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Dan Berk and Robert Olsen
Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Abramsen
Writing Credits:
Nick Damici

When his home of New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vamp leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America with only the distant memory of his mentor and legendary vampire hunter Mister to guide him.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English PCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 2/14/2017

• “Making of” Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Stake Land II [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 2, 2017)

Back in 2011, Stake Land offered an unusual – and effective – take on the worn-out vampire genre. Five years later, the franchise returns with the appropriately named Stake Land II.

In the first film, teenager Martin (Connor Paolo) lost his family to vampires. With the help of a mysterious stranger named “Mister” (Nick Damici), he sought refuge in a safe spot called New Eden.

Martin made it to New Eden, but his situation collapses when a revitalized vampire cult lays waste to the location. This leaves Martin on his own again to battle the vampire scourge and to search for Mister to gain his mentor’s assistance to take down bloodsucking leader “Mother” (Kristina Hughes).

As I noted earlier, I liked the first Stake Land, so I looked forward to the sequel. The original managed to create a somber vision of its genre and I hoped the second flick would continue to offer an intriguing world.

In terms of tone, Land II matches up with its predecessor pretty well – heck, it may be even darker than the original. The movie’s opening sets up Martin in a way that emphasizes his loss and misery, and matters don’t really improve from there.

I described the first movie as a Terrence Malick take on the supernatural, but that tone holds less true for Land II. Whereas the original flick tended to be somewhat dreamy and meditational, this one opts for a more standard action vibe.

To a degree, at least, as Land II doesn’t abandon its predecessor’s feel. Compared to Stake Land, it boasts a more dynamic story, but it still remains relatively introspective.

Unfortunately, Land II seems less involving than the original, and its narrative comes across as more contrived. In a way, it reminds me of Alien 3, mainly in its refusal to allow its lead continued happiness. As alluded, Land II’s opening destroys whatever joy Martin came to experience in New Eden, all to leave him alone and despondent ala Ripley at the start of Alien 3.

Unlike Ripley, I don’t have enough emotional investment in Martin to feel too upset about his status here, though I think this move feels a bit contrived. It also doesn’t carry over to the rest of the movie as much as one might expect. Martin alludes to his losses at times, but his backstory doesn’t seem to inform subsequent events to a substantial degree.

That’s due to the aforementioned more conventional “action flick” vibe of Land II. I get the impression it aspires to more of a Mad Max feel than its predecessor, as it comes with a semi-quirky cast of characters Martin encounters on his travels. Land II never becomes quite as wild as the Max universe – especially not compared to the stylized madness of Fury Road - but I still feel like George Miller’s work influenced this tale.

Land II also boasts a stronger Western vibe than its predecessor, another move I greet with ambivalence. This choice gives the movie a fairly conventional feel, as it devolves into a story of revenge for the most part. Land II fails to find a particularly original path as Martin inexorably winds his way toward Mother.

With a narrative such as this, the nature of the journey becomes more important than the destination, and that’s where Land II falls short. Perhaps because it feels semi-conventional, the path Martin takes to get to the final doesn’t turn especially involving. A lot of these events come across as sideshows that don’t add a lot to the overall tale, so we become less involved along the way.

None of these factors make Land II a bad movie, and I suspect I’d like it more if I didn’t compare it with its predecessor – the sequel would feel more creative and original if the first flick hadn’t already brought us such an unusual experience. As it stands, this flick delivers a decent but only sporadically involving experience.

Slightly odd footnote: if you search for Stake Land II in IMDB, you won’t find it, as that site uses what appears to have been the movie’s original title: The Stakelander. It’s unclear when/why the name changed, but the original moniker still appears during the end credits.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Stake Land II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the most part, visuals were positive.

Overall sharpness seemed fine. A little softness impacted a few nighttime shots, but in general, delineation remained appropriate. I saw no moiré effects or jaggies, and edge haloes didn’t appear. Print flaws also never became a factor.

The film tended toward subdued hues that mixed teal and amber. These colors remained restrained and looked fine given stylistic choices. Blacks seemed dark and tight, and low-light shots brought us reasonable clarity; they could be a little dense but not to a significant degree. This became a satisfactory presentation.

Heavy on atmospherics, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 added a little kick to the proceedings. Action shots showed nice involvement, and a few other sequences opened up the mix well enough. The movie lacked many standout auditory moments, but the soundfield created a decent sense of place.

No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech was natural and smooth, while music offered good range and dimensionality. Effects came across as accurate and tight. Again, the track lacked a lot to make it excel, but it fit the story well enough.

While the Blu-ray for the first movie came with a good selection of extras, the sequel skimps. A Making of featurette runs 23 minutes, 37 seconds and provides notes from actor/writer Nick Damici, producer/actor Larry Fessenden, producer Peter Phok, directors Robert Olsen and Dan Berk, co-producer Mark Montague, costume designer Brenda Shenher, cinematographer Matt Mitchell, production designer Sara McCudden, special effects makeup creators Pete Gerner and Brian Spears, and actors Bonnie Dennison, Connor Paolo, Laura Abramsen, AC Peterson, Steven Williams, and Kristina Hughes.

This program looks at the original film’s development, story/characters, how the directors came to the project, cast and performances, sets and locations, design choices, and creature effects. While not a deep piece, “Making” manages to touch on a good variety of topics, and it provides enough detail to become a useful show.

The disc opens with ads for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, If There’s a Hell Below and Stake Land. We also get a trailer for Stake Land II.

Whereas the original film offered an unusual genre piece, Stake Land II feels less original. I think the movie has its moments but it doesn’t create a particularly involving narrative. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio as well as a decent featurette. Stake Land II delivers a decent but disappointing sequel.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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