Slaughterhouse – Blu-ray review
Director: Rick Roessler
Stars: Joe B. Barton, Don Barrett, Sherry Leigh
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
By 1987 the golden age of slasher flicks was all but gone, but that didn’t stop some movies from still trying to jump on that bandwagon, despite it mostly being broke down, with the wheels off, left to the side of the road to rot. One such movie was Slaughterhouse, a pig-centric (yes, really) slasher that is often seen as a horror-comedy, a classification I can agree with, because if it was made as a straight-up horror movie, wow did it fail. So as a bit of ha-ha slice & splat, does it work? Well grab your favorite oversized meat cleaver and let’s find out.
First a warning: this film, all about the titular location, does begin with some real life slaughterhouse footage. Now, things are relatively kept clean here. It’s not like a PETA shock video, but it is real slaughter of real pigs, and some people are sensitive to such things, so consider yourselves warned.
As for the real story here, it involves a crotchety old man who once ran a slaughterhouse, which has since fallen into ruin. The old man has a hulking, simple-minded son named Buddy who only communicates through a series of pig grunts. These two are about to be evicted off of their land, so you just know that’s going to lead to good things happening. Enter a group of four teens who want to make a “horror video” – what that means is never fully discussed here – so what better place to shoot it than the old slaughterhouse? Oh yeah, good, good things are in the works. Essentially big bad Buddy and his pa want revenge on those who are booting them off their land, and the kids just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s about it for the plot here.
The direction is amateurish, as is the acting, but both are not completely without their charms. Buddy is a hoot to watch most of the time, and it is the high-water mark for fun when he’s on the screen. The soundtrack is mostly provided by what I am guessing was a local band they paid in beer. The songs, which are more often than not played in their entirety, are not what you would call good, but they are perfectly cheesy in an awesomely 80s way. Like pig-snorting Buddy, they liven up things whenever they appear. There are some gory kills here, but most of them fall into the “well, good for you for trying” camp rather than being especially effective. The characters are serviceable cardboard cutouts with no depth to them, fit to be axe-fodder but nothing else. Overall nothing is horrible here, but neither is anything all that great. Even Buddy, while being the poster boy (literally) for the movie and having some fun moments, is an “also ran” in the overstuffed world of 80s slasher killers, and it’s clear to see why this movie has faded in almost everyone’s mind as time moved on.
On to the extras and special features Vinegar Syndrome put on this Blu-ray/DVD two pack. First let me say that this movie looks amazing in HD, much better than a low-budget indie flick from the mid-80s has any right to look. There is an audio track with director Rick Roessler, producer Jerry Encoe, and production designer Michael Scaglione. There is an interview with actress Sherry Leigh that’s over 10 minutes, and an interview/featurette with director Rick Roessler that’s 28 minutes. The producer, Jerry Encoe, also returns for a short five-minute interview. Then there are archive interviews with both the director and producer from a 1999 DVD release and together they run 26 minutes. There is a short 30-years-later epilogue to the movie that is…weird, but sort of funny. Then there is a 5-minute radio interview from 1987 with “Buddy” from the movie and some archival footage from the local news coverage for Slaughterhouse. There is a behind-the-scenes featurette that’s over 20 minutes, and a cute no smoking ad Buddy and dad did for theaters. The usual outtakes, trailers, TV, and radio spots can all be found here, as well as the Slaughterhouse shooting script. For a movie as often overlooked and forgotten as Slaughterhouse, that’s an impressive amount of extras.
This new combo pack for Slaughterhouse is for diehard lovers of 80s slashers. The film isn’t bad, but it’s far from good, and it just sort of is. If you are a fan of this flick, then I can highly recommend this edition to you, as Vinegar Syndrome has really gone all out on it. If you are a slasher-collecting completist then this also gets a recommend. If you are anyone else, I’d say give it a watch first and see if this movie is for you.