MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS ABOUT HORROR FLICKS!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS ABOUT HORROR FLICKS!

As horror fans, we obviously all love horror movies! And sometimes the horror movies we watch are even about a horror movie, is a movie within a movie, or about the making of one. So, here are twelve horror flicks…and they are not all classics…that are about horror flicks!

(To get to the reviews of the titles below that were covered here at the Movie Madhouse, just type the title in the search engine to find the corresponding critique!)

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-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ANDROID (1982)

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ANDROID (1982)

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

This 1982 Roger Corman production tells the story of android Max 404 (Don Opper, who co-wrote with James and Will Reigle). Max’s advanced programing causes him to form human emotions, but not the capability to completely control them. His creator, Dr. Daniels (Klaus Kinski) becomes wary of this and plans to destroy Max once his more advanced replacement, Cassandra (Kendra Kirchner) is activated. When three fugitives, including a woman (Norbert Weisser, Crofton Hardester and Brie Howard) come aboard their isolated space station, it gives Dr, Daniels a female test subject to finish Cassandra and Max an infatuation that may send he and his newfound emotions over the edge…dangerously over the edge.

Android is an entertaining diversion from the typical Corman fair, there is violence and nudity, but it is with restraint and serves the story and not for the usual exploitation purposes. Director Aaron Lipstadt directs this sci-fi Frankenstein tale with a far more sensitive hand then most Corman flicks and gives us a character story driven more by emotion than action. We feel for Max as he tries to cope with his emotions and root for him even when they drive him to do morally questionable things. And since Max is surrounded by people of questionable morals, we don’t totally blame him for his responses to the situations that Dr. Daniels and the fugitives provoke. The low budget production is made with the usual Corman thriftiness, but looks good enough to support it’s story and the FX aren’t bad. There is also a cool and very 80s electronic score by Don Preston to support the atmosphere director Lipstatdt gives the film.

Director Lipstadt gets good performances from his cast, especially Opper who portrays Max’s naivety and confusion very well and Kinski who makes a perfectly slimy and obsessed scientist. Also, Norbert Weisser’s Keller is a somewhat sympathetic bad guy while Hardester’s Mendez is a cliché bully/douchebag. And as for the ladies, Brie Howard is tough and yet sweet as Maggie and Kirchner does fine as the Bride Of Frankenstein-ish Cassandra, who turns out to be more then anyone bargined for.

Android is an interesting attempt by Corman and Co. at a sci-fi flick with a bit more substance and succeeds far more than it fails. It may be a bit slow paced and somber, but at a tight 80 minutes it’s never boring and does entertain us just fine, as well as, tell it’s story. The film was released as a midnight show in art houses to emphasize that this was something a bit more unique than New World normally produced and I had the pleasure of seeing it at such a show at NYC’s Waverly theater in Greenwich Village when it opened in 1982.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Max 404s.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BABY BLOOD (1990)

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BABY BLOOD (1990)

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

This blood-drenched French horror is one of those flicks that, when it’s over, you just stare at the ending credits, only occasionally blinking, trying to decide what the hell you just saw…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Oddball flick tells the story of a parasite-like creature that has been around from the beginning of time, waiting for a chance to find a human female host and be born into a more substantial form. We know this because the creature narrates the opening scene telling us as much. It finds it’s away through an animal host to voluptuous but abused circus performer Bianca (Emmanuelle Escourrou) and climbs inside her to gestate. The creature needs human blood to grow, however and takes control of the young woman, sending her out into the world…well, France…to find and slaughter victims for their blood…and a slaughtering the reluctant Bianca does go.

Directed by Alain Robak and co-written by he and Serge Cukier, this is a loopy horror that is delightfully over-the-top with it’s gore and quite generous with nudity from the buxom Miss Escourrou. The film can be disturbingly gruesome one moment, as Bianca is beheading a victim brutally and amusingly goofy the next, as she has outright discussions/arguments with her parasitic guest…who, obviously, talks. It’s actually kinda entertaining in it’s audacity to be presenting all this very seriously as we witness a young woman turned into a savage murderess while having intense discussions with the larva-like creature that has taken over her body. It’s like a disturbing Odd Couple with Manic level gore scenes. Robak is so confident with his creation that he even has the audacity to have a poster for Blood Baby 2 appear in one of the scenes as if you could possibly follow something like this up with a sequel…which actually did happen 18 years later, so what do I know. This is definitely midnight movie material and what makes it as unnerving as it is unintentionally funny, is that the gore is really well-rendered and some of the kills are downright brutal. The last act is worth the watch alone for it’s blood-soaked birth in the back of an ambulance and the newly born creature’s attack on a bus filled with horny soccer players…yup, you read that right. It’s quite a hoot.

