Scene 26: Our two Scoobies return to the scene of Perry's impaling, where Rick is just now concerned with actually looking at the "frayed" rope, discovering it was deliberately cut.
We're as shocked as he and Photography Guy, I'm sure, to find that Perry's 'accident' wasn't one at all!
Commentary: Rick and Photography Guy stare into each other's eyes over the revelation of murder, but alas, my slash needs are not fulfilled.
Rick asks after Raul, as he might have seen who shoved Raul's Girlfriend into the Iron Maiden... the fact that he is probably the murderer or dead himself isn't noted. He gives Photography Guy the keys to his car and sends him to escape and bring back the police... FINALLY - the authorities are mentioned!
The two men seperate, never giving voice to their mutual longing. Photography Guy points out that Rick and everyone else is in danger, but Rick won't leave with him. He wants to find Raul to see if he has any evidence (rather than say, gather everybody into a group and then run for the exit), which I guess he thinks Raul is just sitting on somewhere while his girlfriend was being loaded into the Iron Maiden. Rick is a bit thick. After Photography Guy leaves him, Rick explores a book and some papers on the table nearby.
Commentary: Now, let's take another look: Rick wants to find Raul to see if he saw anything while his girlfriend is being murdered. He doesn't even question that Raul is not the killer. He doesn't wonder where Raul was when his girlfriend was stuffed into the Iron Maiden, nor wonder if logically, he was with her and therefore now dead, too. He doesn't immediately go for the 'greatest safety in numbers' plan, but starts Scooby-Dooing for Raul's location. He does this by checking out random book and papers on a table... because...?
Oh, Rick. I have a feeling this is our hero and that makes me sad.
Scene 27: In the meantime, Photography Guy makes a dash for the front door. At the same time, Rick has returned to Poofy-Haired Blonde and Other Brunette's room, where Business Suit is also waiting. He puts up a pretense of having a new cover idea to get Business Suit Guy away from the girls. He informs him of Raul's Girlfriend's murder.
Business Suit Guy is instructed to stay with the girls, while Rick goes off to 'look around', rather than say, get everyone together and get the hell out of there. Rick also tells him that Photography Guy is on his way to fetch the police.
Scene 28: Rick comes out into the corridor to see The Crimson Executioner at the end of the hallway. As he's thinking, WTF, the guy turns and walks away. Rick goes off in pursuit. He loses sight on him in the corridor leading to Anderson's suite. He goes through a door, but is confronted by one of the beefy servants. Rick demands to see Anderson immediately. Henchman objects, so Rick slugs him, knocking him out.
Within the suite, he doesn't find Anderson, but does find Blank Faced Final Girl. She was apparently snooping around for reasons unknown. She reports that she has found something weird.
Final Girl shows him a portrait of herself hidden behind a screen on the wall. Rick states that she must already know Anderson, then, despite his previous claims otherwise and she tells him that she did know him. She tells him Travis' name, which he recognizes as an actor who disappeared some point prior that made the headlines.
Final Girl reports that she was involved with Travis, when he suddenly vanished without a word. She tells Rick that he was always a strange sort, and she thought she recognized his voice when they met him on the landing above the entryway. With her photo, she's now sure that he is Travis Anderson and wants to try to speak to him to find out what he's doing here and what happened to make him disappear on her the way he had.
Rick, wisely, puts the kibosh on that idea, but doesn't yet tell her that Perry's accident wasn't, or that Raul's Girlfriend is dead. Instead he asks after Perry's Girlfriend, insisting that they go and collect her and return to the others. As they head in the general direction of the guest rooms, they hear Perry's Girlfriend making some really weird... I don't know what... maybe it's supposed to be whimpering or sobbing.
Scene 29: The two end up tracking down Perry's Girlfriend's cries and open a set of double doors. Within they find the distraut woman tied into the most ludicrous death trap ever.
Perry's Girlfriend insists to Rick that he not try to rescue her, insisting that she's already doomed and he'll get killed if he doesn't leave her to her mechanical puppet spider fate. Rick looks like he can't quite believe he's seeing this ridiculous trap, which is hard to not sympathize with. Blank Faced Final Girl continues to be Blank Faced.
