HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE DIVIDE (2011)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

divide

bars

THE DIVIDE (2011)

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

Xavier Gens (Frontier(s), Hitman) weaves this grim and violent tale of a group of survivors who are trapped together in a bomb shelter after a nuclear attack on New York City. The longer they stay cooped up in the shelter together, the more civilized behavior collapses and the worst in human nature comes out.

Divide is a well made film and Gans gets really good performances out of his cast, including Michael Biehn, Lauren German and Rosanna Arquette. He crafts a lot of tension and takes us and his characters through some very disturbing sequences as savagery takes over and atrocities are committed with growing ease. But despite how well Gans’ film is made, it is the nature of the story and the filmmaker’s willingness to indulge in it that weighs it down. The problem is we’ve seen this kind of civilization breakdown many times before and Gans spends a little too much time on the horrible acts that the characters commit on each other. After a while we start to become numb and a bit bored as a good portion of the two hour running time is a journey through the evils that men do. The constant bombardment of vulgar and repulsive behavior looses it’s effect and the last act is spent just wanting it to come to some sort of conclusion. And when that conclusion comes, we are already too weary to fully feel it’s bleak impact. There are some interesting segments too, including one that gives us an idea of just who has perpetrated the attack, which is quite chilling and we do have to give Gans credit for such a brutally realistic portrayal of such an event. The production value is high and the scenes of a nuclear devastated NYC are extremely vivid and horrifying which adds to the emotionally dark tone of the film.

A well done movie, but a bit too bleak and depressing for it’s own good. The film makes it’s point over and over and it is emotionally draining. Certainly was worth seeing, but not the kind of movie I’d want to watch again.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 cans of lye…gotta keep that bomb shelter toilet fresh!

divide rating

 

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CHERRY FALLS (2000)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

cherry_Falls

bars

CHERRY FALLS (2000)

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

Slasher takes place in the town of Cherry Falls, Virginia where in the opening scene, a teen couple parked in a secluded wooded area is slaughtered by what appears to be a women in black with bright red nails and long raven colored hair. The next day it’s all over school and soon after, another teen falls victim to a gruesome death. Local sheriff Marken (Michael Biehn) discovers one odd clue about the vicious serial killings, which is that the victims are all virgins. This is especially of concern to Marken’s daughter Jody (Brittany Murphy) who is a virgin herself. As Jody is indeed targeted by the mysterious killer, the town teens plan a massive party to end their virgin statuses and avoid the killer’s blade. Jody however discovers the story of Loralee Sherman, a high school girl who, twenty-seven years earlier, claimed she was raped by four affluent teens, including the now principal and Jody’s own father. Loralee disappeared after none of the boys were brought to justice and was never heard from again. Is this wronged woman the killer stalking the streets? Has Loralee finally returned for revenge on the town of Cherry Falls?

Despite being made in the post Scream era, slasher avoids the self-awareness and pop culture reference over-indulgence and gives us a more traditional slasher with the twist of it’s killer stalking the usually safe virgins. The script by Ken Selden is not without some sly humor, but is clearly more influenced by the 80s slasher era than with the films spawned by Wes Craven’s hip 90s classic. The film is well-directed by Geoffrey Wright, who plays it fairly straightforward, though it does have some style and atmosphere. It isn’t overly suspenseful and some of the sequences involving the subject of virginity and sex among the town’s teens don’t quite click…although one figures some of the awkwardness is exactly how parents would act and feel discussing the subject in public, or when Marken asks Jody to go all the way to protect herself. There are some intense action sequences, the kills are gruesome and quite bloody and the reveal is interesting and actually works in context of the story, if not a little over-the-top. There is a fitting score by Walter Werzowa and some atmospheric cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond.

