HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE VOID (2016)

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THE VOID (2016)

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

The Void is not only a trippy tribute to horror films of the 80s and the practical make-up and gore effects used in them, but a bloody good time and a creepy monster flick in it’s own right. The film opens with a young couple being chased by two men, with the man (Evan Stern) barely escaping and the woman being shot and then brutally burned alive. The man is found by local policeman, Dan (Aaron Poole) and brought to a nearby hospital that is in the process of closing down after a recent fire. There the cop and minimal staff and patients find the building soon surrounded by mysterious and lethal hooded figures, while inside it starts to turn into a house of horrors, as staff murder patients and the dead return to life transformed into creatures from out of a nightmare. Can Dan, his nurse wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe) and the remaining survivors figure out what is happening and how to get out alive?

Written and directed by the team of Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, this is a mash-up/homage to the films of John Carpenter and Stuart Gordon, among others. There are elements of Assault On Precinct 13, The Thing, In the Mouth Of Madness, as well as Re-animator, From Beyond and a host of other cult classics. But Kostanski and Gillespie make it their own with their tale of other dimensions and nightmarish activities and the film is filled with some really unsettling imagery and a host of practical creatures and gore, along with it. The story itself is a bit convoluted at times and the filmmakers don’t spoon feed you everything, but that works far more in the film’s favor than it doesn’t. It’s a disturbing ride, loaded with atmosphere and we do gradually find out enough of what’s going on to satisfy, as the deliberately moderate pace carries us to an unsettling conclusion right out of Fulci’s The Beyond. Sure the acting is a bit wooden here and there and the FX are a bit rubbery, but it’s the charm of what the filmmakers are trying to do and of the many cult classics they evoke, that makes it so enjoyable and fun. Not to mention the filmmakers do conjure some of their own goosebumps along the way. It may not make total sense, but it is enjoyably creepy and when the gore hits the fan, it hits delightfully hard and spatters everywhere. There is some effective cinematography by Samy Inayeh and a cool soundtrack by Blitz//Berlin, who did the soundtrack for Extraterrestrial.

I enjoyed this love letter to many a classic 80s film, including Galaxy Of Terror…which I just re-watched…yet one that didn’t loose it’s own identity. It’s a weird flick that is part Lovecraft, part Carpenter with a few other pinches of famous names of horror thrown in. It has some effectively designed creatures and some delightfully gory moments and gives us some spooky visuals along with the thrills and chills. You may scratch your head a bit here and there, but it’s fun throwback that may have introduced us to two filmmakers to keep an eye on. Also stars Art (Black Christmas, The Brood) Hindle as a state trooper and Scott Pilgrim’s Ellen Wong as an intern in over her adorable head.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scalpels, because I didn’t want to spoil any of the weirdness.

 

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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: CAROLINE WILLIAMS as STRETCH in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2!

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Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks, or whose sexy stars shined only briefly not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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CAROLINE WILLIAMS as STRETCH in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is Tobe Hooper and Cannon Pictures’ 1986 sequel to the 1974 horror masterpiece. It features the Sawyer family continuing their murderous, cannibalistic ways, now peddling their secret ingredient in an award winning chili. When Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and brother Chop Top (Bill Mosley) get recorded on a radio talk show carving up a couple of yuppies, leggy DJ Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock becomes the family’s next target…and the object of Leatherface’s gruesome affection.
Who better to portray a sexy Texas radio DJ than sexy Texas born actress Caroline Williams!  Williams had appeared in a few film and TV roles before being cast in this slasher sequel, but this was her first lead role and she definitely caught the attention of horror film fans everywhere. Her sassy, spunky and resilient Stretch is quite the capable final girl and despite finding herself in the Sawyer family’s clutches, she proves that you should never mess with a girl from Texas…or wear their friend’s faces. Despite a strong and memorable performance, this was the only time Williams would do final girl duty despite appearing in a few more fright flicks over her long career.

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(click on the poster for a full review)

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Long-legged, Daisy Duke wearing Stretch is a texas girl through and through!

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The sexy DJ attracts the wrong attention when she records a murder over the radio!

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Now she finds herself at the wrong end of Leatherface’s attention…and chainsaw!

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…though maybe the cannibalistic Sawyer family picked the wrong Texas cutie to pick on!

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Never piss-off a girl from Texas!

