Terrortory II Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Kangas Khan Films

terrortory ii large

Directed by Kevin Kangas
Written by Kevin Kangas and Ronald Malfi ("The Fountain" segment)
100 minutes, 2018, Not Rated
Released on October 1st, 2018

Richard Cutting as Aiden
Joe Cardamone as Greg
Stormi Maya as Lamia
M.T. Smith as Smiling Jack
Frederick Cowie as Midnight Clown

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If you’re anything like me (and I think many of you out there are), then you have a weakness for the ludicrous amounts of heart and passion that go into making low-budget horror. You probably also have a soft spot for anthologies. Let’s face it – no genre does more to make the style fun than horror does. They go together like good Scotch and a perfectly cooked steak.

Writer/director Kevin Kangas (Fear of ClownsFear of Clowns 2) has created a host of new nasties for the subgenre in Smiling Jack, The Midnight Clown, The Beholder Triplets, and many more yet to be discovered. With both the first Terrortory and his polished and refined follow-up, Kangas has created a tailor-made locale for fresh stories and hideous new characters. When you add in a fantastic shooting locale in the Maryland wilderness (can you say Blair Witch, anyone?) and a teasing intro credit that leaves you wondering more, you’ve got a franchise that can only get better with time.

Terrortory II presents us with Aiden (Richard Cutting; National Treasure: Book of Secrets), a hiker in the infamous Terrortory who meets Greg (Joe Cardamone) while on the trail. Aiden is a guide of sorts, mapping the deadly woods and tracking their inhabitants. Greg has an axe to grind, and soon the two are off as Aiden tells Greg tales of Smiling Jack (M.T. Smith; Garden of Hedon), the slasher with an empty jack-o-lantern bucket for a head, and The Midnight Clown (Frederick Cowie; Killer Campout), a sadistic clown who always leaves one alive to spread his legend. There are other new monstrosities to hold you in thrall until the wraparound comes to its sinister conclusion.

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After hitting the trail with Aiden and Greg, we learn about “The Fountain”. In the first segment, a married couple on the ropes from infidelity takes a road trip to the great outdoors. When they stop at a rinky-dink country store, the shockingly busty owner, Lamia (Stormi Maya; Death Kiss), shows them a trail to a picturesque fountain at the end of the path. When they make a wish, they get FAR more than they asked for. The next segment is “Pumpkin Trail”, where we meet three older gentlemen out with their metal detectors, hunting for treasure. They find a trail lined with jack-o-lanterns that each have a valuable prize underneath complete with a lesson: greed has its consequences. “Wendigo” follows, and here a snowflake-eating hiker meets the dreaded creature of ancient Algonquian folklore. Next up is “Mad Gathering”, the story of Robert, a hard-working husband and father. His wife and daughter go on a camping trip with local friends. After receiving a panicked call, he goes out to investigate. Finally, we return to the wraparound with “The Mapmaker” and a horrifying (and world-expanding) conclusion.

The point of a good horror sequel should be to further the mythology and create new terrors, and Kangas delivers in spades! You’ll hear a lot of folks bitch about how a low budget ruins it for them, but what a lot of those impatient and narrow-minded folks are missing is the ability to see past that and appreciate the writing. Terrortory II is sharply written with an eye on the future of the franchise. With the original, there are killer characters established and plenty of blood spilled, but the tone and quality are wildly uneven due to the fact that the anthology had multiple writers and directors of varying style, taste, and skill. It’s a prime example of the old cliché of there being too many cooks in the kitchen.

This time around, it’s all Kangas (except for a writing credit for Bram Stoker-nominated author Ronald Malfi (Bone White; The Night Parade) on "The Fountain"), and that continuity and singular voice pays dividends. The result is a cohesive, fun, and vicious anthology that is building a legitimate world in which to operate. We’re left open for sequels, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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“The Fountain” has the nastiest turn and echoes a classic Twilight Zone episode (with decidedly more flesh). It also boasts the most star power with a cameo from genre vet George Stover (Nightbeast, Harvesters). “Pumpkin Trail” is the kind of fun that has you screaming at the screen, “Hey, dumbass! You know you shouldn’t do that, right?!” Those three old dudes are a riot. I love the lack of fear with the racial humor; very throwback. “Wendigo” is short and sweet, featuring a familiar face from Horror DNA getting what some would say he deserves (not me, of course). “Mad Gathering” shows Kangas’ growth as a creator by expanding the scope of his mythology and creating a character you can truly care for in a short runtime. That’s not easy, folks. The Dark Lord is a creature that you could build an entire film around. No bullshit. There are flavors of Saw in that “what’s it worth to you?” kind of way. And “The Mapmaker” serves up the real meat and potatoes of a good anthology. Kangas uses his wraparound to brilliant effect. That smart writing I mentioned earlier? Here you are. I must have a full segment with The Beholder Triplets. Are you listening, Kangas??

Don’t be deterred by the lower budget; Terrortory II is borderline brilliant world-building done from a small palette. That type of talent isn’t taught, and Kangas is one to watch. And don’t think I didn’t see that the Terrortory bears a striking similarity to the "Ravenloft" campaign setting from Dungeons & Dragons. How could you not love the concept of many distinct areas with rigid boundaries, each containing its own nasty monster that has to play by its own distinct rules?

Bravo. As good as this series has been with a small budget, Kevin Kangas will slaughter it with some real money and a couple of heavy genre names.

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Movie: 4.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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