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Movie reviews (titles starting with M)
02-03-2017, 02:50 AM (This post was last modified: 05-07-2017 09:38 PM by goodcop2000.)
Post: #1
Movie reviews (titles starting with M)
Macabre (1980)
2.5 love nests
This Italian psychological horror from director Lamberto Bava is about a woman whose life is ruined in one horrible day. She spends time in a mental hospital to recover and when she gets out she starts exhibiting strange behavior. This is not a great movie but it does have a few fun and really well done scenes. Be prepared for the signature bad dubbing that almost always shows up in Lamberto Bava's movies and a rather silly ending.

The Machinist (2003)
3.5 sleepless nights

The Machinist is a very interesting psychological thriller that revolves around a man who has such terrible insomnia he has not been able to sleep for a year. Christian Bale is great as the insomniac and lost an alarming amount of weight to play the role.

Madhouse (1974)
3 piercing screams

As with many movies, the title of Madhouse does not have much to do with the actual content. This movie features Vincent Price as famous horror actor Paul Toombes, who is beloved for his portrayal of character Dr. Death. Toombes' career comes to an abrupt halt when his fiancé is murdered and he is the prime suspect. Years later, Toombes is offered an opportunity to reprise the Dr. Death role but that opens the door for more bloodshed. Price is fun to watch, as usual, and Peter Cushing does a nice job playing Herbert Flay, the Dr. Death script writer. Most of the other actors are not very good, although I liked Natasha Pyne as Toombes' public relations assistant. Unfortunately, the plot is mostly predictable. Regardless, Vincent Price fans will enjoy the show.

Madman (1981)
3 bloody axes

Madman is a totally formulaic '80s slasher that begins with a story being told around a campire about a madman who lives in the woods. The movie goes on to feature camp counselors with drinking and sex on the mind, a truck that won't start, and a killer stalking the campers and killing them with a variety of methods. Sound familiar? If you're thinking this movie is a blatant ripoff of Friday the 13th, you're right! The surprise is that it's still pretty fun to watch. The special effects and plot are mediocre, but the major weakness of the film is the low level acting. I researched the cast in IMDB and found that this movie was the first role for 14 of the 18 credited actors, including 8 actors who never acted again! The one bright spot in the cast is Gaylen Ross who is best known as the heroine in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. For fans of summer camp slashers, Madman is worth watching.

Mama (2013)
3.5 black moths

Through an unlikely series of events, two very young girls end up stranded in an abandoned cabin in the woods for several years. When they are finally discovered, their uncle, his girlfriend, and a child psychologist try to help the girls adapt back to a normal life. Strange events plague the girls, prompting the adults to wonder exactly how did they survive all that time on their own? There are some genuinely spine-tingling moments in the film. The special effects are at their best when we are only given glimpses of horror. The later scenes in the film rely heavily on CGI which is not completely convincing. The acting performances are decent, with Megan Charpentier and Isabelle NĂ©lisse surprisingly good as the young sisters.

Mama Dracula (1980)
1 dripping fang

Mama Dracula is a truly awful, campy horror comedy from Belgium about a female vampire who needs the blood of virgins to revitalize her. The plot is ridiculous, the dialogue is terrible, and this "comedy" is not funny in the least. One established actress, Louise Fletcher, plays her role straight and does a decent job. The rest of the acting performances are abysmal, most notably by the extremely annoying twin brothers, Alexander and Marc-Henri Wajnberg.

The Mangler (1995)
1.5 severed limbs

The Mangler is yet another Stephen King story butchered by Hollywood (no pun intended). To be fair, the original story about a possessed laundry machine is only so-so, but this movie is just plain bad.

Manhattan Baby (1982)
2 sand storms

This movie about an evil spirit freed from an Egyptian tomb is quite a disappointment from Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci. It starts pretty well with a couple interesting scenes in Egypt and then goes downhill fast. The plot is boring and disjointed to the point of being incoherent. The special effects look very cheap and the acting is poor. The dubbing into English is bad, especially for a young child and, believe it or not, a snake! The soundtrack seems to reuse music from another Fulci movie, possibly City of the Dead. The nail in the Egyptian tomb is that among all its other faults, it's just not scary.

Manhunter (1986)
3.5 fava beans

Nicely done adaptation of the novel The Red Dragon. It held my interest throughout with interesting characters (especially the serial killer) and decent acting. It's strange seeing someone other than Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter but Brian Cox did a pretty good job in a limited role. My favorite part was definitely the ending sequence which featured a tense confrontation while Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-De-Vida" is blasting the whole time. The rest of the music in the movie was rather dated 80's music and was slightly distracting.