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The actress has kept busy after her altercation with Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) and his demented kin. She continues working in movies and TV and has even has done a few more horror flicks, including an appearance in the Sweet Tooth segment in last year’s ghoulishly fun Halloween anthology, Tales Of Halloween. But it is her one final girl film appearance that captured our hearts, kicking cannibal ass with a sexy smile, long legs and a pair of Daisy Dukes and that certainly earns her the title Cult Classic Cutie!

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Still a beauty 30 years after teaching the Sawyers she can handle a chainsaw just as good, or better, than the good ole boys!

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Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)

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BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)

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

Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, this is a brooding and methodically paced western that switches gears into a full blown horror for it’s last act. The story has Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), who presides over the small western town of Bright Hope, heading into hostile territory to rescue a young wife (Lili Simmons) and his own deputy (Evan Jonigkeit) from a tribe of cave dwelling cannibals, that even the local Native Americans are afraid of. Along with him are his friend and back-up Chicory (Richard Jenkins), an aristocratic gunslinger (Matthew Fox) and the woman’s crippled husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson).

Zahler takes a good 90 minutes letting us get to know his slightly eccentric characters before throwing them into a meat grinder…almost literally…when they finally encounter the vicious tribe. A good portion of the film is the journey where the moderate pace let’s us really become familiar with Hunt and his party and it lulls us into a sort of sense of security, which we are then shocked out of when the would-be rescuers reach their grim destination. It works very well as when we finally get into the mountain lair of these brutal ‘troglodytes’, we are shocked at the gruesome brutality we are forced to witness after the more laid back 90 minutes. The last act is a bloodbath and as we know these characters so well by now, it makes us feel for them. It’s a cruel and intense and makes the long wait definitely worth the while.

There are some really intriguing characters here and the entire cast does really solid work bringing them to life. To single anyone out would be unfair, though obviously Russell is great as always.

Sure it’s a very slow burn and maybe we would have liked to know more about this ‘tribe’, but it is still a very satisfying and unique movie that is a refreshing change from a lot of the cookie cutter horror that we have seen over the last few years. It can be quite brutal at times, but Zahler gives us a well scripted thriller especially when it comes to his eclectic cast of characters and a real nail-biting finale. Recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 guns.
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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE GREEN INFERNO (2013)

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THE GREEN INFERNO (2013)

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

It’s been a while since Eli Roth has sat in the director’s chair and his latest film, though it’s waited two years for distribution, pays homage to the Italian cannibal films of the 70s and 80s, even acknowledging them by name in the credits (A nice touch!). The story focuses on college freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo) who falls under the charms of social and environmental activist Alejandro (Ariel Levy). So much so, that she agrees to join him and his fellow activists on a trip to the Peruvian jungle where a ruthless corporation is planning to tear down a portion of the rainforest inhabited by a primitive tribe, who will be slaughtered in the process. While their protest is a success and the destruction halted, their plane crashes in the jungle on the way home and the survivors, including Justine, are taken prisoner by the very tribe they set out to save…a tribe of cannibalistic headhunters who have a very frightening way of showing their gratitude.

Roth…who co-wrote with Guillermo Amoedo…definitely shows some growth as a filmmaker here, despite a six year period between flicks, as this film, for the most part, curbs his impulses towards the sophomoric, frat-boy humor that marred his earlier efforts. There still are some unnecessary sequences featuring diarrhea and masterbation that we could have done without, but, otherwise this is a straightforward horror/thriller and a very gruesome and disturbing one at that. Roth can be overindulgent but, despite the frequent blood spattering here, it is just enough to get under your skin without bludgeoning you over the head. We are treated to eye-gouging, dismemberment and witnessing someone being eaten alive and while it is quite the gore-fest, Roth knows when to give us a break, so we don’t become numb. Fans of his will be happy to know that his more devious sense of humor is still intact, such as a scene where the tribe becomes stoned on a stash of pot hidden in one of the bodies and get the ‘munchies’ in a truly bloodcurdling manner. So, he certainly won’t disappoint his fans despite some maturing as a director. What really works about the film, though, is we get some very likable characters here, especially Justine, so, we care about them and are horrified when they are hurt…and some get hurt in awful ways. Roth also manages some suspenseful and very intense sequences that don’t require devoured limbs and the film looks far bigger than his modest budget might suggest. It’s not perfect. There are those unnecessary sequences involving bodily fluids mentioned earlier and there are two bits that don’t quite work. One bit is a ‘dream sequence’ during the climactic scenes that only exists to add one last shock and it’s cliché, the other a mid-credits, scene, that undermines the ironic strength of his conclusion, somewhat, basically to set up a sequel. Otherwise this is a disturbing and intense horror flick and one that respectfully and quite gruesomely honors the films it pays homage to. The cinematography by Antonio Quercia is quite lush, the score by Manuel Riveiro is quite effective and the abundant gore excellently rendered and mostly, with what appear to be live effects.

