BARE BONES: COUNTDOWN (2019) and HARPOON (2019)

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COUNTDOWN (2019)

Generic horror flick finds morons downloading an app that is supposed to tell you when you are going to die…it works, as this is a horror film, and users start dropping. Pretty nurse Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail) has the app and is now fighting to find out how to stop it and save herself and her teen sister (Talitha Bateman) from a horrible fate. If you’re dumb enough to download something like that, well, you get what you pay for.

Flick is directed completely by-the-numbers by Justin Dec, who also wrote the cookie cutter, PG-13 horror script. Once again we have a group of young people doing something dumb to get themselves cursed and followed around by a generic boogieman. This time it’s the Ozhin, supposedly a demonic entity from The Bible, but, funny, it’s not mentioned in the actual Bible. No surprise, as this info comes from a priest with tattoos, which, ironically, is mentioned in the Bible, as a sin. Just shows you how little thought actually went into this flick. It’s as pedestrian as these teen-centric horror movies come and despite an attractive cast and likable characters, you never really care about what happens to them. It’s also totally lacking in any suspense or scares, which at least would have made it worth a look, still forgettable, but at least worth a look. A complete waste of time unless you happen to be a completist of these kinda flicks, or a fan of certain cast members.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HARPOON (2019)

Another flick in the sub, sub genre of unlikable, yuppie a-holes getting into deep…and fatal…trouble. Here we have the grating trio of Jonah (Munro Chambers), Richard (Christopher Gray) and the girl caught between them, Sasha (Emily Tyra) who while on a supposedly brief boat ride (a three hour tour, maybe?) get into some boring personal drama and try to kill each other. In a series of events too stupid to bother detailing, they become lost at sea, without power, food or water. Now, the three try to decide who will be sacrificed as sustenance, so the other two may survive.

Annoying and dumb flick is directed by Rob Grant from his script with Mike Kovac. It sets up a ridiculous series of events and melodramatic contrivances to get our three unlikable subjects lost at sea together in a small space, now that they all hate each other and have reasons to do each other harm. An even more ridiculous plot contrivance sets up the three realizing that to survive, one of them has to be sacrificed so the others may live, but who?…more like, who cares? A late last act reveal does work and there is some effective and nasty violence, but, overall, it takes far too long to get interesting and far too late to change one’s non-interest in the rest of it. Tedious even at only a merciful 83 minutes in length.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: RIOT GIRLS (2019)

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RIOT GIRLS (2019)

Riot Girls takes place in a somewhat post-apocalyptic future where a plague of some sort has wiped out all the adults and placed the teens in charge. We get the poor kids on the East Side vs the rich kids on The West Side run by the high school football team the Titans. Enter East Side lesbian couple Nat (Madison Iseman) and punker Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) who must go up against the Titans when Scratch’s brother, Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois) is taken prisoner by them.

Flick is directed by Jovanka Vuckovic from a script by Katherine Collins and seems to resemble something that could have been made in the 80s. Sadly something also seems missing from this retro-ish flick that keeps it from really being the offbeat treat it should have been. The characters seemed very cliché, despite the contemporary addition of lesbian leads, and the direction seemed a bit by-the-numbers. Adding a punk rock song every five minutes does not creativity make and one feels they could have done a lot more with the premise. The cast are fine, though only Munro Chambers as the Titans lead douchebag Jeremy has a strong presence here. Scratch seems like the usual movie version of a punk rocker and is sadly the most stereotypical of all the characters, with Iseman at least tackling a different role than her usual girl-next-door types she’s frequently cast as. There is some bloody violence, though none of it has any real impact as the film slides back and forth between high school movie and teen Mad Max wanna-be. A concept that simply should have been carried out with a lot more ingenuity.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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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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