MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS THE 2010s WAS THE DECADE OF INDIE HORROR!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS THE 2010s WAS THE DECADE OF INDIE HORROR!

Maika Monroe’s Jay screams at an entity only she can see in It Follows!

The past decade was a very good time for horror fans as there was quite a resurgence of the popularity of fright flicks and thus more movies produced. This and the emergence of some new indie studios and distributors, like A24 and IFC Midnight, as well as, new crowd funding methods to get filmmaker’s films financed, especially impacted independently produced horror. To illustrate this delightful proliferation, here are ten indie horror flicks, each representing the year they were released, that prove the 2010s was the decade of indie horror!

Teen Leah (Nicole Muñoz) unleashes something she can’t control in Pyewacket!

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(To get to the reviews of the titles listed that were covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON DIRECTED BY WOMEN!

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While we watch numerous horror classics during the spooky season, from the likes of Carpenter, Cronenberg and Hooper, let’s not forget the contributions made by the ladies who have broken boundaries in a male dominated genre. More female directors are making their voices known than ever before, but there have also been some pioneers who broke down walls long before today’s female talents got behind the camera! So, here are 12 female directed horrors perfect to add to your Halloween playlist!

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(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP
  2. THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE
  3. SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE
  4. PET SEMETARY
  5. AMERICAN PSYCHO
  6. NEAR DARK
  7. DANCE OF THE DAMNED
  8. AMERICAN MARY
  9. SEE NO EVIL 2
  10. THE BABADOOK
  11. HONEYMOON
  12. TALES OF HALLOWEEN

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And who could talk women in horror without evoking the name of the late Debra Hill, who produced (and frequently co-wrote) a number of John Carpenter’s classic films, including horrors such as Halloween (and a number of it’s sequels), The Fog and produced David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone. A true pioneer producer/writer in the horror genre! We lost Debra to cancer in 2005, but she has left a legacy of film that will live on!

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Debra Hill 1950-2005

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Also, head over HERE to read how legendary producer Roger Corman was instrumental at giving women filmmakers a voice in horror at a time when it was practically unheard of!…

FROM FINAL GIRLS TO FILMMAKERS: HOW ROGER CORMAN HELPED GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN HORROR!

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An erotic thriller directed by Kat Shea for Roger Corman.

-MonsterZero NJ

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REVIEW: VENDETTA (2015)

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VENDETTA (2015)

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

Vendetta is an action/revenge drama and is the second collaboration between WWE Studios and The Soska Sisters (American Mary, See No Evil 2). The story has celebrated Chicago cop Mason Danvers (Dean Cain) finally taking down the crime syndicate duo of Victor (Paul “The Big Show” Wight) and Griffen (Aleks Paunovic) Abbott. Three months later, an important witness vanishes and so does the case against The Abbott Brothers. Victor wastes no time and shows up at Danver’s house and murders the cop’s pregnant wife (Kyra Zagorsky) before the detective and police arrive and arrests him. A distraught Mason then tracks down Griffen Abbott and kills him in cold blood. The revenge minded cop is now sent to the Stonewall Correctional Facility…the same prison that is now home to Victor Abbott…and sets on a path to vengeance.

The Soska Sisters directing duo are two of the more original filmmakers around right now, as is their American Mary one of the most original horror flicks in quite some time. All the more disappointing that they chose such a routine action/revenge flick as their latest project. Written by Justin Shady it is a very straightforward prison-set story of vengeance and gives the Soska Sisters little opportunity to be…well, The Soska Sisters. The directors keep the film moving at a nice click. It’s only twenty minutes before Danvers is in prison and the hi-jinx between he and crime lord Abbott begin. Once behind the prison walls, though, it becomes a series of by-the-numbers fight, beating and murder scenes that start to grow a bit tiresome, when mixed with the been-there-done-that drama in between. As we move towards the eventual showdown, which is also a bit of a letdown, too, considering the build-up, we get very little we haven’t seen before in this type of flick. We also get a very predictable sub-plot about Abbott’s real boss and even that is revealed far too soon to give it real impact and the whole bit about Danvers and his wife trying to conceive…and succeeding right before she’s killed…is beyond cliché. Add to it that the film gets wrapped up very conveniently and we have a movie that is a far cry from what we enjoy watching the Soska’s do. It’s technically well-made and was never boring, but never felt like a Soska Sisters film. There was none of the dark humor and off-the-wall uniqueness that made American Mary such an original film.

