Flick finds hitman Johnny (Stephen McHattie) being tasked by his boss Hercules (Henry Rollins) to cut off the pinkie finger of a fading jazz musician (also McHattie), whom Hercules wants to teach some respect. Not only does Johnny botch this assignment, but makes things worse when he rescues a 14 year-old girl (Themis Pauwels) from Hercules’ clutches, that has been betrothed to a vampire (Tómas Lemarquis). Really! That’s the plot!
Bruce McDonald (Hellions, Pontypool) directs this dull flick from a mess of a script by Tony Burgess and Patrick Whistler. It’s a movie that has too much going on and never finds a way to cohesively bring it all together. We have an aging hitman, an aging junkie, jazz musician, eccentric mob bosses, child trafficking and a vampire…and that’s just for starters. Why did the Countess’ (Juliette Lewis) brother have to be a vampire in the first place? It doesn’t seem to really effect the story too much. What was the point of McHattie playing both characters? It’s actually a little confusing for the first few minutes. Finally, what was the point of all this, as it doesn’t really go anywhere. Despite his noteworthy earlier films, McDonald only succeeds here in making 90 minutes seem like hours. At least his visual style hasn’t failed. The European locations look great, by way of cinematography by Richard Van Oosterhout. Only thing to really recommend here.
MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2015…MAIKA MONROE!
This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features our Halloween Hottie Of 2015, the beautiful and very talented Maika Monroe, who easily earns this title by appearing in, not one, but two horror/thrillers this year! Now true, these films initially made their presence known at festivals in 2014, but it was not until 2015 that I saw Adam Wingard’s The Guest on home media and David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows in it’s limited theatrical release.
(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of the film’s that have earned her Halloween Hottie of 2015!)
One of the best horror films of the year and one that launched it’s talented leading lady into the spotlight! Monroe plays Jay Height, a young college girl from suburban Detroit who is cursed with some sort of malicious entity through sexual intercourse. This fiend is only visible to those it targets and can assume the shape of anyone it chooses. While it can be passed to someone else in the same manner, noble Jay refuses to put another in harm’s way and thus begins a cat and mouse chase between supernatural terror and the brave young woman. Monroe made quite an impressive heroine in a very chilling film and we hope she returns to the horror genre soon.
Click HERE to read our in-depth comparison to John Carpenter’s classic masterpiece Halloween!
Maika Monroe as It Follows‘ stalked heroine, Jay Height!
While The Guest is not strictly a horror film, it is a blood-soaked thriller that does take place at Halloween and has enough horror touches and trappings to earn it special consideration. In the film, Maika plays Anna a young woman who has recently lost her brother, Caleb in the armed services. When a mysterious stranger, David (Dan Stevens) shows up at her family’s door claiming to be a friend of Caleb’s, they welcome him in with open arms. David isn’t what he seems, though and when bodies start piling up, Anna is the only one who realizes something is wrong with their guest and puts her life on the line to stop him.
As another strong heroine, Maika Monroe as The Guest‘s Anna Peterson!
Maika Monroe will be returning to genre screens soon in two alien invasion flicks, the teen-centric The Fifth Wave and the long-awaited sequel Independence Day: Resurgence…for now, we can enjoy this talented young lady in two horror/thrillers that make her a more than worthy Halloween Hottie Of 2015!
HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2015 RUNNER-UP…CHLOE ROSE!
This year I have a runner-up who seriously challenged Miss Monroe for her title. Chloe Rose made for quite a resourceful and strong-willed heroine as Dora Vogel in Bruce McDonald’s Halloween set fright flick Hellions. The young actress made quite an impression as a pregnant teen who must fend off a pack of demonic little fiends who want her unborn child. If not for Maika’s dual final girl roles, this might have been a tie!
