Saturday, August 14, 2010

SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987)

Here on the bed of woe, pain snips through the opiate shroud, nicking my nerves and keeping me from sweet unconsciousness. In other words, some shit went down that left me bed ridden. Ironically, I'm in so much pain, though, that I can't sleep. The most fucked up part is that there's no TV remote in my bedroom, so I've been acutely conscious through TBS airings of "Drumline" and "Madea Goes To Jail." All week I've kept imagining Ted Turner channel surfing past his old Flagship station only to find Tyler Perry sashaying around in drag. Ted then gasps and fire poles into a casket, like Bruce Wayne into the Bat mobile, for a cathartic little spin. I know when I walk again, suffering will have made me stronger, crazier, and maybe slightly black, too.

This has been a foul week for me. Even the most minor details have snowballed into a steaming shit Frosty, magic hat and all. Not one thing has gone my way. Everything is breaking. And if it was already broken, it broke even more. Sweet VHS, too, has given me nothing but grief lately.

I may get the occasional lemon that doesn't quite live up to its advertised grade of quality, sure, but EVERY tape that arrived this week played like it had been spun from Frankenstein's asshole. You gamble with your trust on these things, and more often than not it pays off. But my unusually consistent losing streak could serve as an argument for cosmic bias.

Quality of the collectible is a big fat gray area when you’re talking VHS. In the realm of Video, the idea of a mint copy of anything is near mythical. Back when a lot of this stuff was initially retailed, it went for pretty hefty prices. If you look on the backs of a lot of these big box tapes, they sold for anywhere from 30 to 80 bucks. I can only speculate that very few consumers bought shit like "Devilfish" for their private library. Video stores on the other hand could eventually earn the investment back. So, most of the tapes I find are ex-rentals that some video store dumped.

You will often see tapes listed on eBay and Amazon for high prices at mere “Good” grade. However, the pictured item will yield evidence of sticker damage, fading, and general shelf ware from whatever Podunk Video rental center it came from. While I think that sort of damage is part of the charm, wear and tear like this would get most collectibles ranked “acceptable” to “poor."

So, when it comes to collecting Video, “good” is typically the best you’re gonna find. Beyond that, when you're talking tapes the criteria for “good” has a wider gape than a Manila hooker. Some of this shit looks like it came out of a battered women’s shelter. I can handle a few black eyes, but I draw the line if that bitch’s innards are scrambled.

I’m gonna lay down a little gospel on you people right now: if you list a tape as “good,” then that motherfucker better PLAY RIGHT! And I'm not talking about the occasional line or small break. Some wear is acceptable. Never mind the genre label on the box. Fuck the fact that the art is cut. What’s that? A “Be Kind Rewind” sticker? Pile those faggots on! I don’t care! If you list a tape as good and the box is pretty pristine, but the tape itself is a mangled pile of stratus, then you deserve to be duct taped to a chair and forced to watch the dismemberment of your family, and then released in health to let the memory haunt and eventually drive you into a poorly run state institution. It may sound harsh, and I’m sure I’m just possessed by pain right now, but fuck it: I’m legit pissed off about some of the shit these walking Friedman drawings pawned off on me.

So, earlier this week, I hobble to the mail box to find that a recently won copy of the 1987 slasher flick “Slaughterhouse” has come home. Hadn’t seen this son of a bitch in years, and I was really looking forward to reviewing it. I gleefully rip open the package and I’m flooded with hazy recollections of all-night Hungry Howie’s buddy bashes fueled by Jolt Cola. I remembered Buddy Bacon’s pig leg butcher knife. But the one thing that impressed me the most was that this is one of those movies that trumped its own cheapness with a strong dose of atmosphere. So, I fire up the projector, eager to contrast and compare my recollections. I pop that shit in. It’s a little shaky to start with, but fuck the FBI anyway, right?

And then comes the first trailer, for “Rolling Vengeance!” Fuck yeah!

Only Youtube makes that shit look like HiDef compared to what I was watching at that moment. The top portion of the screen looked possibly warped, while the machine chugged through huge gnarled sections of the tape. And when it was playing “clean,” I was still getting flurries of lines every five seconds.

I hit eject, turned up the flap, and the tape looked like that roast beef pussy you'd see in an issue of Hustler Magazine. The top of the tape was actually serrated. There was no harming this thing, so I pulled the guts out to see what else the casing was hiding. Almost every other inch was chewed up. Some dumbshit had even spliced an amazing number of breaks back together with FROSTED Scotch tape. I guess he was out of semen and toilet paper. Later, the tape ROLLED OVER, and went to black. After that, God had a good laugh and I slipped into the sleep of powerful depression. So, at least I got something out of it.

I can think of a lot of colorful descriptions for this acquisition, but this would have to come packaged between the breasts of an unconscious Shenae Grimes for me to call it “good."

I wish I had a fresh take on the movie, but I'm just going to have to wing it for now. One thing which distinguishes this from being what many have called "average slasher fair" is that the villains have distinct faces and personalities, owed most likely to the influence of Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." However, the Bacon family are never quite as witty as the Sawyers. The antagonists were timely though, because these are essentially the sort of people that Willie Nelson was trying to save with Farm AID. They're defending their long-lived family livelihood from an encroaching modern world that doesn't give a fuck about real people.

The bare basics have the Bacon's pig farm approaching foreclosure, so daddy decides to unleash his fat retarded son, Buddy Bacon, on trespassers. Really, the only clichéd thing about the movie is that the main interlopers happen to be drunken, sex-crazed teenagers. I can't remember if there's any nudity, but I sure not, because the few girls I saw in the beginning looked like they probably got their dicks chopped off in Tijuana.

Rural settings are par for the course in this sub-genre, and while the script still depicts salt-of-the-earth folk as totally fucking nuts, they give them real identity and purpose. They're crazy and fucked up, sure, but they're also contending with a major bummer looming on their horizon. So, we don't just get a bevy of bucked tooth hicks who spew forebodings about some one-dimensional villain. The bad guys here are actually socially relevant. Check out the trailer.

There are two cuts of this film. Only in Germany and America does the film retain its most graphic situations. Meanwhile, English Parliament still had the video nasties' stick up its pale keister, so the thing got hacked to pieces. While doing a little reading about the various cuts I ran across a great website which provided a rather detailed comparison between the cut and uncut versions. If you're one of those people who's really fascinated by regional differences in films, then bookmark Movie Censorship.

In the mean time, I guess I’ll just have to seek out another copy… and maybe some duct tape.

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