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Friday the 13th: The Series - Season Two




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: January 19, 2009

Released by: CBS/Paramount
Release date: 2/10/2009
MSRP: $49.99
Region 1, NTSC
Interlaced
Full Frame 1.33:1



inline ImageLast year Paramount surprised many fans when they released that bastard stepchild of the Friday the 13th series (and no, I’m not talking about A New Beginning), Friday the 13th: The Series. The cult series followed around a pair of cousins who owned a haunted antique shop. What connection did it have, then, to Jason Voorhees, you might ask? Well, nothing really. It was the brainchild of Frank Mancuso Jr., who produced five of the eight Friday the 13th properties at Paramount (where his father, Frank Mancuso, was CEO) and was looking to cash in further on the name. The only other connections to the series proper would come because of the series, with Fred Mollin graduating from this series to scoring duties on The New Blood and Jason Takes Manhattan and series lead John D. LeMay headling New Line’s first Friday entry, Jason Goes to Hell. Past directors from the Friday films, Rob Hedden and Tom McLoughlin would direct an episode or two, but they weren't regular the way Mollin, LeMay and Mancuso were.

So the series broke from Jason’s slasher formula, and it was probably all the better for it, since hacking away teenagers at camp would probably run dry for most viewers after a few episodes. Slasher fans, of course, would beg to differ. Tangents aside, the first season made for refreshing late night television – so successful in fact, that Freddy decided to jump into the small screen a year later with Freddy’s Nightmares. While that was debuting, Friday the 13th: The Series was running strong for season two, and now, thanks to the Friday the 13th remake, we get to see the season anew on DVD. There are 26 episodes, and 26 days remaining until the new Friday the 13th, so join me every day as we review a new episode and a new artifact in Curious Goods.

The Story


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Canadian kingpin, William Fruet (Funeral Home, Spasms), returns once more to direct the season opener. Although most episodes contain self-contained narratives, the first season ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, with that sinister Lewis Vendredi (R.G. Armstrong) returning from the dead of the first episode to come back and wreak havoc on the owners of Curious Goods. For those not up to speed, the formula is simple: each episode follows a possessed artifact as shop owners Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay) and Micki Foster (Louise Robey) and their knowledgeable old sage, Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins), try to track down its roots and release its power. In this opener, Doorway to Hell, they must deal once more with Vendredi (Francais for Friday, naturally), this time through a cracked mirror. Vendredi pulls his victims through it into the dimension of death, and if they aren’t careful, they’ll all be next. The series kicks off with high energy here, buoyed by strong optical effects work and a haunting monster ripped right out of Tourneur’s Night of the Demon. Canadian genre fans will also eat up a supporting role from Justin Louis of Prom Night II and Blood & Donuts.


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The Voodoo Mambo starts out like a Faces of Death entry with some black and white chicken beheading, but quickly becomes much, much more. This time, it’s a haunted snake mask that falls upon a disgraced bourgeois teen. Possessed by a voodoo priestess hell-bent on revenge for her demise, the mask commands the yuppie jerk to off the four priests of the elements. In return, he’ll be granted all the money and power he desires. Oh, and it will also bring back the crazy voodoo lady. The highlights are naturally when the mask strikes, shooting out a stop-motion snake to rip out the jowls of whomever stands in its way. The effects are surprisingly gory for television, and the intercutting with color and stock ritualistic black and white footage proves effective in blending past and present, reality and fantasy and life and death in foreboding fusion. Directed by veteran TV artisan, Timothy Bond (probably most famous for bringing on the bizarre Canadian kid show, My Pet Monster), this is certainly a strong point in the series.


