MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 1 & 2

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Haven’t done one of these in a long time! However, the Halloween season ūüéÉūüĎĽ is approaching and what better way to spend a Saturday night during the spooky season than with a good double feature. Here is a pair of found footage flicks that take place in the world of Halloween Haunts and makes a splendidly spooky double bill to enjoy with some popcorn and pumpkin ale!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014)

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

The Houses October Built is a found footage horror with a simple but fairly novel premise. During the Halloween season, five friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera. This includes tracking down an almost mythical attraction called The Blue Skeleton rumored to be the most extreme of all. Obviously, the more intense these attractions get, the stranger the individuals they run into and it increasingly appears this group might be getting more than they bargained for, until they actually find the elusive Blue Skeleton and…as the old saying goes…be careful what you wish for!

I liked this found footage horror, which seems to have grown out of director Bobby Roe’s own 2011 documentary about Halloween attractions with¬†the same name and cast. The film sets up the intriguing idea that there are attractions out there that hire questionable individuals who have no problem crossing boundaries to get the appropriate scares‚Ķand are not to be trifled with.¬†The film then illustrates¬†what may happen when a group of thrill-seeking¬†individuals goes looking for such fright experiences and unfortunately finds them. This is not a great flick, but has some very creepy moments, not only from some of the attractions our crew visit, but when they piss off the wrong people and it begins to be clear that they are being followed by some malevolent individuals‚Ķor are they being lead? The found footage format makes you feel like you are there with this fairly likable bunch, but the drawback is that I never felt like I was watching anything but actors. They never really make you feel like they are real people, so I wasn’t completely taken in when they appear to be threatened or in harm’s way. The film still has some very effective moments, especially in the last act when things start to go very wrong for our group and the only female, Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) seems to be singled out at times. I will admit, though, that the climax could have used a bit more intensity and shock value to offset the fact that we go into this knowing it won’t end well to some degree. It’s not a groundbreaking film, but it does work on quite a few levels¬†and we can’t help but imagine ourselves in a spot where we are surrounded by individuals who may not know‚Ķor care..where the show ends and real terrorizing begins.

So, I did like this flick. I think it’s clever that Roe made a documentary about some really over-the-top Halloween attractions and used what he learned to turn it into a movie. It’s as¬†if this actually happened to him and his crew while they were making the 2011 film. Almost a film within a film, though I have yet to see the original documentary and hope to remedy that. This isn’t a great horror, but it is a spooky enough flick about a hidden dark side to a favorite holiday pastime. It may not ever totally make us feel like we’re watching actual footage, but has enough effective imagery and situations to accomplish a good deal of what it sets out to do. Film was co-written by Roe along with Zack Andrews and Jason Zada and stars Roe, Andrews, Brandy Schaefer, Mikey Roe and Jeff Larson as themselves. If you like Halloween and all the trappings, you’ll probably enjoy this effective little flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clowns… and there are plenty in this flick!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)

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

The Houses October Built was a¬† fun found footage horror with a simple premise. During the Halloween season,¬†five¬†friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera…of course they got more than they bargained for. The sequel picks up a year later with the group having become internet celebrities due to the broadcasting of their predicament at the hands of The Blue Skeleton on social media. Now Halloween haunts are paying them to come and promote their attractions…all but Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) who is still traumatized. Brandy…now known on the net as “Coffin Girl”…however, is the one the haunts all want promoting their attractions and the gang have to do a lot of convincing…and paying…to get her back in. Brandy eventually agrees, not knowing that someone is watching them and that the The Blue Skeleton group may not be done scaring them yet.

First flick was a lot of fun as it both worked both as a horror flick, yet also dove into the underground world of Halloween haunts. This sequel does the same but opens it up to include Zombie 5k’s and even an “adult” themed haunt. The script by director and actor Bobby Roe, with cast member Zack Andrews, cleverly gets the gang back out there by having them now being paid by the haunts themselves to do what they did last time. Roe keeps the found footage format somewhat, but this one plays more like a movie which works as the feel of legitimate found footage was one of the weaker aspects the first time around. The group’s use of a drone, also opens up the scale with some frequent aerial photography. This sequel does take a little while to get going and may not be as consistently Halloween spirited as the last one, but once things start to get spooky, when our group…Brandy in particular…are being stalked, it gets as fun as the last one. It also has a few surprises up it’s sleeve, especially when the group meets their intended fate at the Hellbent attraction where the familiar blue skull-ed creepers spring their trap. It provides an intense and entertaining last act and shows Bobby Roe has matured as a filmmaker, somewhat, providing some legitimate chills.

