25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: MELISSA & JOEY – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

MAIN CAST
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina)
Joey Lawrence (Blossom)
Taylor Spreitler (Amityville The Awakening)
Nick Robinson (Jurassic World)

A NEW KIND OF CHRISTMAS

GUEST CAST
Jaime Pressly (Mom)
Rick Pasqualone (Hop)

Mel’s sister, Meredith (Jaime Pressly), comes home from prison on furlough to celebrate Christmas with the kids and Mel, and seems unruffled by Joe’s obvious animosity towards her. Jaime Pressly adds a new dynamic to the characters, sadly this was the only time she guest starred in the shows for season run. It was good to finally see the character as she had been mentioned on the shoe countless times. all in all a good Christmas episode to what has become a missed show.

A MELANIE AND JOSIAH CHRISTMAS

GUEST CAST
Christopher Rich (Perception)
Trevor Donovan (Savages)
Michael Rider (Road House)
Mel and Joe are about to celebrate their first Christmas as a married couple, which leads to a competition over whose family ornament should take the top spot on the tree. Both Mel and Joe have a flashback set in southern North America in the 1800s.

Now this Christmas episode is one of the most bizarre having Melissa tell a story of her alleged ancestors is intriguing  though it does seem a little out of place but then so did the Halloween episode. This became the final Christmas episode as the show was let go after season 4.

 

 

 

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: MELISSA & JOEY: THE HALLOWEEN EPISODES

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MAIN CAST

Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Joey Lawrence (Urban Legends 2)
Taylor Spreitler (Amityville: The Awakening)
Nick Robinson (The 5th Wave)

GUEST CAST

Julia Duffy (Newhart)
John Ross Bowie (Th Big Bang Theory)
Beth Broderick (Sbarina: TTW)
Tara Strong (Gotham Girls)

A FRIGHT IN THE ATTIC

The family hears something strange in the attic to discover that it’s Lewis, the brother-in-law of Melissa, hiding from the law. The kids want to spend time with their father before he goes to jail, so they go to a Halloween party with him, where Melissa and Joe Longo follow them.

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A fun episode, plus the Sabrina references were funny to anyone who had watched that show.

WITCH CAME FIRST

Mel’s doctor drops by on Halloween to convince Mel she was once a teenage witch and needs to battle the evil Dark Lord. At first Mel and Joe don’t believe her, but then Joe’s Halloween robot comes to life, and Mel accidentally turns Lennox into a cat. Joe begins to show a darker side of himself and Mel tries to trigger his memory to get the ghoul out of his body.

This was excellent reunion for Melissa Joan Hart and Beth Broderick, plus the numerous Sabrina references were great, the whole was is it real or was it  a dream thing is funny as it lets the audience decide which is which.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING

CAST

Bella Thorne (The Babysitter)
Cameron Monaghan (Gotham)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful eight)
Mckenna Grace (I, Tonya)
Thomas Mann (Kong: Skull Island)
Taylor Spreitler (Melissa & Joey)
Jennifer Morrison (How I Met Your Mother)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Cleopatra Coleman (The Last Man on Earth)

