RANDOM NONSENSE: X AND THE BATMAN ARRIVE ON BLU-RAY!

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X AND THE BATMAN ARRIVE ON BLU-RAY!

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Photo on 5-24-22 at 7.42 PM

Good things came from Amazon yesterday! Two of my favorite movies arrived on Blu-ray. X is simply my favorite horror so far this year and a film I find gets better with repeat viewings. The Batman which has many horror film elements and even starts out on Halloween night!

 

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MonsterZero NJ

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TI WEST’S HORROR FLICK “X” IS COMING TO BLU-RAY and DVD!

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TI WEST’S HORROR FLICK “X” IS COMING TO BLU-RAY and DVD!

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Indie director Ti West’s (House of the Devil, Innkeepers) new film horror film X has already set a release date for Blu-ray and DVD! The film will arrive on home media on 5/24/22 and is already available for pre-order on Amazon! The flick stars Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, and Scott Mescudi!
“In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.”

 

Here’s the link to the Amazon pre-order page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VJDBF1V/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

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-MonsterZero NJ

Source: Joblo.com; Amazon

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REVIEW: X (2022)

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X (2022)

Latest indie horror from A24 takes place in 1979 and finds sleazy Texas producer Wayne (Martin Henderson) setting out to make a porn film with stars Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), Maxine (Mia Goth), and Jackson (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi) along with their two-person film crew RJ (Owen Campbell) and his girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega). They travel to the remote farm of strange, elderly couple Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (also Mia Goth), who turn out not to be the harmless old folks they seem, and the porn film soon turns into a horror movie…for real.

X is written and directed by Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and is basically The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Debbie Does Dallas. It is a good, old-fashioned, grindhouse style flick with lots of sex, gore and flesh crawling moments. X starts out like most of West’s flicks with a slow burn, but one where we start to feel from the very start that something is not right. This prevailing sense of dread builds as things get weirder and weirder and West makes us constantly feel that a threat is soon to emerge, no better symbolized then by the gators lurking about the couple’s property. When the blood finally starts to flow, it’s prosthetic gore and there are some nasty kills to characters we’ve gotten to know and like. Even sleazy Wayne has a good-ole-boy charm that’s hard not to endear to. This makes it all the more impactful when the film crew starts to fall to various sharp objects, shotguns and the before mentioned gators. It’s scary, nasty and in between the violent moments, there are some that will certainly make your skin crawl. The sexual, undercurrent the film has also gets very disturbing…and that’s by design. This is simply West’s best horror since The House of The Devil, and one of the best horrors so far this year. It’s sexy. sleazy, scary and gory…what more do you want from a horror flick!?

Director West has a good cast in support. Henderson gives Wayne a charming appeal that despite his sleazy nature and willingness to exploit his girlfriend, Maxine, makes him a likable rogue. As Maxine, Mia Goth deftly balances a young woman with both a strong sexuality and a gentle sweetness that really makes her character work. Snow is delightfully sassy as Southern belle and porn star Bobby-Lynne, who is no dumb blonde. She’s using her natural talents to make a better life for herself. Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi is also solid as ex-Marine and war veteran turned porn star Jackson. He’s fun and has a nice heroic side. Jenna Ortega is once again impressive as “church mouse” Lorraine who seems sweet and virginal but may not be as innocent as she appears. Owen is likable as filmmaker wannabe RJ, and Stephen Ure and Mia Goth are very creepy—especially Mia Goth—as the elderly Howard and Pearl. A good cast.

Overall, this is one of West’s best films and a refreshingly, old-fashioned horror that leaves all the overdone meta/retconning crap behind. It’s scary, gory and has some moments and kills that will legitimately make your flesh crawl. It has a sexual undercurrent that goes from sexy to disturbing and pays homage to the classic grindhouse era horrors of the 70s, while yet being its own thing. Definitely one of the best horror flicks to come out so far in 2022 and one of West’s most effective horror flicks yet. Stay through the credits!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) knives!