The cast works well. Brittany Murphy is solid as Jody. She is a bit of an odd girl and Murphy plays her with an eclectic touch. As the sheriff’s daughter, she can handle herself and as our final girl, we certainly get a glimpse of that aspect of her character. Murphy adds some nice little character moments, such as a scene when Jody’s father lands on top of her during self defense training and she seems to have a brief moment of arousal. She also plays well an awkward attempt at sex with on-again, off-again boyfriend Kenny (Gabriel Mann) that shows Jody may have some budding fetishes as she comes of age. An underrated actress. Michael Biehn is good, as always, as Sheriff Marken. He plays him tough as nails and by-the-book, but not without some nice moments where the dad in him comes through with Jody. Gabriel Mann is a typical teen boy as Jody’s love interest Kenny. Doesn’t know what he wants. Candy Clarke is good as Jody’s mom who is trying a little hard to be a MILF or one of the girls, but has a good relationship with her daughter. Rounding out is Jay Mohr who gives English teacher Mr. Marliston a bit of an eccentric flair. Jody has an attraction toward Marliston which adds to the whole ‘coming of age’ scenario as the older crush which most of us had as teens at one point.

Overall this may not be a classic, but it is a good slasher. The flick is far more influenced by the classic slashers of the 80s than the pop culture reference filled slashers that came after Scream. It has a good cast with a refreshingly offbeat final girl/leading lady in Brittany Murphy’s Jody and there is plenty of vicious kills and some nice atmosphere. Not everything works and Geoffrey Wright’s style is fairly straightforward, but the reveal is fun and does gives us an entertaining and over-the-top finale, that shows just enough restraint to not appear unbalanced from the rest of the flick. A bit of an underrated horror, IMO.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 cherrys. Unbroken at the moment.

cherry falls rating

 

bars

REVIEW: TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

Terminator_Genisys

bars

TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015)

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

31 years after his first appearance in the role that made him a star, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns once again as the T-800 in this new reboot of The Terminator franchise. We do get a new Sarah Conner (Game Of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke), a new Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and a new timeline to reset things much like Star Trek did successfully in 2009…but, was it as successful as that redo?

The film opens in the war-torn future where we get yet another representation of the Skynet initiated Judgement Day and then the efforts of John Connor’s (Jason Clarke) rebel forces to take back the world from the machines. We see the discovery of the time displacement device and the sending of Kyle Reese back in time to save John’s mother Sarah from an incoming Terminator. At first the events unfold exactly as they did in James Cameron’s 1984 classic but, then we discover that not only is Sarah armed and ready for the Skynet sent cyborg attack but, the arriving Terminator is met by another Terminator (also Arnold) assigned to protect Sarah since she was a little girl. That and the T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) that appeared in 1991 is already here in 1984. Reese soon finds out that this is a new timeline created by all this time traveling back and forth and the only way to stop Judgement Day now is to go back to the future…without Michael J. Fox! Still with me???

One of the things that really hurts this new attempt to breath life into this tired franchise is obviously, the convoluted plot that simply uses the alternate timeline excuse to rewrite the series lore but, instead of taking it to interesting new places, like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trekit just seems to be making things up as it goes along to reset deadlines and give our characters an excuse to leave the 80s and back into a contemporary setting. There are some other curves the film throws us, too, that actually should negate the whole plot, but, at this point you give up trying to figure it all out. One of the characters actually points this out and the question is blown off. The writers obviously didn’t have an answer either. And all this time travel mumbo jumbo would be fine if director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) and writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier gave us characters we cared about, a story with some suspense or intensity and one that went some in new directions that were at least fresher than what has come before. New dates and new faces but, it’s the same old song and dance. Taylor directs this very by-the-numbers and with a very moderate pace for a film in which we are supposed to feel like we are under some kind of pressure to avert the end of mankind. We never feel any real urgency and Clarke and Courtney never endear us as Sarah and Reese, so, we really don’t get emotionally invested in their struggle. On the plus side, the action scenes are fun but, the minute they are over, the film slows down and you go back to that emotional void. Schwarzenegger is a lot of fun as the grumpy old terminator and when he is on-screen the film does pick-up. There is also some wonderful recreations and revisions of scenes from the first movie that are a lot of nostalgic fun, but, once we leave the 80s, it becomes just another ho-hum popcorn action movie. It would have been more fun if they had stayed in the 80s and just had a good time playing with our expectations of what we thought we already knew. That was working. Once we are in 2017, it becomes another generic Sci-Fi action flick with humans against a big bad Artificial Intelligence…which we alread got this Summer in Age Of Ultron…and with less confusion.

