MONSTERZERO NJ’S HORROR FLICKS THAT ACTUALLY TAKE PLACE ON HALLOWEEN!

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During the Halloween season it might be fun to watch flicks that actually take place on Halloween… so here are some horror flicks that actually occur on, or near, our favorite Holiday! 🎃

(To get to the reviews of the titles below that were covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 HORROR FLICKS THAT ACTUALLY TAKE PLACE ON HALLOWEEN!

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During the Halloween season it might be fun to watch flicks that actually take place on Halloween… so here are 25 horror flicks that actually occur on, or near, our favorite Holiday! 🎃

(To get to the reviews of the titles below that were covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY (2015)

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A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY (2015)

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

Ho ho ho-hum horror is a Yuletide-set anthology that tells four stories that take place all at the same time on Christmas Eve. One tale has a group of students investigating a campus murder, from a year before and not liking what they find. Another has a family reunion, of sorts, ending in a deadly encounter with Krampus. A third has a family going where they don’t belong, to cut down their Christmas tree and paying the price. The final tale has Santa (George Buza) himself battling his own zombified elves. The stories are loosely tied together by a DJ (William Shatner) on his Christmas Eve show.

Flick is directed with equal blandness by three filmmakers, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan and Grant Harvey. The script by five people, no less, has all four stories occurring at the same time and thus we cut back and forth between the four tales constantly. This gives the film a very disjointed narrative and keeps any of the individual stories from building any momentum they might have. Regardless, the direction is very by-the-numbers with only Santa’s battle with his zombie elves having much impact, thought the final moments of the Krampus story and the film’s reveal finale are somewhat effective, too…not enough, however, to save the movie as a whole. The FX and gore in the segments are actually pretty good, but the fact that none of the episodes stand out, or have any real memorable style, neuters any effect the well-done bloodshed might evoke. It’s kinda dull, when all is said and done and only the old pro Shatner gives his performance any life…and he is actually fairly restrained as Shat usually goes. As directors Hoban and Harvey have worked on the Ginger Snaps series, they set the little horror in the same town of Bailey Downs…and that’s about as interesting as this flick gets. It’s overall very forgettable, with what moments that do work being few and far between.

Not really much to recommend here. The direction is all fairly wooden and it’s disjointed narrative kills any momentum that the by-the-numbers stories might have built. The film looks good and the FX are well done, but aside from being set in the same town as the classic Ginger Snaps, there really isn’t much of interest going on in this disappointing Yuletide horror anthology.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 Christmas trees.

to all a good night rating

 

 

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 21 HORROR FLICKS THAT ACTUALLY TAKE PLACE ON HALLOWEEN!

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During the Halloween season it might be fun to watch flicks that actually take place on Halloween… so, here are 21 horror (or thriller) flicks that actually occur on, or near, our favorite Holiday!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the highlighted titles below to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

1. Halloween

2. Halloween II

3. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (obviously, you may want to watch 4 thru Resurrection, too!)

4. Trick ‘r Treat

5. House of 1000 Corpses

6. Halloween RZ

7. Halloween II RZ

8. Hellions

9. The Houses October Built

10. All Hallows Eve

11. The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014

12. Creepshow 

13. Ginger Snaps

14. The Crow

15. The Crow: City Of Angles

16. May

17. Lady In White

18. Satan’s Little Helper

19. Night Of The Demons

20. The Guest

21. Boo

-MonsterZero NJ

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25 LESSER-KNOWN or OVERLOOKED HORROR FLICKS TO ADD TO YOUR HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST!