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REVIEW: SCREAM (2022)

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SCREAM (2022)

Latest sequel finds Woodsboro once again the target of someone wearing the Ghostface mask. This time it’s Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), who is allowed to live only to lure estranged sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) back to Woodsboro. Why is Ghostface so interested in Sam? Could a dark secret trailing back to the original Woodsboro murders have something to do with it? Sam and her friends have an edge though, as Dewey (David Arquette), Gail (Courteney Cox) and Sydney (Neve Campbell) have vowed to stop Ghostface once and for all!

Self-labeled “requel” is directed by the team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not) from a script by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. It’s more “meh” than meta as this fifth installment is showing that the Scream formula is running out of gas and this one in particular adds little new to revitalize the franchise. Even Sydney herself claims this Ghostface is the most derivative yet and she’s ironically not wrong. Our three veteran characters all seem visibly tired of this schtick, though the new cast members do try hard, especially Barrera and Ortega. The attempts to give fan service to the original film works only about half the time, though there are some impactful deaths of series characters. There are also some solid kills, a few suspenseful sequences, and some clever dialogue, but even Ghostface lacks a strong threat and the whole film simply felt like it was going through the motions. Even the film’s reveal lacked a strong impact and the reasons for this happening a fifth time seemed very convoluted. Worst of all, It’s actually a bit dull in spots. Something a slasher should never be.

The veterans are fine, but you get the feeling they are also going through the motions and are not really invested in having to do this yet again. Campbell, Cox and Arquette just don’t breathe the life into the characters that they did in the past installments and are actually overshadowed by some of the newcomers. Speaking of which, Melissa Barrera makes for a very strong lead as Sam, the focus of the newest Ghostface’s attention. She’s strong-willed and makes a solid final girl. Also solid is Jenna Ortega (The Babysitter: Killer Queen), who has been a familiar face in horror lately, and she does good work as Sam’s younger sister Tara. Ortega is sympathetic, but also shows some toughness in her encounters with Ghostface. Dylan Minnette (GooseBumps) is likable as the son of now Sheriff Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) and Jack Quaid does a fine job as Sam’s boyfriend Richie. Rounding out the attractive young cast are Mikey Madison as Amber, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding (Booksmart) as siblings Mindy and Chad and Sonia Ammar as Chad’s girlfriend Liv. A likable cast who deserved a stronger script and better movie.

Overall, this new Scream neither refreshes the franchise for a new generation nor gives it a strong finish— though if it ended here—which it probably won’t—it would be a fitting enough, though weak, send-off. It has some good kills, a few clever touches, and a solid young cast, but otherwise only seems to illustrate that this franchise is running out of gas. The veteran actors seem tired of it all and the script could have done more than put this installment through familiar paces. Entertaining to a degree, but also too slow and routine in spots to let it slide on some of it faults.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) Ghostfaces!

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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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NEW SLASHER “INITIATION” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!

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NEW SLASHER “INITIATION” GETS A POSTER AND TRAILER!

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A trailer and poster for the new slasher Initiation has arrived!

“Whiton University unravels the night a star-athlete is murdered, kicking off a spree of social media slayings that force students to uncover the truth behind the school’s hidden secrets and the horrifying meaning of an exclamation point.”

The film is directed by John Berardo from his script with Brian Frager and Lindsay LaVanchy and stars Isabella Gomez, Yancy Butler, Jon Huertas and Freddy vs Jason’s Lochlyn Munro. R-rated slasher flick is due to be released theatrically and on demand on 5/7/21!

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-MonsterZero NJ

Source: Horror Society and IMDB

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BARE BONES: LUCKY (2020)

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LUCKY (2020)

Writer May (an excellent Brea Grant) believes a man is stalking her. Each night he appears and breaks into her house and she has to fight him off. Her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) seems to be very glib when discussing it, to the point where he leaves May and goes to stay with his parents, when she confronts him about his cavalier attitude. Even the police don’t seem to be taking her very seriously. Feeling abandoned and alone, May decides to deal with it in her own way, as each day the mysterious stalker (Hunter C. Smith) returns. Is this all in May’s head?…or is someone really out to hurt her?

