MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 1 & 2

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Haven’t done one of these in a long time! However, the Halloween season ūüéÉūüĎĽ is approaching and what better way to spend a Saturday night during the spooky season than with a good double feature. Here is a pair of found footage flicks that take place in the world of Halloween Haunts and makes a splendidly spooky double bill to enjoy with some popcorn and pumpkin ale!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014)

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

The Houses October Built is a found footage horror with a simple but fairly novel premise. During the Halloween season, five friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera. This includes tracking down an almost mythical attraction called The Blue Skeleton rumored to be the most extreme of all. Obviously, the more intense these attractions get, the stranger the individuals they run into and it increasingly appears this group might be getting more than they bargained for, until they actually find the elusive Blue Skeleton and…as the old saying goes…be careful what you wish for!

I liked this found footage horror, which seems to have grown out of director Bobby Roe’s own 2011 documentary about Halloween attractions with¬†the same name and cast. The film sets up the intriguing idea that there are attractions out there that hire questionable individuals who have no problem crossing boundaries to get the appropriate scares‚Ķand are not to be trifled with.¬†The film then illustrates¬†what may happen when a group of thrill-seeking¬†individuals goes looking for such fright experiences and unfortunately finds them. This is not a great flick, but has some very creepy moments, not only from some of the attractions our crew visit, but when they piss off the wrong people and it begins to be clear that they are being followed by some malevolent individuals‚Ķor are they being lead? The found footage format makes you feel like you are there with this fairly likable bunch, but the drawback is that I never felt like I was watching anything but actors. They never really make you feel like they are real people, so I wasn’t completely taken in when they appear to be threatened or in harm’s way. The film still has some very effective moments, especially in the last act when things start to go very wrong for our group and the only female, Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) seems to be singled out at times. I will admit, though, that the climax could have used a bit more intensity and shock value to offset the fact that we go into this knowing it won’t end well to some degree. It’s not a groundbreaking film, but it does work on quite a few levels¬†and we can’t help but imagine ourselves in a spot where we are surrounded by individuals who may not know‚Ķor care..where the show ends and real terrorizing begins.

So, I did like this flick. I think it’s clever that Roe made a documentary about some really over-the-top Halloween attractions and used what he learned to turn it into a movie. It’s as¬†if this actually happened to him and his crew while they were making the 2011 film. Almost a film within a film, though I have yet to see the original documentary and hope to remedy that. This isn’t a great horror, but it is a spooky enough flick about a hidden dark side to a favorite holiday pastime. It may not ever totally make us feel like we’re watching actual footage, but has enough effective imagery and situations to accomplish a good deal of what it sets out to do. Film was co-written by Roe along with Zack Andrews and Jason Zada and stars Roe, Andrews, Brandy Schaefer, Mikey Roe and Jeff Larson as themselves. If you like Halloween and all the trappings, you’ll probably enjoy this effective little flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) scary clowns… and there are plenty in this flick!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)

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

The Houses October Built was a¬† fun found footage horror with a simple premise. During the Halloween season,¬†five¬†friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera…of course they got more than they bargained for. The sequel picks up a year later with the group having become internet celebrities due to the broadcasting of their predicament at the hands of The Blue Skeleton on social media. Now Halloween haunts are paying them to come and promote their attractions…all but Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) who is still traumatized. Brandy…now known on the net as “Coffin Girl”…however, is the one the haunts all want promoting their attractions and the gang have to do a lot of convincing…and paying…to get her back in. Brandy eventually agrees, not knowing that someone is watching them and that the The Blue Skeleton group may not be done scaring them yet.

First flick was a lot of fun as it both worked both as a horror flick, yet also dove into the underground world of Halloween haunts. This sequel does the same but opens it up to include Zombie 5k’s and even an “adult” themed haunt. The script by director and actor Bobby Roe, with cast member Zack Andrews, cleverly gets the gang back out there by having them now being paid by the haunts themselves to do what they did last time. Roe keeps the found footage format somewhat, but this one plays more like a movie which works as the feel of legitimate found footage was one of the weaker aspects the first time around. The group’s use of a drone, also opens up the scale with some frequent aerial photography. This sequel does take a little while to get going and may not be as consistently Halloween spirited as the last one, but once things start to get spooky, when our group…Brandy in particular…are being stalked, it gets as fun as the last one. It also has a few surprises up it’s sleeve, especially when the group meets their intended fate at the Hellbent attraction where the familiar blue skull-ed creepers spring their trap. It provides an intense and entertaining last act and shows Bobby Roe has matured as a filmmaker, somewhat, providing some legitimate chills.

The main cast, Zack Andrews, Mike and Bobby Roe, Jeff Larson and Brandy Schaefer, all return and are certainly fine, basically playing themselves. Schaefer stands out as she has the most emoting to do with her character being a reluctant participant, who is still haunted by almost being buried alive. Brandy has a couple of strong scenes expressing her fears and concerns over returning to these underground haunts and the climax gives her some solid material to work with. She would make a good final girl in a straight up horror. Mikey Roe also has some screen charisma as lovable party animal and joker of the group.

