Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Video Bava: Changeling 2 (aka Until Death)

After the last two films from the Lamberto Bava quadrilogy of TV films, my expectations are not high.  (Demons 3:) The Ogre was terrible.  Graveyard Disturbance was a stupid film that makes no sense.  On the plus side, this film can't possibly be any worse...could it?  Well, I won't leave you in too much suspense here- this movie is not good.  It's not God awful, but it's not good.  If you want to see just how not good it is, read on further.  This movie is known by a couple different names, including Until Death and Changeling 2.  All of you film nerds will know this as the movie that shattered the working relationship between Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti.  For everyone else, Sacchetti was the man who wrote (at least partly) Beyond the Door II, City of the Living Dead and The Beyond.  In a nutshell, this film is a freaky, horror version of The Postman Always Rings Twice.  Of course, this one was made for TV, so there's really no violence, sex or nudity.  There is more freaky content than you might think, but still not that much.  Now that you expect almost nothing good, you're ready for the review.  Get out your maggot-covered meat for my review of...
The film begins with a couple driving out in the rain in a truck.  They stop in the woods and the man gets out.  The woman is pregnant, but goes out with him anyways.  As it turns out, the pair killed the woman's husband and are going to bury his body.  While the man goes back for a shovel, the corpse has one last bit of life in it and pulls off her earring.  This ends when the man returns and bludgeons the body to death...more.  The movie jumps ahead 8 years to show that life has gone on.  Yes, I'm sure that nothing interesting happened in the last 2,600+ days!  The kid who was the spawn of the woman and the dead man has weird dreams about a zombie rising from the water.  Never mind that the kid never actually met his father or anything.  The couple run a fishing company/bed and breakfast, since you can do that in small, Italian towns.  The woman shamelessly flirts with all of the men in the restaurant, a fact that she has no problems with.  What a loving relationship these two share!  The new-husband is suspicious because the town's only cop asks her if the dead-husband is still away.  Yes, now you pick the time to ask this!  One night, the couple's arguing/sex is interrupted by a man arriving in from the rain.  He rang just once, so that's not good news...
After staying for the night, the man quickly acquaints himself with the whole family.  Well, the husband still doesn't trust him.  How crazy of you not to trust the guy who came out of nowhere, knows things about your family and clearly has an ulterior motive!  The wife has flashes of seeing him as her husband, despite the fact that he's a dead-ringer for the guy from Supernatural and the husband was a dead-ringer for a young Michael Chiklis.  They're like twins!  The kid likes him because he fixes up the swing outside, since kids only need one action to decide everything.  The man works in the kitchen during lunch and gets the new-husband upset when the cop remarks that his cooking reminds him of the dead-husband's.  I know that you're not as clever as you think, movie!  The new-husband continues to be an abusive jerk, even going so far as to hit the wife on occasion.  He even forces the wife to have sex with him, although she does not complain about what he does- just how he does it.  On second thought, you guys deserve each other!  The film sort of meanders for a bit, so let's just move on.  The kid sees more visions, even seeing the zombie break through his wall.  That's cool, but it amounts to nothing.
As the film comes towards it conclusion, it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  We get more random flashes of the man as the dead-husband.  Hey, do you actually want to explain any of this?  The husband finally gets tired of this whole affair and leaves.  Oddly, the movie makes very little out of this.  When the woman tells the kid that the only father he's ever known has gone, he says 'good.'  Burn!  Speaking of burning, the house starts to burn down.  Yeah, don't ask me to explain it.  The ghost of her husband/the new guy taunts/scolds her for a bit.  It's confusing because the film alternates between showing the new guy, the dead husband and the new guy again.  By the way, he waits until after they have sex to scold/condemn her.  At one point, he goes to walk into the lake with the son in his arms.  The woman begs him not to...so he doesn't.  He threatens to kill her, but...doesn't.  Eventually, she exits the house and runs off with the son.  The End.
This movie just hurts.  I wish that this movie would have been good, but it's not.  The third time is usually the charm with things.  Evidently, that's not a universal rule.  The film has potential enough, but just meanders about for far too long.  I get that they were going for a Hitchcock-style tone here- they just fail.  If they had maintained a consistent approach to the whole thing, it might have worked.  Sadly, they pad the hell out of this movie with false events, dreams and other crap.  The make-up related to the zombie dreams is great and you can see the quality work of Bava here.  Unfortunately, the limitations of the story make this whole thing to be entirely pointless.  If the zombie had actually risen up and killed somebody, I could deal with all of this silliness- it doesn't.  The ending is a mess that just makes you wish that anything leading up to it had amounted to anything.  You tried way too hard in the end and not enough everywhere else, Lamberto.  If this had been a real film and not a made-for-TV debacle, it might have been something to see.  As it is, it's a big mess that takes too long to do, well nothing.  Here's hoping for luck when it comes to Dinner with a Vampire.  See you in October, film that will probably disappoint me like everything else.
Up next, our second Lambert film of September is just as weird as the last one.  Lambert plays a computer hacker, so all bets are off.  Stay tuned...

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