HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER (2018)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER (2018)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Flick opens with bloodied camp counselor Sam (The Cabin in the Woods’ Fran Kranz) terrified and hiding out in one of the camp cabins. He calls his good friend and horror movie buff Chuck (Buffy TVS’s Alyson Hannigan) to ask her advice as to how he might survive a killer on the loose right out of a slasher movie. As he starts to relate the ghastly events, Chuck comes to a possible conclusion…”You Might Be The Killer!”

Clever and fun comedy/horror is directed by Brett Simmons from a script by he and Thomas P. Vitale. It takes about a half hour to really click, but when it does, it is not only a fun homage to 80s summer camp horrors, but playfully has a good time messing with the familiar tropes. As the frightened Sam starts to relate and remember the bloody deaths of his co-workers, Chuck comes to the conclusion that he actually might be the killer. What comes next is a flashback to what really happened that has an amusing twist on the killer’s origin and even an interesting slant on the tradition-following mask that the killer wears. Is it Sam?…if it is, his killer has one problem…the final girl! The film also has a bit of fun with the final girl trope, too and the kills are quite gruesome as they should be. When one realizes where this flick is headed, you find yourself ready and willing to go along for the ride and a bloody fun, clever ride it is.

The film is well cast. Kranz is energetic and fun as Sam. He is having a good time playing both fearful victim and then suspected killer, as Chuck’s movie knowledge leads her to believe her long time friend is actually the killer in this unfolding slasher flick. As Chuck, Hannigan does little but stand in her video/collectibles shop and talk to Sam on the phone, but she makes Chuck a fun character and obviously this is not her first rodeo in delivering pop culture references, of which this flick has in abundance. Brittany S. Hall is good as Sam’s tough and tattooed ex-girlfriend Imani and Jenna Harvey is sweet and feisty as Jamie. Both are camp counselors and both are final girl candidates that Sam might need to look out for, if Chuck is right.

Once the flick locks in it’s premise, it’s a really fun homage to and clever meta twist on the beloved summer camp horror. It has all the tropes present and not only has a good time with them, but has fun playing with a few of them too. There are some clever twists mixed in with the nostalgia and having our hero, possibly be the villain works very well in the context to which the concept is used. A fun little flick that is both tribute and slasher flick.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 masks!

 

 

 

 

 

bars

Advertisements

REVIEW: SUMMER OF 84 (2018)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

SUMMER OF 84 (2018)

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

80s set flick is from Turbo Kid makers François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell and takes place in the small town of Ipswich, Oregon where normally nothing happens. The area, however, has been plagued with the disappearances of some teenage boys and now a killer dubbed The Cape May Slayer is taking credit. Ipswich teen Davey (Graham Verchere) is convinced his cop neighbor, Officer Mackey (Rich Sommer) is responsible. Determined to save themselves and their neighborhood, Davey and friends Tommy (Judah Lewis), Curtis (Cory Gruter-Andrew) and Woody (Caleb Emery) decide to gather enough evidence to bring him down.

Simard and the Whissells direct from a well-written script by Stephen J. Smith and Matt Leslie and give this mystery/thriller loads of atmosphere, aside from it’s wonderfully nostalgic 80s feel. It’s like one of those teen-centric buddy movies from the 80s like Stand By Me, but with the brooding atmosphere and last act right out of an 80s slasher. While Turbo Kid paid homage to the low budget Road Warrior rip-offs that permeated much of the decade, this one recreates an 80s coming of age movie that’s been cross-bred with a slasher flick and the mix works perfectly. The tropes are all present, including our young hero Davey crushing on his former babysitter, Nikki (Tiera Skovbye) and finding she likes him back and a climax that leaves us unsettled long after the credits roll. This trio knows their 80s and they also know how to deftly create a homage while still making their own film. By the very nature of being a homage we’ve seen a lot before, but it is the love and respect given the recreation of the beloved elements that makes it work so well. It also knows our familiarity with these scenarios and is not afraid to play a little with our expectations, too. We get a likable group of young guys to get behind and the makers are not afraid to put them…and the audience…through the ringer once the last act kicks into intense gear. Add to that some nice nostalgic cinematography by Jean-Philippe Bernier and a great electronic score by Le Matos and you have not only return to a style of filmmaking that inspired many of today’s talent, but a successful mystery/thriller in it’s own right.

