BARE BONES: 47 METERS DOWN-UNCAGED (2019)

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47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED (2019)

Sequel to the fun Mandy Moore vs sharks epic, 47 Meters Down is basically Jaws meets The Descent and takes place in Yucatán, Mexico. A group of four pretty girls, Mia (Sophie Nélisse), Sasha (Corinne Foxx, daughter of Jamie Foxx), Alexa (Brianne Tju) and Nicole (Sly’s daughter, Sistine Stallone) decide to forgo the boat tour they are supposed to be on and go scuba diving in a flooded underground Mayan temple Mia’s dad (John Corbett) is exploring. Once the four get inside, they become trapped and are pursued by the blind, albino great white sharks that live inside the temple catacombs.

Directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, Strangers: Prey at Night) from a script he co-wrote with Ernest Riera, it’s a silly but fun sequel. Uncaged takes itself just serious enough and plays a lot like Neil Marshall’s chiller with our scantily clad heroines using both silence and sound to evade the great whites, who are blind due to living in darkness all this time. It’s entertaining nonsense as our ladies seek to escape when accidentally sealed in and are running out of air. The leading ladies are charming, pretty and likable enough, so we don’t especially want to see them become shark food and the flick does try to keep us in suspense as to if and when any of our adorable ladies will become dinner. This is a shark flick after all and the movie does provide some gruesome chow downs. Other divers are present to serve as food for our predators and one character appears and then is eaten so fast, there is no question as to why they were even there, except for the obvious reason of a great white happy meal. There are also some amusing conveniences, too, as characters who can be of any assistance in the girl’s escape are devoured at just the right crucial moments. Not as gripping as the surprisingly solid thriller the first flick was, but still mindless entertainment if you let it be and the last act is pretty much non-stop action. Silly and cliché, but a fun time.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: SPIDERHOLE (2009)

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SPIDERHOLE (2009)

Spiderhole is a British horror thriller about a group of four young squatters who break into an abandoned house to live in. Unfortunately for them, there is already an occupant and he doesn’t want them to leave…ever.

Spiderhole is technically well made, but it’s nothing new, nor is it done in a way to make it fresh. The four leads are dull and not particularly endearing or likable, so right there we have no emotional investment to care about their well being, which is a common mistake in horror films these days. When the film is not following them around the maze-like house, it’s being a routine torture show as the creepy plastic wearing occupant one by one captures them for some very nasty surgery. We never get to know much about this sick surgeon, not enough to give him the kind of presence or threat he needed to be effective. In fact we never really feel any dread or suspense despite the fact that he is always lurking about. Aside from our emotional detachment to the leads, the film never builds any atmosphere or a sense of danger with it’s by-the-numbers presentation of it’s story. Director and writer Daniel Simpson has a very point and shoot style that creates none of the mood this film needed to get past it’s tired plot. As a result, Spiderhole is an empty hole.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR (2019)

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GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR (2019)

Flick has Don Koch (Phil Brooks, a.k.a. former WWE Superstar CM Punk) trying to right past wrongs for his pregnant wife, Liz (Trieste Kelly Dunn) by buying an old house and renovating it. The house has a history, though, and there were acts committed in the former brothel that may come back to haunt Don and his family…literally.

Haunted house horror is effectively directed by Travis Stevens from a script and story by he, Paul Johnstone and Ben Parker. The flick is entertaining, though a bit uneven, which does hold it back a little. There are some nice subtle, spooky touches early on in the proceedings, some good gore and some amusingly bonkers stuff here and there that achieve more Evil Dead II level supernatural hi-jinx. There are also stretches that are a bit dull, the tone is a little uneven and it’s hard to feel concerned or sorry…not that we’re supposed to…for Don when he is such a jerk. Don cheats on his wife, he deceived his clients, he’s a liar, a drinker and just seems like a bit of an all around a-hole in general. It’s like he’s getting what’s coming to him, especially when dealing with the sexy, mysterious and troublesome Sarah (Sarah Brooks). As such, it’s hard to sympathize and be afraid for a guy meeting the karma train head on. By centering the film on an unlikable character, you get more apathy than empathy from your audience, whether his comeuppance is the point or not. The flick does switch focus to his far more likable wife in the last act and douche Don seems to disappear for quite some time, while his pregnant spouse then deals with the horrors of the house. The sudden switch of focus is s a little off-putting, but we do like and fear for Liz far more and it makes for a very effective last act.

On a production level, the flick looks great and the FX well rendered. Stevens also makes great use of the old house location. The cast are fine with Brooks doing a good job in a role that is often a one man (and dog) show at times and pretty Trieste Kelly Dunn doing strong work when she shows up in the last act and the house reveals all. Sarah Brooks (no relation to Phil) is both sexy and spooky as Sarah, Karen Woditsch is good as insightful neighbor Ellie and Travis Delgado is effective as Don’s fed-up friend Milo.

Overall, flick is definitely worth a watch. A few things hold it back from firing on all cylinders, but it is atmospheric, spooky and can be both effectively subtle and delightfully over-the-top when it needs to be. There is some good gore, a few novel twists added to the haunted house tropes and the cast are all solid. Travis Stevens could be a filmmaker to keep an eye on.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) marbles.

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 10/31 PART II (2019)

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10/31 PART II (2019)

Sequel to the indie Halloween set anthology flick 10/31 once again presents a horror movie marathon hosted by Malvolia, the Queen of Screams (Jennifer Nangle). It tells five tales, with some fun trailers this time, by a host of new indie filmmakers, all taking place on Halloween.

After opening with some amusing trailers, the best being Treaters from Zane Hershberger, and then an introduction by Malvolia, the show begins. We start out with A Samhain Liturgy written and directed by Tory van Buskirk. It’s a classic tale of a babysitter (Rhema Srihartiti) encountering peril and evil on Halloween night. The tale is a mash-up of more than one classic horror scenario, has some very disturbing moments and follows the classic tropes with a few twists. It can be gruesome at times and the make-up FX are well rendered. Lead Rhema Srihartiti makes a nice heroine as teen babysitter Holly and Devin Douglas, a very creepy kid as Tommy.

Second story is Dead Lift from director Stephen Wolfe. Story finds down on his luck rideshare driver Jeremy (Tim Robinson) picking up a very ominous passenger (William McCarthy). The segment is spooky and atmospheric, but also a bit talky and feels like it wears out it’s welcome long before it’s over. Dead Lift also stars Ashley Nief as Jeremy’s long suffering girlfriend Whitney. Does score points for trying to do something a little different and having a bit of a Phantasm vibe in spots.

Next up is the very comical and cheesy Apache Hatchet Massacre II from director Max Groah. Basically a story of a Halloween party being held in a cabin on an ancient Native American burial ground. There’s a lot of overacting and the segment comes across as very cheap looking and just plain silly. It doesn’t feel like it fits in with the rest of the stories, which take a more serious approach and look far better produced. It simply comes across as filler. Thankfully, AHM II is mercifully short.

Fourth story is Overkill from writer, director Drew Marvick and is an amusing tale of two serial killers (Aaron Strong and David E. McMahon) fighting over the same shapely babysitter (Anastasia Elfman) on Halloween night. Segment is amusing and features some good gore, but is another segment that seems like it’s a bit long for it’s one sentence scenario. On the plus side, the segment does feature some nice nudity from shapely Lauren Fogle (as “Hot Chick”), which is a rarity for this anthology series.

Fifth and final tale finds Tory van Buskirk back writing and in the director’s chair for Sister Mary, a story of a sexy nun with a dark and bloody secret. It’s an effective segment with some disturbing moments, plenty of blood and lead London Grace does a really good job as the disturbed, conflicted, tormented…and possibly haunted?…Mary.

Overall, this was another fun and spooky anthology from this indie franchise, featuring a different set of directors than the first flick. Like the original 10/31, the stories are a bit uneven, but the makers show potential and most stories have Halloween spirit 🎃 along with some great electronic scores from Rocky Gray! 10/31 Part II is available to stream on Amazon Prime!

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack-o-lanterns.

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Sorry, this is as close to a trailer as I could find!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TRICK (2019)

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TRICK (2019)

In 2015 at a Halloween party in the town of Benton, N.Y., Patrick Weaver (Thom Niemann) or “Trick” goes crazy, killing five of his high school classmates and injuring several others, until stopped by pretty schoolmate Cheryl (Kristina Reyes). At the hospital, Trick makes a daring escape attempt while being questioned by Det. Mike Denver (Omar Epps) and Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair). He’s shot several times, falls out a second story window and wanders off collapsing into a nearby river. He’s presumed dead, but the body is never found and each Halloween after, a masked killer shows up in a nearby town on the river and kills a number of people before vanishing. As Trick starts to become famous as an internet Halloween boogeyman, Denver vows to hunt him down and stop him. With evidence leading to Trick’s return to Benton for Halloween 2019, Denver, Sheriff Jayne and Cheryl prepare to meet the killer head on.

