21st Feb2015

‘Slaughterhouse’ Blu-ray Review (88 Films)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Joe B. Barton, Don Barrett, Sherry Leigh, Bill Brinsfield, Jason Collier, Dave Fogel, Jeff Grossi, Hank Gum, Linda Harris, Jane Higginson, Joel Hoffman, William Houck, Courtney Lercara, Tom Normand, Lee Robinson | Written and Directed by Rick Roessler


When it comes to the Eighties we tend to have rose-tinted glasses when it comes to horror.  If a film makes lots of money and gains a fan base then it is more than likely that some cheap imitations will appear to try to make a profit off expectations.  Slaughterhouse is a film that feels like it fits very much in this category, though on repeat viewings surprisingly becomes quite charming.

When Lester Bacon (Don Barrett) finds himself with the threat of eviction from his own slaughterhouse he plans to get revenge on the business men he believes are forcing him out of business.  When he discovers his intellectually disabled son Buddy (Joe B. Barton) is hiding bodies of teenagers he killed in the basement he soon finds the perfect way to attack the people who have wronged him.

Buddy the squealing muscular hulk who finds more in common with his pigs than human beings is reminiscent of characters such as Leatherface.  Slaughterhouse treats this character with a lot more humour than most other maniacs, but the comedy has a sadistic edge that keeps this film off centre in its bizarre obsession with slaughter.  Even from the opening credits with music that wouldn’t be out-of-place in a Carry On film puts the audience on edge, as even though the music plays happily along the images of pigs being slaughtered and cut up for sale are anything but happy images.  If anything though it doesn’t get too graphic in the actual slaughter it still features enough for some to be put off the movie before it even starts.

Moving focus to the actual victims and not the Slaughterhouse itself these characters are far more generic.  For the most part Buddy aims his violence at teenagers who invade his territory (the slaughterhouse) and either scare his pigs or trespass in the building itself.  His father’s obsession with vengeance and attempts to bring the business men to be slaughtered by Buddy is at least trying to add something new to the story.  To keep the horror fans happy though it’s obvious that the focus is to have the teenagers as victims as this is the formula that worked and was more likely to make easier money.

The stand out actors in Slaughterhouse are Don Barrett and Joe B. Barton as the Bacons, but for totally different reasons.  Don Barrett plays the Slaughterhouse owner as a man obviously at his very limits, losing his business and having to look after his son who has an obsession with killing.  The speeches that his character has set up the film well and give the violence we see a purpose.  Joe B. Barton as the psychopath plays the character as a simple killing machine, almost likable in a way for his childish pleasure in his actions, but still a sadistic animal.  The rest of the characters feel generic, and for this reason I did struggle on first watching to really connect to the film, but on repeated viewings it did strangely grow on me, and a reason for this is probably though listening to the commentary included with the film.

88 Films have released Slaughterhouse as part of their new Slasher Classics Collection and it is obvious that they are going for the more obscure and cult movies and not the more well-known.  In the case of Slaughterhouse the added features are interesting and it does show the passion that went into making the film.  Slaughterhouse may not be a shining example of the genre but it does more than prove that it has a place in it.  The Blu-ray may not have the best picture quality but it still feels an improvement on original quality, I’m not sure we really want old horrors like this to look too perfect do we?

When it comes to horror from decades such as the eighties we do have to admit that there are some really bad films and some we remember as good based on nostalgic memories.  Slaughterhouse is one of the movies that I would say offered little new to the genre even back then, but also used good sources for the inspiration it used for its material.  Fans of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre may see the charm in this one more than other fans will but I wouldn’t write this one-off without giving it a watch.  I’d call Slaughterhouse a nice look back at how sometimes generic horror clones can find their own little charm, maybe managing to stand just a little taller than some of the many other similar movies vying for the same attention.

**** 4/4

Slaughterhouse is available on Blu-ray in the UK on 23rd February.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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