All ideas in film grow weary after a while. Lack of new twists, market saturation, declining quality, and a general malaise from viewership are the death knells for once-innovative methods of storytelling. By the late 1980s, it was the slasher subgenre of horror that had grown old and dusty, after only a decade or so of prominence. The result was a film like Slaughterhouse, the 1987 flick from writer/director Rick Roessler.
Don Barnett and Joe B. Barton play deranged father and son Lester and Buddy Bacon, owners of a shuttered hog slaughterhouse in rural California. Market fluctuations and a failure to modernize facilities did in their business, but Lester blames shenanigans from prominent locals for his dire straits.
In the eight years the slaughterhouse has been shuttered, it has fallen into hopeless disrepair, making it the perfect location for aspiring young filmmaker Liz Borden (Sherry Leigh) and her friends to shoot a cheap horror flick.
The Bacons don’t appreciate this invasion of their privacy, nor do they appreciate the efforts of rival slaughterhouse owner Tom Sanford and local attorney Harold Murdock (Bill Brinsfield and Lee Robinson) to purchase the property on the cheap before it goes up for auction due to unpaid taxes.
So, the Bacons have themselves two sets of victims: unwanted trespassers and unwary speculators. All this adds up to a load of familiar tropes and some mediocre gore.
Buddy Bacon does most of the killing. He’s a simpleminded fellow — Barton playing him as a sort of half-pig/half-man who has neither language nor hygiene. Buddy snorts and squeals his way through the film, spending as much time wallowing with the pigs in the pen as he does running around and killing.
The fatigue in this film’s core story isn’t helped by the fact there is zero suspense. In the opening of the film we see Buddy dispatch a pair of teens in his full glory. The lack of all mystery has the effect of telegraphing the events of just about every scene to the viewer. That’s deadly for Roessler’s story.
If the film can’t be relied upon to tell a good story, does it at least work as a slasher flick? Well, sure, as long as a viewer goes into the film with low expectations. If all one is looking for is a little blood and guts, that is to be found. The most disturbing footage, however, has nothing to do with Lester and Buddy’s shenanigans. Rather, it comes during the opening credits, in which Roessler inserted footage he shot at an actual slaughterhouse of pigs being…processed. There’s nothing like some real blood and guts to remind a horror fan of the gulf between what we like in movies and the real thing.
Slaughterhouse is a mediocre horror flick that is slipping into anonymity, and that’s just fine. There are only so many hours one can dedicate to this ever-expanding genre of film. In the time it took to write this short review, Amazon and Tubi probably added a dozen new horror flicks to their respective catalogues. That is, it’s okay to see Slaughterhouse in one’s recommendations and pass it by, guilt-free. There is nothing here that horror fans haven’t already seen many times before.
As a shitty movie, it’s not all that interesting, either, taking over the #347 spot from the meek and mild Venomous.