Lost Tapes: Season 2 (2009)

Lost Tapes is a Faux-Documentary TV show that depicts traumatic scenarios where people are attacked and/or killed by mysterious, dangerous, deadly, savage, and ferocious paranormal cryptids.

Review: I've never hid the fact that here at the B-Movie Shelf we love us the found footage genre. Sure, there are some big stinkers to come across, but when done right, that style of filmmaking can be effective as hell, plus cheap to produce, so everyone can win. A few years ago I previously reviewed Season 1 of the B-Movie-esque found footage TV series Lost Tapes and, despite a few clunker episodes, overall I really enjoyed it. Now, having been put out by Animal Planet of all channels, you can assume correctly that the episode-to-episode budget on this show is pretty minuscule, which means hardly even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glance (if even that much) of the creature-of-note each episode, but luckily most times they make up for that by at least having some good tension-filled atmosphere and fast-paced action, along with some growls, hisses, roars, and whatever other auditory noises they can throw in to add to the mood.

Like with Season 1, every episode in Season 2 is totally stand-alone from one another and deals with 'found' footage from a person or group of people that 'went missing' or had unexplained phenomenon happen to them, each with a different crytozoological or paranormal creature as the focus of the episode, and mixed in to break the episodes up a bit are Talking Head interviews with real people that are experts in the field (such as Loren Coleman), actual article clippings, and real news footage, as well as pop-up text and interviews with people dealing with facts based around either the creature itself, the location the episode takes place in, or real survival facts and tips. Where Season 2 differs from the first season though, is that while Season 1 had 14 episodes, this time around there are only 10, leaving us four episodes shorter and thus I expected the ones we did get to be strong solid episodes, leaving no room for clunkers. How did that expectation get met? Well let's briefly dive into each and every episode on this one-disc DVD set.

Episode 1: Lizard Man - The Season 2 Premiere episode centers around a late-night News Reporter and her Camera Man that are following around a couple firemen (ALA [Rec]/Quarantine) when they get the call to rescue a family's pet cat that ran away into the dark and dangerous sewer tunnels under the city. What this group of people find however, instead of the pet, is a vicious half-lizard/half-man monster beast that has been living in the sewage tunnels under the city for quite some time.

Alligators in the tunnels under New York City is one of my favorite urban legends (I even wrote a fictional story back in High School based around that legend), and it also has some Real-World backing to it so it's always captured my interest. While this episode doesn't deal with that exact urban legend, it does deal with one very similar, switching out the regular alligators with a mutant Lizard Man creature. We actually get a couple decent looks at the creature (or least, it's shadow a few of those times), and when dealing with running/crawling around dark, dank, sewage tunnels it already comes with a pretty well built-in creepy location, so this one hit a lot of what I look for in these episodes. In addition, the body count in terms of who is left alive come the end was totally not what I expected, so any episode that can throw some curveballs like that my way, I'll enjoy. Episode Rating: 10/10

Episode 2: Vampire - The second episode of Season 2 breaks away from the actual real-world cryptozoological creatures a bit and kicks off with more of a fantastical angle by introducing vampires to the mix. In this episode, a troubled family moves into a new home looking for a fresh start and instantly begin hearing weird noises and having strange things happen during the night, so they set up cameras around, Paranormal Activity-style, and end up catching a mysterious person, or rather THING, moving throughout their house at night. Upon investigation they find secret passages behind the walls and a secret room in their basement, where residing within it is, as the title would suggest, an ancient vampire.

I have to say, I didn't care for this episode much. I appreciate the attempt at fleshing these characters out more than the usual episode does, by giving them some regular family drama stuff to focus on, and while the little boy was annoying at times, he actually felt like how a real little boy would probably act during events like this. The vampire creature itself, from what we get to see (which is surprisingly quite a bit), actually looks pretty good as well, and there's one or two genuinely creepy moments (like when the vampire creature is approaching the boy's bed at night while he sleeps, or the way it moves as it chases the family through the house during the climax), but over all I just wasn't feeling it. I just couldn't buy the whole 'secret passages and rooms behind the walls' aspect, nor the fact that this vampiric creature has been living here in this house, in the middle of a bustling city, and it's gone totally undetected all this time. It was enjoyable enough for a one-time watch, but it's not an episode I'll be revisiting anytime soon. Episode Rating: 5/10

Episode 3: Southern Sasquatch – Anybody who's been interested in the cryptid field for any length of time, especially if Bigfoot is your preferred area of interest, chances are you've heard about Boggy Creek, one of the most infamous Sasquatch tales. We get a present-day return to that legend with this episode, as we have a bit of a goofy city slicker that's joining his more country-bred friends on a deer hunt through the thick vegetative outback of Arkansas – more specifically, the Boggy Creek area, when they get hunted down and attacked by a big hairy creature.

The first Bigfoot episode of Season 1, I hated. The all-time top worst episode of this entire series thus far at the point of this episode. The second one, however, was among one of my all-time favorite episodes of the series thus far at the point of this episode. This third Sasquatch-themed episode falls somewhere in between, though certainly far more on the Positive side. It's well-acted, but the majority of the episode is simply the hunters running around in the woods at night, being hunted by something we don't get to see, and occasionally randomly firing off their guns. However, the rare times when we do get some monster action, it's pretty frightening stuff, especially its initial appearance of coming out of the woods behind the one hunter while they're goofing off (a moment that is, sadly, ruined by a badly-timed cut to commercial, only to resume moments later, after the creature is gone again). Like with every other episode in this season so far, we also get a few pretty good views of the creature, and the production team did a great job with making it look pretty real. Episode Rating: 7/10

Episode 4: Werewolf – There's a serial killer on the loose in the city, having currently claimed 21 victims, and an amateur filmmaker decides to make a documentary on the unsolved investigation, leading him down a dark path to answers that were probably better left unsolved, such as the fact that the 'serial killer' is more beast than man.

Werewolves are my favorite of all supernatural creatures, however much like with the Vampire episode, I have a big issue here with the fact that we're supposed to believe that there's this werewolf going around killing people throughout this big bustling city, yet no one has ever seen it or even glimpsed it. On the flipside, the idea of a serial killer in the city that can also transform into a werewolf is very reminiscent of the beginning of the horror movie The Howling, which is a movie I love. Unfortunately for the entire episode they're just going after an actual person, and we never even once get to see the person in their werewolf form, so it comes across more like a badly-acted episode of Cops than the supernatural found footage horror that is Lost Tapes, thus making it quite a bore to sit through. All in all this episode is easily the worst of the entire series thus far, with pretty much no redeeming factors at all, other than that the focus is supposedly on a werewolf, despite the fact that we never actually get to see one.
Episode Rating: 0/10

Episode 5: Death Crawler – This episode focuses on a husband and wife scientist duo that go to an uncharted and hard-to-find secluded island, untouched by man, to study it's animal life. Among their discoveries though, are modern-day survivors of an ancient and thought-to-be-extinct species of giant killer Centipedes.

I always love secluded tropical islands as a setting for any kind of horror movie or creature feature, so I knew right away that, at the very least, I'll enjoy the setting of this episode. In addition, I hate bugs. Especially big bugs, so for people like myself this episode comes with quite a few creepy moments that will have you checking the floor around you repeatedly while watching (especially that tent scene - yick! - suffice to say I will not be camping anytime soon), which of course was helped by the great job they did with the realistic-looking giant Centipedes, which are on-screen quite often and we get plenty of good looks at. I also loved how the episode didn't just follow the footage from the main group of characters, but also a second side-story of other found footage following a random survey team that also landed on that island. It was a kind of a unique way to present the episode, and after a season and a half, I really appreciate trying new things like that. However, the one thing that annoyed me about that aspect is that the second more minor side-story footage followed people that spoke a different language and for some reason (I'm not sure if it was like this on TV as well, or just a DVD issue) there are no subtitles for these scenes, but they speak often enough that it feels like there should be, especially when taking into consideration that all previous episodes had subtitles for the portions in other languages. Only a minor issue, but still enough of one to warrant docking a point off. Episode Rating: 9/10

Episode 6: The White River Monster – A couple of friends catfishing on a river teaming with the fish end up coming across an underwater nest of a local legend, a gigantic monstrous-sized fish with an appetite for human flesh. 

This episode is fairly lowkey. All the action takes place mostly in one small corner of a river, with most of it just being about these couple people wading through the water and reaching their hands down under the surface, and that's it. We almost never see the creature of note, and when we do it's fairly disappointing. All episode it's built up as this giant monster fish with large, long, sharp teeth, that can potentially eat a man whole. When we finally see it, it's not really any larger than a regular-sized catfish, and it has small, dull, human-like teeth. How is that scary? This episode may not be bad, exactly, as there is good tension throughout, pretty decent acting, and it has one of the best side characters of any episode yet with the fishing guide, but overall it is probably the most forgettable episode so far, as I found my mind going blank on it even just a couple hours after watching it. Episode Rating: 5/10

Episode 7: The Jersey Devil – On their way traveling back home from the beach, a family gets into a car accident in the middle of the Pine Barrens and proceeds to get stalked and chased by the infamous Jersey Devil.

The Jersey Devil has always been one of my favorite cryptids. I even did school reports on it back in the day when I was in Junior High and High School, so when I saw that an episode of Lost Tapes covered it, I of course couldn't wait to get to that one. I'm so happy to report that it also is one of my favorite episodes. This has everything from a family dynamic to bring in some human drama, lost in the woods (which is a situation I love for a horror setting), multiple visually-interesting locations throughout the woods, including a run down old abandoned house (which was a nice change of pace from the previous episode where we spent the full 20 minutes in the exact same spot), some pretty intense moments, and one hell of a cool-looking, albeit cheap, Jersey Devil monster suit. The only negative thing I can really say about this one is that the acting is really, really bad, especially when they're supposed to be acting scared, it's just something that this group of actors, all of them, seemed to have a hard time being convincing at and admittedly it does bring the episode down a bit. In addition, most of the episode takes place during bright daylight and it really seems like this one was tailor-made to take place during the night, and I think it would have benefited even more from doing so. Episode Rating: 7/10

Episode 8: Alien – Upon her arrival back to Earth, an Astronaut begins acting erratically and strange and gets committed to the psychiatric care center of a hospital, where her body proceeds to go through changes, as does her behavior, while a parasitic alien organism uses her body as an incubator until it bursts out and starts wrecking havoc in the facility.

