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Movie Review: Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
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Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
Director: Joachim Rønning
Writer: Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman-Blue
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Michelle Pfeiffer
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG | Minutes: 118
Release Date: October 18, 2019

You never know what to expect from Disney’s live-action adaptations of their animated classics. At times, they can be just as wonderful as their animated counterparts. Other times, they are just hollow, lacking any sort of distinguishing features. But for Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, starring Angelina Jolie, it is the first sequel of its kind for the studio. This means, there are new stories to see and hear, new worlds to explore, new characters to meet, and more reasons to love the antihero fairy whose cold heart was warmed by Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning).

Sure, the first film was merely a CGI-saturated feature that could not match Jolie’s performance, but with the sequel has a much better cast, a fantastic story, and more epic action sequences. Check out the full review below.

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Movie Review: In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic ’80s Horror
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Dr. Zaius   |  @   |  
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In Search Of Darkness 80s Horror

In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic ’80s Horror
Written and Directed by David Weiner
Featuring Cassandra Peterson, John Carpenter, Heather Langenkamp, Keith David, Alex Winter, Tom Holland, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Don Mancini, Larry Cohen
Documentary
Runtime: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Release date: October 6, 2019 (Beyond Fest)

The ’70s were a time of shocking and visceral thrills for horror audiences, giving us era-defining classics like The Exorcist, Jaws, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Alien. The 1980s, however, was a decade of excess and that went for horror films as well. The normal expression is “less is more,” but in ’80s horror MORE was more. More blood, more nudity, more controversy, more slasher icons, more films to choose from, and more sequels. David Weiner’s phenomenal new documentary, In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic ’80s Horror, gives the decade a comprehensive overview. As someone who grew up in the late 1980s and was eased into the genre by my love of the video store horror aisles and Freddy Krueger in 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, this documentary hit me in all the feels. It works both as a passionate nostalgia project and a genuine look at film history.

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Movie Review: The Furies
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The Furies Shudder

The Furies
Written & Directed by Troy D’Aquino
Cast: Airlie Dodds, Linda Ngo, Taylor Ferguson, Ebony Vagulans, Danielle Horvat, Tom
O’Sullivan
Odin’s Eye Entertainment
82 minutes | Shudder Exclusive
Release date: October 3, 2019 (U.S. & Canada)

Happy October, everyone! For me it’s just another month on the Horror 365 calendar, but for many, this is the month to binge all things horror, and where better to look than Shudder, AMC’s horror streaming service. Out today on the service is The Furies, an Australian slasher from writer/director Troy D’Aquino. On a tiny budget, D’Aquino packs in some truly gnarly gore effects, some kick ass horror ladies, and a unique twist to set it aside from others in the genre. And this is all packed into 82 adrenaline-pumping minutes.

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Movie Review: Joker
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Joker Movie

Joker
Director: Todd Phillips
Writer: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Rated R | Minutes: 122
Release Date: October 4, 2019

One of the worse things that a writer and director can do in a comic book film adaptation is misinterpret the source material. It is one thing to re-envision it in order to suit a vision of the story that you want to tell, but it is something else when you go far off the edge just to prove you can be the bleakest of the lot. That is what Todd Phillip‘s Joker does. Using Gotham City as a canvas, the film is painted with the colors of Martin Scorsese inspiration and the complexities of heavy themes of mental illness and social inequality, with a slight touch of DC, all of which makes Joker a dark, depressing, and gritty hardboiled crime drama that also happens to be the origins story for the clown prince of crime. The story delves into the mind of the lonely title character, played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix, who has been dumped on by society. But as fascinating as the lead performance is, everything else about it lacks complexities and nuance, and only further stigmatizes those who do suffer from mental illness.

My full review here below.

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Movie Review: Harpoon
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Dr. Zaius   |  @   |  
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Harpoon movie Rob Grant

Harpoon
Written by Rob Grant and Mike Kovac
Directed by Rob Grant
Cast: Christopher Gray, Emily Tyra, Munro Chambers, Brett Gelman
Epic Pictures
83 minutes
Release date: October 3-11 U.S. theater tour
October 8, 2019 (Blu-ray & VOD, Amazon Prime Video)

At last year’s NYC Horror Film Festival I saw a really good modern take on the Frankenstein story with Rob Grant’s Alive. So it’s no surprise to me that a year later I am again intrigued by one of the Canadian filmmaker’s projects, in this case it’s minimalist thriller Harpoon. Shot almost entirely on a small yacht during a fishing trip and featuring a cast of literally three on-screen actors with a voiceover narration from Brett Gelman (Murray Bauman on Stranger Things), Harpoon somehow evokes tension, terror, and laughs. With the small setting and smaller cast, Grant’s film plays out like a stage play: imagine Open Water, only you’re on the boat with the sharks.

