Written by: Joe Castro, Schroeder
Directed by: Joe Castro
Starring: Brinke Stevens, Nick Principe and Cleve Hall
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
Pray for winter.
The calling card for The Summer of Massacre is its insistence that it boasts the highest body count of all-time; apparently even Guinness verified it and everything. I feel like that marketing probably really would have appealed to me when I was in my pre-teen days, back when I watched way too many slasher movies and thought the epitome of horror was watching people get killed off in all sorts of manners. These days, I canít say Iíve really grown up all that much, (Iím actually writing this review on my 28th birthday), but, having seen this film, I can take comfort that I have grown up enough to know that this sort of approach to the genre is pure garbage and results in the type of film that gives horror a bad reputation.
An anthology film, it collects four tales, starting with the story of a man who gets attacked by a couple of thugs; they leave him on the verge of death, but heís somehow resurrected and goes on a killing spree himself. This is followed up by a story involving an invalid, handicapped girl taking revenge on her sister (who attempts to murder her by shoving her wheelchair off a cliff). Our third story is only slightly less tasteful and finds a man being haunted by his father, who is literally the boogeyman who raped his mom. Finally (and mercifully), the film ends with a campfire tale involving a couple of gay lovers that were burned to death in a fire; naturally, they return to show everyone the true meaning of flaming homosexuals.
This isnít so much a movie as much as itís a collection of tales that feel like they were conceived as some sort of bet, as if someone dared Joe Castro that he couldnít make a movie involving (literally) plotless killing sprees and abused, handicapped girls. The Summer of Massacre feels like the most juvenile of button pushing, and I find it hard to believe anyone would really be all that upset by the content because the effort is too lazy to be taken seriously. The aim here is so desperate and transparent that you just kind of shrug it off like you would a little kid begging for attention. And, just as you would eventually send that little bastard to his room, youíll want to shut this sucker off quickly and contemplate just what you did to deserve such a fate. Luckily, I have taken this bullet for you--donít be suckered in by the impressive ad campaign (even though it might technically live up to its word, though you absolutely wonít care about five minutes in).
By that point, youíll be knee deep in that first story, which is seemingly inspired by Crank, only without all of the style or the energy. It literally involves watching a guy kill random people he encounters; itís almost become passe to compare movies to video games, but this really does feel like youíre watching someone wreak random havoc in Grand Theft Auto, only get this: the graphics are worse. I can only imagine that Castro was in such a hurry to get into the record books that he just decided to use a CGI panacea for every gore sequence; Iíd have to go back and check to be sure, but, quite frankly, the surgeon general might find that hazardous to my health. Besides, it doesnít really matter if thereís one practical shot in the entire thing because the absurd computer-generated effects are so laughably tacky. In fact, Iím sure most of this movie will have evaporated from my brain as early as next week; however, the silly gore sequences are so bad as to be unforgettable. When the best effect can be described as a frightening hybrid of Sloth and Cropsy, youíve got problems.
Thereís one shot that pretty much summarizes up the whole thing--it comes (I think) in the third story, where we end up in a hospital thatís brought to life by poorly rendered environments and covered in even more poorly realized bloodshed. It actually resembles a cartoon, and itís so laughable that youíll wonder if this whole movie isnít supposed to be a joke. Iíd honestly feel better if I could just write it off as one; that this somehow secured a DVD release is somewhat appalling. Iím used to cheap, lo-fi indie horror movies, but at least a good amount of them feel like theyíre trying. In this case, Castro seemingly kept a lifelong list of ďextremeĒ things heíd like to see in a horror movie and finally committed them to film (er, digital). By the time I saw a guyís head get crushed by a pack of convenience store ice, I felt like checking out. For whatever reason, I was still drawn to the badness of it all, particularly the incomprehensibility--thereís a wraparound sequence involving some sweaty, half-naked guys in a warehouse (where theyíre torturing people, or something), plus the whole thing is strung together by some on camera interviews with imprisoned psychopaths.
So when youíre not watching the endless stream of puerile junk, youíre listening to more of it during these sequences. I have no idea who these ďcharactersĒ are supposed to be, and I wish itíd all been cut out, just to shorten the seemingly interminable Summer of Massacre. Iím just glad Castro decided to confine this to one season, and Iím praying thereís no wintry follow-up in the future. Breaking Glass Pictures have done the dubious honors here, and I wish theyíd have something a little more worthwhile to offer. I canít speak to the quality of their final disc, as the screener I was provided had one of the most intrusive, ugliest watermarks (which somehow seems appropriate). Theyíll at least offer some special features, including commentary and behind-the-scenes stuff with Castro, an interview with actress Brinke Stevens, some audition tapes, and a short film. Iíll be impressed if any of it sheds much light on just how The Summer of Massacre manages to be so poor, from the shoddily filmed action to the community-theater level acting. Sure, itíll be able to claim it made it into Guinness, but it also earns the distinction of being one of the most lifeless, dull ďover the topĒ horror movies Iíve ever seen. Trash it!
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