HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2021!

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2021!

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features a relatively new girl on the block, though technically not a total rookie. She did appear in 10 episodes of season 2 of AMC’s The Terror series in 2019, but didn’t get her first lead role in a horror movie till the 2021 Netflix original No One Gets Out Alive. The Mexican born actress made an impression in her final girl debut as Ambar, an undocumented immigrant, who has moved into the wrong boarding house. The actress displayed some strong final girl/heroine qualifications, gave the role some nice emotional resonance and did some major ass-kicking! So without further ado…MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hotties rookie of the year 2021 is…

CRISTINA RODLO!

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 CRISTINA RODLO as AMBAR in NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE!

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Cristina as Ambar, an undocumented immigrant just looking to make a living.

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Harassed at work and taken advantage of, may be the least of Ambar’s problems!

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Something very wrong is going on at this boarding house!

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This was not part of the rental agreement!

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Cristina’s Ambar is a tough girl who won’t give up without a fight!

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Photo Credit: The Movie Database
There’s no telling where this beautiful and talented actress will show up next. She seems to keep busy and has been acting steadily since 2008. Hopefully she’ll return to the horror genre soon, as she made a kick-ass final girl!

-MonsterZero NJ

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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BARE BONES: DASHCAM (2021)

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DASHCAM (2021)

Indie thriller takes place on Halloween night and finds news editor Jake Caul (Eric Tabach) awaiting the press release of dashcam footage for a big story. A police officer (Rich Vience) and a discredited former Attorney General (Larry Fessenden) were both killed when a routine DUI stop went bad. When Jake is accidentally sent a classified file containing police bodycam footage, that isn’t supposed to exist, and the real coroner’s report, he realizes there was nothing routine about the deaths and there is a larger conspiracy at hand. Having always wanted to be a reporter himself, Jake sees revealing the truth as his big break—a truth someone may not want known.

Effective indie thriller is written and directed by Christian Nilsson and takes place mostly on Jake’s desktop, though it does leave the confines of his apartment in the last act. The real intensity comes as Jake compares the press release footage with the classified information that has fallen into his hands, and starts to see the lies being fed the public. There is also an ominous phone call with thinly veiled threats, if the information accidentally e-mailed to him ever gets out. It makes for a tense little thriller as Jake digs deeper into the conspiracy and at the same time, gets more and more paranoid that someone might come after him. The flick only stumbles in a few places with some weak dialogue spots and a few plot contrivances—such as someone being stupid enough to e-mail a news editor classified information—that keep the story going. Otherwise this is an intense and entertaining little thriller, even more so for anyone with an interest or experience in digital video editing. Also stars Zachary Booth as Jake’s reporter boss Tim and Crawlers and Punisher season 2 star Giorgia Whigham as his girlfriend Mara. Now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: LIKE DOGS (2021)

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LIKE DOGS (2021)

Lisa (Annabel Barrett) is a young woman kidnapped off the street and imprisoned in a small kennel, chained to the wall and fed dog food out of a dish. Along with her is fellow captive Adam (Ignacyo Matynia), the two are literally treated like dogs with choke collars and cattle prods for punishment. Who are their abductors and what do they want from them?

Written and directed by Randy Van Dyke this is an effective and disturbing psychological horror. It wastes no time getting started, as our heroine is thrown into a nightmarish situation and tries to keep her head. We get to know Lisa as the story progresses and let’s say there are some interesting surprises. There is a big reveal early on that works nicely, too and Van Dyke takes the story in a direction we weren’t expecting. Lets just say things do start to spiral out of control, but not in the way we thought they would. The reason all this happens may not sit well with everyone, but the flick is twisted enough to make it work. The cast of fresh faces are very good, especially lead Annabel Barrett, whose character of Lisa has some dimensions we are not expecting. There are some nice twists and turns throughout, some starting violence and it never lets us feel too confident that we know what’s coming next. An effective and sometimes nasty little thriller from Randy Van Dyke. Flick is now available for streaming on Tubi

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE (2021)

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NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE (2021)

Book based horror finds undocumented immigrant Ambar (Cristina Rodlo) coming to America and facing all sorts of challenges, from the creepy landlord (Marc Menchacha) at the boarding house she is staying at, to her demanding boss (Mitchell Mullen) at the sweatshop she works at, to the extreme costs of fake IDs. Those are the least of her worries, though, as the boarding house has a dark past, might be haunted and a terrible fate possibly awaits her and her fellow borders there.

Flick is well directed by Santiago Menghini from a script and story by Jon Croker and Fernanda Coppel based on a book by Adam Nevill. Aside from being very spooky and atmospheric, Menghini conjures some very chilling and effective imagery and some unsettlingly bloody violence. Through Ambar, director and writers also paint a tale of undocumented immigrants being taken advantage of, abused and cheated, as going for help would only get them deported. This gives the flick some emotional weight amongst the scares. Add to that, something very wrong is going on in this boarding house and a malevolent supernatural force may be after Ambar and the other girls and you have a fright flick that is not without something to say. Menghini creates some nice chills and scares and delivers a very unsettling and gruesome last act when evils, both paranormal and not, come out of the shadows. The fact that the cast is good, with Cristina Rodlo making a really strong heroine, adds a nice bonus to an already solid horror flick from Santiago Menghini and company. Recommended! Now streaming on Netflix.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: KATE (2021)

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KATE (2021)

Netflix streaming action flick finds assassin Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) working in Japan for her handler Varrick (Woody Harrelson). After killing a target in front of his own child, Kate feels it’s time to retire. During her last mission, she finds she’s been poisoned and with 24 hours to live, she sets out to find those responsible and get revenge.

Film is directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan from a script by Umair Aleem and is a routine action flick with a plot that’s been used before, such as in both versions of D.O.A. There are plenty of bloody action scenes and chases and a top-notch performance by Mary Elizabeth WInstead, but it’s all too familiar and forgettable. The Japanese locations provide a cool look to the proceedings, but it’s not enough to make it feel fresh. Nicolas-Troyan has a good visual eye, but doesn’t give any life to the material. Also, why is it when there is a strong female character in a film like this, do they need to add a precocious child for her to babysit, so she gets to show her maternal side? Did we really need Yakuza brat, Ani (Miku Martineau)? Overall, a forgettable, routine action flick far undeserving of it’s talented leading lady, who is the only reason to watch this for.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO HELL NIGHT!

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HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY TO HELL NIGHT!

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Something sinister awaits at Garth Manor!

40 years ago today the horror flick Hell Night was released in theaters and a cult classic was born! It was a fun chiller starring horror icon Linda Blair and it spookily combined slasher flick with haunted house movie! It was also one I saw on opening night, 8/28/1981, at the Oritani Triplex in Hackensack NJ! Hell Night was directed by Tom DeSimone from a script by Randy Feldman! Stream it for free on Tubi!

HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY HELL NIGHT!

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A group of college kids are in for a hell of a night locked in a haunted house in Hell Night!…

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-MonsterZero NJ

Photos: IMDB

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BARE BONES: BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR (2021)

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BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR (2021)

Brand New Cherry Flavor is a bizarre and disturbing 90s set series, now streaming on Netflix, that finds wannabe film director Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar) heading out to Hollywood, hoping to score a deal to direct a feature version of her well-received short horror film. She gets just such a deal from producer Lou Burke (Eric Lange), who convinces her to sign over the rights to her movie before proving he’s just another sketchy, sleazy Hollywood producer. After rejecting his advances and getting her film project stolen away from her, Lisa turns to strange, black magic practicing, tattoo artist Boro (Catherine Keener) to get her revenge. Let’s just say vengeance has a price and Boro may not be any different than Burke when it comes to having her own plans for Miss Nova.

This is a fun, gory and delightfully weird show as created by Channel Zero’s Nick Antosca from a book by Todd Grimson. It’s eight episodes and fans will be happy to find out it only covers the first third of Grimson’s book, thus leaving room for a season or two more. It’s a neon colored nightmare, as Lisa encounters witches, zombies, hitmen and the vengeful star (Siena Weber) of her own short film, on top of a sleazy producer more concerned with her talents in bed than in filmmaking. There are some very disturbing sequences, some brutal violence, gore and a few spectral spooks as well. It doesn’t follow the traditional template of supernatural curse/revenge films and at times, has a bit of a David Lynchian vibe to it. What holds it together, and our interest, even in the slower moments, is a fantastic performance by Rosa Salazar as Lisa Nova. She’s cocky, strong-willed, sexy and resourceful, yet also can be vulnerable and is not always the good guy here. Salazar makes all the aspects of Lisa’s character work, gives her emotional depth and makes her a likable, in-over-her-own-head heroine, even when she is being selfish. Salazar also portrays her as a bit mysterious, as Lisa may have her own personal supernatural troubles, even before meeting Boro. The supporting cast is great, especially Lange as the sleazy Burke and a wonderfully eccentric Catherine Keener as witch/tattoo artist Boro. It’s not perfect. There are a few episodes that feel dragged out, and this part of the story probably could have been told in a more economic five or six episodes, but, it’s so delightfully weird and disturbing—where else can one see someone vomiting up live kittens—that we stick with it nonetheless. It’s also cool that with multiple writers and directors at work, all the episodes retain the same look, atmosphere and unsettling feel. Definitely looking forward to a season two if this is a success for Netflix.

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Rosa Salazar as Lisa Nova, a young filmmaker who turns to black magic for revenge when her dreams are ruined by a sleazy producer.

Episode List:

1. “I Exist”—directed by Arkasha Stevenson; written by Lenore Zion & Nick Antosca

2. “Hair of the Dog”—directed by Gandja Monteiro; written by Mando Alvarado

3. “Roman Candle”—directed by Gandja Monteiro; written by Christina Ham

4. “Tadpole Smoothie”—directed by Matt Sobel; written by Nick Antosca, Haley Z. Boston & Alana B. Lytie

5. “Jennifer”—directed by Matt Sobel; written by Lenore Zion & Haley Z. Boston

6. “Milk Bath”—directed by Jake Schreier; written by Matt Fennell

7. “Egg”—directed by Jake Schreier; written by Mando Alvarado & Christina Ham

8. “Bodies”—directed by Nick Antosca; written by Lenore Zion & Nick Antosca

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Can Lisa escape the nightmare she’s found herself in?

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-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: 30 COINS (30 MONEDAS) (2020)

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30 COINS (30 MONEDAS) (2020)

30 Coins is a Spanish horror series from director Álex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus) currently streaming on HBO Max. It tells the story of a secret and sinister religious organization that is searching for the 30 coins Judas received to betray Christ. It is said these coins will bring them apocalyptic power and the last coin is in the hands of disgraced priest and exorcist Padre Manuel Vergara (Eduard Fernández) in the remote Spanish village of Pedraza. Hell is literally unleashed on this small farm town as the search for the coin tightens.

30 Coins is a very involving, disturbing and quite creepy series as atmospherically directed by Álex de la Iglesia from his scripts with Jorge Guerricaechevarría. Aside from all the spookiness, there is a lot of gore, some unsettling creatures and it’s not afraid to use heavy biblical lore and imagery in the story. There are some very interesting characters. Eduard Fernández is a badass hero, as disgraced priest and boxer Padre Vergara, Megan Montaner was a strong willed and sexy as hell heroine as village veterinarian Elena and Miguel Ángel Silvestre was a noble hero as Pedraza mayor Paco. Manolo Solo and Cosimo Fusco were also very effective as the scary bad guys. There was also a spooky score by Roque Baños (Evil Dead, Come Play) to add to the atmospherics. It wasn’t perfect. Sometimes the narrative wandered from the main story and there was some weak CGI to lessen the effect of some scenes. Ultimately, though, it was a spooky and disturbing eight episodes of horror television. Definitely would watch a season 2!

All episodes listed below were directed by Álex de la Iglesia and co-written with Jorge Guerricaechevarría :

1. “Cobwebs” (Telarañas)

2. “Ouija” (Ouija)

3. “The Mirror” (El espejo)

4. “Memories” (Recuerdos)

5. “The Double” (El doble)

6. “Holy War” (Guerra Santa)

7. “The Glass Box” (La caja de cristal)

8. “Sacrifice” (Sacrificio)

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE DOLL (2016)

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THE DOLL (2016)

Daniel (Denny Sumargo) has a problem his first day supervising a construction site. There is a creepy looking doll up in a tree and his workers are afraid to cut it down. The doll is supposedly the property of a little girl that was murdered and the superstitious workers are afraid they will anger her spirit. So, Daniel comes to the only logical course of action…he takes the doll home to his pretty wife Anya (Shandy Aulia). I think you all know what happens next.

Indonesian horror is nothing new story-wise, but director Rocky Soraya, from his script with Riheam Junianti, has fun with it. If you’ve seen even one possessed doll movie than you’ve seen most everything presented here, save for a fun attack by a swarm of bats. Soraya obviously has a love for these type of movies and it translates to the film, even if it adds little new to the creepy doll sub-genre. His cast play it straight and pretty Shandy Aulia makes for a good heroine, as the terrified Anya, who always seems to find herself alone in the couple’s expansive new house with the possessed doll. Like his 3rd Eye movies, Soraya makes this one look good and knows his tropes well and effectively rolls them out. The make-up and FX crew do good work and the haunted toy looks effectively creepy. If you can get past a guy bringing this ugly doll home to his wife, even after hearing it’s back story, you might have a good time with this. Soraya and Riheam Junianti would team for two more of these flicks, which are all streaming on Netflix. Also stars Sara Wijayanto as the “Lorraine Warren” of the flick, Mrs. Laras, who has a past with the doll.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: THE 3RD EYE 2 (2019)

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THE 3RD EYE 2 aka MATA BATIN 2 (2012)

Sequel has sisters Alia (Jessica Mila) and Abel (Bianca Hello) now trying to use their third eye sight to help spirits in need. A tragic occurrence has Alia wanting to start a new life and she goes to work at an orphanage. Fate, however, has other ideas and Alia once again finds herself immersed in a mystery and surrounded by spirits both in need and out for revenge. Worse still, this haunted house, and the ghosts within, may hold the truth to Alia’s own recent, painful loss.

Indonesian horror sequel is once again directed by Rocky Soraya from a script with Riheam Junianti. They once more borrow from many a supernatural thriller, though, at least some of it is intentional, such as a fun homage to Friday the 13th Part 3. You’ll know it when you see it. This flick does feel a bit more of it’s own thing, like some spooky sequences set inside the spirit portal, despite there still being a lot familiar. Jessica Mila once again makes a good heroine as Alia. She’s likable, caring and gutsy. Citra Prima also returns as intense spiritualist Mrs. Windu and the new cast members all perform well, too. Soraya does get good work from his actors in his flicks. The make-up and gore are again well rendered and the visual FX a bit stronger this time. As a supernatural mystery thriller, this sequel is entertaining and has some surprises, though it is also a bit overlong and can get somewhat repetitive at times. Rocky Soraya does have a good visual eye for how a horror flick should look. He also knows to present his material seriously, as something like this could get very silly…and almost does a few times. Sequel is also on Netflix like it’s predecessor.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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