REVIEW: CRAWL (2019)

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CRAWL (2019)

New flick from director Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Piranha 3D) and producer Sam Raimi is basically 2010’s Burning Bright with alligators instead of a tiger…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Flick has massive category 5 hurricane Wendy hitting Florida so hard even rescue operations are imperiled. College student Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) defies evacuation orders to track down her father Dave (Barry Pepper), who hasn’t answered texts or calls. She finds him at their old family house unconscious in the basement and soon finds out why…the rapidly flooding house is surrounded by a pack of very hungry alligators.

Aja directs from a script by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen (The Ward) and delivers a fun and sometimes intense thriller. We follow the father and daughter as they try to evade the reptilian predators both inside and outside, while the storm intensifies around them and slowly fills the house with water. There are some very suspenseful moments as Haley tries to get out of the basement and get help for her injured father, who is too hurt to escape on his own. It makes for some very tense moments as the vicious reptiles can come from almost anywhere and often do. In case we’ve forgotten what damage a gator can inflict, some would-be looters and a couple of cops arrive to become gory gator fodder to remind us. The film does slow down for a few moments here and there to give us some character development and some father/daughter bonding. It works both for and against the movie, as it does build a nice relationship between Haley and David, turning them into three dimensional characters, but also stops the momentum dead, at times, as the alligators seem to disappear during these moments. Once the third act kicks in, though, it’s all cat and mouse between Kellers and alligators as the waters rise in the gators’ advantage. Here Aja does what he does best and provides some intense and brutal action. The film looks great with a lot of underwater photography in the flooded house and Haley is put through some very tense and suspenseful set-pieces as she tries to escape and/or save her dad. A fun summer flick with some gory bite that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at a brisk 87 minutes.

It’s basically a two character show with the occasional gator snack showing up. Actress Kaya Scodelario has been through this before in Tiger House, where she played John McLane to a bunch of thieves that lay siege to her boyfriend’s house. Her Haley is courageous and resilient and does just as well against alligators as her Kelly did against home invaders. Scodelario proves she is not only a good actress, who can bring intensity, but she can kick ass as an action heroine. She gives Haley some nice depth in the quieter moments between scenes of her battling her reptilian adversaries with anything and everything available. Barry Pepper is also solid as her father, Dave. His character is both mourning a divorce and injured by gator bite and Pepper gives him some depth, so we feel for him. The two actors have a nice on-screen chemistry and work very well together portraying a father and daughter, who have their issues with each other. Good casting especially since the movie is very much on their shoulders.

Alexandre Aja is a versatile filmmaker even though he does seem to prefer the horror genre. This flick is not as intense or savage as his Hills Have Eyes remake, or outright bonkers like his ridiculously gory and fun Piranha 3D. It’s a mainstream thriller with some intense moments and some gory action, but not enough to scare off the casual movie goer. It does slow down for some character development and while that’s a good thing in making us care for these folks, it does kill the momentum in a few spots. Otherwise this is a tense and entertaining popcorn thriller from a director who knows intensity.

On a side note…This is a case of the trailer giving away too many good moments. If you plan to see this and haven’t watched the trailer yet…DON’T!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 (out of 4) alligators!

 

 

 

For those interested but be WARNED, trailer is SPOILER heavy…

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DARKMAN (1990)

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DARKMAN (1990)

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

Darkman is Sam Raimi’s first big studio film and is a fun horror movie/superhero flick mash-up. It tells the tale of Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson), whose life’s work is to create synthetic skin. His lawyer girlfriend Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), however, has unintentionally crossed paths with ruthless land developer Strack (Colin Friels) and crime boss Robert Durant (Larry Drake) who send thugs to Westlake’s home/lab to collect some incriminating paperwork. This results in Peyton being brutalized and badly burned with his work destroyed. Now horribly disfigured and without the ability to feel pain, Westlake continues his work in hiding and uses his ability to create skin masks to infiltrate the criminal organization…and exact gruesome revenge!

Flick is directed by Sam Raimi from Raimi’s story and a script by he and four other writers. That’s a lot of scribes for what is basically Phantom of the Opera meets Batman, but it’s far from the mess that number implies. Darkman is actually a fun and amusingly gruesome superhero/revenge flick as Neeson’s scientist turned vigilante hunts down Durant’s thugs, while carving out a path towards the gangster and his crooked developer partner. He also tries to restart his romance with Julie with a hilarious and tragic amusement park scene being the result of that epic fail. The film has a strong comic book vibe, with over-the-top characters, such as Evil Dead II’s Dan Hicks playing a one-legged thug with a machine gun in his wooden leg. There is a lot of action, but as this is a horror film, too, some cartoon-ishly gruesome death’s for Durant’s men. Raimi isn’t afraid to get bloody, as this is rated R, yet maintains the feel of a comic book, which probably got him the job directing three Spider-Man flicks. He takes his material seriously, yet has a lot of fun with it.