Basically, this is a one woman show and Emmanuelle Escourrou is quite the trooper in terms of what she is asked to perform. Bianca…as she is referred to in the subtitles, though the credits list her as “Yanka”…gets drenched in blood quite often, and sometimes while wearing little or no clothes. Escourrou handles the carnage…and prolonged nudity…quite well, just as she plays her conversations with the parasitic tenant in her womb with equal seriousness. The actress makes an impression considering just how ridiculous it all is and how seriously she takes her part.

I had a fun time with this bizarre French horror. From it’s creature talking from the womb, to the frequent scenes that erupt into blood baths, this is an entertaining midnight movie that has the balls to take itself very seriously. It’s a ‘so bad it’s good’ fun time and definitely a treat for those who like gore films, foreign horror and cult classics. Worth a look for those who like a little lunacy with their entrails. Spawned a sequel almost 20 years later titled Lady Blood that returned Emmanuelle Escourrou to her role.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Biancas…or Yankas depending on subtitles or credits.

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BARE BONES: APRIL APOCALYPSE, DRACULA UNTOLD and PARANORMAL DIARIES: CLOPHILL (2013)

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APRIL APOCALYPSE (2013)

I try to champion the indie filmmaker whenever possible but found very little to like about this incredibly derivative little movie. In a plot we’ve seen countless times, a dork (a bland Reece Thompson who also produced) falls in love with the hot girl next door (Rebekah Brandes from Midnight Movie) but, is too afraid to let her know how he feels. A horrific event…in this case a zombie outbreak…gives him the opportunity to find the courage to find and rescue her and be a hero. The film is just so familiar and is trying way too hard to emulate so many better movies, it’s annoying…and not to mention a bit smug. It’s like the makers saw Zombieland one too many times, as that’s the film it blatantly copies in it’s style most of the time. I wouldn’t mind the familiarity, though, if it was done inventively or in a refreshing way but, it’s not. And even at barely over 80 minutes the film stops dead…pun intended… for long dialogue scenes that go nowhere and don’t further the story. As directed by Jarret Tarnol and written by Brent Tarnol (who also stars as the stereotypical stoner Stevenson) this flick is sadly a chore to sit through, even though well under 90 minutes. At least Brandes is cute to watch as April. A disappointing effort that somehow got Aliens’ Mark Rolston and comedian George Lopez involved in small roles.

2 star rating

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DRACULA UNTOLD (2014)

It’s not that Dracula Untold is a badly made movie, it’s just that it’s a ridiculous one. Director Gary Shore movies things along well enough and the film looks good but, the story by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless is just plain silly. Tale takes the true-life character of Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) and thus the fictional vampire that is based on him and turns him into a superhero. Vlad’s kingdom is threated by the Turks who demand a thousand of his people’s children, including his own son. He seeks help from an old vampire (Charles Dance) living in a mountain cave to bestow him with his power so, he can save his people. He has three days with this power but, if he gives in to the blood thirst, he will remain a vampire forever. Vlad then goes up against thousands of soldiers like a gothic X-Man with the powers of bat control. It’s ridiculous. It takes one of literature and film’s greatest villains and turns him into Batman…literally. As an action movie it passes the time but, as a telling of the story of Dracula, it’s a silly movie that sadly had an interesting concept at it’s core with it’s origin of the legendary count.

2 star rating

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PARANORMAL DIARIES: CLOPHILL (2013)

On one hand, Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett’s found footage film is inventive in using a real life location  suspected of occult and paranormal activity, the ruins of St. Mary’s Church in Clophill, England and real interviews from witnesses. On the other hand though, they forget to make the film the least bit scary. The flick comes across as some random episode of some random ghost hunting show and as in those shows, very little actually happens amidst all the talk and conjecture. The film is only 88 minutes long and it isn’t until the 1 hr 17 min mark that something that could be considered even remotely scary happens. Seriously! Then the film climaxes ominously and quite open for a sequel. It’s a long-winded build-up with no real pay-off. Technically an 80 minute wait for the last 8 minutes which seems to only exist to set-up another movie to come. For the most part, an interesting idea squandered on a boring movie. Too bad. The mix of real-life history and paranormal thriller could have been fun if the makers knew what to do with it.

2 star rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE HILLS RUN RED and MIDNIGHT MOVIE

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I know I’ve covered both these movies before, but they are two really good slasher flicks whose plots both involve a movie within a movie, where a celluloid horror becomes all too real for it’s characters. A fun double feature for a Halloween season Saturday night and two cool horror movies about horror movies!

