Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fantasia: VHS2 Reviewed

Horror’s newest Anthology series makes a speedy return with a second helping of quick creepers, all conveniently transferred to VHS tapes from their respective GoPros and HD Cams…cuz ghosts got mad editing skillz. Silly wrap around premise aside, I had a blast with the first round and have been looking forward to another helping, wondering how they might top a demon bird woman looking to get laid. The mind boggles. This time out, we kick things off with a man who gets an experimental camera eye replacement, allowing us to view the world whilst nestled snugly in his cranium. The one catch to this free cyborg upgrade..the eye allows the host to see ghosts and as most horror films go…when you can see them, they can see you..and touch you..and throttle you. Luckily a young woman who had a similar surgery and can now hear the ghosts comes to our boy’s rescue, saving him with her boobs and not much else, but at least she gave it a shot (and he gave her a shot. Sorry I had to. It was in my contract.) This segment is a quick guilty pleasure with no real direction and the sort of ghosts that just stand there while folks run off into the bathroom..which is, of course, the safest place in the house AND impenetrable to ghosts...until it isn't. But least there were boobs.

Next up we follow a cycler through the park via his GoPro camera head mount as he stumbles across a pack of zombies and is quickly transformed himself. Ever ask yourself what it’s like for the zombie as he acclimates to his perspective on the world, meets new and interesting undead friends and journeys off on wacky zombie hijinks? Me neither, but the answer is pretty excellent. While I first thought this would be a typical zombie tale, the story won me over with clever shooting and an all around fresh take on the theme. How does a zombie know what is good to eat and what isn’t? TASTE TEST! This one is a keeper with a bitter sweet ending.

Next was the gem of the bunch. A camera crew gets permission to shoot within the confines of a religious cult’s compound, expressing their desire to show the world the warmer, fuzzier side of the lunatic fringe. As they begin filming an interview with their host/ head of the cult, we travel down a slippery slope that begins with the expected allegations of child endangerment and perversity and takes a hard left into suicidal fanaticism..the supernatural..demon worship…need we say more? The bodies pile up, folks are exploding all over the damn place and a new life is screaming to be born. Well..that’s not quite accurate. New life is actually trying to claw its way out. Safe Haven is deliciously, sadistically bloody and contains more carnage per second than any 10 big budget horror movies combined. I’ll also mention that these sick moments are delivered via button cam, giving the viewer a sort of first person shooter perspective, making the entire package all that much more insane. I loved every second. THIS should have been the show stopper..but no. The film makers thought some poor film should follow that gruesome gold, and so we dive into Slumber Party Alien Abduction.

A trio of boys run around leaving mayhem and destruction in their path…but only on the level that kids often do. It’s a sort of war of pranks between this crew and the older teens left to watch them. The super original twist laid in seconds before the madness starts? PUPPY CAM! Yes, friends, you watch the action via a camera attached to the family dog..which is sort of adorable. Before long, blinding lights flood the scene and strange beings attack. The lights and sounds are so disorienting with each charge, for a little while I thought the end game of the creatures was to throw everyone in the lake so they could get eaten by some Cthulu-esque tentacle creature..which of course got me excited. Sadly, this was just to be a straight up alien abduction. Bummer. While I give the film makers credit for shooting in a very disorienting way, heightening the tension as far as it could possibly go and making the most of some really horrible looking alien suits, I felt the scares were nill as the story dissolved into a mindless scramble of folks screaming and running while their friends get picked off one at a time. I liken it to a haunted house ride at an amusement park. You paid a buck for this. You didn’t expect much...and you pretty much got what you expected.

VHS2 continues their tradition of ill conceived wrap-arounds with a dud of a tale about a missing boy who finds the VHS tapes and decides to make his own. As the film’s heroin watches each tape, she is slowly sucked in and transformed into…something...I don’t know...spooky? There’s no story here, and at the end of it all, we are left with a sad, sad excuse for a prosthetic attached to out final “monster” in a finale not worthy of the movie it is attached to. For shame. VHS2 is absolutely superior to the first installment with a seemingly higher quality of story telling and shooting to enjoy. Not in a very long time has their been a more perfect horror series tailor made for gathering friends and screaming at your TV. The kids will love it!

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