5 DIRECTORS BRINGING NEW BLOOD TO HORROR!

MZNJ_new_views

now playing

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!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oz Perkins

 

Just because one 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

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

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

 

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SORORITY ROW (2009)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

SORORITY ROW (2009)

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

Flick is a remake of sorts of the 1983 House on Sorority Row. It finds the girls of the Theta Pi sorority in quite the moral conundrum as a prank goes awry and leaves one of their sisters, Megan (Audrina Patridge) dead. Good girl Cassidy (Briana Evigan) is overruled and the rest of the girls (Margo Harshman, Jamie Chung, Leah Pipes and Rumor Willis) decide to hide the body and forget it ever happened. But eight months later, on graduation day, the girls start getting cryptic messages and bodies start to pile up. Someone knows what happened that fateful night and has a homicidal grudge against the sorority sisters of Theta Pi.

Slasher is well directed by Stewart Hendler from a script by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger. It follows the slasher formula very well, setting up a group of people being stalked by an unknown assailant for reasons of retribution based on an earlier incident. There are some good kills with some decent gore and even if it’s never really scary, there are some suspenseful chases and there is a bit of a sly sense of humor to the proceedings. There is nothing new or innovative here, but it is a well executed use of the traditional slasher scenario and the classic reveal is a bit of a surprise. The use of a group of bitchy sorority girls with a secret narrows the likable characters down to only a few, so in some cases we’re actually rooting for the mean girls to get theirs, but Cassidy is a likable heroine and so is conflicted Ellie and Megan’s smart-ass younger sister Maggie (Caroline D’Amore). So at least we have some characters to get behind as our hooded killer lurks about with their tire iron turned murder weapon.

As for the cast playing these characters, Evigan really shines as the morally sound Cassidy, who is blackmailed basically into keeping the big secret. She has screen presence aside from girl-next-door good looks and makes a solid final girl. Leah Pipes is fun as the sorority queen bitch, Jessica and while she is an unlikable character, the actress does give her some charm and swagger. Margot Harshman and Jamie Chung are also good as sorority snobs Chugs and Claire with Harshman giving her Chugs a strong devil-may-care attitude that makes her amusing. Rounding out is Rumor Willis as the sweet, but conflicted Ellie who is not dealing well with her guilt and Caroline D’Amore is fun as Maggie, especially when she gives major attitude to Jessica. There is also a small role by the late Carrie Fisher as the sorority house mother, Mrs. Crenshaw, which the veteran actress gives lots of character in her few scenes.

Overall, this is a solid enough slasher, though far from anything trend setting. It’s competently made and has enough sly humor and gory kills to entertain. It follows the traditional formula well and the cast go with the material, especially Briana Evigan as heroine Cassidy. A fun slasher and not bad as remakes go.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 tire irons turned nifty weapons.

 

 

 

 

 

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)

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

College student Theresa (Jessica Rothe) is having a really bad day…over and over again. She wakes up in the dorm of a strange guy, she’s mean to those around her, she’s sleeping with one of her professors, it’s a birthday she doesn’t want to face and someone is trying to kill her…and does. But Theresa keeps waking up at the moment of her death, starting the day all over again. She soon realizes that if she is to break the loop, she has to find out who this masked killer is and stop them. Easier said than done if there weren’t so many people who might want her dead.

Obviously, the Groundhog Day routine with reliving the same day over and over has been done to death, but here it’s literally. Director Christopher B. Landon knows we’ve seen it all before and takes the derivative ball and runs with it. Landon is helped by a fun script he co-wrote with Scott Lobdell and a sassy stick of dynamite leading lady in Rothe’s Theresa. As it starts out, Theresa is an unlikable mean girl…though her mean quips are very funny…but as she embarks on her journey of identifying her masked killer and ending this loop, it takes her from snotty sorority girl to sarcastic and feisty heroine. It’s a blast to watch Theresa as she meets each day head on and each time finds a new piece of the puzzle, all the while discovering things about herself. If it sounds corny, it is and Landon knows it and revels in it. He also delivers some solid suspense, some intense action and a few surprises on the road to Theresa’s final confrontation with the killer in her midst. It’s also kind of fun to watch the spunky girl die over and over again in different ways, only to have to do it all again with increasing frustration. The humor and suspense are perfectly mixed here, making it all the more enjoyable. This is a prime example of a filmmaker taking familiar elements and having a good time with them and not just re-using them in a by-the-numbers manner. The result is a fun slasher/thriller with a very hip sense of humor and a heroine to really endear to and root for.

As for our leading lady, Jessica Rothe is having an outright blast with the plot contrivances and owns this flick from start to finish. She introduces us to a mean, snarky, sorority princess and slowly transforms her into a smart, sarcastic and resilient final girl, who grows with each repeat of the ill-fated Monday the 18th. She is firecracker of a leading lady and really makes even the corniest elements of her transformation believable, such as her having the courage and tenacity to face a killer head on. It’s her show and she handles it like a boss. In support is a charming turn by Israel Broussard, as Carter, the boy she wakes up with and bonds with over her dilemma. The two have a nice chemistry on screen and their forming relationship works very well. The rest of the cast is also solid with Rachel Matthews as Theresa’s even meaner sorority sister Danielle, Ruby Modine as her sweet and verbally abused roommate Lori, Charles Aitken as her professor/lover and Rob Mello as a captured serial killer who may, or may not, be her masked murderer.

So, maybe this is not the most original film in terms of story, but it knows it and just runs with it. Christopher B. Landon…who wrote four successive Paranormal Activity sequels and also directed the Marked Ones spin-off…has really sharpened his craft by having a blast with he and Scott Lobdell’s clever slasher variation on the Bill Murray classic…which is playfully acknowledged in the film. It’s a fun movie that succeeds beyond it’s means thanks to a filmmaker who gets how to handle the material and a star-making performances by leading lady Jessica Rothe.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 baby-faced killers.

 

 

 

bars

CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: ELIZABETH COX as JENNIFER in INTRUDER!

MZNJ_cult_classic_cuties

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…

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

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!

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

(click on the poster for a full review)

bars

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?

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

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!

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

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

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

most likely to die

bars

MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)

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

Old school slasher flick tells the story of an approaching ten year high school reunion being attended by a group of friends who meet beforehand at a remote house in the California hills. Obviously, by our opening scene, there is a killer stalking them and killing them in ways that reference their yearbook’s ‘most likely’ quotes about them. Is it the student they teased and tormented in school now back for revenge?…or does someone else have a grudge against these ill-fated alumni?

Flick is directed by Anthony DiBlasi (Cassadaga, Last Shift) who gives the proceedings a sense of grisly fun despite not having the strongest script from Laura Brennan. It’s hard to tell sometimes if Brennan is deliberately trying to pay homage to the 80s era slashers by having characters do dumb things, like separate individually to check the rooms of the house once they know a killer is at large, or stopping to bare each other’s souls while that killer is at large, who could attack at any minute. Some of the dialogue is a bit clunky and a few of the kills would have required the killer knowing exactly where someone is going beforehand for things to be set up and waiting. It’s just hard to tell if some of this is done on purpose, or just out of lack of imagination, as sometimes the script follows the classic 80s slasher formula and sometimes it seems like it wants to be it’s own thing. There is some cleverness, too, such as the killer’s yearbook based MO and his weapon of choice, a razor edged graduation cap. The script, thankfully, also avoids going the smarmy, pop culture reference imbued post-Scream route, which has been done to death. We also get a fairly surprising reveal and the film does have a bit of a twisted sense of humor. On a production level, DiBlasi again proves he is a talent to watch. He makes the most out of the script and turns this into an enjoyable slasher with some suspenseful scenes, intense action and some inventively gory kills with that razor edged graduation cap, a box cutter and some other handy items. Some of the demises are quite vicious and gives our killer some solid menace. As for the killer, they are very effective with graduation gown and spooky homemade mask and they seem quite giddy when they slaughter their victims. The gore is quite abundant and well done and DiBlasi’s visual style works well with the story. Not his strongest film, but still very entertaining.

Except for Glee alumni Heather Morris, Jake Busey and a part played by internet gossip Perez Hilton, the cast are fairly unfamiliar faces. Morris shows the makings for a good heroine here and is solid as good girl Gaby. Busey is suitably creepy as the groundskeeper..always gotta have a creepy groundskeeper…and Hilton is actually good as a cowardly, ex-alcoholic returning to old habits once things get intense. The rest of the cast are all fine in their roles with Tess Christiansen showing some final girl potential herself as Gaby’s friend Jade.