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
3 bloody badges

By happenstance, I have viewed the Maniac Cop movies in reverse order so after watching the 3rd installment, Maniac Cop 2 was a pleasant surprise. Wrongfully convicted and murdered police officer Matt Cordell reappears in this movie after the NYPD thought they had finished him off in the first one. Basically Jason Voorhees in a police uniform, he wreaks major havoc and ends up teaming up for a while with another serial killer who is played very well by Leo Rossi. Apart from Rossi and Claudia Christian, who plays a police officer/psychologist, the acting is mediocre. Sadly, Bruce Campbell only has a small role in the film. The strength of this movie is the non-stop action and some really spectacular stunts. Now, to continue my march back through time, I have to find and watch the original Maniac Cop.

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993)
2 bloody badges

This story of a police officer coming back from the dead to dispense some justice is about what you would expect from a movie called Maniac Cop 3. It's slightly amusing.

Martyrs (2008)
4 bloody shackles

Martyrs is a very intense movie about a young kidnapping victim who escapes her captors but is physically and mentally scarred by the experience. The very original plot takes unexpected turns and the whole cast does a very nice job. The first half of the movie is brilliant. The second half features a lot of brutal violence and torture and is hard to watch.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
3 dismembered corpses

This Kenneth Branagh production is much more true to the original novel than the traditional Frankenstein films and it definitely has it moments. I think the best (and most dramatic) scene is when the monster interrupts Victor Frankenstein's honeymoon. A good version overall, nice acting, but some slow parts made the movie a little too long.

Masters of Horror: Chocolate (2005)
2 psychic links

This episode in the Masters of Horror series is directed by Mick Garris who also helmed The Stand. The slow-paced, somewhat boring story is about a man who becomes psychically linked to a beautiful stranger and wants to find out more about her. The special effects are not very good, but the acting is decent. I found the ending to be anti-climactic.

Masters of Horror: Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (2005)
3.5 mutants

Directed by Phantasm director Don Coscarelli, this episode features an interesting story in the "city slicker lost in the backwoods" genre. The characters have some depth and are well-acted and the villain is effectively freaky.

Mausoleum (1983)
3 scary demons

Mausoleum is a supernatural horror with a rather cheesy demonic possession plot. The acting performances are serviceable and the special effects and gore are surprisingly good for what appears to be a low budget production. For a B-movie, the monster is actually pretty scary looking! LaWanda Page is funny in a supporting role as a maid.

Maximum Overdrive (1986)
3.5 foul-mouthed ATMs

Maximum Overdrive is a very '80s movie written and directed by Stephen King. The movie tells the story of a group of people caught at a truck stop when machines suddenly become sentient and homicidal. If you can suspend your disbelief and not take the movie too seriously, it is surprisingly entertaining. The cast, led by Emilio Estevez, does a decent job. The action and effects are pretty good and there is a great soundtrack by AC/DC. Watch at the beginning for a brief but amusing cameo by King.

Memento (2000)
4 polaroid photos

Memento is an excellent thriller about a man suffering from short-term memory loss who is trying to search for his wife's murderer. The writing and editing are great. The plot stays interesting and the mystery holds up well with the non-chronological presentation of the scenes. The acting performances are also very good, especially from Guy Pearce as the mourning husband and Carrie-Anne Moss as a mysterious woman.

Midnight Movie (2008)
2.5 bloody axes

This film features the interesting idea of a killer who can come out of a horror movie and terrorize the audience. For those who enjoy slasher films, Midnight Movie is kind of entertaining once it gets going. It's obviously a low budget film but some of the special effects are okay. The acting is below average. One young child actor is particularly bad in a completely unnecessary role.

Mimesis (2011)
1.5 tasty brains

Mimesis is an obviously low-budget homage to the original Night of the Living Dead. A number of strangers find themselves stranded in a farm house with ravenous zombies roaming outside. There is a pretty clever twist that separates Mimesis from other zombie movies but poor execution ruins the film's potential. Apart from Sid Haig in a very brief appearance, Allen Maldonado is the only cast member who gives a performance on the level of a professional actor. There are gigantic plot holes that are hard to ignore and the makeup and special effects are not very good. I recommend you pass on this one.

Mirrors (2008)
3 eerie reflections

Mirrors is a movie for folks who like creepy, atmospheric horror. There are a few gory scenes but the bulk of the special effects are really well-done, freaky things going on with the mirrors. The movie is somewhat like The Ring with the main character (Kiefer Sutherland) getting involved in violent supernatural happenings and then trying to track down the history behind them to save his family. When the mystery is solved, it ends up being a rather weak and disappointing story, but the ending action and final twist are still pretty good.

The Mist (2007)
3 mysterious shapes in the fog

I try not to get too excited about movie versions of Stephen King stories because I am so often disappointed. However, most of this film actually does justice to the King short story/novella with two very annoying exceptions: 1) The crazy homicidal old mystic from the story is portrayed as a crazy homicidal fundamentalist Christian (Hollywood definitely loves to bash Christians) and 2) the original King story was left open-ended and of all the possible endings to choose (including the uncertainty of the written story) the movie makers chose what had to be the cruelest, most unsatisfying ending they could come up with. If the movie had ended a few minutes earlier than it did, I would have rated it higher.

The Mistresses of Dr. Jekyll (1964)
2.5 deformed henchmen

Do not be confused by the title. This film has nothing to do with Robert Louis Stevenson's famous Dr. Jekyll. The Dr. Jekyll mentioned in this title is Dr. Conrad Jekyll, associate of Dr. Orlof from The Awful Dr. Orlof. Dr. Orlof passes his secret to creating reanimated servants on to Dr. Jekyll, who immediately puts the knowledge to evil use. Things go bad when Dr. Jekyll's niece comes to visit and unknowingly stirs up problems. There are some decent moments in the film, including a pretty good ending. The acting in the sequel is a little better than the original but the plot still leaves a lot to be desired.

The Monster Squad (1987)
4 kicks in the nards

How did I miss out on this gem for 30 years? The Monster Squad is a very entertaining family horror/comedy featuring many of the classic monsters from the 1930s-1940s Universal monster movies. The story is about a group of kids who work together to take on the monsters who are threatening their town. Basically it's a horror version of The Goonies. The story is good although there are some plot holes and the makeup and special effects are decent. I enjoyed the acting performances from the young cast.

Monsters (2010)
3.5 gargantuan beasts

Despite the title and the occasional presence of very large aliens, this film is really about the interaction between the two lead actors, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. Obviously the film makers felt the same because in the ending credits, only the names of McNairy and Able are listed at first then later everyone else, including those with speaking parts, is listed as "featured extras". The premise of the movie is that the northern part of Mexico has become an "infected zone", rife with hostile aliens. A photographer working south of the zone receives the task of helping the daughter of his boss return home safely to the U.S. after she was injured. While the film does move slowly at times, there is some stunning scenery and McNairy and Able do have nice on-screen chemistry. There are very few action scenes but they are tense and there is an undertone of suspense throughout. I did not particularly like the big final scene but there is a clever, subtle twist at the very end for observant viewers. The manner in which Monsters was filmed on a small budget (on location, hand-held cameras, improvised dialogue, unexpected extras, with digital effects added later) is interesting and impressed me. The final product definitely does not feel low-budget.

Motel Hell (1980)
3.5 tasty fritters

The story line for Motel Hell features an amiable farmer and motel owner who has dark secrets. Star Rory Calhoun does a great job in this entertaining mix of black comedy and horror. Calhoun's "Farmer Vincent" is definitely the most likable cannibal I've seen on film. Nancy Parsons of Porky's fame is also very good in her role as the farmer's sister. Considering the topic of the film, there is surprisingly little gore.

Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (2007)
2 flying broomsticks

It's hard to believe that this is the final installment in the trilogy that Dario Argento started with the great Suspiria. There is no reason to watch this other than just wanting to complete the set. Mother of Tears is the goriest in the trilogy but the gore is pointless because there is no tension or suspense. While Suspiria and Inferno did not have complex plots, they did have great atmosphere and that is utterly lacking in this installment. Feel free to watch this film if you want to see old horror movie cliches, strange witches with too much makeup and moussed-up hair, an anti-climactic final confrontation, and a really awful performance by the leading actress, Asia Argento. When I first saw the movie, I thought Asia didn't know English because she delivered her lines so mechanically.

The Mothman Prophecies (2001)
3.5 mothmen

Setting aside the "based on true events" silliness, this was a pretty good, engaging supernatural thriller. There is a feeling of tension and suspense throughout the whole movie which conveys a cool, creepy vibe. The story line is a little disjointed at times and it's never really that clear exactly what happened but I enjoyed it. Fans of The X Files will feel right at home watching the movie.

The Mummy (1932)
3.5 menacing stares

For some reason, The Mummy gets less respect than the other Universal horror films from the 1930's like Dracula and Frankenstein. It certainly deserves to be ranked among them. Boris Karloff gives an outstanding performance as the awakened mummy, Imhotep, who uses powerful magic to attempt to reunite himself with his long-lost love. Some other "mummy" movies feature a mindless creature wrapped in rags stumbling around in a rage. Karloff's mummy is very different. Only in his first scene do we see him in his burial wraps. He later reappears as the cryptic, scheming Ardath Bey. Bey's ruthlessness and powerful sorcery are much more menacing than your average Scooby Doo mummy. The makeup job done on Karloff is terrific and his dead stare is bone-chilling. The rest of the cast is very competent and Zita Johann's exotic looks perfectly fit her character, Helen, who has Egyptian blood and becomes the target of Imhotep's affection. Director Karl Freund uses realistic sets and atmospheric lighting that also contribute to the effectiveness of the film.

The Mummy's Hand (1940)
3.5 dusty bandages

The Mummy's Hand is considered a remake of Boris Karloff's The Mummy from 1932, but it has a very different feel from that film. The strength of this movie is the juxtaposition of a horrifying (for the era) killer monster with genuinely funny moments of witty banter. Dick Foran and Wallace Ford have great chemistry in their roles as Steve Banning and Babe Jensen, two archaeologists in Egypt who have run out of money for research. Banning finds an investor (Cecil Kellaway as wacky stage magician The Great Solvani) and a vital clue to the location of the secret tomb of Princess Ananka. What the men do not know is that there is a secret society dedicated to protecting that tomb at all costs and they have the undead mummy Kharis at their disposal. The story was later continued in three sequels: The Mummy's Tomb, The Mummy's Ghost, and The Mummy's Curse.

The Mummy's Curse (1944)
2.5 dusty bandages

This quick film (only about an hour long even including flashback footage stolen directly from the first film, The Mummy's Hand) is the last in the set of 4 films telling the story of Princess Ananka and her ill-fated suitor, Kharis. I have not been able to find the 2nd and 3rd films but circumstances have brought the mummy Kharis from Egypt to the bayous of Louisiana. Now, some Egyptians want to find Kharis and take him home, along with a woman who has been filled with the spirit of Princess Ananka. Lon Chaney, Jr. handles the role of the mummy Kharis but does not have a chance to show his personality as much as he does in some of his other monstrous characters. The rest of the actors are mediocre and the plot feels stale and repetitive.

The Mummy's Shroud (1967)
4 shambling horrors

The Mummy's Shroud is a very enjoyable Hammer production about the opening of an Egyptian tomb leading to bad fortune for the explorers. The film starts with historical background information before we get to the carnage. There is a great image of the mummy opening its eyes through ancient layers of dust. The action scenes featuring the mummy are violent and well done. When the killing gets too brutal to be shown onscreen, the film provides the appropriately gruesome sound of bones crunching offscreen. The movie features good acting all around and a really good ending as well.

The Mutilator (1984)
3 giant hooks

This low budget horror has one of the best movie titles of any slasher although it is also known under the much more tame name, Fall Break. The special effects, including a decapitation, are well done. Even the plot is not bad and features a college student bringing his friends to a beach house where they unfortunately run into a crazed killer. The dialogue and acting performances are mostly substandard, although Bill Hitchcock is pretty funny in the role of a wisecracking friend. For many of the actors it is the only role in their career. This includes Morey Lampley who gives one of the worst acting performances I've ever seen!

My Bloody Valentine (1981)
4 bloody pickaxes

Fans of '70s and '80s slashers will enjoy the original My Bloody Valentine. This fun slasher delivers an interesting and creepy story about a psychotic miner who hates Valentine's Day revelers. The film has pretty good acting, innovative death scenes, silly jokes, and a very good ending. The downside to the first version I saw (the theatrical version) is that the death scenes are obviously edited. I was able to track down a copy of the 2009 special edition which restores most of the censored scenes and the added gore definitely improves the viewing experience.

My Bloody Valentine (2009)
2.5 bloody pickaxes

This is a remake of the 1981 slasher film of the same name. A mining accident leads to a slaughter by one of the miners. Years later, a similar string of murders occurs. I like the appearance of the killer and the story is actually pretty good. The downsides to the movie are an abundance of poor acting performances and disappointing, fake-looking CGI special effects.
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