MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2now playing



In Search of Darkness is a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from writer/director David A. Weiner. It might be one of the most comprehensive documentaries there is about one of the most prolific decades in horror film history. Weiner covers each year of the decade and some of the films that best represent that year. He also covers the main franchises that are now legendary and some other subjects such as scoring, FX and sound design. He accomplishes this, not only with scenes from a vast number of films, but with some impressive interview subjects from both the era itself, along with some contemporary talents and experts, too. We get legendary filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Tom Holland and Sean S. Cunningham. Actors like Doug Bradley, Heather Langenkamp, Kane Hodder, Kelli Maroney and even Paranormal Activity’s Katie Featherston. There is also commentary from horror aficionados such as Dead Meat’s James A. Janisse, the legendary Joe Bob Briggs and Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson along with former Fangoria Editor in Chief Michael Gingold and current Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, to name a few. It creates a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share, as well as, some really interesting anecdotes and stories from the talent who where part of this great era. Perfect examples of this are Kane Hodder’s gleeful recounting of almost being killed by a fire stunt in his first outing as Jason and John Carpenter’s apparent dislike of 80s hair fashion. Who knew? It’s a lot of fun and for the uninitiated, offers a large selection of movies to catch up with and is a virtual history lesson of this great time in horror.

The documentary’s flaws are minor and few. While never boring, four hours is a long haul, but if you can sit still for such a period of time, it is well worth it. The documentary only covers the mainstream titles, so if you were there during the era or well versed in the flicks of the time, there is nothing obscure or surprising for you. There was also a little too much commentary from the host/creator of Youtube’s Dead Meat, James A. Janisse. While one can appreciate the enthusiasm for films of this era from someone who doesn’t look old enough to have even been alive during the 80s, his over-animated delivery starts to get grating after a while and by the third and fourth hour, you wish he’d take it down a notch. The amount of footage of him used also seems uneven compared to the contributions from the other interviewees. Other than that, if you have a healthy attention span and love this era of horror filmmaking, this is definitely a recommended watch.

Take it from one who was there in the 80s and saw most of the films discussed, in a theater, this was a wonderful trip back to a favorite decade for horror films. It was great to hear stories and facts from the filmmakers and personalities involved and heartwarming to see some of the new generation horror fans embracing the style and films of the time. Four hours well spent returning to a treasured time and many a favorite classic. A must for horror fans of any age.


-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks.











now playing



Tales Of Halloween is a spooky fun 2015 Halloween anthology flick that has grown on me quite a lot since my initial review (see full review here) and has finally arrived on blu-ray a year later. This multi-story horror has been released by Epic pictures in a four disc special edition that is available from their website store, HERE.

As for the feature film itself, there is both a blu-ray and DVD version. As for the technical aspects of the blu-ray feature disc…

The picture is gorgeous, the colors vibrant and really represents well the visual styles of all the directors and their cinematographers on the ten tales told here. The disc is presented in the original 2.39.1 widescreen aspect ratio, preserving the film’s intended dimensions. The sound is in 5.1 surround sound with alternate 2.0 and basic stereo tracks for those without home theater sound systems. The menus are simple and easy to navigate. A nice presentation to enjoy this holiday horror!

Now on to the extensive extras which make this 4-disc set even more appealing!…

The extras start out with a production diary covering the 23 days of shooting that comes complete with interviews with cast and crew and some fun behind the scenes footage. In the bonus features, we get a behind the scenes reel…which does repeat a lot of what we saw in the production diaries…and an examination of the filming of one of the scenes from Mike Mendez’s gruesomely comic Friday The 31st, complete with storyboards. We also get a deleted scene from one of the best stories, Grim Grinning Ghost and are treated to replays of the segments Sweet Tooth, Trick, Ding Dong and This Means War all with additional bonus commentary, aside from the commentary track that accompanies the movie on the feature film discs. We also get eight short films from a few of the filmmakers involved, some of which are definitely worth checking out. There are also storyboards, a photo gallery, trailers and some pop-up video commentary that can be activated on certain stories on the feature blu-ray. A nice selection of extras.

The fourth and final disc is a CD featuring the film’s soundtrack which includes all the music from the segments and wraparound by artists like Lalo Schifrin, Christopher Drake, Joseph Bishara and more.

All of the discs are region free and can be played anywhere and the set also comes with two trading cards, too!

I really have come to appreciate and enjoy this flick beyond what my initial review reflects. It is now part of my traditional Halloween viewing, as it is loaded with Halloween spirit and imagery and I would love to see a follow-up with yet more filmmakers creating Halloween tales as in this film. If you liked this movie and have become endeared to it like I have, this 4-disc set is a must!

