BARE BONES: SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (2021)

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SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (2021)

Flick is a remake/reimagining and, to a degree, a sequel to the Roger Corman cult classic. Flick opens at a slumber party in the 90s where power-drill wielding serial killer Russ Thorn (Rob Van Vuuren) murders all the girls except for Trish (Masali Baduza). In present day, Trish (Schelaine Bennett) is now an over-protective mother of her own daughter Dana (Hannah Gonera), who is headed off to a slumber party of her own with friends. Needless to say Russ Thorn shows up, but the hunter may become the hunted as Dana and her friends are not the helpless victims her mother’s friends were.

Flick is written by Suzanne Keilly and directed by Danishka Esterhazy, who directed the disappointing Banana Splits Movie. This slasher remake/homage is a dull mess that tries to be contemporary and clever, but is just routine and dull and never takes full advantage of any of it’s own ideas. Making the girls survival savvy and actually luring Russ into a trap was an amusing idea, but the film defeats it’s own purpose when the ladies start to fall victim anyway to serial killer #2—and that killer’s identity is so obvious, not sure why they bothered to try and keep it a secret. There is also a subplot of a house full of boys who mistake Dana and her friends for the killers, but that doesn’t go anywhere either, as the arrival of killer #2 puts an end to that plot element. The end confrontation is somewhat effective, but at that point the film has gotten so convoluted, you really don’t care. Stick with Corman’s classic as this SYFY misfire will be forgotten before October is even over.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: DEATH DROP GORGEOUS (2021)

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DEATH DROP GORGEOUS (2021)

Death Drop Gorgeous tells the story of a sadistic killer stalking Providence, Rhode Island’s LGBTQ+ community leaving mutilated, blood drained bodies behind. An assorted group of eccentric individuals, including a down on his luck bartender (Wayne Richard), a sleazy club owner (Brandon Perras) and an aging drag queen (Michael McAdam), all try to stay out of harm’s way, while trying to deal with their own issues and lives.

Film is written and directed by Michael J. Ahern, Christopher Dalphe and Brandon Perras, who all have parts in the film. As such, it’s a low budget effort with a visual style as colorful as it’s characters. This is the film’s strong point, as the cast try hard and do bring some enjoyable life and energy to their characters, especially the various drag queens who all want to be the star of the show. The drawback here is that the film can’t quite decide on what it wants to be. Is it a slasher? The death’s are vicious and very gory, but few and far between. The killer’s identity does make sense, though, and is a bit of a surprise. Is it a comedy? There are some laughs and some very spicy dialogue, but not enough to be an outright comedy. Is it a drama? There is plenty of drama, especially amongst these drama queens, but sandwiched between the scenes of gruesome murder, when the film decides to go back to being a slasher. As a whole, the tone is all over the place and maybe three writers and directors is why. The flick is also a bit too graphic and raunchy for it’s own good, sort of Herschell Gordon Lewis meets john Waters, but that, however, is a matter of one’s personal taste, as to whether this movie goes too far, or maybe, not far enough. Still Drop Dead Gorgeous is the type of film that could catch on amongst the LGBTQ+ audience it’s aimed at and become a cult midnight movie, which would suit it’s offbeat style just fine. You have to give these folks credit for getting their movie made and their way! Death Drop Gorgeous hits VOD on 9/10/21 and has a cameo from the legendary Linnea Quigley.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

BARE BONES: THE LAST MATINEE (2020)

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THE LAST MATINEE (2020)

South American horror finds young student Ana (Luciana Grasso) working the night shift at a rundown movie theater, where she and her father are the projectionists. While a sub-par horror flick plays to a small, disinterested audience, Ana studies in the projection booth, unaware a killer (Ricardo Islas) is stalking the theater and has started to kill it’s patrons. Will Ana, or any of them, make it to the end credits?

