Description (condensed from Facebook.com/thesummerofmassacre):
This movie is insane, actually insane is an understatement. It’s a 100 MPH gore ride that never slows down. This film offers you not one but 8 maniacal, terrifying, relentless, and unstoppable killers. Joe Castro, a direct protege from Herschell Gordon Lewis, The Godfather of Gore helms the creation of this Blood epic. Castro uses computer generated technology to up the ante of your standard ‘deranged maniac kills innocent teens one by one’ to heights no one every imagined. So prepare yourself for a body count so high, so bloody, so shocking, it is unlike anything have ever seen in the history of slasher films.
Tim A. Cooley as Chris, Brinke Stevens as Mrs. Williams, Nick Principe as Lori, Lisa Garcia as Kimberly Ann, John Kayrus as Mikey, Scott Barrows as Boogieman, Cleve Hall as Father Daniel, Lauren Boehm as Lisa
I guess I should apologize in advance for how long this review will be; I have a lot to get off of my chest.
Before I even put the DVD in, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like THE SUMMER OF MASSACRE. I try not to be biased, so as a rule I don’t read anyone else’s reviews before I watch the movies I have to review. I also avoid anything with “spoilers” or people’s thoughts on the film or whatever. I will generally read the information provided with the DVD, and when the headline for the info accompanying TSoM read “The Body Count Reaches World Records,” I wasn’t impressed; the fact that the selling point for the movie was the Guinness World Record (seriously) for the “Highest Body Count in a Slasher Film” (155 on screen deaths) just made me wary. Rightfully so.
TSoM gets it wrong right away. The movie’s opening, calling itself “a Joe Castro Experience,” immediately threw me off. An experience? I’ve seen a so-and-so “flick” or “joint” or, in the case of Chris Seaver, even a “shart,” but an “experience?” This initial feeling of dread was immediately reinforced by the opening video, of CGi helicopters. CGi helicopters! We open on a warehouse surrounded by police and journalists, with some sort of vague situation going on inside, and very quickly are introduced to what TSoM is all about: digital gore. Digital, cheesy, CGi gore!
Right in the opening credits TSoM wants you to know “we’re extreme!” and it shows it off by shots of fully nude corpses hanging from… well… something. It’s kind of hard to tell with a lot of the digital gore exactly what the hell is supposed to be going on, but it is obvious that “we’re extreme!” This sentiment is followed up right away with the beginning of the first chapter, Rampage, which opens with full frontal male nudity (extreme!). I figured if nothing else, if TSoM had already put some dick on the screen there should be some boobies somewhere too…
Chapter 1, Rampage, is “written” by Castro and Schroeder. I put written in quotes because truthfully, there’s next to no writing; Rampage is just 20 or so minutes of plot-free killing. The aforementioned totally naked guy gets up in the morning, gets called into work but doesn’t go (some completely pointless exposition), goes out for a run, at random is brutally attacked (yay, more CGi gore! we’re extreme!) and left for dead. The next day a woman out for a run finds him (and he has some traditional gore effects now, which are actually quit effective), and calls the police. This scene was the first to really make me take note of just how bad the writing in this movie is. “There’s a man on the ground, unconscious” she says (or something to that effect, I’m not putting the DVD back in to get it word-for-word like I normally would, because truthfully I really don’t want to watch any part of this shitfest again), and then the 911 operator asks “Is the victim unconscious?” Ok, so there are many problems with this exchange, but let me just highlight two: first, if they did ask, they would ask if he’s conscious, not unconscious, and secondly, she just told him he was unconscious!
