HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 10/31 PART II (2019)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2now playing

bars

10/31 PART II (2019)

Sequel to the indie Halloween set anthology flick 10/31 once again presents a horror movie marathon hosted by Malvolia, the Queen of Screams (Jennifer Nangle). It tells five tales, with some fun trailers this time, by a host of new indie filmmakers, all taking place on Halloween.

After opening with some amusing trailers, the best being Treaters from Zane Hershberger, and then an introduction by Malvolia, the show begins. We start out with A Samhain Liturgy written and directed by Tory van Buskirk. It’s a classic tale of a babysitter (Rhema Srihartiti) encountering peril and evil on Halloween night. The tale is a mash-up of more than one classic horror scenario, has some very disturbing moments and follows the classic tropes with a few twists. It can be gruesome at times and the make-up FX are well rendered. Lead Rhema Srihartiti makes a nice heroine as teen babysitter Holly and Devin Douglas, a very creepy kid as Tommy.

Second story is Dead Lift from director Stephen Wolfe. Story finds down on his luck rideshare driver Jeremy (Tim Robinson) picking up a very ominous passenger (William McCarthy). The segment is spooky and atmospheric, but also a bit talky and feels like it wears out it’s welcome long before it’s over. Dead Lift also stars Ashley Nief as Jeremy’s long suffering girlfriend Whitney. Does score points for trying to do something a little different and having a bit of a Phantasm vibe in spots.

Next up is the very comical and cheesy Apache Hatchet Massacre II from director Max Groah. Basically a story of a Halloween party being held in a cabin on an ancient Native American burial ground. There’s a lot of overacting and the segment comes across as very cheap looking and just plain silly. It doesn’t feel like it fits in with the rest of the stories, which take a more serious approach and look far better produced. It simply comes across as filler. Thankfully, AHM II is mercifully short.

Fourth story is Overkill from writer, director Drew Marvick and is an amusing tale of two serial killers (Aaron Strong and David E. McMahon) fighting over the same sexy babysitter (Anastasia Elfman) on Halloween night. Segment is amusing and features some good gore, but is another segment that seems like it’s a bit long for it’s one sentence scenario. On the plus side, the segment does feature some nice nudity from shapely Lauren Fogle (as “Hot Chick”), which is a rarity for this anthology series.

Fifth and final tale finds Tory van Buskirk back writing and in the director’s chair for Sister Mary, a story of a sexy nun with a dark and bloody secret. It’s an effective segment with some disturbing moments, plenty of blood and lead London Grace does a really good job as the disturbed, conflicted, tormented…and possibly haunted?…Mary.

Overall, this was another fun and spooky anthology from this indie franchise, featuring a different set of directors than the first flick. Like the original 10/31, the stories are a bit uneven, but the makers show potential and most stories have Halloween spirit 🎃 along with some great electronic scores from Rocky Gray! 10/31 Part II is available to stream on Amazon Prime!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack-o-lanterns.

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

Sorry, this is as close to a trailer as I could find!

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 10/31 (2017)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2now playing

bars

10/31 (2017)

Independent horror is a Halloween set anthology flick from the makers of such recent flicks as The Barn and Bonejangles. It takes place on Halloween night and has two kids (Aliese and Alexandria Kuhn) watching a horror movie marathon hosted by Malvolia, the Queen of Screams (Jennifer Nangle). As the horror hostess promises chills and thrills, it sets up our five tales by five indie filmmakers, all taking place on All Hallows Eve.

First tale is The Old Hag. It takes place in an old bed and breakfast where wannabe filmmakers Tyler and Kevin (The Barn‘s Nickolaus Joshua, billed here as Nick Edwards and Mitchell Musolino, respectively) are hired to do a Youtube commercial for the owner (Cindy Maples) on Halloween night. Tyler keeps seeing a creepy old hag (Jedediah Giacchino) while Kevin refuses to believe him…until it’s too late. The story is written and directed by The Barn‘s Justin M. Seaman and while it shows he has a great visual eye, it was a little flat until the final moments, which were unsettling. Segment had a great location and worthy story, but should have been scarier.

