Filmed in 2014 but only now getting any kind of a release Smothered is an attempt at creating an Expendables type of film in the horror genre. With a cast that includes Kane Hodder, R.A. Mihailoff, Bill Moseley and Michael Berryman along with several other lesser known performers with genre credits. And yes, the director is that John Schneider from The Dukes of Hazard, (and Return of the Killer Shrews to keep it in genre).
The plot has some of them playing as themselves, others as fictionalized versions of horror icons. They’re stuck at a dead convention when they’re offered a thousand dollars each to haunt a trailer, excuse me, an RV park. There they meet the Agnes the creepy, gun toting owner and her daughter DD who very definitely lives up to her name, (we’ve already met them in the film’s two prologues)They quickly ditch their commitment to the event and take off to make some money. However when the crew start turning up dead it seems the world’s greatest killers are on the wrong side of the homicide this time.
Smothered attempts to play the cast’s images against themselves for laughs. We see R.A. Mihailoff, the man best known as the demonic Wishmaster portrayed as a total wuss who jumps at his own shadow. We get pokes at the convention circuit, anyone who’s ever been to a poorly attended show will chuckle at the scenes at the beginning. Even the fans themselves are parodied in some unflattering stereotypes.
Despite being a huge and long time genre fan I don’t think I was this film’s target audience, it seems geared to those even deeper into the genre than me. This seems more for the fans who’ve spent mass amounts of time at the conventions and have met and hung out with these guys. They might find more jokes and references in the film, many of the lines felt like they were some kind of joke, but I wasn’t getting them. And that pretty much killed the film for me.
The parts that play on the films themselves are quite well done, with enjoyably gory practical effects as the “accidents” that kill the cast off become more and more bloody. It really does hit the feel of an 80s slasher here, the unrated VHS version thankfully. The one kill that isn’t presented as an accident, (and which gives the film it’s name), drops the ball on what could have been some great 80s style T&A however. Indeed one other scene that could have delivered some skin opts to have tassels on the girl’s boobs. Rather odd choices in a film that is certainly not aiming for a PG-13 and paying tribute to a genre known for it’s nudity.
I should mention the film has an odd, non linear format, like Pulp Fiction. Some people find this annoying and/or confusing while some like it. I really don’t think it adds anything to this film. From what I’ve read it was written in a more conventional manner and edited into this format
When all is said and done Smothered is a mixed bag. Casual fans of the genre will probably be totally lost, while long term fans like myself will get more of the gags but still be missing a lot. This really seems to have been made for the hardcore convention going insider, and should make that niche audience very happy.