starring Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Lee Tergesen, Christopher McDonald
screenplay by Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan
directed by Marcus Dunstan
by Walter Chaw A cheap, loose remake of Aliens that substitutes rampaging hordes of xenomorphs with a gimp-masked kung-fu master, Marcus Dunstan's stupid sequel to his stupid The Collector at least, this time around, doesn't function as a lame, who-cares-if-it's-intentional echo of Home Alone. No, this one vaguely recalls turn-of-the-century serial ghoul (and hotel owner) H.H. Holmes, who built a giant hotel for the express purpose of culling his guests for, among other things, medical skeletons and simple shits and giggles. Oh, who'm I kidding--the only thing The Collection reminds me of is that I have other things I should probably be doing...oh, and that Steve Beck's Ghost Ship opens with a bunch of people getting bisected by a runaway cable. The Collection, incidentally, opens with everyone getting chewed up by a combine attached to a runaway cable at a nightclub. This leaves Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick, of interest for the short For Your Consideration, in which she absolutely nails Anne Hathaway's Les Misérables performance) to be packed into a steamer trunk, because for all the things our bogey The Collector (Randall Archer) is, he's also a Jazz-era ocean-liner passenger. The Collector promptly spirits her away to his horror hotel, the one he's set up with boobytraps and galleries of pickled people parts (and tarantulas, of course, in case he needs to set them free to gross out girls and stuff), making it a terrible place to stay but still better than most Motel 6s. BAM! Take that, Motel 6.
The gore is plentiful, although the audio commentary attached to the Blu-ray reveals that the violence was toned down so as not to be "disgusting"--thus making it more disgusting by dint of what the filmmakers choose to be coy about. (A naked girl vivisected on a table passes muster, but a guy having his tongue cut out? Let's turn away.) The body count is high, but without any sort of emotional heft to make it anything but spectacle, the picture becomes a technical exercise in Spot the CGI. It's the Disneyland of grindhouse films, I guess, meaning it doesn't leave scars; its tattoos are the kind you apply with a warm washcloth, and its credibility, swimming as The Collection does in the same tank as films that leave indelible marks (Martyrs, for instance), is worse than nil, it's adorable. I'd offer that the kills themselves are uninspired, considering the traps seem invariably composed of trip-wires that drop sharp things on idiots running around in a hotel entirely death-trapped with trip-wires. What this means for The Collection is that it'll likely get another sequel, because the children who like it would likely enjoy another one in exactly the same way.
The Collection's Canadian Blu-ray release from Phase 4 delivers the film in a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer that is frankly eye-popping. A bit early on where a cute girl gets killed by a grate is showcase stuff--too pretty, in fact, to actually be gross, which is a problem, you'll agree. It's no good when the prerequisite for appreciating a scary movie is that you're a twelve-year-old girl in 1985 watching it at a slumber party. But that's just my opinion. Anyway, the image is startlingly lucid, given how much of the picture takes place in pitch dark. No hint of artifacting--no defects at all, really. Ditto a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that presents all the squishy foley across a robust soundstage. Only when that combine is whirling and chopping shit up does the audio fail to deliver an equivalent spectacle. It's not the disc, though, so much as a lack of commitment in the original mix.
Director Dunstan and co-writer Patrick Melton (of Feast and Saw sequels fame) collaborate on a feature-length yakker full of bonhomie that makes me like this movie not one bit more but not hold any resentment towards the people who made it, either. In the course of the commentary, the two point out which effects were practical, trainspot friends and favours, and generally convey that they had a good time then and are having a good time now. Three "Alternate Scenes" (6 mins., HD) aren't instructive in any way; the shocker here is that for a film without any interesting scenes, there could've been less interesting scenes. "A Director's Vision" (5 mins., HD) is Dunstan relaying that he tried to think things through to questionable ends; "Makeup & Effects" (5 mins.) is precisely, I mean it, what you think it is; "Production Design" (4 mins.) talks about the challenges of going from an unimaginatively booby-trapped house to an unimaginatively--but roomier--booby-trapped hotel; and "Special Effects" (6 mins.) and "Stunts" (4 mins.) surprise a little for the stray moment in which something that looks computer-generated turns out to be real, raising the question of why the energy to do those things live was expended in the first place. It bears mentioning that the featurettes are largely rehashes of information, such as it is, provided by the yak-track. The Collection's trailer, plus trailers for Sushi Girl, The Baytown Outlaws, Asylum Blackout, and The Big Bad, round out the platter. Please note that the Amazon links above refer to the U.S. release from Lionsgate, which appears to be identical in terms of special features and A/V specs while offering more subtitle options.