Monday, 5 September 2011

Review : Chromeskull - Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

When we last saw Chromeskull, he'd had his face melted and his head caved in via baseball bat. Not a fun situation to find oneself in. Now, with Chromeskull catching up on some much needed rest, his second in command, Preston is sent out to finish the job he started and tie up loose ends. But Preston has ideas of his own about who should be running this show...

The first time I saw LAID TO REST, I was immediately charmed by its antagonist. The Skull faced, camera wielding headcase known as Chromeskull was, and is, a slasher for the ages. Theres a real lack of truly iconic killers in the genre these days, and alongside Babyface from THE HILLS RUN RED, our knife happy pal was one of the few masked killers who's image alone made him eminently watchable. Shame then that his stomping ground was a film so mired in terrible acting and ridiculous plot developments that took the viewer straight out of the experience. It was a strange mash-up of brilliant ideas and half baked execution. Let me rephrase that, the only thing that was not 'half baked' in LAID TO REST was the execution. The kills were beautiful to behold, and stand among the greatest ever put onscreen in a modern slasher. I've seen the film a few times since, usually with a beer in hand and a group of buddies round to enjoy the bloodshed. You ever drank far too much and slept with someone you know is trash, but you just couldn't resist? LAID TO REST is like that. You'll have fun with it when your trashed out of your skull, but you'll wake up feeling guilty come the dawn.

I'd hoped that with the sequel, the issues of the first film could be remedied. A simple task really. Keep the eyeball raping kills and the stone cold killer, give us a plot strand to hold onto, discard of the dreadful acting and perhaps have the characters characters behaviour resemble something like you'd find on our planet. Alas, the God's of Horror did not hear my prayers, (whats with these guys!? They never wiped out Brad Fuller for me either!), as our kickass villain once again find himself waist deep in nonsense that would shame 'Space Jason'.

Despite far better acting, better kills and antagonists with a hint of depth, this film is, strangely, a step backwards. Now I know that's nothing unusual for a slasher series, but I had hope that the LAID TO REST franchise would work in reverse. You know, start of sub-par and work its way into something resembling Horror greatness? Its killer sure as hell deserves better than these two films, and its special effects team should be showered with virgins and fine wine for they're beautiful sins. I'd hoped they would listen to what the fans wanted, because yes, there are fans of this series. A lot of them. I want to be one of them! But if you keep hitting us with unintelligible storylines, we're gonna head to pastures new. Its not enough to have an insanely cool killer in a slasher movie. It's almost enough. Its 'lowest common denominator' enough, and we'll drink to it, party with it, and maybe even sleep with it more than once if we're fucked up enough, but what we really want to do is fall in love with it.

That ain't Chromeskull....
There is still a lot of goodwill for old Chromey. Two confused, poorly written films cant quite erase the desire or hope for a respectful treatment of the guy. And in truth, it's got much to admire. You have the kills, of course. Which are downright brilliant in almost every case, and actually better the stellar work in the original. The kill count is high, the severed body parts are legion and the camera is just as perverted as you and I are, and gazes lovingly and unflinching, on the ultra-violence on display. One death featured a poor girls mouth and a cool new death dealing weapon will have you cheering, and its just the tip of the iceberg, I won't give anything away, but CHROMESKULL is drenched in the goodies. Besides some fun performances. its all the film has to offer, so it's a damn good thing it offers it in spades. Those that desire gore and no more will be in paradise. Those who wish for atmosphere, plot, suspense and tension should probably shop elsewhere.

So we have wonderful kills, but here the real rub. Most of the kills aren't dealt out by Chromedome! We learn very quickly, (within five minutes) that he has helpers, and one of them wants to take over the big boys position now that he has a face that looks like a truck fucked it. That could have been a great angle to take the story, but instead, its just one of many things thrown in there that never amount to a much of any damn thing. The fact that our killer Skeletor takes a backseat for the best part of the movie is infuriating. All the kills his 2nd Lieutenant commits are awesome, but we came to see CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST, not 'HELPER: LAID TO REST. That awesome teaser where he spins the blades? Helper. The amazing kill with said blades? Helper. The designer of awesome blades? FUCKING HELPER! I wanted to eat my own brain. The acting is a step or forty up from last time, and the helper in question, named Preston, is played really well by Brian Austin Green, but give him his OWN FUCKING FILM! I felt cheated. Now some viewers may not have a problem with this, but for my money, I wanna see what I came for. I don't watch a FRIDAY THE 13TH film to see Jigsaw slaughtering people, or vice versa. This was by far the worst decision the writers have made here, but its not the only one.

THAT'S Chromeskull!
The editing kills any suspense that the leads, (who are all fine, Thomas Dekker included), manage to generate, and the lack of plot leaves the moments between kills feeling somewhat adrift. Theres some huge corporation behind 'ole Chromey, ( I think), and he's considered something of a superhero amongst his disciples, (if that's what they are). They build him coffins, find him victims, help him heal and generally act like his little bitches. Why, you ask? Fuck should I know. Apparently filming chicks in coffins then cutting them into giblets is big business, or something. Maybe he's a government hitman with a taste for perversion. Maybe he's a Jim Jones style 'cult leader'. Fuck only knows. Your guess is as good as mine, friendo. If the writers are trying to be vague in order to set up the third film, then I get that. But at least give us something to work with. A part of me respects the attempt to do something different with the slasher cliches, but its too sloppily handled here. Too many questions and zero answers is a little much in this case.

CHROMESKULL was a real disappointment for me, but it may be the complete opposite for you. I didn't hate it, (far from it), and theres a great deal to admire, not least the infinitely cinematic killing machine of the title. I may be looking too deeply into a simple slasher movie but I really believe the character could be up there with the greats, given the right material. Were this any other low budget franchise I'd have been quite content with it, perhaps even raved about it, but its one I had really high hopes for, and my hopes were dashed. I love the character. I want to love the franchise, but as it stands, I just can't. If your looking for solid kills, insane gore effects and viciousness by the bucket load, you came to the right rodeo, but if like me, your hoping for a work that's the equal of its antagonist, you may well feel let down. I'm still rooting for you, Chromecranium, my man. Sharpen those blades, dust yourself down  and get back to work.

6 Splitting Headaches out of 10


  1. I'm a bit sadden. I too wanted to watch these but the trailer alone took me out of it and now I really can't see myself ever watching these. Sucks cause it seemed like such a cool character. Good work as always.

  2. Yeah, its a real shame. I never saw the tariler but assuming it gave you an idea of the riduculous 'plot'. Cant win em all, man. Worth a look for the kills tho. I think youd appreciate them.

  3. Sigh* hate to admit it, but yer right. They should had just sticked with one movie...