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Review: Slaughterhouse (1987)

Reviewer: Tim Sweetland


Being a young kid in the 80's, I missed out on a lot of the slashers from the genre's "golden era" of the late 70's and early 80's. But towards the end of the decade, the shelves of my local video store were stocked with boxes boasting ridiculous covers and equally ridiculous adlines. Slaughterhouse may be the quintessential example of this: a 400 pound hillbilly with a huge meat-cleaver standing in the shadows while the words "BUDDY'S GOT AN AXE TO GRIND" lured in the unsuspecting customer. Those were the days . . . .

Anyway, Slaughterhouse is a funny, gory, backwoods slasher that plays out like a comedic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A mom-and-pop slaughterhouse operation is threatened when a big bad national meatpacking company makes the owner, whose name is Lester Bacon ('natch), an offer he can't refuse. Much like Grandpa Sawyer from that other, vastly superior meat-themed horror movie, Lester is none too fond of these fancy-shmancy modern slaughterhouses, and prefers the old methods, when a man really had to get his hands dirty if he wanted to slaughter some hogs. Lester's attitude is shared by his enormous, retarded, overall-wearing son Buddy, who is not about to sit back and let anyone take daddy's farm. So what does Buddy do? Well, he grunts and squeals like a pig, and makes quick work of anyone dumb enough to trespass, including a bunch of teenagers who decide to shoot their own horror flick on the premises.

Sound funny? It is. Even funnier than that. And not "so-bad-it's-good" funny. Just funny. You've got to appreciate it when a director knows not to take his subject seriously, and Director Rick Roessler does just that. The result is a fast-paced, entertaining, and bloody horror comedy that will make slasher fans yearn for the good old days.

Not to say that the film doesn't have its horrific moments. Some of the scenes in the old, dilapidated slaughterhouse are truly suspenseful and tense, and the film will definitely make the viewer squirm a few times. Especially notable are a scene where a guy's head gets squished by a car, and the opening credits, which feature actual slaughterhouse footage of pigs being slaughtered while light-hearted music plays. Pretty gross.

Slaughterhouse really could have been the light-hearted sequel that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 tried to be. If you're a fan of that film or movies like Motel Hell, then Slaughterhouse is worth seeking out. Vegetarians should avoid it altogether.



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