As directed by Maximiliano Contenti, from his script with Manuel Facal, this is a stylish and colorful tribute to the Italian Giallo flicks, especially those by Dario Argento. With its leather-gloved killer and colorful cinematography, The Last Matinee hits the mark paying tribute to those films, while also giving a few nods to the classic slasher films of the 80s, with it’s very slasher-like plot. Our rain-coated killer, is known in the credits only as Asesino Comeojos, which translates to “Eye-eating Killer.” He is very effective and let’s just say he’s appropriately named. This mysterious stalker dispatches his victims in very gory ways and the FX portraying those deaths would make Lucio Fulci proud. There are some fun chases, once Ana realizes what’s going on and is pursued, along with the few survivors, throughout the theater. The film is very moderately paced, like the movies it pays homage to, but balances that out by not overstaying it’s welcome at only 88 minutes long. There is a nostalgic and atmospheric electronic score by Hernán González and some very Giallo-esque neon cinematography by Benjamín Silva. A loving tribute that does a good job capturing the tone, visual style and feel of the films it pays homage to. Maximiliano Contenti definitely shows promise. Now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: INITIATION (2020)

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INITIATION (2020)

Initiation is another horror with a message about inappropriate sexual behavior towards women. The slasher focuses on a college campus where girls thought to be promiscuous are marked in texts with exclamation points by predatory males. Pretty Kylie (Isabella Gomez) finds herself waking up in a male student’s bedroom after passing out during a homecoming party and not sure of what happened to her. Soon, one of the boys possibly involved, star student Wes Scott (Froy Gutierrez), is brutally murdered. While Kylie struggles with what happened to her and Wes’ sister Ellery (Lindsay LaVanchy) struggles with the murder of her brother and what he’s accused of, a mirror masked killer begins stalking and murdering students.

Flick is stylishly directed by John Berardo from his script with Brian Frager and star LaVanchy. It finds inspiration not only from contemporary themes from the #metoo era, but classic slashers like Scream, and it’s visual style, with it’s mirror masked face killer and bold neon colors, hinting Berardo may have been a fan of Dario Argento, as well. The kills are quite vicious and there is some graphic bloodshed, as the stalker uses various tools to savagely kill his or her victims. It’s a very somber slasher for it’s first hour with it’s gruesome kills few and spaced out, while focusing on the emotional turmoil of both Kylie and Ellery. It cranks up the intensity for it’s climax, where we get a reveal which works in context of the story, though isn’t a complete surprise, as, at this point, there are not too many suspects left. Overall, this is an effective and stylish slasher with a more moderate pace, until the last act, which deftly applies some very topical themes with it’s subtext of young women being taken advantage of and more concern show for the victimizer than the victim. Worth a watch on streaming outlets like Amazon Prime and has a good cast that also stars veteran actress Yancy Butler, as a police detective and horror vet Lochlyn Munro (Freddy vs. Jason), as the university chancellor, who may be more concerned with reputations than justice.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2!

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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2!

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Five years after the events of Friday the 13th, a new group of camp counselors line up for the slaughter!

40 years ago this weekend, 4/30/81 to be exact, Friday the 13th Part 2 was released in theaters and a classic horror icon was born! Jason arrived to avenge his mother, in this installment, and thus his iconic character first came to life! HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2!

MZNJ PERSONAL NOTE: Saw F13P2 opening night at the Hackensack Drive-In Little Ferry, N.J.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-26-at-8.55.19-PMJason arrives to avenge his mom and horror history is made!

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Life lessons to be learned in F13P2! Fun-loving Ted (Stuart Charno) survives the movie by staying at the bar and continuing to get drunk!

-MonsterZero NJ

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COOL STUFF: THE HILLS RUN RED (2009) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

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THE HILLS RUN RED (2009) COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU-RAY!

 

The Hills Run Red (2009) (full review HERE) is a bloody…and very 80s…slasher flick that was sadly overlooked when first released directly to DVD on 9/29/2009. It has since gained a strong and loyal cult following and now, thanks to the great folks at Scream Factory, is getting the treatment and respect it deserves!

 

As for the disc itself….