The cast of relative unknowns are really effective. Graham Verchere is a very likable, yet realistic teen. He has an overactive imagination and a crush on the slightly older girl-next-door and an obsession that his neighbor is a killer. A classic character, but one given enough of his own personality to avoid being a cliché. Lewis, Gruter-Andrew and Emery also accomplish the same with their characters taking the classic delinquent, geek and “fat kid”, respectively and making them more than the stereotype characters they represent. Rich Sommer is also good as Officer Mackey. The actor makes him nice enough to have us doubt Davey one moment, yet also gives him a subtle creepiness that makes you think that maybe Davey is right after all. Rounding out the main cast is pretty Tiera Skovbye as sassy girl-next-door Nikki, a character also given enough emotional depth from the actress and script to transcend the cliché she could have been. The flick’s script gives each character some emotional resonance and thus a good cast a solid base to work with.

Overall, this was a really good homage to a unique age of movies that was the 80s. It had all the tropes very well recreated, yet as a mystery and thriller was quite effective on it’s own, aside from the nostalgic 80s setting. The script gives the characters some dimension and depth while putting them through the paces of a coming of age movie intertwined with a slasher. If you are a fan of 80s flicks or are old enough to have seen a lot of these flicks during that era, this movie is both a nostalgic treat and a chilling and intense thriller, that’s not afraid to play with your expectations at times.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3and 1/2 80s style walkie talkies.

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE SOLDIER (1982)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

THE SOLDIER (1982)

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

James Glickenhaus’s follow-up to The Exterminator finds a special black ops operative code-named “The Soldier” (Ken Wahl) called into duty when rogue KGB plant a nuclear weapon in a Saudi oil field. Their objective is to force Israel off the West Bank, or they will destroy half the world’s oil supply. Aided by an Israeli agent (Alberta Watson), The Soldier’s objective is to stop them at any cost.

James Glickenhaus writes and directs what basically is a grind-house version of a James Bond movie. As such, we just wish it was a bit better, even if it does try hard. There is plenty of action, but Glickenhaus hasn’t completely honed his craft yet and there are some moments of sloppy filmmaking that hold it back. Where Bond has style and class, this film has graphic violence and the subtly of a sledge hammer. That would be fine if it didn’t get more and more ludicrous as it goes along, yet is taken a bit too serious to have a fun time with it. It’s also disappointing that it’s climax is almost action-less and The Soldier himself is barely involved with the proceedings, while his team takes desperate…and ridiculously far-fetched…measures. As for the globe trotting locations, they are used so poorly the whole thing could have been filmed here in the US and no one would have noticed the difference. There is still some amusement, like a ski chase that begs the question, if you all had guns why didn’t you pull them out to begin with and a U.S. President (William Prince) who seems a little too trigger happy to go to war with our Israeli allies. There is also a cool soundtrack by 80s soundtrack specialists Tangerine Dream and a brief appearance by Klaus Kinski as a double crossing agent. As for Wahl, he tries hard but just doesn’t have the charisma for a big screen leading man…not that any of the other cast members should win any awards, for their work, either. A sad disappointment as this could have been a lot of fun had Glickenhaus just went with the absurdity of it all.

Overall, while a grind-house James Bond flick sounds like a blast, Glickenhaus drops the ball with a ludicrous script taken way too seriously. He also has a few sloppy moments, probably by trying to accomplish too much on a small budget and it’s climax is more silly than spectacular. Despite some globe trotting locations, they are used so poorly the whole thing could have been film here in the US and no one would have noticed the difference. Glickenhaus would make up for it with his underrated Shakedown six years later.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 bullets.

