BARE BONES: MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM (2022)

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MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM (2022)

Amazon Prime flick is based on a book by Grady Hendrix and is set in 1988. Story has best friends at a strict Catholic School, Abby (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller) going away on a lakeside weekend together and happening upon an abandoned house. Inside Gretchen is attacked and a terrified Abby flees. When Gretchen re-emerges, Abby thinks she was raped, but it soon appears the attack was more demonic in nature. As the possessed Gretchen wreaks havoc at school, Abby is determined to free her from this demonic presence.
 
Streaming horror/comedy is directed by Damon Thomas from a script by Jenna Lamia based on the Hendrix book. Despite its billing as a horror/comedy Thomas seems to want to play it straight, yet the film does feels like it is going to veer into a comedy at any moment…and sometimes does. Some of the stuff, such as the religious weightlifting trio, is outright goofy while some of the horror scenes are not. The noncommittal tone doesn’t help, nor does it that we have seen it all before right down to Gretchen’s ultra-religious parents. There is some commentary on rape and how victims are not believed, as Abby is vilified when initially trying to get her friend help for the perceived physical assault. There is also a lot of fun poked at conservative religion. Thomas does have a colorful visual style, but the film never gets intense enough to be taken seriously or funny enough to satisfy as spoof or comedy. Overall, a forgettable 90+ minutes.
 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE ADVENTURES OF PAULA PERIL (2014)

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THE ADVENTURES OF PAULA PERIL (2014)

The Adventures of Paula Peril is an entertaining attempt to recreate and pay homage to the old-style movie serials of yesteryear with a contemporary style. Flick is a combination of three episodes of the Paula Peril video series based on the comic book of the same name. It features the adventures of intrepid reporter Paula Perillo (Valerie Perez), or “Paula Peril” as she is known, due to all the predicaments she gets herself into. Paula is trying to solve the murder of her mother, which she believes has something to do with crime boss Carleoni (Brian Stretch) and his criminal empire. Along the way the pretty reporter finds herself in heaps of danger and trouble that she must find a way out of.

As it is a combination of three episodes, there are three directors attached. Jason WinnBenjamin Barak and Savvy Lorestani all get directing credit helming from scripts by Winn, Eric Pai and Chris Schulte. The filmmakers bring all the clichés and wholesome charm of those old-time serials, but with a contemporary touch. During the course of 80 minutes, the curvy Ms. Perillo finds herself in all sorts of old-fashioned damsel in distress predicaments, including the classic tied to the railroad tracks. Star Valerie Perez not only has the figure of her comic book counterpart but also plays the role with the right amount of seriousness and tongue in cheek to make Paula an endearing and fun character. She’s also quite a spitfire in the action sequences as the sexy reporter has some very effective kicks and punches…no wonder the bad guys are always tying her up. The rest of the cast are fine with the acting varying somewhat, but they all try hard and get the tone of the material. The crew accomplishes a lot on a small budget. There are some fun comic book frame transitions, some decent action and the flick has an old-fashioned charm in its corny-on-purpose, Lois Lane meets The Perils of Pauline format. There is also some supernatural content that makes it fine for the Halloween season, too. A fun indie throwback with a big heart and a very spunky and resilient contemporary heroine. Flick is streaming free on both Tubi and Amazon Prime Freevee.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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TI WEST’S HORROR FLICK “X” IS COMING TO BLU-RAY and DVD!

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TI WEST’S HORROR FLICK “X” IS COMING TO BLU-RAY and DVD!

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Indie director Ti West’s (House of the Devil, Innkeepers) new film horror film X has already set a release date for Blu-ray and DVD! The film will arrive on home media on 5/24/22 and is already available for pre-order on Amazon! The flick stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, and Scott Mescudi!
“In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.”

 

Here’s the link to the Amazon pre-order page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VJDBF1V/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

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-MonsterZero NJ

Source: Joblo.com; Amazon

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COOL STUFF: JOHN WALSH’S ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK: THE OFFICIAL STORY OF THE FILM!

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JOHN WALSH’S ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK: THE OFFICIAL STORY OF THE FILM!

Can’t wait to start reading this! Escape From New York is one of my all-time favorite movies since seeing it opening night at the Oritani Theater in Hackensack, NJ back in 1981. I have been waiting forty years for a book like this! LOL! Check out the book’s description from the product page on Amazon…

“Discover the thrilling story behind the making of Escape from New York and celebrate its legacy in this visually stunning, exclusive retrospective.

Over forty years after the release of the iconic hit, Escape from New York: The Official Story of the Film delves into the archives to showcase the creation of the movie. Directed by John Carpenter and released in 1981, Escape from New York thrilled audiences worldwide with its memorable characters, gritty premise and creative special effects.
 
