BARE BONES: THE NIGHT WATCHMEN (2017)

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THE NIGHT WATCHMEN (2017)

When world famous Blimpo The Clown (Gary Peebles) dies of a mysterious illness in Romania, his body is shipped home and to the wrong building. When his coffin is opened, it’s discovered that he was bitten by a vampire and is now one of the undead himself. Unleashed in the building, he starts to turn the late-working employees into bloodsuckers. Now it’s up to three incompetent night watchmen (Kevin Jiggetts, Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca), their new rookie (Max Gray Wilbur) and a cute and feisty employee (Kara Luiz) to stop the blood-craving clown and his minions.

Horror/comedy is directed by Mitchell Altieri (who directed The Hamiltons and The Thompsons with his “Butcher Brothers” collaborator Phil Flores) from a script by stars DeLuca and Arnold and Jamie Nash (Exists, Altered). It’s an amusing 80 minutes that may not always hit the mark, but is still goofy fun. There is a lot of blood spattered along with the occasional laughs and the cast do seem like they are having a good time. Sexy, girl-next-door Kara Luiz especially shows an endearing screen presence as the spunky, smart-ass turned vampire slayer, Karen. Would like to see her do more final girl work. Overall, it is an amusing and gory time on the couch and who can pass up vampire clowns? Also features veteran actor James Remar as a creepy boss and cult favorite scream queen Tiffany Shepis as an ill-fated employee.
-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: LOWLIFE (2017)

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LOWLIFE (2017)

Almost 25 years later and filmmakers are still trying to recreate the magic of Quentin Tarantino’s now classic Pulp Fiction. This latest attempt takes place on the mean streets of Southern L.A. where sleazy crime boss Teddy “Bear” Haynes (Mark Burnham) runs an illegal organ harvesting business beneath his taco restaurant. He uses a Mexican wrestler “El Monstro” (Ricardo Adam Zarante) as his enforcer. El Monstro’s girlfriend…and Haynes adopted daughter…Kaylee (Santana Dempsey) is pregnant and is the latest target for Haynes’ business when her real mother Crystal (Nicki Michaeaux) pleads with him for a kidney for Kaylee’s dying father, Dan (King Orba), unknowing her long given away daughter is the perfect match. When she finds out, she teams with El Monstro to take Haynes down and bloody hi-jinx ensue…still with me?

Flick is directed by Ryan Prows with script and story by he and at least four other people. It’s a fairly dull movie with it’s attempts at dry, hip humor falling mostly flat and director Prows not having nearly enough style to evoke QT’s most famous work. There is graphic violence, organ removal and the film goes back and forth in time as Pulp Fiction did, but isn’t anywhere near as fun. The cast are all fine, but the flick is just never really that interesting or entertaining and is just too obvious in it’s wannabe goals. Even at slightly over 90 minutes it was tedious to sit through this dull nonsense. El Monstro was amusing and deserved a better movie to be in.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: DEMON HOUSE (2018)

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DEMON HOUSE (2018)

Demon House is a documentary from paranormal investigator Zak Bagans (Ghost Adventures) about a house in Gary, Indiana that is described by some as a portal to hell. After numerous paranormal incidents allegedly occurring there, Bagans actually bought the house himself and documented his time as the new owner. What we get are interviews with some involved, including police, relatives…actual haunting participants refused to be interviewed…and Bagans’ own crew. There are some cheesy recreations of supposed events and we get footage of Bagans and crew’s time in the house and the effect it supposedly has on them. Some of it is a bit spooky, but a lot of it feels a bit forced and it’s authenticity questionable. You’d think a house renown for demonic activity would put on more of a show when it’s on camera. Overall, it’s a somewhat entertaining documentary, especially the last night when Bagans has himself boarded up inside, all alone. There is some spooky stuff, but as a complete package, this documentary just doesn’t have us quite convinced that this isn’t more hype than haunt.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: JOSIE (2017)

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JOSIE (2017)

Flick finds the world of reclusive former prison guard Hank (Dylan McDermott) turned a bit askew with the arrival of sexy tattooed teen Josie (Sophie Turner) at the school where he is a security guard. Josie uses her charms to get Hank’s attention, as well as, the attention of local teen delinquent, Marcus (Jack Kilmer). The two men already don’t like each other and sexy Josie may have more than just flirtation in mind.

OK thriller is directed by Eric England (Madison County, Contracted)  from a fairly predictable script by Anthony Ragnone II. The cast all perform well, especially Game of Thrones’ Turner, who is quite effective as a femme fatale. It’s just that we can see where this is headed almost from the start. When Hank, early on, confides in Josie about his past, we know it’s got to be connected to her appearance and we’re not wrong. It comes to the violent…though still unsettling…conclusion that we also know is coming and the big reveal looses all it’s impact because we have already figured it out long before Hank. Watchable to see Turner strut her stuff as a bad girl, but if you think you’ve figured it out early on…you have.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017)

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JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017)

Sequel/reboot to the 1995 book based flick finds four teens, nerd Spencer (Alex Wolff), jock “Fridge” (Ser’Darius Blain), shy girl Martha (Morgan Turner) and popular girl Bethany (Madison Iseman from Tales of Halloween) together at detention. Their task is to clean up the school basement where they find an old video game called Jumanji. They activate the game and magically get sucked into it’s world. Now in the fictional jungle land, they take on the appearance of their video game characters, with Spencer becoming adventurer Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge becoming his sidekick Mouse (Kevin Hart), Martha becoming ass-kicker Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and Bethany becoming male scientist Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black). The four must save Jumanji from the villainous Russel Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale), if they ever are to return home.

Film is directed by Jake Kasdan from a script by four writers and despite the scribe overload, is a harmless and fun flick. The action comes fast and furious, the cast is very charming and works well together and there are some very funny moments. The film pays tribute nicely to the 1995 Robin Williams flick and mixes the sentimentality with the more fun elements very nicely. The FX are top notch and being set in a video game, it has an excuse for some very over-the-top situations and even has fun with gamer tropes such as our leads having only three lives which they must guard preciously if they are to return home. Sure it has a sappy finale that wraps everything up in a nice little bow, but with this kind of flick, that’s kind of expected. It’s not perfect. It can be very predictable and not all of the jokes/bits work, but it’s still an entertaining time on the couch with Johnson, Hart, Gillan and Black having a fun chemistry together, that helps smooth over some of the bumps.
-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: 7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB (2018)

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7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB (2018)

Chinese/Australian action adventure is also known as Guardians of the Tomb and Nest and is a dull movie that is basically Indiana Jones meets any random SYFY nature run amok flick. Story finds intrepid adventurer Luke (Wu Chun) disappearing while searching for an ancient elixir of eternal life in a giant underground tomb in China. His scheming employer Mason (Kelsey Grammer) convinces Luke’s sister Jia (Li Bingbing) to join the rescue team to be sent into the tomb to find him. What they do find is that the tomb is filled with a swarm of vicious and highly poisonous spiders and that Kelsey Grammer and producer/star Li Bingbing must have really needed rent money.

Inept adventure is directed by Kimble Rendall from a really bad script by he and Paul Staheli. The film seems made up as it goes along and just spins a web of clichés, almost as fast as our cheesy CGI spiders can kill supporting characters with their lethal venom. The spiders’ many abilities seem to be created simply to serve the purpose of a specific scene and director Rendall gets some really bad performances out of his cast, including Grammer and his leading lady, who have been far better in other projects. The FX are cheesy, the dialog awful, the sets are right out of any low budget Indiana Jones rip-off and even Kellan Lutz looks like he’d rather be someplace else. The idea of gorgeous Li Bingbing as an Asian Lara Croft is tantalizing and this flick ruins even that. A waste of time.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: MOHAWK (2017)

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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

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BARE BONES: WHEN WE FIRST MET (2018)

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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

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BARE BONES: MARROWBONE (2017)

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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

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

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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

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