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE (1988)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE (1988)

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

Sequel to Critters finds the Crite eggs seen at the end of the first film finally starting to hatch two years later at Easter time. This gets bounty hunters Ug (Terrence Mann), Lee (Roxanne Kernohan and Eddie Deezen) and Charlie (Don Opper) summoned back to earth. At the same time, Brad Brown (Scott Grimes), whose family had moved away, is returning to Grover’s Bend to visit his grandma (Herta Ware). Now in greater numbers, The Critters descend on the town and only Scott, Harv (Barry Corbin replacing M. Emmet Walsh) and the bounty hunters are all that stand between feast or famine for the fanged alien fur-balls.

Sequel is the directorial debut of Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers, The Stand) who wrote the script with David Twohy (Pitch Black and it’s two Riddick follow-ups). As such, it’s somewhat fun, but the material is already running out of gas, as it’s basically the first film all over again just bigger. The FX are still cheesy and the gore and brief nudity do again stretch the boundaries of it’s PG-13 rating, but the sequel, otherwise, plays it safe story-wise. There is a romantic interest for Brad, named Megan (Liane Alexandra Curtis), but otherwise there is little new as The Critters make mincemeat out of anyone that crosses their path. There is still some fun to be had, but the novelty, of something that is technically already a Gremlins clone, is definitely wearing off. The film under-performed at the box office, but still spawned two more direct-to-video sequels…the third being the acting debut of one Leonardo DiCaprio.

The cast seem less enthused than the previous film. Grimes tries hard, but it’s a bit off-putting that he seemed to be playing a much younger kid only two years earlier and now is playing a young man of his real age (17 at the time) with love interest and all. The film literally takes place only two years later and the difference seems odd. Mann and Opper repeat their roles fine with Charlie now being a bounty hunter and it is fun to have Lee zero in on an identity straight out of Playboy magazine, in the form of statuesque beauty Roxanne Kernohan. Barry Corbin is now playing Harv and makes the character his own to the point where it didn’t really need to be Harv, when all is said and done. Liane Alexandra Curtis makes a cute love interest/sidekick for Brad, as teen reporter Megan and Lin Shaye is back hamming it up as Sally.

It’s not as fun as the first film, which in itself was basically a rip-off of another flick, but is far from terrible. There are some laughs and some amusing gore and even a touch of nudity this time, despite a teen friendly rating. The FX are still amusingly cheesy, though the cast seem to be just running through their paces in this one. It’s still worth a look and does make a good double feature with the first flick, but it’s not quite the equal fans would have hoped for.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 critters.

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CRITTERS (1986)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

CRITTERS (1986)

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

Critters is a 1986 sci-fi/horror/comedy that owes as much to the creature features of the 50s as it does Joe Dante’s Gremlins. The flick opens with alien beings called “Crites”…furry little creatures with LOTS of teeth…escaping from an interplanetary penitentiary with shape-shifting bounty hunters Ug (Terrence Mann) and Lee (various cast members) in hot pursuit. The Crites land on Earth in Grover’s Bend, Kansas near the farm of the Brown family and they are very hungry. Now mom Helen (Dee Wallace), dad Jay (Billy Bush), teen daughter April (Nadine van der Velde), young son Brad (Scott Grimes) and drunken handyman Charlie (Don Opper) come under siege by the carnivorous Critters, who have chosen them as their next course. Will the bounty hunters arrive in time before this quaint family all become alien happy meals?

Despite being derivative this is a fun movie as directed by Stephen Herek from his script with Domonic Muir. Herek gives the flick a bit of a Spielbergian touch and it works well for the material. It has a fairly even mix of horror and humor and the bloodshed does push the boundaries of the PG-13 rating, while delivering some laughs. The Critter FX by the Chiodo Brothers (Killer Klowns) are enjoyably rubber prosthetics and the visual FX are delightfully cheesy. The action is limited to in and around the Brown farm with inept police deputies (Ethan Phillips) and visiting boyfriends (Billy Zane) showing up to become Critter fodder. The film is very 80s, no more of an example than a music video featuring star Terrence Mann, whose cheese metal rocker Johnny Steele becomes the face adopted by changeling Ug. It’s a bit overplayed, but is 80s hair metal to the core. The film wisely doesn’t wear out it’s welcome either, cruising in at an economical 85 minutes.