So here’s where the rampage begins; the seemingly dead (certainly unconscious) victim then springs back to life and proceeds to beat her head into the sidewalk, rip out a chunk of her scalp, and stuff it into her mouth (we’re extreme!). Then he walks around for the next 15 minutes killing people. That’s the plot. Killing people. And the killings are ridiculous to the point of insulting my intelligence as a viewer. I understand “suspension of disbelief” and on a movie that actually works, I have no problem with that concept. Who is going to believe that you can cut someone’s head in half with a TV remote? Or crush a skull with a 10-pound bag of ice? I mean, seriously, this movie just pissed me off. This chapter of TSoM seemed to less of a movie and more of a demo reel for an effects company. The only redeeming factor for me AT ALL in this was seeing Kenneth J. Hall (writer of PUPPETMASTER and director of THE HALFWAY HOUSE), whom I worked with for a day on GIMME SKELTER. Otherwise, this was a complete waste of time. At 21 minutes, when the screen went black, I thought, “Is it over?” and then it cut into an interview with a serial killer (some sort of framing device), which made me realize “No. Dammit.”
Chapter 2, Lump, while not good in any way, shape, or form, at least had a plot. You’ve got Brinke Stevens as a mother to a deformed daughter, Lori (aka Lump from the big-ass pustule on her forehead), who is dying. Her bitch of a sister, Kimberly Ann, decides she’ll do everyone a favor by murdering her already dying sister by pushing her off a cliff in her wheelchair (and if the effect is to be believed, going about 50 miles an hour). Lump doesn’t die, so Kimberly Ann convinces her stepbrother Mikey to finish her off with a rock to the face. Once Lump is dead, of course, she then gets up and walks around murdering all of the people who murdered her. As another great example of the really, truly, horrible writing, upon seeing her formerly dead sister Kimberly Ann asks her “How are you walking?” instead of “Why aren’t you still dead?” If I saw someone walking around that I know just got thrown off a cliff, bashed with a rock, then suffocated, my first thoughts would be less about her new ability to walk and more about her new ability to breathe.
During Lump the horrible CGi gore continues. People are obviously made out of Jell-O in TSoM, because it takes literally nothing to kill them. Lump is able to push a tree branch through the back of someone’s head and out their mouth. Intelligence… insulted… getting… angrier… There is a sex scene in this chapter, so I thought maybe here would be the boobies that might add a little redemption to the train wreck that has been TSoM, but no… the dude is 100% nude, but the girl is 100% clothed? What in the fuck? The only redemption that Lump gets, other than the fact that it does have a sliver of a plot fueling the onslaught of gore, is the acting of John Kayrus. He is the little nugget of gold in this turd (maybe that’s corn); he puts in a truly good performance as Mikey for the 10 minutes or so he is in the movie, but then – like everything else in this flick – he is killed in the most ridiculous of ways. At 45 minutes it faded to black and again I thought, “Is it over!?” but nooooo, we have another serial killer interview, and then another chapter.
Chapter 3 is The Son of the Boogieman, and it again has a small hint of a plot overshadowed by a huge helping of really crappy digital gore and other intelligence-insulting tripe. There’s a guy, and he is telling his fiancé about how he and his mother are on the run from his father, who is a serial killer (surprise!) that kidnapped and raped her all those years ago, and now he’s found them. So he kills mom, and calls the guy so that he can kill them. More gore. More bad, laughable, digital imitation gore. In this chapter the bad writing is again highlighted: upon seeing a dead cop on the ground, the fiancé says “Should I call the cops?” just before she is struck so hard with a door that her arm falls of, then her head caves in (damn Jell-o people). The CGi gore is so redonkulous that a lot of the time I couldn’t even quite understand what the hell was supposed to be going on, other than the fact that someone was dying. In the very beginning, with the first death, the “blood hitting the camera” gag was kinda cool, but by this point in the story it’s happened oh, about, 947 times and it has gotten really old. And one more little bit of insult, The Boogeyman is shot 30 times at close range (we’re extreme!) and doesn’t die; now that’s not the insult, lots of supernatural slashers can survive things like that, the insult is that he’s shot 30 times WITH A HANDGUN. An AK-47 has a 30-bullet clip. An M-16 has a 30-bullet clip. Even an Uzi can have a 30-bullet clip… but that handgun holds 12 at best. I counted. 30 times. At 1:06 I thought “Is it over?” but no, no, oh hell no it’s not.
