Right off, I have to explain why I've given this film ten stars.
Bad films are something of an art form in themselves. Think Ed Wood, think Brian DePalma (come on... be honest, he s*cks, and you know it.) Play Dead has no pretensions. It knows it's a pile of crap, and it revels in it (in as much as a film can do anything more than just exist, but bear with me, I've got this theory...) Look, the dog, while a bit underbitten and mopish looking, just excludes sweetness. She's a Serious Canine Actress, and a God Dog, and she's trying -- for God's sake. Can't say much for Lily Munster though, except, for a husky old broad, she still looks pretty good.
Come on -- it's a film about a Satan-inspired Rottweiler serial killer, what did you expect? Straw Dogs? Mystic River? Hell Comes to Frog Town? Hand me another Heinekin and I'll shut up, serious.
As far as sequels go, Ring Two is your standard re-hasher. Same characters, literally, different day. Perhaps its my age, but the relationship between Aidan and Rachel is unsettling. He's the parent, she's the needy, irresponsible child.
And Samarra? I have never heard a really compelling explanation as to why, or even how, she's evil. Here we've got a kid who was brutally murdered by her unstable, adoptive mother. I think it's safe to assume that, unless she went through a bout of intensive therapy in the afterlife and STILL chose to kill people with her tape, her emotional development remained consistent with that of a 9-year-old girl's. She was the scape goat on the island, her nutso mother and father rejected her (and her birth-mother wasn't any great shakes either...) So, really, her vengeance on the innocent who watch the tape is entirely understandable. I mean, come on... she was innocent, too.
Samarra's 'evil' before she died was anecdotal at best, and the witnesses to it (Jane Alexander from the first film, her nutty dad, etc.) are unreliable. They're inbred Island townies, for cripes sake. Her 'evil' after her death is understandable. So in the sequel, she's just a creepy little ghost girl looking for a Mommy. I actually found it rather touching, in a way.
To paraphrase SNL's Harvey Fierstien, "I just wanna be loved... is that so wrong?" In the end of Ring Two, I was rooting for poor Samarra, and cringing at the quasi-incestuous relationship between Mother and son. Still, save your money and go bowling. Shine your shoes, watch a documentary on snow tires, ANYTHING but waste the precious hour and a half this film spans...
This is not a good film to see after several hits of red bud. It will haunt you for years, and not in a good way. In many ways, it is similar to the Star Wars Christmas Special, but not really. Bea Arthur isn't in it, and maybe she should have been. Terry Thomas is a good actor, but doesn't the gap between his front teeth bother you? I know it bothers me.
There are probably better mid-70s, English t&a films to watch, but I wouldn't know of any off hand. I saw this about fifteen years ago on cable, after having come home from a night of heavy clubbing. I should have gone to bed, but no... I just couldn't look away once the thing started... all those braincells, wasted...