5 DIRECTORS BRINGING NEW BLOOD TO HORROR!

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5 DIRECTORS BRINGING NEW BLOOD TO HORROR!

At Halloween 🎃 time it is when we most think about scary movies, even those of us who watch them all year round. So why not take a look at five individuals who are bringing their own distinct vision to the genre and whom horror fans should be talking more about!…and no, I didn’t forget the ladies, they deserve their own installment, forthcoming!

(To get to the full reviews of the films mentioned, just hit the highlighted titles that link to the corresponding page!)

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Adam MacDonald

 

Adam MacDonald is a Canadian actor and filmmaker who has written and directed two features, thus far, that have made quite an impression. His first film Backcountry is a survival thriller that followed a couple (Jeff Roop and Missy Peregrym) who go camping in the woods. Jealous of his girlfriend’s success, her beau chooses a lesser traveled route to prove himself to her. This puts them within the feeding ground of a massive and very hungry grizzly bear and thus sets up an intense and sometimes brutal last act. His second film Pyewacket is a supernatural thriller which finds a mother and daughter (Laurie Holden and Nicole Muñoz) in conflict over their methods of mourning the death of their husband/father. This propels the occult fascinated teen Leah (Muñoz) to evoke the dark entity Pyewacket to kill her mother. Leah soon learns to be careful what you wish for. Both films use troubled relationships as a catalyst for their stories and Pyewacket especially has some good old fashion scares and chills supported by a strong emotional center. MacDonald is showing a versatility and a depth to his filmmaking. Adam currently wrapped filming on Slasher season 3, so look out for more from this talented new voice in horror!

Nicole Muñoz conjures the wrong spirit in Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket

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Stevan Mena

 

Stevan Mena is a New York born filmmaker who is a one man production company, writing ,editing, directing, producing and even scoring his own films. He made a splash in 2003 with his low budget slasher Malevolence, which was an old-fashioned horror throwback that echoed both Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Set in and around an abandoned slaughterhouse, it told the chilling story of some bank robbers and their hostages meeting up with serial killer Martin Bristol (Jay Cohen). He followed that up with a horror icon filled horror/comedy called Brutal Massacre, before returning to the saga of Bristol in 2010 with the brutal and intense Bereavement. The second Malevolence film was a prequel telling the story of how serial killer Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) kidnapped Martin (Spencer List ) as a child and trained him to be his successor. It’s one of the best horrors of the decade IMO. Recently Mena overcame some tragic events to complete his Malevolence trilogy with the independently financed Malevolence 3: Killer. Sequel has an adult Martin (a returning Jay Cohen) leaving a blood soaked trail on the way back to his home town. Mena’s work evokes that of John Carpenter himself and one hopes he returns to the director’s chair sooner than later.

A killer (Jay Cohen) returns home in Stevan Mena’s Malevolence 3: Killer

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Colin Minihan

 

Colin Minihan started out as part of the writing/directing duo known as The Vicious Brothers along with collaborator Stuart Ortiz. Their first film was the fun and spooky found footage paranormal show send up Grave Encounters in 2011. They followed that up with the entertaining and chilling cabin in the woods/alien invasion hybrid Extraterrestrial in 2014. Though co-written with Ortiz, Minihan took the director’s chair solo for the next film It Stains The Sands Red. This was an amusing, bloody and offbeat tale of a lone woman (Brittany Allen) being followed across the desert by a lone zombie. An interesting relationship forms as she fights brutal heat, dehydration and her relentless undead pursuer. Minihan wrote and directed his fourth film on his own with the brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive. One of the years best, it finds a married lesbian couple (Brittany Allen and Hanna Emily Anderson) celebrating their anniversary in a remote cabin in the woods. Soon romantic bliss becomes a battle for survival as one of the women is not who she seems. This flick proves Minihan is a force to be reckoned with, armed with a great script, taunt direction and brilliant work by his lead actresses. Minihan is a filmmaker fans need to be talking more about.

Lover vs lover in Colin Minihan’s brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive

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Anthony Diblasi

 

Boston born Anthony Diblasi is another filmmaker showing great versatility and a mastery of horror while also providing some emotional depth to his films. His first film Dread was a chilling tale of a college documentary project about fear, spinning horribly out of control. His next film Cassadaga, found deaf art teacher Lily (Kelen Coleman) being haunted by the spirit of a murdered young woman whose killer may have his sights set next on the pretty teacher. Diblasi worked on some non-genre projects and the horror anthology The Profane Exhibit before co-writing and directing The Last Shift in 2014. One of his scariest flicks, the story found a young policewoman being given the final shift in a haunted police precinct closing it’s doors in the morning…but can she survive the night? Diblasi returned to horror again in 2015 with Most Likely To Die, an old fashioned slasher about a high school reunion turned deadly, and again in 2018 with Extremity. His latest finds an emotionally troubled woman turning to an extreme haunt to make her face her fears…bad idea. The film was not only disturbing and scary, but had a strong emotional lining with multi-dimensional characters and commentary about abuse and the lives it effects. Another filmmaker that is bringing a distinct voice to the horror genre.