Clearly this episode was inspired pretty heavily by movies like Alien, but you know what? I'm fine with that. Things blatantly ripping off something I love just makes me enjoy it even more, and this was one hell of an enjoyable entry. Sure, not a whole lot really happens, as this episode has more of the Talking Head interviews and random factoids than I think any other episode does, and slightly more than I'd like as it leaves less room for the actual fictional story of the episode, but what it does have is pretty freaky and damn entertaining. Just the mere thought of a living, breathing, insect-like parasitic alien organism using your body as an incubator is a pretty freaky one, and this episode handled it wonderfully - the make-up effects being done more and more as the episode went on, to portray her deteriorating skin condition, looked super gross and highly realistic, culminating in some of the goriest effects I've seen in an episode of this show to date. Also, out of all the episodes thus far on both seasons, this one felt the most like it could easily be reformatted as an X-Files episode, as it just gave off that X-Files vibe during the whole affair, and that is a vibe I friggin' love. Episode Rating: 9/10

Episode 9: Bear Lake Monster – A group of young girls in their early 20's decide to spend a weekend camping on the beach of Utah's Bear Lake to celebrate a friend's birthday, but as so often in these episodes, things go scary crazy pretty quickly as they start getting stalked and hunted by the resident lake monster, which in this case can also go on land, leaving no place safe for the girls.

Young hot girls in bikinis all episode? Both in-water and out-of-water action scenes? Genuine suspense? Surprisingly great acting? This episode was a delight from start to finish, and its short 19-min runtime just zoomed by in a flash. These characters were filled with so much personality and likability, it actually hurt a bit to start seeing them getting killed off, and that's hard to establish in such a short amount of time. Even though I hated to see them get knocked off one by one, the scenes in which that happens were all intense as hell and enjoyable in their own right, especially one where the creature comes up on land and attacks their campsite and jeep. Out of all the episodes in this show, this is probably, to my surprise, my top favorite one, even despite not really getting any good, solid look at the creature, This is also one of the ones I would love to see fleshed out, extended, and released as a SyFy Original Movie or some such. I love these surprise episodes that you don't expect a whole lot with but end up absolutely loving. Episode Rating: 10/10

Episode 10: Dover Demon – In the season finale episode of Season 2, to capitalize on the 30th anniversary of the initial alien-like Dover Demon sightings, a group of college friends decide to film a Dover Demon hoax, however things spiral quickly out of control when they run afoul of the real Dover Demon.

It feels weird to have another Alien-themed episode so close to the previous one. Not that I'm complaining, as this time the alien actually looks like the classic small-bodied, white-skinned, large-headed alien as opposed to a giant insect like in the previous one. And while the episode doesn't expressively state this is an alien, it does mention that's one of the theories and, I mean, come on just look at it, that's a damn alien, so I'm calling this an alien episode. I also love the idea of people setting up a hoax only to have the real creature show up and attack them, that's an angle that I don't think I've seen before in a Found Footage movie, so it felt fresh and new for me, which I always appreciate. It also doesn't hurt that this episode is really creepy, especially one shot in particular when they turn on the night vision for a few seconds, and the creature is in a tree behind them and they don't realize it. The episode does repeatedly do one thing I don't like though, and I came down on a previous episode for doing the exact same thing, which is something I find highly annoying when this show does it. As soon as anything of note happens in the episode to put you on edge, it'll then cut to a commercial break at that moment, instantly ruining the mood and undoing the tension it had just built up. I'm really glad most episodes don't really do that, however the rare one that does, it seems to constantly do it over and over, which I can't stand. Episode Rating: 8/10

On a whole I quite enjoyed the second season of this low budget Animal Planet show. Sure, there were some real stinkers in there, and that's disappointing considering this season is shorter than the first season, so you really feel those crap episodes more, but this season also had some truly great episodes as well, especially during that last chunk of episodes, which were pretty much all great. It's just I was hoping where there were less episodes this season, that they would ALL be great, and sadly that was not the case at all.

For such a cheap price (I got this DVD for around $7), if you're a fan of Found Footage horror B-Movies than you really can't go wrong with this DVD set of Lost Tapes Season 2. At 10 episodes, you're bound find at least something you like in the bunch, and at only 19 minutes each, even the shit ones pass by quickly and don't seem quite so bad in the greater scheme of the season as a whole. Unfortunately, unlike the Season 1 DVD set, Season 2 does not include any special features, which was kind of disappointing, but again, for the cheap price you can't really go wrong.

7/10 rooms in the Psych Ward


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