The cast are having a good time. Dee Wallace is the quintessential 80s mom next door, but despite playing a humble Midwestern housewife, she has a quiet sexiness that makes her hot. Billy Bush is the all-American, Midwest father and is the subject of a lot of Critter abuse. Nadine van der Velde doesn’t get much to do but scream and find herself in peril, but she is cute and is a fine damsel. Grimes is the hero of the film and does a good job as the nerdy kid who rises to heroic status. Opper is funny as the drunk, conspiracy theorist handyman, Charlie and Terrence Mann is solid as the terminator-like Ug and MTV idol Johnny Steele. The flick also has small roles with familiar faces, like M. Emmet Walsh as Sheriff Harv, horror icon Lin Shaye as his receptionist, Sally and the before mentioned Billy Zane as April’s ill-fated boyfriend, Steve. The Crites are all puppets and are voiced…complete with subtitles…by voice actor Corey Burton.

Sure, it was most likely inspired by Joe Dante’s classic from two years earlier, but stands up on it’s own thanks to some fun direction by Stephen Herek and a cast that knows how to play the material. The FX on all levels are nostalgically cheesy and the film has the right mix of humor and horror to entertain. It’s also delightfully 80s and shows what kind of movies New Line Cinema churned out before The Lord of the Rings trilogy turned them into a mega-studio. It was a modest hit for New Line and a sequel was paraded out two years later. Fun movie and worth a watch for 80s nostalgia fans.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 critters.

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: RAWHEAD REX (1987)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

RAWHEAD REX (1987)

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

Rawhead Rex is a 1987 British horror based on a short story by Clive Barker. It has a pagan demon (Heinrich von Schellendorf) being unleashed from his tomb in Ireland when a farmer removes a protective stone. The creature goes on a killing spree, claiming victim after victim, till he murders the son (Hugh O’Conor) of an American researcher (David Dukes), who vows to find a way to destroy the monster once and for all.

Flick is lamely directed by George Pavlou from a screenplay by Barker himself. The director fails to bring any scares or intensity to the tale, even with Rex reigning bloody terror on Ireland’s trailer parks and tourists. You’d think that with this local legend being so well known in a small town, to the point of being included in a church stained glass window, that a local farmer would known better than to remove the stone that has imprisoned the beast for centuries. The creature himself is extremely rubbery and when it roars, you can see actor Heinrich von Schellendorf’s own mouth inside it’s maw. The monster is dressed like he’s a member of a Danish heavy metal band, complete with mohawk and there seems to be little rhyme or reason for his killing. It’s very random. There is also little explanation as to why or how Rex gains control of a local priest (Ronan Wilmott) by pissing on him. The acting from a cast of basic unknowns is quite underwhelming and despite the amusement of abundant gore, the make-up and visual FX are all quite cheesy. The climactic confrontation with Rubberhead Rex is also silly and we get little explanation as to why things work out the way they do. It seems made up as they go along…like the rest of the movie, to be honest.

I never understood the love for this flick. It has a decent fan-base and is fondly remembered, but I am not a fan. A recent revisit didn’t change my mind, even with laughably cheesy FX and a lot of 80s nostalgia. It’s not scary. It’s not intense. It has a very thin story that really doesn’t go anywhere and it’s creature is too rubbery and silly looking to be the least bit effective. There is a lot of bloodshed and heads ripped off, but otherwise, little to recommend. For it’s fans only.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 rubbery Rexs.

