Chromeskull: Laid To Rest 2
Director: Robert Hall

Cast: Nick Principe, Angelina Armani, Thomas Dekker
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Laid To Rest was a direct to DVD (or Blu-ray, if you prefer) slasher film from 2010. It had love for the old classic slashers of the ’80s, and to a lesser extent the ’90s, but it was a thoroughly modern movie, and that was probably for the best. Some new fright flicks try to cash in on the nostalgia horrorheads have for the masked maniac movies of yesteryear and say stuff like “this is so gonna be like those ’80s horror films you loved” but usually they fall far short of their empty promises. Laid To Rest was its own film from start to finish, and while it paid tribute to the slashers that came before it, it never ripped them off, or worse yet, mocked them. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, it wasn’t the next great horror movie that fright fans have been praying for, but it was a fun, bloody slasher flick. So naturally they had to make a sequel.

So was this second time out as good as the first, or was it like many sequels, and just a quick and dirty cash grab and not worth anyone’s time? Well grab your chromed-out skull mask and your ridiculously jagged knives and let’s get to it.

This film picks up exactly where the first one ended, with the two survivors driving away from the previous night’s slaughter, and the titular murder machine laid out and left for dead. The killer in these films does have a great, unique look and gets his moniker from a striking chrome skull mask he wears. He also videotapes his kills with a shoulder mounted camera, reminiscent of the famous Predator and the alien’s shoulder laser blaster. Anyway, when last we saw poor Mr. Skull, he had his face melted off with acid and was beaten with a baseball bat repeatedly over the head. So it was looking like that was it for Chromy, well unless his last name was Voorhees. But then enter a super-secret squad of people, naturally all dressed in black, who kill the cops on the scene and whisk Chromeskull away to the doctors to save his life and try, in vain, to repair his ruined face with a series of skin grafts.

And therein lies my biggest problem with this film: Chromskull’s virtual army of willing henchmen. When I first saw them in action, shades of the Cult of Thorn that all ruined the latter Halloween films filled my head. Then I thought they may be the even more silly “vast governmental conspiracy” a la the illuminate in the completely dreadful The Return Of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But then perhaps Mr. Skull was just some freaky rich guy, sort of like a psychotic Bill Gates? Worst of all, no explanation is ever given, not that any of them would really make any sense. All you get are people in black referring to “the organization” and calling Chromeskull “boss.” This includes a small part by modern scream queen Danielle Harris as the perfect personal assistant any psychopath could wish for, and Brian Austin Green as Skull’s right hand man, looking to replace his boss in the killing business. Bah, whatever, the whole thing was just stupid, stupid, stupid and completely unbelievable to the point that it actually aggravated me every time the army of sociopathic sycophants was on screen. I’d much rather have Chromeskull as the lone killer he was in the first film then some sort of Donald Trump type with a taste for slaughter.

The second thing about this movie that really got to me was just how dull and boring it was. While the first film was a nice bit of classic stalk and slash, here the two leads get kidnapped, dropped into a warehouse turned murder playground right out of a Saw film, and then a whole bunch of nothing happens for far too long until an unintentional funny ending where Chromeskull takes on up to three armed cops at a time with some knife-fu and wins. Sure there are a few kills sprinkled here and there, but such things are just gore candy and neither thrilling or terrifying in the least. But the vast majority of this film has policemen doing police things, Skull’s army of toadies doing the toady thing, and the pair of main victims whimpering, crying, and little else. Instead of building tension, all this beating around the bush accomplishes is to pad the runtime with tiresome tedium.

The highlight of this flick is easily the gore. This is where director Robert Hall really shines, but that’s only natural, as he got his start in the movie biz by doing special makeup effects. So the gorehounds will have a lot to howl about, but even some of these had the dread stink of silliness on them. Case in point, a young girl gets stabbed in the face, but only in the side of the face, that is the knife just pierces the flesh. The killer then rips the knife up, peeling the flesh off of left side of the woman’s head. Sure it’s gory as all get out, but it is in no way fatal, and yet she dies from it. Now I give slashers a lot of leeway when it comes to that sort of thing. Every time Michael Myers stabbed someone in the gut and they fell over dead, I never said anything, but this was just … yes you guessed it … silly. It’s gore for the sake of gore and nothing more. Oh and don’t get me started on the “sawing through a skull, lengthwise, with a knife” bit.

Now the new Blu-ray from Image did look great visually, and there were a nice collection of special features, but all the extras in the world could not make me like this boring, and unbelievable to the point of being stupid, film. Very rarely have I been so disappointed in a sequel and as such I just can’t recommend this film in the slightest.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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