This must-have book is the ultimate retrospective to the cult-classic movie, illustrating the production process of the science-fiction blockbuster, plus the impact and influence in popular culture, as well as the costuming, special effects, music, posters, and much more. Featuring brand new interviews with cast and crew, plus a foreword written by award-winning filmmaker, Corin Hardy, this extraordinary collection of never-before-seen art will give fans exclusive insight into every aspect of the movie.”

Escape from New York: The Official Story of the Film can be purchased on Amazon.com!

MonsterZero NJ

COOL STUFF: ALLAN HOLZMAN’S CELLULOID WARS-THE MAKING OF BATTTLE BEYOND THE STARS!

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ALLAN HOLZMAN’S CELLULOID WARS: THE MAKING OF BATTTLE BEYOND THE STARS!

Can’t wait to start reading this! Director and editor Allan Holzman (Forbidden World) has released his journal about the making of the 1980 cult classic Battle Beyond The Stars! The book is loaded with anecdotes, interviews and photos from the production of one of Roger Corman’s biggest and most famous flicks. Holzman was an editor on the film and below is the official description of his tome from the back of the book itself!…

“The Year was 1980, and SCI-FI had the motion picture industry in its grip…

The first producer to rush to meet the demand for more SciFi Adventure was Roger Corman who gambled on making the biggest picture his studio, New World Pictures, had ever undertaken. He hired a bunch of hungry, talented filmmakers to produce Battle Beyond The Stars including future award winners James Cameron, John Sayles, Robert & Dennis Skotak, James Horner, Gale Ann Hurd, Jimmy Murakami, and many others… including the author of this book, ACE and Emmy award-winning editor, Allan Holzman.

Taken from Holzman’s diary during production, Celluloid Wars offers an insider’s view of the production headaches that turned into lifelong lessons and the thought process behind the “Roger Corman School of Filmmaking.” This is a case study of a film that according to Nerdist.com “…succeeds in being a fresh, fun, charming sci-fi romp with some excellent effects and damn fine music.”

You’ll see it all – the highs, the lows, the winners and the losers, and all the drama in between – from the point of view of the editor who had to weave all of these different elements and emotions together to help create one of the most successful movies ever produced at New World Pictures, launching a dozen movie careers, and changing the face of Hollywood forever…

BONUS

  • Exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes photos with Special FX gurus Robert & Dennis Skotak on their experiences producing eye-popping visuals on a pennywise budget.
  • Costume designer Durinda Wood discusses creating the unique looks for Battle, and how that movie allowed her to create the look of the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Celluloid Wars: The Making of Battle Beyond The Stars can be purchased on Amazon.com!

 

 

MonsterZero NJ

COVER PHOTOS: Amazon.com

 

BARE BONES: DASHCAM (2021)

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DASHCAM (2021)

Indie thriller takes place on Halloween night and finds news editor Jake Caul (Eric Tabach) awaiting the press release of dashcam footage for a big story. A police officer (Rich Vience) and a discredited former Attorney General (Larry Fessenden) were both killed when a routine DUI stop went bad. When Jake is accidentally sent a classified file containing police bodycam footage, that isn’t supposed to exist, and the real coroner’s report, he realizes there was nothing routine about the deaths and there is a larger conspiracy at hand. Having always wanted to be a reporter himself, Jake sees revealing the truth as his big break—a truth someone may not want known.

Effective indie thriller is written and directed by Christian Nilsson and takes place mostly on Jake’s desktop, though it does leave the confines of his apartment in the last act. The real intensity comes as Jake compares the press release footage with the classified information that has fallen into his hands, and starts to see the lies being fed the public. There is also an ominous phone call with thinly veiled threats, if the information accidentally e-mailed to him ever gets out. It makes for a tense little thriller as Jake digs deeper into the conspiracy and at the same time, gets more and more paranoid that someone might come after him. The flick only stumbles in a few places with some weak dialogue spots and a few plot contrivances—such as someone being stupid enough to e-mail a news editor classified information—that keep the story going. Otherwise this is an intense and entertaining little thriller, even more so for anyone with an interest or experience in digital video editing. Also stars Zachary Booth as Jake’s reporter boss Tim and Crawlers and Punisher season 2 star Giorgia Whigham as his girlfriend Mara. Now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: BINGO HELL (2021)

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BINGO HELL (2021)

Flick takes place in the barrio neighborhood of Oak Springs where feisty and stubborn elder Lupita (Adriana Barraza), and her friends, are growing frustrated with the changes going on around them. It comes to a boil when their favorite place, the bingo hall, is bought by a mysterious man (Richard Brake). Gentrification is the least of Lupita’s worries, as her friends are soon drawn to this charismatic, but sinister man. What fate does he have in store for them and can Lupita stop him?

