Tuesday, October 30

Some quick thoughts on Slaughter Tales (2012)

In this truly homemade shot-on-video feature in honor of truly homemade shot-on-video features, a teenager gets more than bargained for when he pops in a stolen tape of a crappy horror anthology into his VCR. Let's just say he should have heeded the words of the bathtub ghost...

In the realm of Horror Film theory (a field I just made up), there resides two extremes of the genre. On one frayed end rests enigmatic, yet exceptionally well-crafted "mindfucks" that might have an overall meaning totally outside of the cinematic category they're pegged into out of convenience. Then there's the opposite end that certainly belong to the genre, but are of such humble means that most casual fans and undoubtedly "outsiders" are guaranteed to quickly cast off as nearly unwatchable. Both are acquired tastes usually aided greatly by a deeper knowledge and understanding of horror films in order to dig out qualities to appreciate.

Johnny Dickie's debut feature, Slaughter Tales, certainly belongs in the latter. Despite being friends on Facebook with Dickie for some time now, when judged by most standards his horror anthology about a boy and his VCR is awful in almost every aspect. That's to say if someone blindly walked into this, it would be hard to imagine an experience without squirming with lingering disinterest while checking the time. It's as cheap and one-man-band as SOV horror flicks can possibly get.

But you know what? That's perfectly fine and it would be a shame for anyone to throw pure venom at what Dickie has achieved here. Slaughter Tales is the literal embodiment of what many a young horror fanatic daydreams while whittling away time in English class or doing homework. Although instead of confining their dreams to at best paper doodles or short stories they never share, the now fifteen-year-old Dickie shot for the moon by embarking on an real ninety minute feature in an effort to both pay tribute to and join the ranks of the craptastic shot-on-video horror indies he loves. That right there deserves huge fucking credit, totally irrespective of the quality of the movie.

As for Slaughter Tales itself, it's best viewed as a sandbox of ideas that tick off all the usual gory obsessions of a young fan. There's some Raimi-eqse shots, sly nods to slasher icons, and an armor-masked killer that invades reality resembling Karl the Butcher from Andreas Schnaas' Violent Shit series. All wrapped in DIY claymation and repeated runs to the grocery store for bottles of Karo syrup and food coloring. The most vital aspect this effort nails is narrative coherency. It seems almost a staple for shot-on-video horrors to have passages that make next to no sense at all, but the anthology structure is held up and, even with some dragging, at no time is there any muddling confusion. Dickie also injects a welcoming self-deprecating sense of humor in little reminders that he's aware how truly bad the movie is.

So while it might be more of an experiment than something to recommend, it's just hard to pan this one outright when there's so much obvious passion and creativity on display. Especially from a member of an age group you'd more expect to be wasting the hours in front of a game console than employing his love of horror to create his very own piece of it. For that, Johnny Dickie's Slaughter Tales deserves recognition simply for the mere fact of its existence when considering its maker and the resources behind it. The movie is available in both DVD and special DVD/VHS combo forms direct from Briarwood Entertainment right here.


Jayson Kennedy said...

Also the DVD is be available for pre-order on Amazon with a street date of November 20th.

Doug Brunell said...

Oddly enough, this has me curious.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?

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