As for the cast, I enjoyed watching Dean Cain as a bad-ass. Bulked up and with some facial hair covering his boyish good looks, he surprisingly made a very solid tough guy. WWE Superstar The Big Show is fun to watch as the massive Victor Abbott and is convincing as the vicious and cruel criminal. He also gives us a lively characterization of a routinely written villain. Michael Eklund is very eccentric as Warden Snyder, but despite an off-beat portrayal, the character revelations are not all that surprising and actually make him less interesting, when all is said and done. The supporting cast are all fine as various prison guards, thugs and inmates. Again, in a Soska Sisters film, I expected far more interesting characters, but this isn’t their script.

I understand the Soska’s doing this to keep their relationship with WWE pictures strong, but wish they either picked a more interesting project…like their proposed film with WWE’s horror movie inspired Wyatt Family…or at least been allowed to do a draft of the script to add their quirky/morbid style. Their previous WWE Studios film See No Evil 2 was more up their alley and felt very much like a Soska film despite them not writing the screenplay. They seemed to feel more at home directing that and just seemed more like going through the motions here. The film is still amusing at times and I was never outright bored, but I’d seen it all before and that’s something I’d never thought I’d say about a Soska Sisters film.

-MonsterZero NJ

  2 and 1/2 bullets.

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FROM FINAL GIRLS TO FILMMAKERS: HOW ROGER CORMAN HELPED GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN HORROR!

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FROM FINAL GIRLS TO FILMMAKERS: HOW ROGER CORMAN HELPED GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN HORROR!

(Just click on the movie titles to go to our full length reviews!)

Catching up with some Corman produced 80s horror, I came to realize just how ahead of his time legendary producer Roger Corman was in giving women a voice in horror as filmmakers and not just final girls!…

Roger Corman is legendary for his exploitation flicks and while some may debate the involvement of women in those films as objects of T&A elements and/or final girls in his horror flicks, they may not be aware that Corman was also boundary breaking in giving women opportunities as filmmakers behind the camera, which, especially in the horror genre and at the time…the 80s…was practically unheard of.

Today women have been showing their voice in the horror genre behind the cameras more than ever. With the starkly original works of the Soska Sisters and their American Mary or See No Evil 2, taking the horror world by storm…along with filmmakers like Jennifer (The Babadook) Kent and Leigh (Honeymoon) Janiak…that voice is louder than ever. The boundaries are starting to come down finally in a very male dominated genre and it’s a blessing to horror movie fans to be getting the works and perspectives of a whole new generation of female filmmakers, previously unheard from…but as these talents tear down the walls, is it possible there were already cracks there from an earlier time?

Three decades before this refreshing opening of doors, those doors were unlocked partially by a man that some may unfairly claim made his money exploiting women in movies, Roger Corman. During the 80s, women were just starting to make waves as filmmakers, let alone in the horror genre and Roger Corman not only produced numerous horror flicks with women writing and/or directing, but gave start to the careers of some renown producers too, like Gale Anne Hurd and his own wife, Julie Corman as well!