The main cast, Zack Andrews, Mike and Bobby Roe, Jeff Larson and Brandy Schaefer, all return and are certainly fine, basically playing themselves. Schaefer stands out as she has the most emoting to do with her character being a reluctant participant, who is still haunted by almost being buried alive. Brandy has a couple of strong scenes expressing her fears and concerns over returning to these underground haunts and the climax gives her some solid material to work with. She would make a good final girl in a straight up horror. Mikey Roe also has some screen charisma as lovable party animal and joker of the group.

This was an enjoyable sequel and with some clever writing they may be able to get at least one more chapter out of this franchise. This follow-up pretty much equaled the first flick, which was a fun look at extreme Halloween haunts and a sometimes spooky little horror flick, too. The sequel freshens things up by opening up it’s spectrum of interested to include other types of Halloween attractions and figures out a way to get it’s characters back out there, after being scared out of their wits the last time. It does take a while to get going and the Halloween spirit isn’t as consistent as the last time…maybe too much of it was shot in the daytime?…but it does deliver some goods, especially in the last act. If you liked the first The Houses October Built you might enjoy this second romp as well and it would make a nice double feature during the spooky season to watch both films together.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clowns…they return too!

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HELL HOUSE LLC SEQUEL GETS A TRAILER!

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Hell House LLC was a surprisingly spooky found footage flick and now filmmaker Stephen Cognetti is back with a sequel. Set to premier on VOD on 9/14/18, Hell House LLC 2: The Abbadon Hotel has an investigative reporter (Jillian Geurts) taking her crew into the dreaded Abbadon Hotel to find out what really happened there eight years earlier. Will this sequel be an equal? Only time well tell!

-MonsterZero NJ

Source: Bloody-Disgusting.com

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BARE BONES: THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY (2018)

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THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY (2018)

Found footage flick takes place in 1960 and is supposed to be film footage shot by two priests, Father Thomas (Lalor Roddy) and Father John (Ciaran Flynn) as they investigate the reported bleeding eyes of a Virgin Mary statue. The statue stands in an Irish Magdalene laundry which were basically homes for wayward women cast out by society. Once the priests start to investigate, they find the statue is the least of their problems as there is true evil in this place both human and supernatural in origin.

Aside from it’s intriguing setting, there is nothing all that original in this flick, as either a found footage film or a demonic thriller. Director Aislinn Clarke makes atmospheric use of her locations, including some creepy rooms and catacombs beneath the building, but fails to set anything all that involving within them. Her script, that she wrote along with Martin Brennan and Micheal B. Jackson, drags out every clich√© imaginable in the found footage and demonic possession genres from the shaky cams and conveniently failing lights to the laughter of spectral children and levitating young women in nightgowns. The last act down in the subterranean catacombs beneath the building were right out of As Above, So Below and the sticks used for demonic symbols, right out of Blair Witch. Roddy’s Father Thomas was an interesting character and there was a creepy twist involving his past and Helena Bereen‘s Mother Superior was spooky without the last act reveals. It’s just the film seems to be simply a mash-up of elements and scenes from other movies and not done interesting enough to freshen them up or give the filmmakers a break. There is some feminist commentary mixed in, but it doesn’t make up for all the under-cooked horror elements that we’ve seen so many times before. There is some spooky and disturbing stuff in the last act, but it’s too little, too late and too familiar to elevate the film, even with a brief 76 minutes run-time.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HELL HOUSE LLC (2016)

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HELL HOUSE LLC (2016)

Found footage flick begins by revealing there has been a fatal occurrence at the grand opening of a Halloween haunt called Hell House. A number of guests and crew were killed and there is a veil of secrecy as to what actually happened. Years later, a documentary filmmaker (Alice Bahlke) tries to find out the real story and is given some of the crew’s own footage by surviving member Sara (Ryan Jennifer), leading up to that fateful night. As the footage is reviewed, it’s found that strange things were happening during the event set-up at the former Abbadon Hotel, a place with an already dark history, and something sinister might have actually been the cause of the catastrophe.

Found footage horror is written and directed by Stephen Cognetti and not only is it’s premise clever and spooky, but there are some downright scary bits in this little chiller. The idea of an ambitious crew setting up a Halloween haunt in a building that is already rumored to be haunted, works well and Cognetti gets a lot of mileage out of his story. The location used has a lot of dark places, especially the creepy cellar and having it already dressed for Halloween makes the filmmaker’s specters and shadows all the more creepier. Add in the manipulation of some scary clown mannequins and this is one unsettling little flick at times. Not everything works, the shock ending didn’t seem as much of a shock/surprise as it should have been and the actual disaster doesn’t seem quite as spooky as expectations lead us to believe it would be. But there is a lot of fun, creepy stuff leading up to the finale and the cast of unfamiliar faces do perform well enough to give the illusion that this is someone’s footage and not actors. Director Cognetti knows how to build scares and smartly gets things started fairly quickly, where most found footage movies take a while to get going. The flick also spares us a lot of the shaky cam until all Hell breaks loose at Hell House during the climactic disaster.

