30th Apr2019

‘Mr. Cleaver’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ian Enriquez, Alexandra Guerineaud, Sarah Korda, Shannon Lark, Santiago Morales, Ly Pham, Ron Smith, Rosemary Maciel, Patrick Donahue, Noelle Birchwood | Written and Directed by Nik Wendelsdorf


Ahhh, the late ’80s/early ’90s… the heyday of shot-on-video horror. Where anyone could pick up a camera, make a movie and get it into video stores; well at least in the US. This was also the era that made household names out of the likes of Donald Farmer, Tim Ritter, The Polonia Brothers and Nik Wendelsdorf.

Hold on, hold on. Nik Wendelsdorf? He didn’t make films in that era did he? Well, no. But his debut feature Mr. Cleaver sure feels like it comes from that period in horror history!

The story is simple, much like that of the genre movies it aims to emulate – a group of punks, and a psychic (of course) break into a seemingly abandoned warehouse to have the usual horror-film fun: sex, drugs, more sex and… Well, they soon discover that they’re not alone and are infact being hunted by the buildings bloodthirsty owner, so that would be sex, drugs, more sex and DEATH! You know, the usual slasher movie cliches.

A throwback to the era of shot-on-video slasher movies, Mr. Cleaver looks like a film out of time (though technically it is, the film has hit VOD outlets 15 years after being made – as per the copyright date shown on the end of the credits). Lensed like an SOV film, with some obvious after-filming ADR, this for all intents and purposes could be a lost film of the early 90s. Hell, it looks at lot like The Dead Next Door – at least in terms of grimy visuals and lo-fi production values. Such is the films DIY nature that the real “punk” aspect of this film is the production itself rather than the characters within it!

What Mr. Cleaver does take from this particular era of horror however is the penchant for over the top, in your face, gore for gores sake. This cleaver-wielding maniac certainly lives up to his name – with dismemberments, decapitations, disembowellings and more. And I bloody loved the lot of if! Though there are some, especially those animal-lovers, out there that will REALLY take offense to just how far writer/director Nik Wendelsdorf takes the carnage.

But then I think that’s the point. To be as non-PC as possible, to throw off the shackles and restraints that current horror is bound by and go back to the “don’t give a crap, take no prisoners” attitude that made SOV films so popular. Told you this film’s production was more punk than its characters! And as if the gore isn’t enough, Wendelsdorf also throws in one of the creepiest scenes I’ve seen in ages, as psychic Crystal connects with the former owners of the building the gang are trapped in. Seriously, just wait till you get a load of Mr. Cleaver’s contortionist undead daughter Sally!

Made for a VERY unforgiving horror audience, Mr. Cleaver deserves to find a cult following now that its getting more exposure on VOD. After all, its the very definition of a cult midnight movie. A cult midnight movie made by a madman (probably) but one nonetheless.

Mr. Cleaver is available to watch on Amazon Prime now.


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