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This next episode, And Now the News, continues the connection with Prom Night II by reuniting the director, Bruce Pittman, with his main actress, Wendy Lyon. Lyon is great as a woman deathly afraid of snakes, facing her fears in a mental institution. Unfortunately, after the beginning, that’s the last of her, as the film instead focuses on a scheming Dr. Femme Fatal and a serial killer’s seduction and escape. What’s this episode’s artifact? A haunted radio, but it really takes a back seat to the standard sane-trapped-in-an-insane-asylum premise. While it possesses nowhere near the style of Pittman’s Prom Night contribution, it has enough variety to stay entertaining. It’s also notable that for once the duo doesn’t rely on old man Marshak to save the day. They even have a nice bit at the end questioning the inevitable question – is it really worth it to continue risking their lives every single week? If the quality of the episodes continues on the same trajectory, the answer is “Yes!”


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Colin Fox, of Scanners III fame, heads a cult of devil worshippers intent on resurrecting the dead in Tails I Live, Heads You Die. As Hewitt, he is driven to use a killer coin with the ram head of Satan etched upon it to kill those that stand in his way…and resurrect those that don’t. Witches have always been able to implant their spirits in others, but through this special coin, Hewitt can bring their bodies back to life, too. Three witches and he gets the power to take over the world. When Micki and Ryan go to investigate, Micki gets struck with the deadly denomination and her life hangs dangerously in the balance. Not only does Micki sort of die in this episode, but Ryan also seriously considers cashing out all ownership responsibility for Curious Goods. It’s that interpersonal drama that elevates the otherwise average story, although there are a few good zombie bits as they rise from their coffins. Directed by Mark Sobel, responsible for the cheeseball 1987 Nancy Allen flick Sweet Revenge and for penning an even worse Paul L. Smith vehicle, Terminal Entry, it’s no surprise that it’s the actors, and not the direction, that keeps this one afloat. When all else fails, rely on that Micki Ryan chemistry. Heads or tails, it’s always a win.


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The season hits a high note, literally with Symphony in B#, where a dead violinist starts stabbing victims with the instrument’s bow. Masked and prowling the corridors of the theater, he’s the slasher reincarnation of The Phantom of the Opera. Rather than just saving the day, Ryan also strikes up a bit of a romance with another violinist, Leslie (the beautiful Ely Pouget from Dan Curtis’ Dark Shadows remake). It turns out Leslie was an ex of our murderous musician, giving him the violin as a gift moments before it took his life. He’s back with a vengeance, though and Ryan must go, erm, solo, in trying to get to the bottom of this haunted violin. Directed by Francis Delia, who got his start as a cinematographer on Abel Ferrara’s 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy, there’s no doubt an erotic flourish here, both in the relationships and the sultry manner it is shot. The opening musical act has the performers stroking their violins in unison, isolated on a solid black backdrop. It’s just the performers and their instruments, and the way he frames the players it’s lovemaking – making apparent the web of love and music that entraps the murderous musician. With his bag-sack mask and burnt visage, he’s one of the creepiest television killers, and this episode never stops the music.


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Tom McLoughlin goes from Jason Lives to the small screen with his direction of this inside look at the movies,Master of Disguise. Micki gets a chance to star gaze when Curious Goods is commissioned to provide a bunch of props for the latest William Pratt (John Bolger) film. Good luck seems to follow her further when not only is she drafted as an impromptu stand-in, but also becomes Pratt’s lover. Just how did Pratt become the heartthrob he is today, though? Ryan suspects foul play when he discovers that Pratt uses all his own makeup, and that the main ingredient is red…blood red. Although McLoughlin doesn’t write this as he did his previous directorial efforts, this is still imbued with his amusing wink wink Hollywood humor. Even the trademark Karloff reference is here (remember the general store in Jason Lives?), with the actor’s name, William Pratt, Boris Karloff’s real name. Despite all the fun, the episode takes a few unexpected turns, ending with a sad finale that doesn’t just dispose of the bad guy but instead takes aim at the business of film as a whole. Masterful, indeed.