The cast all get the material. Neeson plays Westlake as a charming but dedicated scientist and then makes for a very Phantom of the Opera-esque vigilante when he transforms into a vengeful anti-hero. Frances McDormand is good as Julie, who is at first fooled by Strack’s charms. As Strack, Friels makes for a charming yet slimy villain. Drake is very good as the brutal crime boss Durant. He can be ruthless and cruel and is a perfect match for the once kind, now vengeful Westlake. The supporting cast including Nicholas Worth, the before mentioned Hicks and a cameoing Bruce Campbell, all get the tone of the material and their characters.

Overall this is a really fun flick that captures the comic book spirit sometimes better than the straight-up superhero flicks of the time. The cast all get the tone of the material and despite the overabundance or writers, it’s a clever script that balances the comic book style with the horror elements perfectly…as does Raimi’s direction. There is action and drama and some gruesome ends to some very deserving creeps. Inspired a pair of direct to video sequels with The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo taking over as Westlake.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 an 1/2 Darkmen (out of 4).

 

 

 

 

 

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HAPPY 61st BIRTHDAY, BRUCE CAMPBELL!

HAPPY 61st BIRTHDAY, BRUCE CAMPBELL!
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MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse wishes the legendary Bruce Campbell a very happy 61st birthday!…

 

…and as a special treat…your own MonsterZero NJ being strangled by Mr. Campbell himself at the 1992 Chiller Theater convention in Hackensack N.J.!…

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-MonsterZero NJ

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ALEXANDRE AJA’S “CRAWL” GETS A TRAILER and POSTER!

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A young woman (Kaya Scodelario) is hunted by a massive alligator during a fierce hurricane in this new thriller directed by Alexandre Aja and produced by Sam Raimi and Ghost House Pictures! Flick is set to hit theaters 7/12/19!

-MonsterZero NJ

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source: Youtube

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HORROR TV YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ASH vs EVIL DEAD season 3 (2018)

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ASH vs EVIL DEAD season 3 (2018)

“Good sex is 30 seconds followed by a cheeseburger”– Ash Williams

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

Ash vs Evil Dead season three is the final season, not only for the canceled, cult favorite show, but also a final farewell to Bruce Campbell’s Ash, too, as with it’s cancellation, the actor has officially announced his retirement from the role. One can’t fault him, he’s been playing the character on and off for over thirty years and is a true horror icon. Thank you, Bruce!

Season three arrived later than usual, debuting on February 25, 2018 and opens with Ash (Bruce Campbell) still in Elk’s Grove, Michigan and now running his father’s hardware store. Ash also finds out he has a daughter, Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) who immediately becomes a target of Ruby (Lucy Lawless) and her evil schemes to create Hell on Earth. Pablo (Ray Santiago) is selling tacos outside the hardware store and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) returns, along with a Knight of Sumeria, Dalton (Lindsay Farris), who belongs to an order sworn to assist “The Chosen One”. Can Ash handle fatherhood and fighting evil, as Ruby has birthed a hell-spawn of her own and The Dark Ones are soon to rise?

Like the past two seasons, this one has it weak spots and strong points. Season three starts off a tad shaky with introducing Brandy pretty much right off the bat, in the first episode Family and then having her thrown into the gory action before we or Ash really get a chance to embrace her. Not only are father and daughter thrown together a little too quickly, but new characters such as Brandy’s mother Candy (Katrina Hobbs) and knight Dalton get introduced and then meet their fates way too early for the characters to have resonated. A little more time with them would have been nice. There is still the trademarked gory action and some of it is quite clever, like a scene in the music room of Brandy’s school in episode #1, which utilizes musical instruments in quite a bloody inventive way. There are also some funny bits, too, such as Ash checking on his “donations” at a local sperm bank in Booth 3. The stuff involving Ruby’s pregnancy and birth are as disturbing as a delightful inappropriate funeral scene in Apparently Dead, is hilarious. Things start to get serious in episode four and then build in intensity as Ruby’s hungry offspring grows, Pablo comes into his own as a Brujo and Ash and his daughter bond in blood…and pop tarts. There are some really great moments in the second half, though few match a final showdown between Kelly and Ruby in Tales from the Rift, which is really intense and violent and shows how much Kelly has grown as a character. There are a few weak spots, too, such as yet another evil Ash doppelganger in Twist and Shout, but all the death, resurrection and blood and gore hasn’t quite warn out it’s welcome just yet. The last few episodes all lead up to the return of The Dark Ones and Ash’s confrontation with the massive demon Kandar, himself, as Deadite chaos erupts all over the world in the finale, The Mettle of Man. It’s a strong finish to the season and the show as a whole and the last scene is true to the Evil Dead spirit and is typical Ash. A fond farewell.

