EVIL Told You Not to the First Time! “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / Blu-ray)

“Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a Special Edition Blu-ray!  Purchase Your Copy Here!

Beginning where the last film left off, alien attack survivor Jane, bruised and bloody, stumbles into the under-renovation Pine Hills Summer Camp where a group of newly hired and horny camp counselors, a nurse chaperone, and a handy-man ex-con spruce up the place.  Jane is met with hostility when sounding off about monsters and death, but when the Pine Hills staff realize that a few of their friends are missing and haven’t checked in, Jane’s story is beginning to resonate and take traction.  Out in the woods, the rape-impregnated sperm of the monster are parasitic and seek out human hosts to infect with raging hormones and adrenaline, transforming hosts into razor-sharp teethed, superhuman mutants hellbent on procreation of a new monster.  The invading parasites turn the isolated camp into a slaughter yard of bloodshed and chaos and it’s up to the remaining survivors to nut up and put violent stop to an alien’s insidious carnage. 

Well, by God, Shawn Burkett did it!  The director made a sequel to his straight-forward, out-of-nowhere, 2016 indie hit “Don’t Fuck in the Woods,” directly following up from where the first film left us off with a lone survivor having just blown up a sex-crazed, blood-lusting alien creature who clawed, tore, and banged his way through a bunch of naked women and some off-color guys doing the dirty in the woods.  The first film made such a splash of interest with the provocative and often controversial title as well as being one of the most pirated movie in the last decade due to said title, The Ohio-born Burket began to formulate the next step of “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” with a story co-written with one of the sequel’s principal stars, Cheyenne Gordon, writer of the Tory Jones directed films “The Wicked One” and “They See You.”  The enticingly crass, but greatly adored and sought after title aims to be gorier and even more nudity-laden as the first film with the story situated at an actual family-owned campground, Hannon’s Camp America, in College Corner, Ohio.  Shot in the Summer of 2019, the pre-pandemic film, “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2,” is a production of Concept Media, Studio 605, Rising Fire Films, Taintbad Productions, and Head on a Stick Productions with Burkett producing and John Lepper (aka Johnny Macabre, executive producer of “Smoke and Mirrors:  The Story of Tom Savini” and “The VelociPastor”) as executive producer.

Though the sequel does not mark the return of the voluptuously captivating adult actress Nadia White, as her character (spoiler alert) was ripped apart by the creature (end spoiler alert), the sequel casts a whole new lot of ladies willing to let Mr. Skin archive and immortalize all their bare body parts forever…or at least until the servers crash, the internet dies, or the world ends.  It’s not like eternity or anything.  The one returning principal to return is the first film’s sole survivor, Jane, and returning to fill her blood-soaked shoes is Brittany Blanton that has officially solidified the Houston, Texas native as a scream queen, franchise final girl, and an overall badass slayer of otherworldly creatures.  Blanton is just one of several actresses to play into the popular campy motif and titular theme of open sexuality and nudity as a formulaic no-no in horror films.  B-to-Z horror movie regulars, starting with “RIP:  Rest in Pieces’” Kenzie Phillips, “Model Hunger’s” Kaylee Williams, “Slaughterhouse Slumber Party’s” Kayla Elizabeth, “5G Zombies’” Julie Anne Prescott, “Blood Moon River’s” Cara McConnell, and Nessa Moore, who I suspect used a body double for her bare all scene, follow suit (birthday suit that is) playing chopping block babes abreast of their outcome.  Burkett doesn’t completely make void his sequel of complex human emotions, supplying bitter love triangles, an oversexualized third wheel, and two more adult-ish characters running from their unpleasant past,  One of those two is ex-con Gil (co-writer Cheyenne Gordon) forced into a corner as the camp’s handyman while attempting to turn his life around for the better but finding the path to redemption difficult when being harassed and threatened by corrupt law enforcement officer.  Already down in the dumps being judged and juried by fellow campers and law enforcement, Gil is sympathetic role that earns his keep when going toe-to-toe with mutation spawn.  Mark Justice (“Atomic Shark”), Jason Crowe (“Dead Moon Rising”), Tom Komisar (“Slaughterhouse:  House of Whores 2.5), Alex Gottmann, and returning from the first film for a brief but memorable scene is Brandy Mason completes the cast. 

