Judge Patrick Bromley believes that Ape must not kill Ape. Not even Teen Ape.
Mulva is back…and this time she's kicking monkey ass.
I didn't much know what to expect from a movie called Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape! (The title reminds me of the immortal words of one Lisa Simpson: "I know those words, but that sentence doesn't make any sense!") With the understanding that this is a sequel (there's a number 2 in the title, which I quickly put together because I went to college), I did a bit of digging and discovered that the film does indeed have a predecessor, Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker!, reviewed in these pages with high marks by our very own Judge Bill Gibron. While that certainly got my hopes up, I remained reluctant; I've had some bad experiences with reviewing homemade horror films before and didn't want to be burned again—the last one left too many scars. I would proceed with caution.
The film is the 22nd film by Chris Seaver (in the first of an endless series of nods to Quentin Tarantino, it's even referenced as such in the opening credits), the writer and director of both Mulva films and the figurehead of his own movie "studio," Low Budget Productions. Seaver has clearly modeled his movie, and the studio from whence it came, on Lloyd Kaufman's legendary Troma; his movies are the first (of which I'm aware) not released by Troma to still take place in the fictional city of Tromaville (and, to really cement Kaufman's endorsement, the Man Himself delivers a testimonial to LBP on the Mulva 2 disc). He's taken Kaufman's advice to "make your own damn movie," (Lloyd has a how-to book out with that very title) and gone him one better—he's made 22 of his own damn movies chock-full of gratuitous gore, gleeful raunch, and potty-mouthed comedy, and Mulva 2 is no exception. To call the movie a "low budget production" pretty well describes it: It's been shot on a consumer-model home video camera using actors who appear to be friends of the director, at locations that might as well be their own houses, garages, basements, et cetera.
So, does the low-budget nature of the production take away from the film's intent? Hell no. Movies only need to succeed on the level they're meant to, and Mulva 2 only means to make us laugh. And laugh I did, beginning with the movie's first joke (a title card that reads "'Have Mercy'—Old Stamos Proverb"), all the way through its 62-minute running time. It's giddy and goofy and gross and gynecological (okay, so I need another alliterative, but Seaver does have an unnatural preoccupation with female sex organs—really, sex in general). In short, it's hilarious. There's a real "see what sticks" mentality to the comedy—it comes fast and furious, and there's no limit to how low Seaver will go for a joke. That I found so much of it funny may very well have something to do with a sensibility I share with the filmmaker; endless pop-culture references (and to good movies, too, like Dude, Where's My Car? and The Last Starfighter; there's even a reference to my much-hated final shot of Freddy vs. Jason) and gross-out humor of the non-scatological kind are things I happen to be amused by. I know it's not everyone's cup of Coke II, but I can only report on how I responded to the material. You may have a different reaction, but then, you might not have any business watching a movie called Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape! in the first place.
As far as a story goes, Seaver has taken a fairly simple approach. The movie is essentially a scene-for-scene parody of the Kill Bill movies (only the highlights, really, as this film is only a fourth of the length of Tarantino's epic). As the movie opens, our sugar-obsessed heroine is put into a diabetic coma by the man known as Teen Ape (who serves as the mascot for LBP; all of Mulva 2 is apparently populated by characters from previous LBP films, making it a kind of greatest hits compilation). When she wakes up several years later, she's played by a different actress (Debbie Rochon, of Tromeo and Juliet and Terror Firmer fame) and has gotten considerably hotter—a fact mentioned by just about everyone she encounters along her ensuing roaring rampage of revenge.
That's pretty much it.
Seaver has borrowed Tarantino's story and used it as the clothesline upon which to hang his endless series of gags. Not all of them work—there's an extended scene in which a man hunts the Wolf Man that never really goes anywhere, and another involving a rather unintelligible character named Bonejack (played by Seaver himself) that relies too heavily on a wacky voice that isn't all that funny—but there enough good jokes crammed into this tight package that it's worth recommending.
A quick word about the movie's lead actress, one Debbie Rochon. A large part of Mulva 2's success can be credited to her. Like Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies, Rochon is the whole show here. The movie ultimately lives and dies by her performance, and Chris Seaver was wise in recruiting her to carry it. She's tough and sexy and—above all else—really, really funny. There's no good reason why Rochon shouldn't have a bigger career than half of the actresses in Hollywood (other than the fact that I don't imagine she's interested in one), but I can't see that she's going to break in to more "mainstream" films any time soon. It may be because of the kinds of films in which she's chosen to appear, or because she's taken her top off in several of those films. Either way, it's Hollywood's loss; Debbie Rochon puts most screen actresses to shame.
Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape! (Teen Ape, incidentally, appears onscreen as one word) comes to DVD courtesy of Tempe Video. While the studio's releases are often technically wanting, they typically do a good job of loading them up with special features (sound like anyone you know, Troma?). Though shot on lower-grade video, Mulva 2 actually looks decent, bolstered no doubt by Seaver's artistry as a cinematographer—he's learned quite a bit from Sam Raimi and the Evil Dead series. The audio is somewhat worse, suffering from that tinny hollowness that video often provides. You also have to ask yourself why Seaver didn't go back and loop Teen Ape's dialogue, as it's spoken through a rubber mask. It's not a standard-setting presentation of the film by any means, but it also won't distract from your enjoyment of the movie—if you're the type to enjoy this kind of movie, that is.
Two commentary tracks have been recorded for the disc. The first is by Seaver and several members of his cast and crew, and the second is a solo track by Seaver. The group commentary can be a good deal of fun—everyone jokes around a lot and has some interesting stories about the production—but it's almost exhausting to listen to. Often, there are so many people laughing and talking over one another that it becomes difficult to decipher what's going on. The second commentary, which Seaver recorded alone and very late at night (which he's quick to point out), is pretty much the opposite—it's so subdued it might put you to sleep. That's not to say it's boring—Seaver jokes quite a bit (lamely) and gives an effective overview of how the film came together (it was planned to be shot over four days, but they finished it in three; Rochon came aboard after Seaver couldn't come to an agreement with the actress who played Mulva in the original film)—but there are so many pauses and the track is so stream-of-consciousness that it is, at times, equally as challenging as the first track.
Rounding out the special features are the aforementioned six-minute testimonial by Lloyd Kaufman (essentially just an excuse to show two girls kissing—attaboy, Lloyd), a half-hour-long behind-the-scenes piece (someone else on set with a video camera), some production stills and possible promotional artwork, and a fake commercial advertising some muffins that taste like maple syrup—the latter is demented and hilarious, and possibly my favorite thing on the entire disc. There is also a trailer gallery for some other releases by Tempe Video. Some, like the other films of Chris Seaver's oeuvre, I'll consider checking out; others (Splatter Rampage Wrestling, for one), I'm thankful I don't have to; and, finally, there's one (Ghoul School) that I'm sorry to have seen.
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