WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEB. 9-11

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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. “Fifty Shades Freed” $38.8 Million

2. “Peter Rabbit” $25 Million

3. “The 15:17 to Paris” $12.6 Million

4. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” $9.8 Million

5. “The Greatest Showman” $6.4 Million

6. “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” $6 Million

7. “Winchester” $5 Million

8. “The Post” $3.5 Million

9. “The Shape of Water” $3 Million

10. “Den of Thieves” $2.8 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE UNSEEN (1980)

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THE UNSEEN (1980)

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

Exceptionally boring horror finds a newswoman, her sister and a friend (Barbara Bach, Karen Lamm and Lois Young respectively) heading to a small town to cover an event and a mix-up leaving them with no place to stay. They stumble upon an old house, that is now used as a museum and creepy owner Ernest Keller (Sydney Lassick), invites them to use his spare rooms. So, of course, three pretty girls accept an invitation to stay in a spooky old house with a man who is creepy from the get go. No surprise, this old house has a secret and the three young women will soon find out it is a deadly secret.

As directed by Danny Steinmann (Friday the 13 Part V) from a script by Michael L. Grace, this is a dull flick with basically little going on, including a dismally low body count for a slasher and very little blood and gore. It takes almost the whole movie to finally gather a little intensity, when Bach’s reporter Jennifer finds herself in the cellar with the Keller’s hulking secret (Animal House’s Stephen Furst). Unfortunately the hulking secret is more laughable than menacing, so there really isn’t much to make up for the slow pace and lack of suspense we have endured up to this point. Sure, the house is spooky and Lassick’s Keller can be very unsettling, but it’s not enough to make this film scary or even involving and our three lasses aren’t endearing enough to get us emotionally invested. Silent Scream did the whole hidden, crazy relative in the house thing a whole lot better that same year.

Despite what should have been a star making turn in The Spy Who Loved Me, Bach’s career never really went anywhere. She’s a bit wooden here and isn’t really that memorable as a final girl when she finally meets “Junior”. As Junior, it’s almost sad to see Stephen Furst, who gained notoriety as Flounder in Animal House, as, basically, a giant, deranged baby and the effect of his tantrums and efforts to kill Bach are laughable with the way the character is directed. It’s Sydney Lassick who is really creepy and even he goes a bit too over-the-top at times to remain effective. Lamm and Young are fine as Bach’s companions and Lelia Goldoni is sympathetic as Ernest’s abused sister/lover and mother of Junior.

This flick has a reputation, not sure why, but there is something about 80s horrors, even the worst have some sort of following. It was a great decade for horror. This one, however, is dull and even when it picks up, it provides unintentional laughs instead of chills. Barbara Bach shows little of the fire she showed as a Bond girl and the late Stephen Furst’s role is more embarrassing than memorable. I suppose if you’re an 80s completest, you should at least check it out, but don’t expect much.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 very large diapers.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE RITUAL (2017)

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THE RITUAL (2017)

Based on a book by Adam Nevill, this chiller finds four friends traveling deep into the Swedish wilderness on a hiking excursion while mourning the death of a fifth member of their group. Deep in the woods they find a supernatural entity presides there, one worshiped as a deity by the locals and who feeds on the mental…and physical…pain of it’s sacrifices…and anyone wondering into it’s territory qualifies as a sacrifice.

Film, directed by David Bruckner (the Amateur Night segment of V/H/S) from Joe Barton’s script, which is based on Nevill’s novel, evokes mixed feelings. On one hand it is basically The Blair Witch Project meets The Wicker Man (original version, of course) and thus is very familiar. On the other hand, Bruckner does conjure up some spooky sequences and the film has a very unsettling visual style, especially in the last act when it’s wendigo-like deity makes it’s appearance. There are scenes directly lifted from The Blair Witch Project with symbols found carved on trees, strange formations made from sticks and antlers and characters screaming in the distance as something unseen drags them away. There is a spooky cabin in the woods and even a witch. We do, however, also get some gory stuff with animals and people found gutted and hanging from trees and some very unsettling dream sequences, especially from lead Luke (Rafe Spall) who feels guilty over his friend’s death. It turns full blown into The Wicker Man in it’s last act, when the surviving hikers are taken to a village lost in time, where they are to be sacrificed to whatever lurks among the trees. Once the thing shows up, Bruckner gets some good effect from the spirit creature’s look and ferocity and the fight to escape it by the remaining characters. The movie is atmospheric and the small cast perform their clichéd roles well. There is a spooky score by Ben Lovett and some really effective cinematography from Andrew Shulkind to add to it’s overall effectiveness.

