Starring Jill Michelle, Daniel Lennox, Jessica Morris, Ricardo Gil, Jon-Paul Gates, James C. Burns, Mike Muscat, Rory Williamson
Directed by Charles Band
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Decadent Evil II has a bigger budget, more FX, and more decadence than the original film. I guess in that way it’s everything you could want a sequel to be. Somewhere in the writing process, though, they forgot to add in enough of the comedic elements that helped the original film be the dumb fun it was. Decadent Evil II isn’t anywhere close to straight horror, but it’s much too straight for a story as inherently dumb and recycled as this one is.
Our story picks up shortly after the events of Decadent Evil, with the vampire Sugar (Jill Michelle) and her human boyfriend Dex (Daniel Lennox) on the run with the caged homunculus Marvin in tow. Also along for the ride is the corpse of Phil Fondacaro’s character Ivan (played here by Ricardo Gil), stuffed into a suitcase. I guess being the corpse of a three-foot-tall vampire hunter has its benefits. Sugar and Dex are tracking down the elder vampire that will take the place of Morella (see DE1) as leader of the vampire bloodline, and their search has brought them to good ol’ Littlerock, AR. And where might this bloodthirsty fiend of the night be hiding his dusty bones? In a strip club, naturally.
The first film had a few scenes set in the strip club (the vampires were using the club to easily attract male victims), but Decadent Evil II is primarily set in the club. And this time there’s no shortage of nudity. It’s like Full Moon felt bad about the relatively small amount of skin in Decadent Evil, and who knows… maybe fans complained and they listened. In any case, if you enjoy strippers thrusting their asses at the camera, Decadent Evil II has a lot of that. It adds some unintentional humor to the film, too, as actresses Jessica Morris and Jill Michelle play strippers but look uncoordinated, stiff and awkward alongside the real working strippers. This is fine, I’m not expecting every woman to be able to unleash the kind of sexual energy and confidence necessary to be a stripper; it’s just funny how these actresses are positioned in roles where they are supposed to be the best girls of the club, but they are clearly far from it. And speaking of unintentional humor: Has anyone ever heard of a live band playing in a strip club? I haven’t, but there was one here (lip-synching badly, too) and it made me laugh heartily.
Oh, but who cares about all that? What is Marvin the homunculus doing? Well, he got himself a Hawaiian shirt, which made me laugh every time they cut to him. And they cut to him a lot. I know I said this one isn’t as funny as the first one, but in terms of homunculus time, I think I laughed more this time. The one time I didn’t laugh was the ending of the film, which, like many things in this movie, mirrors the original film. In the first film, Morella the vampire queen was transformed into a homunculus herself as a big fuck you from Marvin and Ivan, and she ends the film in Marvin’s cage with Marvin gleefully screwing her from behind. It’s an absurd little coda to the film, definitely offensive and sexist as all hell, but given the preceding events of the film it fits, it’s funny and it feels harmless. The ending to the second film, not so much. This time Marvin is forcibly raping a restrained human. I know they were going for humor, but instead of laughing I just felt dirty. There’s an inherent comedy in seeing two puppets going at it, but when one puppet is replaced by a tied-down screaming woman Full Moon is asking us to chase the joke off the cliff they just threw it from.
While I’m comparing things, I might as well mention another instance where Decadent Evil II shadows the first film. The sequel opens with Sugar and Dex carrying around Ivan’s corpse with the hope of resurrecting him with the elder vampire’s blood and some mumbo jumbo. This leaves Ivan out of most of the movie, but — spoiler alert — they do manage to bring him back for the last half-hour or so… exactly mirroring Phil Fondacaro’s appearance in the 2nd half of Decadent Evil. That time he was a vampire hunter, now he’s a vampire vampire hunter. Functionally different, but in terms of servicing the story and the action of the film, it’s exactly the same. What am I getting at? Take a good long while off between watching the two films, if you do intend to watch them; they’re much too similar to enjoy back to back.
Before I bow out, I do want to mention that Ricardo Gil does a great job filling in for Phil Fondacaro as Ivan. The character actually felt more believable because he wasn’t played by someone I knew well. Jill Michelle was also much improved from her smaller role in the first film, carrying the film as our vampire heroine with charm and grace.