The discovery for many reviewers and horror fans learning of the rising talents of Joaquin Montalvan came from his low-budget horror film Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher (2014), whose entire filmmaking style bucks the system of formats and structure, and eclipses the boundaries of sick twisted creations of horror. Four years prior to the ‘Butcher” movie, was the film Hole (2010) that some of the actresses in the movie thought it might film the realm of snuff movie, similar to that of director Joe Stauffer of the move Pieces of Talent (2014), showing the realism of the horror has not vanished but exists in the underground gritty markets. However, this early movie of Joaquin just proves his crafty senses and passion for the horror genre, along with earning a release through distributors WildEye Releasing shows the fans embracing his desires to freak the hell out the viewers, and we all thank him.
An innocent young life of Ed Kunkle (Gavin Graham), broken by a tormenting abusive mother leads to the spiraling damnation for a grown homicidal killer (Paul E. Respass, who passed on in April 2014) centers the storyline of the film. Young Ed suffers the loss of time and lack of understanding of wrongdoing, while tied to a chair as his Mother (Charlotte Bjornbak) believably smacks the child, a stylization that might affect mothers in general. In fact, Respass truly captures the look and frame of reference for a terrorizing killer, and assistant by Joaquin and his quick filming style, which achieves with violent force of remote desolate settings fitting of snuff qualities. However, more occurs with the damaged characters in this film, from that of Eve Adams (Teem Lucas), a strange woman coping with her ghosts and the juggernaut of cases old and new surrounding burned out Detective Bodie Jameson (Jim Barile), who fits the role exceptionally well. Ed later in life leaves prison reluctantly the place controlled the rage and monster released to roam, stalk, exacting revenge to woman, remembering everyone that teased, and screwed him over to achieve their own ends, while scraping by as a janitor and discourteous to everyone, especially Father Michael (Dennis Haggard). He tries to block the voices within himself, though unsure if they truly exists, or a he speaks them himself as he likely appears as his only friend his entire life. The voices plague him to set out of kidnapped victims and tease them while a mask very similar to Alice Sweet Alice (1976) and his trusty handheld sledgehammer (which incidentally is the name of the production company). While most of the movie shows the repeated nature of violence to women, it provides the underlying current of darkness of humanity in general, with justice delivered in many ways to others in punishments and trophy rewards to salivate cumulated through rage.
The film has the feel and conceptual design of a grindhouse flick, and definitely not a glossy design, but rather a low-budget cheapness to allow for damaged appearance, that one might discover at a horror convention used tape table. One must note that Graham does a very good performance of handling the abuse and truly had an enjoyable time on the set, especially admitting off camera that he enjoyed the taste of the fake blood. In addition, as mentioned earlier, Joaquin has a style all his own, and never follows the rules of filmmaking and thereby sets him apart from the normal cattle shoot mentality of one-way thinking in the process of film design. For example, he never presented the actors with an actual full script, and script has a hand written style, sometimes many involve think it is snuff film, but rather the style unconventional and holds the cards close to himself, he wants the actors to step into the role naturally and create the act before the camera. Allowing the scene to develop freely, capturing purity and rawness of the film, in essence a realism to the movie, life causes injuries as does the filmmaking process; too. This does not mean the film has no flaws, the storyline does become muddled and struggles (just a bit more of editing), yet seals the issues with a dizzying array of amazing practical effects, viewers need to play close attention to some of them, the fetish freaks for blood, gore and violence will find great moments in the movie.
Gore-hounds and horror fans in general that reminiscent of the forgotten era of VHS grimy horror flicks will relive that with this movie, and for those too young to enjoy that feverish moment in carnage history, no problem, enjoyment beholds in this movie. Also, include a very good commentary from the director and making of documentary with a featurette called Ed’s Journal, for one to enjoy Repass’ performance.