A single mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) moves into a new home with her three children, but the miraculous recovery of her previously comatose teenage son (Cameron Monaghan) leads to a series of sinister events that leave the frightened family fighting for their lives. Bella Thorne and Kurtwood Smith co-star.Amityville: The Awakening is notable for a variety of reasons, and many of them have nothing to do with the quality of the film. For starters, it was completed back in 2012 and has been re-scheduled half a dozen time; it was most recently pulled last June mere weeks before it was set to hit theaters. So, for those of us who have been watching and waiting for Amityville: Awakening, following the film along every bump in the road, the fact that it finally came to fruition is kind of a big deal. But while the release is long overdue, it also coincides with an unprecedented Hollywood scandal: The revelations of sexual misconduct by The Weinstein Company co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Since Weinstein was fired by the company he created, Amityville: The Awakening is the first of his productions to be released. Tellingly, the fallen mogul’s name was removed from the film’s opening credits. Whether there is a resulting Weinstein backlash that will hurt the film’s performance remains to be seen, as fans mull turning their backs on anything that might end up putting money in his pocket.Amityville: The Awakening arrived for a limited time on Google Play today; this will be followed by a limited theatrical release beginning on October 28th. The fact that Amityville: The Awakening was pulled from release so many time indicates that the studio had no faith in the film; it feels like it’s only reluctantly being released at all, and giving it away for free on Google Play suggests Dimension Films already considered it a complete loss. But even with tempered expectations, Amityville: The Awakening is genuinely, objectively fantastic. I don’t know if all the fine-tuning paid off, or if the Weinsteins simply misjudged a winner, but the movie is one of the best PG-13 horror movies of the 21st Century. Had it pursued a hard R, it could have rivaled The Conjuring.As for its ranking within the loosely connected Amityville franchise (a rag-tag assemblage of mostly low-quality knock-offs capitalizing on the infamous address’s legacy), it’s easily number 3; right behind 1979’s classic and 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession. While it can’t touch the original, it’s a treat for those fascinated by the happenings at f 112 Ocean Ave. in Long Island. The film opens with historical documents from the actual DeFeo Family murders that occurred in 1974. From there, and combines several past approaches to the cinematic property; while firmly rooted in the haunted house subgenre, there’s also an emphasis on possession motifs. Like the prequel, there’s a brother/sister dynamic and family dysfunction at the core of Amityville: The Awakening—one that provokes the audiences on several levels.Most surprisingly, and impressively, Amityville: The Awakening is a meta-film. Not only does it retain the “based on a true story” status touted by the original, it exists in a universe where all of the Amityville movies actually exist; essential, it’s a work of fiction that takes place in real life. So, imagine being a fan of the franchise and the chilling paranormal history of 112 Ocean Avenue, and then being given an opportunity to roam the property. That’s essentially what you get: A virtual tour of the iconic Amityville house, complete with windows that look like creepy eyes and a sinister red room hidden behind a wall in the basement. Imagine watching 1979’s Amityville Horror in the actually Amityville house! It would be an opportunity horror and supernatural geeks would pay an arm and a leg for. So, it’s will no small amount of vicarious satisfaction that we see a fictional film nerd do just that.Divorced from the Amityville franchise, Amityville: The Awakening is still a powerful haunted house movie, so one needn’t have seen the original (or the 2005 remake) to dig it. Though there are Easter Eggs and nods to the original aplenty, it fits all the motifs associated with angsty teens in peril. There are some incredible jump-scares, and they’re pulled early; this sets the audience on edge from the get-go and the proceeding suspense works perfectly. There are also elements of medical and body horror; Cameron Monaghan plays James, a teen who’s been in a coma for years and, as a result, his body has atrophied into a waxy, twisted abomination (think Zelda from 1989’s Pet Sematary)—complete with bedsores. It’s got one serious gross-out moment, and could have only benefitted from more; I have no doubt that upping the ante and making The Awakening R-Rated would have only strengthened the end result.MV5BMTU4NDY5NzcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA4ODI3MzI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_While the audience associates the lead protagonist Belle (played by Bella Thorne), James is the personification of paralyzing fear. The claustrophobia of a haunted house is magnified exponentially when one loses the ability to run, react, or even scream. It’s a portrayal of helplessness that most teens, with their lives ahead of them and feelings of invincibility, would consider Hell. Amityville: The Awakening succeeds by rooting itself in the established franchise mythology, then compounding the inherent horror with extreme family dysfunction.I liked Amityville: The Awakening way more than I expected to, and I had higher than average expectations. In many ways, it’s a movie made for Amityville Horror fans, but you needn’t be familiar with the past films or a true-crime buff to get a lot out of this tense and thrill-ride. The film stars strong and maintains its intensity. While not without flaws, this Amityville fan loved it; I’d recommend it to any fan of supernatural horror for an effective & surprisingly nuanced shocker.

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: LEPRECHAUN RETURNS

Starring

Taylor Spreitler (Amiityville: The Awakening)
Pepi Sonuga (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Sai Bennett (Mr. Selfridge)
Linden Porco (Littleman)
Mark Holton (The Naked Gun)
Heather McDonald (White Chicks)
Emily Reid (Curfew)

Linden Porco in Leprechaun Returns (2018)The gold obsessed pint-sized Leprechaun at the center of this horror franchise has been to Vegas, the hood, and outer space before getting an abysmal reboot in Leprechaun: Origins. Now he’s back to battle eco-friendly sorority sisters at the very site where it all began in the 1993 film Leprechaun. Following the same trend that began with this year’s Halloween, this sequel ignores everything that came after the first film and centers around Lila, the daughter of Jennifer Aniston’s character Tory Redding. The Leprechaun is revived anew, back with more puns, limericks, and B-movie thrills all for the pursuit of his gold. And over the top gory kills, of course.From the outset, Lila (Taylor Spreitler) is introduced as our lead heroine, but a familiar face quickly outshines her; original film survivor Ozzie (Mark Holton). Ozzie’s affable charm hasn’t faded one bit, despite the 25-year gap between films. He does seem a little wiser, and he provides enough exposition to bring anyone who may not have seen the original film up to speed. Unfortunately, he’s not a main character, and we’re handed off to the rest of the college kids that will later become Leprechaun fodder. Besides Lila, there’s the neurotic leader Rose (Sai Bennett), perpetual drunk Meredith (Emily Reid), and the most likable character aside from Ozzie, Katie (Pepi Sonuga). Along with two fairly disposable male love interests, this is the group in which we spend most of the runtime with.Really, though, you didn’t sign up for another Leprechaun movie for these characters, you signed up for a murderous little green monster. Linden Porco assumes the role made popular by Warwick Davis, and he does an admirable job. Porco is clearly relishing every tongue-in-cheek rhyme, limerick, and sexual innuendo-filled pun, and this version of the character also brings with it a meta-awareness. In one of the Leprechaun’s earliest scenes, he’s admiring himself in a shard of glass and asking, “When did I get so good looking?” An overt wink to the passing of the torch. More importantly, the gore delivers.leprechaun-returns-picture-e1543346459254Director Steven Kostanski, an Astron-6 member and one half of the duo behind The Void, is also a talented special effects artist in his own right. Between his directorial experience and extensive special makeup effect experience, Leprechaun Returns is easily the most polished and most aesthetically pleasing sequel of the franchise. The kills are every bit as outlandish as you’d expect from this series, and they’re practical effect driven. If you want gory irreverence, this is it.DSCF9304-e1543861852609Writer Suzanne Keilly brings that same splatstick sense of humor she honed in her work on Ash vs Evil Dead, and some of the same gags crossover here as well. Outside of tried and true B-movie horror and humor that pummels its characters with gross-out gags and guts at every turn, Keilly also tries to subvert the sorority girl stereotype with her characters. These eco-friendly girls are far more power tool-wielding brainiacs than outright hippie, with only faint traces of familiar airheaded behavior.leprechaun-returnsDespite the splatstick humor and the surprising polish, it still doesn’t quite work. These girls may defy cinematic definition of a stereotypical sorority girl, but they’re still not very interesting characters. When we’re spending most of the runtime with them, it can get a little tedious. The rules of the Leprechaun’s return and his overall goals are also a little loose and vague, making the narrative feel sloppy. More importantly, this film spends a lot of time nodding to the original, but never even attempts to move the series forward. In other words, Leprechaun Returns feels like a more lighthearted redo of the original, but doesn’t add anything new. It even recycles some of the same jokes and visual gags.leprechaunIf you’re a fan of the Leprechaun series, then there’s a lot to appreciate in what Keilly and Kostanski have created in Leprechaun Returns. It never takes itself seriously and delivers on the splatstick gore and outlandish death sequences. Tie-ins to the original film, including the return of Ozzie, serve as loud echoes of why this series has 8 entries. But while there’s a lot of charm to be found, it’s also sloppy in its world-building and doesn’t give us anyone to truly root for. It doesn’t feel like anything we haven’t already seen before, either.