Usually a lost slasher finally getting released makes a few headlines but here’s one that has gone mostly unnoticed. The S.O.V. Beauty Queen Butcher, filmed way back in 1991, wasn’t released until 2007 by Camp Motion Pictures as part of their Retro 80s Horror Collection. Phyllis Loden (Rhona Brody) is a rather hefty girl tricked into entering a beauty contest by the evil Muffy (Kathryn Mensik). In an attempt to drive Phyllis out of the contest, pageant director Betty Prunish (Jim Boggess in drag) orders Muffy and her friends to make Phyllis’ life a living hell. After Loden’s cat suffers death by microwave in a prank gone wrong, Phyllis swears revenge against everyone connected to the pageant.
Camp Motion Pictures tries to sell Beauty Queen Butcher as a cross between Carrie and Prom Night and promises the film “rips a bloody page from the book of high school horror.” It’s easy to trust Camp’s false claims because the other entries in their Retro 80s Horror Collection are absolute gore fests. Camp should have said “bloodless” instead of bloody. The only thing “shocking” about Beauty Queen Butcher is the film is one of the tamest slashers ever made. It would have struggled to earn a PG-13 if it had been released back in 1991. See that scary goth chick holding the ax on the dvd cover? Well, she ain’t in the film and nobody gets hit with an ax. The only thing that gets butchered during this film is the viewer’s brain cells.
Director Jill Zurborg and co-writer Shane Partlow handle Beauty Queen Butcher as a campy parody of the slasher genre rather than an out right slasher film. Sometimes the jokes work, the nerdy Cameron (Steve Kollin) steals every scene he’s in and the misadventures of a female report covering the murders are pretty funny. Other bits will make you want to claw out your eyes and shove sharpened pencils into your ears. Rhona Brody keeps flashing her panties in one stomach churning running gag. The talent portion of the beauty pageant features a young lady who’s singing voice sounds like a cat being strangled with piano wire and another contestant murders a musical instrument. She blows, fellas, but not in a good way.
There are two major factors keeping Beauty Queen Butcher from being a so-bad-it’s-good entry in the S.O.V. slasher sub-genre. First, there are too many subplots that bog down the story and cause the film to move at a snail’s pace. At 130 minutes, the film is just too long and slow to keep the viewer’s interest. Second, Phyllis Loden is an unsympathetic character. Scenes of Phyllis eating tubs of ice cream and bags of chips or smearing bile colored eyeshadow across her face make Loden look like a slob instead of an underdog.
Fans of S.O.V. slashers will get the most enjoyment from a viewing of Beauty Queen Butcher but the average slasher fan will find the film damn near unwatchable when the pace really slows down. The picture quality of Beauty Queen Butcher is amazingly clear and crisp considering the age of the film. You can actually see Jim Boggess’ five o’clock shadow creep in during his scenes as Betty Prunish. The only extra, other than trailers for Camp Motion Pictures other releases, is a grainy home video shot during the making of Beauty Queen Butcher. The home video ends with a teaser for Beauty Queen Butcher 2.