Halloween Horror Fest: Adventures in B-Movies Part 2

Here’s Part 2 in the 2019 Halloween Horror Fest. Part 1 is here.

Blood Frenzy (1987)

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REVIEW: While ‘Joker’ is interesting, like it’s character, it’s somewhat lost

In just over a decade there have been three different versions of the Joker on screen. Considering that rate, we’re due for several more in the 2020s. Yay?

The most recent film featuring the Clown Prince of Crime stars Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role. However, he doesn’t start out as the Joker. Instead, the movie opens with Phoenix playing Arthur Fleck, a troubled man working as an entertainment clown who aspires to be a stand-up comedian.

On top of being a mentally ill person who lives in a community comfortable with slashing health services, Arthur is also responsible for caring for his sick mother. One of the only bits of happiness in his life comes from watching a show featuring comedian Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Unfortunately, pressure Arthur experiences daily begins to crack him, setting him on a violent path.

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REVIEW: ‘Ad Astra’ is in the upper echelon of the space adventure genre

A star studded cast like this deserves to be on a grand scale film across the stars. That’s what we get with the new sci-fi “Ad Astra.”

The movie takes place in the fairly distant future, with mankind now able travel to the Solar System’s inner planets regularly and launch long range expeditions beyond the asteroid belt. The film follows Roy McBride, an experienced and fearless astronaut working for the United States’ Space Com.

However, Roy still lives in the shadow of his father Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), a great, accomplished American space explorer who went on a venture to the outer reaches of the solar system near Neptune. The expedition was lost, though, decades ago, with the crew written off as dead. When power surges begin hitting the earth generated from a powerful space ship engine, Roy is tasked with finding out if his father is still alive and if so, if it’s the lost ship starting these power surges.

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REVIEW: ‘It’ 2 lags behind first installment, but still worth a watch

The 1990 “It” mini-series adaptation took place over two nights and followed a group of characters in their youth, and as adults. The latest adaptation, spread over 2017 and 2019, takes a similar approach.

In both cases, the stories following the characters as kids was more compelling.

At the end of the 2017 movie, a group of friends in a small Maine town known as the Losers Club defeated the paranormal entity simply called “It” and made a promise to return to the northeast if the monster re-appeared. Well sure enough, 27 years later, It, taking the form of a clown, comes back to wreak havoc.

In response, Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only one who stayed in Maine, calls the Losers back from across the country to once again defeat It (Bill Skarsgard). Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader) and Ben (Jay Ryan) all return to meet with Mike, but have trouble remembering the events of the first movie. However, that begins to change when they start seeing the evil clown around town.

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REVIEW: ‘Ready or Not’ is a fun way to end summer 2019

Before this movie whenever I heard the phrase “Ready or Not” I thought of the Fugees song. Now, I might think of a very bloody wedding reception.

“Ready or Not” follows the character Grace, played by Samara Weaving, on her wedding day. While nerves are nothing new for a person on their wedding day, Grace is having a bit more anxiety than usual because she happens to be marrying into a massively wealthy family.

She’s calmed down a bit, though, by her fiance Alex (Mark O’Brien) and her new family, who provide pleasantries and reassurance. That is until it comes time for the family tradition of having a game at midnight. The family decides to play a game of Hide and Seek, with Grace being the person to hide. At first Grace just thinks it’s a silly quirk, until it turns out the family is actually hunting her as part of a sacrificial ritual. As a result, Grace’s wedding night turns into a fight for survival.

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REVIEW: ‘Fallen’ series rises back up with third installment

Alright, listen up. This movie features a fugitive. What this piece will entail is a hard target review of every character, plot detail, and the set design of every White House, hen house, out house and dog house on screen.

“Angel Has Fallen” once again features U.S. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who now protects President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). In the previous movies, Trumbull was House Speaker while the president was Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). But now, Trumbull is running the country and he’s under the protection of a super agent.

It’s an action movie, though, so of course something has to go wrong. In this case, a massive attack with dozens of drones rigged to blow are set loose on the President and his security detail while on a trip away from D.C. In the aftermath of the attack, the only survivors are Trumbull and Banning, making the latter the prime suspect. Banning, being innocent, quickly sees he’s being set-up and goes on a journey to clear his name and protect the president from the next attack.

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REVIEW: The ‘Scary Stories’ here weren’t too frightening

This is one of those movies where I don’t really know who the audience was supposed to be. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” carries a PG-13 rating and has some serious subject matter but there are times where it feels like it’s made for a younger audience.

The movie mainly follows three friends, Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur), who meet another teen on Halloween named Ramon (Michael Garza). After pissing off some jocks with a prank, the four eventually find themselves at an old abandoned house and stumble upon a book.

Allegedly, there was once a woman who lived in the house and wrote scary stories which resulted in the deaths of youths in the community. That book just so happens to be found by Stella, who opens it and reads a few entries. It turns out to be a mistake, though, as new entries in the book begin to appear and lead to the disappearances of teens in the town.

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REVIEW: ‘Crawl’ delivers solid creature entertainment

Florida Gators, well known for their basketball and football abilities, along with terrorizing families in hurricanes.

The types of gators featured in “Crawl” refer to the latter, although a horror movie with Tim Tebow would be entertaining.

Anyway, “Crawl” tells the story of Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a college swimmer who’s just wrapping up practice as a dangerous hurricane starts moving in on Florida. The campus and pretty much everyone else in the area opt to evacuate, but Haley finds out her dad Dave (Barry Pepper) hasn’t been answering his phone and could still be in the path of the storm.

Haley travels to her home town and in fact does find her dad at her childhood house. The problem is that Dave has been severely injured in a crawl space by an alligator which is still around the area. With the storm producing floods as time goes on, Haley and her father are in a fight for survival, both against rising water and more gators brought in as a result.

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REVIEW: ‘Midsommar’ is as stylish as it is suspenseful

Whoa nelly does this one get wild.

Florence Pugh plays Dani in “Midsommar,” the second feature film from director Ari Aster who last year helmed the fantastic “Hereditary.” Dani is a college student who, in the first act, goes through a major tragedy in her life. The subsequent depression Dani goes through becomes a point of stress between her and her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor).

However, she gets an opportunity to get away for awhile by traveling abroad to Sweden to spend time at a rural town by way of an invitation from their friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren). Dani, Christian, along with their friends Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter) decide to go with Pelle for the trip, both to study the culture and have some fun. While the town they go to seems to be just a calm place holding a midsummer festival, though, the lead characters soon learn about some rather disturbing rituals by the locals.

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REVIEW: Latest run in with ‘Annabelle’ doesn’t offer much new in horror

On the surface, the set up for the latest “Annabelle” implies something new. However, as time goes on, it turns into the same old story.

“Annabelle Comes Home,” the seventh movie in the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, again follows the movie-version Warren family, who’re much more entertaining and compelling than their real life fraud counterparts. The movie opens with Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) driving home with the Annabelle doll in their, er, custody. After some freaky moments, the Warrens are able to get the cursed doll back to their artifacts room, where it’s secured in a holy case, and life seems to settle to normal.

As life goes on, the Warrens plan a business trip and leave their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) in the care of a babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Despite dealing with the paranormal regularly, the Warren’s home and neighborhood is pretty straightforward suburbia. However, Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) eventually comes over to hang out and has an interest in the Warren’s case files. Unfortunately, through a series of events, she lets loose the paranormal entities in the Warren’s artifacts room, including Annabelle.

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