REVIEW: The Once and Future Smash + End Zone 2 (2022)

dir. Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein

The Once And Future Smash is a mockumentary that surrounds cult film End Zone 2. Interspersed with interviews from horror celebrities such as Mark Patton (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) and Victor Miller (the screenwriter for the original Friday the 13th) the doc follows the original actor behind End Zone’s villain Smash Mouth as he faces off against his arch nemesis at a horror convention – the actor who replaced him in the final act of the sequel, End Zone 2. Attempting to revive the End Zone franchise is A.J. (A.J. Cutler), a personal assistant who has pledged to always serve Smash Mouth to commemorate his father, who was an End Zone actor. 

The mock-doc crosses into This Is Spinal Tap (1984) territory with its farcical and at times surreal portrayal of the lives of the fading stars of retro-grindhouse-slasher movies who were not able to reach the classic cult status of franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. Mikey (Michael St. Michaels) and William (Bill Weeden) are haplessly hilarious as the two actors behind the cannibal football player Smash Mouth and represent perfectly the rivalry – whether real or imagined – between the different actors behind Hollywood horror icons. There’s also a satirical depiction of the behaviour of production companies that aim to revive horror franchises and completely miss the mark on how to do so with heart. 

In addition to the mockumentary the double bill is concluded by the movie End Zone 2. The faux film follows final girl Nancy (Percy Wynne) as she’s invited to a reunion by her old high school cheerleader friends. Despite it being fifteen years later Nancy is still suffering from PTSD relating to the massacre of the football team at the hands of Smash Mouth’s mother Angela (Julie Kane) and her being the one behind Angela’s demise. As the women convene in a secluded cabin they begin to be picked off one-by-one by a cannibal assailant they believed had died in the carnage all those years ago.

Reminiscent of Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place (2004) with its central parody arc, End Zone 2 is an enjoyable caricature of the early slasher replicas that followed the same formulas all through the late 1970s and 1980s. The characters are hammy and overdramatic, perfect for audiences looking for that grindhouse nostalgia. The villain of Smash Mouth too is the ideal slasher villain, a once wronged ex-football player still donning his sports uniform looking to avenge the death of his maniacally monstrous mother, written obviously to take a shot at another sport-apparel-wearing-mommy’s-boy. 

As a double bill The Once and Future Smash and End Zone 2 is a comedic exploration of films from the slasher boom of the eighties, and the lasting impact on the crews and actors who were involved in them. 

© Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana

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