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March 2017
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MonsterZeroNJ
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I'll give Danny McBride and David Gordon Green a chance with the new Halloween movie as long as they promise to keep Busta Rhymes as far away from it as possible!
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MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item 9 days ago

review: THE DEVIL'S CANDY (2015)

Devil_s_candy

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 equalled 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. 7/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Happy

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item 11 days ago

review: JOHNNY FRANK GARRETT’S LAST WORD (2016)

Johnny_frank_garrett

In 1981, a nun by the name of Tadea Benz was brutally raped and murdered on Halloween night. A mentally handicapped young man by the name of Johnny Frank Garrett was convicted and executed for the crime. All during the trial and his incarceration Garrett proclaimed his innocence and on the night before he died by lethal injection, he proclaimed his innocence one last time in a letter that also said that those who wrongly accused him would pay…

This is from an actual real-life murder case that occurred in Texas in 1981 and serves as the basis for this horror film that takes the all-true story and portrays the effects of Garrett’s ominous last words as folks involved with the case and their loved ones, start to die mysteriously. Former juror Adam Redman (Mike Doyle) begins to investigate and finds they may have indeed sent an innocent man to his death and his revenge may now be coming to bare!

It’s hard to decide whether it’s daring or in bad taste that writer Ben Ketai and director Simon Rumley made a horror film out of a real life murder case…and not just based on it, like many films…but use actual events and names and all, adding a supernatural element to turn it into a horror flick. Whatever one decides, it is an effective horror and the fact that a lot of the events we are watching are true…such as later revelations that Jarrett may have indeed been innocent…adds a very unsettling element. The supernatural additions to the story are a bit disturbing, too, as Garrett’s “curse” target’s Redman’s son and he races to save him, as others from the case die around him. There are some creepy moments here, though turning the possibly innocent Garrett into a vengeful specter is a bit odd as you should want to feel sorry for him, yet he is preying on innocent children to make his point from beyond the grave. Obviously, the prosecutor (Sean Patrick Flanery) is the real bad guy here, but Jarrett is the “Freddy Krueger” of the flick and it’s still hard to feel bad for his cinematic incarnation and we should. The film was still effective enough and it makes one want to catch up on Jesse Quackenbush’s documentary The Last Word, which is about the actual events including the discovery of evidence years later that Garrett might possibly have been a victim of a justice system at it’s worst.

This was an effective and atmospheric horror film, even if the use of so many of the real facts from the case makes one uneasy about their use. Whether the filmmakers were being daring or exploitive is probably up to the viewer. The end credits also proclaim that there were indeed a number of mysterious deaths concerning individuals close to the case, but, so far, my online research has not confirmed this. Courageous or crass, Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word is if anything an unnerving little horror flick that does inspire one to find out more about what really happened on October 31st, 1981 in Texas. 6.5/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

grelber37
grelber37 at 06:21 PM Mar 16

I was wondering about this one. For obvious reasons, Rumley's Red White & Blue and The Living and the Dead stick in memory. Thanks for the review.

timmyd
timmyd at 08:22 PM Mar 17

Big fan of Rumley . I'll most likely give this one a go.

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item 17 days ago

review: DARK FOREST (2015)

Dark_forest

Slasher homage finds four gal pals, Emily (Laurel McArthur), Michelle (Veronica Ternopolski), Francine (Jalin Desloges) and Jolene (Weronika Sokalska) all heading into the woods for a girls camping trip. Unknown to them, they are being followed by Peter (Dennis Scullard), Emily’s psychotic boyfriend who wants revenge for being defied and embarrassed by the four party girls. As our unsuspecting hotties enjoy their trip, Peter cuts a bloody path of pursuit into the woods leaving a trail of bodies behind him.

Flick written and directed in 80s slasher style by Roger Boyer may be a bit amateurish at times, but has it’s bloody heart in the right place. Boyer may not conjure any real scares, but the film does have a strong 80s slasher vibe, including 80s style soundtrack and gives us some abundant gore and an equally abundant cast of hotties, much like the horrors of that era did. Our four leading ladies are actually quite fine in their roles and are very likable characters to root/fear for while Scullard does make a creepy killer. Boyer’s slasher may be short on story, but at 75 minutes, the flick is kept short and sweet and doesn’t wear out it’s welcome. Sure there are some editing weaknesses and the film looks very low budget, but these are things a filmmaker can overcome with experience and low budget horror is where the heart and soul of the genre resides anyway. A nice effort that pays respectful tribute to it’s influences. 6.5

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

timmyd
timmyd at 08:20 PM Mar 10

I'll give it a look.