Roth also has a good cast and avoids too many unlikable characters which hurt his first Hostel flick. Chilean actress Lorenza Izzo is quite a strong leading lady and is extremely likable and easy to get behind. She is obviously frightened out of her mind but, finds strength when she needs to and we rally to the character when she is able to overcome her fear and act. Not to mention, some of the sequences must have been very uncomfortable for Izzo and she handles them well. Ariel Levy is good as activist leader Alejandro. He appears noble at first, if not a bit smug, but, a plot twist finds him just another self-serving douchebag and then he becomes more of an outright villain than the cannibals. At least their motivation is simply hunger and survival with little malice…though the extras portraying them, seem to really enjoy their work. We also have Daryl Sabara as the stereotypical stoner Lars and Adam Burns as Jonah, a lovable teddy bear who has a crush on Justine…we may like him the most, which usually spells bad news in a horror flick. The rest of the cast are very likable and obviously, we don’t want to see them hurt and feel their fear through their performances as captured Roth’s lens.

So, I did like this flick. It’s not perfect but, I think it’s Roth’s best film so far and he treated us to not only a highly disturbing and gruesome film…even a horror vet like me felt some of the scenes were very uncomfortable to watch…but, gave us some real intensity and suspense as we watched horrible things befall a group who, mostly, doesn’t deserve it. One of the film’s tag lines is “No good deed goes unpunished” and the film is a shining example of the horrible irony when do-gooders are down-in by those they’re trying to help. Certainly not for everyone but, a tense and blood-soaked horror/adventure that gives us some likable characters to fear for and some legitimate suspense, when not spattering the screen with body parts. A worthy tribute to a long gone genre and era of films from a filmmaker who has an obvious appreciation for grind house style movies…which under the professional gloss, this is.

…and don’t forget to watch through the credits…

-MonsterZero NJ

3 femurs…at least I think it’s a femur.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

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

Twelve years after making his classic masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper returned to Leatherface and family with a much bigger budget from Cannon Pictures and a script from L.M. Kit Carson. Flick has the Sawyer family still on the loose and right under the authorities noses operating a mobile lunch truck from which they serve their award winning chili…and we already know what the prime ingredient is. They live under an abandoned amusement park and all is well for the cannibals until Leatherface (Bill Johnson) and brother Chop Top (Bill Mosley) get caught on the radio carving up two obnoxious yuppies. Not only does pretty DJ “Stretch” (Caroline Williams) begin to investigate but, it also catches the attention of  Lt. “Lefty” Enright (Dennis Hopper), a retired Texas Ranger and uncle to victims Franklin and Sally from the first flick. He’s been on the trail of the Sawyers for over a decade and now with Stretch’s help, there maybe be a showdown between lawman and cannibal clan with sexy Stretch caught in the middle.

Sequel is a fun flick though it focuses far more on grisly humor and has a far lighter touch than the original classic. Gone is the oppressive atmosphere of dread and disturbing humor that got under your skin. No more evident is Hopper’s ex-cop wearing two chainsaws like six guns as he goes into battle. Hooper and writer Carson fill the sequel with more of this goofy style humor than chills and the impact of the plentiful Tom Savini supplied gore is lessened as a result of it. The body count is also relatively small and half the movie takes place with Stretch trapped in their underground layer while Lefty tears the amusement park above apart, with a chainsaw, looking for the Sawyers. Odd no one goes up there to investigate the racket. It’s a fun movie, but it’s also not scary in the least and the film stops it’s momentum dead about an hour in to do a retread of the dinner sequence from the first flick with the captured Stretch. To be honest, it gets tedious. Having seen it in a theater back in 1986, I had seen Cannon’s 89 minute release which was a result of the studio cutting out about twelve minutes. Now having seen the longer 101 minute cut, they may have been right, as it does go on about ten minutes too long. Still, the movie entertains, Hooper’s visual style works well here as the Sawyers’ underground layer is a visual feast of bones, tunnels and Christmas lights as designed by Cary White. It’s captured well by Richard Kooris’ cinematography and there is a fitting score by Jerry Lambert and Hooper himself.