Next up is the best of the bunch. Trespassers finds a first date couple Jeff (Chad Bruns) and Stephanie (Sable Griedel), trying to find something to do in the Halloween spirit after their horror flick turns out to be a bust. Stephanie takes Chad to the abandoned Martin farmhouse and tells him a tale of vengeful gypsies, a creepy scarecrow and a murder suicide. As the two roam the desolate property, they find that all urban legends have a basis in fact. Segment is written and directed by Zane Hershberger and really captures the Halloween spirit along with the feel of a creepy local legend. It was very spooky and had a very spunky, sexy characterization from actress Griedel as the Halloween loving Stephanie. Extra points for the very Carpenter-esque score by Matt Cannon during the segment, too.

Third tale has a bit of an Argento-ish flair with psychedelic lighting and a straight razor wielding killer. Story takes place at a roller rink as a costumed killer stalks a girl and her little brother (Bailey Ingersol and Noah Howland) at an after hours Halloween party. Killing The Dance is directed by John William Holt from a script by Jason Turner and had a nice Giallo feel, some gruesome kills, an unexpected wrap-up and some cool music from Jake Siener.

The Halloween Blizzard of 1991 from writer/director Brett DeJager had potential and some amusing ideas though didn’t quite use them to full effect. Story has a family, Aunt April (April Johnson), mom Katie (Katie Walgrave Forrest), dad Allen (Allen Regimbal) and kids Ben (Fox Forrest) and John (Ethan Hemenway) trapped in the house on Halloween during an unexpected blizzard. They are besieged by not only three creepy trick or treaters (Fox and Egy Forrest, Xander Daire), but a vengeful Santa Claus (Lyle Kroon) who feels Halloween is ruining all the good kids. Segment had it’s moments, but needed to pick and focus on a story. Was it about three demonic trick or treaters?…or a Halloween hating Santa, which sounds more fun.

Anthology finishes up with another of the best stories with The Samhain Slasher. A true nod to Carpenter’s classic, this tale has escaped serial killer Samuel LaCroix (Ryan Heumier) stalking a Halloween party attended by a girl (Jordan Phipps) who is mourning the suicide of her mother (Kirby Gocke). Not only does this segment have a score that strongly evokes Carpenter, but manages to mix in Ouija boards, a religious father (Greg Fallon) haunted by the death of his wife and the masked psychopath. As written and directed by Rocky Gray, who also scored, it’s atmospheric, has some very creepy moments and respectfully pays tribute to Carpenter, while also doing it’s own thing.

We finally return to our wraparound story which was directed by Hershberger and Hunter Johnson from a script by Hershberger, Gray and Jennifer Nagle. It’s a creepy finale and works within the context of the Halloween theme, leaving us on a chilling note which all good Halloween tales should.

Overall, this was a fun and spooky anthology from some up and coming filmmakers. It’s gives plenty of Halloween love and while the stories are a bit uneven, they all show potential and the ones that do nail it down, are quite fun and effective. An entertaining and spooky anthology with plenty of Halloween spirit! 10/31 is currently available on DVD and VHS from the makers here… https://screamteamreleasing.com/collections/10-31-merch …and there is talk of a VOD release later this year, probably near October 🎃!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack-o-lanterns.

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

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE BARN (2016)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

barn

bars

THE BARN (2016)

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

Crowd funded horror/homage definitely has it’s heart in the right place and knows it’s 80s influences well, even if it isn’t quite as successful at delivering the goods as the films it’s trying to pay tribute to.

Flick starts out in the small town of Wheary Falls in 1959 where a Halloween set Harvest Hootenany festival goes wrong for one little girl who unwisely challenges a local legend about three demons that inhabit a local barn. The film then jumps 30 years to 1989 where Halloween obsessed teen Sam (Mitchell Musolino) and some friends accidentally awaken this legendary trio of demons while stopping in Weary Falls on the way to a Halloween night rock concert. Now Sam, his best bud Josh (Will Stout) and pretty Michelle (Lexi Dripps) find themselves battling the demonic Scarecrow, Boogeyman and Hollow Jack, that they have awakened from The Barn.

