Scary Tales 2 : The Return of Mr. Longfellow DVD Review
Written by Daniel Benson
DVD released by Disruptive Media
Directed by Michael Hoffman & Jason Daly
Written by Michael Hoffman, Jason Daly & Richard Cecere
2003, 88 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on August 16th, 2005
Jason Daly as Don Liefert
Joel D. Wynkoop as Mr. Longfellow
Bill Cassinelli as Dennis Frye
George Randol as Wesley King
Joe Estevez as The Desk Clerk
Jesse Furman as Frank Draven
Robert Z'Dar as Officer Cordell
After the events in the first Scary Tales movie, Mr Longfellow (Joel D. Wynkoop) has moved on from his bogus job placement agency to a new venture, to allow him to tell his fantastical tales. Welcome to "Mr. Longfellow's Used Car Lot".
A killer on the run, Don Liefert (Jason Daly), is having car trouble. As his vehicle is on its last legs he pulls into the worst possible used car dealer he could have picked. He wants to buy a car and get on his way, but each one has a story attached. And Mr. Longfellow is eager to tell the tales...
In "Charlie's Demons", a group of teens attends a remote cabin for a group therapy session with Dr. Wesley King. The cabin owner, Charlie, isn't too fussed about having people round his place and decides to persuade them to leave. With his axe.
A return of a familiar face in "Dennis Frye Vs. The Zombies". The jobless loser from the first installment of Scary Tales takes on his high school nemesis and his gang of bozos.
Finally, a thief fleeing with his haul makes an unscheduled stop at a strange motel in "7:23". The motel has a very special condition to let guests enter, but leaving is an altogether different story...
Now this is more like it. Whereas the original Scary Tales suffered from a lack of acting talent and budget, the sequel is much more like the kind of movie I was hoping for. Indeed, this is the movie that director Michael Hoffman wanted to make originally, but was held back by budgetary constraints. The wraparound story which connects the individual tales is much stronger than the original and it even has its own cruel twist to finish the movie.
The strong writing is still evident, with three excellent tales that entice the viewer and then hit them with a gut-punching twist at the end. When watching "Charlie's Demons", you can't help but think you've seen the story somewhere else, and if you've seen Identity (2003), you have. Carbon copy. So a tiny low-budget movie rips off a big Hollywood production, so what? Until you realise that "Charlie's Demons" was written, shot and screened over 12 months before the release of Identity. Rumour has it, that one of the guests at the screening was involved with the writing of the Hollywood feature. Food for thought...
Elsewhere in the movie, Hoffman has assembled a very decent cast bearing in mind his still relatively constrained budget. Jason Daly is a strong lead, really strong, and plays a good straight man opposite Joel D. Wynkoop's gloriously over the top Mr. Longfellow. The common thread between the stories is the character Wesley King (George Randol) who pops up in each segment looking, for the most part, like a painted mannequin but thankfully without a similarly wooden performance. Even Bill Cassinelli, reprising his role as Dennis Frye, is pretty good because each story and the wraparound doesn't rely on his lead.
Two actors carry the final, and for my money the best, segment "7:23". Jesse Furman is great as criminal Frank Draven, and reminded me of Ricardo Antonio Chavira (Carlos Solis from TV's "Desperate Housewives"). Even Robert Z'Dar, who I expected to be 'just that guy with the big face' pulls off the very believable Officer Cordell in the wraparound. The standout of the show, though, is Joe Estevez as the creepy motel desk clerk in "7:23", who never fails to make the viewer feel slightly uneasy.
For part two, Michael Hoffman has achieved amazing things with a budget which would barely pay for a day's catering on a Hollywood production. I mentioned in my review of Scary Tales that Disruptive Media will release both anthologies in a double disc package for $10.99 on 16th August 2005. Scary Tales 2 is worth this price alone, but to get the first movie and a bunch of extras is an absolute bargain. Look out for The Scary Tales Collection soon.
Video and Audio:
I'm not sure if this is a screener or a copy of the disc available from the Scary Tales website, but for the purposes of the review I'll treat it as a complete DVD. The picture is clear and sharp as would be expected of digital video. There are quite a few nighttime scenes and none of these suffer from any artifacts in the shadowy corners.
A D.D. 2.0 track accompanies the film. It is well balanced and clear, with all the dialogue being perfectly audible. The only slight let down is during the outdoor car lot scenes where Joel D. Wynkoop's lines appear to have been dubbed, presumably to remove overpowering background noise. There's also the option of a commentary track featuring, well, pretty much everyone that starred in the film.
This disc offers more extras than a Soho massage parlour. There's a featurette, similar to that which accompanies part one, where Michael Hoffman and various cast members present bloopers, alternate scenes and deleted sequences while explaining the reasons behind them. It works well as there is obviously great rapport between the team. Occasionally a cast member will wander into shot and trade insults with whomever is talking at the time, making for some amusing exchanges. There's also a trailer, a teaser, some deleted scenes with written introductions, a trailer for the first Scary Tales, cast filmographies and an on-set photo gallery.
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