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!

Hell-night-1981

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: LET HER OUT (2017)

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LET HER OUT (2017)

Helen (Alanna LeVierge) is a young woman lucky to be alive, as her mother committed suicide while she was pregnant with her. Working her job as a bike courier, Helen has a severe accident that seems to trigger blackouts and strange behavior. As her condition gets worse, she finds out there is a mass inside her head caused by an unborn twin. Soon Helen comes to believe this is not just leftover genetic material, but another person living inside her body who finally wants control—a person who is vicious, insane and very dangerous.

Flick is directed by Vicious Fun director Cody Calahan, from his script with Adam Seybold. It is an effective horror thriller, as the emerging consciousness of her unborn and unhinged twin, fights to take over Helen’s body. It puts those around her at risk and there are some very violent moments when the evil personality gains control. Lead Alanna LeVierge does a good job being likable and sympathetic as Helen and coming across as dangerous when the other takes control. She also plays well the scenes of she and her deranged twin sister battling each other for dominance. A lot of this stuff could have gotten silly, but director Cody Calahan keeps it creepy and unsettling. It also comes to an effective and blood-soaked conclusion, with well-done practical make-up FX throughout. Not a bad 90 minutes, especially as it is now streaming free on Tubi.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: SUMMER ’03 (2018)

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SUMMER ’03 (2018)

Summer ’03 is an indie coming of age movie that finds teen Jamie Winkle (Joey King) trying to deal with the backlash when her grandmother Dotty (June Squibb) bares her soul on her death bed, throwing the family into chaos. Her mother Shira (Andrea Savage) finds out what she knew all along, Dotty hated her because she is Jewish. Her father Ned (Paul Scheer) finds out the man he thought was his father…wasn’t…and Dotty’s advice to Jamie might seem a little inappropriate. Being a teen is hard enough, but with a family in chaos and a dysfunctional funeral looming, Jamie tries to find herself in the mess.

Delightfully honest and sometimes biting and raunchy comedy/drama is written and directed by Becca Gleason. It presents a more realistic view of families, especially when secrets are revealed and real feelings come out, surrounding the death of a family member. It is also a nicely un-PC view of a teenager’s angst, not only in moments of upheaval, but in everyday teen life. The flick is not afraid to “go there” especially in it’s portrayal of Jamie following grandma’s last words of advice and of a young girl at the point of becoming a young woman. It has a bit of a devious and sarcastic sense of humor that produces some laugh out loud moments, for those who appreciate such, yet has some nice poignant moments, too, as Jamie struggles to find herself amidst her family falling apart around her. It does follow the coming of age movie formula, but does so at the beat of it’s own drum. Add to all that, a firecracker performance by Joey King, who is surrounded by a very good supporting cast and you have a movie that more people should have been talking about when released in 2018. Highly recommend and a very impressive feature film debut from Becca Gleason. Also stars Jack Kilmer as a young priest in training and Stephen Ruffin as a classmate, two young men whose attentions Jamie seeks as she tries to deal with what’s going on around her.

Flick can be found streaming on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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BARE BONES: KING COHEN (2018)

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KING COHEN (2018)

Documentary traces the life and career of maverick filmmaker Larry Cohen from his beginnings in TV to some of his film classics and cult classics.

Fun and informative documentary is written and directed by Steve Mitchell and tells Cohen’s story with the words of the man himself and many who worked with him. It covers his start writing for television shows like The Fugitive and The Defenders, to the creation of his first TV show Branded and his now classic sci-fi TV show The Invaders. Larry and guests then relate his decision to make his own movies and the start of a legendary B-movie, film career, from his first feature Bone, to his Blaxploitation hits Black Caesar and Hell Up In Harlem, to his classic horrors It’s Alive, Q:The Winged Serpent and The Stuff. Along the way we get some great stories and anecdotes on Larry’s guerrilla style of filmmaking from Cohen and the many talents who worked in front of and behind the camera with him. Filming in famous places without permits, making actors do their own stunts, having New York’s S.W.A.T. team converge on one of his sets and turning gang members and everyday folk into actors, is all told to us, the eager audience. It’s a lot of fun and weaves a story of a man determined to do things his way…and he did! Larry sadly left us in 2019, but his film legacy lives on and this documentary is a nice companion piece to his many classic films. Flick is currently streaming free on Tubi.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)

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SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)

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

Slaughterhouse is a late 80s backwoods horror that has severe Texas Chainsaw Massacre envy. Flick finds the slaughterhouse of one Lester Bacon…that’s is his actual name here…falling on hard times and falling into disrepair. Lester (Don Barrett) blames his attorney (Lee Robinson) and former partner (Tom Sanford) for betraying him to get his land. Along with his dim-witted and deranged, mountain-man of a son, Buddy (Joe B. Barton), Lester plans to kill those seeking to buy him out to save the only way of life he knows. Bonkers Buddy is way ahead of him, as he gleefully murders anyone who trespasses on the property. As Lester and Buddy started carving their way to revenge, a group of teenagers, including the sheriff’s daughter (Sherry Bendorf), decide to pay the spooky old slaughterhouse a visit.

Flick is written and directed by Rick Roessler and is his only movie. He tries to recreate the off kilter tone of Tobe Hooper’s classic and give it that same undercurrent of dark humor, but it just comes off as goofy at times. The acting, from a cast of unknowns, is pretty poor, as is the dialogue and all of the teenagers here look like they are in their 30s. On the plus side, the run-down slaughterhouse location is effective and there is plenty of well executed gore, as Buddy and his Pa rack up quite a body count. There is no suspense or scares and Buddy and Lester are more comical than scary, with Barrett’s overacting as Lester and Barton’s dialogue basically being exaggerated pig noises. There is some entertainment value to all this, though for all the wrong reasons. Despite the film not being well received upon it’s limited release, it has garnered an affectionate cult following, in all the years since and has had a couple of respectable blu-ray releases in recent years.

Overall, this is not an outright classic by any means, but is now considered a cult classic by some. It is not a good movie, per say, but there is entertainment to be had in the gory kills, hilarious overacting, goofy dialogue and unintentionally silly situations. It definitely used Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a template, but Tobe Hooper has nothing to fear…and neither do we…as scares is one thing this silly flick doesn’t evoke. Worth a watch for 80s completists and can be fun with a few brews to accompany it. Currently streaming free on Tubi, if you want to give it a look and available on blu-ray from Arrow Video.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) chainsaws.

 

 

 

 

 

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2020: THE YEAR THAT PUT INDONESIAN HORROR ON THE MAP!

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2020: THE YEAR THAT PUT INDONESIAN HORROR ON THE MAP!

Maya (Tara Basro) returns to her birthplace to find a decades old curse that’s marked her for death in the Indonesian horror Impetigore.

The horror genre is no stranger to Indonesian cinema, in fact they make spooky flicks quite prolifically. It’s just that, up till now, this was only known to die hard horror movie buffs and dedicated cinephiles. That may have changed this year, thanks to streaming networks like Shudder and Netflix, whose acquiring of some recent titles has brought Indonesia’s horror cinema to mainstream attention…and availability! Film’s like Netflix’s May The Devil Take You and Shudder’s Impetigore have gotten solid reviews for being really spooky and well made movies. It’s also brought much deserved attention to not only their respective writer/directors, Timo Tjahjanto and Joko Anwar, but their resilient final girls Chelsea Islan (May The Devil Take You, May The Devil Take You Too)  and Tara Basro (Satan’s Slaves, Impetigore), as well. This has also brought attention to the fact that Netflix has numerous other Indonesian horror offerings such as The 3rd Eye franchise, The Doll and Kuntilanak, and the same goes with Sudder, Amazon Prime and Tubi. Now everyone is aware of what only a few movie fans have known for some time and thanks to these streaming networks, we have a whole new world of horror flicks to choose from!

Four recent releases that helped put Indonesian horror on the map!

(To get to our reviews of the flicks covered here, click on the highlighted titles!)

2018 Indonesian horror May The Devil Take You has teen Alfie (Chelsea Islan) and her step-siblings paying the price for their father’s occult practices.

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-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: THE DWELLING (2016) aka BED OF THE DEAD

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THE DWELLING (2016) aka BED OF THE DEAD

Flick opens with a group of hooded figures dragging a man towards an ominous tree, hanging him from it and murdering him. We then see another man, presumably sometime later, chop down that tree and make a large and ornate bed out of it. Cut to modern day, the bed is now in a room at a sex club where a group of four friends, Sandy (Alysa King), Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn), Ren (Dennis Andres) and Fred (George Krissa) have apparently just died horribly. An alcoholic and guilt-ridden detective (Colin Price) is on the case and not only finds out that there is something very wrong in that room, which has a sordid history, but that he might actually be able to save at least some of those who perished.

Horror is well directed by Jeff Maher from his script with Cody Calahan. Despite a plot that could have been very silly, Maher actually crafts a spooky story from it. He flashes back and forth from the four friends bribing their way into the supposedly off limits, and only empty room, to the investigation of their very nasty deaths by a cop with more than a few issues of his own. The director gives the room and bed a good sense of malevolence and as the film proceeds, we learn that each character has their own secrets that the entity emanating from the bed is preying upon. We also get to see how a couple of them gruesomely died. There is some clever communication between cop in the present and Sandy, who died a few hours earlier, that adds an interesting element to the story, too. The cast play it all seriously, as does Maher and it’s actually a creepy and gory flick at times, despite a premise that could have been laughable in the wrong hands. Alysa King makes a strong and sympathetic heroine as Sandy and Colin Price makes a sufficient lead as the troubled detective with his own inner pains. At an economical 85 minutes, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, or give you enough time to consider how goofy the idea of a demonic possessed bed, made from the wood of a hanging tree, really is. Not perfect, but as good as a movie about a killer bed is going to get. Flick is streaming free on Tubi under it’s current title The Dwelling, but it is still referred to under it’s former title of Bed of the Dead on Black Fawn Distribution’s Instagram page.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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IT CAME FROM ASIAN CINEMA: THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR (1993)

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THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR (1993)

The Bride With White Hair is a martial arts, fantasy, romance and is a fairy tale-like story that finds handsome warrior Zhuo Yihang (Leslie Cheung from A Chinese Ghost Story) falling in love with beautiful witch Lian Nichang (Brigitte Lin from ZuWarriors from the Magic Mountain), who belongs to an evil cult Zhuo is tasked with destroying. As the two defy their orders and superiors, forces conspire against them, including He Lühua (Yammie Lam), a woman warrior with eyes for Zhuo Yihang and the vengeful, jealous conjoined twin cult leader, Ji Wushuang (Francis Ng and Elaine Lui).

Flick is one of the best examples of the Hong Kong cinema revival of the 80s and 90s and has all the action, fantasy, love and betrayal one could want. It is a sumptuous visual feast as directed by Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Freddy vs Jason), from a script he wrote with Lam Kei-to, Elsa Tang and David Wu. You can see where Yu’s American horror flicks got their stunning cinematography, blood-spattered action and twisted sense of humor, as they are all present here. There are dazzling sword duels, dark magic, gallant heroes, vile villains and a seductive wolf witch to keep one entertained for it’s economical 92 minutes. There is an eroticism to many scenes that the Hong Kong cinema usually reserved for their more intense Category III films and there is quite a lot of blood spurting and severed heads, not to mention the disturbing portrayal of it’s conjoined twin villains. The costumes are lavish, as are the settings, the cinematography by Peter Pau and Lee Tak-shing is sumptuous and the score by Richard Yuen suits the dark fantasy atmosphere perfectly. Sure Zhuo Yihang and Lian Nichang’s love making scene seems to go on a bit too long and Zhuo Yihang’s belief that she may have betrayed him comes a bit too quickly, especially considering his vow to always trust her. Otherwise this is an enormously entertaining dark fairy tale, romance for grown-ups and one of the most renown classics of this era of Hong Kong cinema.

