Judge Neal Solon never expected that the adventures of a female lizard nurse who's horny for blood would ever be the high point of a disc he reviewed...
"It's unusual for us to see a woman here alone so late at night. My dear, you aren't lost are you?"—Gregory, the innkeeper
If you are reading this review of Gregory Horror Show—The Guest >From Hell, I am going to assume that you have already read my review of volume one of the series, Gregory Horror Show—The Nightmare Begins.. This second installment of the Gregory Horror Show is, essentially, the same in format as the first. The blocky animation is the same. The presentation of the episodes is the same. The same characters and themes reappear. The main difference is that this time we see Gregory's world through the eyes of a woman.
The main way that this will affect the progression of the show is immediately apparent: the ways in which the characters, the majority of whom are male, interact with the protagonist has changed. Gregory is mildly flirtatious. Later in the show, the gun-slinging cactus that tried to shoot the last guest makes a pass at the new one. Apart from this, the story is the same. The woman was apparently unhappy in her real life, and now she finds herself stuck in this horrible fantasy world, wishing she could go back.
When she arrives at the hotel, the woman is led to room 205. The scene, through her eyes, looks familiar. We have seen it before, though she has not. We have seen it in Volume One, through the eyes of the unfortunate man who slept in this room before her. It is slightly unsettling to be revisiting the same place and the same situation as a different person. More unsettling for the protagonist, however, is the surrealistic place itself.
The story that follows in this installment of 25 episodes of the Gregory Horror Show flows better than the first. The themes are used more effectively to connect the episodes as the protagonist is repeatedly forced to consider the consequences of her having consistently chosen money and her career over love. Despite the improved thematic continuity, however, the show still suffers from the choppiness of it format—25 two- to three-minute, self-contained episodes in quick succession tenuously tied together by thematic arcs.
If the program presented here is familiar, the disc itself is almost identical to Geneon's release of the first volume. The audio and the video are serviceable. The evident pixels in the opening sequence persist, and, as in the first volume, the roughly 25 seconds of animation that make up the opening sequence are repeated before each episode. This means that about 17 percent of the animation in the relatively short running time of this program is made up of redundant footage.
The extras included are the same in nature to the first volume, though ultimately a little superior. Accompanying the feature presentation are four bonus episodes, three Geneon previews, a Gregory Horror Show action figure preview, and DVD credits. Again, the only extra that will interest most people is the series of four bonus episodes that make up "The Bloody Karte." These four episodes center on the exploits of Catherine, a lizard nurse with an erotic penchant for blood, and they manage to be among the most entertaining episodes included on either the first or second volume. Catherine's chasing after men and after blood has an almost slapstick quality to it, and while it is certainly dark, following Catherine's life and her mood swings becomes amusing. Here, one finds evidence of the humor that the series' creator must have intended to infuse into every episode.
"The Bloody Karte" also seems to have given the show's animators an opportunity to experiment with a broader range of styles and techniques. The settings and a lot of the background animation in these extra episodes are more rounded and textured than in the feature. Additionally, there are a number of effects used that are reminiscent of anime, something which Gregory Horror Show is certainly not.
The rest of the extras are comprised of three previews for the anime titles Stellvia, Star Ocean Ex, and Tokyo Underground, two stylized eerily lit photographs of an action figure of James, Gregory the innkeeper's son, and DVD credits.
In all, this installment of the Gregory Horror Show succeeds slightly more than its predecessor, despite suffering from many of the same failings. While the court still holds that your money and time can certainly be put to better use elsewhere, if you happen to have an inexplicable desire to see what this show is all about, this volume is a better place to start than the first.
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• Bonus Episodes: The Bloody Karte
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