Perry's Girlfriend helpfully expositions everything we need to know about the death trap room, since it all looks so silly, we wouldn't know otherwise how hopeless it all is for her. Each strand of "web" is a wire attached to arrows in the walls. Pull one wire and all of the arrows fire, killing anyone in the way. She, in the meanwhile, gets to hang out and wait for the mechanical spider to reach her with its claw, which have been dipped in a highly toxic poison.
Rick, being the hero, gets down on the floor and tries to make his way to Perry's Girlfriend, anyway. Blank Faced Final Girl manages to get an expression, but then she tries to emote and it comes across utterly flat.
Perry's Girlfriend begs Rick to stop and go back.
He nearly triggers the arrow trap when his sweater button gets caught on a wire, but Final Girl manages to overcome her inherent apathy to exclaim a warning that actually sounds like she's afraid for him. He unhooks himself and continues toward Perry's Girlfriend.
Perry's Girlfriend continues to insist it's all over for her and he's wasting his effort and life trying to rescue her. She somehow manages to not laugh herself to death before the wretched looking spider toy reaches her.
Rick makes it to the otherside, but is ju-u-u-ust a bit too slow. Perry's Girlfriend gets scraped by the spider claws and poisoned. Blank Faced Final Girl manages to shake and look terrified for a few moments there, but seems far more concerned with Rick, than traumatized about seeing a murder take place in front of her.
While Rick tries to get Perry's Girlfriend down from her web of death, he yells at Final Girl to get to the others and then head out of the castle at once, which is what should have happened right after he found Raul's Girlfriend. He says again that his boyfriend, Photographer Guy, will be back soon with the police.
Scene 30: Except, no he won't. Alas, Photography Guy is sitting in Rick's sports car slumped over the steering wheel and driving around and around in circles. A close up shows that he's taken an arrow or crossbow bolt through the side of the neck.
Scene 31: Business Suit Guy and Final Girl can hear the engine's motor running from outside, but when they run to the front door, they find that it's locked and they can't get out. Business Suit Guy tries to yank on the door for 3 seconds before declaring it no use.
Commentary: And, why isn't Poofy-Haired Blonde and Other Brunette also at the door trying to escape? Did anyone even bother to tell them yet that they're in danger?!
Oh, wait, here they are... and they call out to Business Suit Guy wanting to know what is going on and where the others are at, so apparently Blank Faced Final Girl didn't bother to tell them anything while she was collecting Business Suit Guy and racing for the front door.
Commentary: Which is kind of awesome, actually. I want to imagine her telling Business Suit Guy that they have to make a break for it, but they'll leave the two models behind as a distraction for Nutso-Cuckoo Anderson. I don't think this movie has that sort of ruthless cleverness in it, though.
Well, with Final Girl's diabolical plan to sacrifice the two others spoiled, Business Suit Guy sends her to collect Rick to help him break the door down. Poofy-Hair and Other Brunette join him at the door, banging to be let out.
Scene 32: In the meantime, Rick is still wasting valuable survival time that could be used trying to find a way out, or looking for a weapon, with Perry's Girlfriend's body. Final Girl reports to him that all of the doors are locked and there is no way out. He tells her to remain calm, while he continues to fuss with Perry's Girlfriend's body. I don't know. I guess he's trying to lay her out respectfully or something, but is this really the time for this?!
With Rick and Final Girl seperated across a floor of wire trap, he hears her struggle and when he looks, she's no longer in the room. He hears signs of a struggle as Final Girl is, presumably, dragged away to another death trap.
He yanks down the Mechanical Spider from its perch and uses this to set off the arrow trap - which is represented by a single arrow firing and a jump cut to Rick in another room.
Commentary: Bravo. Bravo.
Scene 33: Rick wanders around looking for Final Girl. He makes sure to call her name good and loud so that the killer and his henchman will know right where he is at. In addition, by not turning around, he allows the bad guys to get the drop on him, as you would in this situation.
One of the sailor-shirted muscleheads double fists Rick over the top of his head, instantly knocking him unconscious, which is pretty darned impressive.
Scene 34: In the meanwhile, Final Girl was not delivered to a death trap, but something far worse... Anderson's suite. He strodes in, and she excitedly greets him. He stops her from approaching, insisting that she not touch him, as she stares at him in full on Blank Face mode, again.
