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SMILE (2022)

Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) witnesses a new patient (Caitlin Stasey) commit suicide right in front of her after telling her she is being pursued by a smiling malevolent entity that wants her dead. Soon Rose starts to feel she is now being targeted too and starts to investigate with her policeman ex Joel (Kyle Gallner). She finds a chain of supposed demonic influenced suicides that leads right to her.
Supernatural horror is written and directed by Parker Finn and borrows a lot from the far spookier It Follows, so much so that it is practically a rip-off. It is a generic and somewhat dull mainstream horror that relies on jump scares and loud noises to elicit responses far more than actual suspense or frights. The cast are fine enough and technically Finn is a competent director, but the film is far too reminiscent of David Robert Mitchell’s chilling indie from 2014 to be effective. It just substitutes sex for suicide as the demon targets those who witness the previous victim’s demise. The FX are good, such as the entity’s true form, but it’s simply too predictable and routine to make it interesting. Also, a bit too long at 115 minutes. It drags in spots. A mediocre flick whose best ideas are from someone else’s movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating





Haley Bennett alone against a vicious cult in Kristy



Who doesn’t love a good final girl!? Most horror fans do! So, here are twelve recent horrors/thrillers where our heroines made an especially strong impact kicking the ass of evil!


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

1. Kristy


3.Bound To Vengeance


5.Final Girl

6.Don’t Breathe

7.The Guest

8.All I Need

9.Carnage Park

10.The Monster




Tina Ivlev turns the tables on female traffickers in Bound To Vengeance

-MonsterZero NJbars



This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features three relatively new faces in horror that recently have made quite an impression in the genre. These three actresses made for memorable final girls/characters in their respective horrors/thrillers and we can only hope they will grace the horror genre again and soon!

(Click on the highlighted links to read a review of the films that our Halloween Hotties have appeared in)

Anya Taylor-Joy


Anya has taken the horror world by storm, appearing in two highly acclaimed horror films within the space of a year and an entertaining Sci-fi thriller in the middle. The actress was born in Miami, but has lived in Argentina and London and has also modeled and been a ballet dancer. Her varied background may be the reason she can play such different roles and almost be unrecognizable from one to the other. Whether it be a coming of age puritan teen in The Witch, a genetic experiment in Morgan, or an emotionally troubled teen kidnaped by someone with far bigger head problems in Split, Anya is proving a welcome presence in the horror genre and an actress to keep an eye on! Rumor now suggests she may join the cast of The New Mutants, the new X-Men film in the works…and we hope so!


Anya first got our attention as The Witch’s tempted teen Thomasin!




Between movies and TV, this Aussie beauty has been quite busy and we couldn’t be happier that some of that busy has been in our favorite type of flicks! Stasey, already a veteran of TV and films, made her first waves in the horror genre in Lucky McKee’s 2013 horror comedy All Cheerleaders Die as lead Maddy. She next appeared in the unintentionally funny graphic novel adaptation I, Frankenstein, as a sexy gargoyle, no less. She then starred as kidnap victim, Chloe in the 2015 horror/thriller All I Need, which is only now being released and just last year in the horror comedy Fear, Inc. While we wait for this Australian stunner to appear in her next genre role, she can currently be seen in the sexy TV historical drama Reign. A busy girl we’d like to see even more of!


Caitlin would like to tell you how much she loves being in horror movies, but…(from All I Need)




This talented twenty-something from Pheonix, Arizona is an actress and a dancer and has proven to be quite versatile. She first caught our attention in the violent post apocalyptic epic The Last Survivors as the tough and tenacious Kendal, who takes on an entire gang to save the lives of those close to her. She also starred in the thriller Follow, was Krista, best friend to troubled teen Nadine, in the heartfelt and hilarious The Edge Of Seventeen (OK, not horror, but a really good flick!) and battled 23 different James McAvoys in the intense chiller Split! Obviously we’d watch Haley in any of her upcoming projects, but hope she returns to our favorite genre soon!


Haley’s Claire finds outwitting 23 different personalities may not be that easy in Split!

-MonsterZero NJ


And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties focusing on, Maika MonroeAddison TimlinMelanie PapaliaBriana EviganKatrina BowdenAlexandra DaddarioKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages or head over to the Halloween Hotties listings!)




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ALL I NEED (2015)

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

Despite being made about two years ago, low budget horror thriller is finally being released on VOD. It tells the story of a pretty young woman (Caitlin Stasey from All Cheerleaders Die and Fear Inc) who wakes up in a small room bound and gagged along with about a dozen or so other young women in the same predicament. Most of her fellow captives are either already dead, or soon to be, leading the young woman to engage in a battle of wills with her murderous captor in order to get out alive. The story also follows a down on his luck man named Andrew (Markus Taylor) who starts getting job offers from a mysterious benefactor. Can the fates of these two individuals be somehow intertwined?