Trick is written by My Bloody Valentine 2009 and Drive Angry duo Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier and directed by Lussier. The two were once involved with an official Halloween sequel that never got made and maybe this is the result of that disappointment. And Trick is a bit of a disappointment, as it is kind of a mixed bag of Halloween candy. The script has a number of plot holes and while most horror flicks do, these are a bit jarring, such as why no one in school remembers what Patrick Weaver looked like. It’s a weak contrivance so no one recognizes him when he’s among them and to try to add an air of mystery to him. Lussier directs this flick very by-the-numbers, too and the first hour of the flick seems rushed and devoid of any atmosphere as the story tries to quickly establish Trick as the new boogeyman of All Hallow’s Eve. In fact, it tries way too hard and that forced approach doesn’t make Trick click. It follows the formula a bit too closely and thus seems more like a copy of Carpenter’s classic, early on, than a sincere effort. Things do settle down and Lussier does start to generate some tension and atmosphere once Halloween and Trick arrive in Benton, especially in a scene set in a haunted maze attraction. The last act goes a bit off the rails as the writers try to add a few twists during it’s hospital set conclusion and it takes the flick in a bit of a different direction, which may divide viewers as to whether it works or not. There is some really good gore along the way, though the film looses some points for some awful CGI blood for gunshot hits. The upstate New York settings were a refreshing change from the usual small Midwestern town and it’s too bad they couldn’t have infused the film with more of the Halloween spirit that the upstate New York area has this time of year. It’s a little flat in that department. Again, it tries too hard. Trick’s initial double-sided pumpkin mask and freaky knife are kinda cool, but the new Michael Myers, he sadly is not.

Cast is Good. Omar Epps actually does very well in the Dr. Loomis by way of Fox Mulder role. A veteran detective who is forced into retirement due to his obsession with Trick. Ellen Adair is Scully to Epps’ Mulder as the town sheriff that refuses, at first, to believe Trick is still alive and that this is anything more than a copycat killer. Kristina Reyes makes for a really solid heroine/final girl and it’s too bad it takes the film so long to focus on her. She’s strong, resilient and the actress has an endearing screen charm. Rounding out are supporting roles from Scream’s Jamie Kennedy as a doctor at the town hospital and the legendary Tom Atkins (Halloween III) as a diner owner.

Overall, Not sure what happened, as My Bloody Valentine 2009 is gory, intense and fun, while Drive Angry is simply an all-out hoot. This flick could have used more of those movies’ intensity and over-the-top fun. Trick is not the new Halloween classic one hoped for, though is not a completely smashed pumpkin. It’s attempts to create a new horror icon are rushed and forced, though once Halloween night hits, Trick is an effective killer and there is some really gruesome carnage. The film follows the formula possibly too closely to start, then veers off in a different direction in it’s climactic scenes that may, or may not, work depending on the viewer. There are some bigger than usual plot holes, though does have it’s moments. A bit of a disappointment from a duo who have made some bloody fun flicks, but certainly not the worst Halloween set horror out there. Might be the type of flick that grows on one with repeat viewings during the spooky season.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) Trick masks.

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE FURIES (2019)

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THE FURIES (2019)

The Furies is a derivative, but intense horror flick that is basically Battle Royale meets…well, pick any slasher. After having an argument with her friend Maddie (Ebony Vagulans), Kayla (Airlie Dodds) and Maddie are kidnapped. Kayla wakes up in a box in the middle of some remote woods and soon finds some very disturbing facts. First of all, she’s not the only woman abducted and deposited here, second, they are also being hunted by a group of armed, masked killers. Now the meek Kayla must learn to fight for her life, as she searches for Maddie, all the while trying to survive her relentless pursuers.

