The Summer of Massacre (2011) – By Cary Conley

Joe Castro, perhaps most famous for directing Terror Toons and its sequel along with heading up the key special makeup effects for H.G. Lewis’ comeback film, Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat , has created a new slasher film described as "a 100 MPH gore ride that never slows down", which is an apt description of this film. Essentially an anthology of sorts, the film is a collection of several shorts tied together by snippets of interviews from several fictional serial killers. All of these killers have escaped from captivity and are rampaging across southern California on their latest murder sprees. Each segment depicts some of their latest atrocities.

And "atrocities" is a good word for the literally dozens of murders carried out in this 98-minute gore epic. If it can be used as a weapon, it is used in this film, including various knives, iron bars, and even pencils shoved up noses! Castro, who wrote the majority of the script, used a great deal of creativity in designing as many unique and bloody murders as he possibly could, then created the largest number of mean-spirited and unlikable characters as he could think of, and promptly wrote a script that would enable a body count as high as I’ve seen in a slasher film.

The look of the film is quite good as the story moves from one slasher to another. The caliber of acting isn’t quite as good, but this is clearly meant to be a B movie, so one shouldn’t hold out for Oscar-caliber actors. The soundtrack is a very basic electronic score that sounds as if it were composed on a $100 synthesizer; it is particularly repetitive and annoying in the first chapter, but improves as the film moves forward. By the end of the film, the soundtrack had improved enough that it wasn’t intrusive at all.

But the real reason this movie exists is for the gore, and there is plenty of it. Consisting of some relatively simple prosthetic and physical effects, Castro has seen fit to soup these effects up with some of the most incredibly poor optical/digital effects I have ever seen in my life. These opticals look like they were created on an ancient computer using very cheap software. The blood, which flows, squirts, spurts, and erupts across the screen, covering the camera lens at every possible opportunity, looks so fake it seems to be animated, much like the hilarious bats in some of Poverty Row’s cheapest horror features of the early forties. There are no adjectives in existence to describe just how bad these effects are. And since the film is an effects-driven vehicle, these effects are front-and-center throughout the entire run time.

While it sounds like I’m criticizing the film–and I am, in a sense–I also have to say that it’s probably a good thing the effects are so bad. If they were realistic at all, this film may have gone down as one of the grossest films in all of cinematic history. In fact, with more realistic effects, it might have actually been too stomach-churning. So, in some ways, the bad effects actually lighten the tone of the film. Another, probably unintentional, reason these effects make the film is that they push the film into the realm of comedy. I would argue that this film is perfect for the MST3K treatment and, for a certain audience, it will entertain at the same level as do films such as Manos: The Hands of Fate or Plan 9 from Outer Space. To some viewers, this film can arguably be added to their lists of worst films of all time. The production values aren’t terrible; the acting ranges from bad to decent; but the effects themselves are what push this film into truly bad territory.

So be warned: The Summer of Massacre is a picture for a niche audience–the same ones who think Bride of the Gorilla or Troll 2, along with a big bucket of popcorn and a six-pack of beer, is high entertainment. The Summer of Massacre is being released by Breaking Glass Pictures. For more information, go to www.breakingglasspictures.com.