Writer and director Dylan K. Narang, who produced the cool monster flick Dark Was The Night, will answer that question by the time this film reaches it’s conclusion and while it’s not a total surprise, Narang does provide some intensity and some disturbing sequences before the credits role. Most of that comes in the segments that follow Chloe (Stasey) in her efforts to stay alive and out of the masked killer’s clutches in a confined space. The resilient girl uses whatever resources are at her disposal, including the bonds and bodies of the other young women who have also fallen prey to this individual. When we switch to Andrew’s story, the film is less interesting and a bit flat as we have become far more endeared to the embattled Chloe and are less interested in his tale, though his story does connect. The writer/director smartly keeps the focus predominately on the bloodied and scantily clad prisoner and it is those scenes that carry some nice intensity and a few disturbing moments. Narang is also not afraid to have our heroine make some tough decisions during her escape attempts regarding her co-captors and even the use of their bodies. The film’s momentum sputters a bit with Andrew, especially one lengthy scene with his benefactor’s boss (Holly Twyford), that despite delivering some needed exposition, kinda drags a bit. Once this scene plays out, we do return to Chloe’s horrifying drama, though at that point we already have figured out how it’s going to conclude. The film does have effective atmosphere and that is helped along by an 80s-ish score by Jacob Yoffee and the fact that Narang does have a good visual eye and delivers some effective shots even working on an intimate scale.

The cast is very small and the strongest performance comes from the pretty Caitlin Stasey who endears us to her Chloe quickly with some expressive eye emoting while bound and gagged and then with body language and facial expressions when she is free and in survival mode. As she is alone most of the time, she has limited dialog and filmmaker Narang avoids having her talk to herself to fill us in on what she’s thinking. Instead he let’s his actress show us and she does a great job feeding us her fear and resilience without externalizing her inner monologue. She uses her body and eyes to good effect. Markus Taylor is a little flat as Andrew, though he’s not what I would call bad. The material involving his character is not as interesting or intense as Chloe’s terrifying ordeal, which doesn’t give the actor nearly as much to work with. Holly Twyford delvers some important exposition with a monotone delivery and while her character is supposed to be a bit emotionally detached, the revelations could have used a bit more dramatic bite to make them work better and a little more depth to the ‘explanation ‘ as to the hows and whys. As for our killer, he is masked for 99% of the flick and he does carry some menace and intensity, even though he isn’t on screen as much as you might expect. There are a couple of other girls we see briefly and they are all fine as victims.

Not a perfect flick by any means, but one that was effective in the places it needed to be most. Dylan K. Narang delivered some intense sequences with his young heroine fighting for her life and we only wish the secondary story of down on his luck divorcee Andrew carried the same type of weight. Seeing Chloe try to survive her situation and somehow escape was far more effective and interesting than Andrew puzzling over the mysterious offer from a faceless voice on the phone. Chloe made some hard decisions in her quest to survive, while we feel Andrew made his ultimate decision far too easy considering what the job proposal turned out to be. Director Narang does show some potential and Caitlin Stasey shows she is a young actress to also keep an eye on, especially in the horror genre, where she has recently been no stranger.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 damsels in a lot of distress.






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FEAR, INC. (2016)

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

Fear, Inc. is an OK horror/comedy that finds man-bun sporting horror movie fan Joe Foster (Lucas Neff) turning to a mysterious organization for some thrills and chills at Halloween. The group called Fear, Inc. apparently will deliver some hardcore scares, but Joe and his friends (Caitlin Stasey, Chris Marquette and Stephanie Drake) may not be prepared for just how far these folks will go to frighten them.

Written by Luke Barnett and directed by Vincent Masciale, this is a moderately amusing, if not familiar tale of a horror movie buff going to extreme lengths to gets some hardcore scares during the spooky time of year. While there is a level of amusement, the film is fairly predictable and the attempts at humor never really makes one laugh. The movie references are obvious and annoyingly Neff’s Joe has to shout them out when he sees them just in case we are too dumb to get them. If you don’t trust your target audience to get your references, then why bother? There is little suspense, though there is some decent gore and on a few occasions the film does give us some doubts as to whether it’s all a game. The cast are all decent enough, though I found Neff’s Joe to be more annoying than cool as the big kid in a man’s body. The mix of hipster and horror buff didn’t quite gel. Production value is solid enough and I can say that on a technical level it wasn’t badly directed, it just didn’t really scare and wasn’t overly clever or funny…and part of that is the fault of the script. There is some basic entertainment value here, but there is nothing daring or inventive about it and the film never takes any risks.

