Slaughter Tales (2012)
By: Devon B. on September 8, 2015 | Comments
Briarwood Entertainment | All Regions, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Johnny Dickie
Starring: Johnny Dickie, Joe Ankenbrand, Katrina Basilio, Joey Davalos
Screenplay: Johnny Dickie
Country: USA
Slaughter Tales was made by a 15-year old dude name Johnny Dickie, with help from his friend Joey Davalos, and these guys want to bring back the glory days of shot on video horror movies. You know, classics like Sledgehammer and Violent Shit and Boardinghouse. That Dickie managed to get a movie made is a huge achievement, but here's hoping that at some point he sets his sights slightly higher than being the next Andreas Schnaas.

Dickie stars in Slaughter Tales as a dude that steals a videotape called, appropriately enough, Slaughter Tales, an el cheapo anthology. He bitches about how awful it will be and then gets visited by a ghost who warns him off the deadly tape that is "more than just a bad movie." Sudoko never gave people a heads up like that, so the dark forces behind Slaughter Tales clearly aren't as malicious as their Japanese counterparts. Dickie watches the tape and what follows is a horror mash up, with Dickie interjecting deconstructive criticism about how terrible the movie he's watching is. Eventually it becomes clear he should've heeded the ghost's warning as strange things begin happening around him.

The only movie I've ever been heavily involved with never even came out because the director accidentally erased the audio from the master and never bothered to restore it, and he was in his 20s. Making movies is hard and requires more follow through than I have. It's probably a bit easier if you make things intentionally bad to cover up the rough edges, but fuck, these teenagers made a feature film and it's not even a remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. What's even more surprising is that their movie is naturally uneven it isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Slaughter Tales may be better than I expected, but there are still a lot of problems. For the bulk of the feature the cast is almost exclusively Dickie and Davalos, and while the movie is usually edited well enough that I could track what was going on, it still gets confusing as to what characters I'm meant to be watching. Dickie might be emulating his heroes, but it should be said that his heroes' movies almost universally suck. I mean, I like Redneck Zombies just as much as the next guy, but I'm not going to argue that there should be more movies like it. For several years I maintained that the only movies I'd seen that overcame their SOV origins were Shatter Dead and films that worked the video element into the plot like The Last Broadcast. Things have changed a bit as people got access to better technology even on a low budget, but these later, slicker SOV productions are not what Slaughter Tales is trying to imitate, so it recalls an era of moviemaking I'd rather just forget about.

On the plus side the FX work is plentifully, and they're impressive all things considered. There are also a few funny tongue-in-cheek moments like the gag trailers and when a Karl the Butcher-esque killer is taken out by a light switch. There's enough skill here that it doesn't feel like watching a high school project, but the viewers' enjoyment will probably hinge entirely on them having love for movies like Crazy Fat Ethel or their forgiveness for a young auteur making his first mark. Or their compulsion to see every cameo by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, ever.
The Disc
One thing Dickie learned from Schnaas was the faux widescreen effect. This wasn't a good idea back when Schnaas did it and it's a really bad idea now. The image is full frame but matted, and then the image is frequently matted a second time for a double faux widescreen effect, the result of which was me looking at a rectangle within a box within my screen. Also, the movie looks and sounds intentionally terrible. The extras are trailers, a short behind the scenes, a featurette on the FX and a commentary. The commentary is with Dickie and two guys from VHShitfest. Dickie and the Shitfesters weren't in the same room and have dedicated themselves a channel each so that made for a fun listen whenever Dickie talked at the same time as one of the others. Despite the audio mix, the commentary is fairly engaging, and certainly interesting for anyone curious about how Dickie got it done.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The goal was to make a trashy, cheap, bad horror movie, and Dickie succeeded. So I guess good job, Dickie. I have no idea how to score the DVD overall because I assume the movie is meant to look and sound this bad, so I guess it's a perfect transfer? Slaughter Tales is a somewhat intriguing curio, and if Dickie can include a more cohesive storyline next time I'll be happy to give his follow up a look.
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