now playing



Strange but appealing sci-fi flick has a black ooze falling to Earth in New Mexico and taking the form of a woman on the magazine it lands on. That woman is New York based porn star Julianna Fox (Lauren Ashley Carter). The film follows the imitation as it learns about life and love through, Saghi (Neimah Djourabchi), a young Iranian man she encounters and his sister Khahar (Sanam Erfani), while shadowing Julianna who is beginning to question her life of sex, drugs and excess. Despite being miles apart, Julianna and her doppelganger are destined to meet.

Interesting film is written and directed by Natasha Kermani and paints a portrait of a young woman from opposite sides of the spectrum. While Julianna has fallen into a life of vice and having love-less sex for a living, her imitation is learning to enjoy the simple things in life and to truly appreciate those around her. It’s almost as if the imitation is who Julianna would have become had she pursued her piano playing instead of porn. It’s an intriguing portrayal of two sides of the same woman and both are very well acted by lead Carter. The rest of the cast perform their roles well, too and Kermani displays that she is a filmmaker to keep an eye on with her skill for visuals and a deft handling of a movie that could have been very silly if not handled by someone so capable. Also stars genre favorite Catherine Mary Stewart as Julianna’s former piano teacher, who presents her with a potential life-changing opportunity.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating





now playing




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

Despite some outward pretensions and artsy direction, this 80s sci-fi/thriller is basically an old fashioned haunted house flick wrapped in Star Trek-ish sets and 80s style hairdos. The story, based on a novella by George R.R. Martin, tells of an eclectic group of explorers brought together to search for a mythological sentient being said to be traveling through space on an eternal voyage. The team commission the space freighter Nightflyer to take them to a point where they believe they can rendezvous with this being. The ship’s captain, Royd (Michael Praed) appears only by hologram and is a trans-sex clone of the ship’s former captain who he refers to as his ‘mother’. When Royd, whose lived on the ship all his life, falls for hot mission coordinator Miranda Dorlac (Catherine Mary Stewart) he decides he wants to leave the Nightflyer and that infuriates dear old ‘mom’, whose consciousness runs the ship’s computer. Now the vengeful spirit decides to eliminate the bad influences upon her ship by possession, accident and any means necessary to keep Royd with her.

Despite being a very mixed bag, I kinda like Nightflyers. It has a lot of flaws, but there is a lot to like, too, especially all the 80s nostalgia and familiar faces. On the downside, the film does start out with an interesting sci-fi premise, which it totally jettisons for a routine ‘smothering deceased mother’ haunted house story. Director Robert Collector helms Robert Jaffe’s screenplay with a serious and sometimes arty hand which is fine for starters, but makes it all the more obvious when the film starts to get silly. The very dire tone is betrayed when the film delves into character possession, jabbering headless corpses and the notion that mom is jealous over a son who is also her transgendered clone. Though, it adds to the fun that the cast recites some ridiculous dialog with completely straight faces. On the positive side the film is a bit different and since it came out at a more superfluous time in 80s filmmaking, I give them credit for trying to do something on a more serious sci-fi level. All the more curious as to why they let it degenerate into such a goofy ghost story in it’s second act. There is some nice model work from Fantasy II…who did the FX for The Terminator…the abundant model work may seem quaint by today’s CGI heavy standards, but I find it very charming. There is some surprising gore throughout the film, too and there are a lot of 80s familiar faces like Stewart, Praed, Lisa (Prince Of Darkness) Blount and Michael Des Barres as the team’s psychic. While the rest of the cast play things very poker-faced, Des Barres gives his Jon Winderman some delightfully refreshing over-the-top. Glad someone got the tone of the material.

Overall, I like this flick, but it could have been a lot better in two ways. Either stick to it’s more serious premise of the quest to find space entities and do something along the lines of a low budget 2001: A Space Odyssey, or recognize that it’s a story about a spaceship haunted by the spirit of a jealous dead mother and run with it. Nightflyers wants it both ways and it doesn’t quite work. Despite it’s flaws though, some heavy 80s nostalgia comes to save the day and there is still plenty to like, despite how goofball things get in it’s second half. The film was a bomb back in 1987 and is a bit hard to find these days, but still deserves a decent blu-ray release at some point. A curiosity worth looking at and not without it’s intentional, and unintentional, entertainment value.