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Need a little variety for your Halloween viewing this year? These are 25 lesser-known, overlooked or more obscure horrors from recent years that certainly are worthy of a spot on your movie playlist for the upcoming Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. BEREAVEMENT
  2. THE LOVED ONES
  3. STAKE LAND
  4. THE DEAD
  5. THE INNKEEPERS
  6. AMERICAN MARY
  7. THE LORDS OF SALEM
  8. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  9. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013)
  10.  ABSENTIA
  11. MALEVOLENCE
  12. GINGER SNAPS
  13. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
  14. THE LAST EXORCISM
  15. THE HILLS RUN RED
  16. THE PACT
  17. LOVELY MOLLY
  18. WAKE WOOD
  19. THE AWAKENING
  20. ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
  21. THE SHRINE
  22. BABYSITTER WANTED
  23. LAKE MUNGO
  24. HAUTE TENSION
  25. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES

Also check out my MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 MUST WATCH HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON

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BARE BONES: GINGER SNAPS on BLU-RAY

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GINGER SNAPS (2000) on BLU-RAY

I’m normally not one for product reviews, but am so very happy that this cult classic (full movie review here) has finally been given the love it deserves by the awesome folks at Scream Factory. This label just keeps delivering these wonderful editions of horror cult classics and giving fan favorites and obscure guilty pleasures the respect they deserve with pristine restored prints and engaging extras. Ginger Snaps is finally presented in it’s Anamorphic Widescreen glory (1.78:1) and has a nice DTS 5.1 sound mix. I don’t have the best sounds system, but it sounded really good to me and the picture was clear and had only some mild graininess in some of the darker scenes, but this is a low budget horror movie and that is just fine. The colors are rich, but not over-saturated, so they look natural and the picture is certainly better quality then any other presentation before it. There are some nice featurettes and deleted scenes along with commentary and new interviews from director and co-writer John Fawcett and Karen Walton as well as leading lady Emily Perkins. Obviously the presence of star Katharine Isabelle is sadly missing, but Scream Factory claims communication with the actress’ representatives went unanswered. Too bad. Otherwise this is a must buy for fans of this Canadian cult classic horror.

… and DAMN! Emily Perkins looks good in those new interviews!

three and one half stars rating

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: KATHARINE ISABELLE

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Halloween Hotties focuses this time on the beautiful and talented Katharine Isabelle. The Canadian actress has been working hard at her craft since she was a kid and her work in both genre movies and television certainly qualifies this versatile lady as a scream queen!

click on the highlighted links to read the reviews of Miss Isabelle’s films that I’ve covered here at MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse!

KATHARINE ISABELLE

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Katharine Isabelle first started acting at the young age of 7 for the 1989 film Cousins and continued to work steadily with appearances and roles in both films and TV. But it wasn’t until she starred in the 1998 sci-fi/ horror Disturbing Behavior that she had her first genre movie appearance though she had done some genre TV including roles in Goosebumps, Ray Bradbury Theater and The X-Files. It wasn’t until Isabelle got the lead role in the cult classic 2000 werewolf flick Ginger Snaps that the now grown-up actress really caught our attention as the ill-fated high school Goth girl Ginger, whose life turns upside down when bitten by a werewolf. After that, an appearance in Freddy v.s. Jason and reprising her Ginger character for the sequel and prequel respectively Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning cemented her status as one of today’s reigning scream queens. But, she shows no signs of slowing down as she’s appeared in quite a few more genre shows such as The Outer Limits, Smallville, Supernatural and Being Human and continues her prolific film work including roles in the horror flicks Hard Ride To Hell30 Days Of Night: Dark Days, Rampage and the disturbing and original 2013 flick American Mary from the Soska Sisters. She has the horror films 13 Eerie and Torment on the horizon and is starring with fellow reigning scream queen Danielle Harris in the currently filming See No Evil 2 which reunites her with the directing team of The Soska Sisters. A gorgeous, talented and hard working woman who seems to be only just getting started…

UPDATE!: Not only can Katharine now be seen on season 4 of SYFY’s Being Human but, it’s just been announced, she will have a reoccurring role on season 2 of NBC’s Hannibal. A busy woman whose star is on the rise!

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As hero James Marsden’s little sister Lindsay in Disturbing Behavior

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…All grown up in the role that really got our attention, as Ginger in Ginger Snaps and it’s sequels

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…As tough girl Gibb in the bloody fun Freddy vs Jason… 

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…and as the beautiful but deadly Mary Mason in the disturbing and gruesome American Mary

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…a rising star full of talent, beauty and surprises!