(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Simply put, Hellions is one of the best horror films of the year and possibly a new Halloween cult classic. Spooky, fairy tale-like story has 17 year-old teen Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) finding out on Halloween that she is pregnant. Being an expectant mother is the least of her worries as Dora finds herself home alone on Halloween night with a blood moon in the sky and her house besieged by a pack of bizarre and vicious, costumed ‘children’ who want her unborn child. Now, as her child grows at an unnatural rate, Dora must fight for her life against this demonic brood who want ‘blood for baby’ and turn Halloween night into a nightmare.
Written by Pascal Trottier and directed by Pontypool‘s Bruce McDonald, this is a spooky and sometimes downright surreal Halloween tale that not only evoked parts of Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, but Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm as well. Even so, it is it’s own movie with it’s own style and a style filled with Halloween spirit it is! With fields of pumpkins and it’s creepy costumed gremlins that haunt and hunt our pretty heroine, the film does ooze All Hallows Eve. McDonald gives this loads of atmosphere and there are some scenes that border on hallucinogenic, as the world around Dora changes into some kind of nightmarish dimension under the blood moon. There are some suspenseful sequences as the demonic little fiends try to get at Dora and chases once she’s forced to flee with the help of a local cop (Robert Patrick). There are also some delightfully gory moments, our little demons are creepy as hell and McDonald uses the traditional Halloween tropes in a gleefully ghoulish manner. McDonald’s creepy visuals and dark fairy tale ambience for the film are captured perfectly by Norayr Kasper’s spooky cinematography and there is a very atmospheric score by Todor Kobakov and Ian LeFeuvre. If the film has a weak point, much like this year’s It Follows, it’s that it’s climax is possibly a bit too ambiguous for it’s own good. While the ambiguity of exactly who or what Dora is carrying inside her and who exactly our little “Hellions” are works fine, the ending leaves us scratching our heads a little…or maybe it was all in Dora’s head? Other than that, this is a nightmarish and creepy little Halloween-steeped horror that doesn’t spare us on chills, thrills and splashes of gore.
We have a small, but very effective cast. As Dora, Chloe Rose makes quite an impression and has strong star potential delivering a frightened teen who becomes a resourceful fighter when threatened. She has a strong screen presence and not just because she is beautiful, but she radiates a strength even in the sequences where she is afraid. She brings Dora’s range of emotions to the screen well and can kick demon ass when she needs to. Robert Patrick is good as Office “Corman”…a nice nod to Roger Corman…and while it’s Rose’s show, he has some strong moments as a cop dealing with something he has encountered before and trying to help Dora escape a fate he once witnessed. The small supporting cast are all fine in minor roles with Rossif Sutherland as Dr. Henry, Rachel Wilson as Dora’s Mother and Peter DaCunha as her little brother Remi.
Some may not like this film due to it’s somewhat surreal nature and an ending that is maybe a touch too ambiguous, but it is filled with Halloween spirit and has plenty of spooky atmosphere, chills and spattered blood. Our diminutive spooks are very effective and we have a very memorable horror heroine in Chloe Rose. As a big fan of the horrors this film sometimes evoked, I really enjoyed this diabolically mischievous horror thriller and highly recommend it, especially to those who love films that embrace the spirit of Halloween.
A week before it’s 9/18/15 VOD and limited theater release, IFC Midnight’s Halloween set horror Hellions, from Pontypool director Bruce McDonald, gets a spooky new trailer! I am personally very excited about this one!
First we got a trailer for the new Halloween set horror Hellions from Pontypool director Bruce McDonald. Now, word comes from the awesome folks over at Arrow In The Head that IFC Midnight plans to release this spooky looking horror on VOD and in limited theatrical release on September 18th! As Scream Factory is in cohoots with IFC Midnight currently, that probably means a Scream Factory disc soon after! Hellions stars Robert Patrick and Chloe Rose.
