HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PIRANHA 3DD (2012)

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PIRANHA 3DD  (2012)

Sequel to Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D (which is in itself a remake) is not as fun as it’s predecessor, nor is it quite as bad as it’s made out to be. The story, this time, has the prehistoric piranha traveling from the decimated Lake Victoria through an underground river to a sleazy water theme park to continue their feeding.

The problem with this sequel is, director John Gulager seems to take the material a little too seriously despite a script that replaces Piranha 3D‘s wit for blatantly stupid. And stupid would be fine if director Gulager took the ball and ran with it like Alexandre Aja did. The budget for this installment is smaller and thus the film’s scale and carnage lesser, but still, look how fun the low budget 1978 original was without the budget and bloodshed of the 2010 remake. Joe Dante knew to play it serious to a point, but all the while letting the cast and audience in on the fun. When you open a film with Gary Busey and a dead cow that farts piranha eggs, there’s no point in pretending you’re directing Jaws. The gore effects are fine although the CGI is even weaker then it’s predecessor, but despite it’s faults, there is still some entertainment to be had such as MZNJ Halloween Hottie Katrina Bowden, reciting one of the best lines in the film involving a baby piranha and a certain part of her anatomy.

Gulager’s cast is fine, though only David Hasselhoff seems to really be in on the joke. The rest of the cast, including pretty lead Danielle Panabaker, try really hard to give they proceedings some weight, but probably should have just embraced the goofy material and had a good time. The cameos from some of the survivors from the last entry are fun and there are some funny bits, most involving The Hoff.

It could have been a lot better, but Piranha 3DD did pass the time and I actually feel that with a better script that was more clever than crude, John Gulager might actually have delivered a decent B-movie. An OK time waster when watched in the right frame of mind, but far short of the deliriously fun remake that precedes it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 carnivorous critters

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: THE SHORTCUT, DEAD SOULS and TAMARA

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THE SHORTCUT (2009)

After putting together my Halloween Hotties post about up and coming scream queen Katrina Bowden, I became intrigued by her first horror and thought I’d take a look. Sadly this moderately budgeted fright flick, produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions…re-dubbed Scary Madison…and released straight to DVD, is a very pedestrian and only minimally entertaining tale. PG-13 horror focuses on new kid in town Derek (Andrew Seeley) investigating a shortcut through the woods, with a bad reputation, and a mysterious and strange old man (Raymond J. Barry) who lives on a secluded property that the shortcut leads through. His interest provoked after his little brother (Nicholas Elia) is frightened by the man and his apparent murder of a dog, when dared to take the shortcut by schoolmates. Along with new friends Mark (Dave Franco), Lisa (Shannon Woodward), Taylor (Josh Emerson, who played basically the same character in Jennifer’s Body) and romantic interest Christy (Katrina Bowden), they unravel a history of death and missing persons and decide to check out the man’s home for clues…bad idea.

This film is directed as by-the-numbers as you can get by Nicholas Goossen and from a script that is far too sloppy to work by Dan Hannon and Scott Sandler. There is just too much predictability and far too little of the suspense and scares one watches this kind of flick for. It’s TV movie style works against it, as does the neutered shocks to get it’s PG-13 rating. Not to mention, characters doing some really stupid things and making some really bad decisions to move the plot along and put themselves in needless danger. The cast go from bland to adequate with Bowden’s Christy being the liveliest of the characters, though, one of the least used. The film also takes far too long to really get going and once it does, it comes to a climax we saw coming for at least an hour before. Sad, because the basic story had potential. Also stars X-Files‘ ‘The Smoking Man’ William B. Davis in a small but crucial role.

2 star rating

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DEAD SOULS (2012)

Dead Souls opens with a disturbing ritualistic murder/suicide of a family by it’s minister patriarch, Benjamin Conroy (J.H. Torrance Downes) with only an hidden infant spared. We then cut to that infant now grown (Jesse James) and living with his aunt (Geraldine Hughes), who the re-named Johnny Petrie, believes is his mother. But, Johnny has just turned 18 and the Conroy estate is turned over to him and he goes there to oversee the property’s sale and to find out about his newfound family history. But, as Johnny decides to stay on the property, he finds he has inherited not only a possible nightmarish past but, some very present and not so friendly spirits. Together with a pretty squatter (Magda Apanowicz) found living in his new house, Johnny attempts to get to the bottom of what happened to his family, but something may equally be out to get him as well.