She suddenly figures out that he's the murderer.
Commentary: Duh. Moron.
She pounds ineffectively on his chest and calls him a monster, until he slaps her hard and sends her stumbling across the room. He goes into full-bore psycho territory now, informing her that she means nothing to him. He complains that he had to retreat to the castle and lock himself away from mankind in a priceless monologue that includes:
"Mankind is made up of inferior creatures! Spiritually and physically deformed! Who would have corrupted the harmony of my perfect body!"
Commentary: Gay camp? Is this actually meant seriously?!
While giving us the best lines ever, he strips off his black satanist robe to reveal the Crimson Executioner polyester tights. He freezes for a moment too long to look anything but unnatural. After that awkwardly held moment, he turns from her and strolls to a chalice, checking himself out in the mirror hanging there. He then, and how awesome is this effing moment, reaches into the chalice to scoop up a palm of oil and starts rubbing himself down.
Commentary: And I'm suddenly not sure whether to laugh, be appalled or just sit in stunned silence at what I'm being asked to witness. The lo-o-ong build up suddenly seems worth the wait as we watch this muscled blank-faced stud oiling himself down with all seriousness, while Final Girl remains off screen, completely silent and probably as WTF-mesmerized as we.
He now tells her... or himself, since he's still watching himself oiling himself up in the mirror... that he retreated to escape human sentiments and avoid a woman's love that could have destroyed him.
Commentary: And I add, "And to surround myself with like-minded beefcakes, who would willingly serve me as we rub oil all over each other and moan at the ecstasy of our perfect bodies."
Final Girl tries to break through to the madman by telling him he's an egotist who's obsessed with himself. Anderson tells Final Girl that he was fine until a moment of weakness caused by her. He allowed her friends to stay when he caught sight of her again, apparently causing him to lose his crap, completely. Anderson and His Bulge strodes over to a curtain, and when he flings it back, Final Girl sees that he keeps a mannequin of The Crimson Executioner in his room. He admires the man for despising mankind the way he does, and grabs a hood off it.
Anderson claims that the mannequin is the preserved body of the Executioner and further claims that his spirit lives on in himself - so he can continue his work of purging mankind, I guess.
Final Girl, exhausted from the strain of having facial expressions, lapses back into Blank Face mode, again. He stares at her for another awkwardly long moment, before going on another rant re: "you defamed his tomb, he's free to punish sin again, I'll be his instrument", yadda-yadda-nutburger.
Commentary: This scene goes on and on for so long, that it actually becomes downright hilarious. I'm not saying anything negative here against Hargitay, he's really enthusiastically embracing the role, but his monologue/rant seems like it's never going to stop. I almost expect the camera to pan over to Final Girl and find her curled up and napping by now.
For reasons I don't understand, Travis/New Crimson Executioner leaves Final Girl sitting on his bedroom floor as he uses a hidden passage and a flight of endless stairs to get to the torture room for her friends. She's left banging on the hidden door and begging him not to do it, rather than being knocked unconscious and taken along.
Scene 35: Travis surveys Final Girl's friends in their various pre-torture traps like a kid in a candy store. His first targets are the models, Poofy-Haired Blonde and Other Brunette. They're strapped to this wheel of doom tower. Nearby are swords that can be shoved at them, so that as they spin the blades will start to slice at their skin. Naturally, the swords of most interest to Travis are the ones that will slice at their bras.
Business Suit Guy is being held by the throat in a harness and forced to stand endlessly.
Travis watches for a bit, shoving swords in their direction. They get sliced across the chest... very mildly... before he stops the tower-wheel thing and assures them that this is just the start of their torture.
Next comes metal tongs that have been heated in a fire, but it isn't meant for any of them. Instead, he uses it on a clay bust of a male head and tells the others that this is how he plans on torturing and murdering Rick. Business Suit Guy tries to get through to him that he's lost his senses, but Travis is in full psychotic break and insists he's The Crimson Executioner as he yanks on a chain attached to the harness under the chin of Business Guy and hauls him up, straining his neck/throttling him.
