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Savage Weekend

tn_savageweekendslashersearch'11Well, it’s October again so it’s time to start up my annual tradition of Slasher Search, where I spend the month trying to find a good ’70s or ’80s slasher movie that I never saw before. Every year it gets harder because the pool keeps getting smaller and sadder. It’ll be almost impossible to match last year’s winner, the legitimately great Canadian hospital-set slasher VISITING HOURS, but hopefully I’ll at least get some laughs.

I take recommendations and everything but my favorite part is digging up these random ones that are so obscure I can only find them on VHS. I mean I haven’t had much success with this method, but I enjoy the hunt, you know? The idea that eventually I could find the holy grail, the lost ark, the crystal skull or the tasty monkey brains. Or at least the stone or the jewel of the Nile or something.

There's no Grim Reaper costume in the movie, this is just the poetry of movie poster art
There’s no Grim Reaper costume in the movie, this is just the poetry of movie poster art

This one is not a treasure but it’s at least watchable, so I consider it a victory. A group of upper class New Yorkers go stay at a cabin upstate where their friend has a boat being built. You know, one of those boat-being-built outings we all enjoy. William Sanderson (from Newhart and BLADE RUNNER) plays Otis, a creepy redneck that’s working on the boat and who keeps spying on everybody with binoculars. We see him apparently stalking the main lady in a dreamy opening flashforward, and we hear a story about him catching his wife with another man. Supposedly he murdered the man and branded his wife with a letter ‘H.’ That would be fucked up if he was marking her as his property with his last initial or something, but it’s even worse: it’s supposed to mean “whore.” (They fuck up the punchline by explaining it in case the audience doesn’t know how to spell either).

There’s alot of shit going on, mostly involving various characters getting naked and making out on picnic blankets. It seems like the movie’s almost over by the time somebody puts on a Halloween mask and starts murdering everybody. The mask kind of looks like a drug store Michael Meyers knockoff but depicting an exposed skull on one side. But according to IMDb trivia it was filmed in ’76, so it had to have been a coincidence.

Or shit, maybe not! Both movies have the same cinematographer, Dean Cundey. Conspiracy! Well, he did a better job on HALLOWEEN.

If there’s a most interesting character it must be the gay guy. He’s kind of a Rupert Everett type, a really sarcastic and arrogant dude that brags about how much sex he gets and acts above everyone and everything. In one scene he goes into a redneck bar and orders some kind of fancy martini, as if unaware that this is not the type of place to do that. It’s like that little joke I love in ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL where a girl insists on walking around barefoot even though the school is in the middle of a city and she steps right onto some broken glass. This is how I want to live my life and I don’t care what you think.

It’s not the worst gay stereotype to promote, but it was not endearing me to this character. Then two dudes at the bar start giving him shit about being gay (even though one of them’s wearing a sailor hat!). He beats the shit out of them and declares “I wasn’t brought up in the South Bronx for nothin!” A gay guy who can handle himself in a fight is not a movie character you see alot, especially in a low rent slasher like this. I give it points for that.

Toward the climax of the movie there’s a long sequence where one of the girls puts on a record and starts doing sort of a seductive burlesque performance for him, stripping down to garters and high heels, doing a sexy fan dance on the stairs, leading him around the house, then she puts makeup on him. It’s actually kind of interesting because it’s not explained exactly what they’re thinking. Is she seriously trying to seduce him? Is she thinking it would be the ultimate notch on her belt to bag a gay dude? Or is she just joking around with him, because she figures he’ll appreciate that kind of girly glamour stuff?

And what about him? He stands and watches. He smiles. He’s obviously intrigued. But is he seriously considering hitting that? Or is he just fascinated to see how far she’s gonna go? She goes into the other room and he looks at himself in the mirror. Is he just checking out the makeup? Is he thinking “Am I gonna hit that? Who am I?” Does he want to do it out of curiosity but have to psyche himself up?

We never find out because there’s a masked killer in the house. To the movie’s credit they don’t have her think the masked man is him and say “Oh come on, quit joking around, take that off!” And it’s the only slasher movie I can think of where somebody gets killed by a large pin.