The cast are enjoyable as ever and certainly will be missed. Campbell plays the role with the same perfect blend of hero and schlep he has from the beginning. He pulls it all off with his trademark swagger and a little newly added paternal instinct when it comes to his daughter. As Brandy, Arielle Carver-O’Neill is a chip off the old chainsaw. Early on she is a typical troublesome teen who is not eager to accept that her dad is Ashy Slashy, but by the last few episodes is dispatching evil with the same blood-soaked gusto as her dad. The actress is quite appealing and it would have been nice to see the character evolve further. Dana DeLorenzo still shines as Kelly. Her showdown with Ruby might be one of her finest moments and one of the best episodes in the entire three season run. Ray Santiago really owns the role of Pablo, especially now that he is a full Brujo Especial. He’s a very talented actor, who has a gift for comedy and can be a hero, as well as, a sidekick. Lucy Lawless continues to be a strong villain as Ruby. Here she is defying not only Ash, but the Dark Ones themselves, which leads to Ruby being on everyone’s hit list. Lawless oozes malice and devilish confidence. Newbies Lindsay Farris as Sumarian Knight Dalton and Katrina Hobbs as Brandy’s mom Candy, both are good in their parts, but neither character hangs around long enough to really make an impact or get fully developed. To get to the meat of the story, some character development went out the window with the supporting players. Good news to fans of last season, though, Lee Majors returns in episodes Apparently Dead and Unfinished Business as Ash’s dead dad Brock. Couldn’t have cast Ash’s dad any better.

In conclusion, This was consistent with the other two seasons and thus fans should be thankful for three solid seasons of Ash and his battle against the Deadites. There were a few weak spots, but they were outweighed by lot of fun and gory moments, true to the franchise. The last half of the season was really strong and gave us a satisfying…and very Evil Dead…finale as the show and it’s star are not returning. Thanks to Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and the rest of the cast and crew for finishing Ash’s story in true Evil Dead style.

EPISODE LIST

  1. Family – directed by Mark Beesley and written by Mark Verheiden
  2. Booth Three – directed by Mark Beesley and written by Rob Fresco
  3. Apparently Dead – directed by Diego & Andres Meza-Valdes and written by Ivan Raimi
  4. Unfinished Business – directed by Daniel Nettheim and written by Nicki Paluga
  5. Baby Proof – directed by Daniel Nettheim and written by Luke Kalteaux
  6. Tales from the Rift – directed by Regan Hall and written by Aaron Lam
  7. Twist and Shout – directed by Mark Beesley and written by Caitlin Meares
  8. Rifting Apart – directed by Mark Beesley and written by Bryan Hill
  9. Judgement Day – directed and written by Rick Jacobson
  10. The Mettle of Man – directed and written by Rick Jacobson

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…and a farewell message from “Ash Williams” himself, Bruce Campbell…

“Good people, Evil Dead fans everywhere, I bid you a heartfelt farewell playing Ash – the character I took acting lessons with for 39 years. I am hereby retiring from that portrayal. It’s time. I followed Ash from his formative years thru his mid-life crisis and decline. What a thrill! What a privilege! We had a great resurgence with the help of Starz (kudos not jeers, folks). They made it possible for 15 more hours of Evil Dead-ness in your life – the equivalent of 10 more features! Is Ash dead? Never. Ash is as much a concept as a person. Where there is evil in this world, there must be one to counter – man or woman, it matters not.

Thanks for watching.

Love, Bruce”

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 groovy chainsaws.
evil dead 2 rating

 

 

 

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ASH VS. EVIL DEAD SEASON 3 GETS A TRAILER AND POSTERS!

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I know I’m a little late with this, but…A new trailer…and some cool character pictures…of Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 are here! Bruce Campbell is back with returning Ray Santiago as Pablo, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly and Lucy Lawless as Ruby, with Aussie actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill joining the cast as Ash’s daughter, Brandy. The series premiers on Starz on 2/25/18 and I personally can’t wait!

-MonsterZero NJ

Sources: Youtube/Starz

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ASH VS. EVIL DEAD SEASON 3 GETS A TEASER!

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The first footage of Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 is here! Bruce Campbell is back with chainsaw in hand…or as hand, as the case may be…as are Ray Santiago as Pablo, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly and Lucy Lawless as Ruby, with Aussie actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill joining the cast as Ash’s daughter Brandy. The series premiers on Starz on 2/25/18

Sources: Youtube/Starz

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BODY BAGS (1993)

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BODY BAGS (1993)

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

Body Bags is a made for TV anthology the was produced, partially directed, and hosted by the great John Carpenter for Showtime in 1993. It’s an anthology of three unrelated stories linked by a morgue set framing segment with a creepy attendant (John Carpenter) relating the stories behind his latest corpses.