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE THRONE OF FIRE (1983)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

THE THRONE OF FIRE (1983)

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

Italian sword and sorcery flick has The Devil’s messenger, Belial (Harrison Muller) demanding witch, Azira (Beni Cardoso) bear him a child. He takes her, and after a thunder and lightening filled birth sequence, she bares him a cheesy rubber creature. The baby grows up into the powerful…and human looking…warlord, Morak (also Muller) whose mission is to kill the king and take his throne. It’s not just any throne, however, it is the Throne of Fire and only a rightful ruler may sit on it. Anyone else will be incinerated. To be worthy, he must marry the king’s daughter, the very reluctant Princess Valkari (Sabrina Siani) during a solar eclipse. Standing in his way is the warrior Siegfried (Pietro Torrisi, billed as Peter McCoy) who vows to free the princess and slay Morak.

In the 80s, the Italian cinema took advantage of any trend and cranked out Escape From N.Y. rip-offs, Road Warrior rip-offs, dozens of zombie films after Dawn of the Dead…and numerous Conan imitations, this being one. Throne…or Il trono di fuoco in it’s original Italianis directed by Franco Prosperi from a script by Nino Marino and is a cheesy, fun movie despite the serious tone. The sets look like they are from an episode of Star Trek, the fight scenes are badly choreographed and the dialogue, terrible and obviously dubbed…just listen to Morak happily reassuring his mom that he will slay women and children to get to the throne. Good times! Hero Siegfried is a muscular, bare-chested champion direct out of the Conan/Hercules clone catalogue and villain Morak’s army of thugs always attack him one at a time. We also get sexy, blonde, scantily-clad warrior princess Valkari, as played by Sabrina Siani, who seemed to be the Italian cinema’s go-to barbarian chick in the 80s. There is sorcery along with all the swordplay, including a spooky visit to the aptly named Well of Madness and various spells, both good and bad. The film is an amusing series of pitiful escapes and recaptures, taking place in and around the same castle, till the final confrontation which begs the question that if Morak could place the defiant Valkari under his spell, why did he wait till the end of the movie to do it? Who cares!…as long as we get to see people on the royal hot seat go up in flames every now and then. Wooden acting and wooden swords, it’s all a lot of cheesy fun with equally cheesy FX to go along with it.

Far from a classic…or even a good movie…Throne of Fire is a lot of “so bad it’s good” fun with swords and sorcery, muscles and maidens, all done with low budget ineptitude, but with plenty of dubbed charm. If nothing else, we have our loincloth wearing hero and animal-skin bikini clad heroine to provide eye candy, depending on your barbarian babe preference.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 warrior princesses before Xena made them cool.

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: YOR, HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (1983)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

YOR, HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (1983)

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

Goofy 80s flick tells of the adventures of Yor (Reb Brown), a warrior in a prehistoric world who seems different from the other cave-dwellers, with his blonde hair, sharp thinking (sort of) and clean shaven face in a world bereft of Gillette razors. He saves the beautiful Kalaa (Corinne Cléry) and her guardian Pag (Luciano Pigozzi) from a more savage tribe and the three join in a quest to find Yor’s true lineage. They do, and find that Yor is actually Galahad, the son of a exiled rebel from an island that’s all that’s left of a once advanced society, destroyed by nuclear war. An island currently run by the tyrannical “Overlord” (John Steiner). Now Yor must decide which world he wants to live in, the remains of a futuristic civilization, or the primitive world that sprang from it’s ruins.

Multi-national production is directed by Antonio Margheriti…under the pseudonym Anthony M. Dawson for U.S. release…from a script he co-wrote with Robert Bailey, which is based on an Argentinian comic book. As such, Margheriti plays it somewhat straight and lets the fun come from the ludicrous story and proceedings. And there is plenty of entertainment to be had, for all the wrong reasons, as there are dozens of badly staged fights, savage cave men who speak perfect English, some delightfully paper-mache dinosaurs, mixed in with equally cheesy looking robots, laser guns and space ships. It’s ridiculous, but has a sense of charm even if the prehistoric characters use words that shatter any illusion we are watching cave people, long before we find out they are descendants of an advanced society. Yor, despite being our hero, seems to get a lot of people killed and a lot of villages are razed around him, but it’s hard not to like a guy that hang glides into battle using the corpse of a giant bat. The FX and sets are gleefully cheesy, there is some surprising bloodshed for a PG flick and the ridiculous electronic theme song, by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, might just get stuck in your head (check out the video below)!

