One of my favorite indie vamp films gets a straight-to-SyFy sequel, and an indie zomcom tries to jam Halloween, zombies, and a ghost all into one plot. Was I left satisfied with either film? Let’s see….
STAKE LAND 2 (2016)
When writer/actor Nick Damici and writer/director Jim Mickle brought us the first Stake Land, it was before The Walking Dead had yet to become a cultural phenomenon about a bunch of survivors trying to navigate the terrain of a world overrun by flesh-hungry monsters.
Stake Land was essentially the same concept with gnarly, vicious vampires. Gory, freaky, and intensely dramatic, it was fresh and exciting. So I was psyched for the sequel. While it’s an entertaining and action-packed follow-up, not only is it pretty much more of the same, it also ends up feeling derivative of the numerous seasons of The Walking Dead we’ve already seen.
Our heroes from the first film reunite, are chased by religious crazies, face an evil vampire boss, and take refuge in an established community. Eventually, the community is infiltrated by the monsters.
There are plenty of those awesome vampires, but this film doesn’t have the frightening tone of the first film and even features some humor, making it much less a horror film and more the start of another horror themed series (one of the creepiest scenes happens when the young man is alone and faces a threat other than vampires). It’s a series I’d definitely watch, but just don’t expect the sequel to capture the tone of the first film.
It should also be noted that Jim Mickle, director/co-writer of the first film, is merely an executive producer of this sequel.
THE HALLOWEEN STORE ZOMBIE WEDDING MOVIE (2016)
The title alone had me expecting this would be a total ScareBearDan movie. Instead, I was completely let down! Believe me, I was thrilled to see it was actually shot in one of the Spirit Halloween Stores, which pop up only around October each year. But that novelty wasn’t enough to carry a farcical plot that didn’t quite deliver humor, scares, or cohesive story.
A guy takes a job at a Halloween shop – a shop that was once a prison – and works on Halloween night, when a couple is planning to get married there. After the store closes for the evening, a group of people gets locked inside. I waited a long time for something to actually happen as I watched a Halloween costume fashion show, customers being helped, characters walking around the shop talking and scaring each other with the inventory, and a ghost hunting show host telling tales of a cowboy killer once imprisoned there.
Suddenly (and way too late), there are zombies (pretty much in Spirit Halloween Store makeup) chasing everyone through the aisles.
Much like the many haunted attraction horror films that have flooded the market lately, The Halloween Store Zombie Wedding Movie puts all the weight of its horror atmosphere on its setting.
By the time a cowboy ghost showed up, I honestly had no idea what was going on. And by the time it was over, I wasn’t sure if anything that happened was supposed to be real or if I’d just watched a movie about a bunch of people goofing off at a Halloween store.