A great cast helps Yu tell his story well. Leslie Cheung’s handsome warrior Zhuo Yihang is a far cry from his timid tax collector from the Chinese Ghost Story movies, but no less a solid romantic lead/action hero. He’s charming, brazen, lethal and sexy, when he appropriately needs to be. Brigitte Lin is beautiful and intriguing as wolf witch Lian Nichang. She can be a fierce and deadly warrior, yet also very sexy and playful, depending on the scene and is very convincing as all of the above. She and Cheung have a great on-screen chemistry and generate some nice heat. When forces pit them against each other, they make good adversaries. Francis Ng and Elaine Lui are really creepy as the conjoined twin leaders of the cult. They exude power and malice, yet their constant bickering and antagonizing of one another really adds a twisted dimension to them. A disturbing duo. The rest of the supporting cast give solid performances, too!

Overall, this is a great film and the type of movie the Hong Kong cinema was so skilled at making during this era. The film looks fantastic, the action scenes are fast, furious and bloody and the romantic scenes generate some real heat. There is a bit of a twisted humor to it and some legitimately spooky scenes as well. Not quite perfect, but close to it and enormously entertaining. There was a lesser sequel released only months later directed by David Wu and a TV series in 2012. The Bride With White Hair is currently streaming free on Tubi!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) swords

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE EVIL CLERGYMAN (1988)

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THE EVIL CLERGYMAN (1988)

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

In 1988 Charles Band was preparing a three story anthology film called Pulse Pounders. The film was shut down before post production was completed when Empire Pictures collapsed and the footage was thought lost. In 2011 a VHS work print of the film was discovered and while inferior to the original filmed footage, Band decided still to restore the three segments, one at a time. One segment was a sequel story to Empire’s Dungeonmaster, another was a sequel to their popular Trancers flick. The third segment was The Evil Clergyman which was based on an H.P. Lovecraft story and starred alumni from Band’s other H.P. Lovecraft based productions Re-Animator and From Beyond… *

The Evil Clergyman is a spooky segment with a bit of an erotic tinge. The story finds a young woman (Barbara Crampton) returning to the old rat-infested house where she had a tumultuous affair with a handsome priest (Jeffrey Combs), who recently killed himself. When entering the room where the two committed their passionate acts, she finds the priest alive…or so she thinks. She also finds herself in a nightmare, as her lover’s intentions for her were apparently far more sinister than just sinful and consorting with her wasn’t the only consorting he was doing.

Chilling segment is directed by Charles Band from a script by Dennis Paoli, based on Lovecraft’s story of the same name. It has atmosphere and there are some very creepy moments when things start to go wrong for our pretty heroine. Aside from Crampton’s Said Brady entering the castle-like home and confronting the landlord (Una Brandon-Jones), the rest of the segment takes place entirely in one spooky room. Band gives it some decent chills and there is a little fire in the sex scene between Crampton and Coombs. What limited make-up FX we see, such as David Gale’s rat demon and the wounds on David Warner’s spectral bishop, are well rendered by legendary FX man John Carl Buechler. It ends on an unsettling note and works well enough on it’s own and thus probably would have been very effective as part of the anthology, as originally intended.

The cast are all good. Barbara Crampton is sexy and very effective as the first elated, then terrified Said Brady. Coombs is spooky and sinister as the title clergyman, Jonathan. He and Crampton work well together as they have before and this wouldn’t be the last time, teaming again on Trancers II for Band and Castle Freak for Stuart Gordon in the 90s. The late David Gale is creepy as the rat demon with a human face and David Warner as well, as a ghostly bishop apparently murdered by Coombs’ priest. Last but not least, Una Brandon-Jones is solid as the judgmental and angry landlord. A good cast for what would have been a solid segment for this unfinished anthology flick.

Overall, this was a spooky little short film and it’s cool Full Moon restored it, so it can be seen. At some point it is said that they intend to put all three segments together as intended, but for now The Evil Clergyman is available for free streaming on Tubi and Full Moon’s own streaming channel. Trancers: City of Lost Angels can be seen on Amazon and Full Moon streaming, too. Dungeonmaster 2 seems to be the only segment left to be yet restored, but time will tell if that will emerge out of obscurity, too.

-MonsterZero NJ

*Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB and the segment’s own opening notice.

Rated 3 (out of 4) rats without human faces.

 

 

 

 

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Trailer for the Pulse Pounders anthology including The Evil Clergyman…

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