MONSTERZERO NJ’S MOVIE MEMORIES: HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982)

MZNJ_Movie_Memories

now playing

Unknown

bars

HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982)

forbidden world 01

The doomed research station on the planet Xarbia!!

Roger Corman’s production of Forbidden World was released 40 years ago today and I was there opening night with friends, at the now long-gone Stanley Warner Quad Theater in Paramus NJ. A big fan of Corman’s films already, I couldn’t wait to see this, especially after having seen and loved Corman’s Galaxy of Terror the previous November on Thanksgiving Night. It was an absolute blast, with its combination of babes, blood and beasts, and the energetic music video editing style was way ahead of its time! A fun flick!

forbidden world 03

Sexy space scientists perfectly dressed for a lurking genetic mutant on the loose!

Forbidden World is directed by director Allan Holzman with an almost psychedelic music video style, as it tells the story, written by Tim Curnen, R.J. Robertson and Jim Wynorski, of a soldier, Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) sent to an isolated research station on the remote planet Xarbia to deal with a genetic experiment that has gotten out of control. Colby not only has to battle a growing and hungry genetic mutant, but handle not one, but two hot and very horny female scientists (Dawn Dunlap and June Chadwick). The type of B movie they just don’t make anymore. One of the last of its kind. Crack a few beers and enjoy!

forbidden world 02

The constantly evolving mutant in its most lethal form!

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

 

BARE BONES: ANTLERS (2021)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

antlers

ANTLERS (2021)

Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas) is a young boy who has only his schoolteacher Julia (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother Paul (Jesse Plemons) to turn to when an encounter with an ancient and evil entity transforms his father (Scott Haze) into a monster.
 

Gory and unsettling flick is directed by Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) from his script with C. Henry Chaisson and Nick Antosca (Brand New Cherry Flavor), based on Antosca’s book The Quiet Boy. It is a disturbing film that not only tells a tale of horror about a vengeful and evil Native American spirit but touches on the real-life horrors of abuse through its emotionally scarred characters. It is a slow burn, but it serves the story to build gradually to the film’s more gruesome moments, as the man turned malevolent creature eventually finds its way into the surrounding woods of this small mountain town. The film is very atmospheric and has some very horrifying imagery to give its audience the continual creeps, and when it’s Wendigo is on screen, it’s a very effective critter with top notch creature and gore FX. The cast is very good, with especially strong work from Keri Russell, as a teacher with her own emotional traumas, and young Jeremy T. Thomas as the embattled Lucas. The slow pace and unsettlingly real subject matter may not be for some, but Antlers is a creepy and effective film for those who can appreciate Cooper’s grim and dreary approach. Rustic horror movie also stars Graham Greene as a retired Native American sheriff and Amy Madigan as a concerned school principal.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: ACHOURA (2021)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

achoura

ACHOURA (2021)

Twenty years ago, four friends, Samir (Omar Lotfi), his brother Ali (Younes Bouab), Nadia (Sofia Manousha) and Stephen (Moussa Maaskri) were lured into an abandoned house where they encountered a creature of folklore. Bougatate feeds on children and three of the friends barely escaped with their lives. Samir did not return and after two decades, Ali and Nadia have convinced themselves he was simply abducted, while Stephen still suffers nightmares about the malevolent entity they saw. When Samir suddenly resurfaces, Nadia, Ali and Stephen must confront the truth about Bougatate and find a way to stop the creature from harming anymore children, especially Nadia and Ali’s son Youssef (Mohamed Wahib Abkari).

French/Moroccan horror is well directed by Talal Selhami from a script by he, Jawad Lahlou and David Villemin. The film’s press materials call it a cross between The Babadook and IT and that the film certainly is, story-wise. Selhami still delivers a spooky and atmospheric mash-up and certainly has a strong visual eye, as the film looks impressive and like a horror flick should. He gives the film some tension and quite a few creepy moments and that this supernatural thriller is steeped in Moroccan folklore, makes it a refreshingly new perspective, even if the story evokes things we’ve already seen. The title is derived from The Festival of Achoura, a festival for children, where the film’s malevolent being can have it’s fiendish pick of potential victims. As for the film’s villain itself, Bougatate is an interestingly designed and effective enough specter, that helps add to the elements that make this movie work, despite it familiar story elements. Add to that, is a strong and effective cast, especially our four leads and the kids who play them twenty years earlier.