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item 17 days ago

review: DON'T KILL IT (2016)

Dont_kill_it

Horror/comedy follows the exploits of demon hunter Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren) as he hunts a nasty body hopping demon in a small town. The demon’s murderous activities attracts the attention of the FBI and now Woodley is forced to team with sexy FBI agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe from RZ’s Halloween and Tales Of Halloween) to hunt it down…if he can convince her it really exists and he’s not crazy.

Goofy, fun and delightfully over-the-top gory, flick is directed in Sharknado style by Mike Mendez from a script by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Sure it’s silly and never scary for a minute, but the cast seem to be having a good time and Mendez brings his energetic and humor filled style to the proceedings such as he did with Gravedancers and Big Ass Spider. Mendez can take the most ridiculous of premises and just run with it and this flick is no different. Lundgren plays it straight, as does Klebe who proves once again she can pull double duty as leading lady and action hero. Goofy, harmless and blood-spattered fun. 6.5

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: High

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item 28 days ago

review: XX (2017)

Xx

I’m a huge fan of female filmmakers making their voices heard in the horror genre, so, obviously, I was intrigued about this new anthology featuring four stories all written and directed by women. Unfortunately, like in most anthologies, the flick is a bit of a mixed bag with not all stories being equal.

First story is the best and is based on a short tale by Jack Ketchum. It’s written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic and is a disturbing tale. The Box has mom, Susan (Natalie Brown) out in the city for the day with her kids, Danny (Peter DaCunha from Hellions) and Jenny (Peyton Kennedy). Danny spies a man with a present and his curiosity gets the man’s attention and he’s offered a look inside. Whatever he sees disturbs Danny greatly and he stops eating. He refuses to talk about it, but as he slowly opens up to his sister and dad (Jonathan Watton), they stop eating as well. With her family wasting away before her eyes, Susan is determined to find out what was in that box. This is a tense and unsettling episode with some disturbing imagery that has lasting effects even after it’s over.

Next story The Birthday Party, is directed by Annie Clark and is co-written by she and Roxanne Benjamin and is the least of the four tales. This one has self absorbed mom Mary (Melanie Lynskey) throwing a party for her little girl (Sanai Victoria) and finding her husband (Seth Duhame) dead in his home office. Not wanting to ruin the party, she now must find a way to hide his body. That’s it. It’s as uninteresting as it sounds.

Next story is written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin and is called Don’t Fall. This is a fun and effective episode finding a young woman (Breeda Wool) with a fear of heights going on a desert camping trip with friends. She runs afoul of an ancient evil entity in a cave and is transformed into a demonic creature that now stalks her companions. It’s simple, a bit gory and is a more straightforward and fun horror segment.

Anthology ends on a so-so note with Her Only Living Son. Directed and scripted by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation), this is a ho-hum tale of single mother, Cora (Christina Kirk) whose son, Andy (Kyle Allen) has suddenly turned violent. As she tries to find out what’s wrong with his behavior, she begins to suspect that his coming of age may have triggered both a horrifying transformation and unveiled a revelation about his true “father”. This segment is nothing new and ends rather abruptly and un-satisfyingly.

There are some really cool stop motion animated framing segments to the stories directed by Sofia Carrillo, that are probably the most effective thing about this uneven anthology. I still recommend one give it a look based on the framing bits and the stories that work, as it is still worth checking out…just not the total success one hoped for from some of the up and coming ladies of horror. 6/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

review: WINTERBEAST (1992)

Winterbeast_v2

Winterbeast is a perfect example of just how entertaining a bad movie can be. Flick’s convoluted plot has a snowy mountaintop community being beset by creatures that are actually demons that the Native Americans that once lived on the land have tried to keep at bay. A demon spirit is trying to enter this world through a portal in this area and his stop motion animated minions are gruesomely paving the way. The only thing that stands in it’s path are a couple of local forest rangers (Tim R. Morgan and Mike Magri)…at least I think that’s it.

Written and directed by Christopher Thies, this is a sometimes incoherent flick that is one weird scene after another with this hodgepodge plot about ancient Native American totem poles and demonic creatures the lay siege to a mountain community. The acting is delightfully terrible, the dialogue is amusingly awful and the stop-motion animated creatures and gore are delightfully cheesy. It’s also a bizarre little movie filled with WTF moments, such as the disturbing dance sequence featuring weird local lodge owner, Dave Sheldon (Bob Harlow) in plaid suit and clown mask, no less and a topless cutie being slammed against the side of a house by a stop motion totem pole creature, for no apparent reason…and let’s not forget the giant chicken monster. The editing is choppy and one wonders if director Thies was even on set as there seems to be little in the way of actual direction…though with this hopelessly amateur cast, would it have mattered?