This was an enjoyable sequel and with some clever writing they may be able to get at least one more chapter out of this franchise. This follow-up pretty much equaled the first flick, which was a fun look at extreme Halloween haunts and a sometimes spooky little horror flick, too. The sequel freshens things up by opening up it’s spectrum of interested to include other types of Halloween attractions and figures out a way to get it’s characters back out there, after being scared out of their wits the last time. It does take a while to get going and the Halloween spirit isn’t as consistent as the last time…maybe too much of it was shot in the daytime?…but it does deliver some goods, especially in the last act. If you liked the first The Houses October Built you might enjoy this second romp as well and it would make a nice double feature during the spooky season to watch both films together.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) scary clowns…they return too!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)

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

The Houses October Built was a¬† fun found footage horror with a simple premise. During the Halloween season,¬†five¬†friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera…of course they got more than they bargained for. The sequel picks up a year later with the group having become internet celebrities due to the broadcasting of their predicament at the hands of The Blue Skeleton on social media. Now Halloween haunts are paying them to come and promote their attractions…all but Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) who is still traumatized. Brandy…now known on the net as “coffin girl”…however, is the one the haunts all want promoting their attractions and the gang have to do a lot of convincing…and paying…to get her back in. Brandy eventually agrees, not knowing that someone is watching them and that the The Blue Skeleton group may not be done scaring them yet.

First flick was a lot of fun as it both worked both as a horror flick, yet also dove into the underground world of Halloween haunts. This sequel does the same but opens it up to include Zombie 5k’s and even an “adult” themed haunt. The script by director and actor Bobby Roe, with cast member Zack Andrews, cleverly gets the gang back out there by having them now being paid by the haunts themselves to do what they did last time. Roe keeps the found footage format somewhat, but this one plays more like a movie which works as the feel of legitimate found footage was one of the weaker aspects the first time around. The group’s use of a drone, also opens up the scale with some frequent aerial photography. This sequel does take a little while to get going and may not be as consistently Halloween spirited as the last one, but once things start to get spooky, when our group…Brandy in particular…are being stalked, it gets as fun as the last one. It also has a few surprises up it’s sleeve, especially when the group meets their intended fate at the Hellbent attraction where the familiar blue skull-ed creepers spring their trap. It provides an intense and entertaining last act and shows Bobby Roe has matured as a filmmaker, somewhat, providing some legitimate chills.

The main cast, Zack Andrews, Mike and Bobby Roe, Jeff Larson and Brandy Schaefer, all return and are certainly fine, basically playing themselves. Schaefer stands out as she has the most emoting to do with her character being a reluctant participant, who is still haunted by almost being buried alive. Brandy has a couple of strong scenes expressing her fears and concerns over returning to these underground haunts and the climax gives her some solid material to work with. She would make a good final girl in a straight up horror. Mikey Roe also has some screen charisma as lovable party animal and joker of the group.

This was an enjoyable sequel and with some clever writing they may be able to get at least one more chapter out of this franchise. This follow-up pretty much equaled the first flick, which was a fun look at extreme Halloween haunts and a sometimes spooky little horror flick, too. The sequel freshens things up by opening up it’s spectrum of interested to include other types of Halloween attractions and figures out a way to get it’s characters back out there, after being scared out of their wits the last time. It does take a while to get going and the Halloween spirit isn’t as consistent as the last time…maybe too much of it was shot in the daytime?…but it does deliver some goods, especially in the last act. If you liked the first The Houses October Built you might enjoy this second romp as well and it would make a nice double feature during the spooky season to watch both films together.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scary clowns…they return too!

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT SEQUEL GETS A TRAILER!

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The Houses October Built was a spooky found footage flick with a cool concept about a group of Halloween adventurers trying to find the ultimate Halloween haunt and not liking what they do find. The sequel has them back and at it again, despite getting scared almost literally to death last time. Flick arrives September 22 just in time for the start of the spooky season! Check out the trailer below!

Source: Youtube

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BARE BONES: THE FOREST and BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE

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THE FOREST (2015)

Being gift-wrapped with¬†a disturbing true-life backstory, you’d think director Jason Zada would have had a walk in the proverbial park making a creepy horror flick out of this¬†but‚Ķno. Story takes place in Japan’s¬†Aokigahara forest, which is a dense wooded area¬†around the legendary Mount Fuji and is not only renown for being inhabited by spirits, but for an alarming phenomena of suicides being committed inside it. Our tale focuses on pretty Sara Price (Game Of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer) who¬†travels to Japan upon finding out her twin sister Jess (also Dormer) has gone into that forest and disappeared. As she searches¬†for her sibling, Sara soon finds the legends of this place may not be mere legend.

