MONSTERZERO NJ’S 15 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 15 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

February is the month where we mark the achievements of the black community and there have been some wonderful contributions to the world of horror films by some amazing talents. Whether it be black filmmakers like William Crain and Jordan Peele, or actors such as William Marshall, Pam Grier, Lupita Nyong’o, Kiana Madeira and Duane Jones, there is much to celebrate! Here are fifteen films that illustrate the sometimes groundbreaking and always entertaining achievements in the horror genre that this month so proudly commemorates!

REVIEW LINKS: click to read the corresponding review!

  1. Blacula
  2. Scream Blacula Scream
  3. Abby
  4. Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde
  5. Sugar Hill
  6. The House On Skull Mountain
  7. Candyman
  8. Tales from the Hood
  9. Night of the Living Dead
  10. Get Out
  11. Us
  12. His House
  13.  Fear Street Part 1: 1994
  14. Spiral
  15. JD’s. Revenge

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To all these talented men and women in front of and behind the camera…CHEERS!

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: CANDYMAN (2021)

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CANDYMAN (2021)

Flick is interestingly both sequel and reboot of the classic 1992 film of the same name. The movie finds Chicago artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) returning to the now vacant and gated Cabrini Green projects, to add some spooky spark to his creativity, after hearing of the Candyman legend. Anthony learns the hard way to ‘be careful what you wish for’ as he evokes a malevolent entity and bodies start to fall. Even worse, Anthony begins to transform into something out of urban legend. Is the Candyman more than just a folktale and has he returned for new blood?

Delayed sequel is directed by Nia DaCosta, based on her script with Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld. Their script, in turn, is based on Bernard Rose’s classic film, which itself is based on a Clive Barker short story The Forbidden. As a horror film, Candyman has disturbing imagery, very graphic gore and make-up, and some chilling sequences, though is never really all that scary or suspenseful. Where it really succeeds, aside from DaCosta’s flare for visuals, is in presenting some very well rounded characters, and as scathing social commentary. DaCosta, Peele and Rosenfeld not only give us some three dimensional characters to like and become emotionally invested in, but have some bold commentary on both gentrification of urban neighborhoods and the treatment of the black community, especially by police. Candyman is no longer just an urban boogieman, his mantle is picked up from generation to generation by innocents who have faced brutality and injustice at the hands of oppressors and by those who are supposed to protect them and their rights. There are no punches pulled and it’s blunt honesty adds the power to the proceedings that the lack of strong scares did not. The cast are all very good, especially lead Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, the flick has it’s disturbing moments and the gore FX are quite well-rendered when blood flows. It is as a film with a strong message, however, that is where Nia DaCosta and company really breathe new life into a classic horror icon.
 

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

February is the month where we mark the achievements of the black community and there have been some wonderful contributions to the world of horror films by some amazing talents. Whether it be black filmmakers like William Crain and Jordan Peele, or actors such as William Marshall, Pam Grier, Lupita Nyong’o and Duane Jones, there is much to celebrate! Here are twelve films that illustrate the sometimes groundbreaking and always entertaining achievements in the horror genre that this month so proudly commemorates!

REVIEW LINKS: click to read the corresponding review!

  1. Blacula
  2. Scream Blacula Scream
  3. Abby
  4. Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde
  5. Sugar Hill
  6. The House On Skull Mountain
  7. Candyman
  8. Tales from the Hood
  9. Night of the Living Dead
  10. Get Out
  11. Us
  12. His House

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To all these talented men and women in front of and behind the camera…CHEERS!

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: CANDY CORN (2019)

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CANDY CORN (2019)

Boring Halloween set horror has a group of small town thugs following their cruel Halloween tradition of pranking local boy Jacob (Nate Chaney), who now works for a carnival. Their bullying takes an unexpected turn when Jacob finally fights back and they accidentally kill him in retaliation. The carnival’s ring master Dr. Death (Pancho Moler from Rob Zombie’s 31) uses his voodoo powers to resurrect Jacob as a mask wearing monster that avenges himself brutally on his attackers, leaving candy corn stuffed in their dead mouths.

Flick is written and directed very by-the-numbers by Josh Hasty, who has obviously seen a lot of horror films, but doesn’t really understand what makes them work. His script is a dull hodgepodge of flicks we have all seen before, from Carpenter’s classic to Pumpkinhead, yet without any of those films’ chills or thrills. He thinks all that he had to do was hire some familiar faces from horror films past and present, yet gives us no likable or interesting characters for us to identify with or root for. The victims of his dull creature are all cruel local thugs, so they are getting what’s coming to them and we have no sympathy or interest in their deaths whatsoever. Jacob looks like some guy wandering around in a generic Halloween mask and exudes no threat or menace. If you can’t conjure memorable or likable characters, at least have a memorable monster. Epic fail on both counts. Add to that, the cast all recite their dialogue with a deadpan monotone and it makes every scene tedious. There is some routine bloodshed, but absolutely no suspense, atmosphere or tension to give it weight. At 85 minutes it’s a bore to sit through and is as forgettable as it’s vengeful walking corpse. Don’t waste your time unless you have to see every Halloween themed movie out there. Also stars Candyman‘s Tony Todd, Halloween’s P.J. Soles and Children of the Corn’s Courtney Gains.

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

February is the month where we mark the achievements of the black community and there have been some wonderful contributions to the world of horror films by some amazing talents. Whether it be black filmmakers like William Crain and Jordan Peele, or actors such as William Marshall, Pam Grier and Duane Jones, there is much to celebrate! Here are ten films that illustrate the sometimes groundbreaking and always entertaining achievements in the horror genre that this month so proudly commemorates!

REVIEW LINKS: click to read the corresponding review!

  1. Blacula
  2. Scream Blacula Scream
  3. Abby
  4. Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde
  5. Sugar Hill
  6. The House On Skull Mountain
  7. Candyman
  8. Tales from the Hood
  9. Night of the Living Dead
  10. Get Out

 

To all these talented men and women in front of and behind the camera…CHEERS!

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HELL FEST (2018)

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HELL FEST (2018)

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

Hell Fest is a slasher flick that finds pretty Natalie (Amy Forsyth) reluctantly going to a Halloween Haunt with her friends on All Hallow’s Eve. Hell Fest is almost a Renaissance faire for horror fans with costumed performers and dozens of mazes, fun houses and ghoulish games. What Natalie and company don’t know, is that a real serial killer (not listed in the cast 😱) has entered the park and she and her friends have gotten his attention in the worst way.

Flick is a routine but fun slasher, as directed by Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension) from a script and story by six people, no less. It’s not especially scary, though there are a few effective moments, mostly in the last act. The body count is unusually low for a modern day slasher, but there is some good gore and Plotkin at least has a very cool stetting that he can take advantage of…though more could have been done with the concept. All the tropes are followed and handled well enough to entertain, though there is nothing inventive enough to really make an impression and the generic masked boogie man was serviceable at best. The cast of characters are all fairly stereotypical, though the attractive cast does make them likable enough for us not to be completely apathetic with their fates. Lead Amy Forsyth (Torment) is a decent final girl, though she didn’t leave a strong enough impression to make her Natalie overly memorable. If any of the cast members stood out, it was Bex Taylor-Klaus as the cute but obnoxious horror buff Taylor. The rest of the supporting cast make decent killer fodder and there is a brief appearance by genre legend Tony Todd as a Hell Fest carnival performer. The film ends a bit suddenly and the denouement is both interesting and anti-climactic at the same time. Only time and box office numbers will tell if the makers can expand on that ending, if there ever is a Hell Fest 2.

Overall, Hell Fest is an entertaining enough horror flick as long as you are not expecting anything groundbreaking or innovative. Plot-wise it was by-the-numbers slasher hi-jinx and it’s killer was effective just enough, but not so much to make one look forward to an ongoing franchise. There was some nice gore, the Hell Fest setting was fun and the young cast was likable enough, so we weren’t detached from the proceedings. The film is also helped by the fact that it was nice to have a horror movie out this Halloween season that didn’t involve found footage or increasingly ridiculous traps. Routine but fun and you could do a lot worse during the spooky season..

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 masked killers…generous, but hey…it’s Halloween 🎃

 

 

 

 

 

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HALLOWEEN SET “HELL FEST” GETS A POSTER and TRAILER!

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Halloween set horror from Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension director Gregory Plotkin finds a group of youths entering a carnival spook house and being stalked by a serial killer while inside. Hell Fest features horror icon Tony Todd and will see release on 9/28/18! Looks like it could be fun!

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source: Youtube

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: VICTOR CROWLEY (2017)

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VICTOR CROWLEY (2017)

Fourth installment of Adam Green’s slasher homage series takes place ten years after the last one with survivor Andrew Yong (Parry Shen) becoming a bit of a cult celebrity after writing a book about his encounter with Victor Crowley. On route to an interview, his plane crashes right into Crowley’s killing ground, Honey Island Swamp. At the same time, a group of amateur filmmakers head into the swamp to make a trailer for a proposed film on Crowley. The plane survivors and the filmmakers soon find out that Crowley’s legend is all too true.

Adam Green returns to the director’s chair…after abdicating it to B.J. McDonnell for part III…and again writes. The result is a lazy, by-the-numbers sequel with a few laughs and gory moments here and there, but the “been there done that” is heavily setting in. Green doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before in this series and delivers a fourth dose of the same gory kills and goofy humor in the same setting. Fans of this series will probably enjoy the familiarity, but if you are looking for Green to do something innovative to freshen up his franchise, you’ll be extremely disappointed. The gore FX are well done, but the film otherwise looks cheap and restricts a good two-thirds of the action to the wrecked plane interior and the immediate grounds surrounding it. The film centers on the whiny Andrew Yong and the likes of Danielle Harris’ vengeful Marybeth Dunston are sadly missed.

Kane Hodder returns as Crowley and stomping around and grunting is basically all the role requires him to do. Shen tries hard, but Yong is a supporting character and promoting him to lead really doesn’t help. Laura Ortiz shows a bit more spunk as movie make-up artist Rose and Dave Sheridan is fine as wannabe actor turned hero, Dillon. We also get horror vets Felissa Rose and Tiffany Shepis as Yong’s agent and ill-fated passenger, Casey, respectively. The cast get the material and go with it.

Overall, this is basically just more of the same and not very effectively at that. Adam Green doesn’t do anything to freshen up his slasher homage series and falls back on the same ole, same ole for his latest chapter in the Victor Crowley saga. It just comes across as lazy. The first film was amusing and the two sequels had their moments, but this fourth flick shows a franchise definitely running out of swamp gas.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 hatchets.

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HATCHET (2006)

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HATCHET (2006)

With word coming today that Adam Green secretly filmed a fourth Hatchet flick entitled Victor Crowley, I thought I ‘d drag out my original Hatchet review written pre-blog -MZNJ

Hatchet is both a homage and a spoof of the slasher films of the 80s and it’s obvious director Adam Green has a love for the films he playfully has fun with. Hatchet is a gory but silly story of Victor Crowley, a deformed boogie man legend claims stalks the New Orleans bayou. When a group of tourists on a haunted swamp tour become shipwrecked in Crowley’s backyard, they soon learn this is one urban legend with a lot of truth to it.
While Green does a good job recreating one of those 80s slasher flicks, he’s not as totally successful at juggling the gory horror with the comedy elements. Green is not subtle here and the film jarringly changes tone between scenes where one minute it’s being a comedy, and the next it’s trying to be seriously spooky. It’s this back and forth that keeps one from completely settling into his tribute to all things Jason. Green is also hindered here from his inner film geek seeing his vision not as a story, but as a movie. This gives Hatchet a staged look, it looks like a movie filmed on sets whether it was or wasn’t. This robs us of the illusion of watching his story unfold and instead constantly reminds us that this is only a movie and these are not characters but actors. Even in a playful homage like this, we still need that illusion.
But, there is still fun to be had as Adam Green does both skewer and stroke the slasher genre. The gore is over the top and top notch and he points out with a wink the absurdities of some of the films it references…Crowley finding a hand sander in the middle of a swamp, rain at a most crucial and inappropriate time…and the film geek in us knows exactly where he’s coming from. Despite the flaws in his method we still get his madness. Stars horror legends Tony Todd, Robert Englund and Kane Hodder as Crowley.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 hatchets.

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: ENEMY TERRITORY (1987)

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ENEMY TERRITORY (1987)

Enemy Territory is an obscure and currently unavailable 1987 urban action exploitation flick from Charles Band’s defunct Empire Pictures that I was fortunate enough to have seen at the Hyway Theater in Fair Lawn N.J. during it’s release in the late 80s. It was unusual for Band to produce a straight action film without killer dolls, robots or creatures and it’s controversial storyline of a white insurance agent being trapped in an inner city tenement and pursued by a black youth gang, may be one reason the film appears to remain out of print. But it is an exploitation film and it is the nature of the beast with such flicks to present controversial or taboo subjects in an entertainment format and Enemy Territory is no different. I had an opportunity to revisit it, recently and see if it was still the entertaining B-Movie I remembered it to be. It is.

The film takes place in NYC and tells the story of down on his luck insurance agent Barry Rapchick (Gary Frank) who is desperate for cash and goes into the crime-ridden ghetto neighborhood of Lincoln Towers at dusk to get a policy signed that will net him a big commission. But a run-in with a young member of the Vampires gang, a gang that rules the night in Lincoln Towers, leaves the youth (Teddy Abner) and a security guard (Tiger Haynes) dead. This makes Barry a marked man and a man hunted through the embattled tenement by the vicious gang and it’s psychotic leader (Tony Todd) who torment and kill anyone who gets in the way of them catching their prey. Befriended by sympathetic phone repairman and army veteran Will (Ray Parker Jr.) and some good natured tenants, Barry might have a chance to survive. But the Vampires are many and Barry’s allies are few and it’a a long way down to the ground floor and a longer way till dawn when the police would even dare enter the notorious neighborhood.

Low budget thriller is directed by Band regular Peter Manoogian, from a script by Stuart M. Kaminsky and Bobby Liddell and is an entertaining and suspenseful B-Movie, that manages to make good use of the isolated and claustrophobic setting of it’s inner city tenement building location. Manoogian overcomes some cheesy dialog to create some nice atmosphere and tension and give us some effective low budget action scenes to punctuate all the hiding and running around. And the film can be very violent and bloody at times as a result of that action. There are certainly some characters (the gang) that were stereotypical of movies of this era, but there are also some down to earth and very human characters (the tenants) to balance it out. The performances from the principles are better then you might expect in such a low budget flick with Gary Frank being effective as the ‘humbled’ white yuppie, Barry and singer Parker, giving us a noble working class man who believes in doing the right thing, as Will. Frances Foster is solid as Elva, Barry’s client, a good Christian woman who becomes one of his allies against the brutal gang members. Fan favorite Tony Todd is appropriately over-the-top as the psychotic gang leader, “The Count” as is Jan-Michael Vincent as Parker, a well-armed but paranoid and bigoted, wheelchair-bound Viet Nam vet, who lives in a fortified apartment in the tenement building and gets drawn into the conflict. Rounding out is sweet but street-tough Toni, played well by Clueless’ Stacey Dash in her first film. On a technical side, the film uses a lot of location shooting, so it looks solid on a meager budget and the cinematography is by future Spike Lee DOP and established director in his own right, Ernest R. Dickerson.

I can see how in today’s easily offended and overly-sensitive times where a lot of this flick’s racial content could make distributors wary of releasing it. I have yet to find definitive proof that the film’s blunt portrayal of racial issues, stereotypes and prejudices is the reason it languishes unreleased on DVD or Blu-Ray, but I do feel it’s a good guess. I don’t get the impression the film was trying to be crass in it’s portrayal of a white man caught in the middle of inner city violence. And despite being an exploitation flick, it never seems to make light of gang violence and though presented in an action film content, I don’t think there is any intent to make light of the negative aspects of inner city life or the unfortunate prejudices between the races, either. As I stated earlier, for every stereotype, there is a more down to earth character to demonstrate that the stereotypes do not represent the community as a whole. Remember, it would be a few years yet before filmmakers like Spike Lee and John Singleton would present to audiences a far more serious look at life in our country’s ghettos for minorities and raise awareness and sensitivity toward the subject. This is an 80s flick and it has a heavy 70s vibe. Even if Enemy Territory‘s grim depiction of urban life is a bit more comicbook-ish, it still has some resonance beyond the over the top gang characters and gunfire. Overall, it is made to entertain and is far from a message film, but in my opinion, if you watch the film objectively, it does ultimately show that there is good and bad in everyone and prejudices are based on exceptions and not the rules, even if the flick’s first concern is telling an entertaining action story…and as low budget action flicks go, Enemy Territory is actually pretty good, if viewed simply as the action/exploitation flick it’s meant to be.

3 bullets.

ex2 rating

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