I liked this film a lot, but, of course, for all the wrong reasons. The narrative is barely coherent, some scenes are completely random, the plot is loopy and there are some hilarious WTF sequences. There is a host of cheesy stop-motion animated creatures, some equally cheesy gore and some of the worst acting and dialogue you’ll ever hope to see. It’s also a lot of fun and a perfect example of why so bad can be so good. It made a real fun double feature with Don Dohler’s Alien Factor here in MonsterZero NJ’s lair, if ‘so bad, it’s good’ is your thing!
7/10…rating is based on 'so bad, it's good' fun!

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Happy

timmyd
timmyd at 08:07 PM Feb 22

oh man , I gotta check this out.

MonsterZeroNJ
MonsterZeroNJ at 09:14 PM Feb 22

It's a hoot!

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

review: EAT MT DUST! (1976)

Eat_my_dust

A year before Smokey And The Bandit and a good three years before The Dukes Of Hazzard, Ron Howard led a cross county chase in this Roger Corman produced action/comedy. The story is simple…teen Hoover Niebold (Ron Howard) wants to impress beautiful blonde Darlene Kurtz (Christopher Norris) who has a love for fast cars. Hoover steals the fastest stock car on the track, belonging to local legend Big Bubba Jones (Dave “Mr. Kincaid” Madden) to take her for a ride. This joy ride turns into a hot pursuit as his sheriff father (Warren Kemmerling) leads the chase, followed by a posse of drunken stock car racers and inept deputies!

Car chase flick is written and directed by Charles B. Griffith who wrote a lot of scripts for Corman during the 60s, 70s and 80s, including many of his classics. It is a light, fun and fast paced effort that made a lot of money for Corman and New World Pictures. The film was part of a deal with Ron Howard, who had star power from Happy Days and was looking to direct. If he starred in this, he could make another film for Corman from the director’s chair, which would become Grand Theft Auto. The result is a good time with a lot of slapstick comedy and an almost non-stop chase with young Hoover outwitting his dad’s deputies and Big Bubba’s drunken buddies. As with most Corman films, there is a lot accomplished with a little and Griffith brings a light, breezy fun to the proceedings and keeps things moving quickly. It’s silly and goofy, but energetic and there is plenty of stunts and crashes for car chase enthusiasts to enjoy.

Howard plays Hoover much like a grown up version of his Opie Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show. He’s a bit of a country bumpkin, but is clever enough to outwit his pursuers. Howard has charm and is very likable as the rebellious teen willing to do anything for love. Christopher Norris is pretty and spunky as the object of Hoover’s affection, Darlene. The two make an endearing pair as they outwit the nitwits in their county. The supporting cast all have a good time playing their roles with over-the-top, slapstick efficiency, too and it’s fun to watch them. The film also stars Howard’s brother Clint, a known cult favorite character actor himself.

This film is now considered a cult classic and in an indirect way got Ron Howard started on a career as a prolific and highly regarded director. It’s silly, funny and loaded with plenty of chases and crashes. It was a successful film for Corman’s New World Pictures and predated the “redneck” car chase craze started by Smokey And The Bandit by a year. A fun little movie and another example of Roger Corman’s craft as a producer. 7/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

review: THE BORNLESS ONES (2016)

Bornless_ones

At it’s core, flick is a basically an Evil Dead (both old and new) retread with a group of people in an isolated cabin and an ancient evil taking them one by one. This cabin in the woods horror has pretty Emily (Margaret Judson) moving into a remote house/cabin so she can be near her brother Zack (Michael Johnston), who she is going to send to a nearby institution for his spastic monoplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. Her boyfriend Jesse (Devin Goodsell) is with her and their friends Woodrow (Mark Furze) and Michelle (Bobby T) have come along to help set things up. When they enter the house…which they apparently bought sight unseen…they find evidence some kind of cult ceremony or witchcraft was performed there previously. When they remove some creepy symbol adorned boards, something malevolent moves into the house with them. It first possesses poor Zack, who can now walk and talk…saying scary things, of course…and makes it known that they all shall fall prey to The Bornless. Sound familiar?

Flick is written and directed by Alexander Babaev with very little originality or novel additions to the cabin in the woods sub-genre. Zack’s affliction is one of the scant few original wrinkles and with it does come an interesting element that the demons healed him somewhat to use him more efficiently and there is evidence that this healing power is what provoked the original owner to invoke them. This is, however, for the most part, a retread of a classic using elements from it and it’s remake, thought sometimes effectively and I can’t say it wasn’t somewhat entertaining. Babaev may have little originality in his screenplay, but it’s atmospheric and he does direct some of the zombie/possession scenes well. He also has a good visual eye, too and there are some amusing bits where possessed cabin mates reveal their host’s darkest secrets just to be nasty and where some are visited by ‘spirits’ from their past to taunt them. There is some decent and effective gore, but unfortunately the “bornless” demon spirits are represented by some cheesy CGI and aren’t nearly as effective. The one time Babaev tries to deviate and actually show his demons, is a time he should have taken a cue from Raimi and let our imaginations do the work instead. Sometimes less is more. Thankfully they don’t have all that much screen time.

