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Holidays is a horror anthology that presents eight short stories, each based on a holiday and adding some kind of supernatural/horror twist. Each tale is written and directed by different filmmakers with somewhat mixed resluts.

The first is Valentines Day, written and directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes) and tells the story of  introverted high school girl Maxine (Madeleine Coghlan) who has a crush on her swimming coach (Rick Peters). When she misinterprets a sympathetic Valentine’s Day card from him, she decides to solve her bullying problem and present her object of affection with a special gift, all at the same time. It is an effective story with some very gruesome moments and has a bit of that offbeat, disturbing feel that made Starry Eyes work so well.

Next up is St. Patrick’s Day written and directed by Gary Shore (Dracula Untold). This tells the story of a new little girl (Isolt McCaffrey) at school who gives her teacher (Ruth Bradley) a St. Patrick’s Day wish with disturbing results. This episodes starts out creepy enough, but gets progressively silly till it’s goofy ending.

Next up is Easter written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact). This tells a really weird and disturbing tale of a little girl (Ava Acres) who accidentally catches the Easter Bunny (Mark Steger) in the act…but he’s not quite what she expected and there is a disturbing price for being the first child to ever see him. This is a weird episode that unsettlingly combines both the Christian doctrine and traditional bunny folklore of Easter. While not totally successful, it gets extra points for being daring enough to ‘go there’.

The next tale is written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith and is called Mother’s Day. It’s an odd story about a woman (Sophie Traub) who is ‘cursed’ by getting pregnant every time she has sex. She is sent to, of all places, a fertility clinic, to solve her problem, one which turns out to be more than it seems. This episode was really strange, yet a bit unsatisfying as it didn’t seem to go anywhere and had a predictable and cliché shock ending.

Father’s Day is one of the best tales. It is written and directed by FX man Anthony Scott Burns (FX for The Last Exorcism Part II). It tells of a young woman (House of the Devil’s Jocelin Donahue) who receives a recorded message from her long dead father, asking her to meet him at a special place from her childhood. This is a very effective episode that is moody, creepy and heartbreaking, thanks in equal parts to good direction and a very strong performance by Donahue.

The biggest disappointment and worst episode is Kevin Smith’s Halloween. It takes place on Halloween, but has little to do with the holiday as it tells the story of Ian (Harley Mortenstein) the mean owner of a Sex Cam business who has a painful rebellion from three of his employees (Ashley Greene, Olivia Roush and Harley Quinn Smith). It forgoes any attempt at something spooky for more of Smith’s traditional adolescent vulgarity. Boring, crude and has nothing to do with the holiday it represents.

Anthology get’s back on track with Scott Stewart’s (Dark SkiesChristmas. This one tells the tale of a down-on-his-luck dad (Seth Green) who goes to disturbing lengths to get his kid the pair of virtual reality glasses he wants. These glasses, however, reveal a person’s true self and he and his wife (Clare Grant) learn some very unsettling things about each other. This is a fun and chilling episode and Green is entertaining to watch as the desperate dad and Clare Grant is good as the wife with a secret side to her.

Final episode is New Year’s and is is directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind Of Hate) from a script by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch. It tells the story of a serial killer (Andrew Bowen) who has specific plans for his New Year’s Eve date (Lorenza Izzo) who turns out to have far more in common with him than he realizes. This is a twisted and fun episode with a really entertaining psycho  turn by Izzo as Jean. Izzo is showning a talent for these roles, as she was one of the few fun parts of Knock Knock.

Overall, this was a mixed bag, but the good outweighed the bad. There were a few disappointments, especially from Kevin Smith who dropped the ball on delivering something in the Halloween spirit for his tale. We did gets some spooky and effective stories, with the standout being Burn’s Father’s Day which had a sympathetic and strong portrayal from Jocelin Donahue. Definitely worth a watch for the segments that did work and even a couple of the failures had an originality to their telling.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Christmas trees.

fred clause rating




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I try to champion the indie filmmaker whenever possible but found very little to like about this incredibly derivative little movie. In a plot we’ve seen countless times, a dork (a bland Reece Thompson who also produced) falls in love with the hot girl next door (Rebekah Brandes from Midnight Movie) but, is too afraid to let her know how he feels. A horrific event…in this case a zombie outbreak…gives him the opportunity to find the courage to find and rescue her and be a hero. The film is just so familiar and is trying way too hard to emulate so many better movies, it’s annoying…and not to mention a bit smug. It’s like the makers saw Zombieland one too many times, as that’s the film it blatantly copies in it’s style most of the time. I wouldn’t mind the familiarity, though, if it was done inventively or in a refreshing way but, it’s not. And even at barely over 80 minutes the film stops dead…pun intended… for long dialogue scenes that go nowhere and don’t further the story. As directed by Jarret Tarnol and written by Brent Tarnol (who also stars as the stereotypical stoner Stevenson) this flick is sadly a chore to sit through, even though well under 90 minutes. At least Brandes is cute to watch as April. A disappointing effort that somehow got Aliens’ Mark Rolston and comedian George Lopez involved in small roles.

2 star rating


dracula untold


It’s not that Dracula Untold is a badly made movie, it’s just that it’s a ridiculous one. Director Gary Shore movies things along well enough and the film looks good but, the story by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless is just plain silly. Tale takes the true-life character of Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) and thus the fictional vampire that is based on him and turns him into a superhero. Vlad’s kingdom is threated by the Turks who demand a thousand of his people’s children, including his own son. He seeks help from an old vampire (Charles Dance) living in a mountain cave to bestow him with his power so, he can save his people. He has three days with this power but, if he gives in to the blood thirst, he will remain a vampire forever. Vlad then goes up against thousands of soldiers like a gothic X-Man with the powers of bat control. It’s ridiculous. It takes one of literature and film’s greatest villains and turns him into Batman…literally. As an action movie it passes the time but, as a telling of the story of Dracula, it’s a silly movie that sadly had an interesting concept at it’s core with it’s origin of the legendary count.

2 star rating



On one hand, Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett’s found footage film is inventive in using a real life location  suspected of occult and paranormal activity, the ruins of St. Mary’s Church in Clophill, England and real interviews from witnesses. On the other hand though, they forget to make the film the least bit scary. The flick comes across as some random episode of some random ghost hunting show and as in those shows, very little actually happens amidst all the talk and conjecture. The film is only 88 minutes long and it isn’t until the 1 hr 17 min mark that something that could be considered even remotely scary happens. Seriously! Then the film climaxes ominously and quite open for a sequel. It’s a long-winded build-up with no real pay-off. Technically an 80 minute wait for the last 8 minutes which seems to only exist to set-up another movie to come. For the most part, an interesting idea squandered on a boring movie. Too bad. The mix of real-life history and paranormal thriller could have been fun if the makers knew what to do with it.

2 star rating