1987’s Slaughterhouse always caught my eye at my local video store growing up, but for some unknown reason, I never got around to renting it. I pretty much rented everything else they had to offer, ten times over in some instances, but Buddy the deranged people slashing pig farmer never made it into my VCR. So, when I got some reward Amazon gift cards, the first thing I did was buy a copy of Vinegar Syndrome’s release of the film. Was it worth the wait? Was I going to be disappointed?
I gotta say, the music in the opening credits puts me off a bit. I’m not sure of the tone going in. The jazzy, funny, showtunes-y, goofy music transposed over the grisly images of pigs in a slaughterhouse could set the tone for a movie with a serious message about the horrors and abuse that happen in these places……or it could just let the viewer know it’s not going to take itself too seriously. I’m going with the latter.
It’s a simple plot, really. Poor pig farmer Lester is about to lose his property, so he unleashes his mentally challenged son Buddy to kill all the wrongdoers. I get why he would kill the people who came to foreclose on his daddy’s land, but what’s with him killing those innocent kids shooting a horror movie on their land? Are they vicious trespassers handed down the death penalty? Did they litter and face the wrath of a mentally deranged vigilante? Is messing with someone’s hogs enough reason to hang someone on a meat hook? Wait, Is Buddy actually the good guy here? He’s so loving with the hogs, and like most sensible people, he hates those pesky cats, so I could totally see a (Ch)op-ed feature in the future arguing he’s the sympathetic hero of the movie.
Joe B. Barton plays Buddy, and he truly steals the show. With his intimidating presence, his grunts and squeals, his sweat covered overalls, his total commitment to playing the character, I can’t believe he never reprised the role (it had been long rumored and planned but has not come to fruition) nor that he never really caught on in Hollywood. He only has 7 acting credits, and sadly died in 2010.
“You just can’t slaughter people cuz they’re messing with your hogs! ……At least you made good clean cuts.”
Director Rick Roessler only made this film, and his IMDB credits are very scant, so I really wonder what happened to his career. It’s a competently made film. The killer is unique and creepy. I can see why it’s a cult movie because it’s fun. A short 85-minute runtime, with credits, means it moves along at a brisk pace. The acting is serviceable. The set pieces are pretty cool for those of us who haven’t seen the backstage inner workings of a hog farm. The humor is
tongue in cheek so it isn’t a slap you upside the head “look at how funny we are” movie, like many of the “funny” horror films I typically hate. The kills are inventive and the blood flows freely, so it does live up to the slashers of the 80s, even if it does come in at the tail end of the craze.
Slaughterhouse does feel very Texas Chainsaw Massacre-y, but it’s not a total rip-off like House of a Thousand Corpses. It truly is its own movie. And a good one at that.
6.5/10 Stab Wounds