Cast-wise, Schwarzenegger is obviously having fun and it shows. He plays The Terminator like a grumpy old tin man and it’s fun to watch. He has some fun lines but, nothing as memorable as those he repeats from past films. Emilia Clarke is physically a good match for Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner but, is just very cold in the role. She brings none of the fire and emotion Hamilton gave her Sarah or Clarke’s own Daenerys Targaryen on Game Of Thrones, for that matter. She and Jai Courtney also don’t have nearly the chemistry that Hamilton shared with Michael Biehn. As for Courtney, he is also playing it very by-the-numbers and his Reese seems as confused as we are as to what is going on and doesn’t have the edge of a battle-hardened soldier like Biehn. Jason Clarke has a bit more life as John Connor and his Connor does get to share a lot of screen time due to more time travel nonsense/Skyney hi-jinx. The only other person to liven things up like Arnold, is J.K. Simmons as a cop who witnesses The Terminator in the 80s and then re-enters the picture when our heroes show up in 2017. Too bad the character’s only purpose seems to be some comic relief as he really has no bearing on the plot, other than to give Sarah and Reese a temporary ally when they are arrested. Finally, Lee Byung-hun seems lethal enough as the T-1000 but, doesn’t quite have the relentless intensity of Robert Patrick.

Whether this film is still better than the last two attempts is basically a matter of taste and opinion. In mine it’s better than Salvation but, really not much better than Rise Of The Machines, which I feel is criticized a little too harshly at times. On a positive side it has Arnold having a good time and showing it and some really fun re-creations and re-mixes of classic scenes from the original film. There is some nice action at times but, nothing groundbreaking like in T2. On the downside, the film is directed very by-the-numbers and the script is a borderline mess of time travel hocus pocus used to take things in other but, equally stale directions. The re-cast classic characters have none of the life and intensity that made the originals the beloved characters they are and while the new actors are attractive, they share none of the heat and sexual tension either. Stay after the credits and if you didn’t like this, be prepared to groan in anguish.

-MonsterZero NJ

  2 and 1/2 terminators.

terminator genisys rating

 

 

 

 

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE TERMINATOR and ROBOCOP

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

 double feature_TM_RC

bars

Watching this double feature tonight and thought I would share it with the rest of you!

Terminator1984movieposter

THE TERMINATOR (1984)

One of my favorite all time films. A wonderful example of how talent and imagination can accomplish a lot on a small budget. A tenacious little action film with a cool sci-fi premise. Simple and very effective. This is the film that really pushed Arnold into the spotlight and set director James Cameron on his course.

Terminator tells the story of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a waitress trying to make ends meet, but, unknown to her, she has been targeted for death by a machine sent back from the future to eliminate her. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent by a computer network in 2029 to kill Sarah as she will be mother to John Connor, the man who will rebel against these self aware computers, who have taken over the world of the future, and end their reign before they eliminate mankind. The rebels send back a soldier, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to protect her and Sarah becomes a fugitive on the run as soldier and cyborg battle for the fate of the future in 1984 Los Angeles.

James Cameron’s lean mean fighting machine of a movie is as relentless as The Terminator itself. He crafts a fast paced action classic that never stops moving yet, still tells a good story and builds the characters so we are emotionally invested in them. He gets great work from his cast and brilliant work from his SPFX people who provide some really effective glimpses of an apocalyptic future and the carnage by our title villain in the present. From models to make-up, the film has top notch work on a low budget. The action is simple yet very intense with numerous chases and shoot-outs as the cybernetic assassin will stop at nothing and go through anyone to eliminate his prey.