3 (out of 4) delightfully 80s hairdos.

nightflyers rating





Catherine Mary Stewart actually has had a fairly solid career in both movies and TV but, her genre work is limited to only a handful of films and, despite being seen in The Last Starfighter a few months earlier, it is the 1984 cult classic Night Of The Comet that she really got the attention of horror/sci-fi fans. It is this role that movie geeks most seem to associate her with and remember her for. Apocalyptic sci-fi/comedy finds Stewart playing Reggie, the older of the two sexy, sassy, and sometimes lethal, Belmont sisters (along with genre favorite Kelli Maroney as Sam) who find themselves fending for their lives in a world ravaged by the effects of a passing comet. Most of the world’s population are dead, and a good deal of the survivors are turning into zombies and these two valley girls are tasked with saving civilization!…bitchin’!








If there’s any girl we’d like at our side at the end of the world, it’s definitely the beautiful and dangerous Reggie!
 Stewart also starred in the cult sci-fi adventure  Nightflyers in 1987 and more recently returned to genre films in the gut-wrenching 2007 horror The Girl Next Door!…but, it is her tough as nails and hot as hell Reggie Belmont that we will always have a crush on!

-MonsterZero NJ




now playing




I’ll start off by saying that this is a highly unpleasant film and I don’t think I could ever watch it again. That being said, I have to give the filmmaker’s credit for making a very effective film that is all the more horrifying since it is partially based on the real life torture and murder of Sylvia Likens in 1965, by not only the woman whose care she was in, but by the woman’s children and some of the neighboring children as well. The source material for the film is Jack Ketchum’s fictional novel of the same name which is loosely based on the Likens murder and tells the story of two girls Meg (Blythe Auffarth) and Susan (Madeline Taylor) who are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth (a sinister Blanche Baker) and her three sons after the death of their parents. Ruth already shows signs of being unhinged as she treats the neighborhood kids to alcohol and cigarettes, but really takes a dislike to the very pretty and mature Meg, especially when she takes away the attention of the boys from Ruth. Soon Meg is targeted for severe punishments that escalate into imprisonment, torture, rape and mutilation by Ruth, along with her sons and their friends. Hidden away and with no one to come looking for her, Meg is helpless to their increasingly violent and depraved acts while a fearful and equally helpless Susan can do nothing to save her and the neighbors don’t want to know anything beyond their own idyllic four walls.

As directed by Gregory M. Wilson, this is one hell of a rough movie to sit through. Wilson wisely implies the worst of the torturous acts, but there is enough of it for you to get the idea of what kind of nightmare this poor young girl is going through and when his camera turns away from the rougher events, you know enough of what is going on to be properly mortified as your imagination does all the work. And what’s even more horrifying than the acts committed, is that they are being committed willingly and almost enthusiastically by so many and by those so young. Not only did this poor girl do nothing to instigate this, but as you’re watching, you can’t help think that to a degree, this actually happened. Obviously, Ketchum jacked up the viciousness and cruelty to make his novel more of a horror story and changed names and certain details, but it is still based on fact.

The cast also help make this very effective, with Baker being a completely detestable and horrible person, simply a monster in suburban housewife clothing. Auffarth makes a sweet and undeserving victim, who we really like and thus feel terrible for, as we watch helplessly from our seats as she becomes the object of the worst in human nature and by those who themselves are far too young to be even thinking of such vile acts, much less engaging in them. Auffarth’s portrayal of Meg’s gradual giving up and submitting to what’s being done to her is enough to crack even the hardest of hearts.

This is not a film I can recommend per say as much as just acknowledging the filmmakers’ accomplishment at the telling of a truly horrible fact based series of events. This was probably not an easy book to adapt, but the script by Daniel Farrands and Philip Nutman along with Wilson’s direction, are both unflinching and yet restrained. They get the story told without crossing the line into exploitation, as it easily could have done.

