MONSTERZERO NJ’S MOVIE MEMORIES: HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982)

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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982)

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The doomed research station on the planet Xarbia!!

Roger Corman’s production of Forbidden World was released 40 years ago today and I was there opening night with friends, at the now long-gone Stanley Warner Quad Theater in Paramus NJ. A big fan of Corman’s films already, I couldn’t wait to see this, especially after having seen and loved Corman’s Galaxy of Terror the previous November on Thanksgiving Night. It was an absolute blast, with its combination of babes, blood and beasts, and the energetic music video editing style was way ahead of its time! A fun flick!

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Sexy space scientists perfectly dressed for a lurking genetic mutant on the loose!

Forbidden World is directed by director Allan Holzman with an almost psychedelic music video style, as it tells the story, written by Tim Curnen, R.J. Robertson and Jim Wynorski, of a soldier, Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) sent to an isolated research station on the remote planet Xarbia to deal with a genetic experiment that has gotten out of control. Colby not only has to battle a growing and hungry genetic mutant, but handle not one, but two hot and very horny female scientists (Dawn Dunlap and June Chadwick). The type of B movie they just don’t make anymore. One of the last of its kind. Crack a few beers and enjoy!

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The constantly evolving mutant in its most lethal form!

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: UNINVITED (1987)

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UNINVITED (1987)

Flick opens with a genetically tampered with feline escaping from a genetic facility and leaving a bloody body count in its wake. Meanwhile, party girls Bobbi (Clare Carey) and Suzanne (Shari Shattuck) charm their way onto shady millionaire Walter Graham’s (Alex Cord) yacht along with three guys, Lance, Corey and Martin (Beau Dremann, Rob Estes and Eric Larson respectively). The cat creature finds its way onto the craft, too, and soon a party trip to the Cayman Islands becomes a fight to survive, as the genetic mutation with poisonous venom in its fangs starts to decimate guest and crew alike.

Cheesy fun 80s flick is written and directed by Greydon Clark (Without Warning, Satan’s Cheerleaders) who made a career of these kind of movies. There is plenty of bloodshed, and the killer kitty is delightfully rubber prosthetics. Director and cast play it straight, despite the silly story, and let the looney material provide the fun. It’s unintentionally (or is it?) hilarious each time the rubber monster crawls out of its adorable feline host and gruesomely dispatches folks a good twenty times, it’s size. The effect of its poisonous bite gives the FX crew plenty of opportunity to showoff lots of rubber and red stuff. The pace moves fairly quick, and Clark has fun with his isolated-at-sea yacht setting. The gore and make-up FX are all cheesy, as the young partiers are all attractive youths, with veterans like Cord, George Kennedy and Clu Gulager adding a little star power to the amusing proceedings. This is a good example of the type of silly, cheesy and colorful horror flicks that came out in the later part of the 80s, when the decade moved away from the more somber and serious slashers that populated the first half of that era.

Sure, this technically is not a good movie, but it is a cheesy fun and blood-spattered, 80s good time. The plot is ludicrous, but Greydon Clark takes the fur ball and runs with it. None of the acting will win any awards, and neither will its nostalgically rubber creature. The veteran cast barely escape this silliness with their dignity intact and writer/director Clark adds another cheesy fun B-movie to his distinguished resume. Late 80s horror fun! Also features a cameo by Assault on Precinct 13‘s Austin Stoker as a Caribbean police office.

Flick can be watched with ads on Amazon or purchased on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) deceptively cute kitties!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DEMON WIND (1990)

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DEMON WIND (1990)

Demon Wind may have been released in 1990 but it was filmed in 1989 and is an 80s horror to its gory core. Nonsensical plot has Cory (Eric Larson), triggered by his father’s suicide, journeying to his family’s abandoned farm to find out what happened to his grandparents, who disappeared sixty years earlier. Along for the ride is girlfriend Elaine (Francine Lapensée) and some friends, who soon find themselves besieged by a hoard of demons and one by one start to become demon possessed themselves.

Hilariously 80s flick is written and directed by Charles Philip Moore with a heavy dose of Evil Dead envy. This flick has everything you’d need in an 80s demonic themed horror, including rubber monsters, lots of prosthetic gore, bodily fluids, boobs and a group of attractive twenty-somethings to fall victim to the ancient forces of evil. It is a delightfully cheesy horror, with equally cheesy animation FX, and hilariously awful acting all across the board. The make-up FX are charmingly rubbery, and the film gets more and more preposterous as it goes along. There is a very 80s electronic score by Bruce Wallenstein and the farmhouse location in Thousand Oaks, California is very effective despite all the silliness. It’s goofy, gory and with the right beverages, can be a real hoot of an 80s good time!