Supernatural horror is from Dark Star Pictures and is set for premiere on VOD and home media on 12/14/21. If you are interested in horror from other cultures, you might want to give this one a look. Achoura also stars Jade Beloued, Abdellah El Yousfi, Gabriel Fracola and Noé Lahlou as the younger Nadia, Ali, Stephen and Samir respectively, in the spooky IT-esque flashback sequences.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S MOVIE MEMORIES: HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY HALLOWEEN II (1981)

MZNJ_Movie_Memories

now playing

Halloween_II_poster

bars

HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY HALLOWEEN II (1981)

halloween 2 titles

The classic sequel turns 40 today!!

Halloween II was released 40 years ago today and it has brought back memories, as I was there opening night with friends. Fans of the original were both excited and cautious as Carpenter’s original was already considered a classic at this point. There was no internet to spoil any extensive details or story surprises. All we knew was it took place on the same night, Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence were back and Carpenter handed the reigns over to a promising young filmmaker named Rick Rosenthal. I was particularly excited, as I hadn’t seen the original Halloween in a theater. I recall getting to the now long gone Cinema 35 in Paramus, NJ early and waiting about an hour to buy tickets and go in. Remember, online ticket sales in the 80s meant getting on a line to buy tickets! If you got there late, you risked the show being sold out! We stood in line discussing the possibilities of what we were about to see, until the box office opened and we could go in. When the ticket booth opened and the line started moving, it brought the excitement to a boil! The opening credits of the film instantly chilled with a spooky pumpkin slowly splitting open to reveal a scary skull, while Carpenter’s classic theme pulsed from the theater speakers! It set the tone for the rest of night! After the show, we mutually decided we loved it, though based on passing comments, not all the theater goers felt the same way. I have been a fan of this sequel ever since and it’s watched every Halloween, along with the first flick and Season of the Witch, as part of the “Big Three.” Personally, I am not a fan of what followed after Carpenter left the franchise and would have loved to have seen his annual Halloween anthology plans come to pass.

halloween 2 michael

As the tagline proclaims…more of the night he came home!

Halloween II was not the best received sequel both critically and by many fans of the original, though it made money. Folks were unhappy with it being more of an 80s style slasher, with the emphasis being on higher body count and gory deaths more than scares or suspense. It also shocked fans by revealing that Laurie Strode was actually Michael Myers’ sister. That took away the scary randomness of the original and gave Michael’s pursuit of her a purpose. This would remain an important story element till Halloween 2018 reset the timeline and erased all sequels and remakes. Forty years later the film is now recognized as one of the better 80s slashers and one of the better Halloween sequels. It just shows, much like with Season of the Witch, that time heals all wounds. The film still carries some controversy, as Carpenter was unhappy with what Rosenthal delivered and made changes, conducting his own reshoots. In turn Rick Rosenthal was unhappy that Carpenter made changes to his film. Rosenthal’s version has not seen the light of day, so we will never know if Carpenter saved or sullied the sequel. Either way, Halloween II is now given it’s proper due and a place in horror film history and it has stood the test of time these last four decades. HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY HALLOWEEN II!

halloween 2 michael kills

Not the best received sequel, Halloween II has now taken it’s place as classic franchise canon!

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

 

REVIEW: FREAKY (2020)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

FREAKY (2020)

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

Blumhouse’s latest is a slasher twist on the classic body switch scenario. While the town of Blissfield is being stalked by a serial killer, misfit high school teen Millie (Kathryn Newton) has her own problems to deal with. She is still mourning the death of her father, her mother (Katie Finneran) has turned to drinking, her crush Booker (Uriah Shelton) doesn’t even notice her and she is not exactly the most popular girl in school. The paths of she and The Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) are fated to cross and when they do, the use of an ancient Aztec dagger, procured from a previous victim, causes Millie and her attacker to switch bodies. Now, on Friday the 13th, of all days, Millie, in the Butcher’s body, has till midnight to fix things before the switch becomes permanent. She has to convince her best friends Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich) that it’s really her, avoid her cop sister (Dana Drori) and stop The Butcher, who is using Millie’s body to stalk new prey in her high school’s very halls. It’s going to be a freaky Friday the 13th indeed!