Reb Brown is a fine combination of caveman and futuristic warrior in his loin cloth, boots with the fur and Carol Channing blonde wig. I’m sure he’d rather have been doing Shakespeare in the park or something, but plays it seriously and with gusto and makes for a likable hero in a very silly movie. Corinne Cléry is quite beautiful as Yor’s love interest Kalaa. She’s mostly a damsel in distress, but she has enough natural charms to make her scantily clad cave-girl memorable. Look at it this way, how many actresses can say they appeared alongside both James Bond (Moonraker) and Yor, Hunter From The Future? Rounding out, Luciano Pigozzi is charming as crusty, old tag-along Pag and John Steiner is appropriately over the top as cheesy villain from the future, The Overlord.

On one hand this is a cheaply made and silly plotted flick, but on the other it is very entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The director and cast take the goofy material seriously enough so it’s not a joke and let the material provide the fun as we go from our bare-chested hero fighting fake looking dinosaurs to fake looking robots. He finds love, his true past and can wield both a primitive club and a laser gun…and how many cinematic icons can make that boast? Only in the 80s.

-MonsterZero NJ

rated 3 cavemen hurling a robot.

 

 

 

 

Yor hunter from the future trailer…

BONUS: Yor hunter from the future theme song…

bars

HORROR TV YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: STRANGER THINGS season 2 (2017)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

STRANGER THINGS season 2 (2017)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Stranger Things returns with nine new episodes on Netflix that take place a year later, delightfully around Halloween. The story returns us to Hawkins, Indiana, now in 1984 with new trouble brewing. Our four heroes, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Will (Noah Schnapp), are a year older, though still feeling the effects of their encounter with the Upside Down, especially Will. Unknown to the gang, a new threat is emerging from that paranormal dimension and has it’s sights set on Will. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has escaped and is now being hidden by police chief Hopper (David Harbour) from the Hawkins Laboratory folks who are still messing in otherworldly matters. While the group start to realize Will is once again in danger, Eleven goes on a journey to discover her real name and find her birth mother (Aimee Mullins) and half-sister (Linnea Berthelsen). Obviously all the characters’ stories will collide before the season is over.

Second season is just as good as the first and in some ways even more effective as now we are emotionally invested in the familiar characters. Ross and Matt Duffer (Hidden) again pay homage and give plentiful references to the sci-fi and horror flicks of the 80s, while still giving Stranger Things is very own heart and soul. They mange to expand the story, while keeping it familiar, also introducing us to some new characters like new gang member Maxine “Max” Hargrove (Sadie Sink) and her enormous jerk of a brother, Billy (Dacre Montgomery from Better Watch Out). The Duffer Brothers still manage to blend in so many 80s references and yet without them being intrusive or overwhelming, or becoming the main focus. There is another great soundtrack of 80s tunes and the original score, again by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, really adds atmosphere as it did for season one. The FX are top notch, like last time and this season helps give the proceedings a bit bigger scale to go with it’s massive monster. There’s plenty of action, suspense, drama and otherworldly critters to keep it’s core audience happy while rooting for our favorite characters to battle evil once more.

The cast are just as good as last time with new facets being added to the characters. Winona Ryder is again solid as Will’s mother, who is now a bit overprotective, but more of a fighter when her boy is again in danger. Millie Bobby Brown really shines as Eleven, who is now frustrated at being kept from her friends and needing to find out who she really is and where her lost relatives are. As the gang, Wolfhard, Matarazzo, Schnapp and McLaughlin all are really strong and get to play the characters a year older, but still the lovable nerds we last saw, but now with an added strength of being heroes. Schnapp especially gets to show his stuff with Will being a far more present character this season with a strong connection to our story. Harbour is again, a good hero as police chief Hopper, who is going to great lengths to protect Eleven and has made a deal with the Devil, per say, to keep the bad guys out of Hawkins. The rest of the supporting cast get more to do and do it well and the new faces such as Sink, Montgomery and veteran Paul Reiser as Dr. Owens, a shady scientist, all add to the character mix quite nicely. The Duffers juggle a lot of characters, but everyone gets their moment.

