Lake Fear 2 (2016) AKA The Everglades Killings. Directed by Ben Wilder. Starring Linnea Quigley, Kelsi Monroe, Shawn Rees and Ben Wilder. A group of friends celebrating Spring Break in the Florida Everglades must survive redneck serial killers over the course of a terrifying night in the swamp.
We open on two bloody girls cowering under a swamp cabin on stilts while a killer stalks them above.
The two make a break for a nearby boat, but the masked killer has other plans. From the deck of the house, he unloads a crossbow bolt into one victim’s neck. It’s a pretty slick looking kill for a low budget movie and the gushing blood and pulsating score is just right. The crossbow kill is followed by a decent looking throat slitting.
There might be something to this after all, despite the fact that I’ve never heard of the 2014 original “Lake Fear.”
A newscaster reports from a backwoods town that a Python Hunt is beginning, due to the Burmese Python damaging the local ecosystem. The reporter also mentions that several college students visiting the swamps to party have gone missing recently due to suspected Satanic rituals.
And then two magic words pop up in the opening credits: Linnea Quigley.
Though she needs no introduction, she’s the Scream Queen who graced and elevated “Return Of The Living Dead,” “Night Of The Demons,” “Silent Night Deadly Night,” “The Barn,” “Graduation Day,” “Savage Streets,” “Fatal Games,” “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers,” etc. She even played a soul inside Freddy’s chest in “A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master” in ’88. Her body of work basically reads as everything that was great about 1980s cinema and she’s still kicking ass to this day.
At the beach in Fort Lauderdale, a gaggle of college students discusses who likes who and what they should do with the rest of their Spring Break. A blonde alpha male named Tyler gives his friend Patrick some romantic advice as they scope out two bikini babes:
“If you want it, you gotta take it. Don’t come at girls all sensitive with ‘I write poetry.’ If you’re going to write poetry, write poetry with your dick.”
While sunning themselves in the sand, Toni tells her pal Tanya that she hasn’t had her period in several months and thinks she MIGHT be pregnant. The two girls freak out. Several months? Might want to get that looked at.
This casual mention becomes a subplot of some importance later on as we learn that her growing baby is the product of an affair with a certain blonde moron.
After getting a call from Tyler’s BFF Derek, the gang attends a Hot Body contest at a beachside bar that goes on far too long. At the drinking hole, they meet up with Marcus, Derek, Anna, Leah and others.
During the Wet T-Shirt part, I wondered if one of the alligators promised on the cover would storm into the bar and devour these boneheads long before they got to the swamp. It sadly never happens, but Tyler’s blonde friend Leah gets up on stage and flashes her assets. She wins, and there’s a moment when Tyler is cheering so hard for the moistened women, his tanned head threatens to explode from sheer douchery.
Linnea Quigly pops up as one of the owners of the bar, and Derek confides to her that he’s bored with the usual drinking and sex holiday. They do the same thing in the same place every year, and he yearns for a change. Quigley suggests taking an air boat tour through the Everglades and participating in the Python Catching Contest to make a few bucks and help the local environment.
This plan is brought before Tyler, the decision maker, and he agrees to it. Armed with digital cameras, they document the trip into the swamps and their meeting with Henry. He’s an old timer who does swamp tours. He’s closed for the day due to bad weather, but after being dazzled by Wet T-Shirt contest winner Leah, he takes the kids out on a large air boat.
After they spy a few gators and snakes, Henry takes the boat to an isolated hunting cabin built on stilts on the water. He explains that the site, which dates back to the 1950s, has a dark history of injuries and death. Immediately following the vague story, the boat’s fan propellor breaks and Henry has a fatal heart attack.
All eyes turn to Tyler, who turns out to be an argumentative and unreliable leader. He can’t even figure out how to operate Henry’s simple walkie-talkie to contact the mainland for help.
Faced with the option of sitting around in a stalled boat all night, they elect to traverse the murky water and seek shelter at the mysterious cabin.
During the incredibly short trip across the swamp, the sun is apparently switched off and night doesn’t so much fall gradually as drop hard.
Tyler beats up Derek for coming up with the Swamp Tour idea in the first place, and everyone checks their phones for service. No bars and very little charge left. Typical.
Back at Henry’s boat, we experience the shock of all shocks as Henry sits up from being dead and begins chatting with his newly arrived redneck buddies. Twist! They are sharpening machetes on whetstones and discussing how hot it’s gonna be when “them college girls are doin’ all that beggin’ and pleadin’” during the coming hunt. The men are all wearing headlamps.
In the hunting cabin, which is unlit, the group talks over each other and highlights one of the major problems with the movie: there’s too damn many characters.
Typically slasher movies feature an average of 6 potential victims, and here we have at least 10. When they are all huddled together in the cabin, it looks like a crowd scene. 40 minutes in and nobody has even stubbed their toe, and Tyler has gone from Team Leader to grumpy outcast. He sits in the corner wearing an unzipped hoodie over his bare torso and looks moody.
Derek and Marcus find potent weed and restore electricity to the joint, which catches the attention of the rednecks. Henry and his two friends are quietly rowing a small boat towards the cabin and having some funny conversations.
“I ain’t never experienced a Spring Break before. I don’t get why they need a break from spring. It’s the best season ever and they need a break from it?”
“Well, it’s called an education. Educated idiots is what I call them.”
