Dir: Michael Hall
Written By: Michael Hall, Robert J. Huntley
Starring: Leah Rudick, Samantha Glovin, Bradley Creanzo
UK release: TBC
The imaginatively-titled Killer returns to wreak havoc on the Final Girl who escaped his grasp last time around, as she tries to locate the creator of the mysterious novel that foretold the murders of her friends. Meanwhile, an unsuspecting group of partygoers is about to fall victim to him, too, as one of their number reads the sequel in the infamous Kids Get Dead book series, thereby unknowingly bringing doom upon all of them.
The key ingredients to any successful slasher movie are boobs, blood and rock ‘n’ roll according to Kids Get Dead 2, the sequel to the zany, gory and bizarrely enjoyable Kids Go To The Woods… Kids Get Dead. Taking its cue from infamous late-night shows such as Up All Night – which director Michael Hall credits as a key influence – the flick is “hosted” by horror honey Peaches Mc Neill (a game Samantha Glovin), whose quips and cleavage interrupt the narrative at varyingly effective intervals.
Kids Get Dead 2 kicks off in fabulously gory style, with the so-called Killer – a large man in a gas mask, basically – laying waste to an amorous couple by, among other things, peeling off the dude’s face before his partner spits out a bloodied piece of his dick. The movie starts as it means to go on – it’s an orgy of nudity and eye-popping gore – but surprisingly, it has some brains, to go along with the intestines being used to choke some poor lad on his own kitchen table.
The likeable Leah Rudick returns as Casey who, heavily-medicated and tormented by nightmares after witnessing her friends dying at the hands of the unstoppable Killer, sets out to find the creator of the Kids Get Dead novels, which she reckons foretold the tragedy. Meanwhile, quiet bookworm metalhead (no, really) Brian (Bradley Creanzo, who looks a bit like the bastard love child of Dee Snider and Garth Algar) pores over the second instalment, Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader, while his slutty sister (Vonka Romanov, even more game than Glovin) and her idiot friends rage in their parent-free house.
It’s the typical, classic slasher movie setup and, in spite of the fact that the location is slightly off, and it all feels a bit like a student film at times, there’s lots to love about Kids Get Dead 2. Creanzo, Rudick and Lauren Maslanik, as Brian’s crush Stephanie, are all thoroughly likeable leads, while the knuckleheaded partygoers – in particular the hilariously dim Johnny (Jeff Foley) – are the perfect victims for The Killer’s grisly, suitably inventive murders. However, turning this idea on its head slightly, the real villain here is Carver (Steve Buja, devouring the scenery), the creator of the Kids Get Dead novels who inserts himself into the story primarily so he can torture poor Casey further – he even “kills” the ghost of her dead brother in front of her at one stage.
The book series angle is a refreshing one, which adds depth to what is otherwise standard, albeit admirably gory, slasher fare. The horror hostess segments are slightly overdone especially towards the end, when they interrupt the narrative at the most inopportune moments, but they, too, are an interesting twist on the typical, overdone premise. There is a sense that the cast are really friends, and their dynamic feels fluid and realistic. Although it seems the dual narratives are never going to intersect – and how this happens is never properly explained – this doesn’t drag the film down thanks to a constant barrage of laughs, frights and, of course, blood (Hall estimates they used about 15 gallons of their homemade recipe in total, and every, horribly dark drop is onscreen).
Kids Get Dead 2 is highly commendable for its use of practical SFX – save for a rubbish-looking, computer-generated explosion that feels entirely out of place – which are always much appreciated, especially as the kills are highly inventive throughout. Director Hall is a proponent of practical effects, noting that they tend to give horror movies, in particular, a more grisly feel and considering his flick is up against similar fare such as Adam Green’s Hatchet Series, it’s impressive just how well it can hold its own. There are several memorable sequences, including a beheading, the aforementioned face-peeling and a gutting that leaves the space around it so bloody even Ghostface would be envious.
The most successful, well-liked slashers are an expertly-judged mixture of laughs and scares, and in this way Kids Get Dead 2 is a really enjoyable flick, with witty lines such as “Oh my god the pizza guy!” upon finding him brutally mutilated, and “if I wanted a Scream Queen, I would’ve written your tits bigger” to Casey when she tries to fight back against the will of her creator. The various conventions of the often-derided subgenre are torn apart in hugely enjoyable fashion, for example when a truck driver turns out to have a heart of gold instead of being a murderous psychopath.
There are lots of great throwbacks too, as this creation clearly came from a place of love and respect. Creanzo, aside from being a character who actually reads books onscreen, is also shown listening to cassettes, which is funny considering Kids Get Dead 2 is slated to be released on VHS after demands by vocal genre fans. Likewise, the creator uses a typewriter to spin his tale, which is a nice touch. Considering it’s a modestly-budgeted affair, the flick is well-shot, tightly-edited and, for the most part, competently-acted.
The gore, which is the centrepiece of the film, is plentiful, gooey and gross, with everything turned up to eleven – considering this is a sequel, it’s only right – while the characters are entertaining enough that it’s fun watching them both live and die. The very-loud score is jarring, as are the interruptions by the so-called horror hostess, but these are minor annoyances in what is otherwise a solid slasher.
Inventive, witty and relentlessly bloody, Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader is, much like the similarly-toned Detention, a love-it-or-hate-it kind of film. Give it a chance, in spite of its on-the-nose title, and previous disappointments in much the same vein, and you may just be pleasantly surprised.