Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge, on Shudder

Even if you don’t love horror movies, you have to respect the economics of the genre. A lot of trashy slashers that weren’t exactly massive hits still got sequels, because they were profitable. Arguably, the team behind the slightly-meta-anthology Scare Package stay true to their love for VHS horror by giving us a sequel. Of course, the main character, “Rad” Chad Buckley died at the end of the first film, but there are always ways around that. Regardless, the Jessie Kapowski, the final girl of the first film, must now survive Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge, which premieres tomorrow on Shudder.

In the first film, the constituent stories played out on the monitors of the Video Emporium, Rad Chad’s horror specialty video store, but the framing device eventually morphed into the final story. Buckley found himself trapped with Kapowski and a notorious serial killer in an underground research institution. She escaped with her life, but he was killed—or was he?

Everyone certainly assumes he is dead when they arrive for his funeral in the opening scene. True to form, he addresses his own funeral via videotape, much like Randy Meeks in
Scream 3. Then all heck breaks loose and Kapowski finds herself in a Saw-inspired survival game, along with Rad’s Chad’s friends and her mom (played by Night of the Comet’s Kelli Maroney, who brings some terrific attitude and comedic timing in a key scene). In between challenges, their Jigsaw-esque tormentor shows them VHS movies that we serve as the anthologized stories. Supposedly, these now represent the 1990s, but viewers will be forgiven if they can’t always tell the difference.

That shift to the nineties is important for Alexandra Barreto’s “Welcome to the 90s,” in which a serial killer starts killing the coeds residing in the “Final Girl” house instead of the hard-partying sorority sisters of the “Sure To Die [STD]” House next door. The premise is clever, but the hit-you-over-the-head execution is not as funny as you would hope, which is a frequent complaint with
Rad Chad’s Revenge.

The next installment, Anthony Cousins’ “The Night He Came Back Again Part VI: The Night She Came Back” is itself a sequel to the previous
Scare Package’s “The Night He Came Back Again Part IV: The Final Kill.”  It is probably the goriest segment of the film, gleefully leaning into the escalating illogical chaos of slasher sequels. The notion of a sequel within a sequel is quite sly, but slasher send-ups like this are starting to all look the same.

Jed Shepherd’s “Special Edition” holds early promise, fusing the tactile eeriness of analog media with persistent urban legends regarding the supposed ghost of
Three Men in a Baby, but the payoff does not live up to the promise of the set-up.

Maybe the most successful film-within-the-film is Rachele Wiggins’ “We’re So Dead,” because it is the least like any of the others. It starts out conspicuously evoking
Stand By Me, with a writer telling the story of how he and his friends once found a dead body. However, they decided to bring it back home, to reanimate it.

Scare Package II
works towards a big twist that completely alters viewers’ perception of the first film as well. That might be in keeping with the franchise’s chaotic spirit, but it will also annoy fans who really liked the first film. It is true you can never go wrong with 1980s nostalgia, but Part II keeps reminding us it has moved onto the 1990s. Unfortunately, Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge is not as funny as it thinks it is—but we can sure see it trying. Only recommended for subscribers willing to take the time and effort to cherry-pick “We’re So Dead,” Scare Package II starts streaming tomorrow (12/22) on Shudder.