Commentary: It seemed earlier that the film was setting up a ghost/possession story, but this hint isn't really carried out. It is clear that Travis Anderson was a nutter long before the "seal trapping the Executioner" was broken on the Iron Maiden. He's now gone over the edge. There is also the implication that the 'perversion' of the models and the photography sessions drove him to murder these people here, but again, it seems more excuse than reasoning - Anderson has been so off-kilter since his first scene, that you just know not finishing your plate would have been enough to earn a trip to the dungeon.
Scene 36: We jump to Rick waking up painfully. He's had his limbs tied and lays on a bed with one of those lowering ceiling of daggers traps (so much for using the heated, head-crushing tongs on him). Next to him on the bed is the long missing Raul, but he's clearly already dead. Rick stares up at the lowering ceiling with a mixture of horror, and possible constipation.
Even more gruesomely, one of Rick's wrists have been tied to one of Rauls. What hasn't happened however, is securing him to the bed itself....
Rick's situation is looking pretty dire, when he notices a pair of nail clippers in the shirt pocket of Raul. He manages to get them and use them on the rope binding him to the dead man. It's slow work, and the relentless ceiling continues its downward motion, threatening to impale him prior to crushing him to death.
He is able to get free of Raul and pushes the other man off the mattress before rolling to safety himself scant moments before the daggers would have gotten him.
Scene 37: Back in the torture room, The New Crimson Executioner is watching as water pours down a sluice. He explains for us that it is icy water. We see that the water is pouring over the back of Poofy-Haired Blonde as she claims she can't stand anymore.
He leaves her to be icy-watered and goes over to a real classic - The Rack. It is Other Brunette who gets to 'enjoy' this device.
Other Brunette screams as her limbs are yanked....
Scene 38: Back with Rick, we find him wandering the castle and looking for the others. Despite the carpet running down the middle of the marble flooring, Our Dolt chooses to step heavily on the marble, causing echoing footsteps.
It isn't a surprise therefore when he walks by a colomn and a henchman steps out behind him. What is surprising is the Henchman's choice to use the "arms raised above head in gorilla-style 'I will now grab you' posture" rather than say, "beat hero over head with something heavy".
Rick is put in the lamest attempt at a choke hold ever and easily breaks free. He and Henchman duke it out.
The, uh, 'brutal fight for survival', carries out onto the landing overlooking the entranceway. Shockingly, Henchman doesn't go over the railing. Instead the fistfight continues back into the corridor. As they struggle, Henchman gets his hands on a heavy studded club.
Rick manages to disarm him in short order and the hand to hand continues. They fall into the room the models were using as their dressing room and wrestle around there for awhile. Rick gets Henchman into a Sleeper Hold, but Final Girl has found that secret face imprint in the wall with the spy-eyes. She calls to Rick, distracting him and allowing Henchman to wrestle him off.
The hand to hand continues... thanks Final Girl!
Rick manages to get the better of Henchman and knocks him unconscious. After nearly getting him killed, Final Girl reports through the face imprint (whose other side is a hideous face on the fireplace mantle) that he shouldn't worry about her! She tells him that she isn't in danger, but that he needs to find the others in the dungeon before they're killed. She fills him in on psycho-Travis.
In the meanwhile, behind Rick, Henchman #2 has entered the room carrying a crossbow (and answering what was sticking out of Photography Guy's neck). Final Girl is able to warn Rick just in time to dodge a bolt. He runs, with the Henchman quickly readying another shot and going in pursuit.
Henchman #2 sees movement behind a curtain and fires, but when he looks, it is just our old friend, bat-on-a-string flapping around it.
Scene 39: Back in her imprisonment, Final Girl finally starts looking for a way out. She discovers how to open the secret passage door, which comes across as an accident, even though Travis used it in her full view, so she shouldn't have taken this long to figure it out. She finds the stairway beyond.
Scene 40: Back in the torture chamber, Other Brunette has either died or is unconscious. (She looks like she's heavily breathing, but this may be the transfer quality making the film swim. It's shot at a distance, so I can't tell yet what her condition is.)
The New Crimson Executioner runs across the room to Business Suit Guy, who's now been moved to a cage. This is suspended above a fire pit, which the N.C.E. now lights ablaze. Business Suit Guy screams and goes silent as the flames roar through the cage. New Crimson Executioner backs away from his handiwork and re-checks Other Brunette. In the meantime, Final Girl has made her way down to the dungeon and skulks in the background.