Zada and¬†the three script writers responsible couldn’t have had a better backstory to springboard their horror, but instead deliver a generic, by-the-numbers and dull movie with the same tired jump scares and dreary phantoms that every generic PG-13 supernatural thriller is throwing at us. You’d probably get more chills watching an actual documentary about the place than watching this lazy movie. Dormer is pretty and starts out effective, but even she seems to get bored as her performance falls into a one note groove and she stays there till the end. The cinematography by Mattias Troelstrup¬†of the Japanese countryside is quite beautiful, but otherwise we get the same tired clich√©s about a foreigner in a strange land, such as Sara just happening to run into a handsome American¬†(Taylor Kinney)¬†working there and just happening to conveniently always¬†meet Japanese folk that speak english. Considering the true events it’s based on, how they turned this into such a snoozer is a mystery.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE (2014)

Written and directed by Nick Szostakiwskyj, this¬†is part a noble effort and part a movie with a severe case of John Carpenter’s The Thing envy. The story has an archeological dig unearthing a temple-like structure deep in the Canadian wilderness. Soon after they discover it, strange things start to occur, such as their native workers just walking off into the wilderness in the sub-zero cold and some of their own getting unusually sick with increasing aggressive behavior. They lose contact with their home base and now are stranded with supplies running low and tensions running high. Have these men unearthed something that should have stayed buried?

As much¬†as the flick tries¬†to do it’s own thing, it’s Carpenter’s¬†Thing¬†that the film keeps¬†evoking and imitating down to replaying certain scenes like autopsies and pointing guns at each other.¬†Szostakiwskyj gives us some archeological babble mixed in with a possible malevolent spirit-god, but can’t let himself stray too far from Carpenter’s classic by also including an¬†unnecessary ancient bacteria that takes over a person’s¬†cells and changes them. The explanation of this sickness is very unintentionally funny, as is the upright stuffed deer used to represent this malevolent animal spirit that may, or may not, be a figment of the men’s imaginations. There¬†seemed to be a sincere effort here to do something interesting, but¬†Nick¬†Szostakiwskyj never strays too far from his influences or properly fleshes out his own ideas. On a technical lever it’s photographed well, but the pacing is really slow, the editing is choppy and the acting wooden across the board. It’s obviously low budget, as even it’s attempt to replay The Thing‘s¬†dynamite¬†filled climax is done off camera, so no sets have to be demolished.¬†Disappointing considering some positive word floating around out there.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014)

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now playing

houses october built poster

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THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014)

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

The Houses October Built is a found footage horror with a simple but fairly novel premise. During the Halloween season, five friends decide to take an RV road trip to seek out and find the most extreme and scary Halloween attractions they can, documenting it all on camera. This includes tracking down an almost mythical attraction called The Blue Skeleton rumored to be the most extreme of all. Obviously, the more intense these attractions get, the stranger the individuals they run into and it increasingly appears this group might be getting more than they bargained for, until they actually find the elusive Blue Skeleton and…as the old saying goes…be careful what you wish for!

I liked this found footage horror, which seems to have grown out of director Bobby Roe’s own 2011 documentary about Halloween attractions with¬†the same name and cast. The film sets up the intriguing idea that there are attractions out there that hire questionable individuals who have no problem crossing boundaries to get the appropriate scares‚Ķand are not to be trifled with.¬†The film then illustrates¬†what may happen when a group of thrill-seeking¬†individuals goes looking for such fright experiences and unfortunately finds them. This is not a great flick, but has some very creepy moments, not only from some of the attractions our crew visit, but when they piss off the wrong people and it begins to be clear that they are being followed by some malevolent individuals‚Ķor are they being lead? The found footage format makes you feel like you are there with this fairly likable bunch, but the drawback is that I never felt like I was watching anything but actors. They never really make you feel like they are real people, so I wasn’t completely taken in when they appear to be threatened or in harm’s way. The film still has some very effective moments, especially in the last act when things start to go very wrong for our group and the only female, Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) seems to be singled out at times. I will admit, though, that the climax could have used a bit more intensity and shock value to offset the fact that we go into this knowing it won’t end well to some degree. It’s not a groundbreaking film, but it does work on quite a few levels¬†and we can’t help but imagine ourselves in a spot where we are surrounded by individuals who may not know‚Ķor care..where the show ends and real terrorizing begins.

So, I did like this flick. I think it’s clever that Roe made a documentary about some really over-the-top Halloween attractions and used what he learned to turn it into a movie. It’s as¬†if this actually happened to him and his crew while they were making the 2011 film. Almost a film within a film, though I have yet to see the original documentary and hope to remedy that. This isn’t a great horror, but it is a spooky enough flick about a hidden dark side to a favorite holiday pastime. It may not ever totally make us feel like we’re watching actual footage, but has enough effective imagery and situations to accomplish a good deal of what it sets out to do. Film was co-written by Roe along with Zack Andrews and Jason Zada and stars Roe, Andrews, Brandy Schaefer, Mikey Roe and Jeff Larson as themselves. If you like Halloween and all the trappings, you’ll probably enjoy this effective little flick.

3 scary clowns… and there are plenty in this flick!

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