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Slaughterhouse
(1987)
 

Director: Rick Roessler       
Cast:
Sherry Bendorf, William Houck, Don Barrett


Sometimes, when watching unknown movies, I start questioning myself as to why I keep watching unknown movies. That's what went through my head when I watched Slaughterhouse. The strange thing about when I think that thought is that the movies aren't in my list of "worst of all time" - they are the runners-up. Not even a movie like Manson had me thinking this thought. Why? I don't know, and besides I think I've written enough opening philosophy like the most famous critics do. Now onto the movie.

I was stuck at the video store between two titles: Blood Diner and Slaughterhouse. I had heard a few things about Blood Diner, but I decided that the fact I've heard discussions about it would probably not label it as "unknown". I took a closer look at Slaughterhouse, and I saw it was distributed by Manson International - the poor man's Crown International, making such memorable 70s movies like the jaw-dropping The Black Gestapo. So it looked promising enough, and I've noticed I still really haven't talked about the movie yet, and I'm sorry. Next paragraph for sure!

The movie opens at night in the outskirts of a small middle-American town. The deputy (named "Dave Thomas") drives to the make-out point with his girlfriend, bumping into some - you guessed it - obnoxious teenagers, who are filming a horror video. After the expected trade of insults, the deputy, the girlfriend, and all but a teenage couple leave. We see, from the viewpoint of someone hiding in the bushes, the young couple running around in lust. The camera shakes and we hear on the soundtrack what seems to be a pig in an echo chamber. The boy subsequently gets a large cleaver in the face, and the girl gets hacked as well. Then come the credits, playing over (real) footage of pigs getting killed, put in skinning/washing machines, cut open and placed on meat hooks. The soundtrack plays "goofy" music during all of this.

The slaughterhouse owner is wanting to buy the property of Lester Bacon, who was his former employer. When Bacon refused to mechanize ("Craftsmanship!" he exclaimed in his reason), the owner left Bacon and set up his own slaughterhouse, ruining Bacon's business. Bacon still lives on the "Bacon & Sons" property with his gigantic moronic son Buddy, who can only communicate in pig grunts. We learn from the owner, preparing to visit Bacon with the banker and sheriff to try to buy his bank-threatened property , that Bacon's other son disappeared. We rub our hands in anticipation on what that will surely mean later in the movie.

Bacon refuses to sell, and the bank president says he will foreclose in a week. Incensed, Bacon decides to lure the three men back to the slaughterhouse, and "sic" Buddy and his cleaver on them. During this, the obnoxious teen decided to film their horrible horror music video (we unfortunately get to see part of it). And they bump into Buddy, of course. By that time, we are rooting Buddy to knock them off.

I'm not sure what the audience was for it. There isn't enough horror or convincing splatter to be a true horror movie. You can't call it a comedy, simply because the humor is strictly sophomoric - for example, the town's radio station is KFAT, and the sheriff's daughter's name is "Lizzie Borden" (the filmmakers were kind enough to repeat the name three times in five seconds to give us enough time to get it.). And surprisingly, there are a number of somewhat disturbing scenes, including the opening credits scene. One such scene has Bacon and Buddy capturing Lizzie, not knowing she is the sheriff's daughter. They spared no time in killing the previous teens, but they decide in her case to tie her up and torture her for several uninterrupted minutes. And the sets are covered in a number of (real?) mummified animals, and there's one bit where Buddy picks up an aged road-kill bird and plays with it in his hands.

And there's the ending. The one-more-shock and freeze-frame moment is standard in horror, and I don't mind when it happens. In Slaughterhouse, however, the moment happens when it seems there will be another reel or so to play before the end, leaving viewers jarred by the sudden ending. Plus...what about Buddy's brother? He was never seen, or referred to after that one reference! Why set us up, and not do anything with it? I have a theory, based on the missing brother and freeze-frame: The movie was most likely unfinished, probably to running out of funds. So the filmmakers cobbled together what they had. This wouldn't be the first time it's happened; if you want to see a more extreme example of this, look at the movie A Million to Juan and compare it to the original source material from Mark Twain.

I've talked about how bad this movie is, and said nothing good about it. So how come it isn't in my "worst films" list? I dunno. All I can think of is that it wasn't bad on a regular basis, unlike movies like Manson. Come to think about it, there was a lot of footage of people just talking or cars driving across the screen. Some critics say that it's better if something happens instead of nothing. These critics obviously haven't seen Slaughterhouse.

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See also: To All A Good Night, Slaughter High, Clownhouse

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