TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE RIFT aka ENDLESS DESCENT (1990)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

 

The Rift poster…or Endless Descent poster, if you prefer

bars

THE RIFT aka ENDLESS DESCENT (1990)

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

1990 low budget sci-fi/horror finds the high-tech deep sea vessel “Siren I” gone missing and the ship’s designer Wick Hayes (Jack Scalia with hilariously 80s hair) is dragged out of bed…literally…to join the rescue mission aboard the “Siren II”. The military has been using both Hayes’ designed craft and the rescue mission is commanded by hard-nosed Capt. Phillips (R. Lee Ermey) and Hayes’ former flame Lt. Nina Crowley (Deborah Adair). They find the “Siren I” wreckage in a deep sea rift, as well as, some strange undersea lifeforms. The search for the ship’s black box leads them to an undersea cavern filled with horrible mutant creatures and a mysterious laboratory. How did these creatures come to exist? Who is responsible?…and will the “Siren II” crew escape the rift alive?

Cheesy rubber monster flick is flatly directed by Pieces director Juan Piquer Simón, under the pseudonym of J.P. Simon, from a very derivative script by he, Mark Klein and David Coleman. The film evokes a lot of other better movies such as Aliens, Galaxy of Terror and Leviathan to name a few and might have been a really fun rip-off if director Simón didn’t take it so seriously. With it’s cheese-ball miniature subs, horde of rubber and plastic monsters and gallons of spurting blood, this could have been a real treat if it was directed by somebody who knew the difference between a good steak and a decadent greasy hamburger, with this flick being the latter. It still entertains with it’s awful dialogue, 1960s sci-fi level sets and all the flying viscera both human and otherwise. The acting runs from paycheck level from the vets to hilariously bad from the supporting cast, with only Ray Wise seeming to really get the material, when he is allowed to ham it up a bit in the last act. There is a lot of blood splashed around once the crew arrive in the monster filled cavern and the rubber beasties do provide some chuckles as the rend and tear apart the crew in all it’s pre-CGI glory. The flick is very ambitious for what appears to be a very low budget, but needed a more Roger Corman approach to make it really work. If you know you’re a rip-off, take the ball and run with it like Galaxy of Terror or Piranha. With the ridiculous script and rubber menagerie, the groundwork was already there.

On one side the flick is flatly directed, way too derivative and takes itself far too seriously to really work, especially on such an obvious low budget scale. On the plus side there is entertainment to be had by painfully obvious toy submarines, a delightful assortment of rubber monsters and an ocean’s worth of blood and gore splattered all over the place. The veteran cast play the subpar script far too straight, which is laughable in itself, while the supporting cast performances are hilariously all over the place. Not quite the fun it should be, but does have enough entertainment to make it an amusing watch, with some of your favorite brews. Also stars Ely Pouget as a sexy crew member and John Toles Bey who gets some of the worst of the awful dialogue.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 (out of 4) rubber thingys.

 

 

 

 

 

bars

BARE BONES: THE LAZARUS EFFECT, SOMETHING WICKED and WOLFCOP

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

Lazarus effect

THE LAZARUS EFFECT (2014)

I credit Blumhouse Pictures a lot for the recent horror renaissance so, it’s disappointing when they crank out a lazy, generic piece of PG-13 horror like this. The Lazarus Effect is a routine, derivative (Flatliners anyone?) and predictable story about some scientists and students who are working on a way to prolong the period of time in which a recently dead person can be successfully resuscitated. Predictably, one of the group is accidentally killed and the far from perfect formula is used to revive them. Also predictably, they don’t come back quite normal. Film is competently directed by David Gelb but, the script by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater reeks of been-there-done-that. We’ve seen all of it before and much better done. The film also wastes a good cast on top of that. Wasn’t completely bored, but wasn’t completely interested either. Stars Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, Community’s Donald Glover and Ray Wise.

