The Once and Future Smash ★★★★ FrightFest 2022

The Once and Future Smash ★★★★ FrightFest 2022

The Once and Future Smash is an absolute treat for genre fans. With so many wonderful moments carefully laden within the spoof film that you could easily find yourself clapping away at it. Just a joy of a film.

The End Zone 2 was a football-themed slasher from 1970 that had a wide audience of less than a dozen people. A proposed reboot is on the way, and the two actors who played the living zombie villain Smash-Mouth want to reprise the role. Mickey Smash (Michael St. Michaels) was sacked from the original production but still somehow lives off the role. William Mouth (Bill Weeden) was his replacement, but none of his footage lives to this day. The two try to battle it out for supremacy at the Mad Monster Party Convention.

The decision to make The Once and Future Smash into a mockumentary is perfect. We are given so much thanks to the talking head aspect of talking to 70s and 80s horror stalwarts as they talk about the production of End Zone 2. With one great bit about how it was supposed that Mickey Smash had died, only for us to see him just about alive. It replicates so well that you can clearly see the thought that filmmakers Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein have put into this film and End Zone 2.

Cacciola and Epstein are also wise to have the film focus a touch on the rivalry between the two Smash-Mouths, echoing many a rumour-mill that happened about the continual switches in Jason’s during the Friday the 13th heyday. But, again, this untapped area for a film to base its story on is great. Though we do lose focus on the duo as the story evolves, they are key to the success of The Once and Future Smash.

Both St. Michaels and Weeden are great here in the movie; they are committed in their roles and look like they are having a great time; even if St. Michaels is playing the grumpy grifter that is Mickey Smash. Weeden brings a lot more humanity to the role as he catches us off guard with some emotional moments. AJ Cutler almost steals the film away from the duo with his hapless assistant named… AJ. He is the son of the actor who played Smash-Mouths sidekick and is stuck in a hopeless purgatory because he is still holding on to a silly childhood promise.

The self-awareness of the film is what grabs you. Add in the fact that it feels authentic for a certain amount of time. Sure, there are some dodgy-looking “sets” for some of our talking heads, but you feel that is the point. There is a vast amount of fun to be had here with some solid writing. We lose a little bit of how good that opening half of the film is when we get to some more odd moments. But The Once and Future Smash can hold onto its audience for the duration of the film.

The Once and Future Smash really surprises you with many laugh-out-loud moments. While it is a film that is catered to a specific crowd, there is more than enough here for those not in the know to take from and thoroughly enjoy. With hope, we will see Cacciola and Epstein strike something more mainstream, as their talents are deserving of it.

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