March 08, 2008

The Slaughter: Lovecraftian Horror Comedy for Horror Hounds

Poster from The SlaughterI watched Jay Lee's Lovecraftian horror-comedy The Slaughter last night and I've got to tell you, I loved it. Admittedly, it's a little slow to get started after a tremendous opening sequence (my compliments to Lee on his cinematography and editing on it), but once it does it's a funny, gory and campy hommage to both H.P. Lovecraft and classic horror cinema in general. I recommend it highly for those who enjoyed The Evil Dead, Re-Animator and Return of the Living Dead series.

Arguably, Lee might love those flicks a bit too much (if that's possible) in ways that show up in his film. We do get one sequence in which a zombie utters lines straight out of Return of the Living Dead ("I can smell your brains!") as well as one decapitated head shot in which I expected to hear "Take the screwdriver out of the head!" but didn't. It was close, though. The Necronomicon shows up in The Slaughter in almost exactly the form it appeared in in The Evil Dead, bound in human skin and having what looked almost like a face on its cover.

Adriana EsquivelStill, if it's not original stuff, it's good. We get a feminized version of Cthulhu (Cthulha, of course) played by the exotically beautiful Adriana Esquivel who starts off suitably hideous but winds up drop-dead gorgeous but no less menacing. Zak Kilberg plays irritating college anarchist Iggy with flawless comic timing that interlocks perfectly with Jessica Custodio's Dana in nearly every scene in which they appear together. In the best example of this, the two play a scene together in which they discuss what kind of zombies they're dealing with. Are they George Romero zombies or the new virus zombies? What's the difference? Can we just shoot them in the head? It's funny patter, but it's what any true horror fan would be wondering about in the same situation.

Worst shaving cut EVERThere's a high gore factor here with solid special effects, even if the ghostly hands rising up through the floor look a little cheesy once or twice. The make-up job on the zombies is convincing and Cthulha was done nearly perfectly — a couple of tentacles would have been nice, but we can't have everything and those teeth were plenty nasty on their own. For that matter, a Lovecraft-based flick without the presence of Jeffrey Combs doesn't seem quite right, somehow, but Brad Milne is still good in the role I think must have been written with Combs in mind. He even looks enough like Combs that the absence of the great Lovecraftian actor isn't a handicap for The Slaughter

Bigmouth strikes again!Despite it's misleadingly generic title, The Slaughter is great horror fun that has just about everything a horror hound could ask for. If you've not seen it yet, find it. This is top-notch stuff. Jay Lee has just wrapped shooting on his latest flick, Zombie Strippers, which just got released this week in Norway. It's getting a theatrical release in the US on April 18 and stars much of the cast that was in The Slaughter. I'm so there!

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