So credit where credit is due, you horrified a guy who has been watching all kinds of horror movies for over four decades and seen some truly gut-wrenching things committed to film. It was an effective and well made movie that I never want to watch again. Also stars Grant Show and Catherine Mary Stewart as the oblivious parents of David (Daniel Manche), one of the few kids who shows a bit of moral backbone and William Atherton as the adult David whose painful remembrance narrates the tragic tale. A horrifying film, but one that avoids being exploitive about its easily exploitable subject matter.

3 stars. I just feel my usual rating style would be a bit crass considering the truth based subject matter.

girl next door rating




now playing




The Last Starfighter  is a fun 1984 Sci-Fi adventure that is now both very dated and yet charmingly nostalgic at the same time. Teen Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) lives with his mom (Barbara Bosson) and brother Louis (Chris Herbert) in a trailer park where he serves as the local repairman. Alex constantly dreams of a better life for he and his girlfriend Maggie (Catherine Mary Stewart) and while it seems like he’s going nowhere, he finds solace in playing The Last Starfighter video game at the local store. Alex soon finds out that this is no mere game, when it’s creator, an alien named Centauri (Robert Preston in his last film), comes to tell him that it is actually a test and his high score has qualified him to join the Star League from the game and become a Starfighter. Their mission, to defend against the game’s villains Xur (Norman Snow) and the Ko-Dan Armada, who are quite real. Taken to their headquarters in space, wide-eyed Alex is introduced to his lizard faced navigator Grig (Dan O’Herlihy), but is overwhelmed and asks to be returned home. Soon after Alex leaves, Xur attacks and the Star League is destroyed save for Grig and a lone prototype gun-star battleship. Back on Earth, Xur’s assassins come looking for Alex and he soon changes his mind to protect his loved ones and the Earth. With a lookalike drone left to act as him in his place, Alex returns to Rylos to somehow try to defeat the massive invading fleet with only he, Grig and their lone warship to defend the galaxy.

In it’s time, Starfighter was groundbreaking for being one of the first films to use completely CGI effects for it’s space and battle scenes. By today’s standards these FX are quite antiquated and cheesy, but, at the time, they were very impressive to those of us who were still used to the simple graphics of games like Asteroids and Pac-man. The sets and costumes also resembled those from a sci-fi TV show from that era, but when it comes down to it, it’s the film’s charm that makes it still fun to watch. As directed by John Carpenter alumni Nick Castle (who played The Shape in the original Halloween) the film is loaded with charm and given a real sense of fun. The space battles are short and not all that exciting, but it is the almost fairy tale like atmosphere and wonderful cast that really makes this movie the charmer it is.

Lance Guest makes a very likable, reluctant hero and Catherine Mary Stewart is perfect as the pretty girl next door which is something she was great at and made her a favorite of many an 80s movie fan. Veterans Robert Preston and Dan O’Herlihy really deliver fun performances and make there respective characters quite endearing and they both have a great camaraderie with Guest, which goes a long way to making what could have been a routine flick, a little special. Add to that a delightfully over the top performance by Norman Show as the slimy villain Xur and you get a movie that despite being sold on it’s, at the time, revolutionary FX, is really a very character driven story. Director Nick Castle has kept this film memorable because, he focused on the wonderfully endearing cast of characters and they still hold up despite the fact that the FX and sets and costumes are borderline silly three decades later. The 80s nostalgia the film now carries also helps a lot, but when it comes down to it, Nick Castle did a nice job of taking Jonathan R. Betuel’s script and bringing the characters to such vibrant life along with the talented actors cast in the roles.

Overall, while I was re-watching this and I was wincing at the now cheesy CGI and plastic sets, with their random blinking lights, I still couldn’t help, but get a warm feeling inside and a smile on my face whenever the characters interacted together onscreen. And the longevity of this Sci-Fi flick is not based on ships and space battles, but on a fairy tale-like story about some very real and endearing characters, both human and alien alike, who get together and do the impossible. Something I think we all dream of doing now and then. A fun flick whose character charm far exceeds it’s dated FX work. Considered a classic by many and rightfully so. There is talk of some sort of sequel or follow-up being in the works and only time will tell if it happens.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) gun stars.

last starfighter rating