After reviewing the first Cinemassacre DVD, Cinematic Catastrophes, when it was first released, I never reviewed the second or third volumes in the set because well, I just didn’t buy them. A recent sale on the ScrewAttack site was finally what it took for me to pick these up. I enjoyed the first volume well enough, so I went into Volume 2 feeling pretty positive, even if two movies sounded like an immense drop in content after the six that are featured on Volume 1.
The main feature here is The Jersey Odysseys: Legend of the Blue Hole. It’s a film that James Rolfe (do I really need to give the summary that he is the owner of Cinemassacre and the creator of The Angry Video Game Nerd?) did back in college, and it’s definitely a more serious piece from him than what many people may be used to. The premise is that our lead is interested in the supernatural and starts to look into a local legend known as the blue hole, based on a real Jersey legend. Supposedly, anyone who goes into this body of water never comes out. There are rumours that it’s bottomless, and that the Jersey Devil is active in the area, but nobody really knows what the deal is for sure. So this guy is going to get the bottom of this.
That’s about it for plot really; there isn’t a whole lot to say since I don’t want to get into what actually happens when he goes searching for the blue hole as that mystery is the primary reason to check this short film out. There is a love interest that clearly has the hots for this guy but he either is ridiculously oblivious or just doesn’t care. My personal favourite moment of the movie is when he tells her he’s going into the woods to find the blue hole, she asks if she can come along with him and he just says “nah I’m good” and immediately walks away from her. I’m not sure if this part was intended to be funny, but it certainly made me laugh.
The movie is a pretty entertaining watch, though likely not something you’ll return to after you know where the story is going. The acting is several notches above what you might expect from what is essentially a student film, the film is well shot, and the plot is intriguing since I had never heard of the real life blue hole myth before. The middle is a little slow since it’s primarily the main character wandering around the woods by himself, but the ending is pretty solid. Again you always have to keep in mind that this is not a professionally made product, but it’s a well put together piece and it made for an interesting watch. It’s just, as mentioned, nothing I’ll likely be revisiting, at least not for a while.
Legend of the Blue Hole was originally meant to be the first installment in an ongoing Twilight Zone-esque series that would focus on a variety of legends about the Jersey area. I believe this was abandoned as this was right around the time that the Angry Video Game Nerd really started to take off and become a huge success. It’s kind of too bad because the idea has some potential to make for an interesting series. Whether or not Rolfe gets a chance to actually revisit this series remains to be seen, but the one episode we got is at the very least worth a one-time viewing.
There are some bonus features specific to Legend of the Blue Hole. There’s a solo commentary with Rolfe that was recorded not long after the film was initially put together back in 2004. I think I’ve mentioned before that I always enjoy listening to him talk about film, whether its movies he made or not, and this is no exception. Hearing how everything came together makes for a good listen, though I do wish there was an additional commentary recorded for the DVD that was a retrospective look back on the film. The other bonus features for this movie include a trailer, and an alternate opening and ending that really play up the whole Twilight Zone angle.
This DVD also contains a bonus film called The Head Incident. I was less into this one and can see why it was not highlighted as the feature film on this disc. The core plot is about a guy who is in a mental institution (clearly just someone’s house) and tells the story of how exactly he ended up there. Turns out he and a friend (played by Rolfe, who also plays one of the doctors) were being haunted by a floating ventriloquist’s dummy head that is seemingly controlled by a man who is dressed entirely in black. It’s a pretty creepy idea, and there are a couple moments that manage to be a little unsettling, but there a lot of missteps along the way, something that even Rolfe openly admits.
The main problem is that the two main characters are played for comedy which is in direct contrast of what the rest of the movie seems to be going for. They’re such broad characterisations, bordering on cartoonish, that it starts to become tricky to take anything happening around them seriously. It also doesn’t help matters that the characters themselves aren’t very funny. They’re just stoner metalheads who talk like they’re high and put “man” at the end of pretty much all their sentences. It’s kind of irritating actually.
The other problem with the movie is that it’s far too long, clocking in at 51 minutes. There’s just not enough happening here to sustain that length so it tends to drag quite often. This is never truer than during the middle stretch where the two leads go searching for the head. They just wander around, then fight the head, wander around, fight the head….which sounds awesome actually now that I’m writing it down but it’s really just dull.
This is clearly an early effort from Rolfe as the video quality isn’t the greatest, especially during the flashback sequence (which takes up a large percentage of the running time) where things are so grainy that it’s often hard to tell what is even going on. It’s easy enough to look past this considering this is just a group of people making a video for fun, but it’s still something I felt I should mention.
The Head Incident is an interesting inclusion, but I can certainly see why it’s more or less considered a bonus feature on this DVD. It has an interesting core idea but the execution is flawed, with long stretches of nothing and two irritating central characters. It was worth the watch, but it’s nothing I would revisit.
There’s also some bonus content that is specific to The Head Incident, most of which is far more interesting than the film itself. There’s a 10 year retrospective, where Rolfe looks back at the film and discusses the many changes he would make were he to remake the film (a move I would fully support). There’s also some bonus features that were recorded during the original production, such as some commentary clips, a look at the various equipment used in the movie, and a handful of cast interviews. I’m always fascinated listening to Rolfe talk about how he puts his films together so what’s here is interesting, I just wish there was more of it.
Although this DVD made for an interesting enough watch, I would say Volume 1 is still your best bet. Here you only get the two films, one of which is not too good. The bonus features are solid and do add some extra incentive here, but this is the kind of DVD you watch once and likely never return to. If you’re a fan of James Rolfe it’s worth a look but beyond that I can’t give it a huge recommendation.