Tyler discovers moonshine and the women decide to strip down to bikinis and look for a shower. Remember, it’s very important to keep it clean when you’ve been stranded in a swampland death cabin. The moonshine reactivates Tyler into the loud party bro we saw at the beginning.
The killers switch off their headlamps and approach the cabin on land just as Derek offers everyone the marijuana he found. Anna isn’t feeling well, so Leah takes her outside to get some fresh air away from the weed stench. The gang inside turns on a boom box, passes joints around and drinks.
On the deck, Leah’s legs dangle over the homicidal rednecks as they creep into position.
I give “Lake Fear 2: The Swamp” credit for one thing: when one of the killers leans in to sniff Anna’s feet, he doesn’t then back off and leave us waiting another 10 minutes before they finally strike. Anna is pulled under the cabin and Leah flees straight into the arms of another baddie.
Finally, something is happening!
If you were to teach a college course on dumb decisions made in horror films, this film would make a fine first lesson.
After discovering that the “abandoned” cabin was recently occupied and is full of someone else’s stuff, the doomed kids dig right into their host’s liquor and narcotics without a care. And after braving the scary swamp in the journey from Henry’s boat, everybody is hot to use an equally scary outdoor shower located on a dock several feet from the cabin in complete darkness. Nevermind that the shower has no walls or privacy. And yes, we are treated to one of the longest and most nude shower scenes I’ve ever seen. It’s like there were a bunch of plans made for elaborate kill scenes and a faster pace and the director said:
“Replace everything with naked women. If there’s a plot hole, cut to a nude scene.”
As their friends vanish in increasing numbers, the partygoers never once investigate or even discuss the absences. This becomes even sillier when the killers howl loudly or have fits of screaming laughter less than 10 feet from the party and nobody comes running. Must be some good moonshine.
A ridiculously large cast of victims aside, “Lake Fear 2” takes way too long to get stabby. The first deaths of the main group of friends occurs with just 30 minutes of movie left. After all that build up, you want to see some pretty spectacular slayings. We just saw these guys sharpen machetes for like ten minutes, so where are all the flying limbs and severed heads? They never materialize, but we do get a strange practical effects scene where a victim is repeatedly conked on the head with a hammer. (I didn’t know that human skulls were made of sugar glass.)
In addition to an extravagant amount of female nudity, there’s a brief sex scene and a man-on-man rape sequence. Rednecks, am I right? This scene is unconvincing in terms of the physical position of the actor’s bodies and also features some superhumanly bad acting.
Most movies of this ilk have a heroine, hero or at least two survivors we can probably guess in the beginning. There’s no such thing here. Tyler started off the movie as a loudmouth prick, and I figured he would have a change of heart once the bodies started dropping and become a better man because so much time is spent with him in the first 40 minutes. Nope. He actually becomes more of a jackass.
And he says this line to an unwilling girl struggling in his arms:
“Calm down, baby. You’re with Tyler now.”
We don’t really have anyone to root for.
The film’s synopsis and cover art promises maximum alligator carnage coupled with serial killing antics.
Don’t hold your breath.
I thought the gators would serve as the primary threat and the killer would pop up towards the end like the Final Boss in a videogame, but they never do anything. A single alligator is shown within the first 30 minutes, peacefully swimming along as the boat passes it. You never see one again, sadly.
The DVD cover shows two alligators outside a cabin feasting on severed human arms and the tagline: “Get Ripped Apart On Spring Break!” The back cover promises: “flesh-ripping alligators.” Unless there are 52 deleted scenes involving alligators ripping flesh and the Director’s Cut is 3 hours, we’ve been lied to. I had my suspicions. Unless you have a CGI budget like in the SyFy creature features, pulling off a gator kill can be tricky.
The opening credits, which shows newspaper articles about Satanic cults murdering college students, makes it clear that the murderers we’ll be seeing are into the occult. This is underlined when the reporter in the beginning mentions the Satanic nature of the crimes. So we’re all set to see some hooded cultists running amok, right?
Other than an awesomely ridiculous scene towards the end, no mention is ever made by the killers of human sacrifice or the Dark Lord. We can’t even get a single “Hail Satan!” The bad guys dress and act like swampland slobs in dirty work clothes and waterproof boots.
The final scene of “Lake Fear 2: The Swamp” definitely veers off the reservation. It doesn’t exactly fit in with the film it concludes and leaves us to question the motivations of the killers. They seem to be interested in killing the college kids due to some sort of socioeconomic grudge between hard working swamp folk and wealthy, ignorant city kids who think they can just smoke and drink someone else’s stash. None of the armed dimwits talks about any grand plan, but the climax certainly leans in that direction.
There’s a roaring bonfire, full frontal female nudity and cultists in wooden masks and robes drinking from chalices. Whereas the rednecks were talkative and barely able to function with so little sanity, the cultists are silent and somber. It’s certainly a very lively scene, but it has no connection to what came before.
- A woman is shot through the back of the neck with an arrow.
- A woman has her throat cut with a hunting knife.
- A woman is strangled with razor wire and bleeds to death.
- A man is drowned in a wash basin.
- A woman is stabbed in the torso.
- A woman has her skull bashed in with a sledgehammer.
- A man is stabbed in the back several times.
- A woman is headbutted to death.
- A man is strangled by a Burmese Python.
- A man is stabbed in the back with a sharpened pole.
- A woman is stripped, crucified upside down and has her torso slashed open.