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaAmber HeardAlexandra DaddarioKatrina BowdenBriana Evigan and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: AMERICAN MARY and EXCISION

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I know that I have reviewed these films within the last few months, but I think these two unconventional films that both deal with a lead  female character with an interest/skills in surgery and the disturbing stories within which our leading ladies find themselves in, make for a very provocative and chilling Saturday night combo…

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AMERICAN MARY (2013)

Flick tells the interesting story of pretty med student, Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle) who, when in need of cash, finds herself getting accidentally involved with illegal surgery and body modification. But it’s not till she is drugged and raped at a party by her arrogant pervert of a professor (David Lovgren) that Mary’s skills get put to horrifying use and her inner Frankenstein is unleashed.

American Mary is intriguing, but never fully decides what it is really about to make it completely captivating, or gets truly twisted enough to make it cult film material. This Canadian flick written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska (who also play twins in the movie) has a nice visual style and some very gruesome moments, but never really grabs us completely or shocks us enough to solidify itself the cult status it aims for. The cast is decent and there are a few interesting and eccentric characters, but lead Katherine Isabelle, who was so good in Ginger Snaps, plays Mary with a bit of an emotional detachment for the most part or maybe a bit too low key. With all that befalls Mary, the tone of the character seems to remain the same despite that her life gets sent in disturbing directions and the changes it makes to her. She’s still good, but there should have been a bit more of a difference between Jekyll and Hyde. It would have made more impact. But Isabelle is a good actress and maybe it’s not her fault as she is not given a lot of time to develop Mary before the story sets in motion, so we don’t really see the changes in the character as the film progresses. Perhaps the Soskas get things moving too quickly and as Mary gets drawn in deeper and deeper into this bizarre world, we haven’t gotten to know her well enough to really add resonance to her life’s sudden macabre twist and the changes that occur within her. After her brutal rape, we can understand her emotional shut down, but even before that she seems to adjust a bit too quickly, despite the absurdity of what she’s asked to do and after, her cruel revenge seems to come a bit too easily. After the story events that have the most impact on Mary occur, the moments the Soskas give us to experience what Mary is feeling are all too brief and don’t sink in properly and that robs us of appreciating the true gravity of her transformation from down-on-her-luck med student to illegal body modification diva to sadistic murderer. I’m not saying what occurs doesn’t have any effectiveness, it does. But we needed a little more time with Mary at those transformation points to really appreciate what’s happened to her. To a degree Mary seems likable, but we never really get truly emotionally involved as she embraces her dark and sadistic side or begins to revel at being a rock star of underground body modification surgery…and we should in order to give the story the weight it needs to elevate it to something unique and special. There’s just something missing. The Soskas seem to be far more interested in who Mary is to become and forget that we need to know her better as who she is first to appreciate that.

I won’t take away that this is an original story in a genre filled with remakes and sequels and it still held my interest throughout despite it’s flaws. This real segment of society has never really been touched on in films and we wish the Soska’s would also have delved even deeper into this sect of people that see their bodies as ever evolving canvases and physically alter them through illegal surgery such as Mary provides. There are also a few story lines going on during American Mary and none get fully developed, such as what is going on between Mary and strip club owner Billy (Antonio Cupo), who first hires her to perform an illegal surgery. A partnership/relationship between them then forms that the parameters of which are never really made clear. And then there’s the bond between Mary and Lance the bouncer (Twan Holliday) that I would like to have seen more of. And that’s what restrains American Mary, it is an interesting story with some equally interesting ideas that never gets fully developed enough to really get our complete attention or becomes bizarre and twisted enough to make it more memorable…though it has it’s moments. Worse still, the ending feels forced and sudden as if the Soska’s didn’t know where to go with Mary’s story at that point and add a plot contrivance to wrap things up in a bloody bow. It’s abrupt and not very satisfying.

An intriguing diversion and a nicely original story idea that’s worth a look and has it’s effectiveness, but could have been much more with a little more development of the story and it’s lead character. In conclusion, I did like it and find it intriguing, but it is a flawed film as much as an interesting one…and if anything, I’ve re-watched it a few times and it has made me second guess my feelings about it and the film at least deserves credit for that.

A generous 3 bones saws!

