TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CODE OF SILENCE (1985)

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CODE OF SILENCE (1985)

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In terms of overall quality, Code of Silence is probably the best movie Chuck Norris ever made. It may not be as fun as Lone Wolf McQuade, or as over the top as Invasion U.S.A., but it is the closest to a mainstream movie he was ever in, till his extended cameo in Expendables 2.

Code of Silence is a simple story of honest Chicago cop Eddie Cusack (Norris) who is not only stuck in the middle of a war between Columbian and Italian mob families, but is the only cop willing to speak out against a corrupt and incompetent fellow officer (Ralph Foody) who gunned down an unarmed teen. This makes Cusack an outsider to criminal and cop alike and forces him to go it alone to rescue a kidnapped mafioso’s daughter (Molly Hagan).

The script by Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack and Mike Gray may not be anything new plot-wise, but this action/thriller is fast paced and well directed by Andrew Davis, who would go on to direct Steven Seagal’s best flick, Under Siege and the Harrison Ford hit, The Fugitive. Davis also gets a good performance out of the often wooden Norris and makes good use of the Chicago locations. The flick has a nice supporting cast including vets Henry Silva (Alligator), Dennis Farina, Bert Remsen and The Dark Knight’s Ron Dean and the action scenes are well-staged and entertaining. A bar fight scene in particular stands out as classic Chuck Norris, with our hero taking on…well, everybody. All in all, it’s a solid action/thriller and proved Norris could make the move into A-list flicks with the right projects, but…

…Despite being a box office success and a moderate critical hit as well, Chuck chose to enter a multi-picture deal with schlock-meister Cannon Films (probably the $17 million for 10 movies was key) and sank any chance of further mainstream theatrical success (none of his future films with Cannon would top or equal Code’s $20 million gross). Had Norris not been lured into staying with Cannon, he might have had a more mainstream action movie career like Arnold and Sly. As for Code of Silence, I saw this fun flick in a theater back in 1985 and it remains one of my favorite Chuck Norris movies along with Lone Wolf McQuade, Silent Rage and The Octagon.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bullets.

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES APRIL 14-16

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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. “Fate of the Furious” $100.1 Million

2. “The Boss Baby” $15.5 Million

3. “Beauty and the Beast” $13.6 Million

4. “Smurfs:The Lost Village” $6.5 Million

5. “Going In Style” $6.35 Million

6. “Gifted” $3 Million

7. “Get Out” $2.9 Million

8. “Power Rangers” $2.8 Million

9. “The Case For Christ” $2.7 Million

10. “Kong: Skull Island” $2.6 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA-EASTER EDITION: NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972)

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NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972)

Night Of The Lepus tells the chuckle inducing story of hormone experiments intended to curb an out of control rabbit population in the Southwest. This ‘solution’ causes not only an increase in size, but heightened aggression and a taste for flesh. Way to go science!

Only in the 70s (ok, maybe the 50s, too) could you have a horror movie about giant carnivorous rabbits. And what makes Lepus so much of a hoot, is just how dead serious this flick is. From the direction by William F. Claxton to the performances by it’s veteran cast, including Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh and a mustache sporting DeForest Kelley, Lepus really tries to present itself as a serious horror flick and that makes it all the more fun. From the slow motion scenes of real rabbits running through miniature sets to the close-ups of obviously fake, blood-soaked prosthetic rabbit claws and teeth, Lepus goes the whole way in trying to convince us to be scared of these adorably vicious giant bunnies. Epic fail! There’s even a guy in a rabbit suit jumping on the helpless victims. Seriously, how can you not love that! Whether they’re growling like mountain lions or chewing up the locals, Lepus is a deliriously fun ‘so bad it’s good’ treat. And there’s even a few scenes of decent gore to properly represent the rabbit induced carnage. If that’s not enough to convince you, hold on to your Easter baskets for the military v.s. monster rabbit showdown at the climax.

A sheer camp delight that has been a favorite since watching it on T.V. as a kid in the 70s! Viewed in the right mindset and with the right beverage, this is a great bit of schlocky 70s entertainment. Rated purely as delightfully entertaining cheese!

-MonsterZero NJ

A solid 3 giant mutant carnivorous bunnies

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HAPPY EASTER from MONSTERZERO NJ

BARE BONES: AFTERMATH (2017)

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AFTERMATH (2017)

Fact-based drama tells the story of construction foreman Roman (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who is devastated by the loss of his wife and pregnant daughter in a plane crash. Air traffic controller Jacob (Scoot McNairy) is blamed and the film plays out the two men’s dealing with their grief until the inevitable confrontation as Roman want’s some kind of reparation for his family.

