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ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (Blu-ray/DVD)



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Laid to Rest 2 Blu-ray reviewStarring Thomas Dekker, Owain Yeoman, Brian Austin Green, Danielle Harris, Nick Principe

Directed by Robert Hall

Distributed by Image Entertainment

When Rob Hall’s Laid to Rest hit DVD a few years back, the slasher fanatic living inside me couldn’t wait to check it out. After all, every horror website on earth (this one included) had raved about its brutality, praised the creation of a new and iconic screen villain and promised something truly memorable.

Ninety minutes later I sat stunned, wondering what movie they saw. Because in my eyes Laid to Rest was nothing but a fair college try. Something offering a few decent deaths (and quite a few forgettable ones) that bogged itself down with some astoundingly awful writing and a killer that wasn’t quite as “awesome” as his creators thought.

And now there’s ChromeSkull – Laid to Rest 2, a sequel that takes every ridiculous aspect of the original and amplifies it to the nines. Characters did stupid things in the original? Just wait until you see what happens this time around when an entire police squad descends upon the known hideout of our titular killer. Here’s a movie where someone waltzes into a police station and abducts a witness easier than I could steal a pack of gum from a convenience store. And with the kidnapping captured on video, our detective still has the gall to ask someone for a description of the perpetrator. It’s a movie where someone is asked to confirm that there are two l’s in the spelling on ChromeSkull’s vanity plate.

My ultimate impression of Laid to Rest has been strengthened with the sequel: Rob Hall isn’t a very good writer. He approaches these things like an enthusiastic 14-year-old might, adding things simply because they’re “cool”. An over-sized “Chinese star” consisting of welded knives, for example. To adult eyes the idea of a techno-slasher equipped with a video camera and an ahem chrome skull glued to his face is, frankly, silly, silly stuff. The kind of thing I would’ve scribbled on the back of a notebook while in grade school. These films are built around the premise of destroying their victims with superior splatter, and this sequel is a step up in that department. The kills are frequent, ghastly and executed as well as any gorehound could possibly want. But it’s the horror genre equivalent of a summer special FX blockbuster that throws millions of dollars of FX at an audience without bothering with a story: It ultimately leaves the viewer with a vacant feeling.

That was a problem with Laid to Rest that’s augmented in ChromeSkull. There’s just no one to care about. The script doesn’t bother fleshing out its main characters. Instead it gives us a protagonist with failing eyesight, and the presence of an aliment isn’t enough to make us care. If anything, Hall blows a huge opportunity to explore this in the third act. Imagine the suspense waiting to be squeezed from a legally blind “final girl” as she must somehow find a way to defend herself from a killer on his own turf. Instead the story takes a disappointingly straightforward approach by having an able-sighted character stick by her side throughout the entire climax.

There’s also the problematic exploration of ChromeSkull’s back-story this time around. Credit Hall for refusing to go the more traditional route here, though. Instead of a backwoods redneck, he makes his villain the leader of some nefarious shadow corporation that specializes in murder. Remember that incredibly misguided Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel with the well-dressed businessman with nipple rings who revealed the whole Next Generation to be little more than some experiment with fear? Imagine that blown up into a 93-minute film, and you’ve got an idea of where Hall takes the sequel. With his Hostel duo, Eli Roth explored something of similar territory and did it as believably as possible. Here it’s just a great big ”Huh?” And be sure to stick it out until the post-credit sequence, in which the world of Jesse Cromeans is expanded even further (with more questions, of course).

Admittedly, it’s a unique approach to a slasher film. It also allows for the introduction of the film’s most interesting character, Preston (Brian Austin Green). He’s ChromeSkull’s right-hand man and the guy responsible for making sure the organization remains shadowed. Never mind that he’s not very good at it. His version of tying up loose ends is to brutally murder those in the know – which, ironically, is the reason the police even get close this time around. Green actually does a nice job of making Preston seethe with a kind of conflicted resentment/admiration for his boss, and the presence of a real wildcard in the proceedings adds a bit of fun and distinction to this sequel.

The kills. Yes, they’re brutal, bloody and fun. Hall and his team have gone the practical route, adding only a few CGI-enhancements along the way. And unlike the first one (which blew its wad in the first act), ChromeSkull keeps the carnage coming at a steady clip. From a nifty resurrection sequence over the opening titles to the multi-man massacre at the climax, the movie doesn’t skimp on the ghastly. Not quite steadily enough, however, as there’s more dead air throughout the middle than I would’ve liked. But these guys understand what horror fans want in a slasher film and have delivered on it expertly. I only wish they could’ve given us a few characters worth rooting for along the way. But when victims are disemboweled, mouths are slashed open and heads are chopped off – well, it’s kind of hard to not have some fun.

Image Entertainment brings ChromeSkull to Blu-ray in a nice looking HD transfer. This film was shot in HD video and doesn’t quite look like film, but Image’s disc appears to be a faithful representation of the intended look. Detail is sharp, even if textures aren’t as heightened as expected. Banding issues plague some of the darkest scenes, but it’s nothing that distracts from the experience. Overall, if you’re going to add Laid to Rest 2 to your library, you won’t be disappointed in this BD.

The DTS 5.1 Master Audio track is a lossless winner. Dialogue is front-loaded and crystal clear, with surround speakers working hard to recreate the immersive experience one would have in a theater. Ambiance is heightened, from the rattling clanks of chains to the cutting sound of knives scraping against metal, punctuating the film with an aggressive sound mix. I was very happy with this track, as it certainly provides more than a few jolts.

Image has also stacked the disc with a nice collection of supplemental material. First up is a really great audio commentary with Robert Hall, Brian Austin Green and co-writer Kevin Bocarde. It’s everything you hope a listen will be: funny and informative, heightened by a nice chemistry between the participants. Hall elaborates on his original idea for the film, and the trio offer some great insights into the production. Those of you absolutely baffled by the direction of this sequel should go ahead and give it a listen. If only to better understand what they were going for with this sucker.

Next up is a thirty-minute making-of documentary, entitled A Cut Above – Creating ChromeSkull, a thorough examination of every aspect of this sequel. Not only a must see for fans of the film, but for anyone interested in the filmmaking process. Whether or not you liked the film, give this little documentary a spin. There’s a Jump to a Kill feature that takes you right to the splatter. A nice inclusion if you’re looking to showcase the FX work for someone, or if you simply want to only watch the good stuff. A short collection of deleted scenes and a delightful blooper reel round out the disc, capped off with a theatrical trailer.

ChromeSkull – Laid to Rest 2 is over-hyped, no doubt. It’s also silly, incoherent and completely over-the-top. Their heart was unquestionably in the right place while making this one, while the slasher junkie in me appreciated the wholly unexpected approach. I’m still not sure it was the right decision, ChromeSkull Inc., but I’d welcome a third film to see Hall and co. further the exploits of one of the genre’s most ridiculous screen psychos. See ChromeSkull. It entertains on some level. Just temper those expectations.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with writer/director Robert Hall, co-writer Kevin Bocarde and star Brian Austin Green
  • Deleted scenes
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Bloopers
  • Trailer


    2 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features

    4 out of 5

    Discuss ChromeSkull – Laid to Rest 2 in our comments section below!

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    Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?



    Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

    Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas

    While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

    A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

    When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

    Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

    Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

    While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

    • Inside (Remake)


    Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

    User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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    What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review



    “Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

    It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

    Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

    Let’s find out…

    For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

    Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

    That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

    You just have to get through all the angst first…

    But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

    MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

    In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

    • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review


    Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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    Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch



    Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

    Directed by Toby Canto

    I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

    Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

    Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

    • Film


    Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

    User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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