An out of service slaughterhouse on the edge of a small Californian town becomes the site of a series of grisly murders. The owner is being forced off his land because of back taxes, pressured by a local entrepreneur, a lawyer, and the sheriff. He has a large and rather mentally unstable son named Buddy (Joe B. Barton) who initially kills a couple of teens he finds necking in the area. His father realizes he has a perfect killing tool to use, so he sets him against the men trying to take his land. The friends of the two murdered teens end up getting mixed into everything through happenstance, and the body count rises. Can Buddy and his father be stopped, or will their self-righteous revenge take its course?
As you can see, not a lot of plot going on here. In actuality, the filmmakers do a really good job of fleshing out the characters. Nobody is necessarily evil here, but nobody is really clean and virtuous, either. The offer the owner of the slaughterhouse gets to sell and still stay on his land seems reasonable, but then again, so does his refusal. Why should he get kicked out? He provided good jobs for the town for several years. However, crossing the line to murder is obviously out of the moral question. And Buddy, who is really the star of this show, is a simpleton who is having some fun. He doesn’t seem to have any moral compass, other than the one his father provides. The movie itself is pretty uneven. There’s a lot of comedy going on here, mostly of it intentional, and some of it lands but other parts fall flat. The opening credit scenes where we see how pigs get “processed” is shown over jaunty music, but it is absolutely disgusting. This carries over into the movie. You can tell the filmmakers are wanting to keep things as light and breezy as they can, but their darker tendencies keep creeping in. This creates an unsettling feel to the whole movie, one that ultimately won me over. The very unevenness of it adds to its power. The teens are all really likeable and fun and the adult characters are complex, and they all love to smoke cigarettes. The gore is actually pretty minimal. Yeah, it’s there, but the premise and promise of outstanding grue is never quite fulfilled. It is called Slaugherhouse, after all.
This one is an oddball Slasher, kissing cousin to something like Motel Hell. There’s plenty of satire and humor going on here, but like I said, it does get dark (that ending…) and really pulls no punches. I guess it’s up to you how you will react to it. If you can get into the jagged juxtaposition of the humor and the horror, you’re going to find a real treat in this one. If not, you’re going to be turned off. I liked it. Not a classic, but certainly worth a watch or two.