Both Arnold and McNairy give strong performances here, despite that director Elliot Lester and writer Javier Gullón deliver a fairly mediocre and routine drama out of a real-life tragedy. The film is presented very by-the-numbers and stoops to numerous clichés, such as the airline executives being portrayed as stereotypical, soulless corporate bad guys. The moments that should provide the most emotional weight fail to deliver, despite the solid work by it’s cast. If not for Arnold delivering a performance on par with the 2015 Maggie and Scoot McNairy impressing as well, there really would be little to recommend, even with the story following a true 2002 mid-air collision and it’s tragic aftermath. Disappointing when one considers Arnold once again proves he can act and act well without spraying the screen with bullets. Also stars Maggie Grace as Jacob’s wife.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: DIG TWO GRAVES (2014)

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DIG TWO GRAVES (2014)

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

Not really a horror film, but more like a rural mystery/thriller with a thin layer of the supernatural. The film takes place in a community in the Illinois mountains in 1977 and finds young Jake (Samantha Isler) mourning the loss of her brother Sean (Ben Schneider), who drowned while diving into a local quarry. A tragic event for which Jake feels guilty. Three mysterious men appear to Jake and tell her that they have the power to bring Sean back, but someone must take his place, namely her classmate Willie (Gabriel Cain). Unknown to the girl, the motivations of these men involve Jake’s sheriff grandfather (Ted Levine) and a possible quest for revenge that’s taken 30 years to unfold.

This is an impressive debut from Hunter Adams from a script by he and Jeremy Phillips, that is loaded with atmosphere. The film plays like a dark fable as we start out with a glimpse of something awful taking place in 1947 then are introduced to Jake thirty years later as she loses her only sibling. From then on we meet the mysterious Wyeth (Troy Ruptash) and his two brothers, who claim to have the power to bring Sean back…but at a price. As we progress forward with Jake’s moral dilemma, Adams also takes us back thirty years with flashback’s told through the eyes of her grandfather Sheriff Waterhouse (Levine) to slowly, over the course of the film, reveal what got us to this point and how all the dots connect. It’s all done with the aura of  dark magic and something slightly supernatural going on and in just the right doses to keep us on edge, but not tip into full blown horror. The film stays somewhat grounded in reality which makes the moments that hint of something otherworldly all the more unnerving. The film sometimes evoked the rural set Winter’s Bone, but with a hint of dark fantasy that keeps us uneasy throughout. It takes till the very last scenes for all the pieces to come together and the climax will stay with you after the film is over.

Adams also gets very good work from his cast, especially his two leads. Veteran Ted (Silence Of The Lambs) Levine is very strong as Jake’s grandfather Sheriff Waterhouse and really creates an effective portrayal of a good man haunted by past events and wanting to protect his granddaughter from them. Samantha Isler gives a powerful performance as a young teen wanting to correct something she feels is her fault, but tormented by the moral implications of it’s solution. The young actress is a talent to keep an eye on. There is also Troy Ruptash as the creepy Wyeth. Ruptash gives the man a sense of power and menace with an aura of someone with dark powers beyond being just potentially lethal. Rounding out is Danny Goldring as former Sheriff Procter. Procter is a man with skeletons in his closet, skeleton’s he might kill to keep hidden and Goldring gives him that sense of a man desperate to keep something hidden.

This was an atmospheric thriller with a constant feeling of foreboding and an undercurrent of dark magic and possibly the supernatural. It’s a slow burn mystery that unravels at a deliberate pace and takes you on a journey both forward and backward in time to tell us it’s complete story. It has some very strong guidance from it’s first time director and excellent work from a good cast to punctuate the script and direction. The film was first released at film festivals in 2014 and finally has gotten a limited release and the attention it deserves thanks to Executive Producer Larry Fessenden! Highly recommended!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 rattlesnakes

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE VOID (2016)

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THE VOID (2016)

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The Void is not only a trippy tribute to horror films of the 80s and the practical make-up and gore effects used in them, but a bloody good time and a creepy monster flick in it’s own right. The film opens with a young couple being chased by two men, with the man (Evan Stern) barely escaping and the woman being shot and then brutally burned alive. The man is found by local policeman, Dan (Aaron Poole) and brought to a nearby hospital that is in the process of closing down after a recent fire. There the cop and minimal staff and patients find the building soon surrounded by mysterious and lethal hooded figures, while inside it starts to turn into a house of horrors, as staff murder patients and the dead return to life transformed into creatures from out of a nightmare. Can Dan, his nurse wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe) and the remaining survivors figure out what is happening and how to get out alive?

Written and directed by the team of Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, this is a mash-up/homage to the films of John Carpenter and Stuart Gordon, among others. There are elements of Assault On Precinct 13, The Thing, In the Mouth Of Madness, as well as Re-animator, From Beyond and a host of other cult classics. But Kostanski and Gillespie make it their own with their tale of other dimensions and nightmarish activities and the film is filled with some really unsettling imagery and a host of practical creatures and gore, along with it. The story itself is a bit convoluted at times and the filmmakers don’t spoon feed you everything, but that works far more in the film’s favor than it doesn’t. It’s a disturbing ride, loaded with atmosphere and we do gradually find out enough of what’s going on to satisfy, as the deliberately moderate pace carries us to an unsettling conclusion right out of Fulci’s The Beyond. Sure the acting is a bit wooden here and there and the FX are a bit rubbery, but it’s the charm of what the filmmakers are trying to do and of the many cult classics they evoke, that makes it so enjoyable and fun. Not to mention the filmmakers do conjure some of their own goosebumps along the way. It may not make total sense, but it is enjoyably creepy and when the gore hits the fan, it hits delightfully hard and spatters everywhere. There is some effective cinematography by Samy Inayeh and a cool soundtrack by Blitz//Berlin, who did the soundtrack for Extraterrestrial.

