I have noticed that a recent trend (recent for me means the last 20 years…sue me, I’m old) for horror movies in the “slasher” subgenre, especially ones which have established or are trying to establish a film franchise, is seeking to make their homicidal maniacs different from the “normal but gone crazy” classification that categorizes so many film killers. This new generation of killers are comprised of individuals that are very unique. From killer Leprechauns to murderous Snowmen to pissed off Genies, these films seek to make their featured killer stand out in the crowd of standard axe-wielding nutcases. One of the results is an ongoing search for new and inventive origins for movie murderers. Thus, we come to the latest in a long line of gimmicky killers: The ghost of Roger LaForge, better known as the wicked pirate Jolly Roger.
Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove wastes absolutely no time in getting started. The film opens with a group of teens already camped out on the beach, celebrating the end of their high school existence and the beginning of a new life. Well…a new life for some. In the tradition of slasher films, one couple seeks some privacy in order to give in to their carnal desires and whilst wandering about on their own, come across an old chest that the young man theorizes was washed ashore by a recent storm. They open it and find nothing but dirt…and a human skull. The skull is tossed away into the water in favor of more interesting things, like screwing. Alas, freed from the chest, the skull now reforms into the vengeful ghost of Jolly Roger, who quickly dices up the couple as well as two other teens back at camp. The only survivors are a third couple who will be the main characters of the film.
Naturally, no one believes their tale of a guy dressed in a pirate costume who murdered their friends and they are the prime suspects the local, and dare I say inept, police have. That is, until more people around town begin turning up dead and missing their heads, with eyewitnesses reporting a pirate costumed man as the culprit. The two young lovers manage to escape police custody and embark on a quest to figure out what is going on. They discover that only certain people are being killed and it turns out that these people are descendents of the town’s founding fathers. A quick stop over at the goofy Mayor’s house for some predictable exposition reveals the sordid history behind the town of Cutter’s Cove. It appears the ghost of old Jolly Roger has returned to seek his revenge on the descendents of those who betrayed him centuries ago. The race is now on to see if he can be stopped from collecting the sixteen heads he requires in order claim back his stolen gold.
Like most movies in this field, there is nothing new being presented to the viewer. The motives behind Jolly Roger’s killing spree are obvious to the audience after the opening massacre on the beach. The viewer just sits back and waits until the characters figure it out for themselves, which they do, but not before making some truly hug leaps in logic based on events that some of them have not witnessed and should not have any knowledge of. In other words, the producers cut some corners in their narrative and were hoping the audience was too stupid to notice. I hate that! Jolly Roger himself makes for a semi-interesting killer. The actor playing him really gives it his all and the whole pirate personality, complete with appropriate sayings and speech, lends some humor to the film. Some of the deaths are done quite well, while others come off as more juvenile in execution. The acting…well, don’t get your hopes up. Jolly Roger was the best one in the cast. The majority of the characters make the typical “stupid” decisions that people in horror films are wont to do, so don’t be looking for any keen intellects here, either. Still, the film is an enjoyable way to kill eighty minutes or so if this type of film is your thing. Despite the vengeful theme, there is a fair amount of humor injected into it to make it more palatable.
Final Grade: 3 out of 5