Director Colin Theys does manage to give this film some atmosphere and there are some spooky sequences along with some disturbing scenes such as the opening slaughter. But, John Doolan’s script, based on Michael Laimo’s novel, is a bit too convoluted for it’s own good and the last act just get’s silly with it’s re-animated, possessed corpses. The film’s first two thirds were subtle and spooky, but the more you find out, the sillier it gets, till we arrive at the spirit possessed corpses climax that, in itself, has a silly denouement. The cast, including horror favorite Bill Moseley, are fine, but the material just goes from spooky to silly at a point when it needed to be at it’s most effective. It’s a moderately entertaining watch and there is some solid spookiness early on, but ultimately gets a little too wacky to do anything but disappoint. Too bad, there was a good movie in here somewhere and Theys had enough skill to deliver it, had the script not gotten so ludicrous.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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TAMARA (2005)

The Craft meets Carrie in this completely derivative high school set horror about a bullied girl who gets revenge on her abusers through witchcraft. Tamara (Jenna Dewan) is a shy, introverted plain-jane student, with an interest in the occult, who gets picked on constantly. An article she writes for the school paper about steroid use on the high school’s athletic teams catches the angry attention of jock Shawn (Bryan Clark) and his crew and a cruel prank is plotted that goes horribly wrong and leaves Tamara dead…but not for long. The next day Tamara returns to school despite being buried deep in the woods and is now quite the sexy seductress. Soon Tamara is using her natural charms and dark magic to avenge herself on her wrongdoers and win the teacher she crushes on, Mr. Natolly (Matthew Marsden).

Horror flick is competently directed by Jeremy Haft, though without much style or atmosphere, and the script by Jefferey Reddick basically bludgeons us with ‘been there, done that’. There is barely any originality in the story of embattled nerd turned hot supernatural avenger and what little gore there is in her vengeance is adequate, but nothing special. The cast are actually fine, but the film itself is so forgettable and cliché that it’s rarely spoken of, if ever, in horror circles or otherwise. It received a small under the radar theatrical release in 2006 before going equally quiet to DVD. Not much to recommend, as there’s not much the film has to offer except lead Jenna Dewan looking quite fine.

2 star rating

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: KATRINA BOWDEN

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This newest installment of Halloween Hotties takes a look at a fairly new cutie to catch the eye of horror fans, the lovely and talented Katrina Bowden. Most people know her from her 7 year stint on the hit show 30 Rock as Cerie but, horror fans took notice of this gorgeous Jersey girl… oh yes, she is from MonsterZero NJ’s home state and you know I love me my Jersey girls… in the fun horror/comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and we’ve kept our eyes out for this easy on the eyes scream queen ever since and, so far, she hasn’t let us down…

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of her horror film’s that I’ve covered here previously. )

KATRINA BOWDEN

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The horror hottie and Jersey girl at a more relaxed moment then she usually gets in her fright flicks.

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Bowden got her start acting with a brief role on the long running soap opera One Life To Live in 2006. She continued to get TV work until landing a long-running part on one of TV’s biggest hit comedies, 30 Rock. It was in 2009 when she starred in her first horror, The Shortcut. A direct to DVD tale that told the creepy story of a group of high schoolers investigating a strange old man who may be behind a series and of deaths and disappearances on an ominous shortcut through the woods. Obviously, their inquisitiveness brings dire consequences.

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Katrina’s Christy stalked by a killer while on The Shortcut.

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But, it wan’t until 2010 that she really caught the attention of horror fans with a starring role in the rib-tickling and blood spattering cult hit horror/comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil as vacationing college girl Allison, who captures the heart of sweet natured redneck Dale. It’s Dale’s rescue of Allison during a late night skinny-dipping mishap that sets the plot in motion as her friends have seen too many horror movies and mistake good ole boys Tucker and Dale for some Chainsaw Massacre style mountain folk who’ve kidnaped Allsion. Hilarious hi-jinx and spurting blood ensues.

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As apple of Dale’s eye, Allison…

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…the skinny-dipping incident that starts the gruesome ball rolling…

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…and a damsel in distress awaiting rescue from her knight in plaid and denim.