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Movie Review: Abominable
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ABOMINABLE

Abominable
Director: Jill Culton
Writer: Jill Culton
Cast: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin, Michelle Wong
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Rated PG | Minutes: 97 Minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2019

The DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studios’ animated feature Abominable may play it too safe and not take any kind of risk as it treads some familiar ground, but it still has as much heart and emotional weight as some of the other releases from its rivals.

Still, there is no denying that it is beautifully animated as it makes great use of a wide range of colors and light tones. Blend that with soaring music, and Abominable is something anyone of any age can fully enjoy from start to finish. My review below.

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Movie Review: Bliss
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Bliss poster banner directed by Joe Begos

Bliss
Written, directed, produced by Joe Begos
Cast: Starring Dora Madison, Tru Collins, Jeremy Gardner, George Wendt, and Rhys Wakefield
Dark Sky Films
Runtime: 79 minutes
Release date: September 27, 2019

The story of struggling artists turning to drugs for breakthroughs is not exactly a new idea both in reality and in fiction. But I can guarantee no one has ever seen anything like Bliss, a grisly new horror film from Joe Begos (The Mind’s Eye). Coming to theaters and VOD on Friday, September 27th, Bliss is a brutal and gory film, featuring what will surely be a career-making performance from Dora Madison and providing a much-needed twist in a classic horror subgenre.

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Movie Review: Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire
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Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire movie banner

Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire
Written & Directed by Stephen Cognetti
Cast: Gabriel Chytry, Elizabeth Vermilyea, Sam Kazzi, Brian David Tracy, Bridgid Abrams
Shudder Exclusive
Release date: September 19, 2019

In recent years, few word pairings have excited genre fans more than “Shudder Exclusive.” AMC’s streaming service Shudder has become a force in bringing new horror films and series to the small screen and this Thursday, they’ll be premiering the ending of Stephen Cognetti’s Hell House LLC trilogy with Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire. Quite simply, if you enjoyed the found footage/haunted attraction scares of the first two movies, you’ll be all in for the finale.

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Movie Review: One Cut Of The Dead
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Dr. Zaius   |  @   |  
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Japanese Zombie Comedy One Cut Of The Dead

One Cut of the Dead
Written, directed, and edited by Shinichiro Ueda
Cast: Takayuki Hamatsu, Mao, Harumi Shuhama, Yuzuki Akiyama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Manabu Hosoi
Shudder | Variance Films
96 minutes | Not Rated
U.S. Release: September 13, 2019 (NY/LA)

Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead from 1985 is the first major case of the “Zom-Com,” the blending of zombie horror and comedy. A seminal classic about punks battling the undead in a cemetery, it’s not hard to find influence for Edgar Wright’s genre redefining Shaun of the Dead from 2004. While the zom-com has become prevalent in recent years with films like Zombieland (2009) and this year’s The Dead Don’t Die from Jim Jarmusch, the best of the lot by a mile is Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead. The Japanese zom-com first premiered last year, but is making its American theatrical release later this month. The word of mouth has been off the charts and I’m happy to say that all the hype was real and One Cut of the Dead can take its place on the Mount Rushmore of zombie comedies.

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Movie Review: IT Chapter Two
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IT Chapter Two

IT Chapter Two
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Rated R | Minutes: 169
Release Date: September 6, 2019

Andy Muschietti‘s IT was one huge surprise as it wisely split Stephen King‘s epic novel of the same name into two parts, with the first being a pure coming of age film which saw a group of young kids spend their summer vacation fighting an evil which often takes the form of a clown named Pennywise.

Though they are successful, Pennywise promised to come back 27 years later, and they, in turn, promised to unite as one to fight the clown when it returned. This only set the stage for IT Chapter Two, which not only completes their story but promised to be an epic battle between good and evil.

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