Flick is directed by Christopher Landon from his script with Michael Kennedy. Landon is responsible for writing a number of Paranormal Activity sequels and directing that series’ The Marked Ones installment, as well as, directing and writing the fun Happy Death Day movies. It’s an entertaining mash-up of slasher meets Freaky Friday, though not quite the energetic fun that was his previous slasher meets Groundhog Day flicks. It is a lot more gruesome than Happy Death Day, though, and earns it’s “R” rating, while still being filled with some fun dialogue and generous movie references. The script is fairly clever with getting the Aztec dagger “La Dola” into The Butcher’s hands quickly, to get the story rolling, and using web savvy teens to give us the exposition we and Millie need, as to how the dagger works and what needs to be done. This sets in motion the race to regain possession of La Dola, before midnight passes and Millie is trapped forever in the body of a middle aged murderer…which The Butcher realizes may not be a bad thing. The film only falters a little when a few sentimental dialogue scenes go on for a bit too long and the filmmaker’s desire to be politically correct becomes a little too obvious in spots. The last act could have been a bit punchier, too, with it’s teen filled party in a warehouse setting. Otherwise, it’s a fun slasher/high school flick homage with some witty banter, some bloody carnage and a hip sense of humor.

The flick wouldn’t have worked nearly as well, if it wasn’t for our two leads having a blast playing each other’s parts. Kathryn Newton is very good, first as the awkward, likable and sympathetic Millie, and then as the sadistic serial killer. Newton is very successful at oozing evil and malice from within a high school girl’s veneer and has a threatening presence despite being a very pretty young girl. It’s Vince Vaughn, however, that really has a chance to take the ball and run with it as Millie in The Butcher’s body. Vaughn is hilarious as the awkward high school girl in the body of a middle aged serial killer and his mannerisms and body language are just as funny as his line delivery. He is even very threatening when he is The Blissfield Butcher back in his own body, in case you forgot he was a sadistic killer. Supporting cast is solid, too. Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich as Nyla and the flamboyantly gay Josh are a fun duo. They play off Vaughn very well and have some amusing dialogue and comic bits as they race to help get Millie back in her own body. Katie Finneran is good as Millie’s lonely, mourning mother, as is Dana Drori as Millie’s tough, sarcastic cop sister. Uriah Shelton is likable as Millie’s crush, Booker, who is dragged into this mess and Ferris Bueller star Alan Ruck appears as a harsh wood shop teacher.

Overall, this flick was fun and was a nice mash-up of two types of film’s one wouldn’t immediately think of mixing up. The cast are really good, especially our body swopping leads, who have a blast playing each other. It can be gruesome, but is very witty and clever as well. It does drag in a few parts, due to some lengthy attempts at adding some sentimentality to the proceedings, but otherwise is an entertaining homage, though not quite the infectious fun of Landon’s Happy Death Day flicks…which Landon recently conceded take place in the same universe. Freaky Death Day someday maybe?

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) chainsaws which pretty Kathryn Newton wields quite well.

**************************************************

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THEY LIVE INSIDE US (2020)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

THEY LIVE INSIDE US (2020)

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

Flick from the makers of the The Witching Season web anthology takes one of those tales and expands it to feature length. The story is simple. Writer Jake (James Morris) is looking for inspiration, so he and his daughter Dani (Emily Broschinsky) stay in a haunted house on Halloween. The Booth House has a past filled with witches, madmen and murder and Jake may get more inspiration than he bargained for.

