BARE BONES: DON’T KILL IT and DARK FOREST

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

DON’T KILL IT (2016)

Horror/comedy follows the exploits of demon hunter Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren) as he hunts a nasty body hopping demon in a small town. The demon’s murderous activities attracts the attention of the FBI and now Woodley is forced to team with sexy FBI agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe from RZ’s Halloween and Tales Of Halloween) to hunt it down…if he can convince her it really exists and he’s not crazy.

Goofy, fun and delightfully over-the-top gory, flick is directed in Sharknado style by Mike Mendez from a script by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Sure it’s silly and never scary for a minute, but the cast seem to be having a good time and Mendez brings his energetic and humor filled style to the proceedings such as he did with Gravedancers and Big Ass Spider. Mendez can take the most ridiculous of premises and just run with it and this flick is no different. Lundgren plays it straight, as does Klebe who proves once again she can pull double duty as leading lady and action hero. Goofy, harmless and blood-spattered fun.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

DARK FOREST (2015)

Slasher homage finds four gal pals, Emily (Laurel McArthur), Michelle (Veronica Ternopolski), Francine (Jalin Desloges) and Jolene (Weronika Sokalska) all heading into the woods for a girls camping trip. Unknown to them, they are being followed by Peter (Dennis Scullard), Emily’s psychotic boyfriend who wants revenge for being defied and embarrassed by the four party girls. As our unsuspecting hotties enjoy their trip, Peter cuts a bloody path of pursuit into the woods leaving a trail of bodies behind him.

Flick written and directed in 80s slasher style by Roger Boyer may be a bit amateurish at times, but has it’s bloody heart in the right place. Boyer may not conjure any real scares, but the film does have a strong 80s slasher vibe, including 80s style soundtrack and gives us some abundant gore and an equally abundant cast of hotties, much like the horrors of that era did. Our four leading ladies are actually quite fine in their roles and are very likable characters to root/fear for while Scullard does make a creepy killer. Boyer’s slasher may be short on story, but at 75 minutes, the flick is kept short and sweet and doesn’t wear out it’s welcome. Sure there are some editing weaknesses and the film looks very low budget, but these are things a filmmaker can overcome with experience and low budget horror is where the heart and soul of the genre resides anyway. A nice effort that pays respectful tribute to it’s influences.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars
Advertisements

COOL STUFF: TALES OF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY!

MZNJ_cool_stuff

now playing

tales-halloween-blu-ray

TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015) Blu-Ray

Tales Of Halloween is a spooky fun 2015 Halloween anthology flick that has grown on me quite a lot since my initial review (see full review here) and has finally arrived on blu-ray a year later. This multi-story horror has been released by Epic pictures in a four disc special edition that is available from their website store, HERE.

As for the feature film itself, there is both a blu-ray and DVD version. As for the technical aspects of the blu-ray feature disc…

The picture is gorgeous, the colors vibrant and really represents well the visual styles of all the directors and their cinematographers on the ten tales told here. The disc is presented in the original 2.39.1 widescreen aspect ratio, preserving the film’s intended dimensions. The sound is in 5.1 surround sound with alternate 2.0 and basic stereo tracks for those without home theater sound systems. The menus are simple and easy to navigate. A nice presentation to enjoy this holiday horror!

Now on to the extensive extras which make this 4-disc set even more appealing!…

The extras start out with a production diary covering the 23 days of shooting that comes complete with interviews with cast and crew and some fun behind the scenes footage. In the bonus features, we get a behind the scenes reel…which does repeat a lot of what we saw in the production diaries…and an examination of the filming of one of the scenes from Mike Mendez’s gruesomely comic Friday The 31st, complete with storyboards. We also get a deleted scene from one of the best stories, Grim Grinning Ghost and are treated to replays of the segments Sweet Tooth, Trick, Ding Dong and This Means War all with additional bonus commentary, aside from the commentary track that accompanies the movie on the feature film discs. We also get eight short films from a few of the filmmakers involved, some of which are definitely worth checking out. There are also storyboards, a photo gallery, trailers and some pop-up video commentary that can be activated on certain stories on the feature blu-ray. A nice selection of extras.

The fourth and final disc is a CD featuring the film’s soundtrack which includes all the music from the segments and wraparound by artists like Lalo Schifrin, Christopher Drake, Joseph Bishara and more.

All of the discs are region free and can be played anywhere and the set also comes with two trading cards, too!

