MONSTERZERO NJ’S 15 HORRORS TO WATCH ON VALENTINE’S DAY 2020!

MZNJ_new_views

MONSTERZERO NJ’S 15 HORRORS TO WATCH ON VALENTINE’S DAY 2020!

During this season of candy and flowers, those with horror in our hearts can have plenty to watch with that special boy or ghoul…or for the single folk to calm the storm of sappy sentimentality they are enduring from their paired-up friends on social media! Not all are classics, but even the lesser titles are suitable for this day of grave emotional attachment!

valentines-day-blog

valentines-day-blog

(Click on the titles below to get to our reviews of the titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. My Bloody Valentine 1981

2. My Blood Valentine 2009

3. Valentine

4. Spring

5. The Bride Of Frankenstein

6. Return Of The Living Dead 3

7. The Shape Of Water

8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

9. Burying The Ex

10. Blacula

11. The Love Witch

12. The Loved Ones

13. Warm Bodies

14. Only Lovers Left Alive

15. What Keeps You Alive

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE DEVIL’S CANDY and BLISS

MZNJ_SNDF
now playing

bars

Been a long time since the last MonsterZero NJ’s Saturday Night Double Feature, but after re-watching Joe Begos’ Bliss, I realized it would make a great double feature with Sean Byrne’s The Devil’s Candy. Both flicks feature tortured artists, supernatural influences on their art, hard core music and neither skimps on blood and gore. So, on to the sex, gore and Rock n’ Roll!…

bars

THE DEVIL’S CANDY (2015)

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

I’m a huge fan of Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones and was obviously looking forward to seeing another flick from him…and finally, after eight years, it’s here. The Devil’s Candy is Byrne’s newest film, made in 2015, it’s only now getting a proper release on VOD and in select theaters from the cool folks at IFC Midnight.

The story here is of heavy metal loving artist Jesse (Ethan Embry), who moves to an old rural farmhouse with his wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and chip-off-the-old-block teen daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). While Jesse and Astrid know that the couple that formerly lived there died in the house, what they don’t know is that it is also home to some kind of malevolent influence. If it’s not bad enough that Jesse’s art starts to take a dark and ominous tone soon after moving in, Ray (Pruitt Taylor Vince), the child murdering son of the previous owners, wants to come home…and he has set his demented sights on Zooey.

While not quite as intense as The Loved Ones, and lacking it’s twisted sense of humor, this is still an atmospheric, disturbing and sometimes brutally violent horror flick. The mix of heavy metal music and demonic horror, obviously works as the two have been paired up since Black Sabbath took to the airwaves in 1968. While the demonic influence elements are nothing new, they are very effective as used by Bryne, draped in his thick atmosphere of foreboding. The most disturbing elements, though, are obviously Ray’s need to “feed” The Devil his favorite candy…children. He stalks Zooey right out in the open and the distraction the malevolent entity feeds Jesse by way of his art, leaves poor Zooey unprotected. It creates some very unsettling scenes as Ray gets closer to obtaining his goal, including one in Zooey’s bedroom that is absolutely bone chilling. This all leads up to not one but two harrowing sequences with Zooey and the rotund pervert, each more intense than the last. There are some drawbacks. The film comes in at a very tight 79 minutes and it sometimes feels too quickly over for it’s own good. We wish we had a little more time to let certain scenes resonate and be given a little more time to let the disturbing nature of what is transpiring sink in before moving on to the next dramatic moment. It is also never quite clear whether it is this demonic influence that led Ray to kill, or was it his homicidal habit that brought the entity into the house…if not…why is it there? On a technical level the film looks great and while there is some week CGI during the climax, the rest of the FX work is solid and there is a really atmospheric score from Mads Heldtberg, Michael Yezerski and the band Sunn O)))

If anything helps one past some of the flaws, it’s a really good cast. Ethan Embry has become a fixture in some good horror/thrillers lately such as the frustrated son in the awesome Late Phases, or the ill-fated gun dealer in The Guest. He is really good here, not only as metal head/family man Jesse, but in portraying Jesse’s gradual transformation from attentive father into obsessed artist. As his frustrated and scared wife, Shiri Appleby is solid as a woman whose family life is disrupted from both within and without. She has a suddenly moody and unfocused husband at home and a hulking child killer lurking about after her daughter. Appleby makes her a bit more than a damsel in distress, though she isn’t given as much to do when all hell breaks loose as we’d have liked. Kiara Glasco makes a really good impression as Zooey. A teen who walks to the beat of her father influenced drum but is her own person. She’s a tough kid and a little rebellious and the young actress has a great chemistry with Embry, so their father/daughter relationship really works well on screen. She has a couple of tough scenes to portray and does a good job. Making this all come together is a really disturbing performance by veteran actor Pruitt Taylor Vince (recently seen as “Otis” in The Walking Dead). Vince really makes Ray a creepy person who makes you uncomfortable every moment he’s on camera. It really makes you fear for Zooey, especially when he catches up to her…more than once. He makes your skin crawl. A solid cast just as in Byrne’s first flick.

So maybe writer/director Sean Byrne hasn’t quite equaled The Loved Ones in his sophomore feature flick, but he has delivered another disturbing, atmospheric and bloody movie that is of a different sort than his previous twisted love story. This plot may be a bit more commonplace, but he uses the familiar tropes very effectively. The theatrical cut…wikipedia lists a 10 minute longer festival cut…may be a little too short for it’s own good and there are some unanswered questions, but a really strong cast and a director who knows how to turn the screws makes up for a lot of it. Highly recommended. especially if you loved Sean Byrne’s previous work.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and1/2 (out of 4) screaming guitars!

 

 

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

plus

bars

BLISS (2019)

Dezzy (Dora Madison) is a down on her luck artist and drug abuser who is having trouble finishing a piece that could turn her life around. She vents her frustration in a night of debauchery, involving alcohol, a new drug from her dealer and a threesome with friend Courtney (Tru Collins) and Courtney’s boyfriend Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield). Not only does this get her working on her painting again, but gives her an insatiable appetite for blood.

Joe Begos writes and directs this sometimes hallucinogenic tale of artistic block, depravity and vampirism. Begos’ first two features Almost Human and The Mind’s Eye were homage heavy flicks, though very entertaining. Here he shows he can do something outside of his influences and do it well, even on a very small budget, which seems to suit Begos. While not a traditional vampire tale, as Dezzy has no fangs and doesn’t turn into any creatures of the night, it has some gory demises once Dezzy’s thirst drives her to kill. Whatever she is, can be killed by a wooden stake, as Courtney demonstrates by finishing off one of Dezzy’s victims, and apparently sunlight can be lethal, too. Vampires or not, this is a tale of excess and Begos sometimes put’s his audience inside Dezzy’s head trips and it gives us a sense of the state of mind the troubled artist is in. It’s a trip and a disturbing one for all the right reasons. The gore is very plentiful and well orchestrated and the film itself has a raw feel to it that works very well, as it revels in the seedier side of Los Angeles nightlife. A contemporary vampire tale substituting ancient curses and cloves of garlic for sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

While there are quite a few supporting players, it’s very much a one woman show and lead Dora Madison (Exists) rises to the occasion. She dives into the role with a passionate yet very real performance. One doesn’t feel like they are watching a movie character, but a real person whose artistic nature has her living a life of excesses and extreme stimulation, and this is before she is transformed into a creature of the night. Her role requires a lot of nudity, drug use and hedonistic behavior, not to mention outbursts of rage, anger and violence when she realizes something is very wrong with her and her bloodlust takes hold. The actress performs it all very well. The supporting cast, such as Collins as Courtney and Jeremy Gardner as Dezzy’s “friend” Clive all create interesting people who seem to dwell more within the underground lifestyle of L.A. A good cast of interesting characters.

Overall, Begos is once again proving he is a filmmaker to watch. His homages to The Thing (Almost Human) and Scanners (The Mind’s Eye) were solid flicks that paid respectful tribute to their inspirations. Here Begos shows he can operate outside his influences and presents a tale of a young woman’s downward spiral into madness, depravity and murder all in the name of artistic expression. It’s trippy, gory and dirty and sleazy in all the right places. Looking forward to Begos’ upcoming VFW about a group of war veterans under siege at a VFW hall.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) fangs, even if Dezzy doesn’t have any.

 

 

 

 

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

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE DEVIL’S CANDY (2015)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

THE DEVIL’S CANDY (2015)

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

I’m a huge fan of Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones and was obviously looking forward to seeing another flick from him…and finally, after eight years, it’s here. The Devil’s Candy is Byrne’s newest film, made in 2015, it’s only now getting a proper release on VOD and in select theaters from the cool folks at IFC Midnight.

The story here is of heavy metal loving artist Jesse (Ethan Embry), who moves to an old rural farmhouse with his wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and chip-off-the-old-block teen daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). While Jesse and Astrid know that the couple that formerly lived there died in the house, what they don’t know is that it is also home to some kind of malevolent influence. If it’s not bad enough that Jesse’s art starts to take a dark and ominous tone soon after moving in, Ray (Pruitt Taylor Vince), the child murdering son of the previous owners, wants to come home…and he has set his demented sights on Zooey.

While not quite as intense as The Loved Ones, and lacking it’s twisted sense of humor, this is still an atmospheric, disturbing and sometimes brutally violent horror flick. The mix of heavy metal music and demonic horror, obviously works as the two have been paired up since Black Sabbath took to the airwaves in 1968. While the demonic influence elements are nothing new, they are very effective as used by Bryne, draped in his thick atmosphere of foreboding. The most disturbing elements, though, are obviously Ray’s need to “feed” The Devil his favorite candy…children. He stalks Zooey right out in the open and the distraction the malevolent entity feeds Jesse by way of his art, leaves poor Zooey unprotected. It creates some very unsettling scenes as Ray gets closer to obtaining his goal, including one in Zooey’s bedroom that is absolutely bone chilling. This all leads up to not one but two harrowing sequences with Zooey and the rotund pervert, each more intense than the last. There are some drawbacks. The film comes in at a very tight 79 minutes and it sometimes feels too quickly over for it’s own good. We wish we had a little more time to let certain scenes resonate and be given a little more time to let the disturbing nature of what is transpiring sink in before moving on to the next dramatic moment. It is also never quite clear whether it is this demonic influence that led Ray to kill, or was it his homicidal habit that brought the entity into the house…if not…why is it there? On a technical level the film looks great and while there is some week CGI during the climax, the rest of the FX work is solid and there is a really atmospheric score from Mads Heldtberg, Michael Yezerski and the band Sunn O)))

If anything helps one past some of the flaws, it’s a really good cast. Ethan Embry has become a fixture in some good horror/thrillers lately such as the frustrated son in the awesome Late Phases, or the ill-fated gun dealer in The Guest. He is really good here, not only as metal head/family man Jesse, but in portraying Jesse’s gradual transformation from attentive father into obsessed artist. As his frustrated and scared wife, Shiri Appleby is solid as a woman whose family life is disrupted from both within and without. She has a suddenly moody and unfocused husband at home and a hulking child killer lurking about after her daughter. Appleby makes her a bit more than a damsel in distress, though she isn’t given as much to do when all hell breaks loose as we’d have liked. Kiara Glasco makes a really good impression as Zooey. A teen who walks to the beat of her father influenced drum but is her own person. She’s a tough kid and a little rebellious and the young actress has a great chemistry with Embry, so their father/daughter relationship really works well on screen. She has a couple of tough scenes to portray and does a good job. Making this all come together is a really disturbing performance by veteran actor Pruitt Taylor Vince (recently seen as “Otis” in The Walking Dead). Vince really makes Ray a creepy person who makes you uncomfortable every moment he’s on camera. It really makes you fear for Zooey, especially when he catches up to her…more than once. He makes your skin crawl. A solid cast just as in Byrne’s first flick.

So maybe writer/director Sean Byrne hasn’t quite equaled The Loved Ones in his sophomore feature flick, but he has delivered another disturbing, atmospheric and bloody movie that is of a different sort than his previous twisted love story. This plot may be a bit more commonplace, but he uses the familiar tropes very effectively. The theatrical cut…wikipedia lists a 10 minute longer festival cut…may be a little too short for it’s own good and there are some unanswered questions, but a really strong cast and a director who knows how to turn the screws makes up for a lot of it. Highly recommended. especially if you loved Sean Byrne’s previous work.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and1/2 screaming guitars!

 

 

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S “REVISED” 15 HORRORS TO WATCH ON VALENTINE’S DAY!

MZNJ_new_views

valentines-blog2vb
During this season of candy and flowers, those with horror in our hearts can have plenty to watch with that special boy or ghoul…or for the single folk to calm the storm of sappy sentimentality they are enduring from their paired-up friends on social media! Not all are classics, but even the lesser titles are suitable for this day of grave emotional attachment!

valentines-day-blog

(Click on the titles below to get to our reviews of the titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. My Bloody Valentine 1981

2. Spring

3. The Bride Of Frankenstein

4. Return Of The Living Dead 3

5. Valentine

6. My Blood Valentine 2009

7. The Crow

8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

9. Burying The Ex

10. Let The Right One In

11. Blacula

12. A Chinese Ghost Story

13. The Love Witch

14. The Loved Ones

15. Only Lovers Left Alive

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 FOREIGN HORRORS TO WATCH AT HALLOWEEN!

MZNJ_new_views

Horror films are loved all over the world and while Halloween seems to be primarily an American custom, that doesn’t mean you can’t add some international titles to your Halloween viewing list! Here are ten suggestions to get you started!

halloween-pumpkins

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

 

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. ZOMBIE
  2. THE ORPHANAGE
  3. THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE
  4. THE BEYOND
  5. RINGU (THE RING)
  6. JU-ON (THE GRUDGE)
  7. VIY
  8. SUSPIRIA
  9. THE LOVED ONES
  10. MARTYRS

-MonsterZero NJbars

25 LESSER-KNOWN or OVERLOOKED HORROR FLICKS TO ADD TO YOUR HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST!

MZNJ_new_views

Need a little variety for your Halloween viewing this year? These are 25 lesser-known, overlooked or more obscure horrors from recent years that certainly are worthy of a spot on your movie playlist for the upcoming Halloween season!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. BEREAVEMENT
  2. THE LOVED ONES
  3. STAKE LAND
  4. THE DEAD
  5. THE INNKEEPERS
  6. AMERICAN MARY
  7. THE LORDS OF SALEM
  8. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  9. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013)
  10.  ABSENTIA
  11. MALEVOLENCE
  12. GINGER SNAPS
  13. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
  14. THE LAST EXORCISM
  15. THE HILLS RUN RED
  16. THE PACT
  17. LOVELY MOLLY
  18. WAKE WOOD
  19. THE AWAKENING
  20. ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
  21. THE SHRINE
  22. BABYSITTER WANTED
  23. LAKE MUNGO
  24. HAUTE TENSION
  25. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES

Also check out my MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 MUST WATCH HORROR FLICKS FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON

bars

15 FAVORITE HORROR FLICKS OF THE LAST 5 YEARS

MZNJ_new_views

These are 15 favorite… plus one honorary mention… horror flicks from the last 5 years that really grabbed me or entertained me and I re-watch/recommend quite often!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!

  1. BEREAVEMENT
  2. THE LOVED ONES
  3. STAKE LAND
  4. TRICK ‘R’ TREAT (made in 2007 but, not released until 2009)
  5. CABIN IN THE WOODS
  6. EVIL DEAD (2013)
  7. THE DEAD
  8. THE INNKEEPERS
  9. AMERICAN MARY
  10. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (made in 2007 but, not released until 2009)
  11. THE LORDS OF SALEM
  12. OCULUS
  13. MANIAC (2013)
  14. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
  15. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (2013)
  16. honorary mention: ABSENTIA

bars

WHY DO GOOD SCARES LIKE BAD GIRLS?

MZNJ_new_views

From as far back as 1936 when Gloria Holden graced the screen as Dracula’s Daughter to contemporary’s like Sheri Moon Zombie’s adorable yet vicious “Baby”, horror has always loved a good bad girl. Remember, even bad boy Jason Voorhees learned everything he knew from his dear demented mother. Recent horror cinema is no exception, as we take a look at a couple of recent horror cuties who would rather kill than cuddle…

Be warned there may be some SPOILERS if you haven’t seen some of the films our hellion honeys are featured in.

Lola_Stone

THE LOVED ONES (2009): LOLA STONE

Cute but lethal Lola is the product of her demented father who likes to keep his lobotomized wife around like a pet. And daddy has passed his psychopathic tendencies on to his little princess as she continually shops around for her prince, keeping all the candidates locked up in the basement after a date night of torment, torture and home lobotomy. Though none of these poor lads will ever live up to her standards…she is daddy’s little girl after all…she keeps looking. She’s got quite a collection going as she chooses troubled teen Brent as her latest prom date though Brent might be a bit more than the sadistic sweetie can handle.

Actress Robin McLeavy is a powerhouse as the twisted teen, giving a tour de force performance that takes Lola from adorably awkward to gleefully sadistic to full blown psycho hose-beast without ever crossing the line into camp. Sean Byrne’s script gives McLeavy a lot to chew on and she savors every bit. Lola is ever the more effective because the Aussie actress is able to somehow imbue her with a cuteness and sexiness despite how vicious and demented she gets. She’s disturbingly adorable even as she wields a power drill on her helpless prince charming or playfully teases him about his lack of a voice after she’s damaged his vocal chords with drain cleaner. McLeavy’s Lola is as disturbingly playful as her acts are disturbingly sadistic. Despite knowing how the date will end up, not well for you obviously, you still think she’s kinda hot. One of recent horror cinema’s most seductive and sinister leading ladies and hopefully Robin McLeavy will get recognized for her talents. She recently has appeared in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and now plays Eva on AMC’s Hell On Wheels. So hopefully this talented actress’ star is on the rise.

Read my review for The Loved OnesHERE!

mia

EVIL DEAD (2013): MIA

Jane Levy’s Mia is an emotionally troubled girl with a heroin addiction. But that’s nothing compared to demonic possession and attempting to feed her friend’s souls to an ancient evil. As a sinister looking book is discovered in the basement…along with hordes of dead animals, which is never a good sign… and one of her overly curious friends decides to read from it despite warnings, Mia’s afternoon walk in the woods becomes a nightmare which the now filled-to-the brim vessel of horrors is more than gleefully happy to share with the rest of the gang. Even when locked in the basement, Mia is like Satan’s personal cheerleader as her brother and friends are tormented and taken over during the ensuing blood bath. But actress Jane Levy gets to pull double duty as a clever twist of plot transforms the heir to the throne of Linda Blair into a chainsaw wielding heroine determined to put evil back in the dark box it came from.

Levy, who was really good on Suburgatory as the feisty Tessa, puts in a strong performance on all stages. She is damaged and vulnerable as the suicidal heroin addict who may be trying to kick her habit, or may not. Once possessed, Levy has a blast with the demonic imp who delights in tormenting the people she used to love and is positively giddy about watching the evil force possess and torture them. Then, when free of the demon’s grasp, Levy does a good job going full blown Ash and grabbing her chainsaw to give the Evil Dead a taste of their own medicine. Levy is a wonderful actress who makes all three stages of Mia work and work perfectly. I liked how when Mia is first attacked and possessed she is wearing white and when she is freed and ready to fight, she is wearing red. Virginal and innocent no more, she’s all grown up and ready to give Beelzebub a beat down. Hollywood more Mia and more Jane Levy please!

Read my review of The Evil Dead (2013) HERE!

katie

THE PARANORMAL ACTIVITY SERIES: KATIE

Texas born actress Katie Featherston has the best of both world’s in that she portrays one of horror’s newest heroines…and newest villains…as “Katie” from the Paranormal Activity series. In the original film she starts out as a college student who is being pursued by a demonic entity since childhood. Moving in with her arrogant and prideful boyfriend has escalated the haunting as he decides to film the entity’s late night antics and to provoke it. The sweet Katie is slowly broken down emotionally as the supernatural fiend continues it’s attacks until it finally possesses her and has her kill her boyfriend, Micah with a sweetly scary smile. In PA2, which is both prequel and sequel we get to see both sweet Katie in the early sequences, which take place before PA1 and then demon Katie in the chilling climax which takes place the night after she has killed her boyfriend. Here we find the demon is after her toddler nephew and sends Aunt Katie to kill her sister and brother in-law in terminator fashion and make off with little Hunter. Prequel PA3 gave the demoness a break and she only had a brief cameo as sweet Katie but, in PA4, which takes place five years after the end of PA2, the bitch is back in her neck snapping glory as Aunt Katie returns to reacquire the adopted Hunter and secure his adopted teenage sister as a human sacrifice.

Actress Katie Featherston makes Katie such a lovable and sympathetic character in Paranormal Activity part 1 that it adds a welcome dose of tragedy to her intimidating demon possessed Katie. She skillfully guided us through her emotional breakdown and we are sympathetic to her now being in evil’s grasp. Sure we know when she appears in the corner of a dark room somebody is going down, but we also feel bad for her and hope she’s freed, in one of the future installments, from her torment. I personally would love to see this underrated actress play a Katie, now freed of the demon, who is horrified by the acts it forced her to commit, yet, angry and vengeful enough to want to make right her wrongs and teach a demon-loving witch coven how pissing off a sweet Texas girl is not a good idea. As with Miss Levy and Miss McLeavy, Hollywood…give us more Katie Featherston.