They Live Inside Us is written and directed by Michael Ballif and acts as both stand alone film and an anthology film in itself, as we visualize Jake’s various story ideas as he writes them. These segments are filled with Halloween imagery and many of the popular tropes, such as masked killers, living scarecrows and killer clowns (each played by lead Morris) all chasing a pretty woman (Hailey Nebeker). In between the segments, we see writer Jake slowly feeling and seeing the effects of staying in an allegedly cursed house with a terrible past. It’s not quite as fun as the bits born of his writing ideas, but it certainly has it’s spooky moments as the house brings Jake’s tales and it’s own story to life. A Halloween horror would not be complete without some spooky reveals and Baliff provides them in a chilling last act. It’s moderately paced, but that suits the type of story it is. On a production level, the film looks good. Ballif has a really strong visual eye, especially for the All Hallow’s Eve inspired stuff and his cinematography gives this some nice atmosphere and Halloween spirit. There is also a really cool house location and a very atmospheric score by the aptly named Randin Graves.

The cast is solid. James Morris is good as Jake. He could have been livelier in a few scenes, but nails it when it counts, such as his scenes with dead wife Cynthia (Stevie Dutson). He also has fun playing all the film’s Halloween creepers. Emily Broschinsky is good as Jake’s precocious, paraplegic daughter Dani. The two actors have a nice chemistry together and sell being father and daughter well. Hailey Nebeker gets to show various degrees of fear as the “Woman in White” in Jake’s stories. The actress does however, get to do a bit more once Jake’s stories and the house’s history collide.

This movie shows a lot of love for the spooky season and of horror films in general from Michael Baliff. It’s not perfect, but one can really see the labor of love put into it and Baliff’s passion for all things Halloween and horror, show through. Baliff knows the tropes well and knows how to use them effectively. It’s certainly worth a look and has enough spooky moments to make it a nice new flick for watching during The Witching Season. Available to rent on streaming networks such as Amazon Prime and on blu-ray.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) pumpkins.

**************************************************

bars

BARE BONES: LET’S SCARE JULIE (2020)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

LET’S SCARE JULIE (2020)

Flick finds troubled Emma (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson) having lost her parents and now living with her cousin Taylor (Isabel May). Taylor and her friends Madison (Odessa A’zion), Paige (Jessica Sarah Flaum) and Jess (Brooke Sorenson) decide to prank the new girl across the street, Julie. The mysterious Julie and her family have moved into a house that already has a spooky reputation, due to a creepy woman who used to live there. Something goes terribly wrong for the girls while in the house and now Emma soon finds herself alone and feeling something is after her.

Let’s Scare Julie is written and directed by Jud Cremata and allegedly filmed in one long take. It is impressive for that alone, especially considering some scenes feature up to five actors performing at a time. Add to that it’s actually a very spooky and intense flick, once things get going and we have a pleasant and creepy little surprise. It achieves it’s effectiveness without showing us very much at all, instead relying on character reactions and Chuck Ozeas’ atmospheric and creepy cinematography to establish a feeling of dread and danger. A scene between Emma and her drunk uncle (Blake Robbins) is as unsettling as anything supernatural. The acting is quite good, from a cast of young unknowns, including little Dakota Baccelli as Emma’s little sister Lily. We know eventually Emma will wind up in Julie’s house, but it is still scary when she finally heads across the street. It’s not perfect. Sometimes the girls’ chatter overlaps and it’s hard to follow everything they are saying and the film does kinda just end after a very spooky middle and last act. Otherwise, this is a chilling little movie about a prank that goes terribly wrong, right in time for the Halloween season. Available to rent on Amazon and Google Play.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT-ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY (2011)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT-ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY (2011)

Bobby Roe’s fun 2014 found footage horror, The Houses October Built, had five friends deciding to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions…they got more than they bargained for. The film was actually inspired by a documentary Roe made three years earlier with the same premise. He, Brandy Schaefer, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson, and Zack Andrews, all pile into an RV and seek out the scariest Halloween haunts they can find. The five friends take us through a tour of quite a few halloween haunts, focusing on the pretty and energetic Schaefer going inside, experiencing the haunts and then interviewing owners, employees and attendees. It’s fun and as Roe pursues the notion that some haunts employ real deviates and use actual corpses in their exhibits, one can see where the 2014 film idea grew from. This leads to tracking down the elusive Blue Skeleton Inn haunt which closes this amusing documentary in theatrical fashion, foreshadowing the movies to come.