Corman, under his New World Pictures banner, produced Humanoids From The Deep with Barabara Peeters at the helm in 1981 and a year later gave the directing reigns to Amy Holden Jones on the slasher Slumber Party Massacre, which was also written by Rita Mae Brown. While the 1983 Suburbia, was not a horror flick, Corman gave new filmmaker Penelope (Wayne’s World) Spheeris a chance, producing her unflinching vision of a group of outcast punk rockers. It is now considered a cult classic and she a very successful filmmaker. After selling New World and starting Concorde Pictures, this trend continued. Sorority House Massacre was written and directed by Carol Frank and between 1987 and 1990 there were second and third installments of the Slumber Party Massacre series, helmed by Deborah Brock and Sally Mattison respectively. Corman even gave one of his regular actresses a chance behind the camera. Kat Shea (Barbarian Queen) co-wrote and directed Stripped To Kill for Corman in 1987 after starring in a few of his productions and doing some second unit work and writing for the legendary producer. She made a few more films for Concorde and Corman afterwards, including the immensely underrated vampire romance Dance Of The Damned in 1987. Shea…then Shea-Rubin…went on to a prolific career as a writer/director after striking out on her own. I personally find her to be a highly underrated filmmaker, whose most well-know film is probably the sexy thriller Poison Ivy with Drew Barrymore.

Corman was not the only one shaking the boundaries that are now finally coming down. John Carpenter stood by the late Debra Hill as his producer and she produced a number of his most classic films with him, including the horror masterpiece Halloween and that was only the beginning for this now legendary producer. Kathryn Bigelow burst on the scene with the vampire classic Near Dark in 1987 as did Mary Lambert in 1989 with the Stephen King adaptation, Pet Semetery. Rachel Talalay killed Freddy Krueger in Freddy’s Dead in 1991 and if not for the vision of Mary Harron, we wouldn’t have the modern classic American Psycho, which also showed us what a relatively unknown Christian Bale could do in front of the camera. Corman was not solely responsible, but certainly led the way during the 80s giving women a voice in horror behind the camera as well as in front of it…long before today’s generation of female horror filmmakers are making their presence known.

So, we are finally getting to see women make a strong mark as filmmakers in the horror genre. Their emergence was a long time coming, but there were pioneers that paved the way. While Roger Corman was not the only producer to give female filmmakers a chance on the creative end of the horror genre…and there were a handful of female directed horrors before the 80s, too…he did do it at a time where it was practically unheard of and he did it often. Do today’s filmmakers like Jen and Sylvia Soska have Roger Corman to thank for putting cracks in the barriers that they are now tearing down with their unique and talented visions as women in horror?…I’ll let you decide that for yourselves!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SEE NO EVIL 2 (2014)

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SEE NO EVIL 2 (2014)

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

I’m not a big fan of the original See No Evil. Despite the use of the imposingly massive WWE superstar Glenn “Kane” Jacobs, the film was a by-the-numbers slasher that generated very little suspense and it’s juvenile delinquent characters didn’t generate much endearment to give us someone to root/fear for. But the film does have a bit of a following and did well, especially on home media. So, after 8 years…Jacob Goodnight is back and he’s not only bringing fan favorite scream queens Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle along with him, but he is being directed by the devious duo behind American Mary, the Soska Sisters, as well.

The story opens the same night as the massacre at The Blackwell Hotel, with pretty morgue attendant Amy (Danielle Harris) about to leave her shift and head out to celebrate her birthday. But with bodies from the massacre heading in, Amy decides to stay and help her co-worker Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) with the added workload…and thus her friends, including vixen with a morbid side, Tamara (Katharine Isabelle) decide to surprise her at the morgue with an impromptu birthday party. But there is still some life in the prone corpse of vicious serial killer Jacob Goodnight (Glenn “Kane” Jacobs) and soon he rises from his slab, with an assortment of postmortem surgical tools at his disposal, to continue his work by slaughtering the “sinners” who are partying in the morgue. Will any of them escape alive as Goodnight seals them in and begins adding to the bodies already stored there?

