Comedy, Horror, Slasher

Theatre of the Deranged II (2013)

Comments Off on Theatre of the Deranged II (2013) 04 September 2016

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Production Studio: Psykik Junky Pictures

Blu-Ray Distributed By: Troma Entertainment

Blu-ray Release: October 13, 2015

Director: Shane Ryan, Shawn Burkett, James Cullen Bressack, Christopher Leto, Dustin Mills, Eric Hollerbach

Rating: Not Rated

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

I’ll watch anything…including Theatre of the Deranged II

Before I jump into Theatre of the Deranged II, a five-film horror/comedy anthology film, allow me to introduce Troma Entertainment for those of you that haven’t encountered Lloyd Kaufman’s cinematic empire…

Troma is best known for The Toxic Avenger franchise. They have created a unique catalog of horror/comedy fare like Class of Nuke Em High, Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., Tromeo & Juliet, etc. In addition to the films Troma has created in-house, they also acquire films through their distribution wing. Theatre of the Deranged II falls into the “distributed” category, but even the films Troma acquires carry a similar tonality to their produced films.

Quality is an afterthought in the Tromaverse. The Toxic Avenger movies have never been “quality”. Tonally they’ve always been about cheap “politically incorrect” laughs, gratuitous violence, copious amounts of nudity, and sex. If you ever want to see a completely naked fat man rampage through a movie set, then may I recommend Terror Firmer? Terror Firmer also contains a graphic close-up of a dripping, prosthetic penis/vagina.

Did your stomach just flip over? Then Troma movies are not for you. For the rest of us weirdos, is Theatre of the Deranged II worthy of the Troma brand?

Film Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

TOTD2_1Yes, and no. Theatre of the Deranged II hits all of Lloyd Kaufman’s necessary check points for consideration. It includes nudity, violence, tries to offend, makes attempts at humor, and was self-financed by no-name directors making their first short films. However, this is less an anthology and more of a collection of random short films that are tonally and technically disjointed. At its best, you have a couple of films that are competent but mediocre. At its worst, you have films exhibiting the skill level and quality of sixth-graders with a camcorder.

Let’s talk about what works…

Anthology movies always require a cinematic mechanism to help lead the viewer from one story to the next. The most popular method is the use of a “horror host” like the Tales from the Crypt “Crypt Keeper” where the host leads the viewer through each entry. This is the device used for Theatre of the Deranged II and we are guided by these guys…

TOTD2_2Meet your host, Damien Shadows (the one with the black wig). Damien leads the audience through each film creating the singular thread tying the picture together. The reason it works is because we immediately know what’s in store, and it probably isn’t good. Although our filmmaking team is clearly trying to attempt a “so bad, it’s good” vibe, it just feels like a desperate attempt to convince the audience that the intention was always to make a shitty film. The question is do you buy it?

What also works? At least two of the five short films are okay. The editors have intelligently book-ended these films at positions 1 and 5 in the film chronology.

TOTD2_3Film number one is Tag (Director: Shane Ryan), a Japanese style horror film about a girl haunted by the memory (or spirit?) of her sister. The film is very brief and simple, but largely effective because of a moody atmosphere and an ethereal quality. Even the title Tag is well conceived, giving the film a subtext of a childhood game that has taken a very dark turn. Tag is easily the best film of the set and stands well apart from the rest. On its own merits I would give it 3.5 stars.

TOTD2_9The fifth film in the set is Plate Face (Director: Dustin Mills), a black & white “homage” to silent films with lust, rape, and murder. Oh boy! Again, the film is mostly successful as a cinematic narrative, making use of images, archetypes, and a classic tale of lustful desires gone horribly wrong. There isn’t a single line of dialogue which forces the director to tell his story without pointless exposition. Of the collection, Plate Face is devoid of the typical Troma trappings (nudity, gore, violence) and comes off as almost quaint compared to the rest. Yes, it deals with rape, but it is not graphic in any way, and the act is not without consequence. A 2.5 star short film.

My absolute favorite aspect of Theatre of the Deranged II is the opening a closing credits. They’re neat! Seriously though, the credits are the most polished and professionally assembled sequences of the entire thing. They’ve taken an old reel-to-reel educational film about reproduction and have laid that in the background of the titles. Problem is that the film footage is infinitely more interesting than the names and credits you’re supposed to be reading. Compound that with the fact that the educational film is more polished than the rest of the production and there’s a jarring disconnect to the rest of the film.

Now let’s talk about the bad…

TOTD2_4Everything else…  Seriously, the rest of the collection is amateur trash, but let’s go through the motions anyway. When I comment about these films feeling like a 6th grade home movie, I’m not just being glib. Insufficient lighting, poor composition, blurry focus, bad acting, noticeable film edits, in-camera audio capture, uninspired music, etc. Simply put, there is no film craft on display in the three middle films.

Film numero dos is Panty Raid (Director: Shawn Burkett). A psychopath attacks a sorority. Simple plot, perfect for an anthology film, right? This kind of movie, packaged in this product should be a slam dunk, but everything is wrong. The best thing about it is: boobs. But even the boobies aren’t properly lit or framed in the shot! Everything is so poorly executed that we would need to go into the history of film 101 to break down the essential problems.

TOTD2_5Film three: Unmimely Demise (Director: James Cullen Bressack) tells a very tongue-in-cheek tale of a jealous mime who murders his adulterous wife, returns from the dead years later, and uses his murderous mime powers to exact revenge against the people that slighted him. Technical merits are only slightly better than Panty Raid. I said slightly. There’s a valid attempt to make this more funny than horrifying, but the execution is so clunky that nothing works as intended. The biggest coup is the casting of porn star Sophie Dee who plays the wife. You get to see her boobs, but you can find more of that online, and for free.

TOTD2_8No we’re not done. There’s one more: My Aunt Is Coming To Town (Director: Christopher Leto). The fourth of five films has something about dead boyfriends, menstrual cycles, and a demon. My “Aunt” is coming to town… Get it?!?  Oh no! I should have said “spoilers” before I wrote that! Did I ruin the twist? The most notable thing about “Aunt” is a close-up of frothy, menstrual blood in a toilet. The rest is poorly acted and produced tedium.

Video & Audio Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

TOTD2_6There’s an image. It has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a resolution of 1080p, so technically it is high definition.

Sound came out of my speakers, so I heard when the people made noises from their mouths.

Honestly, there’s nothing here to really critique because it’s not really fair or appropriate to compare this to a polished Hollywood film. Tag is the only film with a professional look, while Plate Face plays to its strengths and masks its weaknesses. The rest of this is sourced from such lousy material that delving into it is an exercise in futility.

Extras Rating: ★☆☆☆☆TOTD2_7

Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman: This is a Troma tradition. Kaufman usually shoots a very cheap intro to set up the feature. Typically this feature force starts automatically before the film starts. It’s usually dumb and full of fart jokes.

Panty Raid

  1. Blooper Reel (3:40): “Bloopers”
  2. Audio Commentary with writer/director Shawn Burkett: To Burkett’s credit, he seems to understand that he is out of his depth. Panty Raid is only his second film, and it shows in both his discussion of it and final product. He covers a range of topics including what he was attempting to achieve, locations, the cast, the origin of the concept, composing the music, renting equipment, etc. What’s refreshing about the track is that the director seems down to Earth and doesn’t waste his time defending the picture like a pretentious prick. Instead he simply talks about how things are, hopes people like it, and admits to many learning lessons along the way.
  3. Trailer for Panty Raid (1:34)

Unmimely Demise

  1. Behind the Scenes (11:58): This is a home movie, not a “behind the scenes”. The first four minutes is spent with “douchey bros” f—ing around in the backyard, playing with toy guns, checking out DVDs, and buying snacks at a grocery store. The remaining eight minutes is unedited, unpolished footage of general production busyness.
  2. Trailer for Unmimely Demise (1:14)
  3. Slide show (0:45)

My Aunt Is Coming To Town

  1. Extra Footage (2:33): Scenes so shitty that they can’t be included into an already shitty film.

Tromaville Extras: This is probably the real reason Troma buys and releases this schlock. It’s another opportunity for them to promote all of their other titles. These extras have nothing to do with Theatre of the Deranged II.

  1. TroMoMA (11:40): NYC Museum of Modern Art honors Troma.
  2. The American Cinematheque Honors 40 Years of Troma (2:03): A promo reel. Nothing else.
  3. Radiation March (0:56)
  4. Lloyd Kaufman’s Anti-Bullying PSA (1:36)
  5. Troma Trailers
    1. Return To Nuke Em’ High: Vol 1
    2. Return To Nuke Em’ High: Vol 2
    3. Troma’s War
    4. The Toxic Avenger
    5. Pro-Wrestlers Vs. Zombies

Overall Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

TOTD2_10Setting aside the tragic technical handicaps of the picture, what’s missing most is…fun. Troma films like The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke Em High, and Terror Firmer are stupid movies, but they’re fun and entertaining escapism for the right audience. Theatre of the Deranged II isn’t particularly fun. It tries desperately to course correct with the Damien Shadows segments, but ultimately fails. Tag and Plate Face are worth checking out on their own merits, but it’s up to you whether you want to sit through the rest of the dreck.

There’s a part of me that is rooting for these filmmakers, but during the entire 91 minute runtime you are constantly reminded that you’re watching amateur hour. It’s like going to open mic night and watching an amateur comic bomb on stage.

Troma, to their credit, does attempt to give a voice and a platform for a certain brand of self-financed feature films. They apparently think Theatre of the Deranged II is good enough to make a buck or two off. I’m sure there’s an audience for Theatre of the Deranged II, but I surmise it is a very narrow audience. Very narrow.

Author

- who has written 67 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

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