Ode to the Unsung Slasher (Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2)
The slasher genre is what attracted me to horror in the first place. These days, that particular sub-genre of horror has gotten some nice boosts in my mind with films Like Hatchet and the Hills Run Red, but one I especially enjoyed was Laid to Rest.
Today I’m going to tackle Chromeskull: Laid to Rest II (I wonder if this is going to start a Rambo-esque sequel where the third film will be just called Chromeskull 3 like how the Rambo franchise dropped “First blood” from their titles by the third one).
Now when I say I enjoyed Laid to Rest, let me explain that the movie is not without its flaws. I challenge anyone to find me a more inept group of victims in horror. Even the survivor girl could win the friggin’ Darwin award in more than one scene. She rips the phone cord out of the wall while they’re tracing the call!? I could go on and on about how many moments made me roll my eyes hard but there was something about it. After I finished watching that movie, I sat back and said to myself, “You know what? I like this movie.” It was just a lot of fun.” Chromeskull is badass and the kills are just great. So when I heard they were making a sequel, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Robert Hall is back writing and directing Laid to Rest II, which is no surprise seeing as the entire thing is his baby. Thomas Dekker is back from the first movie as the raver guy, Tommy, who picks up “The Girl” from the first one. Oddly, they couldn’t get Bobbi Sue Luther back (no real loss), so they replaced her with Allison Kyler which really just amounts to an extended cameo. Newcomers to the movie are Brian Austin Green as Preston and Mimi Michaels as Jess. The last little bit I’ll mention on cast is they nabbed scream queen Danielle Harris for a small, but interesting role. I’ll get to that in a bit.
The biggest problem I had with the first movie was how it all fell apart for me at the very end. It just seemed really dumb. In the sequel, they actually have some amount of closure to it that left me a lot less salty about the whole thing.
The other thing I was really curious about was how they were going to bring ChromeSkull back. I mean, I’m aware it’s a slasher film and really they could do anything, but the first one seemed pretty sequel proof considering that the killer wasn’t supernatural in any way. We’re treated to a mysterious and rockin’ surgery scene where ChromeSkull is put back together. It seems that he doesn’t work alone but has a team of loyal people working around him in something that is only referred to as “the organization.” Preston is his number two man who quickly gets to work in tying up loose ends from his boss’ last outing.
Meanwhile, the police are left trying to figure out what happened and Tommy tries to go back to his life. The bodies start to pile up pretty quickly as Preston takes over the mantle of Chromeskull while the real killer recuperates.
The new girl, Jess, is picked up at the suggestion of Chromeskull’s assistant Spann (Harris). Once Preston finally gets his hands on Tommy and brings him back to The Organization, it’s all about Tommy and Jess trying to survive while Preston and the original Chromeskull play who’s the better killer.
The real star obviously is Chromeskull himself. I think one of the things I like about him in the first film is that, while he is a masked character, he isn’t really the lumbering Mongoloid type. He is faster and slicker with more intelligence, something that is much more feasible in a modern age through the use of cellphones and even a car to get around. While expanding on him, though, I felt I was more confused than ever. In the first movie, he was just this mysterious guy with a mask. This time we’re told that he actually has a lot of employees under him that seem to do nothing but craft his weapons and otherwise provide means to be a serial killer. How does he pay for all of it?
The kills are good with a great blend of practical and CGI effects. Lots of gore and creative blades really went a long way to making this film have some great and gruesome moments. Even though a lot of the kills are done by Preston’s character imitating the original Chromeskull, the last half hour Chrome just goes on a friggin’ rampage and kicks all kinds of ass. One scene that was just great was when he takes out three cops at once. It was all done in one shot too.
The movie isn’t without its dumb moments though. The one that really sticks out in my mind is when Preston leaves Tommy and Jess alone to go and get a tattoo before he comes back and kills them. For starters, it seemed really weird that he had a tattoo artist just there in their base of operations, but also that he would just stop and say “Okay guys… I’m going to kill you… but I really need a tattoo first.” But I’m just nitpicking really.
Fans of the first film shouldn’t be disappointed. Chromeskull: Laid to Rest II does what it should: expand the lore and the body count. Robert Hall has gone on to say that he didn’t create Chromeskull to be the new face of horror, but rather to create something that he, as a fan, would want to see. I agree that I don’t think Laid to Rest II breaks the mould by any stretch, but it does offer a bloody and satisfying good time. Check it out and, as always, thanks for reading!