Criminally Insane 2 (1985)





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Movie Info

A mental hospital, faced with a severe decrease in funding, is forced to release mass-murderer Ethel Janowski into a halfway house. Ethel is psychotic, delusional and has a hefty appetite. In fact, her killing spree began 13 years before with the murder of her grandmother, who had forced her to go on a diet. Now that she's tasted the home-cooked fare at the halfway house, she'll do absolutely anything to get more.
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Critic Reviews for Criminally Insane 2

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Audience Reviews for Criminally Insane 2

This is so bad, so much worse than the already awful first film. I really have no idea how they even managed to make the sequel. This cheapie used various footage from the first film, with plenty more bad acting ensured. Gosh, there's no budget in the film, all you needed was a cheap camera and an overweight actress. The sound quality is so bad, you can hear all the wind noises in the background.

Sylvester Kuo
Sylvester Kuo

Super Reviewer


Oh, [i]Criminally Insane[/i], where have you been all my life? You're exactly the sort of thing I spend far too much of my life trying to find. A grindhouse horror flick that's so unendingly violent, sadistic, hateful and sinister made on a budget of nothing and all shot in one house, [i]Criminally Insane[/i] is the type of film you'll either embrace with open arms or run from screaming in terror. Either of which, by the way, is a perfectly reasonable reaction. Priscilla Arden stars as Ethel, an overweight sociopath who's just come home from a mental institution to live with her grandmother. Ethel is sullen as hell, yells at everyone and seems determined to make it through life just sitting in front of the TV watching "Gunsmoke" and eating as much as humanly possible, striking out against anything in the way of her minimal ambitions. In short, she's crazy and fat, leading to the sequel being released to video as [i]Crazy Fat Ethel II[/i], a title thatm was memorable enough to have me scouring video stores for it as a youth, to no avil. [img][/img] [center][size=5]YUMMY... ICE.... CREAM....[/size] [/center] Ethel's first victim is old granny, who has the audacity to lock up the kitchen cabinets because the fatty's eating her out of house and home with her pound-of-bacon and half-dozen-egg breakfasts. It's when the murders start that you realize you're really in for a treat--the blood is that garish '70s drive-in movie red, and it's everywhere, even if there's no actual gore. The next to be reddened is a delivery boy, who asks for money owed from previous bills, to which Ethel yells, "I don't have eighty dollars! I've got four-fifty!" and bashes him with a broken bottle. After hiding the bodies in granny's room, Ethel's sister shows up, a homely-looking prostitute who tells Eth that their mom is shacked up with a Filipino man ("I guess she's better off sleeping with that little brown man than drunk all the time") and decides to move in for a while. She turns tricks at the house, and soon shacks up with her abusive ex John, who wins her back with the most amazing explanation I've ever heard: "I'm going to tell you the truth, for once. You need a good beating every once in a while. All women do, and you especially." Then they have sex. It's amazing. When not engaging in the slow-motion abuse of his girlfriend, pimping her out, snorting coke in the living room (sis explains this to Ethel as, "Some nasal medicine the doctor prescribed. John and I both got sinuses.") or putting on make-up because "that's what they do in Hollywood," John starts getting suspicious about what's going on it that locked room. The bodies start to smell, and while Ethel tries to cover it up by cracking a window, putting in an air freshener and spraying the bodies with what looks like Pledge, John still figures that "Grandma must have shit all over the bed before she left." More characters show up to be on the receiving end of Ethel's various blades, like one of sis's tricks and Ethel's old doctor, while a detective (George "Buck" Flower) tries to figure everything out. It's a grimy, misanthropic tale filled with nothing but vile, loathesome people that hate each other, and if you can see the humor in that, Criminally Insane could be your cup of tea. Of course, it wouldn't work as well if it weren't for Alden's performance. The rest of the cast is fine in a bad grindhouse movie sort of way, but Alden's Ethel is such a fascinating monstrosity that you can't turn away whenever she's on screen, which is most of the time. Most of her time is spent either eating, killing, or unsuccesfully trying to get rid of bodies, and she's such a sociopathic dullard that you almost want to tell her what to do, just because she completely lacks the ability to think past the next five seconds. Not content with this, director Nick Phillips throws in a dream sequence with loads of negative footage of Ethel carving up a mannequin and then running on the beach in a glamorous outfit. The mind reels. Best of all, [i]Criminally Insane[/i] is barely over an hour, so it manages to fill just about every frame with some sort of hilariously hateful, misanthropic image or line. It never drags, and there's always clear build-up to something horrible, and if you want to test the waters of grindhouse cuisine, I can't think of many better samplings. Alden returns in [i]Criminally Insane II[/i], a twelve-years-later, shot-on-video sequel that features Ethel being released from a mental institution to a rehab house because she hasn't violently attacked anyone in five years. (Ah, the Reagan era.) The new place seems to be just as bad as her old home, with people trying to keep Ethel from having food in her room, stealing her pudding, and best of all, feeding the patients dog foot and telling them it's corned beef hash. Ethel spends much of her time sleeping, allowing her to dream... about the original [i]Criminally Insane[/i]. Yes, in the tradition of [i]Silent Night Deadly Night 2[/i] and [i]Boogeyman 2[/i], [i]Criminally Insane II[/i] consists of nearly a half-hour of footage from the first film, padded out with some new scenes of Ethel killing people. The flashbacks aren't in any order, and they're all the murder scenes, which really aren't even the best parts. And while the new footage doesn't lack charm--Alden is excelllent again, for one--everything seems to drag. That's right, even though there's only a little over a half-hour of new footage, the scenes seem to last forever. Feeding patients dog food is funny, but do we need to see the "nurse" opening, pouring out and serving all three cans? Since the new footage is mostly crap, and the old footage you've already seen, Criminally Insane 2 may turn out to be the longest 70 minutes of your life. Still, there's moments that seem to be written by David Mamet, if Mamet had been born brain-dead, like this exchange between Ethel and another patient: Ethel: I made you some tea. Future victim: Mmm.. that's hot tea. Ethel: Yeah, it's good and hot. Victim: It's got to be hot or I won't drink it. Ethel: Yeah, me too. Victim: This tea is good and hot. Ethel: That's the way I like it. Victim: I guess I'd better drink it while it's hot. Ethel: Yeah. My brain hurts just typing that. There's a certain sadistic pleasure I get from watching crap like [i]Criminally Insane 2[/i], mostly from the fact that I know I'll end up forcing it on others sometime. The first film is a genuinely enjoyable piece of slimy, sadistic insanity that I'll even go as far as to call "good," as Phillips has enough visual flair and knack for pacing to make it worth viewing. The second is... well, a cheap cash-in, and, unbelievably, one of three (!) films Phillips made with [i]CI[/i] footage. (The other two, [i]Death Nurse[/i] and [i]Death Nurse 2[/i], are currently unavailable, which is clearly a tragedy for all of humankind.)

Paul Freitag
Paul Freitag

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