseman is a perfect fit for a character that has to be ruler, hero and diplomat, as well as, simply a man. He is charming, handsome and gives the heavily burdened T’Challa a sense of humor and warmth as well. Michael B. Jordan is solid as his vengeful cousin known as Killmonger. Jordan is usually in the role of hero or nice guy and here he shows he can be a bad-ass too. N’Jadaka is a street smart killer raised in America and he brings that urban edge to his warrior with a mission. His purpose may have a bit of a noble center, but it’s his methods and ruthless execution of them are what make him a villain. Serkis is fun as Klaue, following-up his amusing part in Age of Ultron and it’s too bad his part here is almost as small. He’s a fun and eccentric bad guy. Letitia Wright is cute and energetic as T’Challa’s genius sister Suri and Danai Gurira is a blast as warrior woman, Okoye. She’s a powerhouse and deserves her own movie. Rounding out are strong characterizations from Freeman as Ross, Angela Bassett as Ramonda and Forest Whitaker as the noble Zuri. There is also a cool post credits cameo I won’t spoil.

Once again Marvel has delivered a splendid entertainment that is at once a story with it’s own heart, soul and purpose and yet fits well into the MCU game plan. There are political and racial issues weaved into T’Challa’s first solo flick and it is as energetic and exciting as it is thought provoking. Ryan Coogler is a director who has not only a brilliant visual style but can make popcorn entertainment that is also food for thought. A delightfully entertaining movie with some well appreciated heart and depth. As always, stay through the entire credits for two extra scenes.

-MonsterZero NJ

rated 3 and 1/2 black panthers.

 

bars

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEB. 16-18

MZNJ_New_WBO

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. “Black Panther” $192 Million

2. “Peter Rabbit” $17.25 Million

3. “Fifty Shades Freed’ $16.9 Million

4. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” $7.9 Million

5. “The 15:17 to Paris” $7.7 Million

6. “The Greatest Showman” $5.1 Million

7. “Early Man” $3.1 Million

8. “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” $2.5 Million

9. “Winchester” $2.2 Million

 

10. “Samson” $1.9 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

bars

 

BARE BONES: A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

Decided to take this old review out of mothballs and reprint it here. Was I the only person to have fun with this flick?-MZNJ

A Good Day To Die Hard has a lot of problems. The story is convoluted, the villains are weak and when the action stops there isn’t enough strong drama to keep us interested. Thankfully, the action rarely stops and it is quite amusingly over the top. This entry has John McClane (Bruce Willis) traveling to Moscow to try to see his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney) who has been arrested for murder. But what McClane doesn’t know is that Jack is a CIA agent and involved in a mission to bust a Russian millionaire (Sebastian Koch), with ties to terrorism, out of jail to get the 411 on his partner…who also has his own plans to bust him out of jail. It’s no secret that McClane gets in the middle of things and once again becomes the fly in the ointment of all this Russian cloak and dagger. The result is the destruction of half of Moscow and what’s left of Chernobyl to boot.

The story by Skip Woods is as much of a mess as it sounds, but I still had a blast watching the father and son duo wreck the former Soviet Union to stop the bad guys. As directed by John Moore, the action scenes are ridiculously over the top and it’s still fun to watch Willis kick butt, even though his one-liners are getting tired and he gives you the impression that so is he of all this nonsense. How many times CAN one man get into so much trouble unintentionally? At least it’s part of James Bond’s job. It’s the stuff between the action that has us looking at our watches, as the dialog is weak and I can’t understand how a guy who is such a kick-ass hero can be hated so much by his kids. If my dad whacked terrorists on a regular basis and constantly blew stuff up, I’d probably think he was pretty cool. The villains never seem threatening enough to make us believe they stand a chance against the McClane family. I still enjoyed seeing them try only to get their asses handed to them by Willis and Courtney, who could have a future as an action star. If there is a Die Hard 6, I hope they give daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a catsuit and a gun to join in the fun. Why not? Go in with moderate expectations and turn off the brain and enjoy the fireworks, because that’s basically what this movie has to offer and on that level it can be a fun matinee if you just don’t look for another classic like the original installment.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S TOP FAN-BOY MOVIE FANTASY VALENTINE’S!

Would we spend Valentine’s Day ❤ with Doomsday’s Eden Sinclair…even if it kills us…and it might.

MONSTERZERO NJ’S TOP FAN-BOY MOVIE FANTASY VALENTINE’S!

It’s THAT day again and I thought I’d have some fun with it this year. As film lovers we all have our favorite type of movie cutie and if you are single on this annoying holiday, shed no tears! Pull up a chair and fire up the DVD/Blu-Ray player and spend the day with one (or more) of these favorite type of fan-boy…or fan-girl?…movie fantasy Valentines! (Remember folks, this is ALL in fun!)

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE THRONE OF FIRE (1983)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

THE THRONE OF FIRE (1983)

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

Italian sword and sorcery flick has The Devil’s messenger, Belial (Harrison Muller) demanding witch, Azira (Beni Cardoso) bear him a child. He takes her, and after a thunder and lightening filled birth sequence, she bares him a cheesy rubber creature. The baby grows up into the powerful…and human looking…warlord, Morak (also Muller) whose mission is to kill the king and take his throne. It’s not just any throne, however, it is the Throne of Fire and only a rightful ruler may sit on it. Anyone else will be incinerated. To be worthy, he must marry the king’s daughter, the very reluctant Princess Valkari (Sabrina Siani) during a solar eclipse. Standing in his way is the warrior Siegfried (Pietro Torrisi, billed as Peter McCoy) who vows to free the princess and slay Morak.