Cast are all fine. Margaret Judson makes a solid heroine. She nicely conveyed her character’s concern and affection for her illness inflicted brother and that makes her Emily endearing. She also turns into a resilient fighter once things start going bump in the night and proves to be effective final girl material. Michael Johnston was good as Zack. He at first has to emote with very little due to Zack’s condition and then gets to have a little fun once he is possessed and becomes fully functional. He has some creepy moments once things get going. Goodsell is fine as boyfriend Jesse whose deeper secrets and feelings are brought to the surface by the demonic presence and he’s not the person he pretends to be, though that’s not all that much of a surprise. Furze and Bobby T are also efficient as the friends who have secrets of their own and wind up not having a good time at the cabin…if you know what I mean.

I can’t give this flick much credit for originality, as it borrows far more from Evil Dead both past and present than it comes up with on it’s own. There are a few original ideas and they do work, but instead writer/director Alexander Babaev seems content to replay a lot from Raimi’s classic and Alvarez’s remake. It’s a shame. He does show some chops with some effective scenes and some nice atmosphere. A compassionate and strong heroine played by Margaret Judson also helps keep this from being a dull retread and the cast, overall, are fine in their roles. There is some nice gore and the cabin setting works well despite being so blatantly familiar. Ultimately, it’s definitely worth a look and was entertaining, but expect extreme amounts of Evil Dead envy. 6/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

timmyd
timmyd at 08:16 PM Feb 13

This is the second positive review I've seen . I'll have to give it a look.

MonsterZeroNJ
MonsterZeroNJ at 09:16 AM Feb 14

Just don't expect much in the originality department.

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: 3 ACTRESSES TO SCREAM ABOUT!

This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features three relatively new faces in horror that recently have made quite an impression in the genre. These three actresses made for memorable final girls/characters in their respective horrors/thrillers and we can only hope they will grace the horror genre again and soon!

ANYA TAYLOR-JOY!
Anya has taken the horror world by storm, appearing in two highly acclaimed horror films within the space of a year and an entertaining Sci-fi thriller in the middle. The actress was born in Miami, but has lived in Argentina and London and has also modeled and been a ballet dancer. Her varied background may be the reason she can play such different roles and almost be unrecognizable from one to the other. Whether it be a coming of age puritan teen in The Witch, a genetic experiment in Morgan, or an emotionally troubled teen kidnaped by someone with far bigger head problems in Split, Anya is proving a welcome presence in the horror genre and an actress to keep an eye on! Rumor now suggests she may join the cast of The New Mutants, the new X-Men film in the works…and we hope so!


Anya first got our attention as The Witch’s tempted teen Thomasin!

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CAITLIN STASEY!
Between movies and TV, this Aussie beauty has been quite busy and we couldn’t be happier that some of that busy has been in our favorite type of flicks! Stasey, already a veteran of TV and films, made her first waves in the horror genre in Lucky McKee’s 2013 horror comedy All Cheerleaders Die as lead Maddy. She next appeared in the unintentionally funny graphic novel adaptation I, Frankenstein, as a sexy gargoyle, no less. She then starred as kidnap victim, Chloe in the 2015 horror/thriller All I Need, which is only now being released and just last year in the horror comedy Fear, Inc. While we wait for this Australian stunner to appear in her next genre role, she can currently be seen in the sexy TV historical drama Reign. A busy girl we’d like to see even more of!


Caitlin would like to tell you how much she loves being in horror movies, but…(from All I Need)

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HALEY LU RICHARDSON!
This talented twenty-something from Pheonix, Arizona is an actress and a dancer and has proven to be quite versatile. She first caught our attention in the violent post apocalyptic epic The Last Survivors as the tough and tenacious Kendal, who takes on an entire gang to save the lives of those close to her. She also starred in the thriller Follow, was Krista, best friend to troubled teen Nadine, in the heartfelt and hilarious The Edge Of Seventeen (OK, not horror, but a really good flick!) and battled 23 different James McAvoys in the intense chiller Split! Obviously we’d watch Haley in any of her upcoming projects, but hope she returns to our favorite genre soon!


Haley’s Claire finds outwitting 23 different personalities may not be that easy in Split!

-MonsterZero NJ
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Mood: Chillin'

timmyd
timmyd at 08:38 PM Feb 10

excellent blog ! three talented and lovely young talents .