Film is directed by Natasha Kermani, who gave us the interesting Imitation Girl, from a script by star Brea Grant. The film is partially commentary on how female victims of sexual assault, or harassment, become the ones under scrutiny and who have to prove themselves amid disbelief. May constantly fights to be believed and finds herself having to defend herself to everyone around her. Lucky is also about living in constant fear after such a trauma and learning to confront those fears. With each encounter, May becomes stronger and more resilient, as the mysterious attacker gets bolder and more violent. The people around her also become more and more dismissive and are of no help, so she is on her own. If it seems like something is a bit off here, with so many people not believing and even patronizing May, you would be right. It’s a slasher film as a metaphor for trauma and it’s effects. If there is anything predictable about the unconventional Lucky, is that this obviously isn’t going to end like a typical slasher movie and everything is not what it outwardly seems. We also know from early on there is more beneath the surface than Kermani and Grant are telling us, or plan to tell us. There is no spoon feeding here, or revelatory reveal. It’s up to the viewer to fill in the blanks and the pieces are there if you want to put them together. The film may ultimately be unsatisfyingly ambiguous to some, but as someone who grew up in a household with an abusive parent, the film’s messages about alienation, trauma and living in fear are well received, as are those of learning to face those fears and fight back. Another bold and innovative film from Kermani and a strong, clever script by Brea Grant. Lucky is streaming on Shudder.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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REVIEW: FREAKY (2020)

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FREAKY (2020)

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

Blumhouse’s latest is a slasher twist on the classic body switch scenario. While the town of Blissfield is being stalked by a serial killer, misfit high school teen Millie (Kathryn Newton) has her own problems to deal with. She is still mourning the death of her father, her mother (Katie Finneran) has turned to drinking, her crush Booker (Uriah Shelton) doesn’t even notice her and she is not exactly the most popular girl in school. The paths of she and The Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) are fated to cross and when they do, the use of an ancient Aztec dagger, procured from a previous victim, causes Millie and her attacker to switch bodies. Now, on Friday the 13th, of all days, Millie, in the Butcher’s body, has till midnight to fix things before the switch becomes permanent. She has to convince her best friends Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich) that it’s really her, avoid her cop sister (Dana Drori) and stop The Butcher, who is using Millie’s body to stalk new prey in her high school’s very halls. It’s going to be a freaky Friday the 13th indeed!

Flick is directed by Christopher Landon from his script with Michael Kennedy. Landon is responsible for writing a number of Paranormal Activity sequels and directing that series’ The Marked Ones installment, as well as, directing and writing the fun Happy Death Day movies. It’s an entertaining mash-up of slasher meets Freaky Friday, though not quite the energetic fun that was his previous slasher meets Groundhog Day flicks. It is a lot more gruesome than Happy Death Day, though, and earns it’s “R” rating, while still being filled with some fun dialogue and generous movie references. The script is fairly clever with getting the Aztec dagger “La Dola” into The Butcher’s hands quickly, to get the story rolling, and using web savvy teens to give us the exposition we and Millie need, as to how the dagger works and what needs to be done. This sets in motion the race to regain possession of La Dola, before midnight passes and Millie is trapped forever in the body of a middle aged murderer…which The Butcher realizes may not be a bad thing. The film only falters a little when a few sentimental dialogue scenes go on for a bit too long and the filmmaker’s desire to be politically correct becomes a little too obvious in spots. The last act could have been a bit punchier, too, with it’s teen filled party in a warehouse setting. Otherwise, it’s a fun slasher/high school flick homage with some witty banter, some bloody carnage and a hip sense of humor.

The flick wouldn’t have worked nearly as well, if it wasn’t for our two leads having a blast playing each other’s parts. Kathryn Newton is very good, first as the awkward, likable and sympathetic Millie, and then as the sadistic serial killer. Newton is very successful at oozing evil and malice from within a high school girl’s veneer and has a threatening presence despite being a very pretty young girl. It’s Vince Vaughn, however, that really has a chance to take the ball and run with it as Millie in The Butcher’s body. Vaughn is hilarious as the awkward high school girl in the body of a middle aged serial killer and his mannerisms and body language are just as funny as his line delivery. He is even very threatening when he is The Blissfield Butcher back in his own body, in case you forgot he was a sadistic killer. Supporting cast is solid, too. Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich as Nyla and the flamboyantly gay Josh are a fun duo. They play off Vaughn very well and have some amusing dialogue and comic bits as they race to help get Millie back in her own body. Katie Finneran is good as Millie’s lonely, mourning mother, as is Dana Drori as Millie’s tough, sarcastic cop sister. Uriah Shelton is likable as Millie’s crush, Booker, who is dragged into this mess and Ferris Bueller star Alan Ruck appears as a harsh wood shop teacher.