2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

something-wicked

SOMETHING WICKED (2009)

The most heartbreaking thing about this flick is that it is the last film starring the underrated and sadly gone too soon Brittany Murphy. it’s no surprise this convoluted mess was left on a shelf for five years before finally getting a minimal release. The barely coherent story follows pretty Christine Webb (Shantel VanSanten) who graduates high school and on the night of celebration and her announcement that she and her boyfriend James (John Robinson) want to get married, gets into a horrible car accident that costs the life of her parents. A year later Christine is married and in college and being stalked by a mysterious figure. She is also lusted after by her cop brother (James Patrick Stuart), her husband’s co-worker Ryan (Julian Morris) and apparently the director of this film as all the close-up shots of the pretty Miss VanSanten border on softcore porn. Murphy plays cop brother Bill’s psychiatrist wife whose barren womb sends the police officer into another woman’s bed…and to lust after his sister like we mentioned. There is a conspiracy of murder and shocking reveals and by the end of this badly edited soap opera level mess, I lost track of all the plots, sub-plots and double crosses and joined the cinematographer in staring at Shantel VanSanten’s shapley rear. Was there even a point to this movie?

one star rating

Humerus-Bone1

Wolf-Cop-Official-movie-poster

WOLFCOP (2014)

I’m not a big fan of the Troma movies and this Canadian horror/comedy is definitely in the Troma-wannabe category. The story takes place in the rural town of Woodhaven and finds lazy, alcoholic cop Lou (Leo Fafard) being transformed into a werewolf by a group of cultists who need werewolf blood for a ceremony to make themselves more powerful. Lou though, won’t let a slight case of lycanthropy keep him from catching the bad guys. The use of practical gore and make-up effects is about all this dull and unfunny flick has going for it. Most of the attempts at humor fall flat and the action sequences are very routine and strictly low budget…which would be fine if they had some energy or style. There are generous amounts of blood spattered, but the film is lethargically paced even for a movie that isn’t even 80 minutes long. That and it is just trying way too hard to be a midnight movie and the best of those types of flicks usually happen unintentionally. Not sure where all the internet hype comes from as it lacks the style, originality, cleverness or outright manic over-the-top ferocity that makes a good cult classic.

2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

 -MonsterZero NJ
bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: DIGGING UP THE MARROW (2014)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

digging up the marrow

bars

DIGGING UP THE MARROW (2014)

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

Adam (Hatchet) Green wrote, directed and stars as himself in this faux documentary about a man named William Dekker (a terrific Ray Wise), an ex-cop who contacts the filmmaker about documenting his discovery…that monsters are real. Dekker claims that not only are monsters real, but he has found where they live, in a subterranean ‘metropolis’ he calls The Marrow. Green and his cameraman Will (Will Barratt) interview Dekker and follow him to the graveyard entrance to this underground world to try to catch footage of one of these alleged creatures. While they have every reason to doubt Dekker and his sanity, they may also have good reason to believe him, too.

Green’s flick is entertaining enough, but never really grabs hold of you even in the last act when things finally start to ‘surface’. The interview footage is fun, due to a really great performance by Ray Wise as Dekker and Green himself has a good time as the filmmaker gets drawn into Dekker’s story while everyone around him has doubts. And while I do consider this somewhat of a vanity piece, obviously for Adam Green playing Adam Green, at least he has the humility to amusingly poke fun at himself by being the absolute last of a long list of famous horror directors that Dekker has attempted to contact. The film, which evokes Nightbreed in spots, does get a little spooky as we follow the three into the cemetery and start monster hunting. We do get to see some well-designed critters by Alex Pardee, once things finally get rolling, though, far too few than expected from the build-up. There are also some fun cameos such as Kane Hodder and Tom Holland, but I just felt that the film really doesn’t make optimum use of it’s premise and could have been far spookier than it goes for. The ending in particular is intriguing, but could have been far more effective and it also leaves some plot points open…such as the implications that Dekker has a personal interest in what may live inside The Marrow. Oh…and if Dekker does have a personal attachment to something that lurks there, why threaten to expose it by having a renown filmmaker document it’s existence at all? Such questions leave one a bit unsatisfied once the credits roll.