Overall, this is not a good movie on traditional levels, but is a delightfully blood-spattered cheese-fest on another. Bad acting, rubber make-up, a nonsensical plot and plenty of colorful creatures, gore and animation FX, make this a fun midnight movie for fans of 80s horror at it loopiest. This was a first-time watch and MZNJ is delighted to now be acquainted with this cult classic horror. Flick is available in a Blu-ray/DVD combo from the awesome folks at Vinegar Syndrome!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) delightfully rubbery demons!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: HAPPY 42nd ANNIVERSARY to JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG (1980)

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HAPPY 42nd ANNIVERSARY to JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG (1980)

John Carpenter’s The Fog was released on February 8th, 1980, and my butt was there in a theater to see it! So, in honor of the 42nd anniversary of one of my all-time favorite horror flicks, I am re-posting this look back at Carpenter’s classic!

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One of my all-time favorite horrors and one of my favorite John Carpenter flicks, in fact, since I was too young to see Halloween when it came out, this was the first Carpenter film I saw in a theater and the flick that started me on my love of his movies.

The Fog tells the story of the 100-year anniversary of the small coastal California town of Antonio Bay and as the town prepares for its centennial celebration, a dark secret is revealed. Legend has it a leper colony paid the founders of Antonio Bay a lot of gold to let them settle nearby, but they were betrayed and murdered, as their ship was lured onto the rocks to crash and sink on a fog laden night. All were lost, but now a horde of vengeful spirits returns from the sea, wrapped in a surreal fog, to make the descendants of those who wronged them, pay with their lives.

The Fog focuses not on a main character, but a group of central characters whose individual experiences during this supernatural crisis bring them slowly all together, for its tense and creepy final act set in the town church. A good cast, including Jamie Lee Curtis as hitchhiker Elizabeth, Tom Atkins as local fisherman Nick, Janet Leigh as centennial chairwoman Kathy Williams and Adrienne Barbeau as single mom and radio DJ Stevie Wayne, give life to this ensemble and make them characters we like and care about, so we fear for them when they are placed in harm’s way. Add to that Hal Holbrook as the town’s alcoholic priest and a host of Carpenter regulars—with even a cameo by Carpenter himself—and you have a film wonderfully filled with a variety of characters who are all potential victims for the marauding phantoms. As for those phantoms, let’s not forget to mention the ghostly Captain Blake (FX man Rob Bottin) and his vengeful crew who are portrayed with in-camera practical FX. This makes them quite spooky and gives them a heavy dose of menace and a lot of effectiveness when they are on the attack. There is loads of atmosphere and some very solid scares and suspense created by Carpenter, along with some great cinematography from frequent Carpenter collaborator Dean Cundey, which makes this a good, solid, old-fashioned ghost story and a fun Halloween season treat. Carpenter again delivers a score which adds chills and foreboding to his tale of ghostly revenge, much like he did for Halloween and he starts the film off perfectly, with a chillingly fun opening sequence featuring veteran John Houseman as a crusty sailor who likes to tell kids scary stories. It sets the mood for the thrills and chills yet to come. This classic was made back when there was no phony CGI, just solid make-up effects from master Rob Bottin (who went on to do The Thing’s FX for Carpenter) and some very basic down to earth smoke and mirrors style visuals, that are as beautiful as they are scary. A great flick the likes of which they rarely make anymore and one of MonsterZero NJ’s must-watch flicks during the Halloween season!

The film is thankfully available, on blu-ray from Scream Factory with all the extras from previous releases, plus a new commentary track with Barbeau, Atkins and Tommy Lee Wallace and two really fun and informative interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis and Cinematographer Dean Cundey, who also supervised the absolutely gorgeous transfer!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 4 (out of 4) spectral sailors!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: AMITYVILLE DOLLHOUSE (1996)

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AMITYVILLE DOLLHOUSE (1996)

Bill (Robin Thomas) has just gotten re-married and has built a new house, over the site of another that burned down, for his new family. In the leftover shed is a dollhouse that unbeknownst to Bill is built as an exact replica of the infamous Amityville house. He gives it to his daughter Jessica (Rachel Duncan) for her birthday and let’s just say the miniature version is no less haunted than the original. Supernatural hi-jinx ensue.