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

review: ALL I NEED (2015)

All_i_need

Despite being made about two years ago, low budget horror thriller is finally being released on VOD. It tells the story of a pretty young woman (Caitlin Stasey from All Cheerleaders Die and Fear Inc) who wakes up in a small room bound and gagged along with about a dozen or so other young women in the same predicament. Most of her fellow captives are either already dead, or soon to be, leading the young woman to engage in a battle of wills with her murderous captor in order to get out alive. The story also follows a down on his luck man named Andrew (Markus Taylor) who starts getting job offers from a mysterious benefactor. Can the fates of these two individuals be somehow intertwined?

Writer and director Dylan K. Narang, who produced the cool monster flick Dark Was The Night, will answer that question by the time this film reaches it’s conclusion and while it’s not a total surprise, Narang does provide some intensity and some disturbing sequences before the credits role. Most of that comes in the segments that follow Chloe (Stasey) in her efforts to stay alive and out of the masked killer’s clutches in a confined space. The resilient girl uses whatever resources are at her disposal, including the bonds and bodies of the other young women who have also fallen prey to this individual. When we switch to Andrew’s story, the film is less interesting and a bit flat as we have become far more endeared to the embattled Chloe and are less interested in his tale, though his story does connect. The writer/director smartly keeps the focus predominately on the bloodied and scantily clad prisoner and it is those scenes that carry some nice intensity and a few disturbing moments. Narang is also not afraid to have our heroine make some tough decisions during her escape attempts regarding her co-captors and even the use of their bodies. The film’s momentum sputters a bit with Andrew, especially one lengthy scene with his benefactor’s boss (Holly Twyford), that despite delivering some needed exposition, kinda drags a bit. Once this scene plays out, we do return to Chloe’s horrifying drama, though at that point we already have figured out how it’s going to conclude. The film does have effective atmosphere and that is helped along by an 80s-ish score by Jacob Yoffee and the fact that Narang does have a good visual eye and delivers some effective shots even working on an intimate scale.

The cast is very small and the strongest performance comes from the pretty Caitlin Stasey who endears us to her Chloe quickly with some expressive eye emoting while bound and gagged and then with body language and facial expressions when she is free and in survival mode. As she is alone most of the time, she has limited dialog and filmmaker Narang avoids having her talk to herself to fill us in on what she’s thinking. Instead he let’s his actress show us and she does a great job feeding us her fear and resilience without externalizing her inner monologue. She uses her body and eyes to good effect. Markus Taylor is a little flat as Andrew, though he’s not what I would call bad. The material involving his character is not as interesting or intense as Chloe’s terrifying ordeal, which doesn’t give the actor nearly as much to work with. Holly Twyford delvers some important exposition with a monotone delivery and while her character is supposed to be a bit emotionally detached, the revelations could have used a bit more dramatic bite to make them work better and a little more depth to the ‘explanation ‘ as to the hows and whys. As for our killer, he is masked for 99% of the flick and he does carry some menace and intensity, even though he isn’t on screen as much as you might expect. There are a couple of other girls we see briefly and they are all fine as victims.

Not a perfect flick by any means, but one that was effective in the places it needed to be most. Dylan K. Narang delivered some intense sequences with his young heroine fighting for her life and we only wish the secondary story of down on his luck divorcee Andrew carried the same type of weight. Seeing Chloe try to survive her situation and somehow escape was far more effective and interesting than Andrew puzzling over the mysterious offer from a faceless voice on the phone. Chloe made some hard decisions in her quest to survive, while we feel Andrew made his ultimate decision far too easy considering what the job proposal turned out to be. Director Narang does show some potential and Caitlin Stasey shows she is a young actress to also keep an eye on, especially in the horror genre, where she has recently been no stranger. 6.5/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

Boogie Buddha
Boogie Buddha at 05:05 PM Feb 09

Never heard of this, but I might check it out. Sweet review :)

timmyd
timmyd at 08:22 PM Feb 09

good to know.

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

review: DON'T KNOCK TWICE (2016)

Dont_knock_twice

Flick is a perfect example of how a skilled filmmaker can take familiar story elements and tropes and use them effectively. Story has artist Jess (Oculus‘ Katee Sackhoff) trying to re-establish a relationship with her daughter Chloe (Lucy Boynton), whom she walked away from nine years earlier. Chloe however has run afoul of a local urban legend. It’s said that if you go to the abandoned house of suspected witch Mary Aminov (Ania Marson) and knock twice, it will summon the demon within and thus it’s minion…in this case Mary…will be sent to collect you. That’s exactly what Chloe and friend Danny (Jordan Bolger) do in jest one night and now Danny has vanished and something malevolent is following Chloe. Can Jess save her daughter from an unnatural fate?…a daughter who has nothing but contempt for her?