Emotionally troubled Allison (Dana Christina) turns to an extreme haunt to face her fears in Anthony Diblasi’s Extremity

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Oz Perkins

 

Just because one is the son of legendary actor Anthony (Psycho) Perkins, one should not assume actor/director Oz Perkins knows horror…but he does! One of the most interesting filmmakers out there, Perkins has a unique vision and a strong ability to chill to the bone. His first film The Blackcoat’s Daughter finds Rose (Lucy Boynton), a student at a Catholic girls school, given charge of new student Kat (Kiernan Shipka) at break. With almost everyone else gone, Rose starts to realize there is something very wrong with Kat and that she may be in danger. Perkins followed that up with a very atmospheric ghost story I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. Perkins writes and directs a subtle, yet chilling tale of care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) coming to live with ailing horror novelist Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Soon timid Lily starts to find out that Iris Blum’s inspirations may be far more real than she’d like. It’s a creepy and very effective film. Word has it his next film may be entitled A Head Full Of Ghosts and as he is bringing a very unique style to the genre, he sounds like the right man for the job!

Care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) finds her charge may have had all too real inspiration for her horror novels in Oz Perkins’ I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

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So these are five creative forces bringing new blood to horror. Each one is worth screaming about and their films are certainly worth checking out!

…and stay tuned for our second installment taking a look at the creative ladies bringing their unique voices to the genre!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 FOUND FOOTAGE FLICKS TO WATCH DURING THE HALLOWEEN SEASON!

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Not everyone appreciates the found footage sub-genre, but when done right, I think they can be spooky fun! So here are ten found footage horror flicks which might provide some chills, thrills and nervous giggles during your Halloween season film festivals

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews of the titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. The Blair Witch Project 

2. Paranormal Activity (Obviously, you can screen the sequels, if you choose)

3. [REC] (2 & 3 are also entertaining, though 4 is not found footage)

4. The Last Exorcism

5. Grave Encounters

6. As Above So Below

7. The Taking Of Deborah Logan

8. The Houses October Built

9. Devil’s Due

10. Alone With Her

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

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EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

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

Written and directed by the Vicious Brothers (Grave Encounters), this flick is a fun homage to cabin in the woods horrors, alien abduction flicks and has a delightfully 80s horror movie feel to it.

Story opens with a woman (Ginger Snaps’ Emily Perkins) running hysterically to a closing gas station and begging for help. Turned away by an obnoxious clerk, she runs to the phone booth where both she and the booth are snatched up into the sky before she can complete her 911 call. We then cut to pretty April (Brittany Allen) who is going with friends to her family’s soon-to-be-sold remote cabin for a weekend stay to take pictures for the realtor…and do a bit of partying. Once there, they witness an object crash into the woods and upon investigating, discover a disc-like craft and some very inhuman footprints. Back at the cabin, they have a terrifying encounter with the occupant and the creature is shot and falls into the pool, presumed dead. Now they are being hunted by otherworldly beings and according to local pot grower/conspiracy theorist Travis (a fun Michael Ironside), they have broken a treaty between the extraterrestrials and the U.S. Government and the aliens will find them and make them pay. Is there any escape for them?

I had a very good time with this flick and found it a really fun homage to a number of favorite types of horror. The Vicious Brothers script pays tribute to not only alien abduction themed chillers, but to the old remote cabin scenario, and maybe even a touch of Friday The 13th, too. Under their direction, the film has a distinctly 80s vibe and is quite colorful and loaded with spooky action and impressive FX sequences. The filmmakers also proudly incorporate far too many clichés to be anything, but an intentional homage…and as such, it’s a lot of fun. The film has some intense scenes…especially in the last act…but is more of an outright sci-fi/monster flick and is a very entertaining one at that. There are some top notch visual and make-up FX to portray our creatures, as well as, their ships and abilities, and a fun and surprising amount of gore to illustrate their carnage. The movie has an 80s look as filmed by Samy Inayeh and a really effective score by the Canadian band Blitz//Berlin. Maybe not an altogether original movie, but it used the traditional elements wisely and mixed the homages very well.

The cast are all fine and play their roles effectively. Brittany Allen makes a good heroine with her resilient and strong April. Freddie Stroma is likable as April’s loving boyfriend, Kyle. Melanie Papalia plays cute, loyal friend Melanie. Jesse Moss is appropriately grating as party animal Seth…the “Hudson” of the group. Anja Savcic is pretty, but doesn’t get to do much, as Seth’s girlfriend Lex and Gil Bellows is solid as the local sheriff with a personal interest in what is going on. As for the genre familiar guest stars, Perkins is good as the hysterical mom who’s lost her husband and child to the visitors and Ironside is a hoot in a lighter role than we are used to seeing him, as the stoner/conspiracy theorist Travis. A solid cast.

