House of Carnage (2006) – By Josh Samford

 After having seen the very impressive Dead Body Man II: Seperation Anxiety from 4th Floor Pictures, I was a little bit more amped to check out their other work. House of Carnage however is taken in a bit more serious direction. Working as a half homage, half… pretty much rip-off of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre – the filmmakers leave their unmistakable influence on their sleeves. House of Carnage, which if you could tap it for a negative you’d probably have to bring up the name which really doesn’t seem all that suitable (sounds like a ghost story with gore to me, but hey, there is a house and there is LOTS of carnage to be fair), is probably one of the better low budget indie exploitation type flicks I’ve probably seen. I mean, I’m not going to go out on a limb and say it’s the next Last House on the Left, but it certainly isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen and for the sheer ammount of creativity at work I’d say it’s one very impressive little feature film. I mean sure it’s easy to go out there and shoot your own Zombie 90: Extreme Pestilence (or see most of all the works of Olaf Ittenbach), but I have to hand it to the crew at 4th Floor, they at least tried to tie in their own ingenuity. There’s no doubt that there are ample amounts of references to the TCM flicks, especially with the introduction which is blatantly taken from the first two Chainsaw films – as well as the actual location and the concept of a cannibalistic, family-based clan of serial killers on the loose. Oh, and of course our masked killer who grunts and screams like a child/lunatic. There’s no getting past these things, but there are subtle little touches to the film that really make it rise above it’s obvious lack of budget or career based actors/actresses. There’s some truly creative uses of editing in the film, that although it can be disorienting – the film works like a collage of information painting a portrait of these killers. Sometimes telling the story through flashback, a mixture of videotape and interviews with the supposed survivors. Interspliced throughout the film are random images of death, decay and bizarre video effects and some visual effects given to the video to make it look like grainy old film stock. All of these techniques within themselves aren’t exactly uncharted territories or new ideas – but the way the filmmakers put them together and the thought, creativity and the way in which they actually go about using these techniques are what makes them impressive. I have to give the guys their due, even compared to Dead Body Man 2, which I must admit I am more partial to – this is a pretty slick little flick.

Bearing resemblances to the likes of the recent Devil’s Rejects and older classic exploitation films (Don’t Go in the House, Last House on the Left, Last House on Dead End Street, House At the Edge of the Park, etc.), House of Carnage sets some pretty appropriate goals – such as trying to completely and utterly get under the skin of the viewer – and without argument I’d have to say they did a pretty good job. Like with a lot of these sort of flicks (and you can go back to Craven’s House on the Left), the set-up can almost be a bit painful since you have to sit through scenes of dialogue all just bent on getting the characters to their designated spot as quick as possible; and yes, the actors – even those who have taken classes I’m sure, are a bit green and so things can be a bit slow to start off. As soon as we are thrown amidst the carnage – things speed up and get interesting real quick. Not to totally down the exposition too terribly bad, as I mentioned, the creative visual effects and such keep the film tense at all times and keep the pace from every truly bogging down and with a film in the sixty to seventy minutes long range; a brisk plot is definitely the way to go. There are a few things lost in translation, mainly having to do with a subplot in the film about our serial killing clan of inbred cannibals producing demon babies in the womb of the women they kidnap, but the women being unable to hold such evil within their bodies. Something like that at least, apparently this subplot was carried over from the previous film that HOC ties in with: Day of the Axe, which the commentary provided by Ryan Cavalline on the DVD helped to further explain. I know, being that so far 4th Floor Pictures is 2-0 with me, I’m going to do my best to pick up their other films soon and the original Dead Body Man and DOTA are at the top of my list.

By now in one of these reviews I usually write for RC I would have gone over the plot scenario for the film – but really, it’s a bit difficult to explain. The film takes place, as I said previously, sometimes through flashbacks, through video and through the present-tense. Things can get a bit muddled, but essentially it revolves around a family of serial killers living in a delapitated house in the middle of the woods – where they lure young girls who they then try to impregnate with a demonspawn – but more likely they just kill them since they’re all raving lunatics. So far there has only been on person to survive the insanity that takes place in this house of carnage, and we get to hear her story – but after all the torture, barbaric cruelty and murder is over; what exactly lays in store for our leading lady who crawled through the bloody trenches to survive against all the forces of hell? Probably some crazy stuff I’ll tell ya that. So, yeah, that about covers the basics of it – but there’s a whole lot more going on in this one, and heck, I didn’t even mention the feet, arms and heads that are dismembered during the course of the film! Can’t forget the gore, this is Indie horror at it’s finest people.

So, I’ve got to give it to these guys – they’re making some darn interesting cinema right now. Especially at the independent level, producing films actually twice as entertaining as anything Hollywood is shucking out. Even beating out Eli Roth in my opinion, as far as horror films making an homage to their influences. I’ll take House of Carnage over Cabin Fever any day of the week. Sure it may not be as polished, the acting might not be in that Boy Meets World category but it’s most definitely an entertaining, horrifying, shocking and inventive little flick and I think that speaks mountains for it in comparison to Roth’s debut. Boy do I ever deserve some heat for the Cabin Fever insults in this one, but oh well, I can handle a few rabid fanboys ever once in a while. For those of you not fuming at this point however, I highly advice you guys out there check out these interesting little numbers. Head on over to the 4th Floor Pictures website and check out what kind of deals you can get on their flicks. Pretty much all movies aside from House of Carnage and DBM2 seem to be available on a couple of collection discs with all kinds of other independent horror films, and the going price is in the $10-$15 range – not a bad deal. I know, sounds like I’m shilling for the guys, but I promise I’m not making any cash off of it – though, hey guys, if you want to go throwing some scratch away I’m always willing to take handouts; even from broke filmmakers. I just have to say, these guys are making highly entertaining little flicks and I think everyone should take some time to check them out and if funding the guys helps get me a Dead Body Man 3 – then by George I expect you people to do it.