 

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THE HILLS RUN RED  (2009)

A good, solid horror flick, Hills is the story of young filmmaker, Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrink) who is obsessed with looking for a lost 80’s slasher flick, The Hills Run Red, by seeking out it’s equally lost director, Wilson Wyler Concannon. The film is notorious for having been banned for being too violent and it is rumored that all the prints were destroyed, except for the director’s own original copy…and he disappeared after all the controversy. Tyler locates the director’s drug addict daughter, Alexa (Sophie Monk) and convinces her to lead him to the backwoods town where the notorious flick was filmed and Concannon was last known to be. Needless to say, he and his friends, Serina (Janet Montgomery) and Lalo (Alex Wyndham) wind up not liking what they find when they get there and start investigating into something that maybe should remain lost.

Director Dave Parker does nicely combining atmosphere, tension and gore into a deviant-ly fun little horror flick from the pens of David J. Schow and John Carchietta. He also creates a memorable and quite vicious villain in Babyface, the Jason-like serial killer from Concannon’s film, that is a bit too based on real events for our young leads’ liking. Add to that, a good cast including a creepy William Sadler as Concannon and the hot Sophie Monk as his daughter, helps bring this wicked little movie to life.

Sick, twisted and very gory tale, not only pays homage to these types of 80s slasher movies, but is one…and a very nasty one, at that. Small but very effective horror deserves far more attention then it got when released straight to DVD. Make sure you watch into the credits for an extra chilling scene.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

3 babyface killers

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MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008)

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

Midnight Movie is one of those pleasant surprises that I rented on a whim and found myself being quite entertained by. Sure we’ve seen a lot of the elements before, but it is a homage of sorts and director/co-writer Jack Messitt uses those familiar conventions very well in his movie within a movie slasher tale.

The story opens with director and star Ted Raford (Arthur Roberts) of the 40 year-old horror flick The Dark Beneath in a mental institution with his doctor about to show him his black and white slasher flick as part of his therapy. It obviously doesn’t end well and there is a resulting blood bath and Radford disappears leaving strange symbols on the floor written in his own blood. Five years later, a movie theater is screening a midnight showing of The Dark Beneath with a small audience and theater staff present in the theater. Theater manager Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) leaves her post to watch the movie with boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour) while trying to keep her little brother Timmy (Justin Baric) from sneaking in. Unknown to the small audience is that among them is Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), the only survivor of the hospital massacre and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell) who investigated the case and feels if Radford is going to resurface, this showing may be where. And the detective couldn’t be more right… for as soon the film starts to unspool, the line between movie and reality are blurred as theater patrons and employees alike appear on the screen to become victims of Radford’s corkscrew bladed killer and the serial murderer uses some dark power to move between movie and movie theater to hunt down his victims and bring them into his movie world. Can any of them escape alive?

Co-written with Mark Garbett… from a story by Sean Hood… Jack Messitt crafts a really fun slasher homage that makes good use of the movie within a movie format and provides some fun chills and graphic gore of it’s own. We get a killer who can enter our world from the movie and bring his victim’s back in, right before our and the movie audience’s eyes. The characters band together to try to escape the killer, who seals the theater and, in true stalker fashion, hunts them down one by one with his corkscrew shaped blade. We get some likable characters, especially Brandes’ plucky heroine Bridget, and a very effective killer with quite a vicious lust for blood. Messitt also gives us a third act that takes place inside the movie with our survivors trying to find their way out and it works very well as both horror and homage. The film has a very 70s/80s horror feel, which I obviously enjoyed. There are some flaws. Radford’s film is 40 years old which would place it being made in the late 60s, years before the modern slasher era started and so, it’s Chainsaw Massacre– ish vibe doesn’t make sense for the time period… although if you don’t see the film taking place when it was made in 2008, but now in the present, it brings Radford’s film to the late 70s which is a better time frame. There is a lack of explanation as to Radford’s apparent dark magic, but it is obvious there is more to this director/actor than just his film work, so we go along with it. Messitt does gives us some chills and suspense and so we suspend our disbelief as we are having a good time. The gore is well done and plentiful and despite being a lengthy shutdown in the film’s production as per the extras, the sequences filmed by two different DOPs blend seamlessly. I also loved the movie theater setting, as such small local theaters are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and Messitt seems to share my affection for them.

The cast are fine and we get some likable and not so likable characters to root for. Rebekah Brandes makes a feisty heroine whose past pain fuels her will to survive and keep her friends and little brother alive. I liked that her character had a little depth. Daniel Bonjour is solid as Josh, Rebekah’s boyfriend. Young Justin Baric avoids being annoying as the little brother who sneaks in to see the show and Stan Ellsworth stands out as a big jerk of a biker who has a heroic side hidden behind the Sons Of Anarchy swagger. Lee Main does a good job behind the skull mask as the killer and creates an imposing figure, as well. The rest play fairly typical horror movie roles and do a fine job and their characters avoid being total clichés, but are familiar enough to work with the homage theme.