I had fun with this despite it’s flaws. The script could have been tighter, but it’s heart is in the right place and it did follow the slasher formula well enough to entertain. There are some nice touches and Anthony DiBlasi guides things well, gives us some nice suspense, some outrageous and brutal kills and keeps the atmosphere going from the opening scenes. Not as intense as Last Shift but a fun slasher flick with an effective killer.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 graduation caps

most likely to die rating

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DR. GIGGLES (1992)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

dr giggles poster

bars

DR. GIGGLES (1992)

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

Dr. Giggles may have been released in 1992, but is very 80s from it’s look and feel to the metal tune blasting during the end credits…though sadly it reflects the exhaustion of the 80s slasher trend more than anything else.

The story has it’s roots in 1957 where Dr. Evan Rendell was murdered by the townsfolk of Moorehigh for killing his patients by removing their hearts in order to revive his dead wife. Rendell’s son escaped the mob and has disappeared without a trace. In modern day (1992, that is), a John Doe mental patient referred to as Dr. Giggles (Larry Drake), for his obsession with medical procedures and disturbing laugh, escapes an asylum and makes his way to Moorehigh. It would seem Dr. Giggles is actually Evan Rendell Jr. and he has set his sights on the people of the town for revenge. His plans alter a bit when he encounters pretty young Jennifer Campbell (Holly Marie Combs), a teen with a heart condition of the same kind that claimed Rendell’s mother…and Jennifer’s own. Now Dr. Giggles is out to acquire his patient and perform surgery on her at all costs and will kill anyone that gets in his way…or has the right amount of heart!

Flick is directed and co-written (with Graeme Whifler) by Manny Coto, who is far better known for his TV work than his few feature films. Coto doesn’t seem to know what kind of film he wants to make, as while Dr. Giggles has a serious tone, it is filled to the brim with goofy kills and frequent quips from it’s killer that highlight all the medical jokes and clichés it can fit in it’s 96 minute running time. Is it a comedy?…or a horror? The problem is that, as either, it is not very successful. The film has it’s fans, but it’s dull as a routine slasher and the medical jokes and exaggerated kills get tiresome quickly. There are little chills and suspense and the kills aren’t quite gruesome enough to shock…and are neutered by the jokiness anyway. There are also some major plot holes, such as when did Giggles have the time to make all his exaggerated/comical medical implements to use on his victims and if his father was suddenly dragged from his home and stoned to death, who sealed up his secret operating room in the basement? His escaped son was only seven. There are a few more questions we’d liked answered, but the film never really does and only it’s climactic showdown between Rendell, heroine Jennifer and her boyfriend-to-the-rescue Max (Glenn Quinn), gives us some intensity and action. Otherwise, this is a fairly ho-hum horror with a few gross moments, but mostly a lot of bad doctor clichés and far too obvious plot holes that just illustrate how tired slasher flicks had become at this point.

The cast, at least it’s leads, are far better than the film deserves. Larry Drake is very creepy as Giggles and gives him just the right balance of over-the-top and restraint. Too bad the material let’s him down. Same can be said of pre-Charmed Holly Marie Combs who makes Jennifer a feisty, strong-willed young lady and she is very likable. Cliff De Young is fine as her recently remarried dad and 80s hottie and horror veteran Michelle Johnson is hot and bitchy as Jennifer’s new shrew of a step-mom. Glenn Quinn is also likable and charming as Jennifer’s boyfriend Max and makes a suitable hero. A decent cast with sadly weak material to work with.

Not overly fond of this flick. It has a few scant moments, but for the most part, is dull and a perfect example of the slasher genre out of gas and at the end of it’s initial run, before Scream came along and revived it as self-aware, pop-culture reference dropping homage. The cast are actually very good, but the script is weak and full of far more holes than usually tolerable in a horror movie. Director Manny Coto doesn’t leave much of a signature on the film and was far more successful writing for TV. The flick has it’s fans, so it’s up to you if you want to catch up with it, if you haven’t seen it yet.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 (out of 4) scalpels.

dr giggles rating

 

 

 

 

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

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

slumber party massacre

bars

THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982)

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

Not one to leave any stone unturned, Roger Corman’s New World Pictures entered the slasher fray with this fun and bloody tale of a madman slaughtering his way through a slumber party. Flick has serial killer Russ Thorn (Michael Villella) and his trusty power drill escaping from prison and getting down to business at a local high school. A bunch of babes from the girl’s high school basketball team are getting together for a slumber party at pretty Trish’s (Michelle Michaels) house and good ole Russ overhears and decides to crash. A night of blood, boobies and drill bits ensues.