I enjoyed this love letter to many a classic 80s film, including Galaxy Of Terror…which I just re-watched…yet one that didn’t loose it’s own identity. It’s a weird flick that is part Lovecraft, part Carpenter with a few other pinches of famous names of horror thrown in. It has some effectively designed creatures and some delightfully gory moments and gives us some spooky visuals along with the thrills and chills. You may scratch your head a bit here and there, but it’s fun throwback that may have introduced us to two filmmakers to keep an eye on. Also stars Art (Black Christmas, The Brood) Hindle as a state trooper and Scott Pilgrim’s Ellen Wong as an intern in over her adorable head.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scalpels, because I didn’t want to spoil any of the weirdness.

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: MY BOYFRIEND’S BACK (1993)

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MY BOYFRIEND’S BACK (1993)

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High school misfit Johnny Dingle (Andrew Lowery) has been head over heels for Missy McCloud (Traci Lind) since grade school. He finally gets the courage to try to get her to go to the prom with him, but needs to get her attention. He decides to fake a robbery at the convenience store where she works and once he saves the day, he’ll be her hero for life. Unknown to Johnny, an actual robber enters the place instead of his bud, Eddie (Danny Zorn) and Johnny’s heroics turn tragic as he is shot and killed by the thief. That won’t stop Johnny, though, as he rises from the grave to continue to woo Missy and…it actually works. But can he make it to the prom before decomposing, or will he have to resort to the only thing that will slow his disintegration down…human flesh.

Back in the day, I had a huge crush on Traci Lind, but even her charms can’t save this terrible and predominantly unfunny comedy. Directed clumsily by Bob Balaban from an already bad script by Dean Lorey (who wrote the worst of the Friday The 13th films, Jason Goes To Hell), the film’s attempts at humor fall flat and it’s attempts at being titillating are more uncomfortable than sexy. There are also some really convoluted side plots, such as a doctor’s efforts to make a youth serum from Johnny’s zombie blood and the fact that there is little or no reaction to the fact that Johnny is a zombie by any of the living characters makes no sense and fumbles some prime laugh material in the process. No one seems to care he’s a zombie, until he snacks on a classmate and it is also the thing that finally gets Missy’s attention and attraction…what? It’s a badly written mess with substandard acting from some veteran performers and no chemistry between it’s leads. Lowery is pretty dull as our hero and even the pretty and spunky Lind has her appeal neutered by the dumb script and lame direction…and she can be very sexy as Fright Night II and some of her non-genre roles prove. It’s an all around failure that bombed at the box office at the time it was released in 1993.

So, despite the presence of an 80s cult classic cutie and even the amusement of watching the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing a redneck school bully, this film is practically unwatchable. The script is badly written and misuses a scenario that could have been very funny, while the director just didn’t know what to do with the material. It kills the charms of an actress that had girl next door sex appeal to spare and chose a zero, presence-wise, as it’s leading man. A flick that tried to be 80s at a time when the 80s were definitely over. An undead bore.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 eighties hotties that deserved a better movie.

 

 

 

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES APRIL 7-9

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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. “The Boss Baby” $26.3 Million

2. “Beauty and the Beast” $25 Million

3. “Smurfs:The Lost Village $14 Million

4. “Going In Style” $12.5 Million

5. “Ghost in the Shell” $7.35 Million

6. “Power Rangers” $6.2 Million

7. “Kong: Skull Island” $5.8 Million

8. “Logan” $4.05 Million

9. “Get Out” $4.02 Million

10. “The Case For Christ” $3.9 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: THE GOOD NEIGHBOR (2016)

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THE GOOD NEIGHBOR (2016)

Thriller finds two youths, Ethan (Logan Miller) and Sean (It Follows’ Keir Gilchrist), performing an ‘experiment’ on their reclusive, grumpy old neighbor, Mr. Grainey (James Caan). They rig his house with camera’s and hack into his systems and record as they try to convince the old man his home is haunted. As the experiment progresses, not only do the boys start to believe their neighbor is harboring some dark secret, but the prank/experiment starts to become more and more mean-spirited as Ethan increasingly becomes obsessed with his cantankerous neighbor.

Film is well directed by Kasra Farahani from a script by Mark Bianculli and Jeff Richard. It uses the found footage format part of the time and then switches to real time as we find ourselves in a courtroom where we realize this ‘prank’ ended badly somehow. During the course of the film we slowly find out what happened in the house and we also get some interesting reveals about our subject, his tormentors and their motivations. Not all is as it seems and Farahani and the script slowly unveil, using the two boys’ footage, what these events led up to and use some well-placed flashbacks to let us know what really was Grainey’s ‘secret’. It’s moderately paced, which works for this type of film, and if the ending isn’t completely satisfying, it’s only because it’s more true to life than one might want to admit. A solid thriller that is spooky at times and tragic and sad at others.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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