Description (from the DVD insert):
Get ready for some serious partying, mayhem, and gore 80’s style in this deranged satire and celebration of classic slasher cinema! A group of young campers heads into the wilderness for a weekend of sex, booze and silliness at an abandoned summer camp – only to be picked off one by one by a blood-thirsty, chainsaw-wielding psychopath wearing a pig’s head mask. Who will survive? The cheerleader? The slut? The nerd and his anatomically correct talking robot? Loaded with boobs, blood and 80’s synthpop, PORKCHOP reminds us it’s still not safe to go back in the woods.
Ruby LaRocca as Deborah, Erin Russ as Rachel, Dan Hicks as Elron, Sierra Ferrell as Courtney, Rob Cobb as Porkchop, Charles Sullivan as Mike, Chris Woodall as Ritchie, Brandon Raker as Ian, Brian Gunnoe as Burt Fleming, Eamon Hardiman as Teddy
Audio Commentary, Behind the Scenes, Ian Speaks Featurette
On the surface, a slasher movie is a slasher movie is a slasher movie. Pretty much they are all variations of: a group of kids/young adults go some place somewhat remote (quite often a summer camp), do things they shouldn’t do, and get punished by some sort of psychopath (sometimes supernatural, sometimes not) hell-bent on revenge for some injustice in the past. That’s the basic formula. FRIDAY THE 13TH: Camp Crystal Lake / sex and drugs / Mrs. Vorhees mad about her son drowning when not attended to. THE BURNING: Camp Stonewater / sex and drinking / Cropsey mad about behind disfigured in a horrible prank. MY BLOODY VALENTINE: Valentine Bluffs Mines / partying when the town was warned never to celebrate Valentine’s Day again / Harry Warden, a miner who went mad after being forced into cannibalism by a mining accident. You get the point. So, PORKCHOP: Camp Wood / sex and alcohol / Porkchop, angry because as a child his father slaughtered his favorite pig and then locked him in a closet. So yes, this fits the mold.
PORKCHOP starts off right: it gives us a little taste of the fact that this is a slasher before going into the first act where we have to assemble the characters and get to know their stories. We have a guy and a girl, skinny-dipping at the campsite, and then coming on shore to have some sex. Right out of the gate you get some boobs, which is another semi-important part of the slasher formula (they are really fake boobs, which appeals to some people, me not so much), before the kids get punished for humping. This first kill made me look forward to the rest of the film; it’s not Savini or KNB or anything, but it was a pretty decently made bit of gore that – while obviously fake – has a nice emotional impact in the way it was shot, and the first little glimpse of Porkchop also made me anticipate the rest of the film. He’s big, he’s bulking, he’s scary, and he’s got a damned pig-head for a mask: that’s pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
Once the initial kill is out of the way, the first act begins in which we are introduced to the characters that we will later see slaughtered. They all pretty much annoyed me: some because of the character themselves, some because of the really wooden performances, and some because of just trying too damn hard. Our main man Mike is stupid – who would invite both his current girlfriend that he is planning on breaking up with and the girl he is cheating with on the same camping trip? Really??? – and the vast majority of his lines feel like they were being read off of cue cards. His girlfriend Deborah is not the worst thing about this movie, but she’s no shining star either; for someone who has been in so many movies I really would expect a better performance (though an actor’s performance has a lot to do with who is directing them), and for someone that has been in a ton of softcore “erotic parodies,” you’d think she’d at least get topless at some point in the film. Deborah’s brother Ritchie is just trying too hard to be a nerd, and Elron… Elron… what to say about Ritchie’s “robot” friend? He’s obviously made out of a cat litter container spray-painted silver with what looks like a Chrysler emblem glued to it (that falls off before the end of the movie but no one notices) and some ducting, he’s supposed to be a witty HAL9000 but really is just one of the more annoying characters. Then we have Rachel, the slut, and Courtney, the cheerleader / cheater; their performances were neither here nor there, they weren’t bad enough to spend time really talking about, but they weren’t good enough either. The only person I really enjoyed watching – most of the time, though he eventually grew wearisome as well – was Ian. Ian’s a British punk, stuck in West Virginia on this camping trip because it was better than being at home with Mike’s creepy sister. Ian was the only performance I really believed, and I’m still trying to decide if that’s because it was a good acting performance or just a good accent.
Story wise, PORKCHOP is pretty silly. First off, there’s the aforementioned love triangle with Mike and his two chicks. Secondly, the kids planned to go to a camp, and are then talked out of it by Burt and Teddy, a couple of convenience store clerks, who tell them instead to go to Camp Wood… but stay out of the cabins. This change in plans makes the flick even harder to believe later when Mike tells the story of Porkchop; they weren’t planning to come to Camp Wood, did not know about Camp Wood, but somehow Mike knows the story of the killer that prowls Camp Wood? PORKCHOP tries to set itself in the 1980’s, but yet there are a bunch of things that make it really hard to decide WHEN in the 1980’s the movie takes place: one of the characters talks about their Commodore 64, which came out in the fall of 1982 and was replaced in 1985 by the Commodore 128, so you would think it’s somewhere in that time period. Then Lawn Darts show up, and one of the characters says: “weren’t those banned?” but that didn’t happen until 1988. And then there are references to WAR GAMES, which came out in 1983. So WHEN does this movie take place? It’s inconsistencies like that which really get under my skin!
Sooooooo, speaking on “inconsistencies,” PORKCHOP had some of the worst continuity errors of any film I’ve seen in a long time. Props move from one shot to another (e.g. the clerks give Ian a jar of moonshine, and even though it is in Ian’s hand for all of his shots, it is also on the counter in front of the clerks for all of their shots), magically appear (when the cheerleader is chased up a tree by Porkchop he somehow summons a limb cutter out of thin air), costumes change (back to the clerks – Burt’s beard magically transforms between shots from muttonchops & goatee to a full beard), the location of the film is in dispute (you know from the signs it’s West Virginia, but the newscast about the murder of the skinny dippers in the beginning is shown on a San Antonio news channel), and so on. I could spend a whole page or two listing all of the stuff like this that aggravated the hell out of me, but I’m not going to. Just know: there is no continuity / consistency in PORKCHOP.
On the production side of things, PORKCHOP does not fare any better. The video quality, while obviously digital, is not too bad, however, the way the film was shot is not good. There are a ton of “shaky” shots, the framing is horrible (many a cut off head or out-of-frame action), the lighting is not good, and there really aren’t even any really “cool” shots that I noticed… it was all very run-of-the-mill. Also, the use of focus needed a lot of work; there are many a shot where what you are supposed to be focusing on is not actually what’s in focus, instead the focus is centered on the background (though, admittedly, focus can be hard to tell if all you have to look at is the little screen on the side of the camera and not an independent monitor). The editing is very inconsistent (a lot of which could come from the continuity issues above), and often will cut from one shot in bright light to a second angle with a completely different tone. And finally, the sound: while the music had a pretty good 80’s vibe to it, it was not the “synthpop” described on the box, and the sound quality of the movie itself was really bad. There were many occasions where I couldn’t understand what was being said, and much of the sound was ruined by ambient noise. There was obviously a loud AC unit or refrigerator or something in the convenience store that obscured a lot of the audio there, and I’m pretty sure they had a generator going for the lighting in the woods because most of the shots in the woods that aren’t lit by campfire have a loud hum over the audio. While much of the dialogue in the film was forgettable, there actually were a few good snippets here and there… unfortunately they were tough to hear.
Finally, back to the slasher elements. There are a few things that a slasher movie usually needs to do well in order to be a good slasher movie: you need to have some boobs flashing during sex scenes (that’s why pre-teen boys love slasher movies), you need to have a scary villain (usually with a really cool creepy costume), and you need to have inventive, effective, gory kills. PORKCHOP has a couple of sets of boobs, but they are really not put to good use; you get the initial set of fake ones for a minute in the beginning, and then you get the slut having sex WITH THE ROBOT. Who supposedly is anatomically correct, but to go back to my former rant about continuity and editing, there seems to be a bunch of missing “pickup” shots in the film ‘cause we often see the characters looking at something important (like Elron’s robot schlong), but then we are never shown what they are looking at. And that’s it for nakedness… the actress famous for erotic parodies gets as far as being in a bra, and then the cheerleader – who really was the cutest girl in the movie – has her sex scene fully clothed. As far as the scary villain goes, Porkchop works: he’s big and mean and has a kick-ass mask (probably the best thing about the entire movie was that piece of costuming). That leaves us with inventively gory kills. The initial kill in the intro of the film was the best by far, and death by lawn darts is decently well done too, but the rest of the kills are pretty lackluster. This may again go back to those missing pickup shots, but someone spitting some blood out of their mouth is not going to cut it for a slasher. Mike’s death has a nice hand effect, but the rest of it is laughable; plus you see his head get “smashed,” and later when his corpse is shown, his face is fine just a little bloody (continuity!!!).
Overall, I just did not get into PORKCHOP. I like what they were trying to do, and I too am a fan of the slasher genre, but you have to do a little more than just connect the genre dots to make an effective slasher. I am especially upset with the statement of “some serious partying, mayhem, and gore 80’s style in this deranged satire and celebration of classic slasher cinema!” on the DVD cover (which truthfully the filmmakers may have had absolutely nothing to do with) because there is a little partying, a little mayhem, a little gore – nothing “serious” – and I did not see at all how PORKCHOP qualifies as either a satire or a celebration. There were no references to other flicks that stood out to me (other than the overall “this is a slasher” trope), and satire is defined as “the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.” and there was none of that. At all. Anywhere. Yes, kids do bad things and get killed, but that is EVERY SLASHER film, that does not qualify PORKCHOP as a satire. I do like that the filmmakers tried to come up with their own slasher icon, and Porkchop could be pretty scary, if the rest of the film held up around him, instead he’s just a big guy in a cool mask, lumbering through a bad plot and worse execution. I see that there is a love of filmmaking, and a love of the genre behind PORKCHOP, so I don’t want to write it off as the worst movie ever – because its not – but as a fellow lover of the genre, I hold slashers up to high standards, and PORKCHOP just doesn’t make it. That doesn’t mean that these guys won’t ever make a great slasher – the potential is there – it just isn’t PORKCHOP.
Overall 4 / 10
PORKCHOP on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1720198/
PORKCHOP for sale: http://www.amazon.com/Porkchop-Ruby-Larocca/dp/B005QBST4C