MONSTERZERO NJ’S FINAL GIRL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2022 RUNNER UP!
This year’s MonsterZero NJ’s Final Girl Rookie of the Year was the talented Amber Midthunder from Prey…but…there is another actress who blew us away with her impressive late entry into the 2022 horror arena in the gore-tastic sequel Terrifier 2, that opened just this October! She plays Sienna Shaw a girl who catches Art the Clown’s (David Howard Thornton) attention in the worst way. She was so awesome in her very first feature horror film that we had to create a runner up spot to give her a shout out! So here is MonsterZero NJ’s Final Girl Rookie of the Year runner Up…
Lauren LaVera! A beautiful and talented actress we want to see more of!
Photo Credit: Joe Kelly/via IMDB
There’s no telling where this beautiful and talented actress will show up next! The surprise theatrical success of Terrifier 2 has gotten her much deserved attention and she appears to have a few projects currently in the works! Hopefully she’ll return to the horror soon, as she made a kick-ass final girl!
And don’t forget to check out our previous HalloweenHotties!
Head over to the HalloweenHottieslistings! to read them all!)
It’s a year after the Miles County Massacre and Halloween approaches. Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) is resurrected and now accompanied by a demon (Amelie McLain) in the form of a murdered girl, who is also dressed just like Art. This malevolent mini-me points Art in the direction of Sienna Shaw (Lauren LaVera) and her younger brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), whose deceased artist father seemed to have predicted the coming of the homicidal clown. Art leaves a trail of brutalized and bloodied victims as he and Sienna are destined to collide.
Gruesome slasher sequel is written and directed by Damien Leone who also did the editing and the abundant gore FX. It’s not what could be called a fun slasher as Art’s kills are cruel and sadistic and his victims are kept alive as long as possible as he mutilates and brutalizes them. It can be very unpleasant. The gore is practical make-up, and the FX are quite impressive and effective. Even one like myself who has been watching horror for over fifty years winced a few times. The film didn’t need to be 138 minutes long but also didn’t feel like it was over two hours and Leone wisely uses the time to let us catch our breath, so all the brutality remains effective. It is his best flick yet and he is honing his craft with some disturbing sequences, and a very impressive visual eye. The are some supernatural elements that go unexplained but do work and the abandoned carnival funhouse showdown is quite brutal and effective. Thorton’s Art is creepy as ever, yet can still make you chuckle, and Lauren LaVera makes a really strong and resilient heroine. Sienna is beaten, whipped, stabbed and yet keeps giving Art all she’s got. Complete in her armored angel Halloween costume, she makes quite the opponent for the crazed killer clown. Overall, this is a sick and twisted slasher made by a director who is showing some definite growth with each film and with a really strong final girl/leading lady in Lauren LaVera.
Art the Clown is back and Damien Leone’s sequel finally gets a teaser trailer! Here is IMDB’s story synopsis for Art’s latest…
After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to the timid town of Miles County where he targets a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.
The film stars horror legend Felissa Rose, David Howard Thornton returning as Art and Lauren LaVera as heroine Sienna. No official release date has been announced, but one can hope for something around Halloween!
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Terrifier is the first full length horror to star spooky Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton), who previously appeared in a few stories of writer/director Damien Leone’s 2013 Halloween anthology flick All Hallows’ Eve. It’s Leone’s second film and the story is once again set on Halloween, as gal pals Dawn (Catherine Corcoran) and Tara (Jenna Kanell) are on their way home from a party. They encounter a scary clown and while Tara is legitimately scared, Dawn teases him. This begins a night of horror as the deranged clown corners the girls in an old apartment building basement. Art plans a horrible fate for both of them, as well as Tara’s sister Vicky (Samantha Scaffidi) who is on the way to pick them up and unaware of the psychotic clown awaiting her.
