Sunday, October 02, 2016

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE (2015) starring Matt Cody, directed by Manny Serrano

Let me start off by saying that I selected this screener for review from Dan without knowing a damn thing about it. Now, let me add that I'm so sick of homages and remakes that I could just fucking puke. So the gag reflex was triggered and standing by, ready to blow, when I opened the package containing BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE and right on the back cover I read that dreaded word – "homage." I was about ready to slap a "Return to Sender" sticker on the package, place it back in the mail and cut my ties with this film in an instant... but, I talked myself down from the proverbial ledge and settled into my well-worn ass spot in my film viewing chair and hit "Play". I was quite honestly thinking I'd give it ten-, twenty-minutes tops before I gave up in anger or frustration, or both. After a shaky ass opening that I started to dissect with a hyper-critical eye, the film did something I did not expect; it began to get interesting, the cast (for the most part) were engaging in their parts, and this homage to 80's stalker films became a kind of, sort of, fresh take, even while maintaining a vibrance and feel for the era depicted.

The film revolves around a police officer turned detective named James Fincher who, ten years prior to the current time frame the film resides in, was attacked by a mask-wearing killer named The Ripper. While investigating a disturbance at a residence where twenty-three people were killed during a party, including a prominent Judge and District Attorney, Fincher was run through with a knife. Fincher's life since has spiraled out of control into a drunken stupor, with his wife and daughter abandoning him and his alcoholism getting him booted off the police force after the Ripper resurfaces and begins to kill again. Actor Matt W. Cody – who portrays Fincher – is the fuel that keeps this film moving; with a finely nuanced performance of a man whose life is swirling out of control due to addiction and his continued inability to solve the case that haunts him.

Will Fincher get his shit together and help figure this case out? Can he save his wife and daughter from danger? And, why and how he is connected to the killer... or killers?

Now I'm not here to totally gloss over the film's issues and BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE has a sizable few. There's a continued issue with the sound that, at times, makes it impossible to hear conversations between characters. And, while well framed and shot (for the most part), some of the camera work is downright atrocious. Homage or not, these issues detract and do not add to the film. The last and most glaring issue is the length of the film; the screener I viewed clocked in at a mind-ripping 113 minutes.

One question that nags me while viewing homages to the Slasher genre: are the kills only done in an homage fashion because of an actual nostalgic love for these films or is the lack of originality the fault of the filmmakers... or is it just plain old laziness?

While the film is a dreaded homage, in my mind it saves itself with some solid acting, abundant nudity and a very good script. Though the age demographic of most of the female victims – and nudity providers – killed after the Ripper returns are in the 15-17 (?) range, my mind assured me that these really young looking women were indeed over eighteen. The use of a video store in the film where a couple of killings occur is a great touch and the mask-wearing killer is well realized and brings a sense of malice and tension to the scenes where he is stalking his prey. The blood and gore is generous and is always part of the film as opposed to gore for the sake of gore as some movies tend to indulge in.

Most of the characters are well defined and given enough substance so as to be properly fleshed out, warts and all. The film is just a wee bit too long for its own good and tries to bite off more than it can chew; it's clearly in need of more editing and the removal of some unnecessary scenes. The ending is chaotic but very well handled, with most of the interlocking characters coming to some harm either physical or emotional. This throws the whole thing into a sadistic melee of violence that exposes the suspect (or suspects) in a bloodbath that may not allow the good or righteous to survive the night.

Issues aside, BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE is an interesting enough experience and a movie I can recommend to horror fans of today as well as devotees of 80's slasher films. Flawed and overlong, but a film that grabs and holds your attention. Director Manny Serrano, who co-wrote the script with Louie Cortes, is a director with potential; and, with the right bit of self-imposed restrictions and a reining in of his overflowing talents he could make a major mark in the horror genre someday soon! – Michael Hauss

Michael Hauss lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his daughter and their cat Rotten Ralph. He has had reviews and articles published in Monster, Weng’s Chop, We Belong Dead, Divine Exploitation and Multitude Movies. He also contributed to the book 70’s Monster Memories and is a regular contributor to the blogs Theater of Guts and Spaghetti Western Database. This is his first piece for ER. 

BLOOD SLAUGHTER MASSACRE is available from Amazon.

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