The cast are having a good time with the gore and giddiness. Caroline Williams makes for a sexy, sassy heroine with her long legs, skimpy Daisy Dukes and raspy voice complete with thick Texas accent. She gives her character some fire and a toughness that make her very endearing…and very hot. Hopper plays Lefty straight and gives us a driven man, who, will stop at nothing to find the Sawyers and make them pay for killing his nephew and driving his niece crazy. Jim Siedow is back as Drayton Sawyer and he hams it up and provides a lot of the fun as he tries to preside over his maniacal offspring. He is not as disturbing as in TCM 1 ,but his performance fits the lighter tone. Bill Johnson plays the silent Leatherface and sadly, he is portrayed with far less menace even to the point of spending a good portion of the film acting like a love-sick puppy around Stretch. The script neuters one of cinema’s most shocking killer’s and is one of it’s biggest flaws. Bill Mosley is having a blast as the demented Chop Top. This underrated actor has a good time with the over-the-top character that has picked…and eaten…the skin off the metal plate in his head. He also carries around his dead brother (Edwin Neal’s Hitchhiker from TCM 1) and talks to him frequently. A good cast that works well with the tone of the film and helps make it work better than it should.

The long-awaited sequel to Hooper’s drive-in classic is a very entertaining horror, but hardcore fans of TCM 1 were disappointed, at the time of it’s release, that it went for laughs over frights. It wasn’t a big hit back in the day. It’s looked back at a bit more fondly now and I’ll say I do enjoy it, despite that it’s uncut edit does seem a bit too long and maybe Cannon was right to pair it down to a faster paced 90 minutes back in 1986. The cast have a good time and Tom Savini does gives us some top notch gore, but the film is a far cry from the disturbing nightmare Hooper gave us in 1974. A fun…and now nostalgic…sequel that disappoints in some ways, but entertains in others.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GIRLHOUSE (2014)

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GIRLHOUSE (2014)

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

Girlhouse is simply one of the best old school style slashers that I have seen in years. Yes, it has some modern touches, but at heart, it’s right out of the 80s slasher era.

The story opens in 1988 with a chubby and shy boy (Issac Faulkner) being teased and humiliated by two mean girls (Camren Bicondova and Baylee Wall)…and a bit later, his vicious revenge. We then cut to modern times where pretty, down-on-her-luck college student, Kylie (Ali Cobrin) has accepted an invitation to join Girlhouse, a secluded and hidden mansion where a group of nubile young woman live and are filmed on webcams, non-stop, for broadcast on the Girlhouse site. Members pay to watch and chat with the girls who are free to get as sexual as they want with their viewers. It’s up to them how far they go for their internet voyuers and Kylie needs the cash the site pays for her tuition at school. She gives it a go with some playful striptease, and her girl-next-door beauty is an overnight hit. Kylie also attracts the attention of Girlhouse regular Loverboy (Slaine) who is a somewhat chubby, reclusive and disturbed computer tech. When a mean prank by one of the other girls sets him off, Loverboy blames Kylie and uses his skills to track down the location of Girlhouse and take out his revenge…online for all the members to witness.

Written by Nick Gordon and directed by Trevor Matthews and Jon Knautz, this is both old-fashioned slasher flick and a cleverly contemporary one, with it’s use of webcams and it’s reality TV/Cyber Sex set-up. Sure, there are a lot of films that use laptops and cameras to convey action nowadays, but this is not found footage and only uses the format occasionally to successfully generate suspense. Strip away the modern tech and approach and you still get the classic slasher formula of a deranged individual stalking a girl-next-door type to avenge a prank or humiliation. The film establishes immediately that Loverboy is the chubby kid in the prologue, all grown up and all the more twisted. It gives him personality and establishes him as an unnerving threat long before he puts on his equally disturbing mask and enters Girlhouse to exact his cruel and vicious revenge. The girls are all given enough time to let their personalities sink in before the killing starts and thus we are sympathetic and if that’s not enough, the kills are quite brutal and graphic and it’s hard to not feel bad for even the least likable of the women. Kylie is obviously our final girl and is smart, resourceful and fills the classic shoes very well, especially in the chilling and suspenseful last act. Matthews and Knautz know and use the formula well. They generate some nice chills and suspense and the brutal opening sequence establishes the atmosphere almost immediately. Even when the film is introducing our characters, the audience knows that something bad is coming…and when it does, the filmmakers orchestrate the night of terror in classic form. There is a very effective score by Tomandandy and some stylish cinematography by Chris Norr to support the filmmakers vision.

