Written and directed by: Gary Cohen
Produced by: Ray Clark
Reviewed by: Brett H.
“Did you see the one where they coated the girl with dog food and threw her into the pound with all those strays?”
It’s rare that a horror film comes along and taps into something completely new and original, but at the same time represents the very viewer that has rented the video or purchased the DVD. Video Violence shone bright amidst a river of shit and like all other horror films of the era, there had to be a sequel. Video Violence 2 had an interesting act to follow; the very foundation of the original was based on some explicit (although bad) gore and a bright idea that set it apart from every other shot-on-video slasher out there. I tapped my temple for about ten minutes before I sat down and witnessed Video Violence 2 and relished in the aura that the original created, predicting what I was about to see. I came up with a single conclusion. There is no way in hell that this sequel is going to be anywhere near as entertaining or meaningful to a child of the eighties such as myself. Basically, you have an amateur director/screenwriter in Gary Cohen, wielding a video camera and a crew making a sequel to a movie that can only be done once. I had no idea how wrong I’d be.
Howard (Bart Sumner) and Eli (Uke) are back bringing their most unique form of filmmaking to an even larger audience. There’s no telling quite how these bumbling hillbillies did it, but they’ve tapped into every major television station’s signals and are now broadcasting their down home snuff films to a national audience. Yep, horror fans rejoice, Howard and Eli have hit the big time on their “own” network, WGOR! Being the innovative pioneers of schlock that they are, they’ve decided to create a new show for the whole world to see. This new Howard and Eli creation stays true to their slicing and dicing ways, but not only that, they’re now featuring and critiquing other people’s snuff films! The dastardly duo even get funding for their little program from sponsors who support their show with infomercials and product advertisements! Move over Siskel & Ebert, these new dogs on the block take no prisoners... unless you’re the main feature on their show of blood-splashing terror! When cable is not enough...
Video Violence 2 maintains the originality of the first film, all the while being different but still staying true with the first instalment, an accomplishment that had this long-time horror buff shaking his head in disbelief. I went in expecting less video-era atmosphere and more killings for the sake of killings, but what I was treated to was an anthology of short “snuff” films, hosted/critiqued Elvira style by everyone’s favorite faux-snuffers. Howard and Eli once again steal the show and director/writer Gary Cohen still makes commentary on the genre he loves and references horror movies by the truckload. The first Video Violence proved to be a creative exercise spinning a unique vision on the urban legend of snuff films and showed how the video store was a sort of horror haven to fans.Video Violence 2 serves as an exaggerated take on how some people that judged the horror fans out there are renting these grimy little diamonds in the rough. Seeing as Siskel & Ebert fought so hard for slasher films to be taken off the shelves, it’s great to see Howard and Eli encouraging slash every step of the way.
Being the anthology that it is, every film featured in the Howard and Eli Show basically consists of a short film composed of various ways to create pain for the pleasure of others... and as many sets of hoots as they can possibly exploit. From the old couple making their own electric chair, to the Christmas gift commercial that literally rips a young boy’s throat out, to the deli infomercial regarding the “Drac-o-matic” (a more effective method of draining your victim of his blood without wasting a single drop), Video Violence 2 rarely drags in its fast paced 75 minute run time. The film even references itself by placing an ad for Video Violence 2 on the Howard and Eli Show, but it’s not available to the public just yet as there’s no real way for them to send the tapes out without the ol’ boys getting caught! But... then how did that copy of Video Violence 2 make it to your DVD player? It’s this unique blend of fiction, satire and blending hilarity with a sense of reality that make this nearly as good a watch as the original. The original was funny for sure, but Video Violence 2 takes it to all new levels with a straight out horror/comedy, until the end where things get serious and truly innovative plot twists begin unraveling.
Although the film doesn’t take place in a video store, it still has one short vignette involving a video store and classic fright VHS boxes are on the shelves in droves. Funeral Home, The Howling, The Gore-Gore Girls and most appropriately due to the movie critic theme of the movie, I Spit on Your Grave, which was absolutely trashed by Roger Ebert. The movie critic portion of the show is also accompanied by ghoulishly punned stand up acts and Gordon, the lead band member who compliments the hosts during their show. Gore stills from the original are exploited as interludes for the show and there’s a ton of cheesy, retro video effects and there’s some role reversals too. In one of the short films, a group of sorority girls decided to cut up a pizza man because it’s so chauvinistic that the man always be the demeaning killer. Damn straight. And, like Howard and Eli, I was “partial to the partial nudity!”
It’s great to see many characters return and the ending actually requires you to see the original to fully appreciate, so it’s a great perk for sequel fans. The beginning 60 minutes are for the new viewer, the last 15 minutes are a present to those who loved the first. Video Violence 2 captures the eighties much like the original, but the presentation is the most surreal part of the film. The typical eighties cheese and lame video effects are staples of how we look at the decade, but to make such a play on this is downright baffling. It perfectly suits the stereotypical view on the eighties and you almost would guess that it was made quite recently as a ham on the decade. Intended or not, Video Violence 2 turned out to be way ahead of its time and couldn’t possibly have been enjoyed on the same level then as it can be now. Hell, even Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and everyone’s favorite cross-dresser, Norman Bates come out for a good time!
Accompanied on Camp's DVD with its predecessor, Video Violence 2 isn’t quite as gory, but when a film is so hilariously cheesy (while maintaining a lot of splatter), it’s easy to look past it. The DVD features audio commentaries for both films and they’re a hoot. The commentators make fun of the movie exactly like you are as you’re watching and they even snack on Doritos and sip Pepsi while they watch. It’s great to see a crew making a movie and enjoying the movie as fans, they truly get it and that’s why the Video Violence films are so effective. The audio in Video Violence 2 is a bit hissy and has some problems, but it’s all in the charm. A third Video Violence was to be about a group of witches after Howard and Eli for their misogynistic ways, but never came to fruition. Gary Cohen comments on his willingness to make a third entry in the series (please!) and I think it’d be great to see a new instalment geared towards the DVD generation. Video Violence 2 turns out to be almost as original as the first and the DVD won’t cost you an arm and a leg, it proves to be one of the best DVD packages in horror history. Make no bones about it, Video Violence 2 is one film you’d just die to be the star of! Buy it!
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