BARE BONES: BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) and SILENT NIGHT (2012)

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BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006)

Remake, of sorts, of the holiday slasher classic finds a group of bitchy sorority sisters under siege by a demented serial killer and his sister. William Lenz (Robert Mann) escapes from a mental hospital and heads to his former home which is now a sorority. He is joined by his equally psychotic sister Agnes (Dean Friss) to stalk such cuties as Lacey Chabert, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Buffy alumni Michelle Trachtenberg and Katie Cassidy. Blood and body parts fly as they decimate the sorority sisters, one by one.

Flick is written and directed by X-Files writer Glen Morgan and turns what was a stylish and mysterious slasher into a blunt and over-the-top one. Bob Clark’s original was simple, had it’s bloody kills and never let us know who the killer really was, adding an eerie quality. Here we are introduced to our psychos right away with continual flashbacks and we get some really gory death’s and some very drunk and bitchy sorority girls to inflict them on. There is little or no suspense, though the action is fast paced, there is some entertainment to be had and the gore is well rendered. The girls are certainly Christmas eye candy and Katie Cassidy does make a good final girl even if Morgan’s script gets silly at times. Worth a look, but hardly a classic.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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SILENT NIGHT (2012)

This remake of the 1984 Silent Night, Deadly Night, barely qualifies as such, as it takes half the title and a few scenes and primarily does it’s own thing. Here Christmas is approaching and a pretty deputy (Jaime King) is hunting a sadistic murderer in a Santa suit and mask, who is killing the bad folks of Cryer, Wisconsin in ho ho ho-rrible ways.

Flick is directed by Steven C. Miller from a script by Jayson Rothwell and takes all the fun out of the holiday themed slasher concept. It’s an ugly and sleazy flick that has it’s homicidal Santa killing, bad kids, lecherous priests, drug dealers, porn film makers and their scantily clad actresses. It makes this small town look like quite the sleaze pit and gives us few to root for as the victims are all unlikable for the most part and we meet them like three minutes before they die. They’re just Santa fodder and not characters we care about. At least in the original the characters were only questionably bad, regular people and not societies dregs which evoke little sympathy. Also stars Malcolm McDowell as the town sheriff, Zombeaver’s Cortney Palm, and Scott Pilgrim’s Ellen Wong as the police station receptionist. An ugly and boring movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SHARK NIGHT (2011)

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SHARK NIGHT (2011)

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

Considering how ludicrous the Sharknado films get and how popular they are, I ‘m surprised how much flack this flick gets. Personally, I think it’s a fun B-movie that is sort of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre with sharks…sounds good to me!

Simple but, far fetched story has a group of attractive twenty-somethings going up to friend Sara’s (Sara Paxton from Innkeepers) family vacation house that is situated on a small island in the middle of a large saltwater Louisiana lake. Soon after their arrival, one of their number is attacked and mauled by what appears to be a shark. Now they find themselves stranded on the island and surrounded by predators, usually found prowling the oceans, with their numbers dwindling. The sharks aren’t the only threat though, as they aren’t there by accident and those responsible come out of hiding to make sure Sara and all her friends become fish food.

Sure, as written by Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg and directed by David R. Ellis, this is a silly flick. The filmmakers know it, though and have a good time with it. They play it straight, not making a joke out the preposterous story of rednecks filling a lake with all species of sharks for their own amusement and personal gain. They let the story itself provide the entertainment..and it is fun, if you let it be. There are some cheesy CGI FX, offset with some nice animatronics, and a decent amount of blood and gore, though it could have gone a little more overboard with that and not hurt things, but, the film was released as PG-13 and the unrated DVD cut probably amounts to a routine R. Jaws was PG and that was quite effective, so, I’m fine with the amount of bloodshed as is. Like a slasher we get an attractive cast to fall victim to our hungry critters and there is enough nubile flesh in bathing suits to supply eye candy for everyone. It’s not quite over-the-top enough to be an exploitation flick, like Alexandre Aja’s Piranha remake, but, it certainly has more in common with that flick than a straight shark thriller like The Reef. Ellis does get some suspense and intense action out of the story and the villains are quite hate-able as bad guys should be…and there are a lot of sharks.