While the premise is quite goofy, as are the proceedings, film is taken quite seriously by director Steve White from a silly script by Joshua Michael Stern. Aside from the ridiculous premise—and that the Amityville House was in Long Island, New York and this takes place in California, so where did the dollhouse come from?—we get giant mice, homicidal hornets, dads (Clayton Murray) returned from the dead, demons and overheated step-moms (Starr Andreeff). We are also treated to overactive fireplaces, the dollhouse being a portal to a demon dimension and for exposition purposes, Bill’s sister (Lenore Kasdorf) Maria and her biker boyfriend (Franc Ross) just happen to be mediums that dabble in the occult—not that they are much help. Taken seriously by it’s director and cast makes it all the more fun as we watch this family tormented and terrorized by the demonic dollhouse and are treated to some decent make-up FX to represent walking corpse dads, burn victims and a pair of actual demons during it’s amusingly overbaked climax. Do we ever find out where the dollhouse came from and why it’s a demon doorway? No!—and who cares?! There is a lot of unintentional entertainment here as White and company seemed to set out to make a serious horror and failed miserably. Entertainment is entertainment, intentional or not. The cast try hard to play the material straight and if some of the performances are a little over the top, who can blame them considering what they have to work with. The production looks solid, though it has a direct to VOD feel, and the budget benefits from being set mostly in and around the house.

Overall this is a an unintentionally silly but fun horror that seems to have had every intention of taking it’s ridiculous story seriously. Win win for us, as it is entertaining in it’s preposterousness and with a few of the right beverages can be a hoot to watch. Streaming free on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) familiar haunted houses!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: GRAVE ROBBERS (1989)

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GRAVE ROBBERS aka LADRONES DE TUMBAS (1989)

Another Mexican horror from Rubén Galindo Jr. This one opens in Mexico at the time of the inquisition. The church’s executioner (Agustín Bernal) has turned against God to worship Satan and himself is killed by his own axe before he enacts a sinister ritual. With his last breath, he proclaims that some day he will return and finish what he started. In modern (well…1989 Mexico) times, a group of youths are robbing graves and stumble upon the treasure filled crypt of the monks and the executioner. They remove the axe from his chest and soon he is walking the earth once again, slaughtering anyone in his path, while searching for a virgin to complete his ritual. The only one standing in his way is local police captain Lopez (Fernando Almada), a descendant of the archbishop who originally slew the executioner, whose virginal daughter Olivia (Edna Bolkan) is exactly the maiden the fiend is looking for.

Fun and gory horror is directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. from a script with Carlos Valdemar. Much like their Cemetery of Terror collaboration, this flick is atmospheric, very bloody and very 80s. Galindo knows his tropes well and we get creepy old graveyards, cobweb filled crypts, fog shrouded churches and an abundance of well rendered gore. The plot is a bit loopy, with an axe wielding walking corpse looking for a maiden to knock up in Old Scratch’s name, but Galindo directs it seriously…but not too serious…and simply knows how to present the horror traditions well. The 80s fashions and electronic score give the film some fun 80s nostalgia, and even if it gets a bit silly, it is visually atmospheric and does have some very spooky moments, along with some gruesome kills. The undead executioner makes for a solid fiend/villain complete with supernatural powers and the cast are all fine for this type of horror hi-jinx.

Grave Robbers might a bit goofy at times and it’s story might be more silly than scary, but it’s the skilled direction of Ruben Galindo Jr that keeps it spooky and bloody fun. He is very aware of the classic horror film traditions and knows how to use those elements very well. The film takes itself seriously, but not too serious to not have a good time. The film is visually impressive and atmospheric, the cast just fine for what they have to do and the gore effects are abundant and well done. Another solid Mexican horror from Ruben Galindo Jr and another obscure title available on Blu-ray from the awesome folks at Vinegar Syndrome.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) axes!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CEMETERY OF TERROR (1985)

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CEMETERY OF TERROR aka CEMENTERIO DEL TERROR (1985)

Mexican horror takes place on Halloween night with a group of youths going to an abandoned house to party. In the house they find a book of occult rituals and spells and as a prank, decide to steal a body from the morgue and try to raise it from the dead at a local cemetery. What could go wrong? Of course, the teens pick the body of Satan worshipping serial killer, Devlon (José Gómez Parcero) and soon Devlon is back from the dead and slaughtering the partiers back at the abandoned house. The only person who stands in the way, as a group of young trick or treaters finds themselves in the undead killer’s path, too, is Dr. Cardan (Hugo Stieglitz), a professor who knows all about Devlon’s powers and might be able to stop him.