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Richard Bates Jr. writes and directs this original, trippy and really disturbing horror/drama about emotionally troubled teen, Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) who escapes from her repressive mother (Traci Lords) by immersing herself in an interest in surgery complete with gruesome and bizarre fantasies. But fantasy and reality may collide as the disturbed Pauline grows desperate to win her distant mother’s love and plots to do so by saving her little sister, Grace (Ariel Winter) from her cystic fibrosis in the only way her demented mind sees possible.

Not only does Bates weave a drama that mixes with equal parts horror, but also gets great performances out of McCord, who really surprised me with how well she disappeared into Pauline’s demented ugly duckling persona, and Lords, who shines as her overbearing mother. It’s the performances all around that really make this haunting, off-center and sometimes gruesome character study really work. He also vividly creates the fantasies inside Pauline’s head and makes them both visually beautiful and highly disturbing at the same time. It gives us a chilling idea of just how unhinged this high school outcast really is.

Not for everyone, but for those who don’t mind something different and unnerving, this is a really good watch. Also features appearances by Malcolm McDowell, Ray Wise, Marlee Matlin and John Waters.

3 solid bone saws!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GINGER SNAPS 2 and GINGER SNAPS BACK

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GINGER SNAPS 2: UNLEASHED (2004)

(WARNING!: if you have not seen the original Ginger Snaps, this review contains spoilers for that film.)

Actually a pretty decent sequel, Unleashed finds an infected Bridgette (Emily Perkins) fighting the transformation while being haunted by her dead sister, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and hunted by a male werewolf looking to mate. She first finds herself stuck in a women’s clinic where the staff attributes her claims of lycanthropy as a product of her addiction to the monkshood, which is actually slowing the transformation. But there she meets, Ghost (Tatiana Maslany) a strange, comic book obsessed girl, but the only one who believes her, so she reluctantly bonds with her. As her perspective mate draws near, Bridgette and Ghost escape to Ghost’s home deep in the woods for a final confrontation with a few surprises of it’s own.

Brett Sullivan does a good job of continuing John Fawcett’s saga yet making this flick in his own style. The first half is a little slow, but Bridgette’s plight in the clinic is well done and holds our interest and gives us a little time to catch up with the character since we last saw her and get to know the eccentric Ghost. Sullivan then cranks things up quite a bit once the vicious male finds and invades the clinic and the girls subsequently escape to the cabin to take it on. There is some nice gore and the film has a different visual style then the first film, but not one that alienates fans of that film. There are some likable supporting characters such as clinic director Alice (Janet Kidder) and unlikable ones like jerk orderly Tyler (Eric Johnson) and Sullivan gets serviceable performances out of them all including strong work from his leads especially Maslany who really gives new character, Ghost some interesting quirks and layers. There is some nice suspense and action especially in the last act and overall it’s a sequel that should keep Ginger Snaps fans happy enough and certainly doesn’t dishonor the cult classic original. A better than average sequel.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 sexy she-wolves!

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Ginger Snaps Back The Beginning (2004)

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GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING (2004)

Grant Harvey helms the second sequel which is actually a prequel/retelling set in the 1800s that was shot back to back with Ginger Snaps 2. Frontier set film opens with the Fitzgerald sisters, or their ancestors, it’s never quite clear, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Bridgette (Emily Perkins) lost in the wilderness and finding there way to a remote outpost that is besieged by werewolves who are slowly decimating the occupants. The girls are reluctantly let in, as they don’t trust strangers, but since they were led there by an Indian hunter (Nathaniel Arcand) well known to the men, they gain entrance. Soon after, Ginger is bitten by the lycanthrope infected son of the fort leader, Wallace (Tom McCamus) who hid the boy in a small room to avoid him being destroyed by his men. So now the sisters have to deal with not only the wolves prowling outside, but the distrust of the frightened men inside and a slowly transforming Ginger.

