Slaughterhouse (1987)

Slaughterhouse (1987)

Buddy Has An Axe To Grind. A Big Axe

When the owner of an old slaughterhouse finds out that he is facing foreclosure, he sends out his 300lb, mentally-retarded psychotic son to kill those who want his land. A group of teenagers who are filming a cheesy horror movie at the slaughterhouse are caught up in the carnage.

 

Clearly borrowing elements from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Slaughterhouse is a surprisingly entertaining independent slasher film from 1987 which has almost faded into obscurity and become somewhat of a lost classic. Perhaps I’m using that term a little loosely though as there’s good reasons why it still isn’t doing the rounds. It’s repetitive, predictable and really low budget but it’s got a tongue-in-cheek likeability which helps it overcome a multitude of problems. Can you really go wrong with an inbred maniac offing people in a huge slaughterhouse?

There’s nothing you won’t have seen before in the plot, potentially only the fact that the teenagers seem like an afterthought in the film and are not really the focus of the two deranged hillbillies. Running like a dafter version of Tobe Hooper’s chainsaw-wielding classic (even going under the title Pig Farm Massacre for some overseas releases), Slaughterhouse ticks the boxes of the majority of straight-to-video 80s efforts, so much so that most of it is rather unmemorable. You’ll be familiar with the sort of locations on offer here: dark, damp and abandoned places in the middle of nowhere, full of places for our killer to jump out of and containing plenty of hidden rooms for our teen characters to get lost in.

There’s not a whole lot of scaring going on here – atmosphere isn’t very evident and apart from the usual ‘boo’ scares of the killer jumping out in front of the camera, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything in here to truly scare the viewer. You get the feeling that the director took the easy way out with some of the shots. Slaughterhouse‘s biggest assets come in the form of the two main characters, Lester the owner of the slaughterhouse and Buddy, his son. Buddy, the mentally-challenged, lard-ass killer is a right hoot who channels the spirit of Leatherface with his penchant for making weird squealing noises and his knack for brandishing unhealthy weapons. The filmmakers try a little too hard to turn him into the next iconic slasher villain but he does have his memorable moments, notably the scene in which he pretends to be a cop driving around in the cop car. He’s physically imposing enough to warrant running for you life when he charges towards you and he’s daft enough to really do some serious damage without knowing it.

His on-screen father, Lester, is written and portrayed in the same mould – a man content with his little lot in life and happy of the ‘job for life’ he had at the slaughterhouse. When all of this comes crashing down, it’s hard not to get behind them. The two work well together and come off as a solid pair of misdirected villains, likeable in some respects in that you’ll clear sympathise with the predicament they’re forced to be in. But that’s no excuse for the carnage that they commit.

The biggest crime that Slaughterhouse commits is it’s skimping of the classic slasher ingredients. Considering this is a mid-80s slasher where plot and characterisation was virtually non-existent, there isn’t a huge amount of gore and the bulk of the red stuff comes from the gross scenes of the slaughterhouse in action right at the start, with pigs getting sliced, diced and hung upside down. Oh, and if you think you’ll get through this without seeing someone being thrown into a meat grinder than think again! Buddy does get to see a lot of action as he hacks off limbs, smashes in skulls and slices throats with a variety of sharp meat-cutting implements but the film tends to cut away from the really good bits, depriving us of some gooey spills.

The other absent element is the lack of nudity. I don’t want to come off as too perverted but come on, throw in some naked ladies! These films pandered to a sub-genre built upon rules and when films don’t adhere to them, the target audience will be upset. I guess the film doesn’t really need any nudity but when little effort has been put into building up scares, creating atmosphere and trying to do something better-than-average, it should have fallen back on the tried-and-tested cheap crowd pleasers. The ending is also grossly anti-climatic and they either ran out of money, simply couldn’t be bothered filming it or had designs on a sequel (I’m guessing that the first choice there is the correct one).

 

If you don’t know what to expect from a slasher film, then I don’t want to know you. But if you do know what to expect and you do like it, then Slaughterhouse is a decent entry in this saturated genre. Just don’t expect anything original or memorable.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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