Written and directed by Leone, the director does show he can build tension and can produce some very creepy moments. It’s almost a shame then that he also likes to wallow in Herschel Gordon Lewis levels of gore, as the film can be creepy enough, at times, without having to drown us in severed limbs and cruelty. Let’s just say simple stabbings and shootings are not Art’s style. The clown villain is disturbing even without his blood-soaked antics, and one wonders if Leone had dialed it back a bit, the film would have been more effective. As is, the constant hacking and dismemberment wears out its welcome and we become numb to it even before the 82-minute run time is up. It’s also a bit disappointing that the story switches attention from Tara to sister Vicky, about halfway through, as Tara was proving quite the fiery opponent for Art and had a stronger presence than the demure Vicky. Leone also knows how to find and utilize some really creepy urban locations and one might feel the urge to shower after spending so much time in the basement labyrinth Art uses as his house of horrors. For those who think this sounds a bit misogynist, there are two male pizza parlor employees and a pest exterminator who demonstrate that Art dismembers everyone equally. The gore FX are fairly effective and are quite abundant as you can guess.
The cast do just fine, especially our three lead females. Jenna Kanell makes the biggest impression as the tough and feisty Tara. She gives Art a good fight and as stated, it’s a shame focus switches to Vicky when she arrives to play designated driver. It’s not that Samantha Scaffidi isn’t a decent final girl; it’s just Tara was a more interesting character. Vicky is more of a damsel who needs saving, while Tara was a fighter. Catherine Corcoran was cute and sexy as Dawn, but, unfortunately, we all know what happens to the sexy blonde in a flick like this, so…Rounding out David Howard Thornton is very effective as the silent Art. The actor projects the clown’s lunacy and lethal-ity quite well using only body language and his expressive eyes. There are also some supporting characters, homeless people and unsuspecting exterminators, to serve as clown fodder and they are fine for their purpose. Flick also features an opening scene cameo by All Hallows’ Eve‘s sexy Katie Maguire.
The film has its moments and the Art character is effective. Leone does manage some tension and legitimate scares and gives the flick some atmosphere. If anything takes it down a few notches, it is that relying on such extremely graphic gore and the constant acts of brutality by Art, by the last act, we are more tired of it, than unsettled by it. Still, Leone has a little something and Art is very creepy as creepy clowns go. Worth a look if you like your horror brutal and bloody.
What could have been a fun monster flick is instead, at almost two hours, an overlong and extremely talkie bore with the title creatures battling for less than five minutes at the climax. The story has an Egyptian mummy being studied at a university by pretty Archeologist Naihla (Ashton Leigh) while Dr. Frankenstein (Max Rhyser)…or “Dr. F” as his students call him…teaches there while conducting his usual experiments. Obviously, as Naihla and the good doctor date, their respective projects are destined to clash.
Writer/director Damien Leone doesn’t do a bad job directing, it’s just that his script and tone are trying way too hard to make a serious horror out of a SYFY movie plot. There are endlessly long dialogue scenes and while the gore and make-up are quite well done, the film’s main selling point is treated as practically an afterthought at the film’s climax. I appreciate the taking of the story seriously, but do we need a 10 minute bonding conversation between Victor’s henchman and a homeless man he intends to kill anyway? Nowhere near the fun it should have been.
COME BACK TO ME (2014)
Film has an interesting premise, but unfortunately, is a bit weak on the execution. Flick has pretty wife Sarah (Katie Walder) suffering from blackouts and unexplained injuries who finds out her creepy neighbor (Nathan Keyes) is stalking her, too. Unknown to Sarah these events are connected as stalker Dale has a unique gift that he is using in a nightmarish capacity.
While I won’t spoil the disturbing reveal, I do like that writer James Leyden and director Paul Layden took the scenario of someone having a ‘special gift’ and put that gift into the hands of a very disturbed person. It’s like a cruel joke as the power could have been miraculous in the hands of someone with a better moral code and saner mind. Unfortunately, the film could have played the scenario out in a bit more of an intense and interesting manner and the acting could have been stronger. Not bad, but a film you wish was just a bit better due to the intriguing and disturbing premise. Climax did have some shock value.
I could write a full review for this really interesting and entertaining flick, but the less you know going in the better. I will say that the movie is based on a Robert A. Heinlein short story about a’ temporal agent’ (Ethan Hawke) whose job it is to travel back in time to prevent criminal or terrorist acts. On his current mission to stop a bombing, the agent makes an illegal stop for more personal reasons to guide the fate of a transgendered male writer (an amazing Sarah Snook) and quite possible throws his mission and the lives of thousands into jeopardy…but why?
