BARE BONES: NOBODY (2021)

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NOBODY (2021)

Suburban husband and father Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) lives a typical mundane life, till one night two thieves break into his home. Hutch fails to take advantage, when he has an opportunity to foil the thieves, and his manhood comes under question from some of those around him, including his disappointed son (Gage Munroe). Feeling angry about the criticism, a smoldering Hutch goes out one night to find the thieves. Things don’t go as planned and his evening climaxes with a violent outburst against a bunch of drunken thugs on a bus. One of those thugs turns out to be the brother of Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), who sets out to find the one responsible for putting his little brother in a coma. But Hutch has a past that make Kuznetsov’s efforts at revenge a lot harder than the Russian gangster anticipates.

Film is directed by Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) from a script by Derek Kolstad (the John Wick franchise). Despite what could have been a fun premise-a simple suburban dad, so enraged over his questioned masculinity, that he violently takes on a dangerous Russian mobster-making Hutch a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ simply turns this into another routine action flick. Giving Hutch a secret past, making him equally dangerous, ruins the chance to take an amusing concept and run with it. It becomes yet another cookie cutter revenge flick; a B or C level John Wick…and those flicks are far better. On the plus side, Bob Odenkirk is convincing as both an angry and embarrassed suburban dad, and a dangerous man unleashed, though Serebryakov is a very routine villain. There are some good action/fight scenes and it does get quite violent, but it would have been simply far more amusing to see some milquetoast suburbanite go ballistic instead of a man with hidden skills and deadly training. Not a bad action flick for a night on the couch, but not nearly as fun or special as it could have been. Also stars Michael Ironside, Connie Nielsen, RZA and Christopher Lloyd as Hutch’s retired FBI agent dad.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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5 DIRECTORS BRINGING NEW BLOOD TO HORROR!

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5 DIRECTORS BRINGING NEW BLOOD TO HORROR!

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

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

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Adam MacDonald

 

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

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

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Stevan Mena

 

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

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

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Colin Minihan

 

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

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

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Anthony Diblasi

 

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

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

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Oz Perkins

 

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

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

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

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

-MonsterZero NJ

 

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REVIEW: TURBO KID (2015)

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TURBO KID (2015)

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

Turbo Kid is a delightfully fun homage to the low budget, post-apocalyptic flicks that were abundant in the 80s after the success of The Road Warrior. The film is set, a la a film from the 80s, in 1997 where the world has been turned into a wasteland and now people must struggle everyday to survive. Lone teen ‘The Kid’ (Munro Chambers) is a scavenger who, when not trading junk for water or food, is dreaming of being a superhero like in the Turbo Rider comics he’s found. Soon he may get his wish, as his pretty new friend Apple (Laurence Leboeuf) is taken by ruthless warlord Zeus (Michael Ironside) and Kid sets off to rescue her. With the discovery of some familiar looking battle armor on the way, a superhero may just have been born in the wasteland…Turbo Kid!

Fun homage is written and directed by François Simard with Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell and shows these three know their source material well. The film is given the same cheap looking sets and costumes to match the films it pays tribute to, including the old-fashioned looking animation effects and a cast of eccentric and colorful characters. The film also hilariously showers the screen with blood and body parts to the point of blasting right past disgust and straight to chuckles and grins. It’s quite giddy in it’s gore. It has a good time with it’s comic book style violence, as it does with spoofing all the tropes of the post-apocalyptic sub-genre. It doesn’t make a joke out of it, but plays it straight and lets the fun come out of the nostalgia and the over-the-top proceedings in it’s purposely bargain basement setting. We get comic book style characters that use everything at hand as a weapon…the gnome stick being a favorite…robots, mechanical limbs and the fight to control a natural resource, which is water here. Add to that a wonderfully 80s electronic score by Jean-Philippe Bernier, who also did the cinematography and Jean-Nicolas Leupi. It’s a playful reminder of a cheesy sub-genre that also succeeds as being it’s own midnight movie with it’s own identity.