If you are a fan of the 2014 film, and it’s 2017 sequel, this is actually a must see, that gives you some nice background on how those film’s came about. It is also a good way to get to know the real people behind the movie characters…who aren’t that much different…and some of the real haunts that made it into Roe’s found footage films. It’s also a fun look at Halloween haunts and the pursuit of the scariest way to spend All Hallow’s Eve. The documentary is currently found as an extra on the Houses October Built blu-ray, making the disc a real bargain, if you are a fan.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: THE DWELLING (2016) aka BED OF THE DEAD

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

THE DWELLING (2016) aka BED OF THE DEAD

Flick opens with a group of hooded figures dragging a man towards an ominous tree, hanging him from it and murdering him. We then see another man, presumably sometime later, chop down that tree and make a large and ornate bed out of it. Cut to modern day, the bed is now in a room at a sex club where a group of four friends, Sandy (Alysa King), Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn), Ren (Dennis Andres) and Fred (George Krissa) have apparently just died horribly. An alcoholic and guilt-ridden detective (Colin Price) is on the case and not only finds out that there is something very wrong in that room, which has a sordid history, but that he might actually be able to save at least some of those who perished.

Horror is well directed by Jeff Maher from his script with Cody Calahan. Despite a plot that could have been very silly, Maher actually crafts a spooky story from it. He flashes back and forth from the four friends bribing their way into the supposedly off limits, and only empty room, to the investigation of their very nasty deaths by a cop with more than a few issues of his own. The director gives the room and bed a good sense of malevolence and as the film proceeds, we learn that each character has their own secrets that the entity emanating from the bed is preying upon. We also get to see how a couple of them gruesomely died. There is some clever communication between cop in the present and Sandy, who died a few hours earlier, that adds an interesting element to the story, too. The cast play it all seriously, as does Maher and it’s actually a creepy and gory flick at times, despite a premise that could have been laughable in the wrong hands. Alysa King makes a strong and sympathetic heroine as Sandy and Colin Price makes a sufficient lead as the troubled detective with his own inner pains. At an economical 85 minutes, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, or give you enough time to consider how goofy the idea of a demonic possessed bed, made from the wood of a hanging tree, really is. Not perfect, but as good as a movie about a killer bed is going to get. Flick is streaming free on Tubi under it’s current title The Dwelling, but it is still referred to under it’s former title of Bed of the Dead on Black Fawn Distribution’s Instagram page.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: THE PALE DOOR (2020)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

THE PALE DOOR (2020)

Horror/western has the outlaw Dalton Gang robbing a heavily armed train with youngest Dalton Jake (Devin Druid) on his first job. After a bloody shoot out, the gang secure the cash box only to find out it holds no money or gold, but a bound pretty young girl. Pearl (Natasha Bassett) begs the gang take her home and there will be a reward for their troubles. This brings them to a ghost town where the only occupants there are the women of the local brothel. Soon to their horror, they find the brothel is a coven of evil witches and the gang now must fight for their lives.

Flick is directed by Aaron B. Koontz (Camera Obscura) from his script with Cameron Burns and Keith Lansdale. It’s an entertaining little movie that doesn’t try to be more than it is. The witches are after the virginal Jake, who has also yet to kill anyone, and will decimate the gang to get to him. The make-up and gore are abundant and very well done and the witches are fearsome creatures, though seem to be easily gunned down by the dwindling numbers of the gang. There are a few moments when the action stops dead for characters to bear their souls, but otherwise this is an amusing 90+ minutes of blood and bullets. Pale Door also gets extra points for effort, with Koontz’s effective visuals and settings being impressive on a small budget. An entertaining little movie now streaming on Amazon. Also stars low budget horror vets Noah Segan and Pat Healy as Dalton Gang members.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars