first movie, partially because it was super-cheap on Amazon, and partially because of the controversy. Regarding the controversy -- having seen it now -- I think it's pretty safe to say this was another case of the MPAA coming down harder on an independent studio than it would with the majors. Sure, the gore is over-the-top and there's likely never been a movie to use more fake blood than this one, but it's all done with a crooked smile. There's nothing at all serious about the violence in a film that features a gas-powered belt sander and multiple shots of trees with buckets of blood thrown on them. Yet, this one was slapped with an NC-17 while Miramax got an R for a geyser of sperm shot at a woman in Scary Movie.
As for the film itself, I love the last third of it. The last third is the balls-to-the-wall slasher fun you'd expect after seeing the original. There's the world's biggest chainsaw (capable of sawing two groins at once), Tony Todd getting yanked out of his skin by his severed spine, lots of smushed faces, a boat prop used as a food processor, and a guy decapitated by his own intestines. It sits somewhere between '80s slashers and Troma's craziness. As a fan of both of those things, that works for me.
To get to this point, though, takes a long time. Victor Crowley doesn't appear properly in the movie -- not counting flashbacks and the brief continuation of part 1 at the beginning -- until 53 minutes in. Those first 53 minutes are spent with Mary Beth and Rev. Zombie assembling a posse to go back into the swamp, and with some flashbacks that expand upon Crowley's back story. Hey, have you ever wanted to see Kane Hodder cry? Do you wish there was a supernatural element to Crowley's existence rather than him just being a backwoods mutant? Well, these are the flashbacks for you!
In its defense, at least they expanded on the first film without trampling it. You have to do something different with a horror sequel's story to keep things interesting, else it's far to easy to simply repeat everything that worked the first time. I'd say they could do a lot worse taking a page from Saw's notebook and continuing to grow the story out of the small seed planted in the original.
Watched: blu-ray from Dark Sky.
The Simpsons 24.02: "Treehouse of Horror XXIII" (2012) directed by Steven Dean Moore
Every time I check out modern Simpsons, I'm always disappointed. Count me in with the camp that thinks the show has sucked this entire century. Color me surprised, then, when this year's Halloween special turned out to be pretty good. My favorite segment was "UNNormal Activity," a amusingly accurate parody of Paranormal Activity. It feels like classic "Treehouse," sort of a mix between "Bad Dream House" and "The Devil and Homer Simpson." Also, overall, the animation in the episode was loads better than I remember seeing in the show before. The first-person, faux-camcorder stuff in "UNNormal Activity," the way the black hole warps things in "The Greatest Story Ever Holed," and the sharp animation of the Mayan intro were all impressive. Nice work.
Chillerama (2011) directed by Adam Green & Joe Lynch & Bear McCreary & Adam Rifkin & Tim Sullivan
Tim Sullivan's "I Was a Teenage Werebear" is the most tedious segment. It's a gay, musical parody of Twilight, except the vampires have been replaced by bears. Not bears the animal, but bears as in the slang term. Like Twilight, I'm not really the intended audience for this story, plus I'm not a big fan of musicals. There's some funny stuff in here, no doubt -- I loved the girlfriend after her car accident -- but it's a bit of chore to sit through.
Adam Green's "The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein" is also a bit tedious. I will give him props for 1) shooting the entire thing in German and 2) attempting to make Hitler funny. Casting goofball Joel David Moore for #2 was a step in the right direction, but the segment still fell flat for me. Hitler makes a Jewish Frankenstein's monster -- because that's the scariest thing he can think of -- and the monster predictably goes apeshit and kills Nazis (who are dressed like the French Foreign Legion for some reason). It was OK, but I'm not going to be clamoring to watch it again any time soon.
Joe Lynch's wraparound segments, collectively called "Zom-B-Movie," were the best of the lot for my money. This might be because they got more running time than the other parts, so they were able to take the time to establish some characters you actually cared about. Plus, I love the drive-in movie setting. Also: horny zombies that can only be defeated by shooting them -- not in the head -- in the groin. I can't say I've ever liked the wraparound more than the actual story segments in an anthology film before, but here I am.
Watched: stream on Netflix.