Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Massacre (2002)

Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Disc: 12

Subgenre(s): Slasher, Comedy

Year: 2002 (1989 on the DVD sleeve)

Rated: Unrated
Length: 73 minutes

Director: Joseph D. Clark
Writer: Joseph D. Clark
Starring: Kay Mehren, Neil Kulin, Phil Jacob

Synopsis: A relaxing weekend of fun and sun turns into a bloody battle for survival as six vacationing models attempt to avoid being tortured and murdered by a relentless killer who thrives on the smell of human fear.


Review: Not to be confused with the low-budget Italian slasher named Massacre (1989) even though, obviously, someone did who made that very mistake when typing out the details for the cardboard DVD sleeve, this is Joseph Clark's Bikini Party Massacre from 2002.

As Massacre starts off with some guy urinating on a semi-transparent CGI butterfly, followed by a scene of his girlfriend peeing, it makes you wonder if the director is trying to tell us something? With at least five more toilet scenes included later, Massacre really is taking the piss if it claims to be a good horror movie. I don't think there's any real danger of that ever happening though.

I've actually watched Massacre several times before when it was shown on Zone Horror in the UK, and I almost hate to admit it, but I kind of like it. It's more light-hearted than scary, and it seems to suffer as much of an identity crisis in the last fifteen minutes as the lead character once it turns from comedy into real horror, but it's not too badly put together considering its budget.

Technically, there are quite a few goofs including the cameraman being reflected in the paintwork of the car, still-breathing corpses, and the cheap CGI effects which look a lot worse on a big HDTV screen than when this movie was originally released on fuzzier VHS for standard televisions. The camerawork itself isn't terrible except when it's supposed to be, but it's admittedly hard to tell when it's intentional.

When they aren't obviously improvising or just reading lines, the acting isn't too bad. The couple at the beginning and director/writer/producer Joseph Clark actually demonstrate some real talent although only two of the pretty girls come close to being taken seriously. Naomi Vondell, who plays Randy, stands out as fairly capable while Jessica Psaila absolutely steals the show with her big-eyed expressions and slutty performance as Sandy. It's a shame that neither of them made more horror movies when they had the chance other than Zombie Night (2003).

The heart of Massacre is a "cabin in the woods" slasher with tents rather than a cabin, but that's the end of the originality. There's still a killer stalking the kids, but it just might not be who you think it is. The reveal at the end almost makes up for the tired formulas especially as there's no great attempt to deliver the horror goods anyway until over an hour in. In a slasher only 73 minutes long, this really is a huge weakness.

Rather than spoil it all for you, I'll just mention a couple of parts which stand out. The biggest one for me is how Phil Jacob (or Jacobs as he is credited) sits holding a guitar during the campfire scene yet never once attempts to play it. This is a lesser breaking of the "Chekov's Gun" trope although, if you watch out for them, there are plenty more plus several red herrings. As Bikini Party Massacre, a bigger one is that there isn't really a "Bikini Party" as such for the massacre to take place during, but with the title truncated, it's a moot point.

A surreal pop video scene captioned with "Out of gas, going for more" is part of the lead character Jeff's delusion, but it feels really odd. When Jeff meets the witch (Kay Mehren), it's questionable after the fact if this actually happens to him or not. The two nightmares which the girls have on the way to the campsite are also to be taken the same way yet you can't help but feel that all three scenes are only padding. Sandy's dream seems to go on for far too long, but Randy's is quite nice if you like boobs.

The various sex scenes are more humourous than erotic with their classical music homages to Caligula in the background, but there's a fair amount of flesh on display throughout Massacre which is always nice. I have my favourites and you will undoubtedly have yours.

What I like most about Massacre other than the naked girls is the sneaky way that the entire story is set up to trick you right from the opening titles. Blink and you'll miss the moment I'm talking about even though it's repeated during the climax. The tagged on dénouement is also repeated twice for no good reason at all although it's possibly meant to make you question what is real and what isn't yet again. Adding so many layers is overambitious for a B-movie though.

Most Memorable Moment(s): The campfire scene; Sandy's revelation, Jeff's reaction, and the moment between them.

Originality: Just like every other slasher but not as good. It pre-dates Identity (2003) although the "identity amnesia" trope used is the same and both borrowed it from dozens of previous movies.

Best Line(s): "It was quite an experience having sex with the girls, both before and after they were departed."
Worst Line(s): "I try to have it with as many strangers as I can so that I can get back at him."

Best Effect(s): Randy's dismemberment.
Worst Effect(s): The CGI heads on poles.

Goriness (out of 10): 6
Sexiness (out of 10): 7
Profanities (out of 10): 6

Hottest Actor/Actress: Jessica Psaila as Sandy.

Picture Quality: Average
Audio Quality: Average

Rating (out of 10): 6


IMDb or Wiki: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0346609/

Final Thoughts: It's silly, formulaic, and the final twist almost ruins it, but Massacre is easily one of the best movies in "Tomb of Terrors".

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