Tony D’Aquino writes and directs this Australian mash-up of flicks we’ve seen before, but does so well. The film can be intense at times and the attack/fight sequences can be quite brutal and vicious. There is a lot of very well rendered gore, as body parts and blood on both sides are spilled quite frequently. There are some clever additions to the ideas D’Aquino has borrowed, such as each girl…or “beauty”…has a corresponding killer…or “beast”. When a beauty is killed, her corresponding beast’s head explodes, literally. This sets up an interesting angle as beasts must protect their corresponding beauties to survive and beauties must protect their beasts to protect them from the other killers. This sets beast against beast and beauty against beauty at times. It changes the game up a bit. We don’t know much about who or what has set this game of horrors up. We see brief glimpses of a surgical procedure as devices are attached to the participants eyes, so whoever’s watching can see it from a POV perspective. We also get a dark glimpse of some sort of control room. It is only in the last scenes where we get some of the answers to our questions, though the movie looses some momentum when the film switches gears for the reveals…and we’ve seen that all before as well. The killers are effective, although they are simply large men in grotesque masks with sharp objects and they never speak. Are they kidnapped maniacs, or something? Who knows? The girls are alright, but with all the running and carnage, we don’t get to learn too much about them before they are killer fodder. The small cast are all fine with Airlie Dodds making a decent final girl as Kayla, with Linda Ngo as Rose being the only other girl getting any significant screen time. The real star here is Larry Van Duynhoven, whose prosthetic make-up and gore are a sight to behold, even to the most jaded horror fan.

Overall, this flick is far from original, but it an entertaining mash-up of recycled ideas with a few fun twists thrown in. Tony D’Aquino keeps things moving at a fast and furious pace, with the blood spattering quite frequently and thus little time for us to ask too many questions till it’s over. Sure we’ve seen it all before, from masked killers to folks hunted for sport and entertainment, but the gore effects are worth watching it for alone and there are some brutal and intense fight sequences to keep us munching our popcorn for the economical 82 minutes it lasts. Blood-soaked flick is available on Shudder.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 (out of 4) axes.

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: SILENT HOUSE (2011)

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SILENT HOUSE aka LA CASA MUDA (2011)

Allegedly based on a true story, film tells the tale of Laura (Florencia Colucci) and her father (Gustavo Alonso) who are going to work on a rundown, isolated house so it can be sold. As they prepare to stay the night, strange noises give the Laura the feeling they are not alone. When she finds her father murdered, a night of terror begins for the isolated and alone woman.

Horror from Uruguay is a creepy and spooky thriller that is also interesting due to it being filmed as if it were one continuous scene. Flick is tensely directed by Gustavo Hernández, who knows how to use his locations well, from a script by Oscar Estévez. There is enough atmosphere and chills to make this an enjoyable horror film, but there are lapses in logic and the end reveal wasn’t that much of a surprise. Still, thanks to the talent behind the camera, it is an entertaining enough chiller for a Saturday night on the couch with the lights out. Much better than the english language remake starring “Avenger” Elizabeth Olsen. Also stars Abel Tripaldi as the house’s owner, Nestor.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: 3 FROM HELL (2019)

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3 FROM HELL (2019)

Unnecessary sequel finds that Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis (Bill Moseley) and Captain Spaulding (the late Sid Haig) survived their shoot-out with police at the climax of The Devil’s Rejects and have been on death row for ten years. Spaulding is executed by lethal injection, but Otis escapes with the help of half-brother Winslow (Richard Brake) and plans to spring baby. Once that’s accomplished with plenty of bloodshed, the three head to Mexico. That’s kinda it.

Flick is written and directed by Rob Zombie and is a chore to sit through. There is barely what could be called a story and the mess of a script seems to be making it all up as it goes along. Fans of these characters will note that they don’t even seem like the same fiends that graced House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects and their intensity is lacking. Otis seems a bit too laid back and Zombie’s wife is way overdoing it as the demented Baby. She’s more silly than scary. Only Brake’s Winslow seems to exude a little legitimate menace and he is never really given a chance to be fully unleashed. Even their carnage and depravity feels like it’s been dialed down a few notches. Are these killers slowing down?

Zombie seemed to have peaked with the interesting and spooky Lords of Salem and is continuing his filmmaking downward spiral that began with the uninspired 31 and now includes this undercooked, rambling mess. You know something is wrong when even the violence in a Rob Zombie flick has a very ho-hum, been-there-done-that feeling. At least we got to see Sid Haig one more time. Also stars Poncho (31) Moler, Zombie regular Jeff Daniel Phillips and horror legend Dee Wallace.

-MonsterZero NJ

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REVIEWS: 10 RECENT HORRORS IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!

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Harper (Katie Stevens) and friends find the wrong Halloween attraction to visit in Haunt!

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10 RECENT HORRORS IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!