-MonsterZero NJ




Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks, or whose sexy stars shined only briefly not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…




The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is Tobe Hooper and Cannon Pictures’ 1986 sequel to the 1974 horror masterpiece. It features the Sawyer family continuing their murderous, cannibalistic ways, now peddling their secret ingredient in an award winning chili. When Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and brother Chop Top (Bill Moseley) get recorded on a radio talk show carving up a couple of yuppies, leggy DJ Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock becomes the family’s next target…and the object of Leatherface’s gruesome affection.
Who better to portray a sexy Texas radio DJ than sexy Texas born actress Caroline Williams!  Williams had appeared in a few film and TV roles before being cast in this slasher sequel, but this was her first lead role and she definitely caught the attention of horror film fans everywhere. Her sassy, spunky and resilient Stretch is quite the capable final girl and despite finding herself in the Sawyer family’s clutches, she proves that you should never mess with a girl from Texas…or wear their friend’s faces. Despite a strong and memorable performance, this was the only time Williams would do final girl duty despite appearing in a few more fright flicks over her long career.


(click on the poster for a full review)

texas chainsaw massacre 2



Long-legged, Daisy Duke wearing Stretch is a texas girl through and through!


The sexy DJ attracts the wrong attention when she records a murder over the radio!


Now she finds herself at the wrong end of Leatherface’s attention…and chainsaw!


…though maybe the cannibalistic Sawyer family picked the wrong Texas cutie to pick on!


Never piss-off a girl from Texas!


The actress has kept busy after her altercation with Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) and his demented kin. She continues working in movies and TV and has even has done a few more horror flicks, including an appearance in the Sweet Tooth segment in last year’s ghoulishly fun Halloween anthology, Tales Of Halloween. But it is her one final girl film appearance that captured our hearts, kicking cannibal ass with a sexy smile, long legs and a pair of Daisy Dukes and that certainly earns her the title Cult Classic Cutie!


Still a beauty 30 years after teaching the Sawyers she can handle a chainsaw just as good, or better, than the good ole boys!


Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ




now playing

tales of halloween



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

Tales Of Halloween is an amusing anthology flick that has ten stories told by ten different directors with the obvious reoccurring theme of Halloween. The stories are loosely connected by the presence of Adrienne Barbeau as a DJ, much like her Stevie Wayne character from The Fog and some shared characters.

Created by filmmaker Axelle Carolyn, this is a good idea that disappointingly has only four out of the ten stories really being successful. The tone of the stories vary with some being goofy like Mike Mendez’ fun Friday The 31st, which has a Jason-like killer squaring off with an alien who possesses the body of one of his victim’s and Carolyn’s own creepy Grim Grinning Ghost, which has a woman crossing paths with an urban legend. Those two hit their marks, though the best stories are the opening and closing tales. Dave Parker’s Sweet Tooth, begins the anthology and is another urban legend centric story of a boy that took his love for Halloween candy to a ghoulish level. The closer, Neil Marshall’s Bad Seed, is a fun and gruesome story about a murderous jack-o-lantern. Darren Lynn Bousman’s self-explanatory The Night Billy Raised Hell is moderately amusing, as is Lucky McKee’s Ding Dong, about a strange couple. With unsettling Hansel and Gretel overtones and uncomfortable themes of spousal abuse and infertility, McKee’s tale is the most bizarre one. Ryan Schifrin’s The Ransom Of Rusty Rex is also somewhat amusing in it’s tale of a Halloween kidnapping gone very wrong. On the epic fail side, we have Adam Gierasch’s tale of murderous trick-or-treaters with a twist, Trick. It’s crude and violent without being scary or funny. Paul Solet’s tale of demonic revenge with a spaghetti western slant, The Weak and the Wicked, is just dull and has the least Halloween spirit while John Skipp and Andrew Kasch’s tale of neighbors battling over competitive Halloween displays, This Means War, is just boring and predictable. Add that up and we have four stories that work really well, three that are pretty decent and three that basically fall flat. There are some nice homages along the way, the SPFX and make-up FX are pretty good and the visual style varies from filmmaker to filmmaker. It always has the look of Halloween, with jack-o-lanterns everywhere, even if the spirit isn’t quite captured by the tale being told. This anthology’s heart is in the ghoulish right place, though, if not completely successful in accomplishing it’s overall goals.

