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!

The EVIL Fat Man Delivers a Sack Full of Slaughter in “Christmas Cruelty!” reviewed! (Unearthed Films / Blu-ray)

Oh, Its Starting To Look a lot Like “Christmas Cruelty! on Blu-ray!

Eline, Per-Ingvar, and Magne are three close and eccentric friends preparing for the jolliest time of year, Christmas. Concocting a unique Christmas spirit of their own with scarring passers dressed as Krampus and brewing an alcohol infused cocktail, the unconventional celebration reflects their individual perspectives on the holiday: a knowledgeable Eline embraces more traditional values, Magne goes against the grain with a loose grasp on the concept of it all, and the lack of mental acuity for wheelchair bound Per-Ingvar leaves him in naive, gullible belief. All the while the friends prep the groundwork for a Christmas party, a homicidal sociopath tracks and records their every movement, habits, and personal attributes and when Christmas comes, the meticulous and brutal serial killer dresses as Santa and infiltrates what turned from being a joyous bash into Santa bashing in heads with a hammer, decapitates party guests, and rip-roars a chainsaw with blood splattering apathy.

It’s that time of year again to ride the Christmas slay down the hills covered with blood-red snow. Santa, usually a sign of pure good and jovial togetherness, is transformed to embody terror and evil across the holiday season. In 2013, Norwegian filmmaker Per-Ingvar “PIT” Tomren (“Bonzai Motherfucker!”) and his co-director Magne Steinsvoll (producer of “Killungard” and “Lyst”) not only star in another Yuletide horror that yields itself to violence and blood but also adds their perspective entry into the vast Scandanavian subgenre of ole’ Saint Nick, or an imposter of the jolly fat guy, going postal in the worst possible way. Tomren and Steinsvioll work into their debut feature film off a script penned by principal co-star Eline Aasheim as well as Janne Iren Holseter, Anita Nyhagen, and directors Tomren and Steinsvoll. Originally entitled “O’Hellige Jul!” in Norwegian, the 2013 released “Christmas Cruelty” is a Stonewall Productions and presented by DC Medias under the producing credits of Magne Steinsvoll, Kim Haldoersen, and Raymond Volle (“Saga”).

Instead of hiring an outside cast for a serial rapist and killer Santa flick, why not just star in the film yourself? In order to get their feet wet in film production as well as learning the rigors of acting, Per-Ingvar Tomren, Magne Steinsvoll, and Eline Aasheim essentially portray themselves as the three friends spending unique quality time together during Christmas. Per-Ingvar works into the script the corporeal truth of this delicate skeletal structure that battles brittle bone disease aka osteogenesis imperfecta. Confined almost entirely to his wheelchair, Tomren curbs his wellbeing for the sake of art as the filmmaker doesn’t exempt himself from the various physical altercation scenes to have a stuntman take the glory. The same kind of sentiment can be said for Eline Aasheim whose character must endure an invasive attack, one that’s deeply uncomfortable and intimate in nature surrounded by a virtually an all-male cast which includes offscreen friendships. Then there’s Magne. If Per-Ingvar and Eline embodied metaphorically everything that is good about the Christmas spirit, Magne was the complete opposite as a complaining, sexist, and indelicate sourpuss living in the moment rather than grasping his own barbed attitude. The malarky between the three friends on screen is perhaps very mirrorlike offscreen as there is a comfortability level with each other performances that keeps the dynamic on the edge of combusting but yet you never feel like a change in their relationship will ever mount, keeping their friendship close, tight, and compact. The outsider, the Serial Santa, is played mid-50’s Norway actor Tormod Lien. I mention Lien’s age because he is older than the other principal characters and that plays into his character’s wisdom as a family man who takes notes on who’s halls he will soon deck. Calm, organized, and deviant, Lien plays into the apathy without a twinkle of empathy and engineers a bloody show of planned homicide with some comedic bits put on by Lien when Serial Santa has to go off script because of interruptions.

In my mind, there are two types of Christmas horror films: the uncanny universe where Santa, or something related to Santa, such as his toyshop elves or Krampus, world’s lives and breathes in a twisted malevolency while the other type resides in fact with sociopathic and mentally unstable Santa impersonators who go on a merry murdering spree. “Christmas Cruelty!” falls in that latter category with serial killer, dressed as Santa and a grotesque mask, gatecrashes the good protagonists’ party for the nefarious primordial urge to hurt, rape, and kill. Maybe even dabble in a little cannibalism. “Christmas Cruelty!” is a lump of extreme exploitation for next level nihilism. I’ve seen my fair share of messed up movies, but the Tomren and Steinsvoll defiling picture doesn’t even have a millimeter of morality. Without a theme, a message, or a basic point, “Christmas Cruelty!” is hollow atrocity for the sake of shock and slaughter. The principal goods are either too afraid to help each other, too unwilling to help each other, or are too conceited to even take notice that something is amiss. Instead, it’s the Serial-Santa who has his ducks in order, unabashed to simply walk into a room and start his plan of cold-hearted perversion, but before even getting to that moment with deliciously diabolical practical special effects that can produce a gut-wrenching impact, the story goes static with the principal goods chitchatting about history of Christmas, their likes and dislikes of the season, and nursing a hangover from hell. This portion to build character doesn’t actually build character as we’re skirted around victimized trio’s reason for to deserving of our sympathy. Yeah, there’s a person with learning disabilities in a wheelchair and a young woman with an inkling of a moral compass but I find them aimless, sleepwalking through life, and without purpose.

Christmas comes early with the release of “Christmas Cruelty” on Blu-ray home video from our friends at Unearthed Films and MVD Visual. Presented in 1080p with a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio on an AVE encoded BD50, Unearthed Films rendering of the transfer goes without a hitch, but the stylistic choices of Tomren and Steinsvoll are an eyesore with a mustard yellow overlay intended for a grindhouse veneer that also correlates with the large font and embossed opening credits. Much of the details and natural look are lost in the yellow tint. The erratic editing is supposed to reflect Serial Santa’s fragmented mind which idiosyncratically finds footing but can be off-putting to its experimental quality. The Norwegian language DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound mix reflects no issues with depth and range despite having limited need for both and has mostly clear dialogue albeit some obstruction from the soundtrack that is heavily integrated into the sound design and becomes a character in itself with a blend of English-lyrical Christmas themed tunes, instrumental string melodies, acoustic solos by Magne Steinsvoll, generic rock tracks, and folksy jamming that ends with the loud roaring of a chainsaw slicing through body parts. The bonus features include an audio commentary with co-director Per-Ingvar Tomren and producer Raymond Volle, retrospective interviews in How Cruelty Changes Our Lives featurette, blooper outtakes, photo gallery, The Last Rebels hit “Endless Highway,” an interview with Morten Haagensen, “Tradition” short film, Press Conference, a watch-a-long session with Flesh Wound Horror, and teaser trailer. The Unearthed Films menu options were a bit cumbersome to navigate when trying to play the movie as the next screen goes to the three audio options – either two commentaries that run along with the film and the play movie without commentary, but the options are not terribly intuitive and had to go through the options before I was able to play just the movie. The physical release comes in a traditional blue snapper case with the soulless, dead eyes of the Santa mask illustrated with liver sports and aged wrinkles on the front cover. Unearthed Films’ release comes not rated, region A encoded, and has a runtime of 94 minutes. Probably not the perfect holiday gift for the conventional horror filmgoer, “Christmas Cruelty” is difficult to ingest and digest as not only an extreme exploitation film but as a film as whole, but with the callous chunks of coal and the striped blood red candy cane of scrumptious special effects, the Norwegian definitely offers a good stocking stuffer.

Oh, Its Starting To Look a lot Like “Christmas Cruelty! on Blu-ray!