Welcome to The Blumhouse movie is directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero from her script with Shane McKenzie and Perry Blackshear and is a loud, obnoxious and dull flick. Guerrero directs with the subtlety of a chainsaw, as the viewer is bludgeoned over the head with it’s messages about gentrification and eminent domain that have been presented far more effectively in other recent films. If that isn’t enough to get your attention, there are scenes bathed in garish neon and all sorts multicolored spurting fluids and bombastic violence. Problem is, once Guerrero has your attention, she really doesn’t know what to do with it, as the film is boring, silly, overly preachy and Lupita is so obnoxious, she’s hard to endear to even when the points she is making are right. The tone is all over the place and one wonders if this was supposed to be a comedy or horror. Either way, it fails as both and as social commentary, too. Very little to recommend here as even the usually reliable Richard Brake is reduced to a ho-hum villain.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: BLACK AS NIGHT (2021)

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BLACK AS NIGHT (2021)

Vampire flick premiered on Amazon Prime this past weekend as part of the new Welcome to the Blumhouse series. It takes place in New Orleans in the rundown housing project of Ombreux, where folks are suddenly disappearing. When teenager Shawna (Asjha Cooper) is attacked and bitten and her mother is turned, Shawna realizes vampires are preying on the locals. Determined to save the Ombreux and those who live there, Shawna and best bud Pedro (Fabrizio Guido) set out to hunt down and destroy the master vampire (Keith David).

Flick is directed by Maritte Lee Go from a script by Sherman Payne. It has it’s heart in the right place, covering some socially relevant topics such as gentrification of urban neighborhoods and the effects of Hurricane Katrina on people of color, fifteen years later. The film makes good use of the New Orleans locations, and has some fun moments and entertaining action sequences as Shawna and friends turn vampire killers. Where the film falters, is as a vampire movie it’s very routine and could have been more energetic. The similar Vampires vs, The Bronx handled similar socially relevant themes, but was much more fun and effective as a vampire flick, too. Sure it’s great to see Keith David as a master vampire and his purpose fits in with the film’s themes, but it’s all very 90s Buffy—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but without the pop culture wit. Bronx’s gentrifying vampires were more fun, as were it’s spunky vampire fighting kids. Cooper and the cast all perform well, but well-intended social messages aside, we just wish Black as Night was simply more bloody fun.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: ROYAL JELLY (2021)

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ROYAL JELLY (2021)

Film tells the story of outcast high schooler and avid bee keeper Aster (Elizabeth McCoy). Aster is not happy living with her stepmother (Fiona McQuinn) and half-sister Drew (Raylen Ladner) and the feeling is mutual. Things start to pick up when new teacher Tresa (Sherry Lattanz) shows interest in Aster and shares her love of bee keeping. When Drew and her friends destroy Aster’s hives, she runs away and Tresa takes her in. But Tresa is not who she seems and she may have sinister plans for Aster.

Written and directed by Sean Riley, this low budget film does get credit for trying to do something different, even if the flick misses the mark. Royal Jelly is a slow burn and has a few creepy moments, but drops the ball when it makes it’s big reveal and it’s attempt to turn into a body horror in the last minutes become downright laughable, with some awful make-up FX. The plot that Tresa is trying to make humans become bee-like is bee-wildering and silly anyway, with Aster, naturally. to be transformed into the hive queen. Still, it does pay homage to it’s influences and at least had the originality to not include zombies or an exorcism. Available to rent now on VOD.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

BARE BONES: IT CAME FROM BELOW (2021)

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IT CAME FROM BELOW (2021)

Film opens with a man (Stuart Packer) barely escaping a cave system with his life, claiming that he encountered a horrifying creature within. Now his daughter Jessie (Megan Purvis) enters the cave system with some of her friends to prove her father was telling the truth. Be careful what you wish for spelunkers!

Routine low budget monster movie owes a lot to The Descent with it’s story of a strange and possibly extraterrestrial creature stalking young cave explorers deep below the surface. Flick is directed in a fairly by-the-numbers fashion by Dan Allen from his script with Sam Ashurst. There isn’t all that much to recommend here, as we’ve seen much of it all before and it really doesn’t add anything new to the monster movie sub-genre. The creature is a sufficient enough critter and there is some bloodshed, but there are also a lot of scenes of crying, screaming and melodrama, too. Allen really doesn’t infuse it with anything all that special to set it apart from the dozens of other direct to VOD monster flicks that arrive constantly during the year. If you are a monster movie completest or just like seeing dumb twenty-somethings in peril, flick is available to screen today on Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating