BARE BONES: FINAL GIRL and THE STRANGER

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FINAL GIRL (2015)

Final Girl is an entertaining and stylish thriller about a girl named Veronica (Abigail Breslin) who lost her parents when she was eight and is taken in by a man named William (Wes Bentley). She’s trained for the next twelve years to be an efficient killing machine and then unleashed on her first assignment. There are four young men, led by the charismatic Jameson (Alexander Ludwig), who like to lure young women in the woods and then hunt them for sport, while wearing tuxedos. Veronica is to set herself up as their next victim and then find a way to take these serial killers out…but the odds are against her. Tyler Shields’ directorial debut is a bit too stylish for it’s own good at times, but overall this is a fun flick as we watch Veronica play a dangerous cat and mouse game deep in the woods with these four arrogant killers. There are some good fight scenes with petite Abigail Breslin holding her own quite well and making an impression once again. The rest of the cast are good with Ludwig being a detestable villain and Bentley making a mysterious figure as Veronica’s handler, William. A simple story and script written by four people that might have been a bit more fun had they kept us in the dark for awhile about Veronica’s origins, but it does entertain and still photographer Shields does give it an intriguing visual style. Not great, but fun and an interesting debut for Shields. Also stars Cameron Bright, Reece Thompson and Logan Huffman as Jameson’s fellow frat boy killers.

3 star rating

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THE STRANGER (2015)

Written and directed by Guillermo Amoedo and produced by Eli Roth, this flick is a strange and somber take on the vampire genre. A stranger (Cristobal Tapia Montt) arrives in a small town and stops at the home of Peter (Nicolás Durán) and his mother (Aleesandra Guerzoni) inquiring about a woman, Ana (Lorenza Izzo) who died around the time Peter was born. An encounter with a group of thugs leads Peter to believe this stranger, Martin, is something more than an average man. Now as Peter becomes fixated wit this man, he begins to learn there is something very unnatural about him and his reason for being there and Peter may be involved closer than he would like. The film certainly has some very effective moments and there is some effectively gruesome violence, too, but the film was a bit too somber to really draw one in. Even with the subplot of a vicious thug (Ariel Levy) and his dirty cop father (Luis Gnecco), who complicate things for Peter and Martin, the film is a little dull at times and never rises about moderately intriguing. The vampire aspects are treated more like a disease than a curse and the reveals are seen coming miles away. Not really a bad movie, but nothing overly memorable or thrilling.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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-MonsterZero NJ
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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 25 VAMPIRE FLICKS TO WATCH DURING THE HALLOWEEN SEASON!

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Nothing says Halloween like vampires, so, here are 25 vampire flicks that you might want to sink your teeth into during the Halloween season! I tried to add a little diversity and sadly left off a few good titles due to there unavailability (like Salem’s Lot 1979 and Fright Night II 1988).

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

 

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

1. Nosferatu 

2. Dracula 1931

3. Horror of Dracula

4. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave

5. Count Yorga, Vampire

6. Blacula

7. Count Dracula BBC

8. The Hunger

9. Fright Night

10. Vamp

11. The Lost Boys

12. Near Dark

13. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

14. Cronos

15. Interview With A Vampire

16. From Dusk Till Dawn

17. Blade

18. John Carpenter’s Vampires

19. Blade II

20. Underworld

21. 30 Days Of Night

22. Let The Right One In

23. Stake Land

24. Only Lovers Left Alive

25. From The Dark

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970)

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COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970)

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

Count Yorga, Vampire was originally written as a soft core porn film and while there are slight hints of this left in the flick, (and some prints are actually called The Loves Of Count Yorga, Vampire) star Robert Quarry (Yorga) refused to do the movie unless it was done as a straight horror. While the resulting 1970 cult classic does have a bit of a reputation, it is actually a bit talky and fairly tame by today’s standards.

Quarry plays Bulgarian vampire Count Yorga who has moved to L.A. and set his fangs on a group of friends by assimilating himself into that group by dating one’s mother…who then mysteriously dies (mysteriously…cough, cough). He then gains their trust by trying to console her daughter, Donna (Donna Anders) with a seance. Soon, one by one, the count goes after the women of the group to start his vampire harem. It’s up to the men, along with a doctor friend, to stop the fiend from putting the bite on their babes.

The film is directed in a pedestrian manner by writer/director Bob Kelljan (Scream, Blacula, Scream) and while he does give us some effective scenes, (the cat, the last act in Yorga’s mansion) in general the film could have used a bit more atmosphere, tension and good old fashioned scares. Yorga is classified by some as a classic 70s horror flick and it does have that nostalgic charm, but there were other early 70s vampire flicks like Blacula and The Night Stalker that just have more bite. Quarry does make a good vampire here. He is handsome and mysterious and can exude a calm menace when Yorga needs to be threatening, but he isn’t given all that much to do as there is a lot of scenes with characters sitting around talking and very little actual action. Quarry is definitely key in making the scenes that are effective work, especially when the film finally picks up a bit in the last act. The rest of the cast, thought, are rather bland and it seems really odd that the first character to suggest the work of a vampire, is the doctor (Roger Perry), who, as a man of science, should be the most skeptical. Also amusing is how quickly the rest of the characters go along with it.

Overall, this is an OK movie and there definitely is some entertainment value, especially with the 70s nostalgia elements, but it’s not quite the flick it’s reputation suggests it is. It is typical of the type of film American International Pictures was releasing at the time and probably would fit right in with the Blacula films, Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Night Stalker as part of a 70s vampire movie marathon.

EXTRA TRIVIA: in a move that echoes some of today’s big studio decisions, Yorga had a number of gore scenes removed by AIP to get a PG rating (GP back in those days for some reason) and reach a larger audience. Today on DVD, those scenes are restored and the film is now rated, ironically, PG-13.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 fangs.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: STAKE LAND (2010)

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STAKE LAND (2010)

Another interesting horror from Jim Mickle, director of the cool indie chiller Mulberry St. Stake Land is a bloody horror tale set in a world that has been overrun by vicious and bloodthirsty vampires, not the glittering, poetry reading fops that populate contemporary stories to woo teenage girls, but murderous, savage, blood drinking monsters. The film follows a hardened vampire fighter simply know as “Mister” (co-writer Nick Damici) and a boy coming of age, Martin (Connor Paolo) as they travel across the desolate vampire infested wasteland. Sometimes the pockets of survivors they meet during the day, like the religious “Brotherhood” who feel the vampires are doing God’s work, are worse than the monsters that stalk the night. Along the way they pick up some stragglers like the pretty pregnant, Belle (Danielle Harris), ex-Marine, Willie (Sean Nelson) and nun, “Sister” (Kelly McGillis). They are all headed to New Eden, an area of Canada rumored be vampire free. But the odds and fangs are stacked against them and they may not survive the trip to a place that may not even exist.

Stake Land is very bleak and sometimes very vicious and gory, but there is some innovative stuff along with the familiar vampire/apocalyptic trappings and some powerful scenes. Like with Mulberry St., Mickle knows how to add fresh twists to old favorites and create likable characters to populate his horror stories. He also creates some tense atmosphere, some nice scares and gets good performances from his cast. And despite the dark tone, Mickle still manages to give his tale a glimmer of hope that keeps us emotionally invested. The film also an effective visual style, it’s simple, but Mickle creates a lot of atmosphere with what he has to work with on a low budget.

A really good horror from an underrated filmmaker who I hope someday gets the attention he deserves. One of my top horrors from 2011 (It had a limited release in 2010 but, I was not able to catch it until 2011 on DVD).

A solid 3 and 1/2 stakes

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