The Halloween 🎃 season is here and once again horror flicks are filling theaters and online streaming platforms. There have been a number of spooky movies recently released and reviewed here and it’s time to recap some of these frights flicks. Click on the links to read the reviews to help decide which chillers and thrillers you’ll want to add to your Halloween watch list!…

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READY OR NOT

Ready or Not finds pretty Grace (Samara Weaving) about to marry into the wealthy but eccentric Le Domas family, who have grown rich on games and pro sports. After taking her vows with their son Alex (Mark O’Brien), it’s revealed she must follow tradition and play a game with the family at midnight. The game, chosen from a mysterious box, is hide and seek. What Grace also soon finds out is that she must hide as the family hunts her and that she must be captured and sacrificed before dawn to appease the mysterious Mr. Le Bail, who is responsible for the family’s success. If they don’t, they will all die. Now Grace is in a fight for her very life as she is alone and pursued through the labyrinth-like mansion…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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ITSY BITSY

Flick has divorced home-care nurse Kara Spencer (Elizabeth Roberts) taking a job as a caretaker for an elderly man named Walter Clark (Bruce Davison). She movies into his guest house with her two kids Jesse (Arman Darbo) and Cambria (Chloe Perrin). Clark is a collector of ancient artifacts and has recently come into possession of an illegally obtained tribal vessel that when broken open unleashes a vicious entity that takes the form of an enormous and deadly spider. Now, unknown to them, it’s loose inside the house and out for blood…theirs…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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IT: CHAPTER 2

It: Chapter Two is an adaptation of the second half of Stephen King’s classic novel, focusing on the characters as adults, though we still visit them as kids in flashbacks. It’s been 27 years since we last saw the characters and something sinister is stirring in Derry once more. Only Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) has remained and summons the other “Losers” Bill (James McAvoy), Bev (Jessica Chastain), Ben (Jay Ryan), Richie (Bill Hader), Eddie (James Ransone) and Stanley (Andy Bean) to return home to face Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), hopefully for the last time. Stanley commits suicide, but the remaining members reluctantly return and must face some of their own personal demons before they can confront the demonic clown…who has been patiently waiting for them…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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SATANIC PANIC

Simple plot finds pizza delivery girl Sam (Hayley Griffith) delivering to a rich neighborhood and stumbling into a Satanic ceremony. She’s chosen as a sacrifice due to her virgin status, but the resourceful young lady escapes. She meets up with the Satanic Coven Leader Danica’s (Rebecca Romijn) outcast daughter Judi (Ruby Modine), who is in peril of her own and the two try to evade capture. Can the two women escape almost certain death with the forces of evil in hot pursuit?…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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HAUNT

Story finds pretty Harper (Katie Stevens) trying to part with abusive boyfriend Sam (Samuel Hunt) and heading out to party on Halloween night with friends Bailey (Lauryn Alisa McClain), Angela (Shazi Raja) and Mallory (Schuyler Helford). At a club, they run into a couple of guys, Nathan (Will Brittain) and Evan (Andrew Caldwell) and decide to leave with them to find a Halloween haunt, dragging a reluctant Harper along. They stumble upon one such haunt, in the middle of nowhere and soon find they may have picked the wrong haunt to haunt…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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CANDY CORN

Halloween set horror has a group of small town thugs following their cruel Halloween tradition of pranking local boy Jacob (Nate Chaney), who now works for a carnival. Their bullying takes an unexpected turn when Jacob finally fights back and they accidentally kill him in retaliation. The carnival’s ring master Dr. Death (Pancho Moler from Rob Zombie’s 31) uses his voodoo powers to resurrect Jacob as a mask wearing monster that avenges himself brutally on his attackers, leaving candy corn stuffed in their dead mouths…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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HELL HOUSE LLC III: LAKE OF FIRE (2019)

Shudder Exclusive takes place nine years after the events of the first film with a new chapter of the story told with new footage. We find that the Abaddon Hotel was finally set to be demolished after all the death and disappearances that have occurred there. It was suddenly purchased in 2018 by entrepreneur Russell Wynn (Gabriel Chytry) to be used to stage his performance show Insomnia. He asked the new host of Morning Mysteries, Vanessa Shepherd (Elizabeth Vermilyea) to cover the set-up of the show with his cast and crew, leading up to opening night. It’s mostly her footage we are witnessing, as once again spooky things are documented occurring at the infamous location, leading up to an opening performance where all Hell breaks loose…literally…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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ARTIK

