The Collection (2012) – Marcus Dunstan

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When we hear the word ‘sequel’ it instantly conjures up a certain feeling- like the one we get when we hear ‘remake’  or ‘Hitler’ but marginally less unpleasant. The reason for this is pretty simple. When a sequel is made, it’s generally something that was planned after the original film was written, filmed, released, and had some commercial success. So there are different motives for making a sequel than there are for making the original. And that basically boils down to “I want to tell a great story” vs. “I know an easy way to cash in on that story I told 2 years ago.” There’s nothing wrong with that-it’s the American Dream. But all too often, we see sequels just basically telling us the same story again. And to make up for the lack of originality, they crank up all the non-essentials, leading to a film that’s top-heavy. All sizzle, no steak, as they say.

Marcus Dunstan’s 2012, The Collection (follow-up to 2009’s The Collector) falls into this typical sequel trap. That’s not to say it was a bad movie (but it might be), I’m just saying it feels very sequel-y. In the first film, we had about 10 deaths, while this one has closer to 200. There’s an unexplained 2-3 minute dance party/techno music scene (think: the underground dance scene in the second Matrix movie) that contributes exactly nothing to the story. We get to see into the Collector’s lair, or his headquarters or whatever. It turns out to be an enormous hotel/mad science lab/elaborate Saw trap. Everything is so over the top like this, that it starts pulling you out of the realm of reality, in which we were firmly planted in the original.

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(Warning: Minor spoiler to the end of the original film)

The Collection picks up a short time after the first film ended. Arkin (our hero) is still trapped in the box. Though he’s been moved (ostensibly, to the Collector’s hideout and then) to a back room in a secret underground dance club. We hear news reports that this guy has been very busy slicing, dicing and kidnapping people. Our new co-main character, Elena, happens to this dance club. The collector has rigged up some industrial farming equipment with spinning blades (google “combine harvester”) to mass murder all the ecstasy-fueled dancers. Elena is the sole survivor, Arkin escapes and the Collector takes Elena back to his hideout.

Arkin, the only person who knows where the collector lives, teams up with some mercenaries, hired by Elena’s father, and they go to save her. At this point the movie turns into a gory/torturey survival horror movie much like Saw II. The badass mercenaries get picked off one by one as they stumble through the trap-infested maze that is the Collector’s lab. There are all sorts of human experiments and bodies everywhere. Razor wire and spring loaded traps in every room. Empty elevator shafts while piles of dismembered body parts and pools of blood. Drugged up experiment victims/zombies that attack the good guys…basically the most hostile environment imaginable. Everything is very predictable and you can probably guess the ending.

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I had two main problems with the film. The biggest was the lack of real character development. I loved the first movie because you get into Arkin’s head. You sympathize with and root for him immediately even though he’s a criminal. In this movie, we get exactly 0 development for him. In fact, he comes off as kindof a pussy. Everyone else in the movie was just a walking cliché. Elena is the closest to a real person. There’s a half-hearted attempt at some pathos/backstory that never gets followed up on. But then she rips apart her bra and MacGyvers the underwire into a hook/flimsy pretext to have her nips poking out for the rest of the film.

The other thing that bugged me was the sheer amount of work that it would take for the Collector to actually be able to build, maintain and operate this whole carnival of death/science lab from hell. The logistics are mindboggling. Where does he find the time? And the energy? This dude is somehow able to set up house after house after house into elaborate murder traps, kill everyone but one sole survivor, then take that survivor to his lair and do experiments on them. He’s got to have a degree in mechanical engineering, and some sort of human medical degree, and he’s also a licensed etymologist (this final fact is all but irrelevant in this film).

Anyway, the verdict is, it was a fun, but forgettable sequel to a great movie. They should have kept it a little closer to reality and focused more on the characters. Like, why don’t we know anything about the Collector himself? Don’t worry, they left the door wide open for “The Collection Agency: Dunstan’s Credit Cards are Past-Due so He’s Making Another Movie”

  1. Is it scary? 3You’re too distracted by the lack of logical progression to be scared. It turned out to be more of an action movie than a straight horror.
  2. Originality: 4– The Collector’s bachelor pad was definitely worth some points here. But the movie falls flat in terms of being anything we’ve never seen before.
  3. Blood: 8– From start to finish, there’s blood shooting across the screen. Incomplete medical experiments and body parts all over the place. The dance club massacre scene was pretty perfect to set the mood.
  4. Believability: 4The whole thing felt like a cheesy 90’s movie that they’d show on basic cable on a Saturday afternoon (anything with Van Dam or Steven Seagal). Cookie cutter action and violence. Clichés on top of clichés.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6– They definitely did some cool things with light and shadows. The torture chamber setting was certainly effective, albeit heavy handed.                                                                                                                        

Final Score: 25/50

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – Tommy Lee Wallace

Imagine being a little kid and walking down to the ice cream shop and buying a big triple-scoop chocolate ice cream cone. As you’re eating that first scoop it’s so good. It’s one of the scariest scoops of ice cream of all times. Then you get to the second scoop and it’s really good too. A little fancier than the first scoop but it’s still pretty scary. Then you get to the third scoop. And you’re expecting it to be so good because the first ones were so scary and good. But there’s a problem, it’s not good; Its awful. When you bite into it, all you can taste is Satan’s butthole. It just tastes like ass and disappointment. Then you look down it’s actually a big scoop of horse shit.

That awkward and drawn-out metaphor represents my feelings on the first three Halloween movies. The third installment, Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1982 Halloween III: Season of the Witch (which is a misleading title; there’s nothing about witches in this movie whatsoever) is offensive to me as a horror fan, and as a human being. Its existence makes the world a worse place to live. Halloween III is like breaking into the Louvre, setting the Mona Lisa on fire with a fart and a lighter, and then putting it out by jerking off onto it. This isn’t even an exaggeration, in fact, it’s an understatement.

Now, I’m sure you’re saying, “Ok, take it easy, it can’t be that bad can it?” Yes it can. Let me run through the plot for you. WARNING, this review contains spoilers: If it deters you from watching the movie, good. You’re better off.

The main character is Daniel, a divorced, borderline-alcoholic, father who continually shirks his fatherly duties to drink and follow young girls around to solve mysteries. Think Al Bundy meets Scooby Doo. He looks like Tom Selleck’s stunt double with a beer belly. Ok so he’s a doctor and he’s working late at the hospital when a dude comes in rambling and screaming and holding a rubber Halloween mask. While the dude is sleeping another man in a suit comes in and kills him then runs to his car, dumps gasoline on himself and sets himself on fire. Dr. Daniel starts investigating and teams up with the dead patient’s hot daughter to go to the factory where the mask was made to ask some questions.

The mask company is called Silver Shamrock (perfect for Halloween, right?) and the whole town Irish (there’s almost certainly some racism here) and everyone works for the factory in one way or another. After banging, Dr. Dan and his underage girlfriend find out that there’s something sinister going on at the factory. They find out that the company is using a stolen slab of Stonehenge to put a curse on the Halloween masks in an attempt to kill all the children in the world (That’s right, they stole one of the enormous boulders and brought it from England to Los Angeles without anyone knowing) (If you’ve ever seen This is Spinal Tap and you remember the Stonehenge song with the midgets, you will get a laugh out of this scene). When the kids are wearing the masks and they watch the Silver Shamrock commercial, their faces sort of melt into a pulsating swarm of insects, worms, and poisonous snakes which then bite and kill anyone else around them.

Dr. Dan figures out the plan and calls the television company and gets them to remove the commercials just in the nick of time—Except for one remaining channel. The movie ends and cuts to black with Daniel screaming into the phone because the commercial is till running. They leave you wondering if the commercial stayed on the air and all those kids got their faces melted off. All I could think about was how lucky those face melted kids would be that they never had a chance to see this movie.

Ok. So besides the awful plot, it’s not even scary. Like not even a little bit. Once I saw a little girl pull her tricycle into a patch of dandelions and pick one and blow the little seeds into the air. That was scarier than this movie. Also, how can you follow up an awesome, bloody and gruesome slasher movie with this subtly racist-sci-fi suck fest and not even have it be that bloody. There was almost no blood. It would be rated PG if it weren’t for one scene where a homeless guy gets his head ripped off in a dark ally. You can’t even really see it. If I had a three year old kid and he was being an asshole, I would make him watch this as a punishment and not worry that he’d have trouble sleeping.

One last thing. The music. The Halloween theme music is among the most iconic music in any horror movie (with the exception of Jaws and maybe The Exorcist.) This movie had one of the most irritating and out-of-place songs ever. The jingle for the Silver Shamrock commercial:

(To the tune of London Bridge in a squeaky child’s voice)

3 more days till Halloween

Halloween

Halloween

3 more days till Halloween

Silver Shamrock

If you’ve ever seen this movie, that song was probably stuck in your head for at least a week. I’d rather listen to Nickelback sing their entire catalog a capella while getting dental surgery than hear this song one more time.

  1. Is it Scary: 1- No. It was boring and overly complicated.
  2. Originality: 4- I guess there are some points to be had here. This has to be somewhat original. You’d never copy it and claim it to be your own.  But it still felt distinctly 80’s.
  3. Blood: 2- There was one cool scene that I mentioned earlier and the rest of the movie was intentionally dry. At one point, a guy drills into a lady’s skull with a power drill, but he gets in the way so you can’t see anything. Lame
  4. Believability: 1- None of this movie makes any sense. The characters do weird things that are not explained. Some of the dialog between Dr. Dan and his little friend sounds like the set up to a bad porno movie.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 3: Creepy old factory, deserted creepy town, dark alleys. Credit where credit was due. This movie was solidly mediocre in terms of looks.

Final Score 11/50