Another instance when Corman proved himself a boundary breaker by hiring two women to write (Rita Mae Brown) and direct (Amy Holden Jones) a horror film decades before those boundaries finally came crashing down. Jones doesn’t really give Slumber Party any real strong intensity or suspense, but it is colorful, fun and has the proper amount of blood and boobs to make it a Corman production. While certainly influenced by Halloween, the film doesn’t try to emulate it, other than using the slasher formula and instead has a bit more fun with the scenario. It’s not a outright comedy, though it knows what it is and just goes with it, leaving any pretensions of equalling Carpenter’s classic behind. Jones does give her sleazy psycho some menace, his victims are cute and perky high school girl types who disrobe often and Brown’s script interestingly leaves main final girl Valerie (Robin Stille) on the sidelines till the last act. She’s a neighbor and new student at school, who turned down a party invitation, but comes over to help once she starts to feel something is wrong next door. Not groundbreaking, but again, the film has a little fun with the expected conventions, such as Valerie babysitting younger sister Courtney (Jennifer Meyers), so that does make her a babysitter. The film has an appropriately moody score by Ralph Jones, some colorful cinematography by Stephen L. Posey and at 77 minutes doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

The cast all range from fine to adequate. The girls are all pretty and the boys that crash the party are typical horny boys just there for body count. Michael’s Trish is a little snobby but still likable. Stille’s Valerie is a sweet girl next door type who is resented by Trish for being the new rival for attention at school. Obviously, she becomes quite resilient when dealing with Thorn. Meyers is the typical annoying younger sister, but looks twice the age of the ‘twelve’ that she’s supposed to be. Villella’s Russ Thorn barely speaks, but is an intense looking man and makes a suitable psycho killer and his handiwork is quite gruesome.

I like this 80s slasher. It’s not great, but it is a lot of fun and delivers the boobs and blood in typical Corman exploitation style. It has a good time with the conventions of the sub-genre yet, doesn’t make so much fun of the story as to make a joke out of it. Director Jones does a good job of delivering an entertaining horror. It never really gets really intense or scary, though it does deliver the blood spattering. An enjoyable 80s slasher that would spawn two more sequels and another example of Corman giving women a voice in horror long before it was considered ‘acceptable’ by other studios.

As for proof Roger Corman was a pioneer in giving women writers and directors a voice in horror, hit the link HERE to read our exposé FROM FINAL GIRLS TO FILMMAKERS: HOW ROGER CORMAN HELPED GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN HORROR!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 drill bits

slumber party massacre rating

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GIRLHOUSE (2014)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

GirlHouse-2014

bars

GIRLHOUSE (2014)

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

Girlhouse is simply one of the best old school style slashers that I have seen in years. Yes, it has some modern touches, but at heart, it’s right out of the 80s slasher era.

The story opens in 1988 with a chubby and shy boy (Issac Faulkner) being teased and humiliated by two mean girls (Camren Bicondova and Baylee Wall)…and a bit later, his vicious revenge. We then cut to modern times where pretty, down-on-her-luck college student, Kylie (Ali Cobrin) has accepted an invitation to join Girlhouse, a secluded and hidden mansion where a group of nubile young woman live and are filmed on webcams, non-stop, for broadcast on the Girlhouse site. Members pay to watch and chat with the girls who are free to get as sexual as they want with their viewers. It’s up to them how far they go for their internet voyuers and Kylie needs the cash the site pays for her tuition at school. She gives it a go with some playful striptease, and her girl-next-door beauty is an overnight hit. Kylie also attracts the attention of Girlhouse regular Loverboy (Slaine) who is a somewhat chubby, reclusive and disturbed computer tech. When a mean prank by one of the other girls sets him off, Loverboy blames Kylie and uses his skills to track down the location of Girlhouse and take out his revenge…online for all the members to witness.

