Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Paul Gagne’s The Slaughterhouse Massacre.
Have you ever seen a slasher movie? Yes? Then you’ve seen The Slaughterhouse Massacre. We have a group of unlikable characters heading into an abandoned slaughterhouse where some bad stuff went down years prior. We have a supernatural killer picking people off one at a time. We have actors playing parts clearly meant for people much younger than they. We have a signature weapon. We even have a Candyman style “say this 3 times and so and so will appear” legend. The only things we’re missing are a cool mask and any entertainment value.
The script here is just the worst. It ticks off every box for every slasher cliche in the book, but on top of that there’s a ton of weird little logic leaps and moments of idiocy. First off, we open with a couple that go to the slaughterhouse to get laid because…uh…the girl is goth, I guess. They set this scene up only to cut away right before they get killed. Less than five minutes later the group that will be our main characters go on and tell the legend of what happened, complete with cutaway footage of the events. Why? This is completely redundant. I mean, I could understand cutting away and telling the rest of the story later if they want to keep some mystery to what happened, but they solve it almost immediately and it doesn’t amount to anything. What was the point?The characters in general are a weak point. They’re unbelievably unlikable, but this is something I see in a lot of slasher flicks. The acting is bad, but again, that’s common. The way they’re handled is pretty bad, though. Our first scene with them is seeing them in school. We discover that they’re failing their class, a plot thread that never comes up again and is never resolved. If they’re dead by the end of the movie it doesn’t really matter anyway, though. Then there’s the relationship drama. Again, this is a plot thread that never goes anywhere and is never resolved. I realize they need to have the characters talk about something before getting killed, but don’t bring this stuff up if it isn’t going nowhere. Then there’s the way they end up in the slaughterhouse. They just go to check it out because “it’ll be cool.” I’m sorry, this is just lazy screenwriting.
The way female characters are handled is pretty sleazy, too. Everyone gets either naked or at least down to their underwear. The “final girl” of the movie gets stripped down in ways that don’t even make a whole lot of sense. Everyone else does so willingly since every other girl in the movie is basically a sexual deviant, to the point of unbelievability. It’s just hard for me to buy into the idea of a girl bending over and teasing her professor in the middle of class for no apparent reason. Plus there’s the whole “let’s screw in the slaughterhouse” thing. I get that she’s a goth girl and apparently into “weird shit,” but it just felt pretty forced. The scene that followed was basically from an adult film.
The budget is immediately apparent, and the complete lack of competence behind the camera doesn’t help any. Shots are poorly set up, the lighting is awful, and there are even sections of handheld “found footage” style shots. That’s exactly what we needed. Moments where the camerawork goes from terrible to even more terrible! Everything is really grainy and the color palette of the film seems to be a washed out grey and rust color. The sets and locations at least are alright. They’re dark and grungy, which is clearly what they were going for. It’s nothing particularly interesting, but it sets a certain tone.
The biggest problem with The Slaughterhouse Massacre though is that it commits the cardinal sin of b movies. It’s boring. It takes over 45 minutes before anyone in the main group dies, and even when that happens the kills aren’t interesting. The gore is pretty sub-par and the killer is going for a Freddy Krueger kind of thing. But he doesn’t have the charm of Robert Englund and pulling off a character like that is harder than it looks. Even his signature weapon isn’t particularly exciting. It’s a sickle. Cool…I guess? The only kill that’s even worth mentioning is the one that’s so terrible it had me bursting into laughter. The killer decapitates somebody and right at the moment of impact, his victim is replaced with some clipart looking CGI that’s both jarring and sloppily put in. Friday the 13th was made 35 years ago and they did a decapitation fully with practical effects that looked way better. There’s no reason for this now.
Ultimately, The Slaughterhouse Massacre is pretty much a great example of how NOT to make a slasher movie. It has the formula down pat, but it goes wrong at every turn within that formula. The writing is sloppy and inconsistent, the killer is underwhelming, the kills are forgettable, and the polish is nonexistent. It’s a bad-looking film, and the sound mix is poor as well. The volume jumps all over the place. It’s on Netflix, but don’t bother. Maybe it’s time that we all finally admit that a good slasher film is harder to make than everyone thinks? Maybe the fact that these movies are formulaic doesn’t mean that anyone can make one. Just a thought.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.