With the Twisted Twins taking over from ex-porn director Gregory Dark, the film is an improvement over the first one and for some very surprising reasons. The Soskas are working from a script by Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby and thus it doesn’t quite have the delightfully eccentric tone of Mary, that they wrote themselves, but it does have their style and does have a bit more fun with this slasher sequel than the deadpan and too-serious-for-it’s-own-good first flick. At first I was a little disappointed as the film started out and seemed to be a bit routine coming from directors whose work is anything, but until the second half suddenly cranks things up considerably and that’s where the film surprised me a little bit. And it’s not with the kills, which are cool, that the Soskas really got my attention with, but with some surprisingly poignant moments between the characters, mostly involving Harris’ Amy, that really resonated and really added something to the proceedings. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a slasher/horror that took the time to have such nice character moments between the carnage and it really added to the endearment of those characters and the suspense of wanting them to get out of there moderately intact. The film also deviated at times from the slasher formula and that added some freshness to it and the Soskas, as with American Mary, give us some disturbingly gruesome moments, but without going overboard or being gross for gross sake like SNE #1. A little restraint makes the violent moments all the more effective when they do come…and there are a couple that elicited an out loud “whoa” from me as I watched. Add in some nice moody cinematography by Mahlon Todd Williams that takes good advantage of the city morgue setting and a nice score from The Newton Brothers and you have an entertaining little slasher that does have the usual slasher plot holes…such as, are there so few exits in such a large public building that Goodnight could seal them all on all floors and without anyone knowing…and why are the guests’ cellphones locked in a safe?… but it still entertains like it’s supposed to.

As for the cast… “Kane” is as imposing as ever as Goodnight. Harris does really strong work here. Not only in creating a little depth for Amy, who has chosen a career that is obviously not popular with her family, but really shines in some of those character moments I mentioned before. Amy is a strong, though slightly cynical, heroine with guts and a heart. She also has a nice chemistry with Eriksen, who is good as Seth. Seth is crushing on her big time and she knows it and the scene when they reveal their mutual feelings for each other works really well and the actors’ chemistry makes it work despite there being a 7 foot madman stalking them at the moment. Isabelle is a hoot as the promiscuous babe with a dark side, Tamara. It’s not a deep role as her Mary Mason and it seems like, this time, she’s having some fun with a more ditzy part and letting Harris do the more serious emoting. Her postmortem lap dance for Jacob Goodnight’s corpse is a fun number, to say the least. The rest of the cast are solid and despite Amy’s brother Will (Greyston Holt) being a bit of a self-centered jerk, we have a fairly likable cast of supporting characters with Chelan Simmons as pretty blonde Kayla, Lee Majdoub as Tamara’s boyfriend Carter and Michael Eklund as the chief morgue attendant Holden. A much more endearing bunch than the angry delinquents that populated the first flick.

So, See No Evil 2 may not be a classic, but it is a solid and entertaining slasher that has some surprisingly effective quieter moments in-between the well-orchestrated carnage. The Soska’s bring the action and suspense, especially in the second half and even with it’s barely 90 minute running time, give us some nice resonating character scenes bolstered by it’s lead actors especially, Harris, who does some of her best work. And that’s what impresses about the Twisted Twins the most…they can deliver some very sick and twisted moments, but can also deliver some poignant quiet moments in between, just like the little conversations between Mary and Lance in American Mary. Another intriguing film from two of the more original filmmakers out there.

3 extremely hot morticians.

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25 LESSER-KNOWN or OVERLOOKED HORROR FLICKS TO ADD TO YOUR HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST!

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Need a little variety for your Halloween viewing this year? These are 25 lesser-known, overlooked or more obscure horrors from recent years that certainly are worthy of a spot on your movie playlist for the upcoming Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. BEREAVEMENT
  2. THE LOVED ONES
  3. STAKE LAND
  4. THE DEAD
  5. THE INNKEEPERS
  6. AMERICAN MARY
  7. THE LORDS OF SALEM
  8. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  9. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013)
  10.  ABSENTIA
  11. MALEVOLENCE
  12. GINGER SNAPS
  13. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
  14. THE LAST EXORCISM
  15. THE HILLS RUN RED
  16. THE PACT
  17. LOVELY MOLLY
  18. WAKE WOOD
  19. THE AWAKENING
  20. ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
  21. THE SHRINE
  22. BABYSITTER WANTED
  23. LAKE MUNGO
  24. HAUTE TENSION
  25. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES

Also check out my MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 MUST WATCH HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON

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15 FAVORITE HORROR FLICKS OF THE LAST 5 YEARS

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These are 15 favorite… plus one honorary mention… horror flicks from the last 5 years that really grabbed me or entertained me and I re-watch/recommend quite often!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. BEREAVEMENT
  2. THE LOVED ONES
  3. STAKE LAND
  4. TRICK ‘R’ TREAT (made in 2007 but, not released until 2009)
  5. CABIN IN THE WOODS
  6. EVIL DEAD (2013)
  7. THE DEAD
  8. THE INNKEEPERS
  9. AMERICAN MARY
  10. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (made in 2007 but, not released until 2009)
  11. THE LORDS OF SALEM
  12. OCULUS
  13. MANIAC (2013)
  14. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  15. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013)
  16. honorary mention: ABSENTIA

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YEAR END HORROR ROUND-UP 2013

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I’m not a big fan of top 10 lists and all that year end fuss but, I thought I would give a bit of a look back at what I liked and didn’t like in the horror genre this year and, or course, share it with all of you. These are just my opinions and since the world is filled with different tastes and preferences and each horror film effects, or doesn’t effect, everyone differently, I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my selections but, this is how I look at what the horror genre had to offer this year…

BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR

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EVIL DEAD (2013)

To a degree it’s sad that the best horror of the year was a remake but, I had a blast with Fede Alvarez’s re-imagining and it had some nice scares, plenty of gore and Jane Levy rocked in the lead. Alvarez showed he’s a director to keep an eye on and he paid tribute to the original while doing his own thing. Fun horror! Read my full review HERE…

BEST HORROR RUNNER-UP

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THE LORDS OF SALEM (2013)

Rob Zombie’s latest horror is not for everyone but, I enjoyed this out-there story of a Salem Mass. DJ (Sheri Moon Zombie) who is sent a record that, when played, sets in motion the return of a coven of Devil worshipping witches and their plan to bring great evil into our world. Zombie’s flick has some really disturbing visuals and some very subtle and creepy scenes to go along with it’s more shocking moments and evokes the works of some of horror’s best directors while remaining a Rob Zombie film. His most solid directorial effort and a refreshingly off-beat and very unsettling movie. Even the soundtrack was disturbing and, as usual in a Zombie film, there are some great songs included in it that almost become a character in the film themselves. An acquired taste but, I really enjoyed it. Read my original review HERE…

BEST HORROR HONORABLE MENTION

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MANIAC (2013)

For a guy who bitches a lot about all the horror remakes, it is quite ironic that two of my favorites this year are in fact remakes but, Franck Khalfoun’s re-imagining was a vast improvement over the sleazy and overrated original and Elijah Wood gave me the creeps. There were some truly shocking and disturbing moments, strong tension and the film made creepy use of it’s POV shooting style. An art house style horror that really worked for me. Read my full review HERE…

MOST ORIGINAL HORROR

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AMERICAN MARY (2013)

Sure Mary isn’t perfect but, this story of pretty Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle), a down on her luck medical student who is lured into the world of underground body modification surgery for money and then is turned into a sadistic killer when horribly wronged, is a breath of fresh air in a genre saturated by generic haunted house and home invasion thrillers. A wickedly fun and disturbing flick from the Soska Sisters and one that made me second guess myself and I give it a lot of credit for that. Read my full review HERE…

ORIGINAL HORROR RUNNER-UP

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EXCISION (2012)

