by Jason Howard Kelly
I believe I speak for most people when I say that anyone who watched the first installment of the Devil’s Carnival back in 2012 was left completely satisfied and wanting for more. Our wish was granted. Last August the enigmatic and talented Terrance Zdunich along with his cabal of fiendish carnies returned to shepherd us back to Hell for the second installment of this series. Armed with a new soundtrack and newcomers such as Adam Pascal (Roger from RENT), David Hasselhoff, and Lyndon Smith, this film aimed to draw the audience further into this prolific battle of song between Heaven and Hell.
Let’s start with the obvious strength: the soundtrack. The original Devil’s Carnival left us with several memorable tracks, though it was limited by the fact that the film itself was only 50 minutes long. This time around we got a longer film (1 hour, 37 minutes) and, thus, a longer and more developed soundtrack. It starts out with the heart-pounding, dark anthem Shovel and Bone in which we are re-introduced to Lucifer and his now indentured servant, Ms. Merrywood, played by Briana Evigan. That song does a tremendous job of setting the tone for Hell’s side of the story. Lucifer is still hell-bent (pun totally intended) on waging war with Heaven and is gathering his followers to prepare for the fight. We are then transitioned into Heaven’s side of the story where, in actuality, most of this film takes place. This is when we see the origins of June, whom later became The Painted Doll, as she is brought in as a trainee for Heaven. One of the better and perhaps most underrated songs on this soundtrack is Only By Design, performed by David Hasselhoff. I think it’s easy for people to forget that, “The Hoff” actually has a pretty good set of pipes on him. It’s a short, and fairly simple song, but captivating nonetheless. We are also introduced to The Agent, God’s number one man, played by Adam Pascal. As he is attempting to seduce June he performs what may be the strongest song on the soundtrack, Down at the Midnight Rectory. Pascal is a great vocalist, as he showed back in 2005 when he was in the film adaptation of RENT, and he doesn’t disappoint here. It is definitely one of the catchiest and repeatable songs from this movie. Those are the three tracks that stand out to me the most from this film. There were, however, some other notable tracks, such as After The Fall by Terrance Zdunich and Hitting On All Sevens by the duo of rapper Tech N9ne and newcomer Lyndon Smith.
Perhaps the only weak point of this film, at least in my opinion, is the final track performed by The Painted Doll (Emilie Autumn) called Hoof and Lap. Here’s my problem with it: it’s too chaotic. I understand that this final confrontation between her and The Agent is supposed to climactic, given that the entire film built up to it, but it just went completely off the rails for me. I had to look up the lyrics because for about 80% of the song I couldn’t understand what she was actually singing. Don’t get me wrong, Autumn is incredibly talented and has a strong voice with a unique way of performing. But it was just a little too much on the weird side for me, especially since this is how the film ended. Again, though, this is just me nitpicking.
The soundtrack wasn’t the only strength of this film. The set design and costume designs were phenomenal, and perhaps even surpassed the designs from the original Devil’s Carnival. The uniformity of Heaven’s characters was particularly striking in this film, as they appeared to be members of a modern, fully organized army.
Adam Pascal/ http://www.thedailyactor.com
And let’s give a shout out to The Hoff, who looked pretty sharp as The Designer.
David Hasselhoff/ http://www.ew.com
We were also treated to a revamped Lucifer with some updated face paint.
Terrance Zdunich/ http://www.screamhorrormag.com
Overall this sequel did exactly what it was supposed to do: it’s got the audience hungry for the third installment of the Devil’s Carnival series. When that third film will come is a mystery at this time. Given that we had to wait three years in between the first and second films, it may be a while before we see the finale of this trilogy. However, given how strong Alleluia! was, it would appear that the third and final film will be even bigger and better than the first two, and that is definitely something worth waiting for.
Until then… Always, Alleluia!