BARE BONES: JEEPERS CREEPERS 3 (2017)

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JEEPERS CREEPERS 3 (2017)

Odd sequel takes place between the first and second films opening directly after the end of the first. One aspect of the story finds a relentless lawman (Stan Shaw) in pursuit of the Creeper (Jonathan Breck), who he faced 23 years earlier and a woman, Gaylen (Meg Foster), whose farm holds a secret the Creeper wants kept that way. Obviously, many innocents get caught in the middle including Gaylen’s granddaughter Addison (Gabrielle Haugh).

Victor Salva writes and directs again and the film comes across as a bit of a disjointed mess. There are multiple stories running at once with the villainous Creeper bouncing back and forth between them. This gives the film a very fractured continuity and the editing seems just as uneven. Having the film sandwiched between the first and second robs us of any hope of a satisfying conclusion, as we know the Creeper has a busload of kids to kill and the end cameo by a first film cast member only seems to indicate this whole thing was a set-up for a fourth flick, anyway. The dialog is outright awful in spots and some of the acting is no thrill either. The CGI effects are downright terrible and giving the Creeper’s van a host of James Bond meets Freddy Krueger traps and gadgets is just plain silly. An extremely sub-par sequel that adds nothing to the franchise mythos and whose only purpose seems to be to act as a place holder for a fourth film. This review is based on the SYFY Channel presentation and not the theatrical cut, which is apparently longer and may solve some of the editing inconsistencies.

PERSONAL NOTE: I certainly do not condone or support Victor Salva’s activities leading to his incarceration in 1988 for sexual misconduct with a minor. I watch his films only to provide others with critique and commentary on his film work. Such improper activities, should be punished to the full extent of the law no matter what the perpetrator has accomplished in his professional life.

-MonsterZero NJ

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CLOWNHOUSE (1989)

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CLOWNHOUSE (1989)

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

Clownhouse is a late 80s horror written and directed by controversial director Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers) and appears to have gone direct to home media back in the day. This is my first time seeing it and I wasn’t overly impressed. This is also the film where Salva was charged with sexual abuse of his young star, Nathan Forrest Winters, which makes it a bit uncomfortable to watch, too…for all the wrong reasons.

The story is of three brothers, oldest Randy (Sam Rockwell) who is a bit of a jerk, Geoffrey (Brian McHugh) who is the practical one, and youngest and most sensitive, Casey (Nathan Forrest Winters), who has a strong fear of clowns. Of course, the circus comes to town and Casey reluctantly goes with his siblings. Unknown to the three brothers, though, a trio of inmates has escaped the local asylum and after the show, kill and take the identities of the circus’ three clowns. Now Casey’s worst nightmares come true as the inmates discover the three boys home alone and lay siege to their house. Can Casey overcome his fear of clowns and survive the night?

All controversy aside, this is actually a dull movie. Director/writer Salva gives the film a leaden pace and despite a story ripe for horror fun, rarely makes good use of the premise. Aside from Casey’s fear, there really is no reason to have it’s three psychos dressed like clowns. It may be the only thing that gives them personality and menace because, they never speak, their actions are random and they are not very good at the whole stalk and kill thing. The kids outwit them constantly. Salva tries to make a serious Halloween-like horror out of this, but gives us none of the suspense or chills, unless clowns really spook you. They do make effective horror villains, but otherwise, I never had a fear of them, personally. The three young actors all perform with a monotone delivery, with Rockwell especially giving no indication of becoming one of the most versatile actors around. The characters aren’t especially endearing either, so we really aren’t that emotionally invested as the three psychos lay siege to the house. The characters also do dumb things such as stay in the house, once the creeps are inside, when they have multiple chances to leave and make a run for it. Casey actually calls the police, but emphasizes that the intruders are clowns and thus his call is dismissed by the cops who know of his fear. Just tell them there are three men trying to enter the house and leave their mode of dress for the police to discover. It’s just dumb and doesn’t help a film already devoid of the scares and suspense needed to make it work. Aside from the fact that Salva does have a decent visual style, there is none of the tension, atmosphere or intensity of his Jeepers Creepers and as far as the slasher basics, very little body count or gore.

Some consider this a cult classic, I find it fairly forgettable. If it wasn’t for Salva’s indiscretion with one of his young cast members, there really wouldn’t be much to say at all about this flick. The film totally drops the ball on it’s clown theme and doesn’t really deliver any of the horror goods, aside from some nice visual shots. There may be some 80s nostalgia, but otherwise, there is very little atmosphere and Salva gets very little intensity out of his cast performance-wise. Even his clown dressed villains are stale and evoke little fear or threat. And when you can’t make clowns scary, there is definitely a problem.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 psychotic clowns.

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BARE BONES: BEAST OF THE BERING SEA and DARK HOUSE

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BEAST OF THE BERING SEA (2013)

While Beast Of The Bering Sea doesn’t quite have Sharknado’s audacious lunacy, it does have a horde of CGI critters and Sharknado’s sexy, saucy Cassie Scerbo. The movie tells the tale of vampire-like sea creatures that are aroused from their underwater home by dredging for gold on the floor of the Bering Sea. Scerbo plays feisty and salty sailor, Donna whose father is killed by the seafaring blood-suckers and joins her brother Joe (Jonathan Lipnicki), ship mate Owen (Brandon Beemer) and Oceanographer Megan (Jaqueline Fleming) in an effort to send them back to the watery hell they came from. The CGI is very weak, but there is something fun about bat-like sea creatures that drink blood and can be destroyed with sunlight. As written by Brook Durham and directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy, there is a lot of silly action, nonsensical plotting and Cassie Scerbo is a delight to watch as her tough-as-nails, but still hot sailor takes on creatures that Dracula would proudly use to fill his aquarium. Good movie?… no… fun movie?… yea, kinda.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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DARK HOUSE (2014)

This direct to home media horror is co-written and directed by Jeepers Creepers creator Victor Salva and stars Saw series icon Tobin Bell. This tale of psychically gifted young man, Nick (Luke Kleintank), who inherits a creepy old house that mysteriously survived a massive flood 20 years ago, is borderline incoherent as it seems to have no real plot, but is just making things up as it goes along. It mixes common horror film elements with figures from Jewish mythology and the Bible…and not very accurately either…and just makes a real mess of it all that just leaves you scratching your head. There’s something about Nick having to release his evil entity of a father from the house’s basement, but where the severed hearts, mysterious government land surveyors, a hanging tree and axe wielding zombie cowboys who run like apes all tie in, I don’t think writers Salva and Charles Agron even know. The gore is well rendered and the movie looks good, as all Salva’s films do, but boring and un-involving, as well as, confusing at times. At least got to see A Christmas Story’s villainous Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) as a grown up government land surveyor who may not be what he seems…but government land surveyors rarely are. A lackluster and disappointing mess of a movie from a man who once gave us a cult classic.

2 star rating

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