The high definition transfer of this cult favorite looks really good and wonderfully complements Ilan Rosenberg’s cinematography, as well as, the film’s unsettling visual design. The flick is presented in the original 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The colors are bright and vibrant and the images are sharp. The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and should satisfy any home theater enthusiasts, as well as, it’s intended audience.

 

Now on to the extras….

There are some very extensive and informative extras on this disc! The special edition contains all the extras from the original DVD release, including the audio commentary and the It’s Not Real Until You Shoot It: MakingThe Hills Run Red feature.

The new stuff is bountiful. We get two new audio commentaries featuring director Dave Parker, podcaster Patrick Bromley and fan favorite filmmakers Joe Lynch and Adam Green. We get a bunch of video interviews. They start off with an in-depth look at the creation of it’s score from composer Frederik Wiedmann. We get extensive interviews with executive producer Erik Olsen, director Dave Parker and writer David J. Schow. These interviews give some great insight into the production, especially detailing Warner Brothers enthusiastically green-lighting the film after reading the script, then backtracking once they saw the first cut. This explains the short runtime and why the film was dumped unceremoniously on DVD. We get a day in the shooting of the film with, Friday the 13th, June 2008. We get a look at improve scenes shot by the cast for the character filmed segments in The Hills Are Alive…With The Sound Of Improv. The next batch of new featurettes appear to be put together from unreleased interview and behind the scenes footage during the production. These include separate documentaries each on William Sadler’s portrayal of Wilson Wyler Concannon, as well as, Janet Montgomery, Sophie Monk, Alex Wyndham and Tad Hilgenbrink playing their respective roles. After the cast, there are on-set interviews with producer Robert Meyer Burnett and production designer Antonello Rubino. Also be aware, there is a lot of unused footage from the film peppered throughout all these featurettes and a nice production scrapbook that is the icing on the new extras cake. All in all, this is a whooping selection of extras to delight the film’s fans that make this modestly priced special edition well worth the purchase.

 

The Hills Run Red (2009) may not have gotten the attention or box office release it deserved, but the folks at Scream Factory have finally given this fan favorite slasher the respect it’s due. The film looks great and there are some very extensive and informative extras involving many facets of the film’s production. If you are a fan of this film, this disc is almost certainly what you have been waiting for!

-MonsterZero NJ

HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO FRIDAY THE 13th!

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The woman that started it all, Jason’s mom, Mrs. Voorhees!

40 years ago today the original Friday the 13th was released in theaters and a horror classic, a legendary franchise and a horror icon were born! Sure, Jason didn’t come along as the killer till part 2, but this is the installment were his iconic character first came to life! HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY FRIDAY THE 13th!

-MonsterZero NJ

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2018!

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2018!

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features a new final girl on the block who appeared in her first horror flick in 2018 and made quite an impression! With the release of Stevan Mena’s long awaited Malevolence 3: Killer, we were introduced to this fresh face in the role of the film’s heroine, Ellie!…And this actress got our attention! Without further ado…MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hotties rookie of the year 2018 is…

KATIE GIBSON!

Katie Gibson is new to the horror movie scene, making her final girl debut in Stevan Mena’s Malevolence 3: Killer. While she had a vocal part in Mena’s Bereavement, this is her first starring role and she made a strong impression. Her Ellie was a very likable character, resilient, smart, compassionate and when serial killer Martin Bristol comes knocking, she responds with some knocks of her own. We can only hope that if Mena continues the franchise, Katie is along for the next installment…or Malevolence 3: Killer gets her enough attention for future roles in other projects. Attention she deserves! We can’t wait to see more of this talented and beautiful young actress!

KATIE GIBSON as ELLIE in MALEVOLENCE 3: KILLER!

Malevolence 3: Killer‘s brave and strong-willed Ellie, unaware evil lurks close by!

Katie Gibson gets to try on a classic slasher trope as she watches her young neighbor!

Ellie finds out something is very wrong as Martin Bristol returns to his former home.

Ellie risking her own life to protect her young neighbor, Victoria (Victoria Mena).

Can Ellie turn the tables on a killer?