Overall, I’d say the film is certainly worth a look and definitely is fun. It just never really gets going enough to completely draw us in and the spooky stuff is few and far between. We do get a few interesting monsters, but not enough considering what the build up implied we might discover. Not a great flick, but an amusing 90 minutes, though, in my opinion, another example of how Green’s love for movies far surpasses how effectively that love translates to screen in his own projects. He has yet to really grab me with one of his films.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 potentially crazy, old spinsters.

digging up the marrow rating

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: SWAMP THING and THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_ST_ROST

bars

This week’s double feature puts together two films based on DC Comics Swamp Thing character that were made during the 80s. One directed by horror legend Wes Craven and the other by prolific B-Movie director Jim Wynorski. So, head into the bayou for some comic book-style fun and action!…

Swampthing

SWAMP THING (1982)

As a big fan of Wes Craven it is rare to hear me say the legendary director may not have been right for a project, but this might be one of the few cases. I saw this flick with friends at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. and wasn’t all that impressed with his take on one of the more bizarre comic book heroes. It’s not a bad film, but it seemed to take itself a bit too seriously and didn’t have the fun it needed to really win me over.

The movie written and directed by Craven tells the comic-based story of government agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) who is sent into the Louisiana swamps to work with brilliant scientist Alec Holland (Ray Wise). Holland is doing genetic research to find a way to combine plant and animal DNA to make hardier plants to grow food in harsher environments (Monsanto anyone?). His resulting formula is a volatile one, but appears to allow plants to grow wherever it touches. When his lab is attacked by the evil Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) and his mercenary thugs, Holland is covered in his serum by accident and sent running into the swamp ablaze. Cable is the only one who escapes alive and is now being pursued by Arcane and his men for the notebook she has recovered. Unknown to her and Arcane, Holland has undergone a transformation, merging him with the fauna of the swamp, and now he seeks to rescue Cable and exact revenge against Arcane as the powerful but noble Swamp Thing (stuntman Dick Durock)!

There are two big issues with this flick that stand in it’s way of being a far more entertaining movie. First off is that Craven had yet to really hit his stride with A Nightmare On Elm Street and directs this with the heavy hand of one of his early horror flicks. True, the comic has a serious atmosphere, but his script and tone take things far too seriously and the film is humorless and has the very moderate pace of this era’s horror movies. Adding comic book-style wipes between scenes doesn’t a comic book-style film make and this is simply too morose to really be fun and the action scenes too by-the-numbers. The other problem is that the make-up/creature FX are terrible. I understand that the Swamp Thing costume was originally made for stuntman Bob Minor, who, for some reason, couldn’t do the film and there was no time or money to build a new suit, so it was ‘altered’ to fit Durock*. But even so, the costume is flat and rubbery and just looks awful. The creature costume for the transformed Arcane for the climactic fight is equally bad and when your main character is a man in a rubber suit, that suit needs to look good as he is on screen quite a lot. It kills the illusion that the costume is so bad looking. Also not helping is Harry Manfredini’s Friday The 13th-ish score witch adds to the horror film atmosphere instead of lightening things up a bit and adding a little energy to the proceedings. I get that this comic character certainly has horror film elements, but the film just takes itself far too seriously to be really fun. It looks good and has a good enough cast, but is too slow paced and just doesn’t have enough fun for even a horror-themed superhero like Swamp Thing.