The cast is rather large and even in the weaker episodes they seem to get the tone of the material and are having a good time. We have genre favorites like Lin Shaye, Adrienne Barbeau, Barbara Crampton, Lisa Marie, Caroline Williams and Clare Kramer. There are some veteran actors like Barry Bostwick and John Savage and director cameos such as John Landis, Stuart Gordon, Adam Green and Joe Dante. Then there are also familiar faces like Some Kind Of Hate’s Grace Phipps, Cabin Fever’s Cerina Vincent, Starry Eyes’ Alex Essoe, scream queen Tiffany Shepis and Adrienne Curry as herself, to name a few. Overall a good cast that helps the stories a lot, even when they don’t make the grade.

Tales Of Halloween is far from perfect and doesn’t succeed as much as we’d like. The stories that work are worth watching for and the middle ground stories are amusing enough to check out, too. Even the failures aren’t a complete waste of time and are short enough to be over mercifully quick. While not totally successful, it is a really good idea and hopefully next year, we get another and that one hits the ghoulish mark far more often. Not quite the Halloween classic hoped for, but when it hits it’s stride it’s ghoulish Halloween fun.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 jack-o-lanterns as the stories I liked, I really liked.

tales of halloween rating




now playing

texas chainsaw massacre 2



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

Twelve years after making his classic masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper returned to Leatherface and family with a much bigger budget from Cannon Pictures and a script from L.M. Kit Carson. Flick has the Sawyer family still on the loose and right under the authorities noses operating a mobile lunch truck from which they serve their award winning chili…and we already know what the prime ingredient is. They live under an abandoned amusement park and all is well for the cannibals until Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and brother Chop Top (Bill Moseley) get caught on the radio carving up two obnoxious yuppies. Not only does pretty DJ “Stretch” (Caroline Williams) begin to investigate but, it also catches the attention of  Lt. “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper), a retired Texas Ranger and uncle to victims Franklin and Sally from the first flick. He’s been on the trail of the Sawyers for over a decade and now with Stretch’s help, there maybe be a showdown between lawman and cannibal clan with sexy Stretch caught in the middle.

Sequel is a fun flick though it focuses far more on grisly humor and has a far lighter touch than the original classic. Gone is the oppressive atmosphere of dread and disturbing humor that got under your skin. No more evident is Hopper’s ex-cop wearing two chainsaws like six guns as he goes into battle. Hooper and writer Carson fill the sequel with more of this goofy style humor than chills and the impact of the plentiful Tom Savini supplied gore is lessened as a result of it. The body count is also relatively small and half the movie takes place with Stretch trapped in their underground layer while Lefty tears the amusement park above apart, with a chainsaw, looking for the Sawyers. Odd no one goes up there to investigate the racket. It’s a fun movie, but it’s also not scary in the least and the film stops it’s momentum dead about an hour in to do a retread of the dinner sequence from the first flick with the captured Stretch. To be honest, it gets tedious. Having seen it in a theater back in 1986, I had seen Cannon’s 89 minute release which was a result of the studio cutting out about twelve minutes. Now having seen the longer 101 minute cut, they may have been right, as it does go on about ten minutes too long. Still, the movie entertains, Hooper’s visual style works well here as the Sawyers’ underground layer is a visual feast of bones, tunnels and Christmas lights as designed by Cary White. It’s captured well by Richard Kooris’ cinematography and there is a fitting score by Jerry Lambert and Hooper himself.

The cast are having a good time with the gore and giddiness. Caroline Williams makes for a sexy, sassy heroine with her long legs, skimpy Daisy Dukes and raspy voice complete with thick Texas accent. She gives her character some fire and a toughness that make her very endearing…and very hot. Hopper plays Lefty straight and gives us a driven man, who, will stop at nothing to find the Sawyers and make them pay for killing his nephew and driving his niece crazy. Jim Siedow is back as Drayton Sawyer and he hams it up and provides a lot of the fun as he tries to preside over his maniacal offspring. He is not as disturbing as in TCM 1 ,but his performance fits the lighter tone. Bill Johnson plays the silent Leatherface and sadly, he is portrayed with far less menace even to the point of spending a good portion of the film acting like a love-sick puppy around Stretch. The script neuters one of cinema’s most shocking killer’s and is one of it’s biggest flaws. Bill Moseley is having a blast as the demented Chop Top. This underrated actor has a good time with the over-the-top character that has picked…and eaten…the skin off the metal plate in his head. He also carries around his dead brother (Edwin Neal’s Hitchhiker from TCM 1) and talks to him frequently. A good cast that works well with the tone of the film and helps make it work better than it should.