heather

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013): HEATHER MILLS (SAWYER)

This might be stretching it a bit as sexy and feisty Heather spends most of the time being the embattled heroine and running her buns off from Leatherface for most of the film’s length, but let’s not forget she is his cousin and blood is thicker than water in more ways than one, here. Heather has inherited a house in Texas from a grandmother she never met and the will did not state that it included a chainsaw wielding maniac in the basement…though there was a letter which Heather neglects to read, tsk, tsk! So obviously, Leatherface can’t resist a little fun and decides to decimate Heather’s friend’s and go after her. But Heather Mills is by blood a Sawyer and as she uncovers the truth about how her whole family was murdered for the acts of a few and the sleazy mayor lead the charge, Heather decides to overlook that her last remaining family member is a murderous cannibal that killed her friends…her boyfriend was cheating with one of them so, maybe it’s for the best…and joins him in a showdown with the redneck mayor and one of his flunkies. Once vengeance is had, Heather decides to take care of her kin who repays her by cleaning up some of the unpleasant details in her life such as her white trash adopted parents, since it was dear old adopted dad that killed her mom anyway.

New York City born Alexandra Daddario, who was a feisty and strong-willed heroine in Stevan Mena’s Bereavement, does play a good horror heroine. She can be both damsel and ass kicker when called upon and was both in the horrors she’s appeared in. I was especially impressed by the emotional depth she gave Bereavement’s troubled Allison and Chainsaw’s script sadly doesn’t give her the same opportunity. But Texas Chainsaw does prove she can play a vengeful horror bad girl too and we enjoy her obvious change of heart toward her legendary cousin as the statuesque beauty tosses him his trademark weapon and encourages him to “do his thing”. I personally would like to see more of Daddario in the seductive villainess role thought, as with her horrors and the Percy Jackson series, we will be more then happy to see her as the sexy butt kicker, too. My choice for Wonder Woman if they ever get a decent movie for the comic book character going. Hollywood has taken notice of the raven haired beauty and let’s hope she gets the roles she deserves.

-MonsterZero NJ

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE LOVED ONES (2009)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing220px-ThelovedonesUSposter

bars

THE LOVED ONES (2009)

The Loved Ones is a 2009 Australian horror film that wasn’t released in the US till 2012, when it got a limited theatrical release in June and then on to VOD and DVD in September. It is one of my favorite horror movies of 2012…

Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a teen suffering emotional scars from the death of his father from 6 months earlier. School is almost over and the ‘End Of School Dance’ approaches. But Brent’s life is about to go from one horror to another as he is targeted by the deranged Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy) and her equally deranged father (John Brumpton) for a prom night of torment and torture. But is torturing a tortured soul a good idea?

What separates this from the recent torture porn sub-genre is that writer/director Sean Byrne crafts his horror with emotional depth and with some nicely and subtly intertwined story elements that I won’t spoil here. His script is both straight to the point and brutal, but at the same time, not without some dark humor weaved in between the horror elements and the gruesome moments. The characters that populate his tale are three-dimensional and come across as real people even if they are very twisted. He also fills the film with some very effectively designed shots to accent the intense and vicious goings on. There isn’t a bad shot in the movie and the film looks great. Even the soundtrack is like another character in the film as the songs and music are very deliberately selected and placed for added emotional resonance.

His cast members are all on target from Xavier Samuel as Brent, the wounded and guilt ridden teen who cuts on himself, but suddenly discovers a will to survive when someone else is doing the cutting. Robin McLeavy gives a tour de force performance as the deranged Lola making her menacing, but not without letting a cuteness and sexiness through, which makes her even more disturbing as she torments her ‘date’. She gives her character a fiendish quality and never goes over the top enough for the character to become campy. She remains menacing even when going full tilt psycho for the chilling final act. John Brumpton is her equally disturbed father who will do anything to make his princess happy and his character is given just enough restraint to never upstage the fruit of his deranged loins, Lola. The supporting cast all perform their roles with some nice emotional depth too, making everyone seem important to the story even before Byrne subtly lets us know why.

A terrific, clever and fiendishly entertaining Aussie horror film and a very impressive debut from Sean Byrne.

Check out “Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls?” for a closer look at Robin McLeavy’s character, Lola here. (Careful though, there are some spoilers.)

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 bottles of drain cleaner…don’t ask.

loved-ones-rating

bars