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Micki’s out of town this one, leaving Ryan and Jack to carve their way through a carnival in Wax Magic. This time the artifact is a haunted handkerchief which helps cure the headaches of a mysterious wax museum host. Sounds innocent enough, but to help the blood rush back to her head, so to speak, the handkerchief awakens a hooded killer to behead an innocent victim. Armed with an axe, the reaper chops up whoever’s in the way, and Ryan is next in line. William Fruet heads another strong entry, this carnival entry joyfully juggling some pretty brutal axe slashings with a slimy finale that will make your heart melt...literally. Memorable performances by Anne of Green Gables’ head bitch, Susannah Hoffman, and Angelo Rizacos, previously in Canadian sex comedy Hog Wild, as the two responsible for all this waxy mess further the fun. The slashing scenes are taut and the shadowed axe wielder is probably the closest the series would ever come to Jason. There’s a midget thrown in for good measure, but the thrills here are anything but small.


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Micki’s back, but this time Jack’s MIA while searching for some Nazi antiques, leaving Micki and Ryan to get their hand behind a psychotic ventriloquist. Micki receives a wedding invitation from a former roommate, but when she goes to check out the fiancé’s dummy act the dummy seems anything but. Oscar seems to be taking over his puppeteer, Edgar Van Horne (Billy Drago from The Hills Have Eyes remake and Francis Delia’s Freeway), moving his mouth even when he’s not being controlled. He’s also forcing Edgar to kill, for with each death Oscar comes one step closer to life. A sort of cross between Magic and the same year’s Child’s Play, Read My Lips is another excellent episode from director Delia. The doll is always cracking wit, although the script itself coasts on killer doll clichés rather than orchestrating any new additions to the mythology. Still, what demands applause are the effects and direction, as Oscar becomes visually more lifelike with every kill, starting with fleshy prosthetics and then becoming fully mobile via a little person (the same one, coincidentally, who served as Chucky’s stunt double). There are some killer tracking shots near the end when the dummy starts carving his way through the Van Horne house. While most dummy flicks focus on the psychological, this one goes full physical, complete with a beheading, and considering the shorter nature of television, that formula works. The artifact this time is the boutonniere that gives the dummy life, which is fitting since the outcome of this episode is nothing but rosy.


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One episode from a former Friday the 13th director and now one from the future. Jason Takes Manhattan’s Rob Hedden proved his worth to Mr. Mancuso with this, the Emmy nominated 13 O’Clock. The episode centers around a pocket watch with the power to stop time for the possessor for an hour. If only Grandpa Seth could have had his hands on that for Troll 2. When Reatha Wilkerson (Gwynyth Walsh from Fruet’s Blue Monkey and Star Trek Generations) oversees her husband using the watch, she offs him and plans to use the watch to free her lover from life in prison. After several bizarre death reports in the paper, the gang at Curious Goods investigate. Hedden infuses the episode with the same urban dystopia that would make up for the actual Manhattan scenes in his Jason entry. With all the glowing blues and reds glowing in all the subway shots, you’re always half expecting The Darkest Side of the Night to kick in at any moment. There’s that positive “Do Something!” PSA message about preventing teen homelessness, but the highlight of the episode are the Emmy nominated effects. Every time that time stops, everything slows to a halt and loses all color. The visuals of the watch owner then walking in full color through the desaturated frozen streets still impress today. The story itself is off in all directions, but the way it’s told makes it, wait for it, a good time.


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Night Hunger starts off with a flashback of a little boy facing off against a pitcher as his father watches the baseball game from behind the fence. Mikey strikes out, and his dad derides him, and this somehow causes him to drag race for a living in the future. Lucky for Mike (Nick Nichols, another graduate from the Fruet school, supporting in Bedroom Eyes) he’s got a keychain that will fast track him to the finish line. The only catch, of course, is that he must dip it in the blood of the loser. Directed by Martin Lavut, who is probably better known as an actor for his role in Canada’s first horror film, The Mask, the episode would virtually send him into retirement, and there’s no wonder why. Night Hunger is a pretty awful episode, with a morose story, stagnant pace and languid execution. It’s pretty tough to make a segment full of car chases boring, but this succeeds in spades. The characters aren’t likable – even identifiable! – at all, and all the amateur reliance on incidental flashbacks make ten too many conveniences. Even Ryan seems to confirm this viewpoint at the dénouement when he says “After all these deaths, you’d think this would be something…more special.” Easily the worst episode I’ve seen yet, this one stalls right out of the gate.