Flick is directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. from his script with Carlos Valdemar and while it is a hodge-podge of films we’ve seen before, it is spooky fun. Galindo knows the trappings of a horror flick, especially one set on Halloween, and fills the flick with creepy trees, fog, spooky old houses, tombstone filled graveyards and plenty of gore. There is a lot of blood and the FX are well rendered and Devlon is a scary enough villain along with his horde of zombies, which burst out of their graves in the last act. It’s nothing new, but is a lot of fun and is also very 80s. Part Spookies and part Halloween, this is an entertaining horror for All Hallows Eve, as long as you don’t mind subtitles and that the switch of focus from teens to kids, in the last act, makes the film more kid-centric for it’s finale.

Cemetery of Terror might evoke some flicks you’ve seen before, but is made by a filmmaker who knows how to have a good time with the familiar tropes and use the familiar story elements well. Dumb, sex crazed teenagers, reanimated killers, zombies, gore and graveyards are all put to good use in this tale of horrors on Halloween night. We have both kids and teens in peril and the Mexican version of Dr. Loomis racing to the rescue. It’s a good time Halloween horror from South of the Border that fits in nicely with any All Hallows Eve flick. Available on Blu-ray from the awesome folks at Vinegar Syndrome.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack o lanterns!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985)

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NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985)

Actually saw this awful anthology in a theater back in 1985 when it was first released. It finds God (Ferdy Mayne) and The Devil (Tony Giorgio) on a train fated to crash at dawn, competing for the souls of three individuals. This sets up three stories that determines who gets their souls. The first is The Case of Harry Billings which finds Harry (John Phillip Law) taken to a sinister insane asylum where he is made to lure beautiful women there for nefarious purposes. The second is The Case of Greta Connors which tells the tale of a wannabe actress, Greta (Meredith Haze), who is rescued from life as a porn star by a young man (J. Martin Sellers), only to find herself and her lover in a death cult. Final tale is The Case of  Claire Hansen, which finds devout Catholic Claire (Faith Clift) getting mixed up in apocalyptic evil doings along with her atheist, author husband (Richard Moll). Framing segments also feature a band performing the same song over and over on the ill-fated train, for whatever reason.

Flick is culled together from three separate full length movies, and with the framing segments, has five directors credited to it…,Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, John Carr, Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan and Gregg C. Tallas. Ironically, all three films were written by Philip Yordan and he receives sole writing credit for this one, too. While it might not be fair to speak for the films this is edited down from, unless you’ve seen them, but what we do see of them isn’t good. As for Night Train, it is a terrible movie from the acting to the FX and sometimes hilariously so, though not enough to make it fun. It can also be tedious at only 98 minutes, the stories barely follow a narrative structure and even some veteran actors, like Cameron Mitchell and John Philip Law deliver terrible performances. When surrounded by friends, it was a hoot to watch it in it’s awfulness back in the day, but revisiting it from the couch streaming on Tubi, not so much. It’s simply a bad movie in every way and most likely someone’s attempt to get back money spent on the three turkeys it’s edited down from. It has gained some cult status, over the years, but not sure it deserves it. It’s really just that bad.

In conclusion, Night Train To Terror might have some 80s nostalgia and some personal nostalgia, too, but it is simply an awful anthology cut together from what appears to be three equally terrible movies. The FX, dialogue, sets and acting are almost all bargain basement and only Ferdy Mayne and Tony Giorgio as God and The Devil, respectively, offer anything noteworthy to the audience, as the two actors do play their parts effectively well. At least the dialogue between them was interesting and fairly well written. A simply dreadful anthology and not in a good way.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 1 and 1/2 (out of 4) train signals!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CHILD’S PLAY 3 (1991)

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CHILD’S PLAY 3 (1991)

Child’s Play threequel opened a mere nine months after the second installment and is the last Child’s Play movie involving Chucky’s pursuit of Andy Barclay. Flick takes place eight years after part 2, with Andy (Justin Whalin) now being sixteen and sent to military school. The Play Pals Company has decided to restart production of the Good Guys doll line and uses the plastic from the unfinished models still left in the warehouse where the Child’s Play 2 had it’s finale. Of course the bloody melted hunk of plastic that was Chucky is included and soon Chucky is back once again in action. He tracks Andy to the military academy, but soon sets his sights on shy eight year-old Ronald Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) as his new host. It’s up to Andy and his new romantic interest Cadet Kristin De Silva (Perrey Reeves) to stop him.