Overall, this was a spooky surprise. It’s a found footage flick that has some very scary moments thanks to a clever idea and script by Stephen Cognetti and some skillful direction. The makers get some good use out of it’s location and really do well in establishing early on that there is a malevolent presence in this notorious hotel. The climactic scenes could have used a little more punch, but there is some outright scary stuff leading up to it. A spooky little Halloween found footage flick from Stephen Cognetti.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clown mannequins…or are they?

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: CREEP 2 (2017)

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CREEP 2 (2017)

Creep had some disturbing and uncomfortable moments, even if it’s last act was a bit of a let-down. Sequel is the opposite with only it’s last few minutes showing some spark after over an hour of dull and borderline silly moments with Duplass’ serial killer. In this sequel the killer, now amusingly calling himself Aaron, invites a young woman (Desiree Akhavan) to his secluded cabin, who is making her own failing web series called Encounters. He reveals to her that he is a killer and that he wants to make a documentary about his homicidal habits. Sara sees a golden opportunity despite her fears and over the next 24 hours, she and “Aaron” start to form a strange bond as the filming progresses.

Sequel is once again directed by Patrick Brice from a script by he and star Duplass, though this time without the effectiveness of their first effort. Most of the banter between Aaron and Sara is dull and she seems to accept and start to like the weird man way too soon and it’s not convincing. Aaron’s primadonna approach to making the documentary is silly not scary and the film only starts to get effective in it’s last few minutes as their time together must come to a close according to Aaron’s constantly changing plans. It’s not enough to save the flick which up till this point was an effort to sit through and sadly lacks the uncomfortable vibe the first one used so well. Duplass and Akhavan do have a bit of chemistry and they do perform the underwhelming material well enough, but it comes across more ludicrous than scary. Concept was done better in Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)

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

The Houses October Built was a¬† fun found footage horror with a simple premise. During the Halloween season,¬†five¬†friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera…of course they got more than they bargained for. The sequel picks up a year later with the group having become internet celebrities due to the broadcasting of their predicament at the hands of The Blue Skeleton on social media. Now Halloween haunts are paying them to come and promote their attractions…all but Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) who is still traumatized. Brandy…now known on the net as “coffin girl”…however, is the one the haunts all want promoting their attractions and the gang have to do a lot of convincing…and paying…to get her back in. Brandy eventually agrees, not knowing that someone is watching them and that the The Blue Skeleton group may not be done scaring them yet.

First flick was a lot of fun as it both worked both as a horror flick, yet also dove into the underground world of Halloween haunts. This sequel does the same but opens it up to include Zombie 5k’s and even an “adult” themed haunt. The script by director and actor Bobby Roe, with cast member Zack Andrews, cleverly gets the gang back out there by having them now being paid by the haunts themselves to do what they did last time. Roe keeps the found footage format somewhat, but this one plays more like a movie which works as the feel of legitimate found footage was one of the weaker aspects the first time around. The group’s use of a drone, also opens up the scale with some frequent aerial photography. This sequel does take a little while to get going and may not be as consistently Halloween spirited as the last one, but once things start to get spooky, when our group…Brandy in particular…are being stalked, it gets as fun as the last one. It also has a few surprises up it’s sleeve, especially when the group meets their intended fate at the Hellbent attraction where the familiar blue skull-ed creepers spring their trap. It provides an intense and entertaining last act and shows Bobby Roe has matured as a filmmaker, somewhat, providing some legitimate chills.

The main cast, Zack Andrews, Mike and Bobby Roe, Jeff Larson and Brandy Schaefer, all return and are certainly fine, basically playing themselves. Schaefer stands out as she has the most emoting to do with her character being a reluctant participant, who is still haunted by almost being buried alive. Brandy has a couple of strong scenes expressing her fears and concerns over returning to these underground haunts and the climax gives her some solid material to work with. She would make a good final girl in a straight up horror. Mikey Roe also has some screen charisma as lovable party animal and joker of the group.

This was an enjoyable sequel and with some clever writing they may be able to get at least one more chapter out of this franchise. This follow-up pretty much equaled the first flick, which was a fun look at extreme Halloween haunts and a sometimes spooky little horror flick, too. The sequel freshens things up by opening up it’s spectrum of interested to include other types of Halloween attractions and figures out a way to get it’s characters back out there, after being scared out of their wits the last time. It does take a while to get going and the Halloween spirit isn’t as consistent as the last time…maybe too much of it was shot in the daytime?…but it does deliver some goods, especially in the last act. If you liked the first The Houses October Built you might enjoy this second romp as well and it would make a nice double feature during the spooky season to watch both films together.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clowns…they return too!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT SEQUEL GETS A TRAILER!

