Charles Band’s homage to horror of decades past and his entire back catalogue of creatively low budget schlock (with gems strewn throughout) continues with episode two. Previously, we were introduced to the faded glamour of the titular hotel through Jake, the new assistant manager. He quickly learned there were some seriously weird things taking place within the walls of the building. Most people would have run a mile, but Jake did not.
In amongst the oddball characters, including a mysterious new guest, a ‘mad doctor’ doing experiments in his room, and the creepy family that occupy the entire top floor of the hotel, Jake discovered Mary. And so, while good sense would dictate a job was not worth potentially becoming meat for someone’s murder, Jake ignored the threat of danger to learn more about the mysterious, melancholy Mary who seemed trapped by her family and in need of his help.
Band, who devised the story here, has some twists up his sleeve and so he didn’t let Mary’s identity be in question for too long. We learn that Mary is not the defenceless victim she appears to be, but in reality is the ageless matriarch of the reclusive family she at first appeared to be held captive by. The family is in cahoots with the doctor and a grand scheme is brewing, to what end we do not yet know.
Kicking this episode off, Jake is invited to learn more about the hotel’s history by Ivan Ivanov, that mysterious new guest, who is a supernatural investigator with work to do at Ravenwolf Towers. Along the way we get some more softcore action, some gore and plenty of bizarre happenings. Much like the first episode, if you can imagine a low budget, sleazier and yet more honest about its ambitions American Horror Story, you’ve got a good idea of what to expect.
It’s cheap, cheesy and cheerfully entertaining stuff. There’s little in the way of emerging subtext or wider commentary, just Band and his crew having a good time with the references and managing to generate an enjoyable atmosphere along the way. Nobody involved is going to be picking up prestigious acting awards for this anytime soon, but that’s not really the point anyway. Very much aware of exactly what it is in the best way, if you fancy trashy good fun, you could do a lot worse.
RAVENWOLF TOWERS EPISODE 2: BONDS OF BLOOD / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: CHARLES BAND / STARRING: SHILOH CREVELING, EVAN HENDERSON, MARIA OLSEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US VOD/DVD); UK RELEASE DATE TBA