There’s actually a way weirder seduction scene though. The main lady is very confused. She’s still haunted by her first husband, who got messed up in the head after the politician he worked with committed suicide. She’s got a new husband with her here. But she clearly wants to fuck Otis’s boss, the dude with the Hulk Hogan mustache. When she goes to talk to him she starts absent-mindedly caressing construction equipment like it’s a giant cock. Later she visits him in a barn and starts gently running her hand across a god damn cow! He’s going to get her some eggs and she gets down on her knees and starts fondling the cow’s udder. I’m not exaggerating to make this sound weirder. He comes over and helps her suggestively milk the cow into his hand, tries to get her to drink it. She doesn’t so he sips it himself. But in case you’re thinking he doesn’t get the double-meaning here he wipes the remaining milk across her thighs.

Yeah, basically they jerk off a cow together.

mp_savageweekendBSo there’s plenty of interest here, it’s just too bad it’s not creepy at all. The transfer on the pan and scan VHS isn’t helping either – it was obviously supposed to be cropped, so there are tons of scenes with visible boom mics. The ending is kinda good too, there’s sort of a clever way that it all comes together with the killer and a couple of the red herrings getting into a big fight. And for once there’s a class reversal in a slasher film, it’s not the uneducated redneck behind the mask. Also “Yancy Victoria Butler,” aka WITCHBLADE herself, appears as the mustache guy’s daughter, credited as “Little Girl.” So that would be the movie’s place in history I guess, that or it being Dean Cundey’s rehearsal for HALLOWEEN. But yeah, the cow handjob would have to be the most notable part in my opinion.

One of the actors, Christopher Allport (the gay guy?) was killed in an avalanche in 2008. Another one, David Gale, had his life made into a movie starring Kevin Spacey. Nah, just fuckin with you, that was most likely some other guy with the same name. This David Gale played the bad guy in REANIMATOR, though.

Director David Paulsen debuted with this, followed it the next year with SCHIZOID starring Klaus Kinski, and then just did episodes of Knot’s Landing, Dallas and Dynasty, where his fascination with empty marriages, forbidden attraction and risky seduction was more at home.

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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 at 10:44 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Savage Weekend”

  1. Verntober 2011: The Quest for the Holy Slasher
    The Webbie Award bait art is ok, not as good as the historic Kid n Play Legacy-Retrospective art.

    Will this be the year someone else also gets their elbows dusty wading into the world of old horror VHSes? Sure as fuck ain’t gonna be me.

    Also, I’ve been to a boat-being-built outing before. It was fun. Never caressed a cow, though.

  2. It’s kinda interesting that Vern seemed to enjoy Visiting Hours and Eyes of a Stranger (two of my favorite slasher movies) but hated Final Exam (1981), which is worth revisiting for everybody’s October Horror Marathon.

    It’s excellently written and competently directed by Jimmy Huston of Running Scared fame and features Joel S. Rice as Radish, the most awesomely self-aware horror movie character of all time.

    Both Scream’s Randy and Hell Night’s Seth got nothing on Radish, who always tries to do and say the right thing instead of a stereotypical dumb one. He may not know all the Slasher Rules (give him a break, the movie was made 3 years after Halloween), but nevertheless demonstrates commendable situational awareness.

    As a bonus, the killer makes do without a mask, Visiting Hours and Slumber Party Massacre-style.

    Overall, it’s a great horror film, in my opinion. Maybe not Top-10, but definitely Top-12 material.

  3. My personal lost slasher gem discovery was THE MUTILATOR, which is about this drunk guy who kills all his son’s friends with a giant medieval novelty ax because they woke him up while he was hungover. It’s got a great, incongruously peppy theme song, enough weirdness and energy to get you through the non-stalking scenes, and some really surprisingly gory killings that seemed to come out of nowhere. It is also, and I cannot stress this enough, called THE MUTILATOR, which is awesome.

  4. If we’re throwing suggestions out here, I’m recommending Hell High. It’s a surprisingly smart thriller/slasher picture that came right at the end of the slasher craze of the eighties. Goes in some interesting directions. Saying any more than that might kind of spoil a couple of surprises, though.

