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.
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
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.