July 28, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 58: Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Directed by Robert Hall. Starring Brian Austin Green ("Preston"), Thomas Dekker ("Tommy"), Mimi Michaels ("Jess"), and Owain Yeoman ("King"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Image Entertainment)
Running time: 01:33:14
Country: USA

If you haven't seen the first LAID TO REST, it'll be hard for me to talk about this one without spoiling it, so consider yourself warned.

CHROMESKULL opens directly after the events of its predecessor with its two survivors leaving the scene of a massacre. At the end of the previous movie, we see someone with black gloves picking up the killer's camera (still recording) from off the ground, leading us to believe that the killer himself somehow survived getting his face ripped off. Turns out the person who arrived at the scene and recovered the camera is an accomplice of the killer, played by Brian Austin Green of banging Megan Fox fame. Somewhat noticeably gone is actress Bobbi Sue Luther, who played the nameless Final Girl in the previous movie. I say "somewhat" because the actress who replaced her bears an uncanny resemblance.

Let's just say that "The Girl" doesn't play as big of a part in this movie as she did the last one. Instead, a new Final Girl with an unusual background is introduced. Jess, played by the super-cute Mimi Michaels, is going blind, but she's stoked on the medicinal marijuana that the doctor prescribed her. BLAZEITUP420JESUSBRAH!! She's also a fan of Black Label Society as evidenced by the autographed poster in her room. In fact, one of the strangest traits of CHROMESKULL is that it features a lotta love for Black Label Society. Aside from the aforementioned poster, Jess and her BFF (who's wearing a Black Label Society shirt) smoke dope while listening to Zakk Wylde's band. Maybe director Robert Hall is a fan?

This film also introduces an underground society that works with the skull-faced killer, "Chromeskull", and are on a mission to get him back on his feet and killing again, with the ill-sighted Jess seemingly being set up as his next target for whatever reason. It's hard to picture ol' Chromeskull coming back after what happened to him in the first movie, but he does, and the whole thing is explained in yet another montage-style opening credits sequence. Speaking of which, like the first movie, the opening credits to CHROMESKULL tell a story and showcase a bunch of nasty-looking makeup effects, setting a good tone for what's to come. On that note, the kills in this are just as spectacular and over-the-top as the first movie. You could make a hell of a highlight reel with the kills in this movie alone, which is also a testament to some of the amazing makeup effects on display.

Back from the previous movie is Tommy, played by Thomas Dekker. I bring him up because he's involved in a really strange loose end from the first movie being tied up. Specifically, there's an explanation as to why his eyebrows in the previous movie looked weird, like they were half-way shaved off or something.

What this sequel does, aside from sort of introducing a copycat killer, is pull the curtain back on Chromeskull and kill the mystique of the character, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's a lot of explanation regarding his methodical way of operating and his quirks, like the fact that he films his murders as he's committing them. It's through this unveiling that the film unexpectedly acts as a satire of slasher movies. There's also a police procedural element that plays a rather big part in the movie. When it comes to certain slasher movies or franchises, it's always best to maintain some mystique for the killer and not over-explain things, but, in this case, I'm kinda glad they gave Chromeskull a back-story because it allowed more characters to be introduced (one of whom is played by Danielle Harris) and it thickens the plot, whereas the first one was a bare-bones slasher.

CHROMESKULL obviously has a lot more going on and it's not played for laughs as much as the first one. Overall a huge improvement in my opinion. The kills are pretty much on the same level as the first in terms of scale and creativity, but this one inherently edges out the first one in terms of the overall body count. The most important improvement, arguably, is that Bobbi Sue Luther is gone. I love how this sequel resurrects and rebuilds Chromeskull like Frankenstein's Monster and establishes him as this masterful killing machine, whereas in the first one he was just sort of there. And you can tell that actor/stuntman Nick Principe is thoroughly enjoying himself and relishing in the fact that he's playing a character like Chromeskull. Despite not having any dialogue, it shows in his performance.

Score: 6.5

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