A bonafide classic that set many careers in motion and started a film franchise that is still going decades later. If I had to make a top ten list of favorite movies, The Terminator would be on it. Also starring Lance Henriksen and Paul Winfield as two cops caught in the middle of the conflict and the first acting role for a young Bill Paxton as a punk who unfortunately crosses The Terminator’s path.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Amusing to know that Arnold was originally pursued to play the hero, Kyle Reese, but convinced Cameron to let him play the title villain instead. Furthermore, OJ Simpson was being considered for the role of The Terminator, but director Cameron felt, ironically, that no one would believe a nice guy like OJ as a cold blooded killer. Co-star Lance Henriksen was also considered in early stages when Cameron wanted a Terminator who could blend into a crowd, but Arnold took over the role and the rest is cinema history.

 

 -MonsterZero NJ

A classic 4 Terminator’s!

terminator rating

 

plus

robocop_1987

bars

ROBOCOP (1987)

Robocop is a bonifide classic, a movie that took me by surprise when I first saw it in 1987 as I thought it was going to be silly fun at best, but turned out to be a well crafted, satirical and delightfully blood-soaked good time with good performances across the board, especially from leading man Peter Weller. It is now one of my all time favorites. The story opens in a future Detroit where crime is rampant and corporations now run the police force, which is sadly being overwhelmed. Omni Consumer Products plans to build a new city, but needs crime put on a leash to insure new occupants. Devious executive Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) plans to use the walking tank, the ED 209 to bring law and order, but when it gruesomely malfunctions, junior executive Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) jumps in with his Robocop project. This plan focuses on using fatally wounded police officers in a Frankenstein-ish process to turn them into cyborg cops to do the job the ED 209 is failing to. Now they only need to wait till an officer is ‘volunteered’ as a subject… which in crime ridden Detroit, shouldn’t take long. Enter good cop and family man Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) who is transferred to Old Detroit (by Morton who sees him as a high risk in the crime ridden area) and on his first day out with partner Lewis (Nancy Allen), is gunned down by ruthless crime lord Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his henchmen. The deceased Murphy is taken and transformed into Robocop, a cyborg law enforcement agent who is sent out to clean up the streets of Old Detroit. But despite having his memory supposedly wiped, Robocop starts to have recollections of his previous life, memories of a wife and child and of the vicious criminals who gunned him down. With the help of Lewis, Robocop tries to regain his lost humanity and take down those responsible for his murder. But there is a conspiracy of high level executive and low life criminals that stands in his way and once he turns his attention towards them, they conspire to make sure the cybernetic police officer and the man buried deep inside him are destroyed once and for all.

With the combination of a sharp and satirical script by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner and the over the top, energetic directing style of Paul Vehoeven, Robocop is a deliriously fun Sci-Fi/action flick with a twisted sense of humor and a giddy use of blood and gore. No more evident then in the film’s gleefully gruesome opening moments when a malfunctioning ED 209 uses it’s massive guns to blast a poor junior executive into mulch during an ill-fated demonstration. There is plenty of fast-paced action as Robocop takes to the streets and then pursues bad guys Boddicker and Jones to bring them down and avenge himself. There is also a healthy dose of social satire woven in between as well, especially aimed at the theatricality and superficiality of the media, as we get to see news clips and commercials of the type that are commonplace in this shallow futuristic world. One can say Murphy’s battle to regain his humanity seems to echo a society where we have lost ours. And what makes this movie so much more then just an action flick, is just how well the social commentary blends in with the story and action. It’s never heavy handed or preachy and is often served with a biting sense of humor, so it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the film. The same could be said about the theme of regaining humanity in a superficial society where excess is the order of the day. Murphy is symbolic of humanity being buried under such excess as he is buried under all the microchips and shiny alloy of his robotic armor. Yet, none of this overshadows that this is also a fast-paced and fun movie about a hero up against insurmountable odds, despite his steel skin and firepower and good fighting to triumph over evil. This is what makes Robocop such a great film, it is on the surface a dynamite popcorn movie, but with a very smart and soulful center. Rarely has a movie with a scathing message and a popcorn flick been blended so well as done here.