Horror flick is written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler with an all too familiar a story, these days, of a youth crossing paths with a malevolent spirit. Under the guidance of The Machine director Caradog James, however, this is still a spooky and atmospheric flick despite having seen it all before. James gets some chills out of the haunting scenario that is the trend right now and serves up some really creepy imagery, even if the skeletal specter with long hair is a common visual in today’s horror. He also gives the film a dramatic intensity with it’s underlying story of a mother trying to fix the hurt she caused by abandoning her child and learning to love that child now selflessly. The familiarity unfortunately keeps this movie from really grabbing us and the abrupt ending is a bit jarring, but it is still far more effective than one might expect considering we have been deluged with similar films for the past few years. This was spooky and enjoyable, but it’s time for the next horror trend. The haunting/malevolent entity flick has played itself out and good ones are few and far between. This was entertaining, spooky and well made, but not quite unique enough to make it stand out too far from the pack like we wished it would.

Our leading ladies do help make this work well. Katee Sackhoff does some nice strong work as a women who selfishly abandoned her daughter nine years earlier and now wants her back. Not only does her Jess have to battle nine years of built up resentment, but also a demonic entity that wants to take her daughter from her. Sackhoff gives the role some depth and we do come to sympathize with her. Lucy Boynton is equally good as the young girl who has a lot of bitterness towards her mother, but has no one else to turn to when she is targeted by something no one believes her exists. She gives us an emotionally scarred but strong young woman and she and Sackhoff have a nice chemistry as we watch their relationship heal and build under extreme duress.

In conclusion, this was an entertaining and spooky flick, despite having a very familiar story. Director Caradog James gave it some chills and some cool visuals and his lead cast helped give their familiar characters some depth. While we wait for the next horror trend to give the tired haunting sub-genre a rest, at least this particular flick had some talent behind and in front of the camera to keep it from being mundane. 6/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

timmyd
timmyd at 08:14 PM Feb 07

I'll check it out . like Sackhoff.

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

review: THE LOVE WITCH (2016)

Love_witch

The Love Witch is a delightful and colorful throwback to the erotic pulp witchcraft and romance flicks of the 60s, perfectly imitating the technicolor look and style. It tells the story of lovelorn witch Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson) who turned to witchcraft after her devastating divorce. She now uses love spells to lure her men, though these spells usually result in a tragic death for the current object of her affections. A rookie police detective (Gian Keys) is hot on her trail, but will the handsome policeman be the next to fall victim to Elaine’s supernatural charms?

Filmmaker Anna Biller proves quite the workaholic by producing, writing and directing this charming and sexy homage, while designing the nostalgic 60s costumes and sets as well. The result is not only an incredible recreation of a long gone era of filmmaking, but deftly mixes in some feminist messages about the power of a woman’s sexuality and the depth of a man’s fear of it. The film is loaded with colorful characters, some very spicy sex and of course, plenty of spells and witchcraft, as our Elaine goes from one man to another, leaving a trail of bodies, until she meets Det. Griff Meadows…could he finally be the one? It’s a spooky and sexy ride to find out and while there are those who may not appreciate the moderate pacing, it matches the type of films it pays tribute to perfectly. Anna Biller displays both a creative talent and a deep love for her influences that are reason enough to watch this flick alone. It also has generous helpings of sex, nudity…and even a pinch of bondage…with a bit of blood spattering just as in the trashy, fun flicks this film embraces the style of. At the same time, it also succeeds in telling the story of a women in search of love and finding her own sexuality, but all with a vengeance. It’s wrapped in a package of sumptuous cinematography by M. David Mullen and told with the performance style and dialog of a bygone era that is all but lost. It’s not perfect. It’s a tad too long at two hours, a Renaissance Fair sequence in particular seems to drag on, but otherwise this a really enjoyable tale of female empowerment and a creatively crafted love letter to the pulp/witchcraft films of the 60s.

The cast all get the material perfectly. Lead Samantha Robinson is both stunningly beautiful and a captivating actress in a performance that oozes sexuality and mystery. She delivers the deliberately stylized performance as if time was turned back fifty years and does so with a charm and charisma of a star in the making. Her Elaine is enchantress, seductress and 60s housewife with a vengeance, all in one. Gian Keys also captures the tone of the heroic leads of that era with his rookie detective who falls for his #1 suspect. He is both charming and a bit arrogant. There is also Laura Waddell as Elaine’s new friend Trish. Trish is a perky girl next door type who seems a bit naive to Elaine’s witchy ways, till her own man is stolen by the enchantress. We also have good work by Jeffrey Vincent Parise as a teacher and Robert Seeley as Trish’s husband, both victims of Elaine’s quest for love.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie a lot for not only it’s tribute to an almost lost style of filmmaking, but for the story of a woman coming into her own sexual power, though with a deadly side effects towards her pursuits. Anna Biller shows she is a creative force to be reckoned with, much like her Elaine in some ways, by being a one woman studio on this spooky, sexy and fun flick. Both a filmmaker and lead actress to keep an eye on! 7/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Surprised

timmyd
timmyd at 08:11 PM Feb 06

had a good time with this . great review.