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Art Hindle (The Brood, Black Christmas) headlines this beeautiful entry, The Sweetest Sting. As a demented beekeeper, he uses his mystic hive to both take and give life. The takers matter not, but with every life taken he can give it to a dying man...for a hefty price. When old men – and their pensions, start disappearing, the Curious Goods gang gets in one sticky situation after another tracking that rejuvenating honey. A solid rebound after last episode’s running on empty premise, this one comes to us from the director of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie of all things. He also directed the Alberta wilderness thriller from 1983, Storm, which starred one of the leading men from this entry, David Palffy, so director David Winning does have some moments of redemption on his resume. Art Hindle is great as the crazy, but the true heart of the story is how the resurrected men must cope with being unable to alert their wives of their new bodies. The bee effects are rough, consisting of brown dirt and debris added in post, but surprisingly bee effects haven’t got much better with CGI, if The Amityville Horror remake is any indication. With a good pace and a hearty soul, this episode is no doubt Winning.


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Tom McLoughlin comes back once more to air out some childhood hang-ups in The Playhouse. Mike (Robert Oliveri of Edward Scissorhands) and Janine (Lisa Jakub from Matinee) Carlson are a couple of battered children growing up with an uncaring and abusive mother. Their one solace is a playhouse they have in the backyard, where inside their fantasies come to life in a parallel world where they are loved. Like most of the other items from Curious Goods, though, this one requires the sacrifice of other lives for the benefit of the owners. Mike and Janine thus roam the streets looking for new friends to lure into their mansion of magic. Even Micki and Ryan prove not too old enough for a dysfunctional game of house. Given the strong resumes of the two lead kids, this mostly youth episode more than treads water thanks to the fine performances. The premise is pretty effective, too, in using fantasy to demonstrate the destructive chain of abuse as it is passed through generations. There’s even some war critique thrown in on the radio, relating family violence with the same war-torn turmoil that plagues the Middle East. Sticks and stones right? If that isn’t high brow enough for you, then the playroom inside is a marvel of design, looking as if it were pulled right from a M.C. Escher painting.


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It’s Back to the Future 3 for the small screen as Ryan is transplanted into the Confederate war in Eye of Death. A corrupt antiques dealer is using an artifact once bought from Vendredi to get some pretty rare items. Using the haunted slide projector, he’s able to walk through the screen of any vintage slide and become a part of history. Instead of using it for good, though, he goes inside to steal swords, papers and other documents that he can later sell in the future, often killing to get them. Ryan accidentally follows him in one day, and Jack and Micki must come to his rescue in full period costume. There’s something a little ironic about a show so Canadian covering the American Civil War, especially considering the villain is Tom McCamus of such Canadian fare as Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter and Ginger Snaps: The Beginning. In many ways it’s more gratifying than its inspiration though, since Ryan lets the cat out of the bag about being from the future very early on, allowing for richer interaction with the characters from the past. Jack also offers a more progressive look at the impact of time travel compared to either Robert Zemeckis or Ray Bradbury. Directed once more by Timothy Bond, this trip to the past is one worth taking.


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William Fruet continues to lead by example with the exemplary Face of Evil. A compact makeup mirror gives an ugly duckling (Ingrid Veninger from The Gate) the chance to seduce whomever she’d like. Of course, as with all of Vendredi’s stuff, this comes at the price of death. Years later, a pushy model a wrinkle away from losing her status as a cover girl (Laura Robinson, Mikey), happens upon the golden compact, this time shining it on anyone who gets in her way. Their faces get damaged in freak accidents, and her face as a result gets younger. Fruet employs an effectively non-linear editing structure to draw parallels between the original trauma and the one unfolding in the present. Shot with his usual penchant for the symbolic, the short is rife with imagery pertaining to age and beauty. Fittingly, it ends on a bunch of picked flowers, beautiful from the picking, but moments away from wilting. Isn’t that the life of a model?


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In a sort of contemporary Eyes without a Face, Better Off Dead features a guilt ridden scientist looking for test subjects to help cure his daughter. Warren Voss (Neil Munro, The Gate II) was a lab technician studying hyper-violence syndrome, where the infectee deteriorates into one run on animal-like instinct. One day he left the syringe exposed, and it fell into the hands of his daughter. Since then, he’s been cruising the streets, capturing prostitutes and using them as his guinea pigs, trying desperately to find a cure. He’s doing so with a big silver needle that’s of particular influence to the gang at Curious Goods. Pretty average rhetoric on the dangers of science and lab testing, culminating with a laughably philosophic epilogue courtesy of Jack. The makers never miss a chance to parallel the vile acts done to humans here with the ones done every day to animals, with monkeys (who themselves are ironically never harmed) always screeching whenever the women get theirs. Fairly average, with even the artifact seeming like an afterthought to all that anti-animal testing hokum. Directed by Armand Mastroianni, who got his start in features like He Knows You’re Alone and The Killing Hour before moving on to multiple stints on Friday the 13th: The Series and Tales From the Darkside.


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It’s all howls when a film geek recluse uses an antique camera to transform into his favorite movie monster in Scarlet Cinema. Darius Pogue (Jonathan Wise, whose connection to the Friday the 13th canon is a bit part in Steve Miner’s Soul Man) is obsessed with all things werewolf. He’s got posters of The Wolf Man on his wall, and is even caught on camera by his peers trying to howl to the moon. When he takes out a dusty camera for his film project, he finds out that whenever he looks through the viewfinder his werewolf fantasies come to life…with his enemies the victims! Penned by Rob Hedden and directed by David Winning, this is classic Friday the 13th series stuff. The episode liberally uses footage from Universal’s horror classic, but uses it as allusion for all of Darius’ lofty dreams. The old black and white footage that Darius shoots (and essentially this episode’s death footage) doesn’t quite match the Universal stock, but the effort is all A’s. Darius’ little home movie is a fun watch, especially for vintage horror fans, although some contemporary discussion for violence, taste and the cinema are things that any viewer can appreciate. This episode also has the distinction of having the most original, in a totally movie brat sort of way, method of killing a werewolf.


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Mr. Prom Night II comes back to direct The Mephisto Ring, where the titular finger band can grant prosperity to some, and purgatory to others. Donald Wren (Denis Forest, The Mask, Cliffhanger) has a gambling addiction, and like his dead father before him, he’s usually on the losing side of the coin. His luck changes though, when he finds an old World Series ring that is able to show the final outcome of games yet to be played. When his luck suddenly changes, his loan shark wants a piece of the action, but if the ring falls into the wrong hands, the prediction could be deadly. A first rate episode featuring some cinematography that would do any feature film proud – and it figures, since DOP Rodney Charters went on to do Psycho IV and Sleepwalkers soon after. The lead, Canadian character actor Denis Forest, also does a standout job, with an offbeat look and a panache for the pathetic. He’s like a Michael Berryman for the Gen X crowd. He went on to several other scummy supporting roles before passing away suddenly at age 42. The story is one of the tautest in the entire Friday canon, and the final twist is well earned, and well executed. Right from the first shot, where blood is spilled on a television screen featuring a NASCAR race, demonstrating how addiction can make deadly something so inherently frivolous, this episode always rings true.