Third flick is directed by Jack Bender from a script by Don Mancini and wisely is the last film in the Andy Barclay story arc, as this installment shows it was running out of gas. It’s the same old shenanigans with a wisecracking Chucky killing anyone who gets in his way or pisses him off. The kills are getting routine and only the carnival funhouse set climax shows a little life. It’s not very scary or suspenseful, but is competently made and Dourif is as fun as ever as the serial killer in a doll’s body. It’s bloody and the military academy setting adds a few wrinkles, but otherwise the series was showing signs of needing some sort of rebooting if it was to continue. One does miss little Alex Vincent, but at least they tried to keep it from getting too stale by upgrading Andy to a teenager and even giving him a love interest with the pretty and spunky Kristin. When he is not trying to save Ronald and convince everyone Chucky is back, he is getting bullied by academy a-hole, Cadet Lt. Col. Brett C. Shelton (Travis Fine). The Chucky and gore FX are still very well done and still help maintain the illusion that the doll is possessed and and alive. It’s a functional enough sequel and has it’s moments, but one understands why the series was given a break and and a new direction after this flick performed only moderately at the box office.

The cast is again fine. Justin Whalin is good as Andy. He evokes the character, but appropriately eight years older. He is a solid hero as being a teen helps him go on the offensive for the first time. Brad Dourif is still excellent in his vocal performance as Chucky. He is still as twisted and malevolent as ever, and getting the best dialogue in the movie…as he should. Jeremy Sylvers is likable and sympathetic as the shy, young Ronald and he makes a good target for Chucky’s plans to resurrect himself out of his plastic shell. Perrey Reeves is energetic and resilient as the tough, but cute Cadet Kristin De Silva. She makes a nice love interest for the now grown Andy Barclay. Travis Fine is a dislikable villain as the academy douche Lt. Col. Shelton and movie vet Andrew Robinson shows up as the twisted academy barber Sgt. Botnick.

In conclusion, Child’s Play 3 is an OK third installment, but shows a series in need of a fresh coat of paint. Andy is now a teen and that and the military academy location add a little something new, but not enough to really makes this an equal to either of it’s predecessors. Chucky creator Don Mancini realized it was time for a change and after a seven year hiatus, Chucky would return with a new story direction, new tone and a love interest of his own in 1998.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) killer dolls!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990)

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CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990)

Child’s Play sequel takes place two years after the first installment with poor Andy (Alex Vincent) now living with foster parents (Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham), as his mother is institutionalized for corroborating her son’s story about a killer doll. As for Chucky, the Play Pals Corporation has regained possession of the remains of the Chucky possessed Good Guys doll and uses the inner mechanisms to build a new doll, in order to prove to investors, product malfunction was not a factor in the incident. Once reconstructed, Chucky resumes his hunt for Andy, to once again try to take possession of him. Obviously, the killer doll leaves a trail of bodies in his wake.

Second installment in the popular franchise is this time directed by John Lafia from a script by Don Mancini. It’s not quite an equal, but is an efficient enough sequel. Chucky is up to his old tricks and the kills are played a little bit more for laughs this time, though some are still potent and bloody. Chucky isn’t quite as scary as he was the first time around, as the novelty has worn off, but still can be threatening and his pursuit of Andy, who is again not believed, still is effective. The FX portraying the killer doll are very convincing prosthetics and the slightly larger budget gives the flick a chance to open up a bit with an impressive and fun last act chase and showdown at the Play Pals factory, echoing the climax of The Terminator. There is some suspense and a few chills, though one can see the franchise is trying to have a bit more fun here with a more wisecracking villain.

The cast is fine. Alex Vincent is still very likable and sympathetic as the little boy being pursued by a serial killer in a doll’s body. Brad Dourif is once again excellent in his vocal performance as Chucky. He is twisted, intimidating and gives so much life to a plastic prosthetic, while milking his dialogue for all it’s worth. Agutter and Graham are serviceable as Andy’s foster parents Joanne and Phil Simpson. They are not as endearing as Catherine Hicks’ spunky single mom Karen, but they are likable enough, especially Agutter, who is far more sympathetic to Andy’s traumatic past. Rounding out is Christine Elise as Andy’s tough, street-smart foster sister Kyle, who joins him in the fight against Chucky, and Grace (Galaxy of Terror) Zabriske as the kindly head of the boarding house Andy has been staying at before being adopted by the Simpsons.

Overall, Child’s Play 2 is a fun second installment. Chucky is still a fairly effective villain and there are some suspenseful sequences, some effective kills and a few chills. It’s not quite an equal to the classic original, but at least still played the franchise somewhat seriously before future installments got a lot goofier.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) killer dolls!

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