How'd that "Guy in a Hockey Mask" get such a bum rap in Tinseltown? This disc has one of those bewildering commentaries with umpteen indistinguishable male voices trampling each other's bonmots. Here the gist seems to lean toward copious self-congratulation for the originality of the Final Destination "franchise" (their mostest favorite word). After all, they don't make slasher movies where hapless teens get kilt off by a machete-wielding madman. No, their business model opts to butcher nubile flesh in broad daylight, and thanks to an unseen killer, without anything so '80s as a stinkin' hockey mask. To hear these deep-denial hiney smoochers, you'd think James Wong and Glen Morgan were the second coming of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, when really they're a pair of Hollywood-savvy TV writers who successfully sold a studio on a leftover script idea from "The X-Files." The idea? A stealth slasher for the post-Scream era. The studio? New Line Cinema. The very outfit both Freddy Krueger and, oh yeah, that Guy in a Hockey Mask call home. Golly, all things old really ARE new again!
Not only does this sucker slash it also appears Hollywood's rekindled its strained romance with G-O-R-E!!!! But mustering said grue requires meat for the grinder, and seeing that the Grim Reaper apparently SETTLED his body accounts by the original's final reel, our intrepid filmmakers had to get creative. Last time a jetliner packed with high schoolers ripped and roared into a blazing inferno. While the sequel smartly keeps all four wheels on the ground and hits its audience exactly where they spend much of their lives -- behind the wheel -- with a truly BONE-CRUSHING highway pile up. (And what home theater phile wouldn't wet their woofers for such a cacophony?) Vehicles don't merely crash into each other. There's devastating human carnage. Not just metal on metal, but a macabre symphony of flesh, blood and unforgiving steel. Like the gap-jawed highway patrolman who gets the contents of a logging truck driven through his brainpan, or the biker who's hurtled from and then split in two by his own motorcycle. Just wait til the dust seems to settle and the screams of the mangled and extra-crispy begin. Such a defensive driving instructor's dream!
After that, it gets just as goofy plot wise as the first one. A gaggle of immediately forgettable characters who cheated death by not becoming road pizza are stalked and dispatched by the Grim Reaper through a series of ridiculously complex cause 'n' effect scenarios akin to Doc Brown's automatic dog food dispenser in Back to the Future. A guy who gets his hand stuck in a kitchen disposal ends up catching his whole apartment ablaze, yet escapes only to have the metal ladder of the fire escape rudely introduced to his eye socket. Another fella gets Cube's human cuisinart treatment via a barbwire fence that's suddenly in a really awful hurry to be somewhere else. Juicy stuff all the way through. Just so there'll be someone to emote about the "rift in death's design," deliciously pouty Ali Later reprises "Clear Rivers" as a blonde, because fashion is still king even at the funny farm. On most every level the sequel amplifies what worked best about Wong and Morgan's flick, and it also does what theirs woefully didn't by cooking up one HOWLER of an ending!!! Coleslaw, anyone?
CineSchlockers will snap to attention nearly an hour in when Candyman Tony Todd revisits his memorable, yet dubiously meaningful, role from the original film. This outing his cryptic prognostications about Death's doings are punctuated by necro-nipple torture. A long-form version of the scene lands among the extras with optional commentary from wiseacre/producer/keeper-of-the-audience-response-cards Craig Perry who both hails Mr. Todd's "genre credibility" and equates his performance to a Las Vegas lounge act. Those who ignored my stern warning will recall our wooden heroine A.J. Cook was actually very good -- even lifelike -- in the very bad Ripper: Letter From Hell.
Two breasts. 53 corpses. Gratuitous "Highway to Hell" tuneage. Swirling merry-go-round cam. Multiple explosions. Killer pigeons. Box o' prosthetics. Nipple hyper-extension. Gratuitous creepy clown. Intentional AND accidental cremation. Glaring product placement. Dental drilling. Reckless barbecuing. Preacher's kid Sarah Carter so smoked her audition that she earned the line, "Can we go get the guys? I'm getting HORNY!!!" Eugene has no time for wiggin' white folks, "If death is out to get you, why don't YOU get the hell away from US!?!" Rory gets his last wish right, "If I die, will you throw out all my drugs and paraphernalia? My porno? You know, anything that's gonna break my mom's heart."
Gory, gory hallelujah! Bless the sleeping cell of gorehounds at New Line for giving props to their elders by featuring The Godfather of Gore, the great Herschell Gordon Lewis, in "Bits & Pieces: Bringing Death to Life" a zippy half-hour featurette that dredges the depths of cinematic grue from Fuad Ramses to Jason Voorhees before predictably tooting this franchise's horn. Unfortunately, it's the only diamond among the flashy, but worthless rhinestones of this less than special "Infinifilm" edition. There's a tired program on near death experiences that'll send CineSchlockers skedaddling toward the light. While "The Terror Gauge!" uses biofeedback to monitor audience response to onscreen grossouts -- that's right! -- a 14-minute documentary devoted to teen SWEAT GLANDS!!! But hold on now, why be so passe as to choose such shiny bobbles from a MENU when they can be selected among 60 identically inane pop-ups during the film!?! Sadly this trademarked notion of interactivity didn't foretell yours truly's DVD remote being chucked through the screen. (2003, 90 mins, 1.85:1 anam, DD EX 5.1, DTS ES 6.1 & DD 2.0, Crew commentary, Excessive Infinifoolishness, Featurettes, Deleted scenes, Music videos, Trailers.)
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.