This was another solid and very entertaining season. The 80s nostalgia was again very enjoyable as was the recreation of the look and feel of the 80s decade. It took the story in new directions, introduced new characters, yet never lost that Stranger Things feel. The cast are all good, both new and returning and the FX were top notch. There were plenty of chills, suspense, thrills and surprises and some cool critters, too. Can’t wait for season 3 and now there is little doubt the Duffer Brothers can deliver the goods.

EPISODE LIST

  1. MADMAX – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers
  2. Trick or Treat, Freak – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers
  3. The Pollywog – directed by Shawn Levy and written by Jessica Mecklenburg
  4. Will the Wise – directed by Shawn Levy and written by Paul Dichter
  5. Dig Dug – directed by Andrew Stanton written by Jessie Nickson-Lopez
  6. The Spy – directed by Andrew Stanton and written by Kate Trefry
  7. The Lost Sister – directed by Rebbeca Thomas and written by Justin Doble
  8. The Mind Flayer – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers
  9. The Gate – directed and written by The Duffer Brothers

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 mysterious and powerful little girls.
stranger things rating

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: STRANGE INVADERS (1983)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

bars

STRANGE INVADERS (1983)

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

In 1958 a ship from another world lands in Centerville, Illinois and the entire town’s population disappears. Twenty-five years later, entomologist Charles Bigelow (Paul Le Mat) travels to Centerville to find his ex-wife Margaret (Diana Scarwid) who traveled there for the funeral of her mother. When Charles gets there, he finds the citizens don’t seem to like strangers, they’ve never heard of his ex-wife or her mother and he is chased out of town by something that can only be described as otherworldly. But whatever inhabits Centerville has followed him back to NYC and has targeted his young daughter, Elizabeth (Lulu Sylbert). Now Charles teams with a tabloid reporter (Nancy Allen) to try to save his daughter from these beings from another world and whatever purpose they have in store for her.

Fifties alien invasion movie homage is written and directed by Michael Laughlin and does have the feel of an old school sci-fi flick, though is also still very eighties. It’s a bit goofy at times, though that seems deliberate and the FX are delightfully cheesy, which gives it a certain charm. There are some amusing sequences of otherworldly action and Laughlin does capture the flavor of what he is paying homage to. If the film falters in any respect it is in that, much like his Strange Behavior, the flick is very slow paced and feels much longer than it’s 90+ minute running time. Strange Invaders could have used a bit more steam in it’s stride, though wisely plays it straight and doesn’t make an outright joke out of the proceedings, which fondly evokes camp classics like Invaders From Mars and Invasion of the Saucer Men. A fun enough movie that doesn’t quite hit the mark straight on but gets enough of the target to be an entertaining time.

The cast all perform in that fifties sci-fi flick dramatic monotone, on purpose of course. Le Mat makes a fine every-man hero and plays the nerdy scientist type well. Nancy Allen makes a spunky, sexy leading lady as the tabloid reporter who at first scoffs at Bigelow’s tale, but slowly starts to believe him…and fall for him as is tradition with these flicks. Louise Fletcher is fine as a government official that knows more than she’s letting on, though Scarwid is a little unconvincing in her role as ex-wife and extraterrestrial. Maybe she didn’t get the material. There are also appearances by Michael Lerner as a man who years ago encountered the invaders and femme fatale Fiona Lewis and fifties sci-fi flick legend Kenneth Tobey are appropriately campy as aliens in human form.

This homage to the great alien invasion movies of the fifties may not have fired on all cylinders, but did connect enough to be a fun time. It’s both delightfully fifties and nostalgically eighties and is enjoyable even if it does move a little too slowly for it’s own good. Sadly this film flopped at the box office and Michael Laughlin directed one more movie before leaving the director’s chair to focus on writing.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 strange invaders.

 

 

 

 

bars