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Katrina’s next foray into horror was in the cheesy yet entertaining 2012 sequel to Alexandre Aja’s deliriously fun Piranha remake, Piranha 3DD. I won’t spoil the fun but, not only does Bowden’s Shelby have one of the more interesting incidents with a baby prehistoric piranha but, it results in the film’s funniest and most outrageous line which Katrina somehow delivers with a completely straight face.

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A quiet moment with another popular horror hottie, Danielle Panabaker…

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…after her not so quiet ‘encounter’ with one of the film’s carnivorous critters.

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In 2012 Bowden also starred in the Asylum horror Hold Your Breath about the urban legend of how one should hold their breath when passing a graveyard to avoid spirit possession. Katrina is one of a group of young travelers who find out the hard way why the rule exists. Add the spirit of a serial killer and an abandoned prison to the mix and this gets gory quick for Katrina’s Jerry and her friends.
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A happier moment for Bowden’s Jerry before blood and bloody parts begin to fly…

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…and once the blood has hit the fan.

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In 2013 Bowden gave us two more horror themed flicks to enjoy her in. First the horror spoof Scary Movie 5, the fifth installment of that popular comedy series…

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Going to pieces in Scary Movie 5.

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…and the delightfully decadent and over the top Nurse 3D where she finds herself a new nurse on the hospital staff who gains the obsessive attention of Paz de la Huerta’s psychotic and very dangerous lead character… and with gruesome results.
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As new nurse on duty, Danni who has yet to realize her fellow nurse Abby needs to be in a hospital not work in one.

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And as her beautiful and talented self who we want to see more of whether it be in horror or not. With the recent announcement of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil 2, we can only hope her Allison makes a return along with our two lovable hillbillies in this eagerly awaited sequel. Either way we want more Katrina Bowden!

And don’t forget to check out our Halloween Hotties focusing on Melanie PapaliaAlexandra DaddarioKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard, Briana Evigan and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages!)

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: NURSE 3D (2013)

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NURSE 3D (2013)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a guilty pleasure like Nurse 3D that not only wears it’s exploitation movie status proudly, but gleefully revels in it. It’s not perfect, but has a good, gory time with it’s twisted story and isn’t afraid to be trashy when it wants to be.

The ‘Nurse’ in question is Abby Russell (Paz de la Huerta) an angel of mercy at a NYC hospital by day and murderess, who preys on married men who cheat on their wives, by night. Abby also develops an unhealthy infatuation with pretty new nurse Danni (New Jersey native Katrina Bowden) and if anyone has seen Fatal Attraction, you know where this is heading. Abby takes advantage of an upset Danni and while on a girls night out, she drugs her for a night of depraved sex between the two and a man they met at a club…which Abby documents with her cellphone. When Danni starts to become afraid of Abby’s obsessive behavior…which includes murdering her cheating step-father (Martin Donovan)…and jealousy of her boyfriend, Steve (Corbin Bleu), she rejects her and sends Abby off the deep end of revenge, blackmail and murder…which she tries to pin on Danni. Meanwhile, Danni does some investigating and finds out the horrifying truth behind her deranged co-worker…but is it too late to save herself, Steve and anyone else in Abby’s bloody path?

Directed and co-written (with David Loughery) by Doug Aarniokoski, Nurse 3D is a stylish, fast paced and fun exploitation flick that is only held back by it’s reliance on the all too familiar ‘crazy jilted lover’ storyline we’ve seen so many times before. Abby’s antics to get back at Danni are blood-soaked fun and taken to extremes, but it’s still a tale told many times and we wish the story focused a bit more on Abby’s vengeful nighttime activities than her psychotic attachment to Danni. Though, the lengths she will go to salve her broken heart are gleefully sadistic and blood-spattered.

