Slaughterhouse (1987)

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Cast: Joe B. Barton, Don Barrett, Sherry Leigh, Bill Brinsfield.
Director: Rick Roessler
Nutshell:  A San Diego twist cum homage to The Texas Chainsaw and other great horror films from the 70’s and early 80s’.  Clever, tongue in cheek, gleefully gory, cheap and most enjoyable indeed.

“reprehensible, repugnant, repulsive movie.  No matter how you slice it, this comes up a porker”Creature Features

Pretty Gory” – Psychotronic Movies

Turkey” – Video Movies Guide

Fine Film” – Splatter Movies Guide

It’s a four-day weekend and the town youths have the usual recreation planned over the extended holiday.  Lots of beer, three guys and three girls driving off into the half abandoned and worn out farm, not too dissimilar to a famous farm in Texas, home to a transvestite wielding a chainsaw by the name of Leather-face.  One of the couples come across a pen of some very noisy pigs and their evidently extremely irate minder who takes to hacking the couple brutally with a spade deftly administrating some fatal and spectacularly gory (pre-CGI) blows.  The titles roll to squirm inducing footage set to pantomime style music of a pig slaughterhouse, all setting a rather bizarre tone to the opening moments of the film.

The plot unfolds, once again on familiar territory as new technology renders the old world more and more extinct and in this case the hot slaughterhouse with its old-fashioned ways is now out of sync with the times and ready for extinction, but not without a fight.  Old hog farmer Lester and his mutant son have resorted to some extreme measures in order to keep their heads above water but these are difficult times. Local businessmen are out to swallow up and take possession of his ramshackle, almost redundant farm but Lester and son are adamant to hold out by one means or another.

The businessmen arrive at Lester’s farm and issue him an ultimatum which sets son Buddy off into a murderous rage and anyone who crosses his path may not live to tell the tale.  Armed with his oversize and razor sharp butcher knife, Buddy is the grim reaper, an inbred Hillbilly in dungarees; absolutely not to be messed with.  Sadly, each person unfortunate enough to happen upon the sprawling, derelict farm is met with Buddy’s flailing blade and sent packing in increasingly unfortunate and gruesome ways.

Lester’s pained diatribe about paying taxes for 30 years and about his hand crafted old style of carving hogs meat makes the movies morals palpably clear; tax payers are treated like shit and have nothing to gain by paying their tax and hand crafted work beats machines every time when it comes to true quality.  Of course, the modern world has no respect for the old ways and time waits for no one least of all Lester and his freak spawn.

Slaughterhouse has its tongue firmly in cheek as it moves along briskly, paying homage to some classic horror from the past along its merry way.  The film is laden with humour and the tributes and nods to older horror are nicely blended into the narrative.  Clearly the writer-director has a love for the genre and despite the clearly limited budget, there is a flourish to this film that comes from skill and ingenuity rather than those things a higher budget can buy.

The gore is delightfully old school and often spectacular and deliciously distasteful.  The acting is far from brilliant yet far from the contrived characters that had become stock for the dull production line style slasher films that had flooded the market in the wake of Halloween.  There is a distinct 80s vibe with extended sequences of typical synth pop which are as annoying as they are enjoyable in a nostalgic way.  The film doesn’t take itself overly seriously, has a good gore quotient and body count, moves along at a ripping pace and has a massive injection of humour and thus cannot really go far wrong.

Slaughterhouse is solid slasher fare and an enjoyable and entertaining tribute to the greatest horror films of a foregone era.  This film may not have kicked off a slasher film revival in 1987 when the genre was officially dead yet it is a solid homage and tribute to some of the iconic films of the slasher era and of course, most of all to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre at which the film pokes fun at as well as tips its hat to.  Rick Roessler’s movie is a horror geeks film due to its clever, knowledgeable references and on the whole a largely satisfying one.  Far from being a classic, but definitely worth a look for hardened genre fans.