Third Ginger Snaps took an interesting route and it works well enough. The film has a nice visual style to complement the setting and story with a lot of scenes lit by fire and filled with menacing shadows. There is a lot of gory action especially during it’s last act that involves touches of hallucinations from Indian practices and a siege on the fort by the wolves led by Ginger. It’s an entertaining addition to the series that, while not fully explaining itself, does seem to set up the curse and the possible bloodline to connect to the original Ginger Snaps, if you want to view the girls here as ancestors. It has it’s flaws such as some very stereotypical characters and basically a replay of Ginger’s infection from the original, but the girls carry the movie once again and it gets points for going a different route. There is also a lot of blood soaked carnage and some nice atmosphere, so when all is said and done, this third Ginger Snaps flick is still bloody fun and fits into the series well.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 sexy she-wolves!

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Check out my review of the original Ginger Snaps!

Also check out what I thought about Katherine Isabelle’s latest movie, the 2013 original horror thriller American Mary and my Halloween Hotties profile of this talented actress…

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GINGER SNAPS (2000)

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GINGER SNAPS (2000)

Canadian horror opens in the prefab suburban neighborhood of Bailey Downs where some kind of wild animal dubbed the “Beast Of Bailey Downs”  is killing the local dogs. But Bailey Downs is also home to the emotionally troubled teenage Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins). The two sisters have a bizarre fascination with death, they recreate death scenes and photograph themselves in different methods of demise, as well as have a suicide pact. But the older Ginger is starting her menstrual cycle and when the sisters are out one night looking to kidnap the dog of local mean girl, Trina (Danielle Hampton), Ginger has her period and the blood attracts The Beast, a wolf-like creature that attacks and savages her before it’s run over in pursuit of the girls by local drug dealer, Sam (Kris Lemche). But Ginger’s wounds start to heal soon after and within days her behavior starts to become more and more aggressive and the anti-social Ginger starts transforming into a flirtatious high school vamp. But an increased sexual libido and interest in boys isn’t the only thing growing as she is also starting to sprout thick hair in interesting places and a tail…not to mention she’s developed an appetite for the neighborhood dogs. Now Brigitte fears for her sister and turns to Sam, the only other witness to have seen the Beast, to try to help her save Ginger from becoming a monster. But as Ginger’s behavior becomes more and more dangerous and her nails and teeth are starting to grow and sharpen, will it be Brigitte and Sam that need saving?

Director John Fawcett, who co-wrote along with Karen Walton, creates a moody and sometimes gruesome tale that uses lycanthropy as an obvious metaphor for coming of age and the development of sexual urges, but despite the obviousness, he works it quite well into his horror flick that not only reminds us of the confusion of our teens, but provides plenty of chills and thrills as well. He populates his flick with characters that come across as real teens and not caricatures and only the sisters’ parents (Mimi Rogers and John Bourgeois) seem to be more your stereotypical, clueless adults, but it serves the story to have them oblivious to Ginger’s changes with mom happily babbling about how her daughter is a woman now and dad not wanting to hear about all the ‘bloody’ details.

Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins both really come through and give good performances as they basically carry the movie. Both women portray their respective transformations appropriately with Isabelle going from angry Goth girl to sexual predator to monster quite well, giving Ginger both an air of danger ready to explode and a sympathetic sadness of a young girl who’s becoming something that’s beyond her control. Perkins takes the shy girl used to hiding behind her more protective big sister, and turns her into a strong willed young woman ready to both fight the monster her sister is becoming, but at the same time, save her as she’s not willing to give up on her despite Ginger’s increasing homicidal tendencies. A major part of why the film works is because of the performances Fawcett gets out of his leading ladies. Add to that his mix of teen angst movie and bloody horror flick with a dash of satiric humor and you get a very underrated flick that is considered a cult classic by many…myself included.

Ginger Snaps is not perfect, it’s slow paced at times and while that gives time for character development, it also takes it a while to get to it’s tense and bloody last act. The make-up FX are a little rubbery, but I still prefer the practical approach over CGI any day.

A sadly overlooked and underrated horror flick that deserves better attention and a proper blu-ray release. UPDATE: The awesome folks at Scream Factory are releasing this on blu-ray on 7/22/14! Here’s my review of this great disc!

Also check out my look at the sequels and Katherine Isabelle in her latest role as the title character in the 2013 original horror thriller American Mary! and click on her name above for our Halloween Hotties focus on this beautiful and talented actress!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 sexy she-wolves!

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