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David Morse (The Good Son, The Green Mile) tries his luck behind the camera with a cursed coffin in A Friend to the End. Unfortunately for Morse, this episode’s as dead as the coffin’s clients. This one is all over the map, dealing first with a killer rock that allows a sculptor to cast her models into molded stone, and then with a satanic coffin that gives life to any deceased children placed inside. Micki’s nephew, J.B. (Zachary Bennett) runs into one of the recluses resurrected from the coffin when he’s dared to step inside a haunted house. Turns out the dead boy, Ricky (Keram Malicki-Sanchez), has to…you guessed it, kill to stay alive. It’s literally kiddie stuff with none of the scares the series is known for, and the scatterbrained plot feels as if it was written by one, too. The one thing of intrigue is how the writers do try to incorporate Micki and Ryan into the story apart from the usual “Let’s find our missing artifact!” by forcing Micki into the plot via the coincidence of her kin. It seems every odd episode incorporates some sort of thought out connection (be it Micki’s old college roommate or Ryan’s love interest) to keep the series less shackled to formula. In this episode, though, you can't break from a broken formula.


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It’s a trip down memory lane in The Butcher, as Marshak must recall his war memories to stop another Third Reich from forming. Crazed scientist Horst Mueller (Colin Fox, previously in Tails I Live, Heads You Die) uses a cursed amulet to revive a charismatic Nazi from cryogenic preservation. He returns as charismatic as ever, using a radio show to mobilize a new army of disgruntled US tax payers. He’s also making up for lost time, too, killing off Jack’s old battalion (including John Gilbert of Rabid and Halloween 5) one by one. Written and directed, again, with skill by Francis Delia (who previously set the bar with Symphony in B#), this is another stand out episode this season. It’s The Chilling minus the cheese, Apt. Pupil minus the pretension, and Friday the 13th at its best. The episode successfully integrates Jack’s past into the mix via effective black and white flashbacks, but its pulse on the present it probably most powerful. In one of his chillingly persuasive broadcasts, the resurrected Nazi leader addresses the AIDS epidemic head on – pretty controversial for 1988, and on television, no less. Also pointing out how North American’s promoted sterilization long before the Nazi’s did, the episode is a fine example of how the Nazi’s refined rhetoric was able to convince even the most level headed of listeners. This is TV that carves new ground, not just repackaging it for small screen like several of the other entries in this season.


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She’s probably best known as one of Prince’s protégés, but to horror fans she’ll always be remembered as an unlucky passenger in Terror Train. Yep, she’s that most vain of Canadian actresses – Vanity! One of her more obscure credits is as a not too veiled incarnation of herself, pop singer Angelica, in this Friday the 13th episode – Mesmer’s Bauble. An obsessive and pock faced record clerk knows everything there is to know about Angelica. He gets his hopes up when he gets word that one of her reps will be paying a visit to his record store. As fate would have it, when he’s walking home one night he stumbles upon a jeweled necklace that grants him whatever he desires. First he wishes away his bad skin, then a chance to see Vanity, and further still, a chance to be her! There was fear that since the episode contained a number of Vanity performances (from “Baby Kiss Me, Baby Undress Me” to her opening cover of Eden Ahbez’ “Nature Boy”) that it would be censored as so many other music properties are on TV on DVD releases. Thankfully, though, CBS presents the entire episode intact, complete with all the juicy Vanity songs. And it’s a good thing, too. Other than just the scantly clad Vanity eye candy, the episode features some pretty impressive bodily transformations in the same vein as An American Werewolf in London. The plot is elevated above the usual crazed fan cliché by the goodwill of Vanity’s playful and at times risqué performance. Mesmerizing, indeed!


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Micki, Ryan and Jack all get roped into Wedding in Black when three figures from each of their pasts suddenly appear over the course of a single day. Micki goes off with an ex and Jack off with a priest friend, but Ryan remains suspicious that the sudden arrival of his former flame (Carolyn Dunn from the Canadian tax shelter shenanigans of Breaking All the Rules) makes this more than just coincidence. There’s a cursed snow globe shaking things up, and before long Micki and Jack find themselves trapped inside. Plot points flutter around like the flakes in the globe, never really making much sense. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty. Wedding in Black has some of the best production design of the series, offering up set after set of madness, from a séance alter with Micki to a rounded outer wall trapping Jack inside the dome. There is a fair bit of bloodshed, too, moreso than most of the episodes of late. Still, it doesn’t really make much sense, stressing style over substance. Fitting, since the director this time around is the DOP from Bruce Pittman’s previous The Mephisto Ring. He got the look right, at any rate.


