Monday, November 4, 2019

Census Bloodbath: Blame It On Rio

Year: 1982
Director: Jair Correia
Cast: Jurandir Abreu, Cláudia Alencar, Elias Andreato
Run Time: 1 hour 14 minutes
MPAA Rating: LOL no

Committing myself to watching every single slasher movie released in the 1980's has sure brought me to some dark corners of cinema history, and we're about to enter one more such corner today. I watched Shock: Diversão Diabólica, AKA Shock: Evil Entertainment, a Brazilian slasher movie for which I could find absolutely no subtitles. Even though I don't speak a lick of Portuguese, I will remind you of what I've said in my previous foreign slasher reviews: this is an exercise in slasher aesthetic and structure anyway - we all know the dialogue barely matters in these movies.

Don't worry, I've got this.

One thing I am completely unable to provide, however, is a particularly coherent plot synopsis or character names, but I'll give the bigger motions of the narrative a shot. According to several reviews I've seen online, the characters who are gathered at the music venue that is our setting are members of a band who are waiting for a van to come pick up their equipment. These reviews don't seem to mention why easily four of the main cast members are already having sex away from the main hall while the band is still performing, but perhaps their set was earlier in the evening. Who can tell.

Anyway, we have a very small platter of Meat, all told. After the first place-setting murder, there are just three couples left behind: Preppy Guy and Monologue Girl, who try to have sex but she turns him down and he falls immediately asleep for nearly the rest of the movie; Legwarmer Girl and Stripe Guy, who have a lot of sex and provide the movie its requisite nudity; and Scarf Lady and Beard Man, who are visibly older than the rest of them and eat sandwiches. That's about all I've got. There's also an unseen killer in black boots wandering around with a hankering to strangle, and there's our movie sorted!

Time to get down to business.

I want to remind you that you should take this review with a grain of salt, because maybe the script as written is a masterpiece character study or delectable Sirkian melodrama. But as a slasher film, it is deeply shitty. How does it fail me as a Census Bloodbath entry? Let me count the ways.

To start, the kills are underwhelming at best. I've seen my share of low budget slashers, and while I always get frustrated by films with an overreliance on cutaway gags that don't show the actual kill, those would have been far preferable to the bloodless, tedious stranglings delivered by our villain here. I admire that they found a cheap effect that would still allow an onscreen kill, but personally speaking I prefer at least a little splashing blood and knifeplay here and there. The only times knives are even a major presence in the film are in a weird red herring where a chef chops a hot dog in the first scene, and when Preppy Guy is framed for the death of his girlfriend by having a bloody blade placed in his hand. This somehow works despite the fact that, as you might be able to put together, she was strangled.

The villain could have almost been interesting or even iconic if not for this disappointing M.O. I like the way they've translated the Italian giallo trope of the black gloved killer into a black booted killer, and the amount of random shots of people's feet early on (I was beginning to wonder if Quentin Tarantino was guest director on certain scenes) start to make sense as his steel-tipped shoes start clicking menacingly through the frame. And there's this uncanny thing he does between killings where he sits onstage and starts riffing on the drums. Doing something so mundane and non-threatening in between violent murders is actually pretty creepy, but the kills are staged so laxly that it doesn't play quite right.

And then we have to contend with everything outside of the killer and his antics. Again, there was obviously an important element missing for this viewer, but the characters seemed especially shallow this time around. If they're not having sex, they're screeching at each other in panic. And there's a lot of screeching because at least sixty percent of the movie is our entire cast barricaded in one room debating what to do and not ever reaching a decision.

And the prettiest couple in the movie doesn't even have a sex scene, so I don't understand what we're doing here in the first place.

During the final third of the film, the director apparently decided he wanted the movie to have some style, and it does shake things up a bit at least. Some of the filmmaking decisions (like setting an entire kill sequence under an unmotivated strobe light effect) are dire, but some (like smash cutting to the killer's next victim's scared face every time he takes a step up the stairs toward her) are visually interesting to a degree I can't say I was expecting given the evidence of the rest of the film.

Or maybe the editor of the film just plain didn't know what they were doing. The longest and most exploitative sex scene is even more incoherent than the one that opens A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Drem Child, presenting random close-ups of pulsing flesh that are indistinguishable as human body parts and flagrantly cross the 180 degree line to boot.

I can see the much better movie this could have been standing on the sidelines and begging to be put into play. Unfortunately, almost none of Shock's best qualities end up on the screen for a satisfying amount of time. So I'm just going to have to pick up that rock I found this beneath and put it back where I found it, hoping nobody is unwise enough to follow my example.

Killer: We don't ever actually find out, and that's not because I couldn't get anybody's name down
Final Girl: Scarf Lady
Best Kill: A guy who was framed for being the killer is tied up, then the killer uses the very rope he's tied up with to garrote him.
Sign of the Times: Every single character's hair is exactly the same, regardless of age or gender.
Scariest Moment: If somehow you missed the title card, the poster, or any advertising, the first kill would be a pretty shocking surprise, because for the first twenty minutes this movie gives absolutely no indication that there's a killer lurking about.
Weirdest Moment: This girl who keeps pointlessly monologuing to her sleeping boyfriend leaves the room and starts monologuing to the killer instead.
Champion Dialogue: "Assassino! Assassino!" (I got that one)
Body Count: 7; including a rat who gets the most slasher-y death of anyone in the movie.
  1. Boots Lady is garroted in a car.
  2. Monologue Girl is lifted off the ground and strangled.
  3. Preppy Boy is garroted with a rope.
  4. Beard Man is garroted.
  5. Legwarmer Girl is strangled.
  6. Rat is stabbed with a butcher knife.
  7. Stripe Guy is killed offscreen.
TL;DR: Shock: Evil Entertainment is not a movie I was able to fully review due to the language barrier, but if that was removed there's every chance I might have liked it even less.
Rating: 3/10
Word Count: 1239


  1. "Rat is stabbed with a butcher knife."

    Oh, I've got a bad feeling about that.

    1. Yeah, I'm not so sure PETA was around in Brazil in 1982. But you never know, right? Eeeeeee....