  5. I also recommend HELL HIGH, though I don’t think it’s a slasher movie, really. It takes all of the basic ingredients of a slasher movie and puts them into totally a different configuration. I’ve seen it a few times and it gets more interesting every time.

  6. Oh, and Hell High is also known as Raging Fury, in case you can’t find the DVD and go looking for it on VHS

  7. The HELL HIGH DVD has a pretty great Joe Bob Briggs commentary on it. He likes the movie a lot, too.

  8. Canadian Netflix streaming recommendations are filled with weird or interesting horror, mostly DTV. Will have to check for some slasher pics, although there seems to be a ton of zombie flicks even though we’ve never rented a zombie movie.

  9. It’s going to be a fun October judging from this review. Also it’s probably been mentioned before but it’s weird to think of all the movies in the past that were thought of as amateur shoddy productions showing boom mics and other production tools when really they were just bad Pan and Scan transfers.

  10. Don’t forget “The Burning” this year. Check out “The Pit” as well, even though it’s not exactly a slasher, I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

  11. Good point, Andy. We’re waiting for the legal-filmatistical pioneer who will sue the shit out of somebody for mangling his/her cinematic vision, ruining the mood of a slasher masterpiece with an errant mic in the shot.

    I envision Justice Scalia at his SCOTUS perch, requesting a team of lawyers to rewind and explicate the artistic merit of MANIMAL HOLOCAUST and why our culture has been denied a taste of true cinematic greatness by the presence of a set director’s cap bill in the unauthorized dvd cut.

  12. ANoniMouse, NetFlix steered me way wrong with something called “George Romero’s DEADTIME STORIES II,” predicting I’d give it 4.4 stars. Way off.  That is not the lost ark of 3-part horror movies.  

    The film quality & interior lighting is sub-dtv, the stories have no scares and almost no funniness (though the 3rd short is about a guy who uses Mars dust to treat his wife’s leukemia and turn her into a nymphomaniac, so it’s not all humorless), and Romero tells awful jokes between segments like a benign Cryptkeeper.  

    Avoid.  

  13. If this is turning into a suggestion box for Vern, I chime in with Amando de Ossorio’s “Tombs of the Blind Dead”. The dead are blind, so victims try to tip toe around while the mummies lurch only a few feet away trying to sense them.

    I found this comment on youtube hilarious:

    ‘Oddly enough, some distributors in the US called the film “Revenge of the Planet Ape” to capitalize on the “Planet of the Apes” films.’

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMcbfKZSvI0

    Oh yeah, not really a slasher movie.

    Well wait… unlike “Savage Weekend,” this movie does actually feature skeleton guys with scythes.

    Bear with me here: since scythes were traditional rural peasant farming implements, and rural slasher madmen are certainly not a phenomenon unique to the 1980s, it has always been my opinion that the traditional depiction of Death Himself as a hooded guy with a scythe is in actuality a folk memory going back to some original slasher dude from medieval times. You know, some medieval artist had to depict Death Himself in some woodcarving, and he was like “Remember that farmer who went crazy and killed that whole town with his scythe? Now that’s horror, that’s the proper image here.”

    Yes, I know, it is supposed to be because Death Himself is harvesting souls… but give some thought: what was the inspiration for the image of the original slasher? I say folk memory of an actual slasher incident in medieval times. Ehem.

  14. every October Vern I suggest you check out JACOB’S LADDER and you never do, I know it’s not technically a slasher, but it’s one of the best horror movies ever made and it’s now on blu ray, so come on!

    and for the record my favorite slasher (and in my humble opinion, the best one ever made) is CANDYMAN, have you ever reviewed that? I’m sure you’ve seen it

  15. Mouth, you don’t know terrible recommendations until you’ve viewed a Bollywood horror movie.

  16. Which reminds me…Vern, there is an Indian version of The Gift that is tedious for the most part until the hilariously overa-the-top villain-revealing musical number at the end. The rest of the movie follows the plot of the American The Gift pretty much, minus the class differences and Katie Holmes nudity.