Katie’s got talent and a girl-next-door presence that made her a natural for this type of role. Mena has a gift for picking good final girls, as Alexandra Daddario served final girl duties in Bereavement and hot mom type Samantha Dark was a strong heroine in the original Malevolence. Hopefully actress Katie Gibson and director Stevan Mena will both be working on new projects soon!

-MonsterZero NJ

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And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties!

Head over to the Halloween Hotties listings! to read them all!)

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5 DIRECTORS BRINGING NEW BLOOD TO HORROR!

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5 DIRECTORS BRINGING NEW BLOOD TO HORROR!

At Halloween 🎃 time it is when we most think about scary movies, even those of us who watch them all year round. So why not take a look at five individuals who are bringing their own distinct vision to the genre and whom horror fans should be talking more about!…and no, I didn’t forget the ladies, they deserve their own installment, forthcoming!

(To get to the full reviews of the films mentioned, just hit the highlighted titles that link to the corresponding page!)

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Adam MacDonald

 

Adam MacDonald is a Canadian actor and filmmaker who has written and directed two features, thus far, that have made quite an impression. His first film Backcountry is a survival thriller that followed a couple (Jeff Roop and Missy Peregrym) who go camping in the woods. Jealous of his girlfriend’s success, her beau chooses a lesser traveled route to prove himself to her. This puts them within the feeding ground of a massive and very hungry grizzly bear and thus sets up an intense and sometimes brutal last act. His second film Pyewacket is a supernatural thriller which finds a mother and daughter (Laurie Holden and Nicole Muñoz) in conflict over their methods of mourning the death of their husband/father. This propels the occult fascinated teen Leah (Muñoz) to evoke the dark entity Pyewacket to kill her mother. Leah soon learns to be careful what you wish for. Both films use troubled relationships as a catalyst for their stories and Pyewacket especially has some good old fashion scares and chills supported by a strong emotional center. MacDonald is showing a versatility and a depth to his filmmaking. Adam currently wrapped filming on Slasher season 3, so look out for more from this talented new voice in horror!

Nicole Muñoz conjures the wrong spirit in Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket

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Stevan Mena

 

Stevan Mena is a New York born filmmaker who is a one man production company, writing ,editing, directing, producing and even scoring his own films. He made a splash in 2003 with his low budget slasher Malevolence, which was an old-fashioned horror throwback that echoed both Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Set in and around an abandoned slaughterhouse, it told the chilling story of some bank robbers and their hostages meeting up with serial killer Martin Bristol (Jay Cohen). He followed that up with a horror icon filled horror/comedy called Brutal Massacre, before returning to the saga of Bristol in 2010 with the brutal and intense Bereavement. The second Malevolence film was a prequel telling the story of how serial killer Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) kidnapped Martin (Spencer List ) as a child and trained him to be his successor. It’s one of the best horrors of the decade IMO. Recently Mena overcame some tragic events to complete his Malevolence trilogy with the independently financed Malevolence 3: Killer. Sequel has an adult Martin (a returning Jay Cohen) leaving a blood soaked trail on the way back to his home town. Mena’s work evokes that of John Carpenter himself and one hopes he returns to the director’s chair sooner than later.

A killer (Jay Cohen) returns home in Stevan Mena’s Malevolence 3: Killer

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Colin Minihan

 

Colin Minihan started out as part of the writing/directing duo known as The Vicious Brothers along with collaborator Stuart Ortiz. Their first film was the fun and spooky found footage paranormal show send up Grave Encounters in 2011. They followed that up with the entertaining and chilling cabin in the woods/alien invasion hybrid Extraterrestrial in 2014. Though co-written with Ortiz, Minihan took the director’s chair solo for the next film It Stains The Sands Red. This was an amusing, bloody and offbeat tale of a lone woman (Brittany Allen) being followed across the desert by a lone zombie. An interesting relationship forms as she fights brutal heat, dehydration and her relentless undead pursuer. Minihan wrote and directed his fourth film on his own with the brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive. One of the years best, it finds a married lesbian couple (Brittany Allen and Hanna Emily Anderson) celebrating their anniversary in a remote cabin in the woods. Soon romantic bliss becomes a battle for survival as one of the women is not who she seems. This flick proves Minihan is a force to be reckoned with, armed with a great script, taunt direction and brilliant work by his lead actresses. Minihan is a filmmaker fans need to be talking more about.