Written by Nick Gordon and directed by Trevor Matthews and Jon Knautz, this is both old-fashioned slasher flick and a cleverly contemporary one, with it’s use of webcams and it’s reality TV/Cyber Sex set-up. Sure, there are a lot of films that use laptops and cameras to convey action nowadays, but this is not found footage and only uses the format occasionally to successfully generate suspense. Strip away the modern tech and approach and you still get the classic slasher formula of a deranged individual stalking a girl-next-door type to avenge a prank or humiliation. The film establishes immediately that Loverboy is the chubby kid in the prologue, all grown up and all the more twisted. It gives him personality and establishes him as an unnerving threat long before he puts on his equally disturbing mask and enters Girlhouse to exact his cruel and vicious revenge. The girls are all given enough time to let their personalities sink in before the killing starts and thus we are sympathetic and if that’s not enough, the kills are quite brutal and graphic and it’s hard to not feel bad for even the least likable of the women. Kylie is obviously our final girl and is smart, resourceful and fills the classic shoes very well, especially in the chilling and suspenseful last act. Matthews and Knautz know and use the formula well. They generate some nice chills and suspense and the brutal opening sequence establishes the atmosphere almost immediately. Even when the film is introducing our characters, the audience knows that something bad is coming…and when it does, the filmmakers orchestrate the night of terror in classic form. There is a very effective score by Tomandandy and some stylish cinematography by Chris Norr to support the filmmakers vision.

As for the players in this slasher, Ali Corbin makes a hell of a good final girl. She’s sweet, yet sexy and when her lethal admirer comes knocking, Corbin gives us a clever and resourceful fighter in her Kylie. A classic and yet, quite modern final girl. Actor Slaine makes for a very disturbing Loverboy. He oozes creepiness and there is a lot of smoldering anger and frustration behind his blank stare. His character gets established early, so when he puts on his bizarre mask we don’t need to see his eyes or facial expressions to know what is going on under there. Slaine is also a large man and he has enough physical presence to make quite a satisfactory killer. The mostly female supporting cast are all effective in being varied types that avoid being too stereotypical. Adam Dimarco makes a charming romantic interest for Kylie and James Thomas makes Girlhouse entrepreneur Gary Preston a fairly likable person when a role like this is usually reserved for a generic sleazy creep. A good and functional cast that serve the film’s purposes well.

Overall, I really liked this flick a lot. As a fan of the 80s slasher movies I really enjoyed how this film used the formula loyally and updated it at the same time. It reminded me of some of the better flicks of the 80s slasher era and yet had it’s own style and remained contemporary. Matthews and Knautz have some definite potential and know their material. They gave the film atmosphere, style, suspense and some brutally shocking moments. They used the modern technology angles well…and cleverly…and were equally successful in presenting the time-honored trappings of an effective killer and a endearing final girl. A damn good slasher and a fun/scary horror flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Loverboys.

girlhouse rating

 

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CHEERLEADER CAMP (1988)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

Cheerleader Camp

bars

CHEERLEADER CAMP (1988)

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

The only reason to really check out this 1988 slasher flick is…aside from abundant cheerleader action…a slew of familiar 80s faces such as Betsy Russell, Lucinda (Breakin’ 1 & 2) Dickey, Playboy model Rebecca Ferratti, porn star-to-be Teri Weigel, George “Buck” Flower and 70s teen heartthrob Leif Garrett. The film is also a good example of how late 80s horrors were filmed with a more colorful look and far more humor than their early 80s counterparts. (read more about this here)

Simple story has emotionally fragile Alison (Russell) going to Camp Hurrah for cheerleading camp for the summer. Soon after her arrival, there is an apparent suicide and people start disappearing. It finally becomes evident that someone is targeting cheerleader and counselors alike and there may be no escape for Alison and her friends…unless there is some truth to her vivid dreams and Alison is the one her friends need to fear…

The only thing creepy about this slasher is that Leif Garrett is pushing 30 and his receding hairline makes him look far too old to pass himself off as a teenager. As directed by John Quinn, from a script by David Lee Fein and R.L. O’Keefe, this is a slow moving and very routine slasher. There is a long time between killings and despite a fair amount of suspects, very little tension or suspense. The film only really gets going in the last 10 minutes or so and by then, we’ve figured out who the killer is long before the last scene reveal. Sure there is a very attractive cast of cheerleaders, but the acting is pretty wooden all across the board and eye candy is more the purpose of the predominately female roster. The males are mostly there to be suspects or horn-dogs and the suspects are a little too obvious to actually be the real killer. There is some nice 80s nostalgia, too, but as a slasher, the body count is low and the gore moderate and only moderately effective. There is humor sprinkled throughout, but it doesn’t blend well as the rest of the film seems to be taking itself very seriously. The film is, for the most part, fairly forgettable if not for the nostalgia factor.

