A sequel never has to be looked at as a bad thing. It’s the closest to immortality a movie can obtain. The story we never want to let go must always come to an end, but through a sequel it can be reborn. Reincarnated from the box office to straight to video depending on its sins. Sadly at the hands of misguided filmmakers serving as de facto parents, these spawn are usually abused and left misshapen and not in the twisted way most horror fans would enjoy. The same can be said for most cult classics, that a sequel is not only inferior by design, but an insult to the genesis of our affection. One could argue that this is the birthplace of the prequel, the bridge that connects the past and the present into a new future. Here the plot holes are filled like cavities but always manage to leave a sour taste in the mouth like an overexcited lover. But truth be told, like unrequited love, we’ll yearn for more of the same knowing full well that it will never be as good as the original. Somehow we still have the heart to complain and criticize as if these efforts ever stood a chance to start with. And yet within the Horror genre this has become the unquestioned staple of expectations for every fan. From this scornful passion, this debased faith in the unachievable, I beseech your attention.
Welcome to the CULT OF THE SEQUEL.
Your first love is always the hardest of heartaches to overcome. When the spirit of our affection is no longer returned it can spurn most folks for the rest of their lives. Harold Chasen had found the love of his life in Maude, but after her overdose he learned a very valuable lesson. That life is a gift and we should live each day like our last. And sometimes that gift has to be stolen and given to those that deserve it most.
Harold has grown more assertive with his socialite mother since last we saw him. He’s announced his plans to pursue his new passion; medicine. Gone are the plans for military school as Harold’s mother uses her fortune and influence to secure Harold a spot in America’s premier university. After all, wait til the Bridge Club hears there’s a Doctor in the family. Harold sets up a small laboratory in the basement of his estate mansion where private tutors are welcomed to school Harold in the art of the circulatory system, the nervous system and the human brain. He becomes a sponge for all the mechanics that make the human body function. Harold grows more and more fascinated with applying his former passion for suicide and executions when he realizes that after the body dies the brain can live on, even if for only a moment.
Though earning top marks through his inquisitive nature and astounding intellect, Harold begins to draw the unwanted attention of his doting mother when she realizes he’s having trouble making friends and he is routinely absent from his lecture studies. Instead Harold has begun experimenting on small game that resides around the estate. Birds, rabbits and then soon dogs and cats begin to pile up in his make shift laboratory. Mrs. Chasen estimates that a double major should straighten out her son’s endeavors, so she registers him for pharmacology. To Harold’s chagrin, chemistry is the missing element that will take his studies even further. Here is the key that will unlock his true desires.
With Mrs. Chasen’s health starting to deteriorate she hopes that Harold may hold the key to longevity when he answers that his studies are meant to explore the human brain’s continued functions beyond death. After all, this sounds all so chic to her knowing that Harold’s studies will grant him a profession deeming him a suitable match for her next round of marriage prospects. She also uses her failing health to keep poor Harold at her side as he promises that he will use his growing knowledge to prevent anyone he cares for from dying again. It’s further stated that if Harold fails his studies he will be given to the custody of Uncle Victor who still has designs for his young soldier. Not that Harold needed any more motivation to keep his promise.
Secretly, Harold has made a breakthrough discovery late one night by accident. After experimenting with another chemical batch of elixir meant to prolong the brain’s residual effects after death in his animal test subjects Harold is distraught. This new batch is yet another failure and for the first time Harold lets the pain of everything that has happened to him wash over himself. Maude’s death, his delusions of scientific exploration and the disapproval of his ideas, and even the end of his youth push Harold to the breaking point. He begins to cry and his tears mix in with his chemical components creating a new compound. It glows with a neon green hue. On a molecular level the unique PH levels and the sodium content of Harold’s tears are what has altered his formula and the rest of his life.
The new serum now works above and beyond Harold’s expectations. His animal test subjects are coming back to life! Of course there’s some severe side effects in the mutation of the dead tissue which may be the cause of their violent behavior. But Harold is not swayed from his discovery. He has conquered what he used to embrace, he has conquered death! And now he can end his heartache forever, he can once again be with Maude.
Harold steals away under the cloak of night with a syringe filled with his nectar of life to the cemetery where Maude is buried. While away, Mrs. Chasen begins to investigate the strange odor and peculiar sounds emanating from the basement. There she discovers the atrocities of Harold’s research. Attacked by his resurrected animals Mrs. Chasen is ripped to pieces, killing her. However the animals knock over the last of the serum coating Mrs. Chasen’s mutilated corpse in green ooze.
Meanwhile at the cemetry, Harold has unearthed his true love. Time has not been kind to Maude, but Harold has always been able to look past the exterior of beauty to see that it’s inside that matters most. Anatomy dissection only furthered that resolve. Lovingly, Harold injects his would be bride in the hopes that she will return to him. To his astonishment and to our horror she does! Maude rises from grave flailing and violent. Harold must get her home so he can help her further. But for this one moment he is happy again, happy to again be with Maude. She taught him so much about living life and now he has given it back to her.
Returning to his estate and taking Maude to the basement, Harold is confronted by his ravenous mother and his escaped test animals. Mrs. Chasen is barely human, having mutated from the serum and the bites of the animals that attacked her. She has physically absorbed them into her body, almost doubling her in size. She is pure Id, releasing a barrage of pent up frustration for a mother cursed with such a bastard son. She snarls that Harold is the reason his father left, that there was nothing he could amount to outside of giving her a grandchild and he has failed at every attempt she has made to rectify that. Her anger is compounded when she sees Maude, the alpha to their omega predicament.
A savage battle erupts between the mutated Mrs. Chasen and Harold as he tries to protect Maude. His laboratory is thrashed as Mrs. Chasen desires to destroy her son and everything he loves. A chemical spill ignites a fire that begins to ravage the basement and spread through the rest of the estate. Harold tries to escape, but is pinned under medical equipment by his mother. Just when this monster is to deliver the coup de grace Maude leaps into action attacking Harold’s mother. Harold frees himself and starts to make his way up the stairs as the fire flickers violently around him. He locks eyes with Maude one last time. Despite her decayed appearance, a glimmer of love eternal gleams in her eyes just as Mrs. Chasen rips Maude in two. Just then a support beam gives way, crashing down on the reanimated Mrs. Chasen. She flails about, trapped in the fire. Harold narrowly makes his escape as the entire estate is consumed by the inferno. The demonic screams of Mrs. Chasen fill the air as dawn cracks through the sky.
Among the smoldering ashes, fire fighters and investigators are confused and stunned by the discovery of the charred remains in the basement. Uncle Victor has been called in to help with the authorities questions. He uses the Chasen’s fortune to smooth things over for Harold who now wants a fresh start. His Uncle has also arranged for Harold to continue his studies in Switzerland. He has used his military contacts to provide Harold with a new identity as well on the contingency that the family fortune now resides with this one armed war hawk. It will take some time adjusting to his new moniker: Herbert West. Harold can’t help but be forced to accept these conditions. Love has failed him, but there’s always science. Harold cries, but not for what he lost, but because he knows the secret ingredient for his serum. And he knows that this is only the beginning.