Lover vs lover in Colin Minihan’s brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive

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Anthony Diblasi

 

Boston born Anthony Diblasi is another filmmaker showing great versatility and a mastery of horror while also providing some emotional depth to his films. His first film Dread was a chilling tale of a college documentary project about fear, spinning horribly out of control. His next film Cassadaga, found deaf art teacher Lily (Kelen Coleman) being haunted by the spirit of a murdered young woman whose killer may have his sights set next on the pretty teacher. Diblasi worked on some non-genre projects and the horror anthology The Profane Exhibit before co-writing and directing The Last Shift in 2014. One of his scariest flicks, the story found a young policewoman being given the final shift in a haunted police precinct closing it’s doors in the morning…but can she survive the night? Diblasi returned to horror again in 2015 with Most Likely To Die, an old fashioned slasher about a high school reunion turned deadly, and again in 2018 with Extremity. His latest finds an emotionally troubled woman turning to an extreme haunt to make her face her fears…bad idea. The film was not only disturbing and scary, but had a strong emotional lining with multi-dimensional characters and commentary about abuse and the lives it effects. Another filmmaker that is bringing a distinct voice to the horror genre.

Emotionally troubled Allison (Dana Christina) turns to an extreme haunt to face her fears in Anthony Diblasi’s Extremity

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Oz Perkins

 

Just because he is the son of legendary actor Anthony (Psycho) Perkins, one should not assume actor/director Oz Perkins knows horror…but he does! One of the most interesting filmmakers out there, Perkins has a unique vision and a strong ability to chill to the bone. His first film The Blackcoat’s Daughter finds Rose (Lucy Boynton), a student at a Catholic girls school, given charge of new student Kat (Kiernan Shipka) at break. With almost everyone else gone, Rose starts to realize there is something very wrong with Kat and that she may be in danger. Perkins followed that up with a very atmospheric ghost story I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. Perkins writes and directs a subtle, yet chilling tale of care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) coming to live with ailing horror novelist Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Soon timid Lily starts to find out that Iris Blum’s inspirations may be far more real than she’d like. It’s a creepy and very effective film. Word has it his next film may be entitled A Head Full Of Ghosts and as he is bringing a very unique style to the genre, he sounds like the right man for the job!

Care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) finds her charge may have had all too real inspiration for her horror novels in Oz Perkins’ I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

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So these are five creative forces bringing new blood to horror. Each one is worth screaming about and their films are certainly worth checking out!

…and stay tuned for our second installment taking a look at the creative ladies bringing their unique voices to the genre!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: MALEVOLENCE 3: KILLER (2018)

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MALEVOLENCE 3: KILLER (2018)

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

After Bereavement, writer/director/editor Stevan Mena decided to go back to basics with the third installment of his Malevolence franchise by not only returning to a more classic slasher format, but by independently financing the film. Tragedy struck his production, though, with only 75% of the movie finished, when actor Scott Decker sadly took his own life. With little money for re-shoots, the film went on hiatus for two years until Mena’s passion and perseverance found a way to finally finish it. Malevolence 3 now sees it’s release on home media and video streaming right in time for Halloween! 🎃

Malevolence 3: Killer opens with the final scenes of the first film…remember, Bereavement was a prequel…with serial killer Martin Bristol (Jay Cohen) escaping into the woods. Martin, in true Michael Myers fashion, returns to his childhood home town and begins a killing spree. He leaves a trail of bodies as he returns to the house he was born in, which is now home to pretty student and musician Ellie (Katie Gibson) and her roommates Tara (Kelsey Deanne) and the vivacious Lynn (Alli Caudle). Drawn to the three girls, Martin begins stalking them, killing anyone who crosses his path. All the while Agent Perkins (Kevin McKelvey) is hot on his trail in hopes to stop Martin before he kills again.