As for that cast, Ray Wise is fine as Holland though he has little screen time to really solidify the character. Durock actually does a nice job emoting with his eyes behind all the rubber and does make a noble hero as the transformed Swamp Thing. Barbeau does her tough chick thing from Escape From New York again here, but it works OK and this was the legendary actress in her prime, so she does provide some eye-candy along with her hard-nosed heroine…who also has her damsel moments, too. Louis Jourdan seems to be the only one who realizes this flick needs a little over-the-top and chews up the scenery just right as the evil genius Anton Arcane. He makes a good villain surrounded by bland characters. Rounding out is Last House On The Left villain David Hess and Don’t Answer The Phone psycho Nicholas Worth as Arcane’s lead henchmen and they are adequate though unremarkable. Some livelier performances or more larger than life characters would have really perked this film up.

In conclusion, Swamp Thing is an OK flick, but one that would have been a lot better with a bit lighter touch and a far less down-to-earth approach. The flick needed a bit more over-the-top and some of the fun and energy that Wes Craven gave Scream many years later. It’s watchable, but takes itself far too seriously to really entertain and perhaps Craven was still too early in his career to stray from his dire horror film style and tone to really give this comic book-based flick the color and life of the swamps it was set in.

* I read this account of the Bob Minor/Dick Durock costume issue in either Fangoria or Starlog back in the 80s when the film was released.-MZNJ

2 and 1/2 Swamp Things

swamp thing rating

plus

swampthing_return_of

THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING (1989)

Seven years after Craven’s film, the guardian of the swamps returned in a film that was a lot more fun and over-the-top…maybe a bit too much so, in comparison with the more serious tone of the comic, but it is silly good fun and B-Movie director Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall) cranked up the camp and gave us a flick that is giddily comic book with a touch of James Bond…and we got a far more convincing suit for returning Dick Durock to wear.

Sequel has the villainous Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) back in action and trying to hunt down Holland/Swamp Thing in order to use his genetics to help Arcane and his beautiful assistant Lana (Sarah Douglas) defeat the aging process. At the same time Arcane’s ditzy valley girl step-daughter Abigail (Heather Locklear) comes to visit to ask questions about her mother’s death and one of Arcane’s mutant experiments has escaped and is chowing-down on anyone who gets too close to the swamp. But, Abby’s DNA could also be a help to Arcane’s work and the young girl has captured Swamp Thing’s heart, guaranteeing a showdown between these two mortal enemies once more!

While, overall, Wynorski and writers Neil Cuthbert and Grant Morris may have taken this goofy, fun flick a little too far in the opposite direction of Craven’s dour version, but it is a unapologetic good time with it’s bombastic creature battles and explosion filled action scenes. Gone are the bland henchman and stiff scientists, now Arcane is surrounding by a bevy of armed beauties, including exploitation film fixture/Penthouse model Monique Gabrielle and campy mad scientists like Ace Mask’s Dr. Rochelle. The tone of the film is a mix of the 60s Batman TV show and a Roger Moore James Bond movie, complete with underground lair and  dozens of uniformed soldiers more than anxious to use their machine guns. Wynorski gives it a fast pace and a candy-colored production design aided by Zoran Hochstatter’s cinematography and the film’s cartoonish atmosphere is enhanced by Chuck Cirino’s lively electronic score. The film may be silly, but far more resembles the panels of a comic book than Craven’s far too grounded flick. The creature FX are far better than the first flick and Durock really looks like the embodiment of the comic character with the much improved suit. He has a couple of amusing monsters to battle, though, he could have used a far more lethal opponent at the climax than the transformed, but still asthmatic, Dr. Rochelle. Wynorski is a B-Movie director through and through and he films this flick with enough explosions, carnage and cleavage as the PG rating would hold and brings it in at a tight 88 minutes. The movie never overstays it’s welcome.

Acting-wise, the movie has little to brag about. Louis Jourdan is once again a fun villain who understands just how serious to play it and how much scenery to chew on. Durock again emotes very well under the rubber and, while I’m not sure if it was his voice used, overall creates a very noble and likable plant man/hero. Douglas is sexy and sinister as Arcane’s assistant Dr. Lana Zurrell and these three help keep things somewhat respectable in the performance dept. Not fairing so well are Loclkear who just mugs for the camera, though is a good sport considering her dialogue and having to romp in the swamp with a 7 foot plant man. The rest of the acting is shamelessly over-the-top such as Ace Mask’s Dr. Rochelle, Joey Sagal as security head Gunn and the lovely buxom Ms. Gabrielle…who was hired because she is lovely and buxom and not to perform Hamlet. Thanks to the giddy over-the-top tone, some of the bad acting fits right in.