80s homage is written, directed and edited by Justin M. Seaman and the filmmaker’s intentions are certainly noble. The flick does indeed have the feel of one of those 80s horrors and even gives it an old VHS look with scratches and grain and muted colors. For nostalgia purposes, the film knows it’s source material well and we sense Seaman has a genuine love for these films and the horror genre in general. The basic story certainly works for the type of film it’s trying to be and the director does have a good visual eye and achieves a lot on a small budget. Where the film loses ground is in the writing and the editing. The dialogue is simply very stale and the exposition sequences seem to go on and on and are flat and un-involving. Seaman could have cut out a good ten minutes of talkiness from his homage and gotten it in at a much tighter 90 minutes, or less, and the film would have moved much better. It is a bit too slow paced for it’s own good. There were sequences of talk that felt like they could have been removed completely without hurting the movie, such as Sam’s talk with his dad and when they meet George Hayward (David Hampton), who was with the little girl in the opening sequence. Drunken George’s dialogue seems to go on forever and basically adds even more exposition to a local legend that was fine as it was. His story only convolutes things and the possible way of sending the demons back he relates, is just weak. Sometimes a bit of ambiguity is good, instead of explaining things in too much detail. As a matter of fact, the whole 1989 Halloween Hootenanny sequence goes on way too long, a prime example of how better writing and editing could have made this tighter. The horror sequences, featuring the three demons, themselves are fine. They are not scary or suspenseful, but they do work and Seaman’s demons are effective enough on the homage level they are intended. The FX are quite good for a low budget flick, especially the gore and they do emulate 80s FX work very well. As nostalgia, the film works very well in many ways, especially with Rocky Gray’s cool 80s style electronic soundtrack to add even more of the 80s feel. But as a movie, it’s a bit tedious and flat at times and lacks any real suspense and scares to make it really special. It needed some life to it’s scenes and performances.

While on the subject of the performances, to be too picky over the acting in a low budget film like this, isn’t really fair. Let’s be honest,  the acting in a lot of the films that this flick is paying homage to, wasn’t exactly award level either. The cast in one sense are fine, though some of the dialogue reciting is a bit flat, but that could also be from the need for stronger guidance from a first time filmmaker. Mitchell Musolino is OK as Sam, as is Will Stout as Josh, though as heroes they are a bit dull. It also doesn’t help that lead Sam’s character is kind of a moody sourpuss and hard to endear to. At least Stout’s Josh is a bit more animated and likable. The one cast member who stands out a bit is cute, girl-next-door Lexi Dripps who is actually endearing as the perky object of Sam’s awkward affection, Michelle. She is one of the few cast members who sounds like she is talking naturally, not reading from a script. Sadly, the character of Michelle disappears for most of the third act action and when she re-emerges, it’s as a bound and gagged damsel in distress only there to be rescued by Sam and Josh. The film might have been better served to have Miss Dripps play final girl, or at least be more involved in the action, as she is the one with the strongest screen presence and most charm. Her character was one of the livelier ones, too, unlike the droll Sam, and is sadly underused. There are also small parts played by legendary Scream Queen, Linnea Quigley and Ari Lehman, who was the first actor to ever play Jason Voorhees (as a boy) in the first Friday The 13th.

I wanted to like this flick a lot more than I did*. It’s heart was in the right place, it knew it’s influences very well and nailed the nostalgia elements pretty much dead on. It had a perfectly fine horror flick story and director Justin M. Seaman has a nice eye for spooky visuals, with the flick looking good for something very low budget. Definitely an “A” for effort. Where the film stumbles, is in it’s writing and editing. The Barn could have been ten minutes shorter, without hurting the story, it’s a little too talky between the action and the dialog itself was very stale and flat. The film wasn’t actually scary and the simple and effective plot gets a little convoluted in it’s second act. Simpler and more streamlined was working earlier on. A very noble effort and we hope filmmaker Justin M. Seaman continues to hone his craft and maybe the next flick will be closer to the home run he was swinging for here. I still recommend horror fans give it a look for the nostalgia of it and simply for the effort put in by some independent filmmakers with a passion…and despite it’s flaws, that passion does show!

*This little flick has grown on me a lot since I first reviewed it. Not sure this statement still applies -MZNJ

-MonsterZero NJ

3 jack-o-lanterns for effort, heart and Halloween spirit.

tales of halloween rating

bars