Inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the only film directed by Rick Roessler is good ol’ American horror that isn’t too gory but has perhaps one of the most underrated slashers in 80’s films.
The Bacon and Sons slaughterhouse and meat packaging place is in foreclosure. Attempts by former employee turned corporate meat packager Tom Sanford to buy the property has failed. However, in a last ditch attempt to save the Bacon family from having the place shut down by the bank, Sanford makes one last deal but again, is met with resistance by owner Lester Bacon. When Sheriff Borden informs Lester that he has 30 days to vacate the premises, this puts Lester in a state of insanity.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Borden’s daughter Liz, an aspiring horror movie director, is looking for places to shoot her new film. When her boyfriend Skip mentions the slaughterhouse, Liz takes a little footage with her boyfriend and their friends Buzz and Annie before leaving. Meanwhile, Lester has decided to lure Sanford, attorney Harold Murdock, and Sheriff Borden to the slaughterhouse with one thing in mind. He plans to have his 350-pound mentally disabled but brute son Buddy do the work for him in killing them. While he succeeds in getting two, Buddy will soon have a new batch to dismemeber when Liz and her friends decide to go back to the slaughterhouse.
The film, made on the wake of the 1980’s slasher films, would earn its notoriety that it would be the only film directed by Rick Roessler, who also wrote the screenplay. Using newcomer actors and a plot whose core element is more or less a footnote from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it must be mentioned that the film’s opening credit sequence is both disturbing and hilarious at the same time. The disturbing part comes from the fact that we see what actually happens in the slaughterhouse, but the hilarious part comes in the music that is played. The music sounds like it comes from a late 1960’s to early 70’s situation comedy. Perhaps this was used to lighten the tone of the film a bit, but the use of music here goes from scary to at times, cute when it comes to scenes involving the teens doing the require hanging out before the inevitable is to take place.
Sherry Bendorf, known today as stunt performer Sherry Leigh, makes a very good acting debut as Liz Borden, the daughter of the sheriff wanted by the Bacons. She plays it strongly until she finds herself in a situation similar to the late Marilyn Burns in TCM, and she pulls it off nicely as a potential scream queen here. Her boyfriend and friends are there simply for filler, but it must be noted that the film does break away from one usual horror cliché: don’t expect the typical teen couple making love then getting killed here. Roessler wisely decided to take that piece of the puzzle out.
While the cast is virtually newcomers, it is Joe Barton’s slasher Buddy Bacon that truly makes this film what it is today. The 5’9” 350 pound actor plays Buddy as someone who is obviously mentally disturbed, and has lived his life amongst the pigs. As a matter of fact, Buddy doesn’t speak, but rather he grunts and snorts profusely like a pig throughout the entire film. However, his one major attribute is his strength, which he uses to his advantage in one of the killing scenes. His weapon of choice? A giant meat cleaver attached like a half bo-staff. In a very funny comic relief scene, Buddy manages to joyride in a police car and squeals over the CB radio like a mad hog.
The killing scenes themselves are not too over the top and surprisingly not as gory as one would expect. There are a few gore shots, but they are not too graphic. Plus, it is funny when you see Lester sort of berate his son for killing people that shouldn’t have been killed. For the most part, the death scenes are pretty quick here give or take a few scenes.
Slaughterhouse is more like an 80’s version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with its not too over the top killing scenes, some comic relief from the killer’s father berating his son, and an underrated slasher with Joe Barton’s Buddy snorting and grunting like a pig when offing his victims.
Check out an exclusive interview with the film’s writer and director on Racks and Razors.
WFG RATING: B
An American Artists Inc. production. Director: Rick Roessler. Producer: Ron Matonak. Writer: Rick Roessler. Cinematography: Richard Benda. Editing: Sergio Uribe.
Cast: Joe Barton, Don Barrett, Sherry Bendorf, Lee Robinson, Bill Brinsford, Jane Higginson, Jeff Grossi, Eric Schwartz, William Houck, Jeff Wright, Donna Stevens, Joel Hoffman, Courtney Lercara.