Artik (Jerry G. Angelo) is a man who lives on a sunflower farm and likes to draw comics. He’s also a man who likes to imprison children to work on the farm and kill people. He’s trying to teach his son (Gavin White) the serial killer trade, until his son befriends a stranger (Chase Williamson) who starts to open the boy’s eyes about his dad’s “hobby”…and by that we don’t mean the comics…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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DEPRAVED

Modern day Frankenstein tale has former army medic Henry (David Call) suffering from a traumatic tour in the Middle East and wanting to use his talents for a good purpose. He teams up with pharmaceutical exec Polidori (Joshua Leonard) to combine a new drug and Henry’s medical skills in the creation of a human being from spare body parts. Adam (Alex Breaux) is the result and at first seems like a naive child, but as in all such tales, the combination of the harshness of the world around him and the truth of his existence turns Adam’s curiosity and innocence into anger and rage…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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BLISS

Dezzy (Dora Madison) is a down on her luck artist and drug abuser who is having trouble finishing a piece that could turn her life around. She vents her frustration in a night of debauchery, involving alcohol, a new drug from her dealer and a threesome with friend Courtney (Tru Collins) and Courtney’s boyfriend Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield). Not only does this get her working on her painting again, but gives her an insatiable appetite for blood…. CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW!

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Ten recent flicks, which isn’t bad considering only a few years ago there wasn’t much new to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve with. Not all of these are classics, but read the reviews and decide for your spooky selves which films will make you shiver for the Halloween season!

 

-MonsterZero NJ

You’ll have to excuse Judi (Ruby Modine), she’s having a bit of a Satanic Panic.

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BLISS (2019)

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BLISS (2019)

Dezzy (Dora Madison) is a down on her luck artist and drug abuser who is having trouble finishing a piece that could turn her life around. She vents her frustration in a night of debauchery, involving alcohol, a new drug from her dealer and a threesome with friend Courtney (Tru Collins) and Courtney’s boyfriend Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield). Not only does this get her working on her painting again, but gives her an insatiable appetite for blood.

Joe Begos writes and directs this sometimes hallucinogenic tale of artistic block, depravity and vampirism. Begos’ first two features Almost Human and The Mind’s Eye were homage heavy flicks, though very entertaining. Here he shows he can do something outside of his influences and do it well, even on a very small budget, which seems to suit Begos. While not a traditional vampire tale, as Dezzy has no fangs and doesn’t turn into any creatures of the night, it has some gory demises once Dezzy’s thirst drives her to kill. Whatever she is, can be killed by a wooden stake, as Courtney demonstrates by finishing off one of Dezzy’s victims, and apparently sunlight can be lethal, too. Vampires or not, this is a tale of excess and Begos sometimes put’s his audience inside Dezzy’s head trips and it gives us a sense of the state of mind the troubled artist is in. It’s a trip and a disturbing one for all the right reasons. The gore is very plentiful and well orchestrated and the film itself has a raw feel to it that works very well, as it revels in the seedier side of Los Angeles nightlife. A contemporary vampire tale substituting ancient curses and cloves of garlic for sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

While there are quite a few supporting players, it’s very much a one woman show and lead Dora Madison (Exists) rises to the occasion. She dives into the role with a passionate yet very real performance. One doesn’t feel like they are watching a movie character, but a real person whose artistic nature has her living a life of excesses and extreme stimulation, and this is before she is transformed into a creature of the night. Her role requires a lot of nudity, drug use and hedonistic behavior, not to mention outbursts of rage, anger and violence when she realizes something is very wrong with her and her bloodlust takes hold. The actress performs it all very well. The supporting cast, such as Collins as Courtney and Jeremy Gardner as Dezzy’s “friend” Clive all create interesting people who seem to dwell more within the underground lifestyle of L.A. A good cast of interesting characters.

Overall, Begos is once again proving he is a filmmaker to watch. His homages to The Thing (Almost Human) and Scanners (The Mind’s Eye) were solid flicks that paid respectful tribute to their inspirations. Here Begos shows he can operate outside his influences and presents a tale of a young woman’s downward spiral into madness, depravity and murder all in the name of artistic expression. It’s trippy, gory and dirty and sleazy in all the right places. Looking forward to Begos’ upcoming VFW about a group of war veterans under siege at a VFW hall.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) fangs, even if Dezzy doesn’t have any.

 

 

 

 

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