Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Splatter Farm (1987)

It was a little over a year ago now that Lars upped the ante on the Weird Wednesday & Terror Thursday series by unleashing “Black Devil Doll from Hell” on to an unsuspecting audience. I say that because I remember thinking after that experience that the gateway of possibilities had officially been opened. There was no longer an unwritten rule that maintained that only “legitimate” movies would be screened. Weekly audiences were now no longer safe from the results of full-blown incompetent amateurs shooting movies on VHS camcorders and editing them with VCR's. The door was opened and homemade movies found an audience that they were never meant to find, a theater going audience.

The “Black Devil Doll” crowd had their brains melted that night by the sheer uncomfortableness of it all. It was like the entire theater was being forced to watch their parents have sex while listening to brutally loud Casio tones. Though only a mere 70 minutes long, the film seemed to make time grind to a slow-motion halt with every thrust and smoky exhale from that dreaded Devil Doll. To put it another way, it was legitimately awesome.

This past January, Zack over at Terror Thursday followed up the triumphant “Devil Doll” screening with Chester Turner's second and final film, “Tales from the Quadead Zone.” Again shot on VHS, it proved to be an even more odd experience than “Devil Doll,” because it allowed the objective audience member to actually pinpoint the improvements Turner made as a filmmaker. While still completely amateurish, you could see how in it's own way, it was a vastly different level of movie-making.

All of this brings us to the recent Terror Thursday presentation of “Splatter Farm.” The 1987 shock-a-thon is truly a testament to the human spirit, of both the filmmaker's and the audience. Two twin teenage brothers, Mark and John Polina (for whom this screening was a memorial for), play Alan and Joseph. When we meet the two brothers, they are on the way to their Aunt Lacey's (Marion Costly in a performance for the ages) farm for the Summer.

When they arrive, they are greeted by Aunt Lacey and her handy man/son, Jeremy (Todd Smith giving arguably the best performance in the movie). When not working around the farm, Jeremy kills people (and horses) and uses their corpses for sex. That's just the beginning of what "Splatter Farm" has in store those brave enough to press "play."

Alan and Joseph are pretty slow when it comes to figuring out that there's something really wrong with life on the farm, but I guess that's how the plot is perpetuated. There's an impressive visual effect (seriously) about 25-30 minute into the movie in which one of the twins suffers horrendously while trying to take a dump. Seriously, really really gross.

It's not until lonely Aunt Lacey drugs and rapes one of the boys and the other one finds some human remains in the woods that the full scope of what Jeremy's been up to is revealed, but by that time it's too late for everyone including the audience; the grand finale begins.

The ending of this movie is pretty awe-inspiring. There is "the line" and there is "stepping over the line," and then there's "erasing the line, but not before fistin' it and rubbing shit all over it's face." That's pretty much what "Splatter Farm" does, and then some. It is truly a barometer of good taste, but not in the way you would think.

A lot of the time when I watch old exploitation films I try to imagine what the people outside the frame look like. I sometimes think about the time period that film was made and what the people who made it were really like. "Splatter Farm" is all of the things that I've said, but it is also a time capsule. The people in it weren't designed to look like they lived in 1987, they lived in 1987! This is where they lived and this was how they spent their time. They were friends and family, and in a strange way, "Splatter Farm" is the coolest home movie a family could have.

No comments: