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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

Sometimes the Sequels are Better!


Jon Porter’s (Michael Gross) mother dies so he has to return to the small town where he grew up to bury her and get her affairs in order. He takes his teen daughter Michelle (Hilary Swank) with him, along with a memory full of ghosts. When he was a kid, his older sister starting dating a greaser/hood type guy and ended up going with him and his friends to an abandoned mine. Jon went there later to check up on her, only to find she was being sacrificed to Satan so these hoods could have eternal life! Through happenstance, he’s able to electrocute them to death before they can complete their ritual. Jon’s lived with this toxic memory his whole life, and now that he’s returned, these bad things that he’s repressed are returning, and pretty soon, he starts to see the greaser his sister was dating, walking around like nothing at all had happened. You guessed it: they came back and now they want to sacrifice Michelle to complete their ceremony, and only Jon can stop them!

Here is a rare case where I think the sequel is better than the original. Yeah, it’s just as dumb and silly but this movie embraces it more fully, and it certainly doesn’t try to get soft and heartwarming at the end. No, this is full-on satanic greasers looking to sacrifice an innocent to Satan and only a determined father stands in their way. It’s also definitely not made-for-TV like the original (there’s naked boobs early on and more later) so that probably helps up the horror ante and the blood quotient. Swank is decent in the movie, but she’s not really given a lot to do other than be helpless and scream (she must have forgotten all that karate training she got from Mr. Miyagi) and Gross is totally miscast but it somehow works. He has an honest sincerity that pushes back the suspension of disbelief when it comes to him being some sort of badass. Also, we get to watch him chop off his thumb, which is something I bet he never thought he’d ever do in a movie. The bad guys aren’t as colorful as the ones in the first film, but they do just fine. It doesn’t help that they get saddled with “demonic eye” contacts that look kind of silly. It also doesn’t help that the main guy gets a bunch of Freddy-like one-liners (“Need a hand?”) that would have fit perfectly a decade earlier (as would the gimmicky deaths) but at the time the movie came out…not so much. The 90s were a tough decade for horror, man. The 80s were still influencing them but people had gone beyond that; everything 80s felt clichéd and this film was caught in that drag of the years between Nightmare 6 and Scream, a true wasteland.

So there you go. This one nominally repeats the same Stephen King story again, taking the skeletal structure of it and placing new characters into it, and succeeds much more than the original adaptation itself. This is by no means a prized, forgotten classic, but it ain’t bad. If you need to spend some time on the couch just vegging and not engaging too hard and you want some horror, this one will do nicely. Still, in the end, it’s really only for the curious and for King movie completists.

★★✮☆





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