This film was a bit hard to rate as it is very effective in terms of it’s atmosphere, it’s spooky visuals and some effectively creepy moments from director Bruckner, but constantly reminds us of other movies. It does use the familiar elements to do it’s own thing, but also borrow heavily from some widely renown films. It’s definitely worth a look, but go in knowing you’ve seen a lot of it before. Also stars Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier and Sam Troughton as Luke’s three friends. Film is currently streaming on Netflix.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 deer.

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BARE BONES: BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)

A great cast highlights this retelling of the epic “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King in 1973 during the height of the Women’s Liberation movement. It takes us on the journey leading up to the match, with up and coming female tennis player Billie Jean King fighting for equality within the pro tennis circuit and retired champ and gambler Bobby Riggs looking for a return to glory and a big payday.

Film is written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Little Miss Sunshine duo Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton and is perfectly cast, especially in regards to it’s leads. Stone and Carell play King and Riggs spot on with Carell really enjoying Riggs’ attempts to “put the show in chauvinism”. If the film falters a bit it’s that it’s first half leading up to the challenge is a bit drab. It focuses a lot on the married King’s affair with a female hairdresser (Andrea Riseborough) and her attempts to start her own tennis tournament with World Tennis Magazine founder, Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman). It is very heavy on melodrama and is a bit dreary at times. It picks up in the second half when King finally accepts Riggs’ challenge and the lead-up to the match becomes a media circus and a major event. The second half has the energy and spark, that the first half was lacking, though those early story elements are of importance to the overall tale. Even knowing how the actual event ended, it’s still a lot of fun to watch this great cast play it out and makes this film so worth seeing. Also stars Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming and Elisabeth Shue as Riggs’ wife Priscilla.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX (2018)

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THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX (2018)

Another flick bearing the Cloverfield name and while also not a direct sequel, it is better connected to the original Cloverfield…in ways I won’t spoil…than 10 Cloverfield Lane. This flick has a six person team on board an orbiting space station trying to prevent global war by initiating the Shepard Particle Accelerator and bringing unlimited energy to an Earth fighting over fossil fuel. The activation of the device causes a dimensional disturbance hurling the station across dimensions and space and endangering the world they set out to save.

Written by Oren Uziel and directed by Julius Onah, this is an OK sci-fi thriller. It has a few of it’s own ideas, but sadly would rather fall back on the clichés and familiar tropes of previous flicks. The effects of the dimensional disruption never seem to make sense, as they sometimes appear random and other times occur just at exactly the right…or wrong time. Basically they are just plot devices to hinder or help our beleaguered crew depending on the needs of the weak script. Sometimes they don’t make any sense at all, like a dismembered arm delivering a written message. It’s just silly, aside from being contrived. The cast handle their two-dimensional parts well enough, though it seems like a waste of talent for a few familiar faces. The FX and sets are top notch and while it is better connected to the original film, the previous installment in this universe was a far better movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CONQUEST (1983)

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CONQUEST (1983)

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

Sword and sorcery flick from Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci tells the story of Illias (Andrea Occhipinti) who travels to a dangerous land as part of a coming of age ritual. With only a magic bow, he enters a dark land ruled by witch Ocron (Sabrina Siani). Along the way he meets warrior Mace (Jorge Rivero) and the two team up to try to defeat Ocron, who has set her sights on Illias and his bow.

Directed by Fulci from a script and story by four people, no less, there is actually very little plot here considering all that collaborated on it. Like most of Fulci’s flicks it is atmospheric and there is plenty of his trademarked gore, but it’s hard to get involved in something which has so little story to get involved in. Illias, at first, has no real goals entering this dark land and only finds a purpose once he sees the effects of Ocron’s influence and becomes a target of she and her werewolf-like minions. Visually the flick appears to be filmed entirely through smoke and a gauze filter, though Fulci’s visual style still comes through even with minimal sets and costumes. No better example than Ocron herself who is a beautiful nude woman who wears a spooky gold mask and seems to have a snake fetish. Sexy and creepy! The gore FX are solid as in all Fulci films, but the animation effects, and creature costumes are cheap and cheesy. Frequent Dario Argento collaborator and Goblin keyboardist Claudio Simonetti provides the music and Alejandro Ulloa provides the murky cinematography. The cast are all fairly wooden, with only Jorge Rivero adding some life to the roguish Mace and Sabrina Siani’s natural charms making for a visually tantalizing villain.