Chapter 4, Burn, is more of the same. This time we have a Christian fellowship of some sort out in the woods for some reason. After the meeting is over, a few of the people hang around to get drunk and smoke pot… you know, like everyone does after Christian fellowship. So there they sit, around a DIGITAL CAMPFIRE, and of course someone has to tell a scary story to try and scare Lisa, the one girl hanging out with the group of dudes. The story for this night is about a pair of firefighters who were viciously burnt to death because they were outed as gay lovers, and since their death “in these very woods, twenty years ago to the day,” people disappear here. Oh, and before I forget, everyone sitting around the fire just happens to have some family member of some sort that is related to the event – be it a cousin, father, uncles half sister twice removed, or whatever – that worked at the department or was a ranger or some sort of flimsy connection. So after the bad writing continues (“Ok guys, I’m gonna go to the bathroom now, if anyone wants to watch” Lisa announces to the empty campground), Lisa finds herself alone and begins to search for her fellow Christian drunks. To her shock, they’re in various stages of burns and blisters and other CGi silliness, and in the woods is a monster that is made of the two lovers fused together. At least, I think that’s what it was supposed to be. Then we get more full-frontal male nudity, a little more gore, and finally it’s over at 1:32. Finally. Oh sweet merciful gods of low-budget filmmaking, it’s over!
No it’s not. There’s the wraparound story of the serial killers (yeah, the ones that were interviewed at the end of each chapter) that have somehow simultaneously broken out of jail or asylum or whatever and have come together in a warehouse filled with random goriness to inflict havoc on the world. Or something. Some more gore occurs, and then one of them who somehow has stolen (I guess) a nuke then destroys Los Angeles. We’re extreme!
For those of you who regularly read my reviews, you know that I always try and find something good to say about the movies, no matter how much bad there is in it. And TSoM is not all, 100% bad. It does have relatively good video quality, well-recorded dialogue over all, a few decent practical gore effects, and there were a few interesting shots sprinkled in the movie, where some thought was put into composition. Plus, there is a ton of special effects, which has to make it good, right? Unfortunately, so so SO much of TSoM is crappy CGi that the few good bits of gore are way overshadowed. The huge amount of effects and effects laden shots in TSoM actually go so far to make some parts seem more like an animated comic book rather than a movie. And while the majority of the dialogue is well recorded, pretty much the entire span of the movie has a very forgettable, very “I just learned how to use Garage Band” electronic score that just plays and plays and plays, even in places where no sound would be better.
I would say that TSoM is a movie that really could only be appreciated by a gorehound, but that’s NOT the case because any real aficionado for the red stuff would be completely pissed off at the mere thought of CGi gore, much less a feature filled with it. The deaths in this movie are so stupid, so pointless, so badly done, and overall so insulting that I can’t think of who WOULD like this movie. With the near lack of female nudity (the only time there is any at all are a few naked hanging dead people in various different places), and the multiple naked dudes, maybe TSoM would be best appreciated by a 12-year-old closeted gay kid who wants to rent a movie that his parents wouldn’t realize is just his chance to sneak a peek at some schlong (kinda like when I used to watch THE STUNT MAN when I was a pre-teen for some quick flashes of boob), and can instead say he likes horror movies.
Overall, TSoM is truly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I have seen worse, but not much. With TSoM, it’s not just the fact that it’s badly written, it’s not just the fact that it is chock full of bad CGi, it’s not just the fact that the stories make little to no sense, it’s the combination of all of that in addition to the insulting nature of the movie. It feels like being talked down to: “Hey you, stupid, you won’t notice all the problems with this so just watch the gore. It’ll be fun. We’re extreme!!!” It was just a plate full of bad with a side of worse. There is no way I would have ever kept watching this movie beyond the first few minutes of the first chapter if I was not writing a review for it. Now I understand why it is a “Joe Castro Experience,” because nothing about it actually qualifies as a “flick” or a “joint” or even a “shart,” there’s really just no way to explain it.
Overall 1 / 10
TSoM on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1874779/
TSoM site: http://www.thesummerofmassacre.com/