Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Six-Fingered Hand of Bloody Redemption: The Redeemer (1978)

The Redeemer (1978) (AKA "The Redeemer: Son of Satan!", Class Reunion Massacre")
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Damien Knight, Jeannetta Arnette, Nick Carter

Oh, Lordy. This movie. This wonderfully horrible movie.

It starts with a shot of a hand punching out of a clear lake after a tedious run through the opening credits and a sacrilegious quote, revealing a boy with a very dated haircut casually walking out of the waters and boarding a bus headed to the town church. Elsewhere, a shadowy figure grants a sleeping fellow an extra thumb on one hand because spoiler-related reasons. And, yes, it's kinda gross-looking. One tiny thumb on top of an elongated one.

Urge to poke it with a stick... Growing...

We then we see that the soaky lil' dude is one with of the (more bullied) choirboys and the sermon is your typical fire-and-brimstone type about sins and whatnot, yelled by an equally typical Bible-thumping priest. This is where we get our character introductions interjected through out the righteous Gospel ramblings; John, a lawyer who values money more than a fair trial; Cindy, a party girl with multiple failed marriages; Terry, the eater of burgers; Jane, one who shoots at pigeons for fun; Roger, a vain actor who walked out of set because someone spilled a drink on his pants; and Kristen, a lesbian. Just, uh, just a lesbian. The six happen to be part of a small clique back at their highschool years and they all recently received an invitation to attend a reunion back at their alma mater.

Unbeknownst to them, they're the only ones who got the invites, which could've have just been weird, amusing even, if it wasn't for the loon out stalking and prowling around the campus killing them one-by-one. A loon with a penchant for hammy disguises, life-sized weapon-wielding puppets and Biblical tirades. A loon who calls himself- The Redeemer!  

Now, see, as much as I want to decimate this movie and make a mockery out of its flaws, I can't. I just simply can't. I have a soft spot for dumb cheesy movies, particularly those that are done with the right amount of unintentional humor and have made odd spectacles out of themselves, something The Redeemer here manage to do and a little more. For one, the atmosphere is just befittingly weird coming from the story's dream-like logic and semi-creepy direction, straight from the shot of a random choirboy rising out of the cold waters and the random double thumb appearing at one's hand, to the villain's unusual gimmick of donning random costumes and his somewhat supernatural nature. It plays well with the movie's good eye on expressive cinematography and, too, the villain's warped morality which can be best described as very shallow at best (or worst), yet strangely entertaining leaning on the fact he's going through all of this trouble of dropping swords and setting up blowtorch-equipped mannequins to attack just because the clique is guilty of things like eating too many fast food or loving themselves too much. That said, despite the absence of strong grue or a high count, I also came to like the murders perpetrated by our Redeemer here all for the sheer unusualness of it all, may it be the execution of the scene or the imagery itself.

Character-wise, it's hard to hide how regular the victims can be, unfortunately; don't get me wrong, the actors tried (and I mean, tried) to milk out any seriousness and talent they can muster to act their respective one-note meat bags, but writing and scripting are hardly this movie's strong points so they go against creating any real solid casts unsurprisingly. You could say the same for our titular killer with his holier-than-thou horror trope psychosis, but he at least has the thankful joy of being exaggeratedly bad, to the point that I can't really take him seriously despite the murdering business and all. (Like how can you? This guy can't even get the number of sins right. It's seven deadly sins, shmuck. Not six. Unless we're pulling a Se7en (1995) here and the killer is the seventh sin?!)

Yes, The Redeemer (1978) is no real gem, but it's a personal treat that keeps splitting my sides with its ludicrous ham, as well as captivate me for just how absurd it can get. Perhaps you can say I find it so bad it's good, so much so that it deserves to sit proudly next to other lovable bad trashes like ThanksKilling (2008) and Nail Gun Massacre (1985). If you see yourself a wee bit curious enough to try it out then I say, go for it! Just remember to dim the lights in your noggin and not take any of it as high art as much as possible and you'll do mostly fine!