With a career of mostly horror flicks this was an unusual project choice for Fulci. The film has a lot of his trademarked elements, but suffers from having what barely qualifies as a plot. The costumes and sets are minimal and the non-gore FX are cheesy at best. The acting is also sub-par and the film oddly switches focus from Illias to Mace in the last act, which negates any interest we might have had in the young lad’s quest. The film is still watchable and there are some things to enjoy, but it is another sign of the legendary director running out of gas after delivering so many classics just a few years earlier.

-MonsterZero NJ

Beautiful Italian actress Sabrina Siani, sans creepy mask.

Rated 2 and 1/2 arrows from a bow far more magical than the film it’s in.

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S CHEERLEADER HORRORS FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S CHEERLEADER HORRORS FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!

The pom pom carrying bewitched bad girls of All Cheerleaders Die.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and what goes better with football than cheerleaders! And what sexy siren…other than the babysitter…goes better with horror than the cheerleader! So, here are some horrors about or featuring cheerleaders…and maybe a football player or two!

(To get to our reviews of those titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just enter that title in the search engine at the top of the page!)

Kelli Maroney packing heat in Night of the Comet!

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES FEB. 2-4

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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. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” $11 Million

2. “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” $10.2 Million

3. “Winchester” $9.25 Million

4. “The Greatest Showman” $7.8 Million

5. “Hostiles” $5.5 Million

6. “The Post” $5.2 Million

7. “12 Strong” $4.7 Million

8. “Den of Thieves” $4.6 Million

9. “The Shape of Water” $4.3 Million

10. “Paddington 2” $3.1 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: ALI WONG-BABY COBRA (2016)

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ALI WONG-BABY COBRA (2016)

Actress, writer, comedienne Ali Wong’s Nextflix comedy special is a delightfully politically incorrect hour of raunchy, insightful fun. Wong delivers her views on marriage, men, feminism, sex and everything in between, all the while seven months pregnant and unafraid to poke fun at that too. She also touches on being an Asian woman in today’s world and while her act does become repetitive at times, Wong gives her vulgar bits a lot of wit to back them up, so it is fun and provides plenty of laughs. Smart and biting comedy that is a lot of refreshingly, unapologeticly and delightfully naughty entertainment.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: RENDEL (2017)

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RENDEL (2017)

Rendel is a Finnish film about mild-mannered family man, Rämö (Kris Gummerus) who after going to work for the wrong people and seeing the wrong information, finds his family murdered and he left for dead. Now Rämö transforms into the masked vigilante Rendel, who sets himself on a path of bloody revenge against crime boss, Mr. Erola (Matti Onnismaa) and his cruel son, Rotikka (Rami Rusinen).

Jesse Haaja’s film tries to carry a Batman-ish superhero vibe, but it’s hard to view Rendel as an outright “hero” when his revenge is so brutal, bloody and deadly. He is more leather clad Michael Myers than Bruce Wayne. Nobel as his reasons may be, he is more straight-up vigilante even with the mask, which is permanently attached to his face…begging the question how does he eat, drink or breathe. There are some intense and bloody fight scenes and Tero Saikkonen’s cinematography does make a modestly budgeted film look very good. Running Rämö’s story-line alongside Rendel’s revenge story-line is a bit distracting till an hour in and we find we are seeing Rendel’s origin and not a sub-plot, but, once that is clear, it works in retrospect. It also works having one of Rendel’s daughter’s favorite characters of folk-lore acting as a second personality/guide inside his head. It was a nice and original touch. Aside from a throwaway line about a possible military background, it is also curious that the mild-mannered Rämö has become such a skilled fighter as Rendel, but it is a comic book style movie after all. Director/writer Haaja has given the film some nice atmosphere, has a solid visual style and the fight scenes and filmmaker’s effort do make it worth a watch. Also stars Wyrmwood’s Bianca Bradey as sexy, bad-ass killer, Stacey and is titled Rendel: Dark Vengeance here in the U.S.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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