Yes, this film is from 2012 but, I didn’t catch up with it till this year and it deserves a shout out for being one of the more original flicks I watched during 2013. Another surgery themed flick has a troubled teen Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) whose obsession with surgery and bizarre fantasies leads this demented ugly duckling to commit some horrible acts. A trippy and disturbing  little movie with a really strong performance by McCord who disappears into the role. A nice turn by Traci Lords as well as Pauline’s overbearing mother also gives this flick some weight. Read my full review HERE…

ORIGINAL HORROR HONORABLE MENTION

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JUG FACE (2013)

Chad Crawford Kinkle gave us an unsettling and offbeat little horror about a rural backwoods community presided over by a supernatural creature that resides in a large sink hole just inside the woods. The creature watches over the village and even cures ills as long as the residents feed it the appropriate sacrifice when it calls for it. When one of the intended sacrifices has other ideas, she brings it’s wrath down upon her entire village. Read my full review HERE…

BEST DIRECT TO HOME MEDIA HORROR /

BEST COMEBACK

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CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013)

This flick sadly went direct to home media but, Chucky’s first horror in almost 10 years is a fun, gory and suspenseful tale that returns to the series’ more serious roots and sets Chucky loose in a spooky old house. It had some nice suspense, some vicious kills, Fiona Dourif made a plucky wheelchair bound heroine and there’s some nice surprises for fans of the series too. Chucky was back in style and didn’t get the attention/respect he deserved. Read my full review HERE…

 

MOST OVERRATED HORROR

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THE CONJURING (2013)

Don’t get me wrong, The Conjuring is a well made and fairly enjoyable horror flick especially in it’s spooky first act, but with a second act that gets not only theatrical and a bit hokey, but climaxes with yet another routine exorcism, it lost it’s grip on me much like Wan’s Insidious did in it’s second half. A good flick, but not the masterpiece internet hype makes it out to be. Also doesn’t hold up under repeat viewings as the scares have lost some of their effect and the flaws only get more obvious. Read my full review HERE…

 

MOST DISAPPOINTING HORROR

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YOU’RE NEXT (2013)

With all the positive buzz and internet hype I heard about this flick, it was a major disappointment when I left the theater having seen this predictable and routine home invasion flick with transparent plot twists and a completely contrived excuse for the lethal skills of it’s final girl… though Sharni Vinson was effective in the part. Otherwise the bland cast recites some really bad dialog and does incredibly stupid things to set themselves up as victims both invaded and invader alike. A weak script and a shaky cam obsessed directer make this not only one of the year’s biggest disappointments, but one of the weaker horrors I saw this year. See my full review HERE…

 

WORST HORROR

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THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (2013)

After the entertaining and effectively chilling first flick, this shameless and stupid cash grab sequel is awful in almost every way. A poor script and story, lame direction and a laughable climax makes this hands down the worst horror I saw this year. Ashley Bell does try really hard, but the actress is given garbage to work with and garbage is what this sequel is. Read my full review HERE…

WORST HORROR THAT I STILL ENJOYED

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TEXAS CHAINSAW  (2013)

I’m not going to defend this flick, it had some glaring story problems, a highly questionable timeline…our plucky heroine Heather (Alexandra Daddario) should be in her forties not a nubile 20 something…and numerous other issues, but it gave me some chuckles and a couple of real hotties being chased by a chubby, balding Leatherface…who should be like 60 here…there were also some gruesome kills and did I mention it’s got Alexandra Daddario? A guilty pleasure for sure for, as bad as this was, I had fun watching it and it did have some nice cameos and homages to Hooper’s original masterpiece. Read my full review HERE…

HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

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THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT AMERICAN MARY

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WARNING: If you haven’t seen American Mary, then be aware there are some MAJOR SPOILERS in this article…

