A prehistoric slasher movie with an all-female cast, and a band on hand for spontaneous jam sessions, that quite literally (and quite proudly) looks as though it was filmed down at the local park? It has to be Troma. Written and directed by 19-year-old (17 at the time of filming) Kansas Bowling–the very first inductee into “The Troma Institute for Gifted Youth”, dontcha know — B.C. Butcher is exactly what it sounds like: A slasher, set in prehistoric times, with a murderous caveman as the titular character.
Recently released on Troma Now, the infamous company’s VOD platform, the flick is one of those must-be-seen-to-be-believed kind of deals. I could tell you it has a near-constant, ear-worm punk rock soundtrack, that a character named Duck Duck makes a pretty significant cameo, or even that sausages are used as stand-ins for one poor lady’s intestines.
I could tell you all of that plus loads more crazy shit, and it still wouldn’t be enough to sell you on just how delightfully nuts this movie is. Never mind the fact the flick was made by a teenager, who crowdfunded it herself, or that it was filmed in 16mm and has a proudly feminist message. This is pure, unadulterated Troma Entertainment for a modern audience.
Ms. Bowling reportedly envisioned her film as a proud addition to the Troma stable, with Lloyd Kaufman himself taking an executive producer credit on the finished work, and it shows. From the bizarro narrative strands that fly off in all directions, to the over-the-top gore, to the serious amount of silliness on show, this is Troma through and through.
The premise, such as it is, sees a tribe of bad-ass cave-women, led by Neandra (an impressively committed Leilani Fideler) take on The Butcher, a seemingly mythical killer who stalks and slashes them one by one after falling in love with the corpse of their just-murdered sister.
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Troma Films
Stubbornly shot in 16mm (at the filmmaker’s insistence), over just nine days, in Ms. Bowling’s father’s backyard (in scenic Topanga Canyon, CA), the film looks a great deal better than it has any right to. Sun-bleached and over-saturated, the shadow of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (a key influence for Bowling) looms large.
However, even while wearing her inspirations on her sleeve, the first-time filmmaker has crafted a remarkably unique debut. The flick may look and feel like the Troma we know and love, but it’s also a whip-smart feminist text, the cast consisting mostly of women while the killer is a bloodthirsty, psychopathic man.
Far from being damsels in distress, the tribeswomen are strong, empowered and ruthlessly ruled over by Neandra who, although possibly insane, is a force to be reckoned with. In fact, the only other man who features, Rex (Kato Kaelin, hilarious), is a scheming cad whose fate is sealed by his mistreatment of the women.
It’s not exactly The Duke Of Burgundy, but the idea of women running the (prehistoric) world, even on a relatively small scale such as this, is still pretty cool (and, sadly, quite new). Besides, there’s much worse out there pretending to be much more. B.C. Butcher is nothing less than what Ms. Bowling wanted it to be–a pretty impressive feat for any first-timer, let alone a child of just 17.
As well as being Troma with a capital T, this is independent with a capital I. A family affair, which, aside from being filmed on their own land, features Bowling’s siblings (and herself) in small roles, there are precisely zero big names attached. Although, Dwayne Johnson does feature (just not that one).
The kills are quick and bloody, the red stuff slightly off-colour (on purpose, presumably). The flick is both faithful to its setting, with dirt used as perfume and Prehistoric Charades (which looks more fun than regular Charades) featuring prominently, and not, particularly when it comes to the many, great visual gags.
A bottle of water is drunk from, at one point, while one of the cave-women sports a tongue ring and artificially-coloured hair. The film’s funniest moment, however, comes with the seemingly endless screaming of someone who finds herself face to face with the Butcher.
Taken as a tongue-in-cheek piss-take of similar instances in slasher movies, it’s funny. Here, stretched to interminable length, it’s downright hilarious. Thankfully, though, for a film of this nature (“a campy cave-sploitation horror-comedy” gushes Troma’s spot-on description) the horror and comedy elements are in equally strong supply.
B.C. Butcher is an interesting addition to the legendary company’s repertoire. Well-shot, genuinely funny, boasting a killer concept and without an ounce of pretension to it, this is the prehistoric gyno-slasher movie you never realised you wanted.
Loaded with score and gore, B.C. Butcher is a proudly low-budget, hugely inventive and very good looking little trash-fest that has found its perfect spiritual home at Troma Entertainment.
It’ll be particularly interesting to see what Ms. Bowling does next, considering how difficult it’s going to be to top this madness.
WICKED RATING: [usr 6]
Director(s): Kansas Bowling
Writer(s): Kansas Bowling, Kenzie Givens
Stars: Leilani Fideler, Natasha Halevi, Kato Kaelin, Dwayne Johnson
Studio/ Production Co: Troma Entertainment
Length: 51 minutes