The cast are good and know to play their over-the-top parts straight, but with a wink. Munro Chambers makes a charming and very likable hero as Kid. He’s a noble young man who knows how to survive and bravely steps up to fight the bad guys. Laurence Leboeuf is enchanting as the girl, Apple (a homage to Cannon Picture’s awful futuristic 80s musical, perhaps?), who comes out of nowhere to steal Kid’s heart. She’s feisty, spirited and charmingly eccentric…and has a very interesting secret that Kid soon finds out. Ironside does what he does best and chews the scenery appropriately as the tyrannical, one-eyed villain Zeus. Having been a quintessential 80s bad guy, he is perfect in the part and pays homage to some of his own roles. Also stars Aaron Jeffery as Frederic, an arm-wrestling cowboy who align’s himself with Turbo Kid to take on Zeus.

Turbo Kid is a really fun and nostalgic good time. It pays homage to a sub-genre that was inspired by a classic and was proliferated by low budget film studios such as Cannon Pictures and Charles Band’s Empire. Even more-so, the Italian film studios made dozens of them during the 80s along with a batch of Escape From New York clones. The filmmakers have giddily decided not to pay tribute to The Road Warrior itself, but the cheesy rip-offs it inspired…and the film is all the more fun for it. Would make a great double feature with the recent and equally fun Road Warrior/Dawn Of The Dead mash-up Wyrmwood.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 VHS cover style Turbo Kids.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

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EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 (out of 4)… well…you know.

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REVIEW: 88 (2014)

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88 (2014)

Canadian thriller opens with a young woman named Gwen (Katharine Isabelle) suddenly finding herself in a diner and having no recollection of how she got there. There is also a gun in her bag and an unfortunate set of circumstances find a waitress shot and Gwen being pursued by the police. Now the young woman is on the run trying to remember who she is, how she got in this mess and why the number 88 is apparently very important to her. With some sporadic memories returning to her, the young woman realizes that her past…and future… involve murder, death and a quest for revenge.

I liked this crime thriller well enough. All the flashing back and forth in time does get a bit tiring after the first hour and sometimes it’s a bit too over-stylized for it’s own good but, overall it is still fairly entertaining. The story by Tim Doiron is nothing new. We have seen thrillers involving memory loss before and certainly, in the age of Tarantino, have seen many a quirky, stylish tale of unsavory types and abundant bullets and bloodshed. But, director April Mullen does a decent enough job of keeping things moving and keeping us guessing as Gwen tries to piece her head back together and figure-out why she is heavily armed and missing a pinky finger. Again, nothing trend-setting and nothing we haven’t sat through before but, it is involving enough, though, I did guess where it was heading long before we get there. The biggest reason to watch is to see star Isabelle in a strong turn as Gwen. She does a nice job conveying the current confusion of her character, as well as, the different personas she takes on, as we flash back and forth to the different points in time that lead her to where she is now. Isabelle is a sexy leading lady and she can be confused victim and vicious killer from one scene to the next and it really makes this far more worth watching than it might be otherwise. It was also cool to see Christopher Lloyd in a strong role, once again, as a crime boss name Cyrus who figures heavily in Gwen’s fate and Michael Ironside as a cop on Gwen’s bloody trail. Nice to see veterans like this playing something other than goofy old men.

In conclusion, this is not a great movie. “Hip” crime thrillers like this are a dime a dozen these days, but, a strong performance by it’s leading lady and some stylish direction make it watchable and enjoyable enough. It isn’t very original and it isn’t overly memorable, but, it is intriguing enough to keep one involved. We get strong parts for veterans like Christopher Lloyd and Michael Ironside and there are enough bullets and blood to keep one from getting too worn out by all the jumping back and forth in time. A decent, if unremarkable flick.

2 and 1/2 gum-ball machines.

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