I like this flick. It’s certainly an 80s guilty pleasure action flick and a fun movie if you cut it some slack and go with it’s outrageously cartoonish style. Sure some of the acting is pretty bad, but as it does resemble the 60s Batman series but with more of an 80s slant, it fits right in with the unabashedly goofy tone. It’s a lot of fun and best enjoyed with a few of your favorite brews.

This movie was followed in 1990 by a TV series that lasted for 3 seasons and not only saw Durock return to the role once more, but found a happy medium for it’s tone which was more serious than Wynorski’s flick, but not quite as droll as Craven’s movie. It also stared Kari Wurher as Abigail and Mark Lindsay Chapman taking over as Arcane.

3 Swamp Things!

swamp thing return 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 skyscraper. 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 (out of 4) big ass spiders.

big ass spider rating

**************************************************

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: AMERICAN MARY and EXCISION

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_AM_EX

bars

I know that I have reviewed these films within the last few months, but I think these two unconventional films that both deal with a lead  female character with an interest/skills in surgery and the disturbing stories within which our leading ladies find themselves in, make for a very provocative and chilling Saturday night combo…

Americanmary_poster

AMERICAN MARY (2013)

Flick tells the interesting story of pretty med student, Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle) who, when in need of cash, finds herself getting accidentally involved with illegal surgery and body modification. But it’s not till she is drugged and raped at a party by her arrogant pervert of a professor (David Lovgren) that Mary’s skills get put to horrifying use and her inner Frankenstein is unleashed.

American Mary is intriguing, but never fully decides what it is really about to make it completely captivating, or gets truly twisted enough to make it cult film material. This Canadian flick written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska (who also play twins in the movie) has a nice visual style and some very gruesome moments, but never really grabs us completely or shocks us enough to solidify itself the cult status it aims for. The cast is decent and there are a few interesting and eccentric characters, but lead Katherine Isabelle, who was so good in Ginger Snaps, plays Mary with a bit of an emotional detachment for the most part or maybe a bit too low key. With all that befalls Mary, the tone of the character seems to remain the same despite that her life gets sent in disturbing directions and the changes it makes to her. She’s still good, but there should have been a bit more of a difference between Jekyll and Hyde. It would have made more impact. But Isabelle is a good actress and maybe it’s not her fault as she is not given a lot of time to develop Mary before the story sets in motion, so we don’t really see the changes in the character as the film progresses. Perhaps the Soskas get things moving too quickly and as Mary gets drawn in deeper and deeper into this bizarre world, we haven’t gotten to know her well enough to really add resonance to her life’s sudden macabre twist and the changes that occur within her. After her brutal rape, we can understand her emotional shut down, but even before that she seems to adjust a bit too quickly, despite the absurdity of what she’s asked to do and after, her cruel revenge seems to come a bit too easily. After the story events that have the most impact on Mary occur, the moments the Soskas give us to experience what Mary is feeling are all too brief and don’t sink in properly and that robs us of appreciating the true gravity of her transformation from down-on-her-luck med student to illegal body modification diva to sadistic murderer. I’m not saying what occurs doesn’t have any effectiveness, it does. But we needed a little more time with Mary at those transformation points to really appreciate what’s happened to her. To a degree Mary seems likable, but we never really get truly emotionally involved as she embraces her dark and sadistic side or begins to revel at being a rock star of underground body modification surgery…and we should in order to give the story the weight it needs to elevate it to something unique and special. There’s just something missing. The Soskas seem to be far more interested in who Mary is to become and forget that we need to know her better as who she is first to appreciate that.

