Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Abducted II: The Reunion (1994)

... aka: Abducted 2

Directed by:
Boon Collins

Abducted II just happened to roll its way into my VCR at the right time. It has quite a few impossible-to-believe and/or silly sequences, but after sitting through too-numerous-to-mention lame 'erotic horror' efforts from the 1990s, this low-budget thriller ended up being surprisingly fun and entertaining; an all-around breath of fresh air. Basically, it was nice to see a contemporary 'B' picture that cuts out the tiresome ten-minute slow-mo sex scenes in favor of action, story, scenery and character. This one delivers pretty much what exploitation fans want to see (possibly more), and much in restraint to genre demands; meaning there's violence, but not too much; T&A, but not too much, etc. Nothing really crowds out or takes too much time away from the story, which is rare in one of these films. And the story is actually very workable, fast-paced, action packed and energetic. It's a follow-up to ABDUCTED, a pretty obscure and seldom-discussed 1986 film from the same director, which featured Lawrence King-Phillips as Vern; a grizzled, bearded backwoods madman in animal skins who kidnaps a jogger and plots to make his new captive his wife. At the end of that film, Vern was killed by his own estranged father (Dan Haggerty). Or so he thought.

This sequel (set many years after the first) finds three former college chums; busty, pouty Italian babe Maria (Raquel Bianca), reserved red-head divorcée Sharon (Debbie Rochon) and tough blonde Ingrid (Donna Jason), reuniting for a nature trip in a secluded Canadian national park. After a quick stop at a general store for a quick chat with the owner (Jan-Michael Vincent), the girls hike to a lake, camp out for the night, share stories and drink, but their fun (and a strong hint that Maria and Ingrid are really lesbian lovers, a side-plot that incidentally goes nowhere and is curiously dropped altogether) is short-lived and in come the horror film trappings. Vern (King-Phillips again) comes crawling out of the woods in a horned animal mask, kills a voyeuristic male camper staying nearby, assaults the ladies, ties them to a tree and then informs them he's still actively searching for a wife. After doing some animalistic mating dance and looking the three lovely ladies over, he can't quite decide and figures, what the hell, he'll just take all three of them fillies back to his cave home.

The girls are tied together in a chain and are yanked through the woods when Vern decides to stop so the ladies can strip and show him what they got. However, Vern doesn't know that Ingrid is a black-belt, so she turns the tables on him, karate kicks him, does some back flips and escapes. Vern just shrugs and continues on with the other two. Then we get a hilarious She-Rambo sequence where Ingrid (dressed in spandex pants and a sports bra) ties a wet bandanna around her head, camouflages herself with mud and tree limbs, carves a home-made spear out of a branch and then heads out to save her pals. She ends up catching up to them on a rope bridge and nails Vern with a spear. He and Maria tumble into the rapids and wash far down the shore. Wimpy Sharon (whom Vern deemed "damaged goods" for having been previously married) wants to go get help, but Ingrid insists they don't have the time and have to save Maria on their own. Vern and Maria end up making it back to the cave, where she tries to keep him from raping her by becoming his friend and assuring him women like it "tender and gentle." He makes her take off her "city clothes" and wear an animal rag. She relates an out-of-place, but brief, sex flashback. Ingrid and Sharon continue to trample through the woods. Meanwhile, Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty (as the same character from the first film), reluctantly guides brutish Vincent (whose pastime is big game hunting) around in a helicopter so he can hunt down a white ram for his trophy room. Everyone converges to lock horns at a finale where all the guys end up seriously injured or dead as the ladies resort to their primitive animal instincts to survive.

Filmed on picturesque Vancouver Island, Canada, this has the occasional badly-matched stock shot of a wild animal lurking about, but the cinematography is pretty good and the location work (around forests of mossy trees, waterfalls, rock cliff, etc.) is great. There's always something to look at it. A decapitated sheep head rolling down a hill is a pretty memorably odd sight, anyway. The acting isn't Oscar caliber (not that this film requires it), but it's surprisingly good nonetheless. No one walks through their role. King Phillips is effective as the ranting madman and makes a grand entrance, Jason (a real-life martial arts champ) is great, Haggerty and Bianca are both fine and hell, even Vincent (looking a little less haggard than usual for this time) is watchable. After you get over the initial shock of seeing Rochon as a weak-whiny character here, you'll see she can also be believable as a more conservative member of society... Conservative that is until she gets desperate for help and rips her top off to try to get the attention of a helicopter. And conservative until she gets fired-up at the very end and... Well, I won't ruin the end but to say Debbie gets the single best line in the film and it's well worth waiting for.

Despite some minor debits, the cast, director (who co-scripted with Lindsay Bourne with a fun feminist slant) and production people respect their audience and get higher marks for good will, meaning I'm cutting this some slack in the grading department. The DVD release - just a transfer from the video version - was from Front Row Entertainment.


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