As for the players in this slasher, Ali Corbin makes a hell of a good final girl. She’s sweet, yet sexy and when her lethal admirer comes knocking, Corbin gives us a clever and resourceful fighter in her Kylie. A classic and yet, quite modern final girl. Actor Slaine makes for a very disturbing Loverboy. He oozes creepiness and there is a lot of smoldering anger and frustration behind his blank stare. His character gets established early, so when he puts on his bizarre mask we don’t need to see his eyes or facial expressions to know what is going on under there. Slaine is also a large man and he has enough physical presence to make quite a satisfactory killer. The mostly female supporting cast are all effective in being varied types that avoid being too stereotypical. Adam Dimarco makes a charming romantic interest for Kylie and James Thomas makes Girlhouse entrepreneur Gary Preston a fairly likable person when a role like this is usually reserved for a generic sleazy creep. A good and functional cast that serve the film’s purposes well.

Overall, I really liked this flick a lot. As a fan of the 80s slasher movies I really enjoyed how this film used the formula loyally and updated it at the same time. It reminded me of some of the better flicks of the 80s slasher era and yet had it’s own style and remained contemporary. Matthews and Knautz have some definite potential and know their material. They gave the film atmosphere, style, suspense and some brutally shocking moments. They used the modern technology angles well…and cleverly…and were equally successful in presenting the time-honored trappings of an effective killer and a endearing final girl. A damn good slasher and a fun/scary horror flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Loverboys.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CLOWN (2014)

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CLOWN (2014)

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

Eli Roth produced horror tells the ill-fated story of realtor Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) whose son Jack (Christian Distefano) is having a birthday. The clown scheduled to appear cancels at the last minute, leaving Kent in a bind. But as luck would have it, Kent finds an old clown suit in one of the homes he’s showing and saves the party. Unfortunately, it’s bad luck, as the suit is not a suit, but the skin of an ancient Nordic demon called a Cloyne. This creature of legend is the genesis of the modern clown, but instead of entertaining children, it lured them to it’s lair and ate them. Now Kent is facing a horrific nightmare as the ‘suit’ won’t come off and his son and wife Meg (Laura Allen) watch him slowly turn into a monster…one that sees Jack as a potential meal.

As silly as this horror sounds, it is actually portrayed very seriously by co-writer…with Christopher D. Ford…and director, Jon Watts. Watts takes what could have been a spoof and makes an effective little horror film out of it by avoiding milking the clown clichés and treating his film more like a werewolf flick, with a likable subject reluctantly turning into a vicious monster…one that eats children. Watts gives his horror a strong atmosphere of dread and is not afraid to graphically show Kent/the Cloyne’s hunger being sated on some unfortunate youths. The pace of the film is actually moderate and while it could have used a bit more energy at times, there are some very effective sequences and the serious take on the story does not come without having a little fun with the subject matter, such as a gruesome yet amusing scene at a Chuck E Cheese. The gore is plentiful and well executed, the film can be creepy and intense at times and we even get Peter Stormare as the suit’s previous owner/wearer, Karlsson, who has some grim news about how the ‘suit’ can be removed and the demon stopped. A solid little horror for a potentially comical premise.

As for the cast, Andy Powers plays Kent as the bland family man he is and then as both sympathetic victim and vicious monster. He works in the role well, though could have had a bit stronger presence. Laura Allen is very effective as the hot mom forced to deal with the living nightmare of watching the man she loves turn into monster and having to make some terrible choices to deal with it and protect her son. As the son, Distefano is effective and never strays into the annoying child zone and is quite sympathetic as Jack. Stomare is fun as Karlsson. He provides the Cloyne background and details and tries to assist Meg in stopping, or saving, her husband and acts as a sort of Van Helsing character with his experience with the fiend being very personal.

Flick isn’t perfect. A little more character development with the McCoy family could have strengthened their characters and the moderate pace sometimes works against it. Otherwise this was a solid and effective little horror flick, despite what is a very silly premise. Director Jon Watts takes the subject matter seriously and crafts a pretty good horror movie out of it, without drowning it in the clown clichés…though they aren’t completely avoided either. Definitely an an entertaining little flick with a novel twist on the scary clown movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 ill-fated realtors.

