Imagine if you will, Rod Serling reading this to you…
“There is a place where time stands still. A bubble in which some genre movies exist where the conventions, themes and patterns haven’t changed since the 1980s. There’s the signpost up ahead: Now playing, The Butchers.“
After three minutes worth of title sequence featuring some of the most notorious modern serial killers – Gein, Gacy, Dahmer and others – we finally get to the movie. It’s a flashback sequence – complete with vintage film grain and scratches – of domestic violence. What does it mean? It means our hero did not have a trouble free childhood.
Cut to the present, our hero, Simon (Damien Puckler), wakes on a bus with his brother, (Cameron Bowen). They’re on trip to the Grand Canyon to do a little bonding. On the bus with them are the rocker (Jeremy Thorsen) and his girlfriend (Tonya Kay), The fundamentalist preacher (Braxton Davis) and his wife (Milly Sanders), the matronly black woman (Mara Hall), the cute girl (Christy Keller) and her overprotective brother (Jacob Hobbs) and the ethnic party girls (Charito Mertz and Ire Wardlaw). Yes, they have names in the credits, but for all intents and purposes, you might as well have just called them that. Unfortunately, they bus they are on breaks down in the middle of America’s last cell phone dead zone.
While the bus driver goes off for help, the group discovers they are near a museum dedicated to serial killers. Not only that, but apparently the proprietor has gathered blood from them – even a vial of Jack the Ripper’s blood… that’s right, a vial of 126 year old blood. While in town, rocker and his girl find a spellbook, decide to read from it and then, immediately have sex. This promptly resurrects the dead serial killers and turns a simple stop into a fight for survival.
“The Butchers”, the first genre feature from director, Steven Judd, is a movie they would have in the 80s: substitute caricatures for characters, bind it together with a problematic script and, when in doubt, show some boobs. Though unlike most films of its ilk, the concept is pretty strong and could have been interesting. Perhaps with a better crafted script it could have been something special. Instead, it’s like any number of films that has littered the cinematic landscape for the last thirty-some odd years.
Performances were adequate all the way around with special props going out to Mara Hall. The racially stereotypical stuff they had her spouting made me feel a bit embarrassed for her, but hey – actors gotta eat.
Technical: 3 – Well shot. Fairly well acted. A few issues with some dodgy sound but not often. The script is what you’d expect from a throwback film.
Gore: 2 – Mild gore – some throat slashings, a disembowelment, some bites and an impaling – nothing to make you run for the trashcan though.
Horror: 2.5 – Some suspense but nothing that will keep you up at night. It could be scary to your kid sister.
The B-Factor: 4 – “The Butchers” comes correct with all the B trappings. Boobs, blood, a sex scene, a little girl on girl action and stereotypes a-plenty. That last one times A LOT.
Overall: 3 – Fan of 80’s slasher films? This one’s for you. Even if you aren’t, it’s almost short enough that you won’t feel too bad about watching it.