Pontypool is a very original take on the zombie sub-genere directed by Bruce McDonald and adapted by Tony Burgess from his own book Pontypool Changes Everything. The film centers on controversial radio DJ Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) whose latest firing has brought him to work the morning show at a small radio station in the equally small town of Pontypool, Ontario. His rebellious nature rubs station manager Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) the wrong way but, seems to amuse cute young tech assistant Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly). Aside from a brief encounter with a strange woman on the way to work, Grant seems to be having an average dull day of snowfall and school closings…but not for long. Unsubstantiated reports start coming in for what appears to be a riot near a doctor’s office. Station helicopter reporter Ken (voiced by Rick Roberts), who is actually in a Dodge Dart, reports a large amount of people mumbling incoherently and carrying out horrifying acts of violence with the military moving in. Suddenly a routine snow-day in Pontypool turns into an apocalyptic situation as the outbreak of violence increases and spreads, seemingly triggered by certain words or phrases that ignite panicked and violent behavior. Trapped inside the station, Grant and company must decide whether to keep broadcasting or keep quiet…but is keeping his mouth shut something Grant Mazzy is even capable of?
Unlike most zombie flicks, Pontypool doesn’t focus on the gore or carnage, though we get a glimpse, but instead the horror and isolation of it’s three main characters trapped in the remote radio station and receiving bits and pieces of the horrific details. It also gives a bizarre twist in that the ‘virus’ is triggered by certain words or phrases, literally locking the mind on those words till the person becomes frantic and then lashes out violently. To be honest, I had a little trouble wrapping my head around this concept, but McDonald portrays it so effectively and it does cleverly conflict with the fact that our main character is a DJ and talking is his way of life. Now his way of life has become key to violence and death. And the directing here is key to making this offbeat concept work so well. McDonald creates some real tension and atmosphere centering on just three individuals locked inside a small radio station and only getting panicked information from terrified witnesses in the middle of this bizarre outbreak. He let’s our imaginations work overtime envisioning what is happening and we can imagine far worse then even the best horror director can deliver. He also gives us a glimpse of these gibberish spouting killers as the ‘outbreak’ literally shows up at the radio station door and it is very effectively portrayed and successfully creepy. There is also some brief but effective splashes of gore and violence to accent what our imaginations have cooked up from the frantic earlier eyewitness reports. Granted, the film has it’s flaws. The concept of a disease(?) delivered through speech is a hard one to really grasp onto, original idea it may be, and some of the dialog bits had me scratching my head as to what the characters were talking about. But McDonald directs this with such atmosphere and intensity that the flaws don’t do much harm. And if the skilled direction is not enough, Bruce McDonald has a tight cast who all do good work to back him up.
As for that cast, I have always liked Stephen McHattie and he is really good here playing the eccentric rebel with a cause that is his Grant Mazzy. McHattie creates a strong characterization of a man who is colorful, controversial and sometimes too much a rebel for his own good. He is a bit of a jerk, but a very likable one who is thrust into a living nightmare where literally saying the wrong thing can get you killed. He is really impressive here and once again proves himself a very underrated actor. In support, Houle gives us a station manager who is not really equipped to deal with anything out of the ordinary in her small town station, but she turns out to be quite likable and conveys the horror of what is occurring outside her four walls very well. Reilly is cute and very endearing as tech support Laurel-Ann and while we get a hint of a crush on Grant, though it’s never acknowledged just conveyed in her performance. She creates a realistic character of a young, smart, slacker type that we can definitely see doing a job such as she does. And since the film is a character study rather then visceral horror, the fact that the cast is strong really goes a long way of making McDonald and Burgess’ concept work. There is also Hrant Alianak as a doctor who seems to understand what is happening and while he is fine, he is one of the characters whose dialog had me scratching my head a few times though that is the script, not the actor.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed Pontypool and it’s approach to the heavily used zombie sub-genre. The cast was really good and the direction was tight and intense. The concept was original, but I do admit it didn’t grab me totally and some of the dialog went over my head despite having my full attention. But flaws aside, it is an original Horror and in a time where sequels and remakes rule the genre, it is a refreshing and still very enjoyable breath of fresh air.