The long-awaited sequel to Hooper’s drive-in classic is a very entertaining horror, but hardcore fans of TCM 1 were disappointed, at the time of it’s release, that it went for laughs over frights. It wasn’t a big hit back in the day. It’s looked back at a bit more fondly now and I’ll say I do enjoy it, despite that it’s uncut edit does seem a bit too long and maybe Cannon was right to pair it down to a faster paced 90 minutes back in 1986. The cast have a good time and Tom Savini does gives us some top notch gore, but the film is a far cry from the disturbing nightmare Hooper gave us in 1974. A fun…and now nostalgic…sequel that disappoints in some ways, but entertains in others.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 chainsaws.

3 chainsaws







now playing




Madison County was a horror that had it’s flaws but, showed some potential for writer/director Eric England and his latest flick Contracted shows some growth in that potential, but is sadly dragged down by an increasingly absurd last act and a predictable and silly conclusion.

The film opens with what looks to be someone having sex with a corpse in a morgue and then switches focus to Samantha (Najarra Townsend) a bi-sexual young woman who is going through a break-up with her girlfriend Nikki (Katie Stegeman). Sam gets drunk at a friend’s (Alice Macdonald) party, gets drugged and has sex with a strange man named BJ (Simon Barrett). Almost immediately the next day, Sam starts to feel ill and begins to hemorrhage from between her legs. As the hours pass Sam becomes increasingly sickly forming a rash and starts to experience loss of hair, nails and teeth. Her doctor thinks it may be a sexually contracted decease, but Sam feels it’s impossible having just slept with that one man 24 hours earlier, though she’s not sure if he used protection. Making matters worse, her mysterious lover “BJ” is being sought by police for unknown reasons. As Sam continues to degenerate, with bloodshot eyes and increasing sores, and without any clue as to what’s happening to her, her life spirals out of control. As she starts to become more and more unstable, she becomes more and more violent. What did BJ pass on to her and what is happening to her?

Writer/director Eric England had me hook line and sinker with the first two acts of this flick. The concept of this young woman contracting some plague-like sexually transmitted decease from not-entirely consensual sex on a one night stand, was effectively portrayed by both director and actress. The scenes of her initial hemorrhaging are very chilling and Najarra conveys Sam’s confusion, fear and denial very well as she degenerates. We also have the added tension of knowing her one night stand is now sought by authorities for an unknown reason. The fact that her mother (Caroline Williams) wants to pass it off as Sam’s return to drug use and her doctor (Ruben Pia) believes it’s something sexually transmitted only adds to her frustration and terror. That fear translates to the audience, but the film starts to degenerate, much like Sam, in the last act by just taking the concept to absurd levels. With Sam becoming violent to the point of homicidal, anyone who has seen a horror movie can figure out what is happening here. I won’t spoil it, but it becomes obvious as her violent behavior telegraphs the silly and thus predictable ending. Another thing that becomes completely ludicrous is that her doctor is sitting there looking at this woman literally falling apart in front of him and never once suggests she get to a hospital or needs immediate help, much less be quarantined. She degenerates over a mere three days and the doctor never once suggests or feels this is something possibly far worse than an STD. Even her friends seem to pass it off as she ‘looks bad’ but none seem overly concerned that her nails have fallen off, her eyes are blood red and there are sores and veins popping out on her face. One character (Matt Mercer) even has sex with her despite all this and blackened teeth to boot. It’s a female version of The Fly happening right before their eyes and not one of them seems overly alarmed…. Really? It just gets ridiculous and ruins the nerve-wracking set-up of the first hour. By then we’ve figured out where it is going and our suspicions are verified by the silly climax. It’s just very disappointing that such a well executed and written story, collapses into such a routine conclusion. It feels like a cop-out that England couldn’t end this on something far more clever then a horror movie cliché…and one currently overused at that.

As for the cast, at least England gets good work out of all of them. Najarra Townsend is really good as Sam and conveys her fear, frustration and confusion very well and her performance and England’s direction really help make the first hour of this flick very strong, before it collapses towards it’s silly conclusion. It’s her show and she shows some real chops here. The rest of the cast are fine with William’s being good, as always, as Sam’s religious mother and Macdonald being appropriately ditzy and self-absorbed as ‘friend’ Alice. The rest are all quite adequate and it’s a shame the story didn’t keep up with the cast.

Overall, I still feel this film is worth a look. It has a very strong and disturbing first two acts and some nice work by the actors. The first hour is very effectively directed by England and it’s disappointing he let’s the story go from a frightening commentary on STDs to a violent and bloody…and all too familiar…horror movie cliché. It’s also just plain absurd that a doctor could look at this young woman degenerate so quickly and not even suggest she go to a hospital. Still, there is growth here in England’s work and he may really surprise us yet.

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) maggots.

contracted rating