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Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Gruesome Edition (DVD)

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 DVD (click for larger image)Starring Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson, Nubbins

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment


The original landmark film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is considered by most to be a horror masterpiece. It spawned an entire series of films including a horribly butchered third sequel, a ludicrous fourth entry, a remake, and most recently a prequel. But there is one film in this franchise which undoubtedly stands out amongst the pack. The cult classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Upon its initial release fans of the first were a bit befuddled. The original Chain Saw was a dark, realistic, and visceral experience whereas the sequel was an uber-gory black comedy. I remember back in 1986 folks were crying foul and complaining because they wanted this movie to be as nightmarish and gritty as its predecessor. But director Tobe Hooper had other plans.

We’re officially introduced to the Sawyers after Drayton “The Cook” (an unforgettable Jim Siedow) wins a chili making contest. Yep, the old family is still in the meat business, and they’re busy turning the rest of the world on to their secret recipes. A couple of hard shell peppercorns later, we find Drayton’s boys, Chop Top (Moseley) and Leatherface (Johnson), in pursuit of a local radio DJ (Williams) who has come into possession of a recording of one of their killings. Having an audio record of their exploits doesn’t sit well with the killer clan, so before you know it the blood splattering and power tool wielding are in full killer swing.

That’s the story in a nutshell. Tobe stated many times that he wanted to do something different with this telling of the tale. And different it was. Chainsaw 2 may not have been what people were initially expecting it to be, but it has stood the test of time and is probably more loved now than it ever was then. After a couple of decades it is clear that Hooper’s (then) newly chosen path was right on the money.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 DVD (click for larger image)The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has been floating around the home video circuit in various forms for many years. There are hundreds of bootlegs for sale that had the fabled Joe Bob Briggs scene and the parking garage slaughter. As fans, we’re blood hungry. We want to see the missing bits we’ve all heard or read about. The trouble was that the only way to do so was by hunting down said blurry poor quality boots. Things looked even more dismal after Chainsaw 2 hit DVD a few years back with barely a single extra on it. Fans were pissed. Would we ever get the goods? It seemed as if there would never be an official definitive edition. Until now.

Fox’s Gruesome Edition is a fan’s wet dream. We get the unrated cut of the film along with several deleted scenes including the ones mentioned above. On top of that, we’re treated to not one but two feature length commentary tracks. The first is an interesting listen as Tobe Hooper chats it up with filmmaker David Gregory. There’s a lot of Chainsaw history spoken about here, and fans won’t want to miss a single moment. And while that track may be good, the second one featuring Michael Felsher, Tom Savini, Caroline Williams, and Bill Moseley is the money shot. Holy shit, what a good time! Moseley shines here, slipping effortlessly in and out of his Chop Top character much to everyone’s delight. Again, this track is nowhere near as informative as the first, but it is twice as entertaining. If you’re going to watch the movie repeatedly (and I know you are), check out both of these commentaries. This, my friends, is DVD paydirt!

But wait! It gets better, and no, I’m not talking about the still galleries or the theatrical trailer. Wise ass.

Supplemental material producers Michael Felsher, David Gregory, and Chris Roe have given us yet another gift in the form of a ninety-two-minute making-of film entitled It Runs in the Family. Now we’re talking! Family features tons of behind-the-scenes footage as well as current interviews with the cast and crew. It’s impossible to watch this and not feel the fondness that everyone involved with both the movie and this making-of feel for the subject matter. You’ll be amazed by how much heart and warmth could go into a flick that’s so very evil. To quote old Lefty (Dennis Hopper) himself, “BRAZOS!”

If you were hungering for a be all, end all compendium for this movie, look no further. If it’s out there and it’s worthy of mention, it is on this DVD somewhere. Get rid of those old fourth generation bootlegs. Use that old MGM disc as a coaster. Go ahead, double dip fearlessly!

This is the cure for your aching banana!

Special Features
Audio commentary by director Tobe Hooper and David Gregory, the director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth
Audio commentary by actors Bill Moseley and Caroline Williams and special effects creator Tom Savini
Deleted scenes
It Runs in the Family six-part featurette
Still galleries
Original theatrical trailer

5 out of 5

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The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

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Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher


The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

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User Rating 3.29 (7 votes)
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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

  • Film
4.5

Summary

Director Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended!

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User Rating 2.92 (12 votes)
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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review – A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End brings closure to hungry fans in all the ways they’d hope – albeit turned down a notch through animation. Over-the-top kills and headbanging metal riffs still reign supreme, they’re just drawn by hand instead of oozing practical effects this time.

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User Rating 3.27 (11 votes)
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