1 male shot on the neck
1 male set on fire with a blow torch
1 female shot with a shotgun
1 male gets a sword dropped unto his head
1 female drowned in a handwashing sink
1 male shot on the head
1 female hacked to death with a sword
1 boy seen dead from throat cut
Total: 8 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Troublesome Production of Harry Penderecki: Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (2007)

Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (2007)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: David Naughton, Brian O'Halloran, Gerry Bednob

Many a times I cover slasher movies that lean on the comical side, but had I ever cover comical movies that lean on the slasher side? 

Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (2007) is a mockumentary centered around low-budget horror director Harry Penderecki (An American Werewolf in London (1981)'s David Naughton), who hasn’t had a hit since his last opus, I'll take the ring back... And the finger, too!. Itching to make a real name for himself, he sets out to do Brutal Massacre, a backwoods slasher that's going to be his "big one" given everything goes smoothly. Big emphasis on given.

A satire comedy about low-budget horror movie productions, Brutal Massacre's just a real treat from beginning to end as we follow the scenes behind one supposedly infamous (for the more absurd and often hilarious reasons) horror director and his close-knit crew's days of filming, tackling every sorts of mishaps from finding the perfect shooting location and encountering creepy drunk houseowners (one of them looking a whole lot like Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)'s Gunnar Hansen. Unless...), to getting the right gore effects guy and surviving workplace hazards. (i.e. firing ranges and the occasional runaway knife) On a lack of a better term, these guys are just screwed with just so much bad luck and bad press that their misfortunes in this one project are simply chuckle-worthy, something the movie wears proudly with its snarky yet kinda intelligent dialogue and a good lot of talent involved.

Aside from the aforementioned David Naughton doing his silliest as an inspired yet very down-on-luck director whose self-praising and over-analyzation of his own shlocky projects bring forth plenty of laughs, we also have the likes of other horror icons like Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead (1978)) and Ellen Sandweiss (The Evil Dead (1981)), and too familiar faces of comedy like Brian O’Halloran of Clerks (1994) and Gerry Bednob from the Steve Carell comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) gracing the screen as assorted friends and/or crews just doing their best to get through the filming in one piece and their sanity intact, with or without the cost of their own frustrations, stupidity or, for some people, both. There are some genuine moments of chemistry and timing among these crowds so when a joke hits, it hits the right way. (running gag Gunnar Hansen anyone?) When a joke misses, however, it's pretty darn noticeable at how distractingly "hard" it wants to be (Yes, the rich Texan is funding this movie because he wants titties. Anything else?), but seeing there are more hits than misses here in my book, I'm willing to overlook these flaws for what's really no more than a fun comedy-of-errors that doesn't completely take itself too seriously.

Perhaps the factor that gets me on a really forgivable stride towards this movie is that despite being played for laughs, it is still a caricature of low budget filmmaking; Brutal Massacre is structured like an actual process, one that revels on highlighting a lot of possible issues one might meet during movie projects and as a horror fan since youth, I have a growing sense of fascination of what goes behind the camera and I kinda admire all the hard work these production crews put in making a single movie to cinematic life. Of course, there's nothing that much insightful going on here save for one or two apparently deep moments, but the matter this movie brought up problems like lazy and inept crew members, obnoxious locals and budget restraints and found ways to make it subtle yet funny earns modest points for me.

Yes, it's lowers its bar a bit due to some irregular jokey moments and sometimes questionable writing, but I'm committed in my words when I say Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (2007) is just in it for the laughs and I understand and appreciate that. It mostly knows the darkly funny side of low budget films and I like that it approached a different angle to exploit. If you have an itch for an independent mockumentary comedy about the happenings during that one shooting of a shlocky $1.99 slasher movie you can pick up at a bargain bin, then go get yourself a copy of this and watch out for short Indian cameramen with anger issues. Apparently they have a tick for the term "shot-on-video"...

1 male accidentally killed by a tossed knife
Total: 1

Seriously, this dude looks like Gunnar Hansen.