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item about 1 month ago

review: BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN (2016)

Beware_the_slenderman

Interesting, but not totally successful, HBO documentary focuses on the alleged 2014 stabbing of young Payton Leutner by her two 12 year-old (at the time) friends Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier. The strange motivation for the attempted murder was to please a fictional internet boogeyman known as The Slenderman. The documentary traces the horrid events back to the two girls’ delusional belief that they could appease this urban legend through the killing of another. The documentary also traces Slenderman’s origins to the CreepyPasta website where the two girls discovered it and interviews with their befuddled parents and so-called “experts” as to how they (and apparently many other youths) came to believe this tale was real.

Documentary is directed well by Irene Taylor Brodsky and while it certainly is interesting, it never quite as chilling as it should be considering the subject matter. We do get a picture of two girls who are delusional to the point of plotting and planning the murder of a friend to appease an internet urban legend that sprang from a photoshop contest. It does fill us uninitiated in on how this fictional phantom came to be and only stumbles on it’s not too successful attempt to explain why so many youths have come to believe that it actually exists…especially to the point of murder. The ‘experts’ the documentary interviews on that aspect of the subject don’t impress or really have a solid explanation as why this made-up specter has so many believing it’s real. We also never really get a clear picture as to why these two girls were so delusional and infatuated with this internet grown tale. As a viewer, I never got a feel for what the big deal about Slenderman is and therefor don’t understand what the fuss was about and why two young girls would try to kill over what is clearly a made up story…and to truly succeed, this documentary needed to to that.

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item 2 months ago

review: WOLF CREEK: THE SERIES season 1 (2016)

Wolf_creek_series_image

Wolf Creek was a disturbing 2005 flick from Aussie director Greg McLean that introduced the horror community to psychopathic Australian redneck Mick Taylor (John Jarratt). The film produced a sequel nine years later in 2014 and now, a six part mini-series with episodes directed by Ash vs Evil Dead’s Tony Tilse and McLean himself. The story finds an RV crossing the Outback with an American tourist family, The Thorogoods, stopping for the night and encountering Mick. The vicious psychopath brutally slaughters all of them…or so he thinks. Teen daughter Eve (Lucy Fry) survives the carnage and decides to hunt down the murderous Mick and exact some paypack, despite protestations of a handsome police officer (Dustin Clare). Her journey towards revenge puts her in contact with some of the best…and worst…of the Outback’s citizenry, on her collision course with Mick Taylor.

This Australian web series has episodes written, alternatively, by Peter Gawler and Felicity Packard and thankfully returns to the more grounded violence and brutality of the first film, whereas Wolf Creek 2 got a bit too over-the-top for it’s own good. Mick Taylor has been returned more to the brutal psychopath that made him so scary in the first flick with his one-liners and demented cackling kept effective by not being taken too overboard. The tone is gritty and a slow burn as Eve makes some interesting allies and meets some morally questionable individuals while she tracks down the elusive Mick. At the same time Mick encounters more lambs for the slaughter, including some of the individuals that Eve unintentionally draws into the conflict and onto his radar. There are some very disturbing scenes and the first five episodes are well directed by Tilse, who paces them moderately as this is leading up to an eventual showdown. McLean returns to the director’s chair for the final episode where American teen takes on Aussie madman and it’s as good as the best moments of the first two theatrical flicks. If the series has a weakness, it’s that the basic story doesn’t seem to warrant over five hours to tell. We do get the feeling that some of it is filler and that a tighter two hour movie might have told the tale more effectively. We do find out more about Mick’s past and what turned him into the maniac he is. We also get some very brutal sequences as Eve gets toughened up to face Mick and Mick continues to illustrate why we should root for Eve. The film makes very good use of the desolate Outback locations and populates them with some interesting and unsettling characters. The violence level will not disappoint fans of the films and most likely neither will this series, when all is said and done, even if it does feel like a movie stretched out at times.

The cast are all effective and create an assortment of offbeat characters that Eve and Mick wade through. John Jarratt is disturbing, once more, as Mick Taylor. The actor really does good work in having Mick come off first, as an eccentric country bumpkin to disarm his potential victim’s and then chills us to the bone when the inner murderer is released. He plays Mick with demented gusto, but with the help of director and scripts, he is restrained enough to avoid the over-the-top parody that Mick became in the film series sequel. Lucy Fry holds her own in both character and performance with her co-star. She gives us a strong teen who is not going home without finding out who killed her family and wounded her…and making them pay. If the extend time given the story accomplishes anything over six episodes, it is watching Eve grow in anger, tenacity and determination as she begins to realize she is hunting an elusive monster. When she and Mick finally meet, we have no problem believing that this little lady is going to bring it to Wolf Creek’s residing serial killer…and bring it she does. Dustin Clare is good as Officer Hill, who is one of Eve’s few friends in this untamed part of the world. The actor conveys both authority and compassion as a man sympathetic to Eve, yet obviously, bound by the law he upholds to try and stop her…and catch Mick at the same time. The supporting cast are all effective in creating an eclectic group of Outback residents both friend and foe.

Overall, I recommend this series to fans of McLean’s first two theatrical adventures of psychopathic Aussie, Mick Taylor. While the story did feel a bit like a movie plot stretched out over six episodes, there are plenty of effective and brutal moments and the tone returns to the more gritty and disturbing tone of the original film. The pace is a purposeful slow burn and our leading lady becomes quite formidable by the time she goes one on one with Mick. The character of Mick Taylor is once again the more heinous maniac he was in the first film, with excessive theatrics and one-liners left behind for a more unsettling return to the character’s roots. There is talk of a season two and I am curious where they go with it. 6.5/10


EPISODE LIST

Billabonge – directed by Tony Tilse and written by Peter Gawler
Kutyukutyu – directed by Tony Tilse and written by Felicity Packard
Salt Lake – directed by Tony Tilse and written by Peter Gawler
Opalville – directed by Tony Tilse and written by Felicity Packard
Rome – directed by Tony Tilse and written by Peter Gawler
Wolf Creek – directed by Greg McLean and written by Felicity Packard

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

timmyd
timmyd at 08:22 PM Jan 24

I had a good time with it . like you said , I'm glad they cut down on Mick's theatrics . looking forward to season 2 .

MonsterZeroNJ posted a BLOG item 2 months ago

review: I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER (2016)

I_am_not_a_serial_killer

Horror/thriller is based on the first book of the same name from Dan Wells’ trilogy about sociopathic teen John Wayne Cleaver. Fifteen year-old teen John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records) is currently being treated by a therapist (Karl Geary) for having homicidal thoughts. Not helping John is that he lives and works in his mother’s (Laura Fraser) mortuary and is surrounded by death on a daily basis. He sets up rules to control his urges, despite being fascinated with death and serial killers, but things take an odd turn when people in his small Midwestern town start showing up dead. John becomes obsessed with the case and sets out to find who this serial killer is…and his first suspect may be his kindly old neighbor Mr. Crowley (Christopher Lloyd). Is John over-imagining things due to his dreary obsession, or has he found real evil in his sleepy little town?

British/Irish flick is directed by Billy O’Brian with the book based script written by he and Christopher Hyde. It is part horror, part mystery and part character study as we watch a boy investigating the very type of activity that he struggles with himself not to commit. It is an interesting study of an interesting character as John fights with his inner dark urges and by contrast sees death everyday working with his mother and now by pursuing a killer. It is offbeat and intriguing and O’Brian avoids a lot of clichés by not making this a straight up serial killer thriller, but from the view of someone who might be one in the making, himself hunting another. A sort of teenage “Dexter” if you will. There are some brutal and disturbing moments and the film only stumbles a bit when it’s reveal conjures something far less grounded than we expected from the tone of the film up till that point…though it is effective and the film does come to an appropriately suitable conclusion that fits the story and direction it took. It just was a bit off-putting that the film’s killer is something a bit more supernatural when the film seemed to be examining the evil’s that men do.

The cast are all good. Records makes an intriguing and odd youth in his John Wayne Cleaver. He is certainly not your normal kid and he knows it. He knows there is something wrong in his head and the young actor portrays well the conflict and effort to avoid becoming something he already has shown great potential in being. The fact that he pursues another “like” personality seems, at first, to be more out of curiosity than to battle evil. Laura Fraser is solid as John’s single and hard working mother. She conveys well the frustration of loving her child yet knowing he is a bit unstable and has urges that could turn dangerous. Christopher Lloyd is a veteran actor and gives the old neighbor Crowley a nice sympathetic touch so we find it hard to believe that this kindly old man might be a monster on the inside. Solid acting from supporting cast members as well.

I liked this movie, though didn’t quite love it, despite a novel premise. It features a sociopathic lead who is fighting to control his own homicidal urges while pursuing someone else who is giving in quite brutally to theirs. The reveal kind of switches the focus to something more supernatural, when the film seemed to be telling a more grounded story and that is a bit off-putting. Director and co-writer O’Brien does recover and ends the film appropriately and effectively. Recommended, but just go in without grand expectations. 6.5/10

-MonsterZero NJ


Mood: Chillin'

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