The Once and Future Smash (2022) [FrightFest 2022]

In this documentary, directors Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein look into what happened to the cult film End Zone 2 and the impact it has had on the horror community. 

Written by Cacciola, Epstein, and Brian W. Smith with Cacciola and Epstein directing, this documentary does for End Zone 2 what Never Sleep Again did for the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and what La Rage du Demon doc did for the film of the same title. The Once and Future Smash follows both actors who have been credited as Smash Mouth in End Zone 2 as they go to a convention where fans are awaiting them while mixing in interviews with some of horror industry’s greats. The film mixes these two elements beautifully well, giving the viewer a chance to see how End Zone 2 has impacted those who have seen it and how it became a cult favorite.  

When it comes to the interviews with industry folks, Cacciola and Epstein have managed to get a new bunch of folks to interview and a few of the usual talking heads from documentaries such as these. This leads to a fun film for horror fans as they bring in people like Melanie Kinnaman, Richard Elfman, Lloyd Kaufman, John Dugan, Mark Patton, and Laurene Landon. The surviving cast of End Zone 2 is also seen here. The film as a whole has a wide array of talent involved which really puts it the top percentile of similar documentaries.  

In terms of the technical side of things, the cinematography by director Sophia Cacciola is as one would expect from her at this point, it’s well done, well framed, and adds to film’s style in a subtle manner. Her work is always done with care and showing that she understands how to bring images to the screen that will grab the attention and keep it. Her work here is solid and absolutely some of the best out there. The film here manages, or rather Cacciola does, to bring all the different elements into play in a way that is cohesive, keeping the style constant between every segment and having the interviews all look like they were shot for the same project without getting bland. The editing of the interviews with the convention footage and the film footage works great here. 

The Once and Future Smash is a well-crafted film that knows what it wants to say and manages to say it, and show it, clearly. There is clear talent behind the scenes pulling the strings and making this a film that is worth looking forward to and going to see as soon as possible.