I really have come to appreciate and enjoy this flick beyond what my initial review reflects. It is now part of my traditional Halloween viewing, as it is loaded with Halloween spirit and imagery and I would love to see a follow-up with yet more filmmakers creating Halloween tales as in this film. If you liked this movie and have become endeared to it like I have, this 4-disc set is a must!

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE GRAVEDANCERS (2006)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

gravedancers

bars

GRAVEDANCERS (2006)

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

The Gravedancers is a 2006 horror that concerns three friends (Dominic Purcell, Josie Maran and Marcus Thomas) who reunite at another friend’s funeral. A night out for drinks after, leads to a subsequent drunken visit to the cemetery where they find a mysterious envelope which instructs them to dance on graves…and they do. Their graveyard hi-jinx result in a curse in which they will be haunted for a month by the occupants of the graves they danced on…then sent to their own graves unless the curse is broken.

Gravedancers, as directed by Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider), has some nice atmosphere and truly spooky effects and sequences despite it’s silly plot. There is also a lot of silly stuff, too and it doesn’t help any of the tension the spookier stuff builds. Some of the dialog also sounds laughably bad despite the all-round good performances by a solid cast and silly becomes the magic word here as a somewhat decent horror flick drowns in the goofiness of it’s story and script by Brad Keene and Chris Skinner. The overblown CGI chase finale is also laughable, not fear inducing or suspenseful. Somehow though, the film still remains entertaining and as Mike Mendez usually incorporates some humor in his movies, he takes the silly parts of the screenplay and runs with them without turning the film into an outright comedy. The film may be a mixed bag, but it is never boring and keeps one amused till it’s goofball finale. The FX are well rendered and the film looks good with David A. Armstrong’s cinematography.

Overall, this film does entertain despite mixing some very spooky stuff with some very silly material. Director Mike Mendez has a flair for humor laced horror, so he takes the more ridiculous moments from the script and just goes all out and has a good time with them. It makes for a very uneven flick, but one that is never dull and even unintentional laughs are a form of amusement. Also stars genre favorite Clare Kramer (Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Glory) as Purcell’s wife  and vet Tcheky Karyo trying to keep his dignity in the Van Helsing role of paranormal investigator Vincent Cochet.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 silly CGI spirits.
gravedancers rating

 

 

 

 

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

tales of halloween

bars

TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015)

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

Tales Of Halloween is an amusing anthology flick that has ten stories told by ten different directors with the obvious reoccurring theme of Halloween. The stories are loosely connected by the presence of Adrienne Barbeau as a DJ, much like her Stevie Wayne character from The Fog and some shared characters.

Created by filmmaker Axelle Carolyn, this is a good idea that disappointingly has only four out of the ten stories really being successful. The tone of the stories vary with some being goofy like Mike Mendez’ fun Friday The 31st, which has a Jason-like killer squaring off with an alien who possesses the body of one of his victim’s and Carolyn’s own creepy Grim Grinning Ghost, which has a woman crossing paths with an urban legend. Those two hit their marks, though the best stories are the opening and closing tales. Dave Parker’s Sweet Tooth, begins the anthology and is another urban legend centric story of a boy that took his love for Halloween candy to a ghoulish level. The closer, Neil Marshall’s Bad Seed, is a fun and gruesome story about a murderous jack-o-lantern. Darren Lynn Bousman’s self-explanatory The Night Billy Raised Hell is moderately amusing, as is Lucky McKee’s Ding Dong, about a strange couple. With unsettling Hansel and Gretel overtones and uncomfortable themes of spousal abuse and infertility, McKee’s tale is the most bizarre one. Ryan Schifrin’s The Ransom Of Rusty Rex is also somewhat amusing in it’s tale of a Halloween kidnapping gone very wrong. On the epic fail side, we have Adam Gierasch’s tale of murderous trick-or-treaters with a twist, Trick. It’s crude and violent without being scary or funny. Paul Solet’s tale of demonic revenge with a spaghetti western slant, The Weak and the Wicked, is just dull and has the least Halloween spirit while John Skipp and Andrew Kasch’s tale of neighbors battling over competitive Halloween displays, This Means War, is just boring and predictable. Add that up and we have four stories that work really well, three that are pretty decent and three that basically fall flat. There are some nice homages along the way, the SPFX and make-up FX are pretty good and the visual style varies from filmmaker to filmmaker. It always has the look of Halloween, with jack-o-lanterns everywhere, even if the spirit isn’t quite captured by the tale being told. This anthology’s heart is in the ghoulish right place, though, if not completely successful in accomplishing it’s overall goals.

