It Came from the Camcorder: Splatter Farm

One of the best things about these SOV horror flicks (best being a relative term) is that since these movies were never intended for theatrical release, they weren’t subject to censorship imposed by the prudes at the MPAA. Supporters of the ratings system would maintain that ratings exist merely as a guide, and it is the filmmakers themselves that alter their films in pursuit of a favorable rating. That’s the rub, though, isn’t it? The MPAA’s ratings can mean life or death for a film in theaters, as theater owners have proven reluctant to showcase films with an NC-17 rating or no rating at all, and even R-rated films are regularly cut to lower ratings in pursuit of teenaged dollars. Quite frankly, how dare any organization like the MPAA tell a filmmaker what they can and can’t have in a movie, on threat of making it financially unviable? Anyway…

Way back in the summer of 1986, as best I can gather, twin brothers John and Mark Polonia, along with collaborator Todd Michael Smith, wrote, directed, and starred in their very own shot-on-video horror flick. The Brothers Polonia were only seventeen at the time, and were very much full of the over-the-top mischief and humor typical of a large number of teenagers.

Released in 1987, Splatter Farm is an outrageous example of SOV horror. Plot is minimal, acting is atrocious, special effects are…special, and no fucks were given.

The film follows brothers Joseph and Alan (John and Mark) as they travel to their old Aunt Lacey’s (a very game Marion Costly) farm for summer vacation. She has a handyman, Jeremy (Smith), in her employ, and the first viewers see of him is out in the barn, where he is hacking up a corpse with an axe. Then he gives himself a handjob with a severed limb. Yep, folks, it’s that kind of movie.

What follows is set piece after set piece, where we see Aunt Lacey flirt incestuously with the boys, Jeremy get down to some more grossness, and the twins slowly realize the danger they are in. That’s it for depth. What makes this flick worth the watch is that every Splatter Farm VHS boxten minutes or so, the Polonia’s and Smith put something on tape that will make a viewer’s eyes boggle.

As with other younger fans of horror, the Polonia’s are suckers for gore. When heads roll they are clearly mannequin heads, but when it comes to the insides of a human body, they look to have cleared out the offal bucket at the local butcher’s. It’s messy, bloody, and impressive.

John was also something of a fearless performer, as seen in a disturbing sequence near the end where he is nude and bound. Remember, this was a high school kid, willing to sacrifice all dignity for his film. It’s impressive when one remembers how much teenagers fear embarrassment.

Smith continued to work with the Polonias on a few more features, but it is the brothers who made substantial careers in the world of b-cinema, racking up more than two dozen films before John’s untimely death in 2008. Mark continues to make bargain basement movies, sometimes at the rate of three to four a year. He’s left videotape long behind, but he still graces shitty movie fans with his unrepentant visions. We’ll be seeing more from the Brothers Polonia during this year’s Horrorshow.

As for Splatter Farm, from an objective standpoint, like most of these SOV horror flicks, it’s a bad movie. As said many times before here at Missile Test, when it comes to shitty movies, objective quality is a secondary consideration. It’s watchability that counts. In this flick, scenes that don’t feature bloody murder aren’t the easiest to sit through, but watchability goes way up when things get bloody. Splatter Farm doesn’t make it into the top of the Watchability Index, but it holds its own against features that had actual studio backing, displacing Bride of the Gorilla at #237. For horror veterans, tired of the same old, same old, Splatter Farm is well worth a watch.

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