In the 80s, the Italian cinema took advantage of any trend and cranked out Escape From N.Y. rip-offs, Road Warrior rip-offs, dozens of zombie films after Dawn of the Dead…and numerous Conan imitations, this being one. Throne…or Il trono di fuoco in it’s original Italianis directed by Franco Prosperi from a script by Nino Marino and is a cheesy, fun movie despite the serious tone. The sets look like they are from an episode of Star Trek, the fight scenes are badly choreographed and the dialogue, terrible and obviously dubbed…just listen to Morak happily reassuring his mom that he will slay women and children to get to the throne. Good times! Hero Siegfried is a muscular, bare-chested champion direct out of the Conan/Hercules clone catalogue and villain Morak’s army of thugs always attack him one at a time. We also get sexy, blonde, scantily-clad warrior princess Valkari, as played by Sabrina Siani, who seemed to be the Italian cinema’s go-to barbarian chick in the 80s. There is sorcery along with all the swordplay, including a spooky visit to the aptly named Well of Madness and various spells, both good and bad. The film is an amusing series of pitiful escapes and recaptures, taking place in and around the same castle, till the final confrontation which begs the question that if Morak could place the defiant Valkari under his spell, why did he wait till the end of the movie to do it? Who cares!…as long as we get to see people on the royal hot seat go up in flames every now and then. Wooden acting and wooden swords, it’s all a lot of cheesy fun with equally cheesy FX to go along with it.

Far from a classic…or even a good movie…Throne of Fire is a lot of “so bad it’s good” fun with swords and sorcery, muscles and maidens, all done with low budget ineptitude, but with plenty of dubbed charm. If nothing else, we have our loincloth wearing hero and animal-skin bikini clad heroine to provide eye candy, depending on your barbarian babe preference.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 warrior princesses before Xena made them cool.

 

bars

HORROR TV YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: WOLF CREEK season 2 (2017)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

WOLF CREEK season 2 (2017)

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

Wolf Creek is a cult classic 2005 Australian horror from writer/director Greg McLean that introduced the world to homicidal Outback redneck Mick Taylor (John Jarratt). The film gained notoriety, but took till 2013 to produce a sequel and now, has brought us two seasons of an episodic web show. This second season finds a group of people on an Outback safari tour crossing paths with the Down Under psychopath. Mick hijacks the tour bus into the middle of nowhere and begins to hunt and slaughter it’s occupants as they fight to survive the harsh wilderness.

Second season is again six episodes with Wolf Creek creator Greg McLean once more returning to direct episodes and produce. The series continues to follow the dark, gritty, but more grounded tone of the original film, which made it so effective. Like the first season, it does feel a bit like a movie plot stretched out over five hours, but it manages it’s time well enough to never feel boring or repetitive. The added time of a mini-series let’s us get to know Mick’s potential victims very well, so they are more than just serial killer fodder. The show can be violent and brutal at times, but never goes over the top or gets campy. Mick is as intimidating as ever, with his off-color vulgarity and deranged sense of humor just making him even more disturbing. Where the first season was a story or retribution and revenge, this one is a tale of survival, as Mick strands the tourists in the middle of nowhere setting them against the elements and after a while, each other. Not to mention he’s constantly stalking them and anyone that comes in contact with them. As such, there are some innocents caught in the crossfire, like some Aborigine tribesman and a family living in an abandoned mining complex. It’s a bloody and effective journey till the inevitable showdown back at Mick’s lair, which has a few surprises waiting for us.

The cast are all good and once again we get an assortment of offbeat characters, like the strong-willed Rebecca (Tess Haubrich), criminal psychologist Brian (Matt Price), tattooed lesbian Kelly (Laura Wheelwright) and German tourists Oskar (Julian Pulvermacher) and Nina (Felicity Price). John Jarratt still plays Mick Taylor with the usual viciousness, intensity and gusto. He can play this role in his sleep at this point, but most certainly doesn’t as the character still disturbs us intensely.

In conclusion, the second season maintained the quality of the first season and gave us a different story with all new characters aside from Mick. Sure, it still feels like a movie plot stretched out over a longer running time, but managed it’s time a bit better, so less sequences felt like filler. It was intense at times and bloody and there was some nice suspense as Mick methodically thins the heard. Serial killer Mick Taylor hasn’t warn out his welcome yet and if there is a season three…and I won’t spoil if this season leaves us with that possibility…as Mick would say, I reckon I’d have to tune in!

Wolf Creek: The Series is available on the streaming service Stan.

EPISODE LIST

  1. Journey – directed by Greg McLean and written by Nick Parsons
  2. Outback – directed by Greg McLean and written by Shanti Gudgeon
  3. Chase – directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith and written by Nick Parsons
  4. Singing – directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith and written by Mark Dapin & Greg Haddrick
  5. Shelter – directed by Geoff Bennett and written by Shanti Gudgeon
  6. Return – directed by Geoff Bennett and written by Mark Dapin & Greg Haddrick

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated a solid 3 Micks.
wolf creek rating

 

 

bars