  17. YES
    I love SLASHER SEARCH. I hope someday you’ll collect the years into a book.

    SCHITZOID ain’t a bad flick. Kinski is usually fun, and there’s a weird incest vibe to it. Is CRAWLSPACE considered a slasher? You should check that one out (more Kinski!)

  18. Oh man, TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD. I haven’t watched those since High School. I imagine it holds up pretty well, especially because the mummies kind of look like Fulci zombies.

  19. Also, NIGHT WARNING (1983) is an interesting one. There’s a whole gay theme running throughout, and Bo Svenson plays a homophobic detective to the point of being evil. Odd but interesting flick.

  20. I was going to ask you all about MONSTER MAN, since director Michael Davis did good things with SHOOT EM UP and the R-rated Felicity movie, but now I see it doesn’t live up to the awesome potential of its premise & cover art: http://outlawvern.com/2007/10/14/101407/

    I was unable to finish the slasher BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE (2010). Surprisingly conventional, not-eye catching movie despite that title. Actually, football interrupted me, so maybe it’ll miraculously become watchable the last 25 minutes.

  21. SPOOKIES… it’s only on VHS, lot’s of great 80’s prosthetic effects. The film is a total mess. It has farting zombies, though, so there’s that. Even if you don’t get to it this month, tuck it away in the back of your mind.

  22. Woo, Hoo! Now I know it’s Autumn when Vern begins his slasher round-up. This is my favorite time of year and Vern, Your reviews have become a big part of it around my neck of the woods.

  23. RETURN TO HORROR HIGH.

    No not a remarkable one even down to our standards, but it has some humor (perhaps too much meta-humor?) and I was entertained enough. I respect such “jobber” productions that try to have some ambition beyond the sex/violence quotas.

    Also a much younger George Clooney* dies. Except unlike BATMAN & ROBIN, he shouldn’t be ashamed of this one.

    *=Clooney with youthful black hair is just an image that’s wrong wrong wrong. Its unnatural.

  24. Mouth, I want to see that trial.

  25. Griff, Vern has reviewed all three Candymans. Enjoy! And no Jacobs Ladder isn’t a slasher it’s just a great fucking movie.

  26. There’s a Shaw Brothers slasher type film, CORPSE MANIA. It’s not bad, but the title is the best thing about it.

    (actually, for not so much slasher but general nefarious magic of the type seen in BELLY OF THE BEAST, BOXER’S OMEN and SEEDING OF A GHOST are worth checking out. BOXER’S OMEN starts out like your standard fight tournament film with a dude wanting revenge on Bolo Yeung for crippling his brother and takes a turn into crazyland when it turns out that he’s actually the spirit twin of a Buddhist monk engaged in a magic duel with an evil magician dude.)

  27. VERN, maybe the folks could help you out with foreign titles? I think that way the chances of seeing a genuinely good, unknown slasher film would be better. I’m not an expert on the genre, but here are some suggestions:

    Anatomy 1 & 2. The first one of these two german slashers caused a big splash 10 years ago. In fact it’s a really great slasher for the first half, but on the 2nd half becomes too convoluted and travels outside of its initial premise. Still worth watching. Stars Franka Potente.

    Creep. From writer-director Cristopher Smith, who recently did the very good Black Death. I saw this years ago, It’s quite good. Again stars Franka Potente.

    Severance. Also from Christopher Smith, this has gotten a lot of good reviews, but it might not be a pure breed slasher as I’ve heard it pits one group against another. But it sounds interesting… In fact Smith seems like a pretty consistent genre director, who’s work might be worth investigating.

    Midsummer. A danish slasher, which I haven’t seen. But I’ve heard it’s pretty good.

    Tattoo. German serial killer thriller, which was received very well.

    Perfume. A really high pedigree film from the director of Run Lola Run. Not a pure-breed slasher movie obviously, but it is somewhat of a serial killer thriller.

  28. I agree about ANATOMIE 1 & 2. They were both directed by now-Oscar-winner Stephan Ruzowitky (THE COUNTERFEITERS).

    SEVERANCE is pretty good. It’s an interesting mix of dry british humor and sadistic violence. It doesn’t work as a whole, because these two styles are too different, but it’s a good one.