No contextual messages. No metaphors. No symbolizing themes. “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” pumps you full of the same obligatory creature feature construct as the first, those who have sex, get murdered….horribly. The only slight difference this time around is director Shawn Burkett gets himself out of the man-in-a-monster suit element and into a state of possession as the cast of characters become heinous hosts to parasitic alien slugs, essentially turning people on themselves in a battle to the death. The concept brings a new angle to the series to build upon the creature’s never say die multi-nefarious abilities that keeps it returning, in one form or another, from the grave. Blood runs rampant with the special effects team implementation of a blood gun into their bag of tricks that soaks the cast in more than one scene, but I would say between the two films, both are equally matched in blood shedding as the sequel, that doesn’t see the return of the first film’s SFX artist Deryk Wehrly but hires the 2016 film’s producer, Rob Collins to fill that void, doesn’t surpass the antecedent’s practical butchery. Looking through a technical critical lens, the indie feature has noticeable issues with crew mistakes, such as shadows of the boom operator in the frame, and scenes that hit the cutting room floor would have shed light on a few second and third act scenes that ended up not keeping the story smooth in a logical sense; one of the bigger scenes in question is one two large arms break through a wall and grab Gib from behind. The arrangement of character positions didn’t quite work out and the feature’s after credits bonus scene cements that misalignment even more. “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” might have filmic gaffe (there might be a cream for that) but what started as a straight-shooting, sex and slaughter, potboiler has become Shawn Burkett’s undeniable magnum opus and he’s only just beginning.

Wild Eye Releasing camp on one of the most campiness horror to date with “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a special edition Blu-ray release. Presented in high definition, 1080p, the transfer is exhibited with widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. First thing I noticed about the independent film and distributor release is there are virtually no issues with compression. The black areas remain deep and inky, hues naturally come across without any fluctuation, and there are no visible banding or artefact issues. In comparison to the first film, the sequel is quite brighter with more lighting available and Burkett isn’t too heavy on gels or tints unless in slug-vision mode with a tinge of low opacity fuchsia. The release comes with a lossy English 2.0 stereo mix that’s every bit languid as it sounds with current releases. Dialogue is clean and clear of damage and interference but is too underweight for full-bodied effect. Sound design offers arm’s length depth but is ample in range with slimy sluggy-ness slithering about and skirmish associated hubbubs to make the action excitable. Optional English subtitles are available. The special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette that gives a walking tour of the Hannon’s family camp shooting location building-by-building, blooper reel which can be seen during the end credits, two deleted scenes, the original producer trailer, Wild Eye Releasing trailers, and a feature length documentary “What Happens in the Woods: The Story of Don’t Fuck in the Woods” that digs deep not only into the genesis of “Don’t Fuck in the Woods,” but also into the personal strifes of Burkett and how the story’s title was turbulent, controversial, and heated from the beginning but became a wildly great success that spurred greenlights for future sequels, such as the after credit scene that may or may not involve space and/or time travel! The clear Blu-ray snapper with latch has physical special features that include a folded-mini poster insert, reversable cover art with a composited image on the front and a bloodied Brittany Blanton screengrab snippet on the opposite, and cardboard slipcover with a mashup character collage on the front. The brisk 81-minute runtime compacts the blood and boobs in this region free, unrated disc. Shawn Burkett teases fans with a third picture that’ll surely bring the wanton woods into the world of tomorrow but, for now, bask in “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” unfettered maverick success.

“Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a Special Edition Blu-ray!  Purchase Your Copy Here!

Back to the Past to Hunt Down EVIL! “Trancers” reviewed! (Full Moon / 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray)

Become a Slave to “Trancers” on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray!

In the post-apocalyptic ravaged 23rd century, Jack Deth, a brusque and hardened trooper, hunts down Trancers, a group of easily influenced and entranced people turned zombified slaves by a power-hungry hypnotizer named Whistler.  With Whistler killed, Deth lives out his raged-filled days vindictively bounty hunting Trancers still beckoning to Whistler’s lingering snake charming after one of Trancers kills his wife, but when Whistler appears to have cheated death and sent his conscious mind to the year 1985 into a Police detective relative to assassinate ancestors of the Trooper council and gain control of what’s left of the future world, Deth gives chase, sending his consciousness into a journalist predecessor with a fast car, a relaxed lifestyle, and in the arms of a beautiful young woman who Deth must recruit and rely on if he wants to survive the past.

Charles Band’s Homeric Sci-fi opus “Trancers” is time-travelling neo-noir at its boldest.  With a limited budget and loads of talent, the 1984 future bounty hunter with a grudge actioner, the first of a franchise that spawned five sequels stretching over two decades, was penned by then Band hired screenwriters Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, whose careers have run the variety spectrum of treatments from the Empire days of WWII soldiers battling aliens in a UFO in “Zone Troopers” in the mid-80s to finding themselves on the same credits screen as Spike Lee in the filmmaker’s post-war Vietnam drama ‘Da 5 Bloods.”  “Trancers” has nothing to do with war but has everything to do with a crumbling society, a hardnosed cop, and acrid acolytes with purple chapped lips and a yellowish green tinted complexion.  Also known as “Future Cop” in other parts of the world, the Los Angeles-shot “Trancers” is produced by the “Puppet Master” Charles Band and Debra Dion under Band’s Empire Pictures.

One of the aspects I adore most of the early Full Moon productions, before Charles Band even dubbed his Empire Pictures as Full Moon, was the star power behind the pictures.  Tim Thomerson is a versatile actor who can star in just about anything from microbudget indie productions (“Dollman,” “Left in Darkness”) to big Hollywood celluloids (“Air America,” “Iron Eagle”) as one of the most recognizable faces amongst viewers.  In “Trancers,” Thomerson relishes playing the 5 O’clock shadowed, brooding in a long trench coat, Sam Spade-type detective, Jack Deth, with skin in the game and a gruff attitude to take him to the edge.  Thomerson makes for a good grouchy gumshoe as Deth goes plays the cat-and-mouse game with his onscreen nemesis Whistler, played by Michael Stefani in his one and only feature film credit and also marks his last acting appearance.  Stefani has the long-ominous stare of a conventional villain, but I yearned for more toe-to-toe action between Thomerson and Stafani that what appears on screen in what was only a brief less than handful of moments that weren’t edge of your seat encounters, even the finale was underwhelmingly brisk.  More of the penetrating thrills were held in the future when Jack Deth is ambushed by an old Diner lady wielding a clever or when Deth laser blasts Whistler’s unconscious body to explosive smithereens.   What’s nurtured more in the past is the relationship between Deth and the half-his-age Leena, a role donned by a young Helen Hunt (“Twister,” “As Good as It Gets”) as the L.A. 80’s pop-goth girl with a thing for older men.  Thomerson and Hunt have chemistry that would turn heads clouded with ageism but they’re cute enough to work, especially when they ride matching mopeds around the city to either thwart Whistler’s plans or escape the police under Whistler’s control. The rest of cast that rounds out “Trancers” is just as inundated with individualism as the principal leads with Anne Seymour (“Big Top Pee-Wee”), Biff Manard (“Blankman”), Richard Herd (“Get Out”), and legendary supporting actor, Art LeFleur (“The Blob”).

With any story dealing with time traveler, undoubtedly, plot holes will exist and will stick out like a 23rd century cop time-hopping to 1985. “Trancers” is no different. When Whistler eventually assassinates an ancestor of one of the future council members, the memory of the slain still exists to those in the future. Though the council member never existed in the 23rd because his ancestor was wasted by a mind-melding maniac, their energy and presence is remembered and so that would suggest the 23rd century and the 20th century timelines coexist and move at the same time rate and once the future is written, the memory of can’t be undone? This transtemporal travel stymie comes early into the story and leaves me to chew on this paradoxical gobstopper for the rest of the film, but my advice to other views is to manage it just like I did with forcing that problematic plot hole into the backseat recesses of your mind and focus more on enjoying the nonstop clash and laughs high of a “Trancers” sci-fi speedball. Production value and location security is key to “Trancers” success and Band and his filmmaking team score multiple locations around Los Angeles that are often small but are neon lit or are crazed dress to reflect an era that offer relatability and style. Composited laser beams and vaporized dead bodies effects are an effulgence of neon layered with digitized 8-bit audio bytes for that futuristics flair. The matte work landscapes and set interiors of a crumbling Los Angeles with a blend of new styles are a thing of beauty. Iconic buildings engulfed by the ocean’s rising tides that never ebbed, the neo-totalitarian architecture, and the retrofuturism of a classic interior diner with a newfangled facade borders a dystopian metropolis on the brink of collapse and only held together by the glue of the council and the troopers who enforce the law.

“Trancers” receives the 4K Ultra HD treatment with a 2-disc release from Full Moon Features with the second disc a high-definition, 1080p Blu-ray, distributed MVD Visual. The 4K comes from a scan of the original camera negative; however, the Blu-ray and the 4K are fairly even in detail and clarity. Each format, presented in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, decodes at a disconcerting average of 25Mbps and maintain the luminescence, detail repressive glow which tells me a regrading wasn’t completed to counter the intense neon on darker scenes. The glow shouldn’t be emanating half a foot off of characters. Despite a couple of minimally invasive spotty print damage, details are better in the natural lit and gaffer lit scenes though still quite soft around skin textures. Two English audio are available – a DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound and a Stereo 2.0. As soon as the Empire Pictures logo seizes the screen and the soundtrack begins, I knew the 5.1 was going to be worthwhile with a robust multi-channel output that leverages the Phil Davies (“Society”) synth-beat, adrenaline-producing score while still maintaining an even-keeled and appropriately layered ambient and dialogue track. Dialogue remains clear and clean throughout that compliment a range of action track like an exploding body with a short burst LFE explosion, the pew-pew-esque laser shots as discussed earlier, and the scattering of shattered glass when a moped goes through a sugar glass window. Bonus features are identical on each formatted disc with a commentary from Charles Band and Tim Thomerson, a 2013 documentary of the making of “Trancers,” the complete short film “Trancers: City of Lost Angels, Trancers: A Video Essay, the official trailer, archival interviews, and a still gallery. The physical attributes include a blacked-out Blu-ray snapper case with a cardboard slipcover, both the snapper and the slipcover have the same front artwork of Jack Deth pointing a gun out of a floating open door in space. The region free release has a runtime of 76 minutes and is rated PG-13. With a name like Jack Deth, you can’t go wrong with the science fictional film noir that is “Trancers,” a rustling time-travel good versus evil showdown with the future hanging in the balance.

Become a Slave to “Trancers” on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray!