HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IT WATCHES (2016)

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IT WATCHES (2016)

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

Flick is the latest full length feature from Dave Parker who directed the criminally underrated The Hills Run Red and the Sweet Tooth segment from last year’s Tales Of Halloween. The film tells the tale of Andre (Ivan Djurovic who also co-wrote) who has been in a car accident recently and suffered a concussion that has resulted in short term memory loss. He is asked to take over house sitting duties from a friend and soon after entering the odd house, begins to experience strange things. Andre can’t decide if there is something going on, or is it the paranoia his doctors warned him might occur. But unknown to Andre, there are cameras hidden all over the house and someone is watching his every move…but why?

Parker and his star and co-writer craft an interesting tale of a man unsure of if what he is experiencing is real or the result of a suffered head drama. Realistically you might think one would not ask a man in Andre’s condition to house sit, though things do work out to make sense, when all is said and done. There is some tension as Andre starts to get spooked, his girlfriend just up and disappears and a creepy neighbor shows up to add to the young man’s paranoia. Parker builds some nice atmosphere here in this unsettling house and keeps us curious along with our leading man as he begins to investigate his temporary dwelling. He also lets the audience know someone is indeed in the house with Andre, but keeps his lead character unsuspecting so we are on edge as Andre searches the house with this mysterious watcher lurking in the shadows. Writer and director provide an interesting reveal in our last act that, also comes with some disturbing imagery. It might not have been hard to guess where this flick was heading, but it still worked well enough.

For the most part this is a one man show and Ivan Djurovic is fine in the part of Andre. He could have used a bit more range, but is adequate enough to serve the story. His performance is a bit by-the-numbers, but the added plot caveat of having head trauma does help the actor out a bit, as Andre’s uneven tone is not totally out of place. There is also Rick Irwin as his friend Robert who hands the housesitting gig over to him, Sanny van Heteren as girlfriend Rachel and James Duval as the mysterious and odd neighbor that shows up and spooks Andre. My only complaint about this neighbor character is that the big reveal leads one to question why he was behaving so strangely in the first place.

I liked this small flick. It’s not as good as The Hills Run Redbut it is chilling at times and entertaining and Parker shows he is a director that the horror genre needs to see more of. The film has it’s flaws and the acting may not be as solid as it could have been, but it works well enough even if the final moments take us somewhere not totally unexpected. A worthwhile chiller for a night on the couch.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 surveillance cameras.

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COOL STUFF: TALES OF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY!

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TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015) Blu-Ray

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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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015)

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TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015)

(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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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE HILLS RUN RED (2009)

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THE HILLS RUN RED  (2009)

A good, solid horror flick, Hills is the story of young filmmaker, Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrink) who is obsessed with looking for a lost 80’s slasher flick, The Hills Run Red, by seeking out it’s equally lost director, Wilson Wyler Concannon. The film is notorious for having been banned for being too violent and it is rumored that all the prints were destroyed, except for the director’s own original copy…and he disappeared after all the controversy. Tyler locates the director’s drug addict daughter, Alexa (Sophie Monk) and convinces her to lead him to the backwoods town where the notorious flick was filmed and Concannon was last known to be. Needless to say, he and his friends, Serina (Janet Montgomery) and Lalo (Alex Wyndham) may not like what they find when they get there and start investigating into something that should probably remain lost.

Director Dave Parker does nicely combining atmosphere, tension and gore into a deviant-ly fun little horror flick from the pens of David J. Schow and John Carchietta. He also creates a memorable and quite vicious villain in Babyface, the Jason-like serial killer from Concannon’s film, that is a bit too based on real events for our young leads’ liking. Add to that, a good cast including a creepy William Sadler as Concannon and the hot Sophie Monk as his daughter, helps bring this wicked little movie to life.

Sick, twisted and very gory tale, not only pays homage to these types of 80s slasher movies, but is one…and a very nasty one, at that. Small but very effective horror deserves far more attention then it got when released straight to DVD. Make sure you watch into the credits for an extra chilling scene.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 babyface killers

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