And Vehoeven gets great work from a good cast. Weller is perfect in his portrayal of a good cop and a good man who they try to turn into a soulless machine, but instead fights to become an extraordinary human being within his cybernetic shell. Allen is both tough and sweet as Lewis. She makes you believe she can kick your butt and is equally believable in her quest to help the man that is Murphy triumph over his computerized programing. Her joining him in a fight with overwhelming odds also gives her a nice nobility to add to an already likable character. Cox and Smith make a great team of scumbag bad guys with Cox making his Dick Jones the perfect corporate suit dirt-bag and Smith’s Boddicker, a twisted and sick criminal whose not without his charm and an equally twisted sense of humor to go with it. Ferrer is also very effective as an overambitious corporate douche who steps on the wrong toes. Strong heroes and equally strong bad guys are essential to a story like this and the film nails it along with everything else.

The FX are a little dated, but still very effective and add to the film’s nostalgia. We get some great make-up FX, as usual, from FX master Rob (The Thing) Bottin who also designed the Robocop suit and make-up for Weller and even some very charming stop motion model animation to bring the ED 209 to life by another FX legend, Phil Tippett. The FX and production design are unique, yet appear realistic as to how a near future city like Detroit might look and there is a fantastic score by the legendary composer Basil Poledouris to accent the film’s moments and add atmosphere. It is one of his best scores.

Overall, I can’t say enough about one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s recognized as a classic and is exactly that in every sense of the world. I am hard pressed to come up with any criticism about a film which is probably my favorite type of movie alongside Horror, one that is fiercely entertaining on the outside, but has something substantial going on underneath much like Cameron’s Terminator, Miller’s Road Warrior and Carpenter’s Escape From New York. All favorites and all Sci-Fi/action flicks with a solid emotional base and/or some scathing social commentary running beneath the explosions and gunfire. And there is nothing like a little butter for the popcorn. A true classic and one of my all time favorite movies. Also stars Dan (The Last StarfighterHalloween III) O’Herlihy as OCP’s CEO who appears to be a good guy here, but became one of the villains in the really disappointing sequel, Robocop 2.

 -MonsterZero NJ

4 classic Robocops.

robocop 1987 rating

 -MonsterZero NJ

bars

IT CAME FROM ASIAN CINEMA: DRAGON SQUAD (2005)

 MZNJ_ICFA

now playing

dragonsquad_2005

bars

DRAGON SQUAD (2005)

A Hong Kong actioneer with Michael Biehn, Maggie Q and Hong Kong Cinema legends Sammo Hung and Simon Yam that is also produced by Steven Seagal…sounds too good to be true…and sadly, to a degree, it kinda is. The before mentioned stars are not the main focus, only Biehn and Hung have considerable screen time. It’s really a showcase for a bunch of young actors playing a crack Interpol squad out to catch the bad guys. Maggie Q and Biehn are among the villains and Hung is the nurturing veteran cop while Yam is barely on screen as a harried police chief.  But we watch these Hong Kong flicks for action and while there isn’t as much as we’d like, the action there is can be quite bloody, in fact, unnecessarily so at times, but the Hong Kong cimema has always had a tendency for overindulgence and that’s kinda why we like it.

