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DEATH OF ME (2020)

Dull supernatural thriller finds husband and wife Neil (Luke Hemsworth) and Christine (Maggie Q) on a trip to a small Thailand island. They wake up with no memory of the night before and a cellphone video shows them partying with Neil then raping, killing and burying Christine. The couple set off to find out what really happened and soon Christine finds herself a target of ancient island traditions and supernatural forces.

Flick is directed very by-the-numbers by Darren Lynn Bousman, from a dull script by Arli Margolis, James Morley III and David Tish. The movie has little or no suspense, or scares and the supernatural imagery and entities are very routine and very familiar. With the tropical far east setting, folklore and culture there was potential to do something spooky and interesting, but both writers and director take the easy way out on all counts. Maggie Q tries hard as heroine Christine, but the rest of the cast seem to be performing on a paycheck level. Dull and uninteresting with even the last shot in the movie being predictable. Also stars genre favorite Alex Essoe as the owner of the villa Christine and Neil are staying in and Kat Ingkarat as a mysterious island woman. Don’t bother unless a big fan of Bousman, Maggie Q, or Alex Essoe.

-MonsterZero NJ





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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




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

Pretty reporter Julia (Jessica Lowndes) has recently suffered a tragedy when a random psychopath murders her sister and family in their own home. Before she even has time to get over her grief, she finds her sister’s house has been bought by a mysterious individual and the crime scene room completely removed. Julia begins to investigate along with her cop love interest, Grady (Joe Anderson) and finds that there is a history of homes bought after tragedies and in each case, the room containing the deaths has been completely removed. Her investigation leads to a small dying town called New English, a town she has personal connections to, and a enigmatic individual by the name of Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie) who is collecting places that hosted horrific events…but why?

Flick is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman from a script by Christopher Monfette based on a graphic novel. While it has some interesting ideas and the concept of someone building a house made out of crime scene rooms is quite intriguing, the details surrounding our villain’s actions are a bit cloudy…especially as to how this is going to accomplish his proposed goals. There are some questions that seem only vaguely answered, such as what did Crone promise the citizens of New English that they would so easily kill, and of their own blood to get it and why does his house made of the ghosts of the horribly slain need a ‘fresh’ tragedy to be finished? Also, what is Crone? Demon? Ghost? We are never quite sure why he walks the earth now, after apparently meeting his demise years earlier and where he gets his power from. Some weak dialog throughout also doesn’t help matters, either and it seems there are some good ideas here that could have been better developed or conveyed more effectively to the audience. Bousman does direct this stylishly and with a lot of atmosphere, especially in the second half after a bit of a stale start. He makes great use of the Louisiana locations and despite the overloaded story, the last half hour set in Crone’s house of horrors is spooky and effective, even if we aren’t all that clear on where exactly all this is leading. Crone states his purpose but nothing indicating why he believes so. Bousman gives the movie a film noir flavor and it works with the supernatural subject matter very well. There is some violence, but it is done with restraint and not as prevalent as some of Bousman’s past films. The cinematography by Michael Fimognari is loaded with atmosphere as is the score by Mark Sayfritz which helps give the film a chill factory despite it’s flaws.

Even if Bousman and Monfette are being purposely a bit ambiguous on the ultimate point of all that occurs, it also doesn’t help that the film is also dragged down a bit by some sadly sub-par performances by some of it’s leads. Jessica Lowndes is beautiful and has the look of a film noir character, but isn’t much of an actress and it hurts as she is our main character. She’s not terrible, but far too wooden and limited in range to really pull this off. Anderson growls all his dialog and is simply weak as the love interest/cop Grady. Dayton Callie is creepy and mysterious as Jebediah Crone and it helps make the enigmatic nature of the character work, even though we’d like a clearer picture as to who he is and why he has the power to do what he does. Rounding out is the always delightful Lin Shaye as Allie, one of the few citizens of New English that is receptive to Julia…but one with a secret, too.

An interesting if not totally successful flick. On one hand the dialog is weak and the story is a bit convoluted. We are never completely clear on who our antagonist really is and how what he does is going to accomplish what he desires…and where is he getting his power to do it? On the other hand, the film is atmospheric and despite being a bit ambiguous, is quite spooky in it’s last act. The house Crone assembles from the tragedies of others is quite impressive and imaginative and works even if we are not totally convinced of it’s purpose. And while our leads are weak, Callie presents a creepy mystery man in his Jebediah Crone that makes this work as well as it does. Worth a look as it has some original and spooky ideas.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 Crones.






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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.

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This Halloween Hottie is an actress, singer and dancer as well as a heartbreaker!

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features an unsung Scream Queen who isn’t immediately recognized for her horror genre work but, has certainly done enough for her to more than qualify… the lovely and multi-talented Briana Evigan! More renown for her appearances in the dance-fueled Step Up flicks, Ms. Evigan is the daughter of actor Greg Evigan and seems to be following in her famous father’s footsteps having already put together quite a prolific resume’ of film, music video and TV work. But, it is her forays into the horror genre that we are focusing on here and Briana has graced quite a few fright fests with her charms, talents and that sexy voice. And this is one feisty final girl we’d like to see return to the genre as soon as possible!

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of her horror film’s that I’ve covered here previously. )

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Briana had her first acting role alongside her hard working dad in the 1996 film Spectre aka House Of The Damned, at the young age of 10. This horror had a family moving into an ancestral estate not only to find it haunted but, with a dark past as well. Briana played the couple’s young daughter Aubrey.


Much like Scream Queen legend Danielle Harris… A precocious 10 year-old, Briana begins her acting career in a horror flick!


Years later in 2008, a full grown Briana would return to the horror genre in an episode of the TV horror series Fear Itself. Directed by Saw’s Darren Lynn Bousman, the episode, entitled New Years Day, told the spooky tale of Helen (Evigan) a young woman who wakes up on New Years Day with not only a hangover but, in the middle of a full blown zombie outbreak in progress. What a way to start the year!


As Helen, a woman who has far more to worry about than a hangover.


Briana followed up her first Step Up movie appearance with the 2009 horror sequel S. Darko. The film was a misguided attempt at sequelizing the cult classic, one-of-a-kind Donnie Darko, not a great flick but, at least Evigan got to shine in the important role of best friend to Samantha Darko, Corey… and as usual, the actress outshines the material.


As best friend Corey to Daveigh Chase’s Samantha Darko in S. Darko.


That same year Evigan got the lead part in the slasher remake Sorority Row which cast her as one member of a high profile sorority that is forced to keep a terrible secret when a prank goes awry. As with the 1983 film House On Sorority Row, which this film is a redo of, that secret will come back to haunt them in the form of a vicious and vengeful killer. Briana’s Cassidy proves to be one resourceful and feisty final girl, as well as, one of the more morally sound members of the group!


Cassidy takes charge when a killer targets her sorority sisters.


Cassidy is one sorority sister who isn’t going down without a fight!


In 2010, Briana Evigan really got to show us her stuff when she played Kelly in Burning Bright. The story has a greedy stepfather locking Kelly and her autistic brother in a house with a hungry tiger in an effort to collect money on the insurance policies he took out on his stepchildren’s lives. Briana strongly carries the film on her petite shoulders and really impressed us as the resourceful yet, caring young woman who takes on the massive jungle predator to save herself and her little brother. A really underrated thriller which showed that Evigan is leading lady material and then some!

Trapped in a house with a fierce, hungry predator…


…but, who is hunting who?


Also in 2010, Evigan re-teamed with director Bousman for his loose remake of the 1980 cult classic Mother’s Day (review of the original). Briana’a Annette becomes trapped with friends when a psychotic woman, and her equally crazed offspring, invade what is now their former home and make hostages of the current occupants during a party. A horrifying night of torment and violence ensues. Evigan also co-wrote and sang the end credits tune ‘Better Than Yesterday’. Talented young woman!


