Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
August 1st, 2011

Death on Demand

Death on Demand
Directed by Adam Matalon
Written by Adam Matalon, Kevin Burke
Starring Jerry Broome, Elizabeth Jamison, Terron Jones, Krista Grotte
90 mins

So I caught up with another little lesser-known piece of stuff from the crew out at MTI, and in retrospect, I probably should have been concerned. But while Death on Demand won't live up to the spectacular box art, it will manage to do a fairly decent job of scaring you. It may, however, do a better job of making you laugh.

Death on Demand takes us out to a house believed to be haunted by the ghost of a mountain climber, where we're about to stage a live webcast going for an investigation of said house. You know, one of those great "is it or isn't it?" haunted house stories we see on TV every so often as is. And now, a producer's offering five grand in cash to three couples who manage to stay the night in the so-called McIntire House. When the ratings start to drop, the producer throws in a porn star to spice things up, but the spice proves unnecessary as the contestants start dropping like flies. Is it the ghost of mountaineer Sean McIntire? Or is it something else completely?

If that sounds like the plot of Halloween: Resurrection to you less the iconic serial killer, then you're not alone. I thought much the same thing when this showed up.

I've got to hand it to them: they really ratchet up the implausibility figures on this one. Watching Sean McIntire run amok was a preposterous orgy of bloody excess the like of which I haven't seen since, well, since the dim dead days of Michael Myers.

And surprisingly large portions of the movie were actually pretty comical, especially from the football center who might as well have his middle finger placed in some kind of cast to keep it permanently erect, which is actually very ironic, given what else erect will be an issue regularly mentioned throughout the movie.

The ending is actually something of a surprise, if a bit drawn out. It's something I didn't expect, that's true enough, but at the same time, they basically had one card, and they played it over and over again for a good three minutes. It was a good idea, but it just couldn't last.

The special features include audio options, a commentary track, Spanish subtitles (and that's a low blow. You can put in a commentary track but no English subtitles? Come on!), a blooper reel, and trailers for Death on Demand, The Plant, Adventures of Johnny Tao, Ghosts of Goldfield and Juncture.

All in all, that's about the best way to put it for Death on Demand: a good idea that just couldn't last. It's not going to be the worst thing you've seen lately; if you got suckered in by that sweet box art you'll only be moderately disappointed, but it's still not going to be any great shakes.

Rec 2

Rec 2
Directed by Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
Written by Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
Starring Jonathan Mello, Manuela Velasco, Oscar Zafra, Ariel Casas
85 mins

I tell you folks this much, I have been looking forward to Rec 2 since Rec 1 ended. The only way this could have come fast enough for me is if it were playing on the same DVD that I saw Rec on.

The question, of course, is would Rec 2 have proven worth the wait? Rec 2 takes us back out to the apartment complex of Rec 1, where some of the residents went what looked like (and was, sort of, in a very real sense) rabid. But this time, the government's going in, and they're going in in force. The Ministry of Health is sending in one of their best, Dr. Owen. And he'll be backed up by a GEO unit (Grupo Especial de Operaciones) with helmet-mounted cameras, submachine guns and some pretty substantial body armor. But Dr. Owen isn't everything he appears to be, and the apartment complex itself poses some pretty nasty threats. Will any of them make it out alive? Or will the horrors in the apartment complex spill out into the larger city beyond?

First off, let me comment on the DVD menu. Wow. That's creepy. You know when the DVD menu freaks you out, you're in for a ride that can probably best be described as "hellacious".

Meanwhile, it's great to note that the original formula is wholly unchanged. Lots of running around, lots of toothy bloody horrors running headlong at the camera--the big difference this time is that there's a little less running and a lot more gunplay. But it seems like there are also a lot more toothy bloody horrors running around to boot.

What's more, the movie will shift perspective unexpectedly to provide some background and a different perspective, as well as what will be by then some desperately needed comic relief. Don't look for the interlude to last, because you'll get a dose of the original Rec style with the perspective shift. The end result is a surprisingly robust horror experience with lots of different reasons to be scared all combining very nicely in a much larger and much more frightening whole.

It's going to be a matter of personal taste here, but I'm convinced this is every bit as good--possibly even a bit better--than the original. There is something of a problem here, but it's a minor one that may be explained by the fact that this is the second of a trilogy, at last report--the actual nature of the infection seems to be rapidly changing among a set of possibilities. Maybe it will be cleared with the third, but much of the second will be a bit confused.

The ending, meanwhile, is a masterwork of sheer blinding creepy with a nightvision edge. It's right up there with any of the best, by any scale you care to apply.

The special features include English subtitles (which is good because the movie is entirely in Spanish with no English or any other language track), deleted and extended scenes, a collection of behind the scenes featurettes, a bit of tour footage and the Sitges Film Festival press conference, and trailers for Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, Quarantine 2, Insidious, Breaking Bad The Complete Third Season, and Rec.

All in all, this is magnificent stuff. Rec 2 is every inch the equal of its predecessor, and has me looking very, very much forward to how the third one turns out. It was well worth the wait, even if the wait was much too long.