    TATTOO is boring, if you ask me, but it’s interesting to see how a German SESEVENEN rip off looks like. It was also the movie, that put director Robert Schwentke on Hollywood’s watchlist (He is the guy who directed FLIGHTPLAN, THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE and R.E.D. So you can already guess with what kind of movie you are dealing, when you pick TATTOO. [The one that never ever reaches its potential.])

    THE PERFUME is awesome, though. A weird mix between fairy tale, dark comedy and serial killer thriller.

    I would also like to add SWIMMING POOL (not Francois Ozon’s lesbian drama) and FLASHBACK, two German tries to ride the post-SCREAM wave.

  29. Also SWIMMING POOL has James McAvoy in it. It was advertised as German movie, but I guess it was an international co-production. So you might even be able to find it.

  30. Also you might one day try to watch a few of the legendary German Edgar Wallace movies, from the late 50’s and 60’s. Not the coloured ones from the 70’s and definitely not the Italian ones, even though they had with Dario Argento and Umberto Lenzi some interesting directors, but they don’t count as part of the series.

    Just because I wanna know what people from non-German speaking countries think about them.

    http://youtu.be/lnpWHmlQFsA

  31. I haven’t seen PERFUME but the novel is surprisingly excellent. I was pretty skeptical because it’s all about smells, which are not the kind of thing that translate that well to the written word, as evidenced by the reams of hilarious press releases I get for new colognes every holiday season. But the book is creepy, confidently told, and seems to have a lot to say about the development of the artist from self-serving fetishist to message-delivering voice of the people, as filtered through the life story of a guy who kills girls to steal their scent. It’s hard to explain but trust me, it’s pretty great.

  32. What Majestyk said (except for the bit about cologne PRs. I only handle serious cologne ad campaigns.)

    I was one of the thousands who were guided to the PERFUME audiobook by Roger Ebert’s recommendation years ago.

    The movie might have an even crazier ending than the book, though. Provocative stuff. Fun, but uncomfortable experiences, both the book & movie.

  33. Jareth Cutestory

    October 3rd, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I read somewhere that far less than half the movies ever made have been issued on DVD, and that an equally small percentage of films were ever issued on VHS. It kind of boggles my mind to think of all the crazy shit that might be out there in film format that hasn’t been seen for decades. Some of it is probably incredibly terrible.

    Those DVD-R-upon-request services seemed like a good start to getting some of that stuff seen. Amazon did that for a while. I’m a bit disappointed that the concept never seemed to catch on with the general public.

  34. Vern, did you ever see Ravenous? Like Visiting Hours, it kind of got swept under the cinematic rug, but it is actually quite good. And there is some genuine badassery amongst the film’s more horror-centric leanings. Not quite an obscure, VHS-only title, but well worth a look. Just don’t spoil it by watching the absolutely awful trailer, or by reading any reviews. This one is best experienced by going in cold. Just note that there is cannabalism, and at one point Jeremy Davies (Solaris) gets to scream, “HE WAS LICKING ME!”

  35. I would like to recommend RITUALS (1977). It usually gets dismissed as a DELIVERANCE ripoff, but that’s unfair and inaccurate. It is distinguished by being the only slasher film where the Final Girl is played by Hal Holbrook. Also, I agree with anthony4545 that CRAWLSPACE is worth a look. I think it’s one the few later Kinski films (outside of Herzog) where he gets a decent amount of onscreen time.

  36. Of the few of the above-mentioned movies that I’ve seen, “Creep” is good. “Severance” is not. “Severance” has great ideas but piss-poor execution. Although there are several parts, especially one bit with a missile launcher, that make me laugh like a drain every time. It also features Laura Harris in a rare not-evil role, which is… interesting, I guess. The trouble is that in between the occasional great bits are a whole raft of deadly-dull bits.

  37. Midsummer is pretty bad, but appearently being americanized at the moment. Ravenous is bloody brilliant, with an awesome score by that guy from Blur and brilliant performances from Robert Carlyle, Guy Pearce and the fat guy from Beetlejuice. And the script is hilarious. I`s not really a slasher, though, but one of the best horrors of the nineties anyway.