Sexy party girl Annette.


Annette ‘quietly’ ponders her nightmarish situation.


In 2011 Briana found herself in peril again as the hostage of a psychotic Native American-obsessed nut in the oddball horror/thriller Rites Of Passage. Her role is not a big one but, her feisty attempt to escape her crazed captor is the best sequence in this sadly convoluted flick. No surprise there, that she’s a scene stealer too!


Poor party girl Penelope catches a ride with the wrong guy!


Making a daring escape that is clearly the most exciting scene in this otherwise forgettable flick.


and finally… for now… Briana teamed with Darren Lynn Bousman once again in his twisted vaudevillian short film, The Devil’s Carnival. Here the talented vixen got to play dual roles and sing for us, as both Ms. Merrywood… a young woman whose embrace of the term ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ lands her in this hellish side show… and a devilish mirror of herself when ‘The Twin’ teases Merrywood in her own image. Her ‘Beautiful Stranger’ is the best musical number in the flick.

As the greedy Ms. Merrywood…


…and The Twin mocking the doomed woman in her own guise.


Briana Evigan as her beautiful, playful (it’s so HOT when a pretty girl makes funny faces, isn’t it!) and multi-talented self who we can’t wait to see more of, whether it be in horror, or dancing her heart out in her latest, Step Up All In. She’s filming Devil’s Carnival 2 right now, so, it won’t be long before she’s enchanting us once more in our favorite genre!

PERSONAL NOTE: With some recent talk of the X-Files possibly being revived for TV, I personally think Briana Evigan would be a perfect addition to the cast as a new young agent recruited for the team. I think her buoyant personality and quiet strength would make a good fit and she can play tough as we’ve seen her take on Dolph Lundgren (Stash House) and a Bengal tiger, too. It’s a fanboy dream but, love to see it happen. Hey, as long as we get to see this charming young actress again, soon!

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaKatrina BowdenAlexandra DaddarioKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!)




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The Barrens is a moody and atmospheric little horror thriller set in New Jersey’s famous Pine Barrens and dealing with it’s most legendary native aside from Sinatra, The Jersey Devil. Stephen Moyer plays the emotionally troubled Richard, who’s taking his wife Cynthia (Mia Kirshner) and kids Sadie and Danny (Allie MacDonald and Peter DaCunha) on a family camping trip to the Pine Barrens. But, not only is Moyer’s Richard a bit stressed, he also has been bitten by a dog that might have rabies. Add to that having possibly seen the Jersey Devil as a child and we have a great mix for a really interesting family outing. Despite it’s convoluted set-up, Barrens is actually an entertaining horror. Obviously Moyer starts to see things and then people start to go missing and we are left to wonder is Richard hallucinating or is the Jersey Devil real and poor delusional dad taking blame for it’s actions. And I must say writer/ Director Darren Lynn Bousman keeps you guessing and keeps the film filled with an atmosphere of dread as we slowly learn what’s going on… or do we? That’s what makes this deliberately paced thriller work so well, just when we think we have the facts, we get handed more reasons to doubt. The cast all perform well, though Moyer’s heavy Australian accent is odd here since he is playing someone who has lived in the tr-state area since childhood. Kirshner is a little too deadpan at times but, not enough to hurt the film. I personally liked her hot girl-next-door MILF because she wasn’t playing the role that way, it came across naturally and she provides some delightfully distracting cleavage. There is some nice gore and make up effects to go along with Bousman’s visual style which is one thing he always delivers whether his films work or not. Personally I find his films very hit or miss but, they always look good. All in all, probably one of the better films I’ve seen on the subject of Jersey’s most elusive resident, so far… though that really isn’t saying much… and whether Bousman does give us a definitive answer as to who or what is really responsible for all the carnage or not, you’ll have to investigate The Barrens to find out. A slow burn but, a fun, spooky movie especially if you are a fan of The Jersey devil legend.

3 mythic Jersey Devils!

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