Available for the first time in a Special Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Wild Eye Releasing and Visual Vengeance!
SLAUGHTER DAY (1991)
Directed by Brent Cousins.
Written by Bryan Cousins, Brent Cousins.
Starring Dave Anderson, Sam Bluestone, Kuiaka Branco, Jeremy Couchiardi, Bryan Cousins, Brent Cousins, John Lambert, Joe Ross, Lincoln Ross
A pair of carpenters head to the woods to join the rest of their crew who are renovating a cabin. When they arrive, they meet a disgruntled worker in possession of the Necronomicon, granting him supernatural powers enabling him to enact revenge on those who wronged him. Possessions, dismemberings, inane stunts, and adorably bad filmmaking ensues.
Visual Vengeance has been resurrecting some long-lost shot-on-video (SOV) and do-it-yourself (DIY) films from the golden days of independent horror aka the late eighties and early nineties. It was an era where a video store was the most popular place in town and shops would fill there racks with just about any title available for kids like me to rent and ooo and ahhh over. It was a glorious time and those who didn’t experience it will never know the feeling of seeing endless racks and racks of horror, carnage, splatter, and monsters at your local video store run by managers who cared not that a kid like me, someone much too young to be seeing these types of films, was renting them in bulk. While oldies like me will appreciate the hard work Visual Vengeance has done to restore and excavate these lost gems, they are also providing these low budget flicks for a new generation to enjoy.
SLAUGHTER DAY is one of these gems. It’s a film made with reckless abandon by a bunch of guys with a video camera and a deep love for the horror genre. While the story may be as flimsy as the line delivery, it’s undeniable that these guys are giving their all to make the best movie their small budget can allow.
In the fine art world, there’s something called outsider art, there an untrained artist, who has never had an art lesson, somehow has the primal urge to create. Now these art pieces may not follow the standards of what trained artists follow, but that is the appeal. It shows that creativity is something not learned, but an urge that comes from deep inside of us all. Now, the dudes who put together SLAUGHTER DAY most likely never took a film course in their life. All they had was a camera and a dream and dammit if they didn’t make a pretty entertaining movie.
Obviously, these guys saw and loved EVIL DEAD 2 as the film borrows entire scenes from Raimi’s classic underground hit. But the lengths these guys go to bring these horrors to life are downright inspiring. While how the effects are done are pretty obvious, Bryan and Brent Cousins, who wrote and directed this film, achieve go to great leaps to deliver the guts and gore. Many scenes are implemented by tossing gore and grue over holes dug into the ground so it would appear a head is severed. There are even some wonderfully awesome scenes where a book on the floor sprouts arms and pulls a person into it. The book hilariously being H.R. Geiger’s Necronomicon which could have been picked up at any strip mall’s Readmore book store at the time. The extent these effects are painstakingly made show where the focus of the filmmakers are. Still, the gore and splatter are what make this film so good, so their hard work pays off.
There’s also a crazy recklessness that this entire film possesses as the cast and crew really don’t seem to care if they get hurt while making this film. There’s a fight on the back of a moving truck that is achieved through dumb luck and youthful abandon. You won’t see that type of lack of concern for one’s own well-being in a big budgeter. Seeing these guys dangle off of a ledge, fall off a boat into the water, or crawl out the window of a moving car are things only dumb kids do and thankfully they seemed to make it out ok.
Another aspect I adore about SLAUGHTER DAY is that, even though it might not have been obvious when the film was released on VHS, you can hear the director off camera giving cues to the actors during the takes. I don’t know if they simple didn’t think they could be heard or decided they’d fix it in post and never got around to it, but hearing someone say “Go” or “Get out of the way” before the action starts and stops is hilarious and downright precious.
What I love about these low budget films is that often, you can see the seams of how the film is put together. And if you love film like me, you love knowing how the sausage was made. Now, most big budget films are able to smooth out the kinks and cover it with a layer of slick movie magic. Just because films like SLAUGHTER DAY don’t have the cash or the know-how to do that, they make it up in youthful energy and an undeniable love for the genre. That’s why I love low budget films and that’s why SLAUGHTER DAY is one of the best worst movies you’re bound to see.
Visual Vengeance has put together quite the special edition of SLAUGHTER DAY including a presentation of the film from the archival 1991 SD master from the original tapes, a new audio commentary with Brent and Blake Cousins, an new interview with The Cousins Brothers, a Limited Edition Slipcase by The Dude Designs, the filmmakers’ early short films, liner notes, a collectible mini-poster, and a VHS sticker set. Pretty keen for a film indie-lovers really shouldn’t miss!