Written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, this is a very engaging Sci-Fi thriller that makes interesting use of the time travel paradoxes and sometimes really messes with our heads. Added in is a strong performance by Ethan Hawke and a phenomenal performance by Jessabelle’s Sarah Snook and you’ve got some intense thought-provoking science fiction. Highly Recommended!
(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
This is one of those low budget, direct to home media horror entries that deserves a bit more attention than it got, as it makes a really nice effort and overcomes the restrictions of it’s budget to deliver some chills and Halloween set fun.
Anthology flick has a clever wrap-around story of babysitter, Sarah (hot girl-next-door type Katie Maguire) watching two kids, Timmy and Tia (Cole Mathewson and Sydney Freihofer) on Halloween night. Timmy finds a VHS tape that someone has put in his trick ‘r’ treat bag and wants to watch it. Sarah reluctantly puts it on and it is revealed to be a horror flick starring a very disturbing clown (Mike Giannelli) as it’s centerpiece. After the first gruesome segment, Sarah sends the kids to bed, but decides to watch the rest by herself. As the young woman continues the movie, she is treated to two more vignettes of terror and strange things start to happen around her. Is there more to this tape and this mysterious clown than a simple low budget fright flick? Is this movie more trick than treat?
Written and directed by Damien Leone, this little flick overcomes budget restrictions and clichés to deliver some legitimate chills and a couple of gruesome sequences, all the while maintaining that Halloween spirit. One of the keys is establishing three likable characters in Sarah and the kids, so when they are scared, we are sympathetic. The heroines within the tape’s stories are likable and sympathetic as well. Leone also gives us one creepy clown as our host/villain and a strong bad guy is another plus in any horror. The three vignettes are a bit of a mixed bag, The first has pretty Casey (Kayla Lian) waiting alone for a train on Halloween night and being abducted by “Art The Clown” and taken to be held prisoner with two other girls in a tunnel beneath the city streets. Obviously, something awaits in that tunnel and they have gruesome plans for our young ladies. This segment is OK, but didn’t do that much for me. It doesn’t really go anywhere and despite a creepy start, doesn’t deliver too many chills until the final few minutes. The second segment has a woman (Catherine A. Callahan) alone in her big, new, remote home while her husband’s away and dealing with some very otherworldly intruders. Despite the villains of the piece looking like someone in costume for Comic-Con, Leone still generates some nice atmosphere and suspense aided by a good performance by Callahan as the trapped and isolated wife. Third segment is the best, as it brings Art back and the sinister clown stalks a pretty young costume designer (Marie Maser) lost on the backroads and looking to get home. This segment is really creepy and delivers some gruesome gore as well. We then wrap-up the film as life imitates art…or “Art”…and Sarah faces a babysitter’s worst Halloween nightmare right out of the movie. Overall, a good effort and definitely shows potential for Leone. There is also an atmospheric score by Noir Deco and each segment is given it’s own look and feel by having a different cinematographer film each one.
The cast help Leone along and he gets good work out of most. I liked that he chose a bit older actress to play Sarah instead of a screaming teen. Actually makes it more effective that a level-headed adult is starting to really get creeped out. Maguire is not only hot, but makes a good choice as one of mom’s pretty friends coerced into babysitting on a night you least want to babysit. Mathewson and Freihofer are solid as the siblings and avoid the annoying child syndrome. Lian, Callahan and Maser all do well in giving us our damsels in distress during their respective vignettes and Mike Giannelli creates a very disturbing and creepy clown in “Art” and does so without dialogue. Using just his eyes and facial expressions, Giannelli gives us a very effective villain and it helps make this little flick work so well.
I liked this little movie and am willing to cut it some slack for it’s shortcomings. Possibly more for the effort than the actual movie itself, but Leone does seem to love horror and knows a bit of what makes them work. Two of the three vignettes are very effective and the second even overcomes some low budget looking creatures to remain spooky, while the third really nails it. The wrap-around story does bring it all together, as intended and even if we’ve seen a lot of this before, the Halloween clichés are used well and are there for a reason. A well-intentioned little Halloween horror that shows some potential for it’s makers and gives us something else to watch during that special time of year. Great movie…no, fun little flick with it’s heart in the right gruesome place…yes!