The cast is rather large and even in the weaker episodes they seem to get the tone of the material and are having a good time. We have genre favorites like Lin Shaye, Adrienne Barbeau, Barbara Crampton, Lisa Marie, Caroline Williams and Clare Kramer. There are some veteran actors like Barry Bostwick and John Savage and director cameos such as John Landis, Stuart Gordon, Adam Green and Joe Dante. Then there are also familiar faces like Some Kind Of Hate’s Grace Phipps, Cabin Fever’s Cerina Vincent, Starry Eyes’ Alex Essoe, scream queen Tiffany Shepis and Adrienne Curry as herself, to name a few. Overall a good cast that helps the stories a lot, even when they don’t make the grade.

Tales Of Halloween is far from perfect and doesn’t succeed as much as we’d like. The stories that work are worth watching for and the middle ground stories are amusing enough to check out, too. Even the failures aren’t a complete waste of time and are short enough to be over mercifully quick. While not totally successful, it is a really good idea and hopefully next year, we get another and that one hits the ghoulish mark far more often. Not quite the Halloween classic hoped for, but when it hits it’s stride it’s ghoulish Halloween fun.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 jack-o-lanterns as the stories I liked, I really liked.

tales of halloween rating

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BIG ASS SPIDER! (2013)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

146878

bars

BIG ASS SPIDER! (2013)

L.A. exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg who also produced) is about to have the case of his career as a spider bite on a routine job sends him to the hospital where, at the same time, a corpse containing a gestating, genetically-altered spider has been accidentally shipped there by a military snafu. Once the spider breaks free and bites a doctor, Alex sees a way out of his own medical bill and vows to hunt it down. But, as he and hospital security guard Jose (Lombardo Boyar, who steals every scene he’s in) chase the large arachnid through the vents and lower levels, the military show up, including hard nosed Major Tanner (Ray Wise) and sexy Lt. Brant (Clare Kramer), and lock down the hospital to ensure the re-capture of their experiment with alien DNA gone awry. But, the spider is not only intelligent but, getting larger with each victim and soon escapes into the sewers. Now Alex, who’s become smitten with Lt. Brant, vows to stop the ever growing arachnid and save the day but, the Big Ass Spider has other ideas as it attacks L.A. in search of prey.

As directed by Mike Mendez (Gravedancers, The Convent), from a script by Gregory Gieras, this giant arachnid on the loose flick is a fun B-Movie that decides to take it’s premise and have a good time with it. At no time does it take itself seriously as it rolls out the kind of nature run amok story that has been done since the 50s. Mendez directs a lively cast who have fun with their parts but, take them seriously enough so it’s not a total joke. Grunberg gives us the typical legend-in-his-own-mind lead and makes a good team with Boyar who has a blast as the Latino security guard who wants to be a hero. Ray Wise plays his part very straight and it works that his soldier is able to talk about giant spiders and alien DNA with a completely straight face. Clare Kramer is fun as the tough-as-nails but, still sexy Lt. Karly Brant and she also has good chemistry with Grunberg. Sadly a plot device puts her in peril and the two are separated for most of the last act. It would have been nice to see her go all Ellen Ripley instead of web ensnared damsel. Add a cameo by Lin Shaye as one of Mathis’ eccentric customers and you have a fun cast having a good time with the outlandish material. As for our star, the CGI FX portraying the spider are serviceable enough as is the depiction of it’s carnage, especially when it goes all King Kong to lay it’s eggs at the top of a skyscrapper. The film is not perfect. The slapstick humor doesn’t always work and sometimes clashes with the more serious attempts at horror and one wonders if maybe Mendez should have taken a page from the Corman book and played this a bit more serious and let the material provide the fun, it might have flowed more smoothly. I like Mendez as a director, he has a cool visual style,  but, will admit his attempts to mix humor and horror sometimes provide mixed results and an uneven tone. At least here he maintains the tone fairly well and only dips into horror when he needs to give his monster menace.

Overall, Big Ass Spider is fun but, not as loopy a good time as the infamous Sharknado. The FX do the job well enough and the cast seems to be having a good time and so it translates to the audience. Not a great or memorable movie but, it is a fun throwback to the 50s giant bug movies with a modern sense of humor and you could do far worse for a night on the couch. Too bad they stuck to a PG-13 rating as this could have been a fun, gory mess had they really took the 8 legged ball and ran with it.

3 big ass spiders.

big ass spider rating

bars