Thursday, March 24, 2022

Census Bloodbath: The (Other) Amityville Horror (Capsule Review)

Year: 1980
Director: Nathan Schiff
Cast: John Smihula, Fred Borges, Michael Siegal
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Plot: A series of killings occurs in the Long Island area as a pair of gangsters force their leader's son Jack (Fred Borges) to help acquire meat for a tribe of leper cannibals. On the case is Detective James Cameron - no, the other one (John Smihula).

Analysis: Contrary to appearances, this film was directed by a human man: Nathan Schiff, who we'll somehow be encountering again in his 1985 film They Don't Cut the Grass Anymore. You're immediately clued into exactly what kind of film you're in for with the opening production logo, which looks like it was scrawled with a blunt crayon by a not particularly artistically inclined squirrel. The filmmakers seem aware of light as a vague concept, and love to play around with it. Sometimes it's a patch in the center of the frame that nauseatingly lurches from top to bottom. Sometimes they remember they need some more in the scene and get some by tipping the handheld camera up into the sun. Sometimes they just light the characters with a flashlight and call it a night. They at least seem to have someone consciously making decisions, which the sound department cannot boast. The film's soundscape, which boasts absolutely no room tone between patches of fuzzy dialogue, is sometimes overwhelmed by the sound of the camera rolling.

The film's saving grace is its extreme commitment to being itself. Nothing in it qualifies as "good" (other than maybe some excellent library music they plaster over certain scenes), but the chaotic nonsense of anything any character ever does provides a sheen of silliness that is sometimes rather appealing. We are presented with a world where characters can just randomly sprout a fu manchu mustache between scenes and constantly spout gloriously overwritten dialogue like "If we don't get our money, unpleasant things can occur," or "let me touch thy flesh one final moment." The Long Island Cannibal Massacre is pure chaos, slipping through time and place with no indication as to what it's doing (at one point the film - without warning - takes a brief sojourn to South Carolina).

This same approach is taken with the gore, which is delivered in incompetent spades. It's all very Herschell Gordon Lewis, reveling in turning people into goo with lawnmowers and pulling out guts that look more like balloon animals than intestines. They have no budget or vision, but there is a muchness to everything that is exuberant and endearing.

Killer: Zed (Paul Smihula) & Bruce AKA James Cameron (John Smihula), but also kinda Jack (Fred Borges) and his dad, who is credited as King Leper (Winston B. Anderson III)
Final Girl: N/A
Best Kill: James Cameron's extended murder is the best, mostly because of his Rasputin-esque aversion to actually dying.
Sign of the Times: Jack is constantly wearing sunglasses, has an enormous mustache drooping over his lip, and a feathered attempt at a fro. The late 70's are strong in this one.
Scariest Moment: Jack hangs his head out of the car window, and someone leaps up and grabs him.
Weirdest Moment: Jack's dad demands that he eat a dead girl, and he takes a bite out of her leg... through her jeans.
Champion Dialogue: "You're mad because I'm alive and you're all chopped up into little pieces."
Body Count: 11
  1. Student has a lawnmower lowered onto her face.
  2. Makeout Boy is hit with a tire iron.
  3. Makeout Girl is garroted with a chain.
  4. Cannibal dies of starvation.
  5. Makeout Guy #2 has his head crushed with a cinderblock in a nightmare sequence.
  6. Lori is killed with a knife, and that's as specific as I'm able to get.
  7. Zed has his face impaled on what appears to be the metal pole from a street sign, which somehow causes the skin to be removed.
  8. Dave is hit in the back of the head with the claw end of a hammer.
  9. Penny is meat cleavered in the neck in flashback.
  10. James Cameron has battery acid sprayed in his face, is stabbed in the face with a harpoon, is sliced in the leg with a shovel, is shot in the head, is stabbed a bunch, crawls around a lot, eats part of Jack's foot, and only dies because it seems like he's decided to.
  11. Jack has his tongue pulled out, is impaled on a stick, is dismembered and slashed with a chainsaw, and is eventually decapitated with the aforementioned chainsaw.
TL;DR: The Long Island Cannibal Massacre is a piece of shit, but it's got a nice little bow on it.
Rating: 3/10
Word Count: 776

No comments:

Post a Comment