Nicholas Celozzi, Tom Reilly, Donna Denton
One thing you can't accuse Slaughterhouse Rock of
lack of an attempt to deliver the goods. There's fires, explosions,
gore, nightmare sequences, levitation, demons, possession, psychic
a living-dead heavy metal band, cannibalism, Native Americans, ghosts,
nudity, attempted rape, astral projection, ancient manuscripts,
location shooting, black humor, and smooth steadicam work - all to the
tune of music performed by Devo. So it can't possibly miss, right?
Nice college boy Alex is suffering from constant
nightmares of being
tortured in various ways, such as attacks by zombies, whippings (though
we don't hear Devo's Whip It), or being roasted over fires, all
shown to us in detail. These dreams are bad enough for Alex, but when
dreams suddenly start doing things in real life like burning his bed
of wetting it, he knows something is seriously wrong. His friend
pulls out an ancient manuscript out of nowhere that was buried on
island, where many of Alex's dreams happen to be taking place. Hmm,
there's some connection! So that same night, the two of them, plus
sex-obsessed college buddies, take a boat out to the prison island
dammit, is it really that necessary for me to reveal what happens next?
I guess I'm being a little too hard on this movie.
basic story is extremely predictable. But along the way, we are treated
to a number of things that make the movie interesting to watch at
The gore level is acceptable, and the quality of these scenes is
convincing. And we are treated to some unusual gore scenes, such as
guts getting ripped out, or someone's fist traveling straight through
head. The nightmare sequences are actually among the best I've seen in
a movie; Logothetis remembers that people frequently dream unclear
and both fogs the sequences and shoots them slightly out of focus. He
starts many of these nightmares with how many start in real life - when
we feel helpless, and know that some danger is coming at us. He also
this dreamy mood somewhat into the horror sequences where the
are awake, and it's surprisingly effective. And the occasional bizarre
twists in the story - as when the dead members of the heavy metal band
"Body Bag" return from the dead to help Alex - are so nutso, we sit
wondering what the makers of the movie will cook up next.
The problem is that there's not enough of that stuff.
The pattern of
this movie is constant: throw something cool or bizarre at the
then spend several minutes with the usual bullshit. In the beginning of
the movie, that means cutting to stupid stuff concerning the bimbos and
bozos on campus, and their bed-hoppings and drinking. Sometimes
uses these humdrum scenes to test out his steadicam; at the beginning
the movie, there is an endless steadicam shot with Alex and two of his
friends walking across campus. Not only is the shot absolutely boring,
but we have to sit through the frat boy chat of Alex's friends. Later,
Logothetis weaves his steadicam all around the tables of a bar before
settling at the table Alex and his friends are sitting at. Logothetis'
problems with making a non-dream sequence look good also extend to the
Alcatraz parts. Though the movie actually filmed these sequences at the
prison, they might as well have shot at your local corner jail; we
get a wide shot of the outside (or inside) of the prison, and what we
looks just like any old prison. One visual problem that isn't
fault is that Sony Video screwed up with the video transfer, resulting
in a "soft" look and faded colors, and a headache for this reviewer.
Oh yes, Devo fans, what about their music, which is
on the front of the video box? Well, the fact that there never seems to
have been a release of a soundtrack album should tell you something.
amount of Devo listed in the end credits lists only four songs, two of
which seem to be instrumentals. Actually, these instrumentals are not
at all, though bits of them are constantly repeated over the course of
the movie, since the filmmakers only have two instrumentals to exploit.
The other two songs, where the band actually gets to sing, are played
the background in noisy crowd scenes, such as a bar. Since they are
to listen to, I can't give a fair judgment as to how good they are. I
Devo, when seeing the finished movie, had an Uncontrollable Urge to
call it Sloppy.
They had the ingredients for a good movie here, but they
came up with
an occasionally diverting misfire. Though I'm normally opposed to
this is a movie that I would like to see be remade, under different
Ditch the Porky's-like antics, quicken the pace, use the
entire prison, and we might have something here. I think Devo would Shout
this, thinking Now It Can Be Told.
Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)
Check for the best of Devo on Amazon (CD)
See also: Destroyer, The Takeover, Nail Gun