    Another horrific non-slasher I would recommend is the spanish In a glass Cage (87), it`s pretty disturbing, very scary and quite intelligent.

    !!Aroused!! (66) is another Psycho-ripoff with groovy music, naked strippers and some really effective suspense. One of my favorite titles from Something Weird Video.

    Spider Baby (68) by Jack Hill is a twisted cannibalistic take on Addams Family by Jack Hill and might have inspired The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

    Bay of Blood (71) by Mario Bava should be the first real slasher and is very entertaining.

    The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (71) and Torso (73) by Sergio Martinez are some of my favorite giallos next to Dario Argentos.

    The Oily Monster (76) is a shaw-superhero-slasher-thingy. It`s stupid, but funny…

    Beyond the Darkness (79).. Eh.. from the creator of Emanuelle and The Last Cannibals, Porno Holocoust and Erotic Nights of the living Dead comes a watchable slasher? With the killer as the maincharacter. Also, it has music by The Goblins. I think it`s pretty good, but I`ve never watched it sober.

    Road Games (81) is interesting, a sort of hyprid between a slasher, Duel and Mad Max. With slasherqueen Jamie Lee Curtis.

    Perfect Blue (97) is a japanese guallo-anime by the late and brilliant Satoshi Kon. It`s really really really fucking good with an amazing soundtrack and some pretty brutal slashing. One of my favorite movies from one of my favorite directors.

  38. As cannibals came up, in the extras for Jess Franco’s DEVIL HUNTER there’s an interview where he asks such pertinent questions as why the cannibals in these films always eat the nasty parts and never eat the beautiful tits.

  39. Breasts are all fat. The choice cuts are in the thighs and glutes.

  40. Which doesn’t explain why cannibals generally go right for the guts. And they don’t even make sausages or haggis out of them or anything. I mean, do you have any idea how disgusting it would be to just sink your teeth into somebody’s large intestine?

    I’m starting to think there might be some plot holes in these old cannibal movies.

  41. Speaking of Creep, I always mean to throw London Underground horror Death Line on the huge pile of slasher recommendations. I guess I will because although I’m sure I remember Vern talking about it I can’t find it on the reviews list even under the US title Raw Meat. Anyone else remember a review of a movie about Donald Pleasance looking for a serial killer on the Tube? It’s not outstanding but it has an amazing sleazy score and Pleasance just owns the film.

  42. Brain Damage. Brain Damage. Brain Damage. Brain Damage.

  43. The cannibals seem to waste all the blood too when they should be keeping it and making black pudding.

  44. House by the Cemetary. Lucio Fulci. A zombie named Dr. Freudenstein. ‘Nuff said.

  45. DNA – we all know “Road Games”. A favorite on this site, Vern reviewed it some time ago. Very good film.

  46. I second “The Burning” recommendation. A fun camp (location) slasher with a classic “wronged” killer. There are some great surprises in it, too, like a trap that really goes against standard slasher tropes.

  47. Could we throw in some giallo classics for the holidays? Vern, I don’t think you ever reviewed Deep Red or Twitch of the Death Nerve. Both are excellent, and well worth your time. They wouldn’t be the rose bud of tarnished VHS that you seek, but they may be a pallet cleanser for those nights when you’re like, “god, I can’t bear to open up another cereal-sized box of sticky fail.”

  48. I’d like to see Vern’s take on the Shaw Brother’s Killer Snakes. It’s a strange, uncomfortable blend of Willard and Taxi Driver.

  49. Strangest thing about KILLER SNAKES was that they had bondage and snakes in the same film and didn’t think to contain the two.

  50. I remember a VHS movie from the local mom and pop shot called Video Violence. It was about two guys videotaping their killings, I think. That must’ve been it, or why would it be called Video Violence in the ’80s? Or it was about a store that rented tapes that you didn’t know if they were real or not. Anyway, that’s a VHS title I remember. Could be interesting to revisit from a Vern perspective if you can find it.

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