Fear, Inc. passed the time with moderate entertainment, but really didn’t take it’s premise and run with it like it could have. The script could have pushed the boundaries a bit and Masciale played it safe as a director. It’s a routine horror comedy that was a bit too obvious and mainstream with it’s horror references and didn’t seem to trust it’s target audience to get those references without help. Worth a look if there is nothing else on, but as it is the Halloween season, I’d much rather re-watch the movies referenced. Not a complete waste of time but overall, forgettable.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 Fear, Inc business cards.





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all cheerleaders die



All Cheerleaders Die is a somewhat fun, if not schizophrenic horror/comedy from Chris Sivertson and Lucky Mckee that is a remake of a low budget film they made together back in 2001. Despite having a good time here, I still feel that McKee, who showed so much promise with May and The Woodshas seemed to have lost his way a bit with this and his last film The Woman. His films usually come with an offbeat sense of humor, but lately they are less deftly mixed in, though at least here this is supposed to be a comedy whereas in The Woman, it was just off-putting. But I digress…

The story opens with pretty high school student Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) reviewing footage from a video project on friend and queen bee cheerleader Alexis (Felisha Cooper). It’s revealed the Alexis died during a botched pyramid move and now Maddy seeks revenge on Alexis’ boyfriend, star athlete Terry (Tom Williamson) for immediately shacking up with another cheerleader, Tracy (Brooke Butler). So she joins the squad to set her plan in motion. During the enactment of her plot, things go awry and Maddy, Tracy and the Popkin sisters Hanna (Amanda Grace Cooper) and Martha (Reanin Johannink) wind up dead in a car crash instigated by an angry Terry and his boys, whom are chasing them. But, Maddy is being crushed on by witch Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) who witnesses the crash and uses her supernatural powers to raise the four cheerleaders from the dead. Now back from their watery grave, the four have an appetite for blood and an agenda of vengeance against the jocks that caused their initial demise…but a bizarre turn of events may have the four sexy succubi fighting for their undead lives.

As you can tell by the plot description, McKee and Sivertson’s tale of cheerleaders and revenge is a goofy one and that works both for and against it. The film’s tone is all over the place with it being silly one minute and attempting serious horror the next. The schizophrenic story takes our undead girls from victim’s to villains and back to victim’s and evokes the similar Jennifer’s Body, though without the smug, self awareness…at least Jennifer mixed it’s horror and comedy elements a bit smoother and never reached the degrees of silliness this does. It doesn’t mean the film isn’t fun at times, as it has a good time with the high school horror conventions and proudly uses it’s camera POV to ogle our shapely, scantily clad heroines as they strut around in cheerleading outfits that took like they were designed by a fetish clothier. Again, it’s obvious McKee and Sivertson know their influences and are are having fun with their subject matter, especially when the film goes all The Craft in it’s final act. But, it just never really solidifies to make it the fun treat it should have been. The abruptly shifting tone and the shifting roles of victim’s and villains makes the film more of a series of amusing vignettes loosely fit together than a solid tale. It just needed some consistency. Sometimes it was like watching a high school slasher and sometimes it was like watching an episode of Charmed. Not all the story angles even make sense, such as one where the two sister’s swap bodies upon their return from the dead. It seems only to exist to initiate a comic seduction scene with a mutual male interest. It goes nowhere. All the pieces don’t quite fit together, when all is said and done, and I still haven’t decided if where the film leaves off was cool or crass. I enjoyed this as a light diversion, but expected a lot more from the guy who gave us the deviously fun May and the atmospheric The Woods.

As for our leading ladies, all five actresses are having a blast unleashing their inner vixens, especially Stasey, Butler, Cooper and Johannink as the four spirit squad succubi. They get to tease and terrorize the boys and the audience and once the tables are turned, get to play heroines/victims against a far greater evil and have a good time doing it. Smit-McPhee seems to be enjoying her role as the awkward and lovelorn witch who is both pleased with and a little scared of the results of her spell casting. Her character is kind of a typical ‘school witch’ character, but she gives Leena some nice personality. As the overall villain, Tom Williamson takes Terry from arrogant and self-centered jock to all out demon by the time the credits role and he is very effectively detestable as such. The supporting players also seem to be enjoying their stereotypical high school horror characters and it helps this film a lot to have a cast that get the material and went with it. It adds to the fun.

So, I had a relatively good time with All Cheerleaders Die and certainly enjoyed the exploitation aspects such as making very good use of the leading ladies’ natural assets and the use of the classic fetishistic fantasy elements, as well as, the generous bloodletting and gore…though it could have done without the cheesy CGI blood. I just wish the film had a bit more of a cohesive storyline, even if it remained a silly one and the tone wasn’t so all over the place. It’s an entertaining and titillating diversion, but one that sadly implies that writer/director McKee may have shown us all he has to offer already, which is disappointing for those of us who expected big things after May and The Woods got our attention. Bloody, sexy fun, but could have been much more memorable.

3 sexy succubi.

all cheerleaders die rating