Studio/Distributor: Magnet Releasing/Bloody Disgusting
Box Office: $795,661
Release Date: 2 August, 1985
IMDb Rating: 6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
UK Blu Ray release? No, just DVD
Lawrence Michael Levine – Larry
Kelsy Abbott – Ayesha
Adam Wingard – Herman
Hannah Hughes – Clarissa
Jay Saunders – Biker
Oka Antara – Malik
Samantha Gracie – Jen
Plot According to IMDb
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find a collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realise there may be dark motives behind the students disappearance.
The sequel to the surprise found footage hit V/H/S made its way to us pretty quickly. Following the trend of sequels past by being thrown in to production to make some coin, V/H/S/2 still manages to throw up some surprising entries that put it on a par with the first film. The main issue with V/H/S follows through here though. There’s an element these films are missing that the shorts never quite encapsulate. It always feels like we’re on the verge of something great – then the credits roll.
Tape 49/Frame Narrative
The wrap around entry sees two private investigators break in to a college kid’s house at the request of his Mother, who hasn’t heard from him in some time. Here they find a collection of VHS tapes. As Ayesha watches them, she descends further into madness.
Unlike Tape 56 from the first film, there’s little to entertain you until the closing moments, but when it does happen, it’s bat-shit crazy. Not only is there a jawless man somewhere in the house, his tongue lolling like the chime on a clock, there’s also the small matter of Ayesha turning in to some fucked up spider-crawling zombie whose nails on the floorboard make for a terrifying sound.
Phase 1 Clinical Trials
Herman is gifted a bionic eye from a corporation testing its effectiveness. It allows him to see – the only problem is the company are recording everything, and they eye enables him to see ghosts…
It’s a clever use of found footage, the perspective of our character literally being someone’s eye. Adam Wingard is expertly cast (by himself), a man with a nice house that a handful of ghosts fancy inhabiting. There are a few good jump scares and a particularly messed up sequence when Clarissa and her fucked up Uncle stop by for a visit. It’s only let down by the ghosts themselves who look like mere caricatures, painted like the ghouls in Dawn of the Dead with no effect.
A Ride in the Park
A nice little zombie entry, told from the perspective of a GoPro camera (which seems to play a focal point in most of the other short films). A man sets out for a bike ride through the woods, only to encounter an injured woman that changes his life forever.
It’s a unique take on the zombie genre. There’s not much new here, the make-up even going so far as to almost accentuate the fact that this is a movie – the exaggerated contact lenses, gargled noises and emphasis on a string of guts being dined on like your local butcher’s best Venison sausages. What is interesting is the perspective. Without seeing it happen, the biker is turned from living to the living dead. He even samples his own flesh much to his disgust, which goes some way to answering how a zombie’s hankering for braiiiiins doesn’t necessarily translate to their own.
There’s also an interesting ending, one that isn’t usually seen in standard zombie lore, which puts this impressive short way ahead of most 90 minute zombie films out there.
A news crew successfully gains entry to a mysterious Indonesian cult, hoping to understand their reclusive actions. It turns out that the cult’s leader, ‘Father’, has timed their arrival with that of a horned demon who bears a strong connection with the news crew…
This is a pretty fucked up entry. Gory, frightening and leaving you with a lingering taste in your mouth, Safe Haven finds The Raid director Gareth Huw Evans exploring new territory with huge success.
The cult is the Indonesian People’s Temple, Father their Jim Jones. Some of the imagery used in this short raises the hairs, from the men in white committing mass suicide to the haunting classroom where the Kool Aid has been sunk, it manages to explore all aspects of cult behaviour in such a short time. Though the ending is a bit comic, there’s no doubt this leaves a lasting impression.
Slumber Party Alien Abduction
Just like Ronseal, this short does exactly what it says on the tin. Home alone, a group of kids face a nightmare when elongated greys pop in for a cuddle.
Also using a GoPro, we get a few interesting angles from this found footage entry, and in the beginning there are some good jumps. You don’t really notice the presence of the greys in the first half, with blink and you’ll miss it cameos doing just enough to embed their image in our minds.
And that’s exactly where it goes wrong. Whether intentional or down to budget restraints, the aliens are just too… alien. It sounds daft, but their image ruins any impact their menace intended. As soon as we see them, it kind of loses its effect and just becomes a messy, frustrating found footage where you just want them to take the kids and piss off.
The success of V/H/S/2 would influence another sequel that, sadly, spelled the demise of this series that showed true potential, giving directors like Adam Wingard and Eduardo Sánchez some much needed spotlight.
Inertia’s Ideal Score (★ out of 5)
- Originally titled “S-VHS”
- When Larry and Ayesha break into Kyle’s dorm, as Larry is searching, Ayesha pushes play on Kyle’s laptop. We then briefly see fottage from Tape 56/Frame Narrative from the first film
HERMAN: So you guys are gonna sit around and watch me take shits?
Tomorrow: Night #24 – Dawn of the Dead (1978)