Overall, this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was a fun movie within a movie slasher/homage and worked as a slasher itself beyond being a tribute to those types of horror. The production looks good and the gore is plentiful and well orchestrated and director Jack Messitt delivers some legitimate thrills and chills while showing some love to the 70s and 80s slasher genre. He doesn’t have a bad visual style either. Fun horror that works as both horror and homage. While Messitt currently does a lot of camerawork for TV, would love to see him tackle another horror flick. A bloody good time!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 creepy killers.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008)

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MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008)

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

Midnight Movie is one of those pleasant surprises that I rented on a whim and found myself being quite entertained by. Sure we’ve seen a lot of the elements before, but it is a homage of sorts and director/co-writer Jack Messitt uses those familiar conventions very well in his movie within a movie slasher tale.

The story opens with director and star Ted Raford (Arthur Roberts) of the 40 year-old horror flick The Dark Beneath in a mental institution with his doctor about to show him his black and white slasher flick as part of his therapy. It obviously doesn’t end well and there is a resulting blood bath and Radford disappears leaving strange symbols on the floor written in his own blood. Five years later, a movie theater is screening a midnight showing of The Dark Beneath with a small audience and theater staff present in the theater. Theater manager Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) leaves her post to watch the movie with boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour) while trying to keep her little brother Timmy (Justin Baric) from sneaking in. Unknown to the small audience is that among them is Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), the only survivor of the hospital massacre and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell) who investigated the case and feels if Radford is going to resurface, this showing may be where. And the detective couldn’t be more right… for as soon the film starts to unspool, the line between movie and reality are blurred as theater patrons and employees alike appear on the screen to become victims of Radford’s corkscrew bladed killer and the serial murderer uses some dark power to move between movie and movie theater to hunt down his victims and bring them into his movie world. Can any of them escape alive?

Co-written with Mark Garbett… from a story by Sean Hood… Jack Messitt crafts a really fun slasher homage that makes good use of the movie within a movie format and provides some fun chills and graphic gore of it’s own. We get a killer who can enter our world from the movie and bring his victim’s back in, right before our and the movie audience’s eyes. The characters band together to try to escape the killer, who seals the theater and, in true stalker fashion, hunts them down one by one with his corkscrew shaped blade. We get some likable characters, especially Brandes’ plucky heroine Bridget, and a very effective killer with quite a vicious lust for blood. Messitt also gives us a third act that takes place inside the movie with our survivors trying to find their way out and it works very well as both horror and homage. The film has a very 70s/80s horror feel, which I obviously enjoyed. There are some flaws. Radford’s film is 40 years old which would place it being made in the late 60s, years before the modern slasher era started and so, it’s Chainsaw Massacre– ish vibe doesn’t make sense for the time period… although if you don’t see the film taking place when it was made in 2008, but now in the present, it brings Radford’s film to the late 70s which is a better time frame. There is a lack of explanation as to Radford’s apparent dark magic, but it is obvious there is more to this director/actor than just his film work, so we go along with it. Messitt does gives us some chills and suspense and so we suspend our disbelief as we are having a good time. The gore is well done and plentiful and despite being a lengthy shutdown in the film’s production as per the extras, the sequences filmed by two different DOPs blend seamlessly. I also loved the movie theater setting, as such small local theaters are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and Messitt seems to share my affection for them.

The cast are fine and we get some likable and not so likable characters to root for. Rebekah Brandes makes a feisty heroine whose past pain fuels her will to survive and keep her friends and little brother alive. I liked that her character had a little depth. Daniel Bonjour is solid as Josh, Rebekah’s boyfriend. Young Justin Baric avoids being annoying as the little brother who sneaks in to see the show and Stan Ellsworth stands out as a big jerk of a biker who has a heroic side hidden behind the Sons Of Anarchy swagger. Lee Main does a good job behind the skull mask as the killer and creates an imposing figure, as well. The rest play fairly typical horror movie roles and do a fine job and their characters avoid being total clichés, but are familiar enough to work with the homage theme.

Overall, this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was a fun movie within a movie slasher/homage and worked as a slasher itself beyond being a tribute to those types of horror. The production looks good and the gore is plentiful and well orchestrated and director Jack Messitt delivers some legitimate thrills and chills while showing some love to the 70s and 80s slasher genre. He doesn’t have a bad visual style either. Fun horror that works as both horror and homage. While Messitt currently does a lot of camerawork for TV, would love to see him tackle another horror flick. A bloody good time!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 creepy killers.

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