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Wedding Bell Blues marks the debut of soon to be third season regular, Johnny Ventura (Steve Monarque). When the platonic treasure hunting of Micki and Ryan began to wane, producers thought adding in a love interest for Micki would spice things up. Rather than the assured cool of Ryan, Johnny’s more a pretty boy as smart as his surf punk swagger. Nevertheless, it’s that swagger that gets Micki out of a jam while hunting down a cursed pool cue. Danny (another appearance from Prom Night II’s Justin Louis) is an oft outhustled pool player who at his lowest comes upon the cue that will help bring him to the top. With it he can’t lose, just as long as his devout fiancé keeps fueling it with murder. Johnny’s maiden voyage gets a pass, thanks to performances from a few familiar faces (Louis and Lolita Davidovich as his love interest) and for a few pretty unsettling murder sequences courtesy of Omen IV director, Jorge Montesi. The ending, in particular, is a real ball breaker.


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The Maestro is a macabre mover about a tyrannical ballet director bent on working his subjects to death…literally. Aided by yet another cursed artifact (hey, that’s the formula), this one being a depression era music box, he’s able to force his dancers to go on much longer than their body will allow. They dance themselves until arteries burst or until their reflexes give out, sending them face first through windows, mirrors and other deadly traps. Things get personal when one of Jack’s young nieces (Cynthia Preston, the sweetheart behind the Canadian classics Pin and Prom Night III) becomes Director Anton’s (Colm Feore, future star of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould and many a John Woo flick) next muse. Of all the episodes, this certainly spins itself as one of the darkest and most tragic. There’s no happy epilogue this time around, the characters here really get put through the emotional ringer. The subject of the fine line between art and obsession rings just as true today, in light of the recent snuff film culled out of auditions by a disturbed Edmonton director in 2008. Like that event, this episode tellingly remains equally as sober, and undeniably effective.


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Native American stereotypes get reaffirmed in The Shaman’s Apprentice. A native doctor faces discrimination at the hospital and decides to use some mystic Indian artifact to give him a leg up on the white man. The rattle cures patients instantly, but at the price of another’s life. White Cloud is praised for his new techniques, but the folks at Curious Goods know better. Forget the cultural mosaic, this episode suggests that Caucasians and Native Americans may as well be two different species. Both cling to creaky old stereotypes, and it’s as if 100 years of living together has done nothing to remove this Othering that has been placed on Natives and their spirituality. Aside from this, which mostly plagues all their depictions in film, this is a decent episode that follows the formula. William Fruet at least got one thing right, though – the gore is top notch, and very graphic for TV including the ol’ City of the Living Dead where a woman vomits out her own insides. White Cloud’s father is played by one of Canada’s most celebrated native actors, Gordon Tootoosis (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Legends of the Fall) and for the lower brows, cutie Isabelle Mejias (Scanners II, Meatballs III) also makes an appearance.


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The Prisoner promises another special effects extravaganza as a convict escapes from jail under the guise of an invisibility cloak. Dayton Railsback (Larry Joshua, The Burning) robbed a bank along with some accomplices ten years ago. He got caught, but the others got away with the money. He did his time, and now it’s time for payback. Considering the effects prowess demonstrated in Hedden’s 13 O’Clock, one would expect a Friday the 13th riff on The Invisible Man would deliver in spades. The effects work is mildly inventive and mostly just rehashes of old techniques. The episode is more notable as a character profile for the again returning Johnny Ventura. Some pretty weighty backstory transpires between him and his father, and by the end it’s pretty clear that four leads in the series is definitely a crowd. Onward we march to the season finale.