This action thriller is also slowed down by too much over-stylized camera tricks. Director/co-writer (with Lau Ho-Leung) Daniel Lee went to film school and wants everyone to know it. All the distracting camera work hinders the action at times and slows down the drama. Too many grainy black and white flashbacks or jittery hand held camera shots. It really slows down the pace. Scenes seem to take twice as long as they should. And the script likes to stop the story dead at times to focus on sub plots, like Biehn’s relationship with a gangster’s girlfriend (Li Bingbing). It’s important to the plot, but still seriously slows down a film that cries out for a quicker pace. Veterans like John Woo and Tsui Hark knew how to balance the drama and the action perfectly. Lee could take a few tips from those masters. Not to say this tale of Interpol cops vs. a squad of tough as nails bad guys doesn’t have entertainment value, it does, as it tries to be something in the vein of Michael Mann’s Heat. Lee does still succeed in pulling off a couple of strong shoot-out sequences (ex: an alley shoot out about 2/3 through) despite his over-stylizing everything and I dug the blood-soaked final showdown. As usual with Hong Kong flicks, there is some beautiful cinematography, this time by Tony Cheung.

In the end, it still falls very short of some of the more classic Hong Kong action flicks like Hard Boiled or Infernal Affairs. Not great, but there are worse ways to spend an evening and certainly worth a look if you are a Hong Kong Action Cinema nut like me…and the cast is worth watching it for alone, even if it’s far from perfect.

2 and 1/2 bullets.

last_stand rating

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE TERMINATOR and THE HIDDEN!

MZNJ_SNDFnow playing

term_hid double feature

bars

Terminator1984movieposter

THE TERMINATOR (1984)

One of my favorite all time films. A wonderful example of how talent and imagination can accomplish a lot on a small budget. A tenacious little action film with a cool sci-fi premise. Simple and very effective. This is the film that really pushed Arnold into the spotlight and set director James Cameron on his course.

Terminator tells the story of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a waitress trying to make ends meet, but, unknown to her, she has been targeted for death by a machine sent back from the future to eliminate her. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent by a computer network in 2029 to kill Sarah as she will be mother to John Connor, the man who will rebel against these self aware computers, who have taken over the world of the future, and end their reign before they eliminate mankind. The rebels send back a soldier, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to protect her and Sarah becomes a fugitive on the run as soldier and cyborg battle for the fate of the future in 1984 Los Angeles.

James Cameron’s lean mean fighting machine of a movie is as relentless as The Terminator itself. He crafts a fast paced action classic that never stops moving yet, still tells a good story and builds the characters so we are emotionally invested in them. He gets great work from his cast and brilliant work from his SPFX people who provide some really effective glimpses of an apocalyptic future and the carnage by our title villain in the present. From models to make-up, the film has top notch work on a low budget. The action is simple yet very intense with numerous chases and shoot-outs as the cybernetic assassin will stop at nothing and go through anyone to eliminate his prey.

A bonafide classic that set many careers in motion and started a film franchise that is still going decades later. If I had to make a top ten list of favorite movies, The Terminator would be on it. Also starring Lance Henriksen and Paul Winfield as two cops caught in the middle of the conflict and the first acting role for a young Bill Paxton as a punk who unfortunately crosses The Terminator’s path.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Amusing to know that Arnold was originally pursued to play the hero, Kyle Reese, but convinced Cameron to let him play the title villain instead. Furthermore, OJ Simpson was being considered for the role of The Terminator, but director Cameron felt, ironically, that no one would believe a nice guy like OJ as a cold blooded killer. Co-star Lance Henriksen was also considered in early stages when Cameron wanted a Terminator who could blend into a crowd, but Arnold took over the role and the rest is cinema history.

A classic 4 Terminator’s!

terminator rating

plus

Hiddenposter1987

THE HIDDEN (1987)

Another of my favorite 80s guilty pleasures, The Hidden is basically The Thing, Lethal Weapon and The Terminator all rolled into one, as a body stealing extraterrestrial criminal is pursued on earth by an alien lawman and an earth cop with most of L.A. caught in the crossfire. Michael Nouri exudes tough guy charm as hard-nose cop Tom Beck who is teamed on a bizarre crime spree case with strange federal agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan). Soon Beck finds that there may be something unearthly going on and his “partner” may not be what he seems either.