Brunette was unconscious, because he releases her from the rack and scoops her up. She comes to and he drags her to this suspended dummy with nails in it, where he tries to force her to embrace it. His rantings imply that the spikes coming out of the mannequin have been poisoned. She resists his attempt to force her to give it a big hug.
Scene 41: While all of this is occurring, Rick has returned to the bed o' nails with Raul's body. He goes to the window in an attempt to see if he can get out that way. He hears footsteps in the corridor outside of the room and dashes out onto the parapets via a side door. The footsteps belong to Crossbow Bolt Guy (aka Henchman #2) and since Rick left the window open and has to run in front of it, Henchman #2 sees him.
Scene 42: Back in the torture room, The New Crimson Executioner is still trying to force Other Brunette to embrace the 'lover of death' ... the dummy with the poison nails sticking from it, which is among the more lame of the torture devices. In the background Final Girl skulks.
Final Girl tries to get her free by swinging a heavy metal collar across the room. She misses, but then the N.C.E. swings it right into Other Brunette, who gets jabs in the throat by the sharp metal clasps and falls to the floor with a bloody throat... THANKS, Final Girl!
Travis rushes Final Girl, giving her crazy-man face as she cowers. It is easy for him to scoop her up - screeching - but not hitting back.
Scene 43: Outside on the castle walls, Henchman #2 hunts for Rick with his crossbow.
Commentary: There is very nice scenery here around the castle and the view is great, but the movie is too long as it is, and the various chases between Rick and Henchman #1 & 2 could have been edited a bit.
Henchman #2 finds Rick staring out from a dead end he's run into. He's looking out over the view, back turned. Rick gets shot in the back! He goes, silently, tumbling over the wall of the castle.
Scene 44: Back with Final Girl, she's been restained onto a large, bulky slab. New Crimson Executioner excitedly tells her that it's her turn now. As she tries to yell at him to stop, the camera pulls away a bit and we can see the slab she's on is outfitted with a bull's horned head. There is a large opening in the side. N.C.E. begins shovelling hot coals into this, heating up the slab that Final Girl has been strapped down on.
With her secured and slowly range-top cooking, N.C.E. rushes to our other survivor, Poofy-Blonde Girl. When last we saw her, she was trapped under a stream of ice water slowly running over her back. Sometime, she had been moved and is now being restrained on a rack near the mannequin of nails. She now has hot tar poured down her back. Henchman #2 reports to N.C.E. that he's killed Rick, leaving Final Girl despondant.
As the New Crimson Executioner continues hot-tarring Poofy-Haired Blonde, Henchman #2 adds more hot coals to Final Girl's heat torture.
Suddenly, Final Girl gasps as standing there is Original Crimson Executioner!
With N.C.E. distracted, Poofy-Haired Blonde manages to get loose from the rack and falls to the floor. In the meanwhile, New Crimson is pissed and shouts at the apparition. He grabs up a something or other and throws it into the Original Crimson. It hits something quite solid... apparently the 'preserved body' that New Crimson was keeping in his room.
Standing behind the mannequin/body is Rick, seemingly returned from the dead. We note that he's wearing different clothes.
Henchman #2 has a freak out.
Rick helpfully informs him that he need not think he's seeing a ghost. He tells him that he had snuck back, changed clothes with Raul, then hauled the corpse back outside and along the parapets, all the while avoiding being seen, and then set up Raul's body to be shot....
Commentary: Rick doesn't go into these details, of course, but this is the way things had to have gone. So, after sneaking back into the castle, he wasted all of this time and effort to set up a fake death, just so he could sneak into Travis' room and grab the 'preserved corpse' of the Original Executioner to drag down to the torture room level. Now, one could think this is some sort of plan to provide a fake out for the Nutso-Cuckoo while he slips around to the girls and releases them.
Except, having dragged this corpse down here, he then stands right behind it and ... uh... stands there. Then, having Henchman #2 at least too distracted to do anything, thinking he's seeing a ghost, he very immediately explains that away, so no one is distracted, he can't get to the girls to release them and now he's standing completely exposed to the bad guys without so much as a stick for defense.
Scene 45: Well, shockingly - at least to Rick - his plan has not gone smoothly. New Crimson Executioner yells at Henchman #2 to kill Rick. He picks up his crossbow and lines up his shot. In the meantime, unnoticed in the foreground, Poofy-Haired Blonde is crawling away (I entertain hopes that she'll be the unexpected heroine in all this).
