Lester Bacon has fallen on hard times, and now his slaughterhouse is about to be bought out by corporate shills. To make things worse, his rotund, mentally challenged son Buddy has taken up the family business, but instead of chopping up animals, he’s moved on to people, the other white meat. Directed by Rick Roessler.
“Slaughterhouse” (1987) arrived on the scene as the last embers of the slasher movie boom were going dark. Despite being a little late to the party, it brings us great gifts. It’s funny and buoyant rather than grim like “The Dorm That Dripped Blood” or other ’80s slasher releases.
A group of high school students (who look old enough to be teachers) celebrating the start of a four-day weekend wander on the property of retired hog slaughterer Lester Bacon and his dangerous son, Buddy. As shady investors try to take Lester’s land to build a new mechanized slaughterhouse, Lester allows the murderous Buddy to carve them up with his favorite toy, a three-foot long meat cleaver.
Towards the beginning of the film, you know you’ve found a winner. As the teens party in the back of a parked pick up truck at a Lover’s Lane in the middle of nowhere, they are frightened by the sound of a wild pig snorting in the nearby underbrush. So being terminally stupid (it’s a common teen affliction), they flee the safety of the vehicle and run off willy nilly into the unknown dangers of the night. Two of them meet Buddy– whom only communicates through pig-like oinks, grunts and squeals– and then die violently.
Joe Barton, who is currently employed as a security guard in Las Vegas, plays Buddy with gusto. He’s massively obese and wears dirty overalls and a pig’s severed tail on a chain around his neck. I loved every second he was on-screen. He kills it!
It seems the town sheriff, Borden, is good buddies with a local lawyer named Sandford and a meat-packing mogul named Murdock. These three men are trying to force Lester Bacon to sell his property, which includes a ramshackle house and abandoned slaughterhouse. We meet Lizzie Borden, the sheriff’s daughter, and her friends Skip, Buzz and Annie. They are survivors of the night Buddy Bacon killed two of their friends. Liz is interested in making a horror film, so the quartet buy Halloween masks and props and look for a place to shoot this opus.
Hey, I don’t know, how about the ol’ slaughterhouse?
Meanwhile, Lester takes a break from telling people how “20 good men with muscle and sharp knives” could outdo a meat processing machine long enough to discover that his abandoned slaughterhouse is now stuffed with dead teenagers hanging on meat hooks.
Buddy has been busy. Taking a page from “Dexter”, Lester explains that Sandford, Borden and Murdock are the ones that need to die, not innocent teens. Channeling Buddy’s homicidal impulses towards his enemies, Lester unleashes his big ass son to do his dirty work.
The town deputy shows up looking for the missing kids and Buddy slays him and puts on a blood-soaked tattered bastardization of his uniform. He then goes for a ride down dusty country roads in the dead deputy’s patrol car while a zany big band song plays. Buddy eventually pulls a female motorist over and kills the hell out of her.
Lester, who starts off the film moderately sane, quickly goes bonkers and starts assembling a jury of corpses to try the case of whether the land deal is legal or not. He mostly hangs out in the impressive looking slaughterhouse, a jumble of machinery, towering vats and conveyor belts.
Back in town, Lizzie and her pals attend a local radio station’s party during a lightning storm and decide it would be a perfect time to go check out the slaughterhouse. And so they do. Skip and Buzz put their masks on to scare the girls and are immediately killed by Buddy. Annie bites the dust and we are left with Lizzie Borden against Lester and Buddy. When Lester realizes she is the sheriff’s daughter, he plans to “skin her and dress her out in 90 seconds flat.” Cue the final battle.
What about the gore? It isn’t the bloodiest I’ve seen, but it delivers.
- A man is fed feet first into a meat processing machine. We see his organs on a conveyor belt after.
- A man is lifted off his feet and has his skull crushed. Blood erupts from his head.
- A man has his hand cut off with a cleaver and bleeds to death.
- A woman has her throat slit.
- A man is impaled on a meat hook and convulses, blood coming from his head.
- A man is run over and has his head gruesomely squashed by a tire.
- A man is stabbed in the back with a butcher knife. Another assailant twists the knife later.
All in all, “Slaughterhouse” is a good old fashioned 80’s horror with a nice side of total absurdity. Dig in!