Friday, August 4, 2017

Deadtime Stories: Volume 2

What? Did you think the phrase "Volume 1" in the title of the original Deadtime Stories was a joke? Like Mel Brooks and History of the World: Part 1, there was never meant to be a part 2? You fools! Ba ha ha ha ha!

Truth be told, I'd much rather see a real History of the World: Part 2 than either film in this dead-on-arrival franchise, and again, seeing George Romero's name on this product is disheartening.

At least the first one had the decency to only run 76 minutes, so it was over relatively quickly, and Tom Savini directed an enjoyable segment. Deadtime Stories: Volume 2 (2011) runs over 100 minutes and does not have a good one.

Again, Romero is executive producer and plays host, introducing the three tales that comprise the movie. Again, they make no effort to try to make him scary or ghoulish. I know I'm harping on a small point, but remember "The Springfield Files," that Simpsons episode in which Homer sees an alien and Mulder and Scully investigate? Leonard Nimoy narrated that. He at least had a skull on a desk.

The setups for the stories aren't terrible. In "The Gorge," three cave explorers become trapped in a cave-in and descend into cannibalism. "On Sabbath Hill" follows a college professor haunted by the ghost of the student he knocked up and drove to suicide. The movie concludes with "Dust," about a security guard who steals Martian dust from a lab to cure his wife of cancer.

The execution is artless, barely above the level of a student production. Everything looks shot on digital: flat, static, and overly bright. I remember being surprised when I finally saw a different focal length for one shot. The movie as a whole looks cheap and hokey.

Performances are dull, sterile, and lifeless. I don't know whether to blame that on the writing, the directing, or the actors themselves. I'm more inclined to blame the first two items. Too often, the characters stand or sit around doing nothing, waiting for something to happen, and the actors just look lost, adrift without anything to work with.

Any why are there so many shots of cars on the road and people in cars? They add nothing, are total filler, and only waste time.

The tragedy? This is the last movie to have any involvement from George Romero. Oh, I'm sure we'll get plenty of remakes of his work in the future, and maybe some of his unfilmed screenplays will be produced by someone else. I can hope for the latter, but to see such a trailblazing and independent filmmaker going out like this, reduced to hawking this drek, is sad and infuriating.

Two movies. Six stories, one of which is any good. That's bad even by baseball standards. That's below the Mendoza Line.

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