The cast go with the material and have a good time with it, especially NYC girl, de la Huerta. As Abby, the actress goes nicely over the top, not being afraid to walk around stark naked, or covered in blood, or both, as she delights in her depraved actions and walks a nice fine line between over-the-top and camp without crossing it. The rest of the cast play it fairly straight and the fact that de la Huerta is the only one to really go into overdrive, makes the film work very well by giving it some contrast between the normal world and the demented fantasy world in Abby’s head. Katrina Bowden is a strong heroine and does a really good job at portraying the object of Abby’s twisted affections and a woman forced to fight back against a literal nightmare on two legs. The two actually have a nice chemistry together which makes things click all the more and we only wish it was the same with Corbin Bleu’s generic boyfriend, Steve. You wonder why Danni bothers with the guy, they just don’t seem to really click all that well, but it does make Abby’s obsession work all the better, as there seems to be a bit of a bond till Abby’s Single White Female behavior forces Danni away. We get solid work from the supporting cast too, with Judd Nelson playing a hard-nosed, philandering doctor, Melanie Scrofano as a way too perky head of human resources and Kathleen Turner puts in an appearance as the head nurse.

On a technical side the film looks very good with an arty visual style that suits the film’s audacious, fetish-laced, tone. There are some very gruesome moments, such as impromptu surgery and what might be the goriest hospital bloodbath since The Re-Animator and all the gore is exceptionally rendered. There is also a lot of nudity from the voluptuous de la Huerta, who also has quite the wardrobe of fetishistic clothes, which makes the sexy and scary character all the more vivid. This does tie in to one of my minor complaints, though. I respect actress Katrina Bowden not wanting to do nude scenes, but then, at least film her shower scenes to try to hide that she’s in her underwear. No one showers in their underwear, certainly not more than once. Either film in close-ups to give the illusion she is naked, CGI her underwear off as they did with Jessica Alba in Machete… sorry to ruin that for you, but Alba filmed the scene in her skivvies and her Fruit Of The Looms were removed digitally…or hire an actress that will do nudity. It just seemed silly.*(see updates below)

Overall though, despite some flaws, Nurse 3D is a fun guilty pleasure that is twisted, gory, a bit trashy and is quite pleased with itself on all counts. It may not be quite as good as it could have been, but is certainly entertaining enough as a neon, candy-colored grind-house flick with some fun plot reveals along the way. And that adds up to 84 minutes of decadent entertainment that is a bit refreshing when surrounded by remakes and endless sequels.

*UPDATE: Concerning Katrina Bowden’s shower scenes… some online research has led me to believe that there is a version of the film where CGI was used to simulate nudity, but for reasons only speculated at, the original shot scenes using Bowden in her underwear where used for the home media release. If I get a straight story, I will update again!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) surgical saws.

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*UPDATE #2: The scene in question… home media scene on the right, other version on the left. Being a photoshop artist for over a decade, I can see anomalies in the left side photo that lead me to believe that the photo was altered to make Bowden look nude (the glare on her right butt cheek in the right photo is the exact same glare on her left butt cheek in the left photo. Just moved over), but then the original footage was used for Blu-ray and DVD release. Can’t find any official word why this occurred though, since the actress has yet to actually do nude work, we can speculate she might have protested the simulation. Nothing substantiated at this time.

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-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TUCKER & DALE v.s. EVIL (2011)

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TUCKER & DALE v.s. EVIL (2011)

Amusing horror/comedy tells the story of two harmless country boys, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) and their encounter with some college kids who have seen far too many horror movies. A series of mishaps, starting with the boys’ rescue of an injured female member of the group being misinterpreted as a kidnapping, gives the coeds the belief that Tucker and Dale are trying to kill them…and soon the boys think they are being stalked by a group of crazy college kids. What follows is a bloody and funny comedy of errors and misunderstandings that starts to rack up quite an unintentional body count. In the middle of all the gory chaos, the innocent and sweet Dale starts to bond with the pretty Allison (Katrina Bowden) as he tends to her.

Director Eli Craig could have given it a bit more energy, but it is funny and clever at times, especially if you’ve seen your share of backwoods horror flicks, and the leads Tudyk, Labine and Bowden really help with creating very likable characters. The rest of the cast are good too as the over-imaginative college students who think they are in the middle of a real life backwoods horror. They play it straight and let the situations provide the humor and while it could have been a bit funnier, it is an entertaining enough 90 minutes especially if you’re a horror fan who likes to see a popular sub-genre turned on it’s head. T&D has a lot of fun with some tried and true backwoods horror conventions and is delightfully gory with it’s skewered heart in the right place.

A solid 3 chainsaws

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