Henchman #2 fires. Poofy-Blonde Girl martyrs herself by getting in the way and taking the shot to her chest. She collapses (so she was the heroine, she just wasn't quite the one I had hoped for). With everyone momentarily distracted, Rick very casually strolls over toward Henchman #2, instead of - oh - grabbing a weapon from the wall and rushing the bad guys?
Rick is a dullard.
Finally, Henchman #2 runs toward Rick, who retreats a bit. He picks up something heavy and throws it at Henchman, completely missing. He picks up some chains to use, but is nearly immediately disarmed and now Henchman #2 has them. There's a short fight, and Rick ends up with the chains again, which he wraps around Henchman #2's throat (by the way, you'd think that Henchman #1 would have come around by now, but he appears to still be lying knocked out in the girls' changing room). Rick chokes out Henchman #2. All the while, New Crimson Executioner looks on with the wildest, weirdest over-reaction face ever, but doesn't bother to gang up against Rick, or anything.
Scene 46: Now, it's time for the New Crimson Executioner to do some ass kicking on Rick. They begin to spar....
The fight is short and *cough*brutal*cough* and ends when the N.C.E. rushes Rick, which he sidesteps. This causes Travis to run into the nail-dummy and get himself lethally poisoned on its spikes.
While Rick gets Final Girl loose, the New Crimson Executioner whines that his perfect, pure body has been corrupted by nail marks and toxin. He collapses, and Rick scoops Edith into his arms and surveys the scene.
Commentary: With a light, jazzy score which seems entirely inappropriate for the scene. Rick and Edith are surrounded by the bodies of people they knew, and Final Girl is looking wrung out by her ordeal, but we get a light jazz track?! Really? It sounds more like something that would play in the background of a romantic restaurant scene!
Over a tracking shot to show us the bodies lying around, Final Girl expositions about Travis' insanity. She, in blank face mode again, asks Rick to get her out of there, while he swears off writing any more horror stories. He carries her out as our POV switches to an outside view looking at the castle... and holds... and holds... and then finally we get end credit.
The Good: Mickey Hargitay is certainly entertaining and grabs ahold of his role with gusto... especially in the priceless scenes of him oiling himself out and expressing his self love.
The sets are very nice and the views from the castle are beautiful.
Rick makes a likeable, if deeply dumb, hero.
Though we don't get to see it, the Business Suit Guy's end is appropriately horrific. Final Girl's slow roasting is also a gruesome fate (that she naturally gets rescued from, but it's a good device).
The Bad: The pacing is something that keeps me from fully embracing this film. There are scenes that just run on and on, or serve no narrative purpose.
The acting is wildly uneven equally among the entire cast. This is especially true of our Final Girl, unfortunately.
Some of the dungeon/torture sequences are just too bizarre to be anything but ludicrous: I'm thinking of the 'Lover of Death' device and the 'Spinning Tower' device, and what the hell was up with the elaborate and yet really goofy-assed 'Spiderweb' death machine?!
Other Thoughts: There is also just too much stupidity going on by our victims to garner them any sympathy for their situation. They try one door, which is locked, and decide they're trapped and there is nothing they can do? The Crimson Executioner comes for them, and they don't bother to fight back. Rick tries this ridiculous plan to fake his death and then distract the Nutbar with the 'preserved body' of the Original Crimson Executioner, but then negates any advantage either one would have given him nearly immediately, making it all a waste of time. And, finally, even after they become aware of their danger, NO ONE grabs a weapon, despite them being hung on the walls all over the place.
The Score: I enjoy parts of the film and have a hoot with Mickey as the cuckoo-nutso a little too involved in his own chest, but this really needed about 15 minutes trimmed. Also, the tortures just aren't that torturous, even for those of us who don't like graphic torture-porn. Rather than being "how awful!" or "how gruesomely fun!", many of the dungeon devices we see are more "how ridiculous!". When Rick finally makes his big rescue, his survival just isn't plausible. He makes too many anti-survival choices for him to have succeeded.
Still, except for some real dragging, I don't dislike the movie. And, Mickey is fun: 3.0 out of 5