Winnie-the-pooh: Blood and Honey 2 | Meta Slasher Sequel Surpasses its Predecessor

It has been strange seeing eulogies come in for Roger Corman from the kind of people who would have a pseudo-intellectual disdain for the pope of pop cinema’s cinematic heirs. That is to say, the outsider filmmakers making true exploitation films, those that use an exploitable — even if silly — concept to get attention, since they don’t have star power or budgets. 

In 2022, Winnie-the-pooh entered the public domain, meaning adaptations could be made by anyone, as long as they didn’t use the Disney owned red shirt. Director Rhys Frake-Waterfield saw an opportunity and decided to make a slasher film based on the concept of Christopher Robin returning to 100 Acre Wood and finding his friends have become feral savages since he left them to fend for themselves. In 2023, the first Winnie-the-pooh: Blood and Honey was released. It gained much attention and derision beyond those who traditionally pay any attention to films from the truly underground British horror scene. The film was one of the first in the trend of public domain slashers, the latest of which is a version of Steamboat Willie. 

The first film is objectively bad. The masks for Piglet and Pooh were commercially available Halloween masks. You can see the divide between the masks and the creature performers’ actual necks. Piglet’s mask is merely a pig face mask, a look that more suggests a kind of BDSM mask more than the character. However, it didn’t matter — and to be fair the cinematography was really good — because it mattered in terms of financial success. 

This, by the way, is something I think is worthy of respect in and of itself. The filmmaker has made seven more films than I have made (I have made none). The kind of films he typically produces, are the kind whose most likely buyers are Tesco shoppers wanting a DVD and some cans. You can say these films look crap — and often they probably are — but when most directors never make a second film, to consistently make films is success. 

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The first film’s infamy means Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 arrives with a bigger budget, apparently ten times the budget of the original. Adopting an Evil Dead 2 / Desperado approach, the film posits the first film as a meta film featured in the sequel, and these are the real characters. This doesn’t really matter though, because I didn’t realise producer and actor Scott Chambers didn’t play Christopher Robin in the first film. 

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 expands the lore of the first film, adding some twisted backstory of the characters. This second film is much more of a “proper” film. The monsters all have proper creature suits. We also now have Owl, and, since he entered the public domain, Tigger. Relative guest star Simon Callow narrates a great new animated opening, and plays a pivotal small role. The film also manages to have a more consistent idea of what country it is set in. The second film also leans into meme culture, with a reference to the inexplicable cult around Morbius

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 is much more enjoyable than the original — a vast improvement, with characters I somewhat cared about, and a somewhat intriguing plot. The real star however is the gore, the film reveling in Terrifier 2 (an admitted influence) levels of claret spilling. We still, annoyingly get CGI blood spurt (a personal bugbear of mine), but we get proper practical effects and ridiculous, inventive kills. One of the major set pieces involves a kinky rave. Owl’s acid spit gets some impressive use. On the downside, characters’ continued taunting of victims by calling them “bitch” grows tiresome and seems misogynistic, even if it results in the best line: “come here you florescent bitch”! 

A third film in the series is already planned, as well as new films from production company Jagged Edge Productions about public domain characters like Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Bambi. Dubbed the “Twisted Childhood Universe,” they will crossover in Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble. Will the novelty last long enough for audiences to embrace these? Who’s to tell? But this kind of gimmickry is pure Corman. Once again, I must argue for an understanding of films beyond binary “good” or “bad” categories. For now, I can say that Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 is a fun time. And maybe that’s enough.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 was reviewed in its theatrical release in London, and will be released digitally on Amazon on June 26

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