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE HILLS RUN RED and MIDNIGHT MOVIE

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I know I’ve covered both these movies before, but they are two really good slasher flicks whose plots both involve a movie within a movie, where a celluloid horror becomes all too real for it’s characters. A fun double feature for a Halloween season Saturday night and two cool horror movies about horror movies!

 

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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) wind up not liking what they find when they get there and start investigating into something that maybe should remain lost.

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 and director Parker does nicely combining atmosphere, tension and gore into a deviantly fun little horror flick. 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. 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.

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MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008)

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

Midnight Movie is one of those pleasant surprises that I rented on a whim and found myself being quite entertained by. Sure we’ve seen a lot of the elements before, but it is a homage of sorts and director/co-writer Jack Messitt uses those familiar conventions very well in his movie within a movie slasher tale.

The story opens with director and star Ted Raford (Arthur Roberts) of the 40 year old horror flick The Dark Beneath in a mental institution with his doctor about to show him his black and white slasher flick as part of his therapy. It obviously doesn’t end well and there is a resulting blood bath and Radford disappears leaving strange symbols on the floor written in his own blood. Five years later, a movie theater is screening a midnight showing of The Dark Beneath with a small audience and theater staff present in the theater. Theater manager Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) leaves her post to watch the movie with boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour) while trying to keep her little brother Timmy (Justin Baric) from sneaking in. Unknown to the small audience is that among them is Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), the only survivor of the hospital massacre and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell) who investigated the case and feels if Radford is going to resurface, this showing may be where. And the detective couldn’t be more right…for as soon the film starts to unspool, the line between movie and reality are blurred as theater patrons and employees alike appear on the screen to become victims of Radford’s corkscrew bladed killer and the serial murderer uses some dark power to move between movie and movie theater to hunt down his victims and bring them into his movie world. Can any of them escape alive?

Co-written with Mark Garbett…from a story by Sean Hood…Jack Messitt crafts a really fun slasher homage that makes good use of the movie within a movie format and provides some fun chills and graphic gore of it’s own. We get a killer who can enter our world from the movie and bring his victim’s back in, right before our and the movie audience’s eyes. The characters band together to try to escape the killer, who seals the theater and in true stalker fashion, hunts them down one by one with his corkscrew shaped blade. We get some likable characters, especially Brandes’ plucky heroine Bridget, and a very effective killer with quite a vicious lust for blood. Messitt also gives us a third act that takes place inside the movie with our survivors trying to find their way out and it works very well as both horror and homage. The film has a very 70s/80s horror feel, which I obviously enjoyed. There are some flaws. Radford’s film is 40 years old which would place it being made in the late 60s, years before the modern slasher era started and so it’s Chainsaw Massacre– ish vibe doesn’t make sense for the time period…although if you don’t see the film taking place when it was made in 2008, but now in 2014, it brings Radford’s film to 1974 which is a better timeframe. There is a lack of explanation as to Radford’s apparent dark magic, but it is obvious there is more to this director/actor than just his film work, so we go along with it. Messitt does gives us some chills and suspense and so, we suspend our disbelief as we are having a good time. The gore is well done and plentiful and despite being a lengthy shutdown in the film’s production as per the extras, the sequences filmed by two different DOPs blend seamlessly. I also loved the movie theater setting, as such small local theaters are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and Messitt seems to share my affection for them.

The cast are fine and we get some likable and not so likable characters to root for. Rebekah Brandes makes a feisty heroine whose past pain fuels her will to survive and keep her friends and little brother alive. I liked that her character had a little depth. Daniel Bonjour is solid as Josh, Rebekah’s boyfriend. Young Justin Baric avoids being annoying as the little brother who sneaks in to see the show and Stan Ellsworth stands out as a big jerk of a biker who has a heroic side hidden behind the Sons Of Anarchy swagger. Lee Main does a good job behind the skull mask as the killer and creates an imposing figure, as well. The rest play fairly typical horror movie roles and do a fine job and their characters avoid being total clichés, but are familiar enough to work with the homage theme.

Overall, this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was a fun movie within a movie slasher/homage and worked as a slasher itself beyond being a tribute to those types of horror. The production looks good and the gore is plentiful and well orchestrated and director Jack Messitt delivers some legitimate thrills and chills while showing some love to the 70s and 80s slasher genre. He doesn’t have a bad visual style either. Fun horror that works as both horror and homage. While Messitt currently does a lot of camerawork for TV, would love to see him tackle another horror flick. Bloody fun!

3 creepy killers.

midnight movie rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008)

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MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008)

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

Midnight Movie is one of those pleasant surprises that I rented on a whim and found myself being quite entertained by. Sure we’ve seen a lot of the elements before, but, it is a homage of sorts and director/co-writer Jack Messitt uses those familiar conventions very well in his movie within a movie slasher tale.

The story opens with director and star Ted Raford (Arthur Roberts) of the 40 year old horror flick The Dark Beneath in a mental institution with his doctor about to show him his black and white slasher flick as part of his therapy. It obviously doesn’t end well and there is a resulting blood bath and Radford disappears leaving strange symbols on the floor written in his own blood. Five years later, a movie theater is screening a midnight showing of The Dark Beneath with a small audience and theater staff present in the theater. Theater manager Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) leaves her post to watch the movie with boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour) while trying to keep her little brother Timmy (Justin Baric) from sneaking in. Unknown to the small audience is that among them is Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), the only survivor of the hospital massacre and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell) who investigated the case and feels if Radford is going to resurface, this showing may be where. And the detective couldn’t be more right… for as soon the film starts to unspool, the line between movie and reality are blurred as theater patrons and employees alike appear on the screen to become victims of Radford’s corkscrew bladed killer and the serial murderer uses some dark power to move between movie and movie theater to hunt down his victims and bring them into his movie world. Can any of them escape alive?

Co-written with Mark Garbett… from a story by Sean Hood… Jack Messitt crafts a really fun slasher homage that makes good use of the movie within a movie format and provides some fun chills and graphic gore of it’s own. We get a killer who can enter our world from the movie and bring his victim’s back in, right before our and the movie audience’s eyes. The characters band together to try to escape the killer, who seals the theater and, in true stalker fashion, hunts them down one by one with his corkscrew shaped blade. We get some likable characters, especially Brandes’ plucky heroine Bridget, and a very effective killer with quite a vicious lust for blood. Messitt also gives us a third act that takes place inside the movie with our survivors trying to find their way out and it works very well as both horror and homage. The film has a very 70s/80s horror feel, which I obviously enjoyed. There are some flaws. Radford’s film is 40 years old which would place it being made in the late 60s, years before the modern slasher era started and so, it’s Chainsaw Massacre– ish vibe doesn’t make sense for the time period… although if you don’t see the film taking place when it was made in 2008, but, now in 2014, it brings Radford’s film to 1974 which is a better timeframe. There is a lack of explanation as to Radford’s apparent dark magic but, it is obvious there is more to this director/actor than just his film work, so, we go along with it. Messitt does gives us some chills and suspense and so, we suspend our disbelief as we are having a good time. The gore is well done and plentiful and despite being a lengthy shutdown in the film’s production as per the extras, the sequences filmed by two different DOPs blend seamlessly. I also loved the movie theater setting, as such small local theaters are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and Messitt seems to share my affection for them.

The cast are fine and we get some likable and not so likable characters to root for. Rebekah Brandes makes a feisty heroine whose past pain fuels her will to survive and keep her friends and little brother alive. I liked that her character had a little depth. Daniel Bonjour is solid as Josh, Rebekah’s boyfriend. Young Justin Baric avoids being annoying as the little brother who sneaks in to see the show and Stan Ellsworth stands out as a big jerk of a biker who has a heroic side hidden behind the Sons Of Anarchy swagger. Lee Main does a good job behind the skull mask as the killer and creates an imposing figure, as well. The rest play fairly typical horror movie roles and do a fine job and their characters avoid being total cliche’s but, are familiar enough to work with the homage theme.

Overall, this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was a fun movie within a movie slasher/homage and worked as a slasher itself beyond being a tribute to those types of horror. The production looks good and the gore is plentiful and well orchestrated and director Jack Messitt delivers some legitimate thrills and chills while showing some love to the 70s and 80s slasher genre. He doesn’t have a bad visual style either. Fun horror that works as both horror and homage. While Messitt currently does a lot of camerawork for TV, would love to see him tackle another horror flick. Bloody fun!

3 creepy killers.

midnight movie rating

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