Slaughterhouse (1987)
By: Devon B. on March 30, 2015 | Comments
88 Films | Region Free | 1.78:1, 1080p | English LPCM 2.0 | 95 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Rick Roessler
Starring: Joe Barton, Don Barrett, Sherry Leigh, Bill Brinsfield, Jason Collier
Screenplay: Rick Roessler
Country: USA
I don't feel hugely nostalgic about the VHS era, mostly because I was immediately ready to abandon the format as soon as I had an option that didn't require rewinding. One thing I do miss, though, are the lurid video covers I remember from my youth. I would spend entire visits to the video store gazing longingly at titles whose artwork had captured my eye. I wasn't allowed to hire those movies until I was much older, and usually I was disappointed when I finally did see them, but some of those covers are still fresh in my mind. One of the box art long stayers is undoubtedly Slaughterhouse, which sported a cover so mesmerising I still feel compelled to reinvestigate the movie every decade or so. The time for a revisit came up recently, and luckily for me the film was about to make its HD debut.

Slaughterhouse is the quaint tale of a slaughterhouse that has been shut down. The owner is bitter about the situation he's in, and his son Buddy, who relates more to pigs than people, compounds the problem by killing two youths that were messing with his porcine pals. Where a saner man might've seen murder as a reason to re-evaluate his circumstances, Buddy's dad decides that Buddy had the right idea, he just went after the wrong targets. The father and son decide to exact revenge on those they think wronged them, and in the midst of the killing spree some friends of the initial victims decide to trespass at the slaughterhouse. Turns out the only thing someone could do to Buddy and his Pa that's worse than shutting down their slaughterhouse is trespass, so more sanguine stains the slaughterhouse's floor.

This was probably my fourth time watching Slaughterhouse. I still don't think it lives up to its iconic cover art, and I think I've finally worked out why. The tagline is "Buddy has an axe to grind. A big axe." These powerful words were a huge part of what captivated me when I first discovered the VHS cover, and they conjured up a storyline I couldn't wait to see. The problem is that Buddy doesn't have an axe, he has a cleaver. It's even identified as a bone cruncher cleaver in the film. I guess "cleaver to grind" isn't a standard colloquialism, but this is still dishonest marketing, and I'm convinced this is what led to my initial disappointment.

Despite being underwhelmed the first time I saw the movie Slaughterhouse had an impact on me, making a lasting impression just like the big franchise titles. As we've gotten further away from cinema's greatest decade 80s slashers have raised in my estimation, and Slaughterhouse is no exception. Revisiting it a decade after my last viewing I really enjoyed it, and was able to have more fun with the film's playful tone. There is no denying that Slaughterhouse owes a large debt to a certain film about chain saw massacres in Texas, because the feel of the movie is obviously modelled after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre2, which had been released the previous year.

The silliness of Slaughterhouse is readily apparent when the film begins, and the movie does take some unique steps to set itself apart from its peers. One unique element is the happy-go-lucky attitude taken to scoring the movie, which helps prep the viewer for the hammy acting. Buddy's father is hypnotically bad as a low rent version of The Cook, and the genre requisite youths, who appear to be playing characters 10 years younger than their actual ages, aren't much better. The guy playing Buddy certainly looks the part, giving the film a griminess it might've lacked otherwise, but since the only acting he does is make pig noises it's hard to assess his talents as a thespian.

When I first saw Slaughterhouse I thought it was stupid, and I laughed at its more ridiculous sections, like the shooting of an inconceivably poor quality horror movie that the future lambs to the slaughter(house) are making. I get now that some of the humour was intentional, but there's still no escaping that Slaughterhouse is a cheap clone of TCM 2. Even though it's not hugely original, Slaughterhouse is a worthy entry in the 80s slasher pantheon, the greatest subgenre of film the world has ever known.

Squeamish viewers beware, the movie does live up to its title and features slaughterhouse footage in the opening credits, including live animal stunning.
The Disc
Slaughterhouse is looks far better than it ever has and this may well be the best it will ever look, but it's still a low budget movie that's nearly 30 years old so it's not exactly eye candy. The print still sports lots of spots and specks, the grain can be heavy, there's some light flicker, and the film stock used has resulted in black crush in darker sequences. The audio is an LPCM stereo track. There isn't a whole lot to the soundscape, but this track presents the movie's audio clearly and cleanly. The disc comes in a red case rather than a blue one, I assume because 88 Films want their Slasher Classics collection to be on Blood-ray instead of Blu-ray. The disc includes a booklet by Calum Waddell, who also got caught up in the movie's promotional imagery, and a reversible cover that features the same artwork but zoomed out to include more of the vintage poster's image. On the disc itself there are trailers for Puppet Master 1-3, The Pit and the Pendulum, Demonic Toys, Bloody Birthday, Two Moon Junction, Dollman, Bloodsucking Freaks, Tourist Trap, and Castle Freak. The actual extras are a new commentary track; two interviews; 11 minutes of raw footage, mostly taken from one kill scene; Buddy meeting the public; the trailer; TV spots; and a no smoking trailer starring Buddy and his dad. The commentary is with writer/director Rick Roessler and executive producer Jerry Encoe, with Roessler doing the heavy lifting in the discussion. There are some gaps in the track, but there's plenty of good info here for fans. The first interview is with Roessler and it runs about 15 minutes, and during the interview he shows off a cool promo mini-standee and also Buddy's "axe". The second interview runs about 10 minutes and features Encoe. Information does repeat from the commentary track, but given the interviews were recorded over a decade ago that's easily forgiven. Buddy meeting the public must've been the first extra I watched back when I got the DVD because it's where I realised how short the actor playing Buddy was. The featurette is 25 minutes and is mostly him doing meet and greet, but there is one funny moment where he drops into a cinema showing Slaughterhouse and it looks like there are only about eight people in attendance at the screening.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Slaughterhouse certainly deserves a place in the Slasher Classics Collection, and 88 Films have ported over the most important extras from the Lucky 13 DVD. Diehard fans will need to hang on to their DVD for the old commentary, the stills and the script, but for most this Blu-ray should meet all their Slaughterhouse needs.
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