The human cast are all fine and mostly hired more for their looks and figures than their acting. Paxton is very sweet and likable as heroine/final girl Sara and can’t say she looks all that bad in her blue bikini which is predominately her only wardrobe. Same can be said of American Idol alumni turned actress Katharine McPhee as tattooed rebel chick Beth. Dustin Mulligan is a fine hero with his nerdy Nick and veteran Donal Logue is perfectly suitable as an alcoholic redneck sheriff. The rest of the supporting cast are equally suitable as either shark fodder or deranged hicks.

I like this flick. It’s no classic but, it is fun and there is enough blood and bikinis to pass the time. The combination of shark flick and deranged backwoods locals movie worked for me and there is enough action and suspense to entertain despite the silly story. Not a looney as Sharknado but, goofy enough in it’s own right and with a few beers thrown in, it’s a worthy watch on the couch.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 bikini-clad cuties.


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BARE BONES: 24 EXPOSURES, KILL ME THREE TIMES and THE INTRUDERS

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24 EXPOSURES (2013)

Odd and unsatisfying thriller has a troubled police detective (Simon Barrett) investigating a series of murders and questioning a fetish photographer (Adam Wingard who directed The Guest) who worked with a couple of the victims. The two form an odd bond as the investigation continues. Yea…that’s kinda it. I found this thriller rather pointless and dull. Writer/director Joe Swanberg seems more interested in giving his fellow director buddy Wingard opportunities to make-out with and enact sex scenes with multiple women than he is in actually telling a story. Ironically, when Barett’s cop character tries to sell his experiences as a book, he’s told that the characters and story aren’t compelling enough and there are too many loose ends…kinda like this movie. Also, instead of patting each other on the back by giving each other acting roles, this pack of filmmaker buddies should keep egos in check and hire real actors…just a suggestion.

2 star rating

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KILL ME THREE TIMES (2014)

Another Tarantino wannabe thriller that has a hip soundtrack, spurts of graphic violence and a story told out of sequence with dark humor. This time the wannabes are writer James McFarland and Aussie director Kriv Stenders. They deliver the story of hired killer Charlie Wolf (Simon Pegg) who is being payed by a ruthless husband (Callan Mulvey) to murder his cheating wife, Alice (Alice Braga). Unknown to Charlie, a conniving couple (Theresa Palmer and Sullivan Stapleton) are planning to kill her, too, in an insurance fraud plot…but Alice has other ideas. Add in a dirty cop (Bryan Brown) and a lovesick mechanic (Luke Hemsworth) and things get complicated and bloody fast. Flick isn’t terrible, it’s just that it’s style is so familiar at this point and a good deal of it is predictable because so many have already tried to be the next Quentin Tarantino and we know what to expect. Pegg seems to be having fun in more of a tough guy role, but the proceedings in flicks like this have just become so passé and it never reaches the cleverness or the manic energy of the filmmaker whose work is being emulated. OK at best.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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THE INTRUDERS (2015)

The Intruders is a completely derivative and familiar story of a emotionally troubled girl named Rose (Miranda Cosgrove) who moves into an apparently haunted house that wants something from her. Obviously her recently widowed father (Donal Logue) thinks it’s all in her troubled head and no one believes her that something may be in the house with them. So, she begins to investigate. Add in alleged disappearances and suspicious neighbors and you know where this is going. Thriller isn’t badly directed, as by Adam Massey, it’s just that Jason Juravic’s script is loaded with been-there-done-that. The only thing that elevated this for me out of the incredibly familiar and mundane material was that Cosgrove is actually quite good, despite being surrounded by clichés. In a much better film, the former Disney Channel actress could be quite an impressive final girl. Also stars Tom Sizemore as the suspicious neighbor and Austin Butler as the stereotypical nice guy hunk with a soft spot for pretty, damaged girls. Up to you.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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 -MonsterZero NJ
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