MONSTERZERO NJ’S FINAL GIRL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2022 RUNNER UP!
This year’s MonsterZero NJ’s Final Girl Rookie of the Year was the talented Amber Midthunder from Prey…but…there is another actress who blew us away with her impressive late entry into the 2022 horror arena in the gore-tastic sequel Terrifier 2, that opened just this October! She plays Sienna Shaw a girl who catches Art the Clown’s (David Howard Thornton) attention in the worst way. She was so awesome in her very first feature horror film that we had to create a runner up spot to give her a shout out! So here is MonsterZero NJ’s Final Girl Rookie of the Year runner Up…
Lauren LaVera! A beautiful and talented actress we want to see more of!
Photo Credit: Joe Kelly/via IMDB
There’s no telling where this beautiful and talented actress will show up next! The surprise theatrical success of Terrifier 2 has gotten her much deserved attention and she appears to have a few projects currently in the works! Hopefully she’ll return to the horror soon, as she made a kick-ass final girl!
And don’t forget to check out our previous HalloweenHotties!
Head over to the HalloweenHottieslistings! to read them all!)
It’s a year after the Miles County Massacre and Halloween approaches. Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) is resurrected and now accompanied by a demon (Amelie McLain) in the form of a murdered girl, who is also dressed just like Art. This malevolent mini-me points Art in the direction of Sienna Shaw (Lauren LaVera) and her younger brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), whose deceased artist father seemed to have predicted the coming of the homicidal clown. Art leaves a trail of brutalized and bloodied victims as he and Sienna are destined to collide.
Gruesome slasher sequel is written and directed by Damien Leone who also did the editing and the abundant gore FX. It’s not what could be called a fun slasher as Art’s kills are cruel and sadistic and his victims are kept alive as long as possible as he mutilates and brutalizes them. It can be very unpleasant. The gore is practical make-up, and the FX are quite impressive and effective. Even one like myself who has been watching horror for over fifty years winced a few times. The film didn’t need to be 138 minutes long but also didn’t feel like it was over two hours and Leone wisely uses the time to let us catch our breath, so all the brutality remains effective. It is his best flick yet and he is honing his craft with some disturbing sequences, and a very impressive visual eye. The are some supernatural elements that go unexplained but do work and the abandoned carnival funhouse showdown is quite brutal and effective. Thorton’s Art is creepy as ever, yet can still make you chuckle, and Lauren LaVera makes a really strong and resilient heroine. Sienna is beaten, whipped, stabbed and yet keeps giving Art all she’s got. Complete in her armored angel Halloween costume, she makes quite the opponent for the crazed killer clown. Overall, this is a sick and twisted slasher made by a director who is showing some definite growth with each film and with a really strong final girl/leading lady in Lauren LaVera.
Murder mystery/slasher mash-up finds a group of friends partying in a mansion while a hurricane rages outside. They decide to play a game called Bodies Bodies Bodies where everyone draws a piece of paper, one piece selects someone as the killer while the others are potential victims. Lights are turned out and if the killer happens upon a victim, the poke them in the back “killing” them. Someone is playing for real as one of the group turns up dead. Soon fear and paranoia are flaring, fingers are getting pointed and bodies bodies bodies start piling up. Is there a killer among them…will any of them survive?
Film is well directed with a very European/Giallo flavor by Halina Reijn from a witty script by Sarah DeLappe, based on Kristen Roupenian’s story. We have a perfect set-up with a large mansion, a fierce storm to trap everyone inside and a lot of drinking and partying to dull senses and unleash inhibitions. We also have a lot of drama between characters just bubbling beneath the surface waiting to explode. We then are given the simple rules to the game which apparently gets taken far too seriously by someone…but who? The film is very effective at setting up the paranoia and the fear of the survivors and keeping the guilty party a secret even as the numbers start to dwindle, as desperate people do desperate things. It’s very entertaining and it comes to a nicely unpredictable conclusion that ads a twisted and fun dimension to the proceedings. It’s a fun and sometimes bloody flick with a nice visual style and a cool score by Disasterpeace, who did the great score for It Follows. Bloody fun slasher/whodunnit. Cast includes Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg, Myha’la Herrold, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson and Lee Pace.
Good things came from Amazon today! One of my favorites from last year that I finally picked up on Blu-Ray! The Last Matinee is a love letter to both Dario Argento and 80s slashers. Directed by Maximiliano Contenti, from his script with Manuel Facal, 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 its patrons. Will Ana, or any of them, make it to the end credits? (Full review HERE)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jason arrives to avenge his mom and horror history is made!
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!
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.
Babyface! The masked killer of The Hills Run Red and of the lost film of the same name.
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!