Hidden is a fun sci-fi action thriller that is well directed and furiously paced by Jack Shoulder. Shoulder keeps Jim Kouf’s clever script moving fast and keeps the audience’s attention with plenty of blood, bullets and chase scenes. But Shoulder doesn’t move things too quickly that we don’t get to know our lead characters and a little about what makes them tick. While we rarely see the alien creature, the FX depicting it are good as is the carnage it leaves behind. The action scenes and stunt work are all top notch as well, for such a modest production and there is plenty of action to be had.

The cast are all good in their roles including supporting players Clu Gulager, Ed O’Ross and Richard Brooks as Beck’s fellow officers. Leads Nouri and MacLachlan make a good team and work well off each other and it’s fun to watch Nouri’s Beck try to figure out his weird Fed partner then start to warm up to him even after finding out he’s not from around here.

The Hidden is a mash-up of genres and movies that would have made Roger Corman proud had it been one of his productions and it does play much like one of Corman’s flicks. The film still holds up today as a fun Terminator style action flick and the added 80s nostalgia doesn’t hurt it either. Definitely a film to be enjoyed with a few beers and a few friends.

3 and 1/2 homicidal hookers

hidden rating

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BEREAVEMENT (2011)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

Bereavement-poster2

bars

BEREAVEMENT (2010)

This is a pull no punches horror about a young boy, Martin Bristol (Spencer List) kidnaped by serial killer, Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) and forced to witness the atrocities he commits on innocent women. Worse yet, Sutter needs an heir apparent to his gruesome deeds and has chosen Martin to learn his trade. The film also follows a parallel story involving a teenage girl, Allison (Alexandra Daddario), who recently lost her parents and whose path is obviously destined to collide with the ordeal of young Martin…and to say anymore would spoil an intense chiller with a truly shocking and blood soaked final act.

Writer/director Stevan Mena showed a lot of potential with his first film  Malevolence and with his follow-up, Bereavement, he shows he is living up to it big time. While a prequel to his first film, Bereavement is crafted so you don’t need to have seen Malevolence, but if you have, there are a lot of little touches and nods you’ll recognize…especially in the post credits sequence. Mena’s involving such a young child in all the violence is daring and horrifying at the same time and we share in the horror as young Martin Bristol is made to participate in his disturbed mentor’s acts. It’s even more horrifying since he is basically a good kid forced into this and not some “bad seed” which we’ve seen before. Stevan Mena keeps a feeling of dread throughout, delivers some taunt suspense and doesn’t bludgeon us with shocking moments, so when they do come, they have the intended effect. The camera work evokes John Carpenter at times, as Mena knows how to frame a shot and achieve far more with it than just making it look good. As filmed by Marco Cappeta, the film looks beautiful at times, despite the grim subject matter. Also much like Carpenter, Mena also composed the atmospheric score and edited this highly effective chiller. The gore effects are live and well executed and the lack of CGI is quite refreshing.

The cast, including genre vet Michael Biehn, performs well with Daddario making a feisty and resourceful heroine and young Spencer List effectively handling the role of Martin. Rickaby is effectively creepy as Graham Sutter, yet gives him a subtle sadness that makes him slightly more tragic than the usual serial killer portrayal. John Richard Ingram returns as Officer Riley from Malevolence and veteran actor John Savage has a small role as Ted, the father of Allison’s romantic interest William (Nolan Gerard Funk).

A delightfully down to basics and highly recommended horror film. One of my favorites of 2011… Bereavement was made in 2010 and played at film festivals till it got a proper release in early 2011. Remember to watch through the credits, especially if you saw Malevolence.

A solid 3 and 1/2 busty imperiled heroines

heroines