I think this is a very fun movie. Some may criticize the film for using far too many familiar elements, but in my opinion, they are paraded out proudly and far too often to be anything but an intentional homage. It has some intense action, top notch SPFX, a great 80s horror vibe and a last scene that is not only disturbing, but a deviously amusing nod to a classic TV show that I won’t spoil. It’s not anything we haven’t seen before, but it uses the clichés well and in a very entertaining manner and every now and then splashes the screen with some fun gore. The Vicious Brothers…like with Grave Encounters…know we are familiar with a lot of the tropes and just have a good time with them without the pretension of pretending they are showing us something new. It’s a really fun and possibly underrated sci-fi/horror.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2… well…you know.

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BARE BONES: ALMOST HUMAN and SANATORIUM

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ALMOST HUMAN (2013)

Story takes place in rural Maine and tells of ill-fated Mark (Josh Ethier), a man abducted into the sky one horrific night leaving his friend Seth (Graham Skipper) to carry the suspicion for his disappearance. Two years later Mark returns, but he’s not the same man he used to be and cuts a blood-soaked path back home to his girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh), to give her the ‘family’ she’s always wanted.

Almost Human is a completely derivative, but still fun horror flick. It combines elements of Fire In The Sky, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and John Carpenter’s The Thingbut has a bloody good time with those elements as it tells it’s much smaller scaled story. There are drawbacks. The acting is a bit wooden all around, the pacing is slow at times and, fun as it may be, we’ve seen it all before. Director/writer Joe Begos does try hard and manages to do a good job building some suspense and keeping us interested. The FX team also provide some effective make-up and gore to punctuate this horror tale with a lot of spurting blood and goo. Not a great movie, but an entertaining enough chiller for a night on the couch. Extra kudos to actress Vanessa Leigh for being a real trooper in performing one of the more graphic and disturbing scenes late in the film. Watch after the credits, too.

3 star rating

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SANATORIUM (2013)

Biggest failing of Brant Sersen’s found footage horror is that at no time does it ever feel like real footage that we are watching, or anything but actors in staged settings. Add to that, bad dialogue and some very amateur acting…and there is little to recommend. In a plot very reminiscent of Grave Encounters, we have a team of paranormal investigators from a fictional show called Ghost Trackers, investigating the infamous, abandoned Hillcrest Sanatorium where murder and death plagued the halls of it’s past. Obviously, their investigation leads to horrors beyond their imagination, though the film is never the least bit scary. We are never frightened, because it’s a series of weak and obvious set-ups acted out by amateur actors who never once appear to be anything but characters reading off a script. The whole point of found footage is to make us believe we are watching actual footage, events and people…something Sersen’s flick never achieves. At least there was good use made of the abandoned building setting and there was more bloodshed than usual in a flick like this. Otherwise, it’s a rather dull and forgettable attempt. At least the far more effective Grave Encounters, had the smarts to wink at it’s audience and have fun with it’s premise.

2 star rating

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 -MonsterZero NJ
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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GRAVE ENCOUNTERS (2011)

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GRAVE ENCOUNTERS (2011)

Grave Encounters adds nothing new to the found footage or horror genres, but ‘The Vicious Brothers’ know their source material and have a lot of fun with it.

The story involves the found footage of the last known episode of a Ghost Adventures like paranormal show investigating a notoriously haunted abandoned asylum. As we watch the footage unfold we find that the team of phonies got far more then they bargained for as the supernatural entities in the asylum turned out to be all too real and far from friendly ghosts.

Sure this flick evokes Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch often, but writer/directors The Vicious Brothers (Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz) takes the familiar ball and run with it. When it’s apparent this crew is more shysters then spook hunters, the film gets very giddy with putting them through a sinister, supernatural funhouse and takes you along for the ride if you let it. Sure you’ve seen it all before, but if you just go with it and enjoy the ride, Grave Encounters can be a lot of spooky fun as you watch our trapped paranormal team descend into madness from the safety of your couch. The found footage format is used well and the filmmakers achieve some very unsettling and creepy FX once things really get spooky and the flick does have some very creepy set-pieces and presents them very effectively.

The cast of unknowns featuring Sean Rogerson as team leader Lance Preston, Matt White as a hammy occult expert, Merwin Mondesir as camera man T.C. and Ashleigh Gryzko as investigator Sasha, all play their roles very convincingly and have a little fun with their faux paranormal team as well. Sure, we know this is just a movie, but the cast help us suspend our disbelief enough to enjoy the proceedings as we were witnessing a real paranormal investigation show out of control… and it’s fun.

So while Grave Encounters is not a very original flick, it is a fun time nonetheless and fulfills the fantasy of watching a TV spook hunter show encounter something far more then they can handle with us as the captive audience. And who wouldn’t want to see that? Also stars Ben Wilkinson as Jerry Hartfield, the producer of the Grave Encounters show who presents the found footage to us.

3 spooks.

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