Malevolence was a solid slasher homage giving us elements that evoked both Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bereavement was something all it’s own with a portrait of a deranged killer (Brett Rickaby) teaching his grim trade to kidnapped little boy, Martin (Spencer List). With the third installment, Stevan Mena returns to a more traditional slasher film with the adult Martin paying his home town a bloody visit and a trio of young girls picking the wrong house to preside in. As such, Mena crafts another solid slasher flick much on par with his original. The film doesn’t quite have the emotional resonance of his creation of a serial killer prequel, though there are some scenes with Martin’s grieving mother (Ashley Wolfe) and grandmother (the legendary Adrienne Barbeau), which work nicely on that level. In most slashers if the killer’s mother is still alive, she’s usually portrayed as equally deranged, so this was a nice change and added some depth. Most importantly, the film does do what it’s supposed to do and does it well. It’s paced much like the slashers of the early 80s with a moderate burn till the last act. There is some traditional skin shown by it’s lovely cast and the kills are bloody and brutal, yet grounded, so they keep their impact and avoid the outlandishness of many other slasher franchises. Mena’s killer is effective and needs no mask to elicit chills and his prey are a likable group of girls and neighbors, so we feel for them. When that last act comes and Martin and Ellie throw down, it’s intense and bloody as Agent Perkins closes in…but will it be in time? On a technical level Mena’s shots are excellently framed, that and his cinematography evokes Carpenter and Dean Cundey in the very best way. The film looks very good for a low budget flick and except for a few shots of Katie Gibson’s hair changing length a bit, there is really no evidence the film had such a troubled production. Again, a filmmaker’s passion and perseverance found a way to complete his vision.

Cast-wise Mena hits a home run with the casting of Katie Gibson as Ellie. Her Ellie is sweet, strong and a very likable young lady. She is also tough and resilient when Martin finally moves in for the kill. She’s a great final girl in every sense of the word and even gets to play a variation of the traditional babysitter, when, thanks to Martin, her young neighbor Victoria (Victoria Mena) finds herself all alone. If Stevan Mena continues this franchise or makes another horror film, I hope he brings Gibson along. As Martin, Jay Cohen is an imposing figure. He doesn’t speak, but isn’t hidden behind a mask, so the actor has to display his cold blooded-ness with only his eyes and facial expression and he does so very well…and remember, Martin also has congenital analgesia, so he can’t feel pain. Kevin McKelvey returns for his third go as Perkins and fits the mold of the “Dr. Loomis” of the film. He’s tough and strong, yet there is also compassion, as he recognizes that in some ways Martin is just as much a victim as he is a killer. This touch helps Perkins avoid being a stereotype. Barbeau is effective in her few scenes as Martin’s grandmother, as is Ashley Wolfe returning as Martin long-suffering mom. In support, Alli Caudle and Kelsey Deanne are likable as the saucy Lynn and studious Tara, respectively and it is sad Scott Decker was not able to complete his role, as Agent Roland is a likable character with, unavoidably, too little screen time. RIP.

Overall, this was a solid slasher and another example of Stevan Mena’s love of the genre. IMO Bereavement is one of the best horror films in the last ten years and Mena wisely doesn’t try to replicate it. Sequel instead returns to basics to display the results of Graham Sutter’s (Rickaby) work in Martin. It has a moderate pace echoing it’s influences and delivers the goods from some bloody kills to a resilient and very endearing final girl. Mena overcame some heavy obstacles to complete his trilogy and one hopes the trilogy becomes a series and Malevolence 4 will be a smoother production and come sooner than the eight years between these films. Mena is yet another filmmaker people need to be talking more about and another example that you can get your film made!

F.Y.I. Malevolence 3: Killer is available for streaming on Amazon and iTunes, or you can order the complete trilogy on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com and Walmart.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 knives!

 

 

 

 

 

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