There are two types of movie fans. The first is the fan who goes to the movies at least once a month, enjoys the film and perhaps has a favorite actor or director. Then there are the die hard film fans. The type of fan who must have every movie in a series, bad or not. The type of fan who sees almost any and everything out. The type of fan who watches something like horror films whether they're bad ones or not. Unfortunately, I am in the second group.
And with that in mind, I just sat down to watch a movie made for fans, about fans and more importantly about the film makers who make movies for those fans. The movie is BRUTAL MASSACRE and it is hilarious. Perhaps not to everyone but to film fans, definitely.
The story revolves around a low budget horror director named Harry Penderecki (David Naughton), a director noted for his terrible horror films. His credits include films like BOWEL MOVEMENT, THE READING DEAD, PEOPLE PESTICIDE and the infamous I'LL TAKE THE RING BACK...AND THE FINGER TOO. Yes, Harry was a one hit wonder who somehow has managed to continue working. And we are now privy to a behind the scenes look at his latest feature being made, BRUTAL MASSACRE.
The film has problems from day one as Harry travels to different potential investors trying to get money just to make the movie. The end result is a wealthy cowboy who feels that the biggest thing needed to make a successful horror film is breasts. With no one else to turn to, Harry accepts his terms and the production begins.
Troubles never cease to end on Harry's films. As the documentary of the film continues, we learn about the different deaths on the sets of Harry's previous efforts. We also become acquainted with the rest of the cast and crew in various interviews from loyal production coordinator Natalie (Ellen Sandweiss) to his stalwart assistant director Jason (Brian O'Halloran), the star of an ex-children's TV show.
Each day is fraught with new problems and each day we get to see more and more people affected by the film including the owner of the house they intend to shoot as the killer's house, Krenshaw (Gunnar Hansen). Props fail, cameras go out of focus, actors refuse to do nude scenes, actors quit with one day of shooting to go, kids from town drive by and ruin shots...all of this happens at one time or another and yet the film still gets made. Now if only someone will pick it up for distribution.
The film has been called, and rightfully so, the SPINAL TAP of horror films. Like that fake documentary, this film is a behind the scenes look at what goes on. There is little doubt that the problems found in this film have not happened at one time or another to a budding horror film director. And while we may find humor in it, chances are they didn't as it happened.
The cast is fantastic and filled with notable horror film icons. Naughton was the star of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON while Sandweiss was one of the female leads in the original EVIL DEAD. Hansen will forever be known as Leatherface from the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and Ken Foree as grip Carl has starred in both the original DAWN OF THE DEAD and recently in THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. The pedigree for this film is tops.
The degree of acting found by these stars past and present is fantastic. The frustrations of Harry are believable as portrayed by Naughton. Sandweiss does great as a bitchy production head who tolerates no bull from anyone. O'Halloran (Dante in both CLERKS films) does a great job as the enthusiastic aide to Harry. And the rest of the cast? All do a fantastic job as well, playing their parts seriously straight which makes them even funnier.
The laughs in this film start big and taper off to more subtle ones. My favorite was a clip from Harry's film RETIREMENT HOME where a mad aide dresses as the Grim Reaper and hides in closets waiting to surprise elderly residents. This movie is a must for film fans. To tell all of the jokes would be to ruin it for you. If you love horror films or low budget flicks then by all means find this one. If not, well give it a chance anyway. As with a Penderecki film, the budget might be low but the laughs are not.