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The Houses October Built was a spooky found footage flick with a cool concept about a group of Halloween adventurers trying to find the ultimate Halloween haunt and not liking what they do find. The sequel has them back and at it again, despite getting scared almost literally to death last time. Flick arrives September 22 just in time for the start of the spooky season! Check out the trailer below!

Source: Youtube

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)

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THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)

Found footage horror finds two Youtube pranksters Devon (Justin Bruening) and Jamal (Jamal Quezaire) coming up with a idea for a put-on to find and interview monsters for a Youtube show they dub The Monster Project. They add Jamal’s druggie roommate Bryan (Toby Hemingway) and Devon’s ex Murielle (Murielle Zuker) to the crew and begin advertising for “monsters” to interview. They rent an old creepy house to use as their setting and actually get people claiming to be a vampire (Yvonne Zima), a skin-walker (Steven Flores) and demon possessed girl (Shiori Ideta) answering their ad. As the night and interviews progress, the team start to find out these “monsters” are very real and that their lives are in real danger.

Directed by Victor Mathieu from a script and story by he with Corbin Billings and Shariya Lynn, this is an amusing concept of Youtube video makers getting more than they bargained for. The interview segments are creepy and when their supernatural subject matter turns out to be real, there are some truly spooky and intense sequences, as the vampire, skin-walker wolf and demon girl pursue them all through the maze-like old house. It’s played straight and there is some gore as the four aren’t all lucky enough to evade their fiendish pursuers. The found footage style works here, with even the cop/skin-walker having his own uniform cam as he follows his intended victims. This part of the film is the best and the most entertaining, even with some weak CGI. Where the film stumbles, is where a lot of found footage flicks do. The build-up to the interview/chase segment is nowhere near as interesting, especially when it delves into the drama between Devon and Murielle’s failed relationship and Bryan’s attempts to appear clean when he isn’t. It’s kind of dull and the actors aren’t always up to the task. The film also comes apart a little bit in the last act when there is a reveal which takes the film and the survivors in a different direction. It seemed like it was unnecessary when the simpler plot of the film crew actually finding real monsters was enough to entertain. It takes the simpler premise into different territory and the initial story didn’t need a hidden agenda. It had some spooky moments, too, but also seems to overload the flick in it’s last moments.

For the most part this found footage flick has an amusing set-up and generates some intensity, chills and some fun chase sequences as a crew of Youtube entrepreneurs get exactly what they wished for. There is some decent gore and make-up for a low budget flick and the found footage format works here to the flick’s advantage. Where the flick falters is in the personal drama between some of the characters which is dull and doesn’t add much and that the cast of unknowns aren’t always convincing in their roles. The ending takes the film in an unneeded direction and convolutes things a bit when the simpler premise was working just fine and didn’t need an extra inning. Sometimes less is more, though what we get does have it’s moments. Not the complete success it wants to be, but entertains well enough when it’s working.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 full moons.

 

 

 

 

 

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NEW FOUND FOOTAGE SCARY CLOWN FLICK GETS A TRAILER!

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Clowns are scary enough horror movie material, but director and co-writer Tony H. Cadwell has added a found footage angle based on some real-life scary clown sightings! Check out the trailer for the creepy clown flick Behind The Sightings that’s eyeing an appropriate Halloween season release in October!

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source: Youtube

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BARE BONES: HANGMAN

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HANGMAN (2015)

Found footage¬†horror has¬†a demented serial killer (Eric Michael Cole), who likes to hang his victims, sometimes, targeting the Miller family while they are on vacation. He lives in their home, while they are away and installs cameras everywhere because he plans on staying once they come back and observing them. They do return and despite calling the police to report the break-in, Hangman remains hidden in the¬†attic¬†thanks to shoddy police work‚Ķor a weak script? Soon the maniac is watching the family’s every move and even moving among them while they are unaware. What are his sinister plans for this unsuspecting family? Do we care?

Dull flick is written by¬†Simon Boyes and¬†Adam Mason and directed flatly by Mason. It’s basically 85¬†minutes of a masked looney watching a family from an elaborate set-up in their own attic that somehow gets missed by investigating police. The nut pulls stupid pranks on them like moving furniture around, making parents aware of bad report cards and spitting in their food. Oooohhh…scary!!! He finally gets deadly in the last five minutes,¬†or¬†so and by that time we don’t care anymore. A premise like this could have been quite creepy, but the film has no atmosphere, tension or suspense. A boring found footage flick that also stars Jeremy Sisto and Kate Ashfield as the homeowners and Ryan and Ty Simpkins as their kids.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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