The first story is directed by Carpenter and is the best. The Gas Station is set in Haddonefield and finds a pretty night shift gas station attendant (Alex Datcher) on her first night of duty with a serial killer on the loose. It’s a spooky and suspenseful segment with Robert Carradine and David Naughton also starring and fun cameo appearances by the likes of Wes Craven and Sam Raimi along with Carpenter regulars Buck Flower and Peter Jason.

Second story is also directed by Carpenter and is sadly the weakest. The satirical Hair tells the story of vain middle aged Richard (Stacy Keach), who is frantic over his thinning hair. His sexy girlfriend Megan (Sheena Easton) doesn’t mind, but Richard is desperate. He turns to a TV pitchman, Dr. Lock (David Warner) who claims he can regrow lost hair with a revolutionary new process. Richard goes for it, but to his horror finds out you must be careful what you wish for, as his new hair seems to have a life of it’s own. Segment is well done, but more humorous and silly than scary. The segment also stars legendary singer Deborah Harry as a sexy nurse.

Third and final segment rebounds a bit with Tobe Hooper’s Eye. This segment finds minor league baseball player and expectant father Brent (Mark Hamill) loosing one of his eyes in a car accident. His career potentially over, he turns to a Dr. Lang (John Agar) who claims he has a new eye transplanting procedure that he’d like to try on Brent. His sight is restored, but while on recovery he starts to have strange visions and his behavior begins to change. Soon he finds out that his eye belonged to a serial killer and that killer might still somehow be possessing his eyes new owner. It has some very effective moments, a good performance by Hamill and some decent gore. Segment also stars singer/actress Twiggy as Brent’s wife and the legendary Roger Corman as Brent’s original doctor.

The three stories and wraparound were written by Billy Brown and Dan Angel and they could have used a bit more inventiveness, especially with the story similarities within the last two tales. Nonetheless they are all entertaining and with such guidance as Hooper and Carpenter, make for an entertaining enough 90 minutes. Carpenter seems to be having a blast playing the morgue attendant and his first segment shows he still has that magic. Originally this was intended to be a series, but for whatever reasons, it never happened beyond this initial flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 body bags.

 

 

 

 

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FIRST LOOK AT “ASH VS. EVIL DEAD” SEASON 3!

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It’s been a slow week here at MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse, but at least the man, the myth, the legend, Bruce Campbell has posted our first look at Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead season three with the caption “You should see the other guy.” It’s not much, but we’ll take it, as the first two seasons of this show have been a blast!

Obviously, Bruce Campbell is back for season three as are Ray Santiago as Pablo, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly and Lucy Lawless as Ruby with Aussie actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill joining the cast as a new regular. Can’t wait till the Fall! Groovy!

Sources: Twitter/Arrow in the Head.com

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CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: ELIZABETH COX as JENNIFER in INTRUDER!

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Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks. They’re femme fatales and final girls whose sexy stars shined only briefly, not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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ELIZABETH COX as JENNIFER in INTRUDER (1989)!

Intruder is a fun 1989 slasher that has the night crew of the Walnut Lake Market being stalked and killed one by one by a mysterious assailant. One of the employees is adorable cashier, Jennifer, as played by pretty Elizabeth Cox. Jennifer is currently being staked by her delinquent ex-boyfriend (David Byrnes), but does he want her back bad enough to kill all her friends? You’ll have to watch Intruder to find out and if you love 80s slashers, that shouldn’t be a problem, especially with this Cult Classic Cutie as our valiant final girl!
Elizabeth Cox fits the Cult Classic Cuties profile perfectly as she had a relatively short career on camera from 1984 to 1989 before disappearing from movies. The Chicago born actress had her first part as a student in the John Hughes classic Sixteen Candles before performing in small roles in not one but two cult classics in 1986, The Wraith and Night of the Creeps. She had another small role as a student in the Susanna Hoffs headlined comedy The All-Nighter, before her first and sadly last, starring role in this cult classic slasher. Too bad, she made a cute and resourceful final girl that we’d liked to have seen more of!

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(click on the poster for a full review)

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Stalked by her ex, about to lose her job and the target of a killer! Rough night at work!

Soon, collecting shopping carts will be the least of her worries!

Something is very wrong at the Walnut Lake Market!

Trapped between breakfast cereal and a serial killer!

Will help come in time for poor Jennifer?

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Elizabeth Cox may have left movies after only a few flicks, but seems to have kept very busy with wildlife conservation, news anchoring, magazine editing, working for the El Paso Zoo and having a family. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism from USC, so this cutie is no dummy! Whatever Liz is doing now, we will always remember her Jennifer in this fun, supermarket set 80s slasher!

A recent photo reveals she’s still a beauty!

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Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

source/ IMDB

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