“Cindy, this is a skeleton, this is bones! Would you run from Calista Flockhart?
The quote above is from one of my favorite scenes in Scary Movie 2. A reanimated skeleton stalks Cindy (Anna Faris) through the halls. She runs into Brenda (Regina Hall) and begs her to help. Brenda looks down the hall and sees it is just a skeleton. She kicks its ass and rearranges the bones to humiliate it. The problem is the Calista Flockhart reference. She might have been a cultural icon in the late 90s, but she’s been off the map for over a decade. The shelf life of pop culture parodies like Scary Movie 2 is very short.
The original Scary Movie lampooned Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer films. This served as an interesting experiment because the movies it parodied were in on their own meta joke and were borderline parodies themselves. Scary Movie stayed focused on the films it was parodying and actually had something of a plot. The cast was goofy and the jokes so vulgar and over the top that it proved a hit for Miramax. So the Weinsteins strong armed the Wayans into rushing a sequel out less than a year later.
In the sequel many of the original cast members return (apparently from the dead as they were killed off in the original) including Ray (Shawn Wayans), and Shorty (Marlon Wayans). They are gathered to spend the night in a haunted mansion as part of an experiment conducted by the Professor (Tim Curry) and his wheelchair bound assistant, Dwight (David Cross).
Scary Movie 2 starts off with the right idea and riffs on iconic supernatural horror movies like The Exorcist, The Legend of Hell House, Poltergeist and Jan De Bont’s remake of The Haunting. Soon, however, the seven screenwriters it took to write Scary Movie 2 run out of horror genre spoof ideas. This everything including the kitchen sink style of humor takes on contemporary pop culture staples, commercials and completely irrelevant movies like Charlie’s Angels, Mission Impossible 2, Dirty Harry, Hannibal, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix. There is even an extended Nike commercial spoof with cast members dribbling a basketball to the beat of Stomp. At the time, when the commercial was still ubiquitous on TV this gag was dated; now it just feels awkward. I had to strain to remember what they were parodying.
Shawn and Marlon grow tiring very quickly. Tim Curry is not given anything to do but come off incredibly creepy (the lecherous kind of creepy not the scary kind). The great David Cross is wasted entirely. Andy Richter gets to yell the “N” word a lot. The cameos are amusing, but lack any real spark. Interestingly enough, Tori Spelling’s character Alex Monday was originally one of the leads and in over ¾ of the movie, but she refused to do her ghost sex scene topless so her part was cut down to a cameo.
Reportedly Miramax tried to get Charlton Heston to play Father McFeely in The Exorcist teaser parody that opens the movie, but he refused. Then they paid Marlon Brando $1 million to play the part. He took the money and accepted the role, but claimed to get pneumonia a few days before shooting his scenes. Brando dropped out of the project, but was still allowed to keep the money, and was replaced by James Woods whose portrayal of Father McFeely is just gross; although he does get one of the best laughs with his “f*ck this” reaction to the possessed girl.
The MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1 is muddy and flat and runs an average 19 Mbps. The blacks are so crushed at times it’s hard to make out the action. Colors are soft and dull with the exception of some close ups. The film is in surprisingly bad shape for a movie that is only a little over ten years old showing a great deal of minor damage including black specks, white flecks and other dirt marring the image. It suffers from some minor digital scrubbing to remove noise and edge enhancement and ends up looking more like a standard definition upconvert than a true high definition disc.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is actually pretty good. Being a haunted house movie, there are some notably immersive surround effects. Dynamic range is alright and the subs do have some kick during various action and suspense sequences. Balance isn’t bad, but effects and soundtrack can sometimes overpower other elements, but for the most part the dialog is clean and sharp.
All of the extras are presented in standard definition with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and no subtitle options.
“Behind the Scenes” Featurette (SD, 8 min) – This is a standard behind-the-scenes EPK promotional piece offering interviews with the cast and crew, and on-set footage.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (SD, 44 min) – Twenty two deleted and alternate scenes, including three alternate endings. These scenes actually are pretty funny and many add back story and lend support to the plot. I was surprised most of them were cut. I preferred the first alternate ending to the one used in the movie.
Special Effects Tour (SD, 6 min) – We are treated to a tour of the special effects which are complicated and pretty good for a low budget comedy.
“Here Kitty, Kitty” Featurette (SD, 2 min) – Meet the various animatronics kitties that were used in the kitten fight scene. Oh kitty witty.
“Scary Effects” Featurette (SD, 2 min) – More behind-the-scenes FX footage.
“Behind the Makeup” Featurette (SD, 4 min) – Discover the makeup secrets behind the production.
If your expectations are for a low brow comedy you will get what you hope for. I did laugh and enjoyed the spoofs and trivial references. Once again Anna Faris is the heart of the movie and somehow her charm carries her every scene. In the spirit of full disclosure I enjoyed Scary Movie very much. If you loved that movie you’ll like the sequel, if you didn’t, you will probably hate Scary Movie 2. Not the epic fail that Epic Movie and its lot are, but still junk food cinema, enjoyable, but not satisfying.