"A female demon hell-bent for revenge"
Getting your female demons bent by hell is so predictable, and so
overpriced. It's like getting your car repairs done at an authorized
dealership, the metaphysical equivalent of shaking hands with Mr.
Badwench. Personally, I get all of my female demons bent by a local
chop shop over in the warehouse district. OK, sometimes Manuel doesn't
use genuine parts, but he does the job just as well as Satan, and at
half the price.
You may have noticed that I've given up on reviewing grade-B genre
movies unless they are hot off the presses. That fact might lead you
to wonder why I'm looking at the previous work of a director who has
three more recent films to ridicule. Fair enough. The reason is that
it's from the writer/director of Zombie Strippers, which I watched
last week with some curiosity. While I didn't find Zombie Strippers to
be a classic of either gorotica or horror/comedy, I was impressed by
its high energy level and its unabashedly depraved sense of humor, so
I wondered whether those characteristics had been prominent in the
auteur's previous offerings, and I picked up a used copy of The
Slaughter for five bucks from Amazon Marketplace.
The answer to my question about his previous efforts, at least as
it relates to The Slaughter is "yes and no." The Slaughter is an odd
one. For about the first half of the film the script seems to be
taking itself seriously, which is to say you may find it funny, but
you will not know whether it was meant to be. If the author's tongue
was in his cheek, he never cracked a smile to let us in on the joke.
In the beginning it seems like one of those films which is funny only
in the sense that the MST 3000 guys would have a ball making fun of
it, although they probably would have to find a new network to do so,
since the beginning of the film consists of non-stop female nudity for
some three minutes. But then, about halfway through the film, there is
an abrupt tone shift, and the film becomes deliberately jokey, silly
and self-referential, indicating that it is not a bad rip-off of Evil
Dead and Night of the Demons, but rather a comic riff on those films.
The experience of watching this film is like watching 40 minutes of
Manos, the Hands of Fate followed by 40 minutes of Scream. Is it a
laughably bad horror movie or a movie which winks at you as it laughs
at bad horror movies? Depends on which half you watch.
Of course, after I watched the second half, I realized that the
first half must also have been intended as genre spoofery, but it had
kept a straight face about the satire until later in the film, when it
finally decided to nudge my arm and say, "Just kidding, dude."
Lots of bad horror films begin with a prologue situated in the
past, so this one begins with two such prefatory scenes. It begins
around the year 1900, when a witches' coven gets nekkid to summon a
nekkid female demon. Then, some sixty years later, the unleashed
demon forces a mother to kill her young daughter in a gothic mansion.
The present-day story begins when a sleazy real estate agent hires a
group of entrepreneurial college students to clean up the same
mansion, which has been now neglected for forty years. The annoying
student stereotypes take on the roles that The Bowery Boys or Abbott
and Costello would have occupied in the horror comedies of yore, the
everyday nebbishes who are still arguing about mundane matters despite
being in the presence of ancient evil. As they start housecleaning,
the kids stumble upon an ancient book of magic, and one of the
clueless twerps soon starts reading aloud from the book. Bad idea, as
you might imagine.
Of course the one horror movie rule more important than "don't read
aloud from the book made of human flesh" is "the kids who have sex die
first," so you can guess what will happen next, what the consequences
will be, and that the house's resident demons must be somehow related
to the twin prologues.
You've probably realized by now that I can't really rip on the film
for making the kids annoying and stereotypical, because that's all
part of the joke. In that sense, the film is virtually immune to
criticism since the author has intentionally created trite characters
and situations to lampoon the genre. If you ridicule his material,
well, dammit, you just don't get the joke. I'm pretty sure I got the
joke, and I did laugh once in a while, but I don't think the film was
entertaining enough to sustain it at feature length.