I won’t take away that this is an original story in a genre filled with remakes and sequels and it still held my interest throughout despite it’s flaws. This real segment of society has never really been touched on in films and we wish the Soska’s would also have delved even deeper into this sect of people that see their bodies as ever evolving canvases and physically alter them through illegal surgery such as Mary provides. There are also a few story lines going on during American Mary and none get fully developed, such as what is going on between Mary and strip club owner Billy (Antonio Cupo), who first hires her to perform an illegal surgery. A partnership/relationship between them then forms that the parameters of which are never really made clear. And then there’s the bond between Mary and Lance the bouncer (Twan Holliday) that I would like to have seen more of. And that’s what restrains American Mary, it is an interesting story with some equally interesting ideas that never gets fully developed enough to really get our complete attention or becomes bizarre and twisted enough to make it more memorable…though it has it’s moments. Worse still, the ending feels forced and sudden as if the Soska’s didn’t know where to go with Mary’s story at that point and add a plot contrivance to wrap things up in a bloody bow. It’s abrupt and not very satisfying.

An intriguing diversion and a nicely original story idea that’s worth a look and has it’s effectiveness, but could have been much more with a little more development of the story and it’s lead character. In conclusion, I did like it and find it intriguing, but it is a flawed film as much as an interesting one…and if anything, I’ve re-watched it a few times and it has made me second guess my feelings about it and the film at least deserves credit for that.

A generous 3 bones saws!

american mary rating

plus

Excision_posterEXCISION (2012)

Richard Bates Jr. writes and directs this original, trippy and really disturbing horror/drama about emotionally troubled teen, Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) who escapes from her repressive mother (Traci Lords) by immersing herself in an interest in surgery complete with gruesome and bizarre fantasies. But fantasy and reality may collide as the disturbed Pauline grows desperate to win her distant mother’s love and plots to do so by saving her little sister, Grace (Ariel Winter) from her cystic fibrosis in the only way her demented mind sees possible.

Not only does Bates weave a drama that mixes with equal parts horror, but also gets great performances out of McCord, who really surprised me with how well she disappeared into Pauline’s demented ugly duckling persona, and Lords, who shines as her overbearing mother. It’s the performances all around that really make this haunting, off-center and sometimes gruesome character study really work. He also vividly creates the fantasies inside Pauline’s head and makes them both visually beautiful and highly disturbing at the same time. It gives us a chilling idea of just how unhinged this high school outcast really is.

Not for everyone, but for those who don’t mind something different and unnerving, this is a really good watch. Also features appearances by Malcolm McDowell, Ray Wise, Marlee Matlin and John Waters.

3 solid bone saws!

american mary rating

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: EXCISION (2012)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

Excision_poster

bars

EXCISION (2012)

Richard Bates Jr. writes and directs this original, trippy and really disturbing horror/drama about emotionally troubled teen, Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) who escapes from her repressive mother (Traci Lords) by immersing herself in an interest in surgery complete with gruesome and bizarre fantasies. Fantasy and reality may collide, as the disturbed Pauline grows desperate to win her distant mother’s love and plots to do so by saving her little sister, Grace (Ariel Winter) from her cystic fibrosis…in the only way her demented mind sees possible.

Not only does Bates weave a drama that mixes with equal parts horror, but also gets great performances out of McCord, who really surprised me with how well she disappeared into Pauline’s demented ugly duckling persona, and Lords, who shines as her overbearing mother. It’s the performances all around that really make this haunting, off-center and sometimes gruesome character study really work. He also vividly creates the fantasies inside Pauline’s head and makes them both visually beautiful and highly disturbing at the same time. It gives us a chilling idea of just how unhinged this high school outcast really is.

Not for everyone, but for those who don’t mind something different and unnerving, this is a really good watch. Also features appearances by Malcolm McDowell, Ray Wise, Marlee Matlin and John Waters.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 solid bone saws!

american mary rating

bars