Overall, there isn’t too much to say about this flick. As a slasher it is very routine and generates little tension or suspense. As an 80s movie there is plentiful nostalgia, especially due to a plethora of 80s B-Movie regulars. There is certainly a lot of eye candy from the nubile cast of models and B level starlets, but as a movie, it’s not bad enough to be enjoyed on that level and definitely not very good as a legitimate slasher. If you are an 80s completest, like me, it’s worth a look, but don’t expect much.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 pom poms.

cheerleader camp rating

 

 

 

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: INTRUDER (1989)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

intruder

bars

INTRUDER (1989)

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

 Intruder is a fun and delightfully gory late 80s slasher that perfectly exemplifies the direction the sub-genre took from the more somber and intense early 80s entries. These flicks now had a sense of humor about themselves and were far more ‘self-aware’ than the ones that were inspired by Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These films were more colorful, focused far more on bloody body count and were made knowing there was a slasher/horror savvy audience watching and openly acknowledged the films that came before them.

This film takes place at the Walnut Lake Market where the night crew is closing up and getting the store ready for when it reopens the following morning. But the mood is somber as the employees have been informed that the store is being sold and they soon will be out of jobs…that and pretty cashier Jennifer’s (Elizabeth Cox) thug ex-boyfriend Craig (David Byrnes) is out of jail and is harassing her at the store. But soon the night shift becomes a nightmare as someone is stalking the employees one by one and slaughtering them in the most gruesome ways. Is it the spurned ex-con Craig?…or is there someone else out there with a grudge against the market and demented enough to kill them all. Will any of them escape The Walnut Lake Market alive?

Written and directed by Scott Spiegel from a story by he and producer Lawrence Bender, this flick is a whole lot of slasher flick fun. The proceedings are taken seriously, but the film is written and directed with a wink to the audience that the filmmakers know they are watching and know what to expect and they are going to get it, covered in buckets of blood. The film is not very suspenseful, but does have some nice atmosphere, thanks in part to Fernando Argüelles’ cinematography and a cool score by the great Basil Poledouris. It’s made with the understanding that you know who’s getting it and when and now it’s the anticipation as to see which gruesome manner it should be…the ban saw, the butcher knife, the trash compactor…or all of the above? And we get those gruesome kills with some delightfully nostalgic prosthetics and gallons of blood. The film knows that the premise that no one notices they are being offed one by one, or hears any of the screams is ridiculous, but goes with it, yet, never makes a joke out of it. Spiegel takes a likable bunch of young working stiffs and decimates them effectively in the setting of the empty grocery store and has a good time doing and so do we. The slasher formula is followed well and the film never insults us by assuming we haven’t seen it all before. In fact, the nods and winks to the genre make this ooze with nostalgia all these years later as, it is both slasher and slasher homage all in one.

Getting back to the likable bunch of employees/victims…Elizabeth Cox makes a solid lead. She’s pretty, perky and when she finally realizes what’s going on, she is a resilient heroine as is part of the slasher tradition. Sam and Ted Raimi have small parts as butcher and produce workers respectively and the tools of their trade make the killer’s job a lot easier. Craig Stark is fine as Tim, a potential love interest for Jennifer and pretty much the male lead. David Byrnes is appropriately slimy as Craig who is obviously, as dictated by the formula, being set up as our #1 suspect. The rest of the supporting cast are also lively in their cliché roles which includes fun cameos by Spiegel, Bender and horror icon Bruce Campbell.

I had a real blast with this film. I love the 80s era horror and this flick not only is one, but it’s self-aware tone sets it up as a homage as well, which makes it a fun nostalgic viewing all these years later! In fact, I will go as far too say that it probably works far better now as homage than it did back then, at a point when the slasher genre was burning itself out. It’s got plenty of inventive and very gory kills and while it concentrates more on killing off it’s cast than trying to generate any real tension, it gets away with it by being obvious about it’s intentions and having fun with the fact that it respects that this is not the first horror flick we have all seen. A fun, deviously gory slasher flick that all these years later now works as a nostalgia filled homage, as well as, a fun horror flick. A very underrated and entertaining 80s slasher.

3 and 1/2 butcher knives.

intruder_rating

bars