Friday, February 25, 2011

VHS For My Loss: Wicked Games (aka Truth or Dare 2)

Here's a treat for all of you Tim Ritter fans- all four of you.  After the 'success' of Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness, Ritter made this film.  Confusion abounds, however, as an IMDB search for Truth or Dare 2 brings up a 1995 film called Writer's Block.  Wrong movie.  Today's film is actually 1994's Wicked Games aka Truth or Dare 2.  If it helps you, Truth or Dare 3 is actually called Screaming For Sanity: Truth or Dare 3.  I don't think that will help most of you, huh?  So what is the plot?  A slew of new killings take place in Fort Pierce, Florida.  This happens to be the same place where Mike Strauber went crazy, put on a copper mask (hopefully after it cooled) and went on a killing spree.  For those who care, here is my review of that film.  Will it be more coherent than the last film or, dare I say it, not suck?  You really have to ask?  Get out your autograph book, because we're going to ask Chris Isaac about...
The film  begins with some long, opening credits.  This is followed by an awkward couple playing around in bed, accompanied by cheesy music and bad lighting.  After a few minutes of this, we get to the point when a man comes in with a gun.  This may seem familiar to those of you who have seen Truth or Dare- it is.  The difference here is that he...asks them to continue (under duress) and leaves.  He ends up at the home of his best friend- an old cop who is in to the 'kinky stuff.'  I didn't need that visual- thanks a lot!  Never mind the idea of a cop having a regular affair with a prostitute or anything.  Our mullet-sporting, main character is allowed to stay with the guy for a while while he gets back on his feet.  You see, the lady having sex was his wife- soon to be his ex-wife.  That night, he can't sleep and starts drinking.  Note to filmmakers: when you're doing 'day for night' inside, don't leave a window partly-open!  He has a weird, freak-out nightmare and hears the famous line 'do you want to play Truth or Dare?'  The vision of his friend commits suicide before the real one shows up to wake up our 'hero.'  A bit later, a couple go out for a picnic, but it turns sour when the idea of rape comes up.  The woman flees and a copper-masked killer takes out the man.  That's fine and dandy...until he garrotes her.
The cop immediately suspects that his friend is behind it, but this is based on very little.  The key reason: he's the cousin of Mike Straub, the killer from the original film.  Speaking of the guy, he has a few awkward scenes where he meets up with his soon-to-be-ex-wife and her new husband-to-be.  The point of these scenes is highly-questionable, especially given that the whole point of them is to show that he hates her.  Yeah, we already got that, movie!  We get some more victims as a brothel- cleverly disguised as the Producer's house- is attacked by the copper mask-wearing killer.  He takes out three of them, although one of them sketches a drawing of a head in her own blood.  Naturally, the cop sees this and figures that it's the copper mask-wearing killer.  Well, it is, but there's no way that you would know that based on that drawing!  It could be a guy wearing a cobalt mask, for all you know!  In addition to all that, the aimless film focuses on the prostitute from earlier as she goes to her therapist.  It's a weird scene and serves nearly no purpose, other than to show that she likes being hit.  Thanks for that, I suppose.  The cop confronts his 'friend' at what appears to be the park near my house, but that doesn't go well.
This only gets weirder before it ends, people!  Remember the prostitute?  She meets up with a 'john' at a hotel, but gets killed after the deed is done.  Thanks for skipping that part, but I could have gone without seeing the 'john' in his underwear before he dies too!  This really upsets the cop, but it's a bit hard for him to say why.  We get another random killing by the copper mask-wearing killer.  This time it's a lady sunbathing and he stabs her head into a water sprinkler, causing it to shoot out her blood.  Yeah, not so much.  The cop finally confronts his friend more dramatically, saying that he's going to bring him in.  The guy gets knocked out, however, and the guy just leaves.  In another random scene, we see the psychiatrist from earlier making out with a dummy.  Random!  The cop calls the psychologist and explains that they need to stop his friend before he finally kills the ex-wife and new lover.  They get stuck in traffic, however, allowing him to kill the couple with a torn soda can and bottle of suntan lotion, respectively- don't ask.  The man flees from the cop, but eventually gets found sometime later.  The psychologist shows up and we get the big reveal: they were all the killer- just at different points.  But wait- there's one more reveal: this whole film was the fantasy of Mike Straub, who sees his doctors as killers.  No, really.  The End.
Strike two!  The plot of this movie is both simple and confusing.  That's never a good sign in a movie.  On one hand, it's so obvious where it is all building up to.  We all know that 'fat Kenny Powers' is going to kill his lady and the new man.  On the other hand, the plot is so muddled with side characters and random kills that it's hard to find the time to care!  If they had just stuck with the original ending sequence, it might have helped a bit.  It's sort of a rip-off of '10 Little Indians,' but that story has been ripped off more than a tourist in Mexico!  The second ending they put on there just makes you want to punch someone.  On the bright side, I know Tim Ritter lives in the same state as I do, so he's probably not too hard to track down!  Congratulations, you went from ripping off '10 Little Indians' to ripping off The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari!  By the way, it's not as clever as you think.  It just makes you look sad.  The production values are barely worth nothing, given that the movie has a reported budget of $10,000.  Watch for the Extras in the scene where the masked man is being chased by a cop- they don't even flinch.  'That Tim Ritter is shooting his shitty movie on the beach again, mom!'  'Just ignore him, son- he does this every year.'  Is this better than the first film?  Well, it is more coherent (sort of), but it's hard to say.  As the poster for Alien vs. Predator says, 'whoever wins, we lose.'
Up next, I introduce a new series- Retro Trash.  In the introductory piece, we get an obscure, Hammer film about killer mud from the center of th Earth.  Stay tuned...

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