Video Violence 2
Dir. Gary P. Cohen (1988)
The killers from the original film now have their own pirate variety show, sending their snuff films (and ones from the viewers at home) out across the airwaves.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Video Violence shocked the indie market when it was released because of the intricacy and effectiveness of the special effects. However, the original film ended with the exact opposite of a cliffhanger: there really wasn’t anywhere else for the story, as it were, to go. Director Gary P. Cohen solved that problem easily, devoting the sequel to the further exploits of the killers themselves, creating a sequel that was a whole different beast to the original by giving the killers access to a pirate video station that plays snuff films created by the audience themselves while also indulging their own violent tendencies.
This one was funny, self-aware, and meta in a way that we wouldn’t see come to full fruition until Scream. It’s also far-and-away the best SOV film that I’ve ever seen, though, to be fair, that’s not saying a whole helluva lot. The action within isn’t completely realistic, as some of the setups don’t make as much sense from a found footage perspective, but that can largely be forgiven due to the fact that found footage films basically didn’t exist. What did exist, however, was ridiculous, Troma-level gore and comedy, and Video Violence 2 makes some of the best use of these elements of any film in history.
The gore was great, just like in the first film, and there are some parts of this film that became the seeds that produced the entire torture porn subgenre of horror. The killers (Howard and Eli) have lured a young actress to their set, keeping her unaware that they intend to torture her on camera for their adoring fans. The film features twist after twist, truly taking advantage of what limited tropes existed at the time and turning them completely on their heads. I was legitimately surprised by the ending of this film, as it was executed to near perfection and contained some truly brilliant sequences.
Some of the camera angles in the submitted tapes were unrealistic, to be sure, but this was a groundbreaking film in the found footage genre. The guts were there, they just hadn’t worked out all of the kinks that, to be fair, wouldn’t truly be fleshed out until a decade later with The Blair Witch Project. However, it’s easy to see how influential this film (and its predecessor) would be to the next generation of filmmakers, people who took the ideas that people like Cohen had established and ran with them. Being a forefather of both meta-horror and found footage, and truly carrying the banner of shot-on-video films in general, is a lot of acclaim for a relatively unknown film to have. Thankfully, with the release of Video Violence 1 and 2 by Terror Vision out of Savannah, Georgia, we can explore this film in exactly the way it was intended to be seen. There’s also a great documentary about the legacy of the film, as well as the arduous process of restoring it from the original prints. A great bonus feature for anyone interested in film production and the lasting impact of shot-on-video films from the era.
Who this movie is for: 80’s cheesy horror fans, Shot-on-video enthusiasts, Guerilla radio jockeys
Bottom line: Brutal gore, excellent comedy, and some of the best pre-2000’s torture porn makes Video Violence 2 a fantastic improvement over the original, and easily the best SOV film I’ve ever watched. I was truly impressed, and I think you will be too. This one is available in a limited edition 2-pack from Terror Vision, and you can even buy it straight from the Vinegar Syndrome website. The film has a legacy that has lasted for two generations, and it’s well-deserved: lots of fun and much better than it has any right to be.