I’ll start off by saying that I have been watching and loving movies for almost 5 decades and I certainly don’t consider myself any kind of expert and I am not going to sit here and tell you that I always ‘get’ what a filmmaker is trying to accomplish. But I have seen a lot of movies and will admit I am a bit cynical and hard to please at times, so when a movie comes along that either challenges me or makes me second guess myself, it isn’t often, but it is very refreshing. Which brings me to the Soska Sisters’ American Mary. American Mary is a horror thriller with a very intriguing story… down on her luck medical student Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) in an effort to pay her way through medical school gets involved, by a series of bizarre circumstances, in illegal body modification surgery. Worse still, she is drugged and raped by her arrogant professor and uses her surgical skills to exact a cruel and brutal revenge. Mary’s path in life goes from struggling medical student to underground body modification rock star to sadistic killer. Upon first watching the film, I was definitely intrigued by the Soskas’ original story and their focusing on a segment of society that is rarely glimpsed in film, those who use their very own bodies as canvases for surgically altered sculptures. But I had some issues and while some of those issues still stand, my biggest conundrum came with the character of Mary herself.

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In my initial review I questioned how Mary was portrayed by both star Isabelle and the directors. First off, let me say that I am a big fan of this underrated and very hard working (since 7 or 8 years old) actress, so the fact that I was questioning whether she portrayed the character with a bit too much of an even tone or emotional detachment, already didn’t sit right with me. Obviously playing a character like Mary more over the top would have not worked well with the tone of the film, but I felt there should have a bit more of a difference between the Mary we meet and the person she becomes as the film takes her on this bizarre and dark path. She seems to adapt too easily to both becoming an illegal surgeon catering to the whims of this sect of society that alters their own bodies and then a sadistic killer when she is horribly wronged. I also questioned whether the Soskas properly portrayed the gradual changes in Mary as her path takes her from a medical student who calls her grandmother to check in on her, to a woman capable of some very vicious and cruel behavior. But it seemed odd that they would miss the point of their own character and story. So was it me who missed something? I have watched the film a few times since my initial view…actually watching it now as I write…and I still wasn’t quite getting the impact of Mary’s transformation. Then I considered something I hadn’t upon first watching it…what if Mary hadn’t changed? What if this wasn’t a story of s good girl turned bad or Jekyll and Hyde? What if Mary hadn’t transformed…but was freed? It would explain why Isabelle’s Mary really doesn’t show much of a personality change…except for a more confident air…as the film progresses and the Soskas’ don’t present us with any moments of dramatic alteration in her personally…this person was inside Mary all along and the events in her life did not create her, but unleashed her. Had I missed the point initially? Was I mistaken in expecting this to be a more traditional story? Now really needing an answer to my pondering…I turned to the Soskas.

 
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Writers, directors and actors “The Twisted Twins” Jen and Sylvia Soska.

Thanks to the power of social media we can now actually talk with some of our favorite celebrities and filmmakers and was able to Tweet the Soskas… who just finished filming See No Evil 2  with Isabelle, Danielle Harris and WWE Superstar Kane… and asked them my question, “Was Mary changed by her experiences or did it awaken someone who was already there inside her?”…and the Soskas’ were gracious enough to give me an answer… “It was inside her always. There are situations in life that bring out our darker nature, that was hers.”… so, there it was. And watching the film now as I type this, their answer makes sense. Mary was lost and unhappy in her life as a broke medical student and becoming this diva of underground surgical procedures gave her the purpose and direction her life needed. This also gave her the tools to fight back and get revenge for her brutal violation by her Professor. Her validation from her new life gives her the strength to get back at a man who took advantage of her…and who knows how many other girls…sadly, this does push Mary into a very dark place and awakens her ability to use her skills to be very sadistic, cruel and commit murder. Was Mary mirroring her patients and only becoming her true self after some drastic and unconventional alterations to her life as they to their bodies? I now think this could be. You might even consider that altering the physical form of her patients gave her a bit of a God complex and she now felt punishment and death was hers to give out. It does parallel Grant and his fellow surgeons view that others were theirs to act out their perverted desires on, whenever they chose and without consequence. Though, oddly enough, I do think Mary had somewhat more of a moral center, if not a very skewed one. After all Grant and his cronies victimized innocents while she killed for revenge and, in the one case, panic/self defense. Despite her treatment of Dr. Grant…and the unfortunate security guard…Mary does seem to have moments where she appears a bit remorseful or seems to be questioning herself, but we may never know where she was going to finally end up as Mary’s darker deeds don’t go unpunished and karma catches up with her in an ironic and bloody way. Not a traditional story or character, so it now makes sense not to view it with tradition expectations.

So there it is. I feel a lot more satisfied with the film now that the Soskas confirmed my suspicions and I gotta give them credit with giving this grizzled movie geek something to think about and chew on with their flick. And it’s been a long time since a movie did that. I still feel the film has it’s flaws. Some of the subplots and character relationships could have been better explored and the end seems to come out of almost nowhere. But this is an intriguing and original horror thriller and gives us a lead character who isn’t your typical heroine and is actually still likable despite her sadistic and homicidal sides. I appreciate this film making me second guess myself and intriguing me and presenting me with a character that wasn’t black and white and took me a few viewings to figure out…if I truly have. While I’m going to leave my original review here on the site as it is, as some of the points within are still valid, but I am going to now link it here, so readers can see how my perception of this flick and it’s lead character have changed. And again, if a movie can challenge me like this one did, it makes me want to keep an eye on this creative duo even more. Thank you very much to the Soskas for answering my question and keep messing with my head ladies, I think I like it!

You can also take a look here for our Halloween season look at Katharine Isabelle’s contributions to the horror film genre which also links to our reviews of  Ginger Snaps and it’s follow-ups!

-MonsterZero NJ

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: KATHARINE ISABELLE

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Halloween Hotties focuses this time on the beautiful and talented Katharine Isabelle. The Canadian actress has been working hard at her craft since she was a kid and her work in both genre movies and television certainly qualifies this versatile lady as a scream queen!

click on the highlighted links to read the reviews of Miss Isabelle’s films that I’ve covered here at MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse!

KATHARINE ISABELLE

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Katharine Isabelle first started acting at the young age of 7 for the 1989 film Cousins and continued to work steadily with appearances and roles in both films and TV. But it wasn’t until she starred in the 1998 sci-fi/ horror Disturbing Behavior that she had her first genre movie appearance though she had done some genre TV including roles in Goosebumps, Ray Bradbury Theater and The X-Files. It wasn’t until Isabelle got the lead role in the cult classic 2000 werewolf flick Ginger Snaps that the now grown-up actress really caught our attention as the ill-fated high school Goth girl Ginger, whose life turns upside down when bitten by a werewolf. After that, an appearance in Freddy v.s. Jason and reprising her Ginger character for the sequel and prequel respectively Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning cemented her status as one of today’s reigning scream queens. But, she shows no signs of slowing down as she’s appeared in quite a few more genre shows such as The Outer Limits, Smallville, Supernatural and Being Human and continues her prolific film work including roles in the horror flicks Hard Ride To Hell30 Days Of Night: Dark Days, Rampage and the disturbing and original 2013 flick American Mary from the Soska Sisters. She has the horror films 13 Eerie and Torment on the horizon and is starring with fellow reigning scream queen Danielle Harris in the currently filming See No Evil 2 which reunites her with the directing team of The Soska Sisters. A gorgeous, talented and hard working woman who seems to be only just getting started…

UPDATE!: Not only can Katharine now be seen on season 4 of SYFY’s Being Human but, it’s just been announced, she will have a reoccurring role on season 2 of NBC’s Hannibal. A busy woman whose star is on the rise!

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As hero James Marsden’s little sister Lindsay in Disturbing Behavior

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…All grown up in the role that really got our attention, as Ginger in Ginger Snaps and it’s sequels

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…As tough girl Gibb in the bloody fun Freddy vs Jason… 

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…and as the beautiful but deadly Mary Mason in the disturbing and gruesome American Mary

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…a rising star full of talent, beauty and surprises!

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaAmber HeardAlexandra DaddarioKatrina BowdenBriana Evigan and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!

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