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Thursday, 8 December 2011

SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)


Rowdy teens, sweaty hicks, lots of pigs and a huge lunatic with a meat cleaver – welcome to SLAUGHTERHOUSE. Quite a sought-after tape amongst the VHS geeks I frolic with, it's a flick I've wanted to check out for a while on the strength of the marvellously tacky cover. I'm not disappointed now I've seen it, either. A steal on eBay, even with a battered cover, the film ticks off 80s horror tropes one by one; The soundtrack is a great slice of cheese, the cast are pretty and pretty irritating, and there's chaos with a cleaver. What's not to like?

Buddy, the simpleton son of a pig-farm owner, goes on a killing spree inspired by his father when their dilapidated slaughterhouse is put at risk of closure by the local sheriff and officials. A group of teenagers who are joking around making a shot-on-video horror movie get caught up in the mayhem when they stop off at the slaughterhouse for kicks, and eighties low-budget horror fun ensues.

There are plenty of high-spirited hi-jinks from the teenagers which tell us quite clearly that they are full of mischief and ever so slightly naughty, but they're not all that bad really. There's even a party montage scene with obligatory eighties edits and a bouncy pop band onstage who are described as 'Rock n' roll' despite their synths and smart haircuts.


It's all a bit wholesome, until the slaughter starts for real. Buddy, the giant, idiot, mute maniac on the cover, is in turn hilarious and formidable. The performance from Joe. B. Barton as Buddy Bacon (seriously) would have made for a fine Leatherface knock-off had it not been for the forced moments of comedy evident in his every facial expression and each scene featuring him when he's not hacking people to bits or hanging them from meat hooks. He is constantly snorting, squealing and grunting. Just like his piggies.

Now, as someone who loves bacon (and indeed pork products galore) very dearly, while also thinking that pigs are delightful creatures (hypocrite, I know, but they're cute and delicious, so everyone wins really), it's great to see pigs being pigs throughout the movie. It's when anyone tries to push the plot forward in a sensible direction that it falls apart entirely. The makers should really have spent less time trying to turn the film into a cop drama and more time with Buddy swinging his cleaver at people's heads while jaunty country music plays in the background, as that's when Slaughterhouse really makes a killing. Now I want a bacon sandwich.



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