Criminally Insane 2 (1987)

VHS Cover (Video Treasures)
Movie Connections:
Criminally Insane
> Criminally Insane (1975)
> Criminally Insane 2 (1987)
Nick Millard Nick Millard
Priscilla Alden Priscilla Alden
Michael Flood Michael Flood
Jane Lambert Jane Lambert
Robert Copple Robert Copple
George 'Buck' Flower George 'Buck' Flower

1.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Horror, Slasher Film
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Review by Chad
Added: October 04, 2005
Ethel Janowski (Priscilla Alden) returns in this sequel to 1975's Criminally Insane (aka Crazy Fat Ethel), and if you haven't seen that movie, no problems... this one gives more than enough scenes to recap in order to get the new viewers up to date. After the events of the first movie, Ethel has been sent back to the mental institution, where she is fed a strict diet and feels that the doctors are trying to starve her to death. Good luck shines through, however, when this hospital gets its budget slashed. Since Ethel is one of the better-behaved patients, she is chosen to be transferred over to a minimum-security halfway-house known as The Bartholomew House. Here she meets Hope Bartholomew, the elderly owner of the place that looks strikingly similar to Ethel's deceased grandmother, as well as two other patients... one of which Ethel suspects of being the cop that arrested her. Since Ethel can never get enough to eat, the food problems soon begin, and the murders aren't too far behind.

As I mentioned above, this movie gives a large recap of the first movie throughout the running time. We see an assortment of dream sequences and flashbacks of the scenes that took place in an attempt to get the viewer up to speed on Ethel, but in my opinion, these recap sequences are quite overdone. Nearly every important scene from the first movie is recapped, and these scenes take up nearly fifteen minutes of the total running time. When you consider that this movie runs for just a few minutes over an hour in total, well... I don't think I need to tell you readers how much time these recap sequences eat up. It probably wouldn't have been as much of a problem back when this movie was released... after all, the first movie wasn't very well-known and the two movies were released twelve years apart. However, when you watch the two movies back-to-back, it gets a bit annoying seeing these same scenes once again.

With those abundant recap issues aside, the movie is actually a pretty good sequel. There's nothing new or groundbreaking here, so if you didn't enjoy the first movie, you probably wouldn't get much satisfaction out of this one. However, fans of the original (such as myself) will likely get a kick out of seeing the continued adventures of one "Crazy Fat Ethel." There's a number of new victims tacked onto her ever-growing body count list, and the ending sets up the further sequels / spin-offs (the Death Nurse series) perfectly. Now, if we could only get those movies on DVD, I'd be one happy camper.

Prior to Retro-Shock-O-Rama's DVD release of this series, the only way that one could obtain this movie was through cheap VHS bootlegs. Therefore, it was a sight for sore eyes when I saw how cleaned up that Criminally Insane was on this DVD release. It's not a pristine transfer or anything along those lines and you can still tell that it's a low-budget seventies flick, but it looks and sounds infinitely better than it ever has. Sadly, this is not the case with the sequel. The video is washed out, the sound is muffled in a number of spots, and the video even rolls a few times (not unlike a bad VHS copy). To be fair, there's a warning prior to the movie about the quality of the transfer, which basically says that this is a fault of the source materials and not of the DVD producer. Fair enough, I can accept that... but it still would have been nice to see a cleaner version of the film.

Short of the aforementioned bootlegs, you can't find this film outside of Retro-Shock-O-Rama's Nick Phillips Trilogy release. This release features both movies in the series, so if you enjoyed the original (fans of old-school slashers will), then you can't go too wrong with giving this one a watch. It's not a great film, but since it's a bonus feature attached to an excellent slasher flick, there's no reason not to watch it. 5/10.
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