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Coven of Darkness closes off season two with witchcraft and peril as Ryan becomes a pawn in a deadly game plotted by one of Louis Vendredi’s disciples. There are a bunch of artifacts thrown into the mix, with the head witch using a possessed ring to infect Ryan and get at two other items – Satan’s blade and a cursed necklace. With Ryan under the witches spell, Micki must muster up magic of her own to try and destroy the coven and stop Vendredi from coming back once more. Not the finest of all finales, but this one at least provides a tightly focused narrative that allows the three main actors a lot of screen time and chemistry. After the first few episodes of season one, it’s seemed the focus has been less and less on the leads, and more on the new hook. Considering after the two parter next season one of the leads disappears, it’s nice to at least see the original gang get one last hurrah together. Too bad it wasn’t on something more interesting than gibberish spells and candlelit worship.


Image Quality

Friday the 13th – The Series is presented in 1.33:1 full frame in season two, just as it was the first. Television masters are the absolute worst from the eighties and nineties because of the mostly video archival practices employed by the studios (compared to the film archives most shows prior retain) and this series is no exception. Interlaced to the max and low contrast all the way, sharpness and detail suffer as a result. For a 1987 show, though, the print has been cleaned up amiably, with only a few specs every so often, and fairly natural colors. Grain is minimal. Overall, though, it’s a good enough transfer that won’t draw any attention away from the subject matter, but it’s far from perfect.

Sound

It’s in English Stereo, but not really. I couldn’t pick out any bits of directionality between the right and left. Dialogue and Fred Mollin’s industrial score all come through clean and with minimal hiss, but the sound space is fairly constrained. There’s little low end, although voices never sound shrill. Again, like the video, it does the job and nothing more.

Supplemental Material

The antiques aren't the only thing cursed...there are no extras on this release. It must be said, though, that the artwork created specifically for this release (and the previous) with the skull assembled out of all the cursed antiques that show up in the show is pretty genius. New art is usually so bad, but CBS's work here proves it doesn't have to be all bad.

Final Thoughts

inline ImageI shunned the series as a kid when Heir Hockey Mask was nowhere to be found, but now I’m really enjoying all the quality programming the show has to offer. Season Two is without the contributions of David Cronenberg or Atom Egoyan, but standout episodes from previous Friday the 13th film helmers like Tom McLoughlin and Rob Hedden, as well as a consistency that most horror series lack keep this season above the cusp. The video and sound quality are acceptable, but again victims of poor eighties television archival. There aren’t any extras, but with 20 hours of TV, horror fans should more than get their money’s worth. This season ends on a cliffhanger, so CBS better follow through with the third and final season. There’s another Friday the 13th this coming November…whaddya say, CBS?

Rating

.
Season - B+

Image Quality - C

Sound - C+

Supplements - N/A




Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 19 hours 41 minutes
  • Not Rated
  • 6 Discs
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Stereo

Supplements
  • N/A

Other Pictures

 

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Old 01-21-2009, 10:57 PM
Thanks for reviewing these
I loved this show in the early 90's when it was still on air (late night every Friday!) and am happy that the series has finally found its way to DVD. I am loving your episode a day reviews and will check in daily for the updates!
 
 
Old 02-07-2009, 04:59 PM
Curious to know if Vanity's songs are intact in Mesmer's Bauble. That episode was the only one that never aired on Chiller for that reason.
 
 
Old 02-07-2009, 06:03 PM
HackMaster
Hmmm. the violin killer episode looks interesting
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:48 PM
Moderator
When I get to Mesmer in a couple days I'll be sure to check. It does say on the back of the box "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions", so I'd suspect the songs are gone. CBS has done this with other properties, the most extreme case being actually cutting a full karaoke scene out of MELROSE PLACE because they didn't want to pay for the rights, rendering much of the episode incomprehensible.
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