Overall, this flick was fun and was a nice mash-up of two types of film’s one wouldn’t immediately think of mixing up. The cast are really good, especially our body swopping leads, who have a blast playing each other. It can be gruesome, but is very witty and clever as well. It does drag in a few parts, due to some lengthy attempts at adding some sentimentality to the proceedings, but otherwise is an entertaining homage, though not quite the infectious fun of Landon’s Happy Death Day flicks…which Landon recently conceded take place in the same universe. Freaky Death Day someday maybe?

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) chainsaws which pretty Kathryn Newton wields quite well.

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BARE BONES: RABIES (2010)

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RABIES (2010)

Rabies has the notoriety of being the first Israeli slasher flick and does put an interesting spin on the genre. The film opens with a brother and sister running away from home and coming across a serial killer stalking the woods. Soon more characters are fated to converge, including a forest ranger, two cops and four twenty-somethings. That’s where Rabies takes off from the generic serial killer flick it starts out as. Characters are soon meeting horribly brutal deaths but, not by the serial killer’s hands, but for various reasons, by their own. Whether it be jealousy, mistaken identity or self defense, the characters are split off into groups with their own stories going on and start offing each other quite brutally while the serial killer is sidelined. This may be the first slasher film where the actual killer doesn’t rack up any body count.

While the premise was quite interesting, and the turning the genre formula upside down was amusing to see unfold, Rabies sadly wore out its welcome long before it was over. After a while, the brutality and absurdity of the situations that always ended in violence just became tiresome. Film is from Big Bad Wolves directors/writers Ahron Keshales and Navot Paposhaddo, who have some clever ideas and work well behind the camera, but get a little too carried away with their own cleverness. Rabies stopped being suspenseful after about 1/2 hour in and then just bludgeoned the viewer with far-fetched and brutal scenes, losing any tension or impact they might have had, had the filmmakers not gone so overboard. Rabies is an interesting near miss and Keshales and Paposhaddo do show potential as filmmakers.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: DON’T LOOK (2018)

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DON’T LOOK (2018)

Routine backwoods horror has five friends, Lorena (Luciana Faulhaber), Ted (Jeff Berg), Sebastian (Javier E. Gómez), Nicole (Lindsay Eshelman) and Alex (Curtis K Case) traveling to a remote house in the country for a holiday getaway. There are some twisted redneck neighbors (Jarrod Robbins and Hailey Heisick) they cross paths with and a masked psycho soon starts stalking and killing them one by one. You’d think, at this point, city folk would stop vacationing in rural farmhouses or cabins in the woods, but…nope.

Low budget horror is produced, directed and co-written, with Jessica Boucher and Danielle Killay, by star Luciana Faulhaber (The Night Crew). Story-wise there is definitely nothing new here, though following a classic horror storyline did seem more like the point. Film is low budget and has a bit of an amateur production feel, though Faulhaber does direct well enough and makes good use of the rural Plowville, Pennsylvania locations. The cast are fine, performances vary with Faulhaber giving her fiery Lorena some sex appeal and strength, though oddly Lorena takes a backseat to another character in the last few scenes. Robbins and Heisick are also amusing as the twisted rednecks who live on the property and the flick does take a while to let us know if they are the killers, or a red herring (redneck herring?). There is a last act twist that isn’t totally unexpected, but fits in with the familiar tropes this film embraces. Not a lot of suspense, but there is some intensity in the last act. There are some decent kills with a sufficient amount of gore and the flick doesn’t overstay it’s welcome at a scant 71 minutes long. Overall, it’s an amusing enough watch for the spooky season on Amazon Prime and if Luciana Faulhaber continues to hone her craft she might turn into a director to keep an eye on.

Personal Note: I always support independent horror filmmaking and love the fact that Faulhaber didn’t sit around waiting for a movie role, she made her own movie! You can get your movies made, filmmakers!-MZNJ

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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