88 Films release of ‘Slaughterhouse’ from 1987 comes out of the depths of VHS memory and onto a stunning Blu-ray

‘Slaughterhouse’ is another film that passed me by on VHS. I recall the imposing figure of ‘Buddy’ on the video cover brandishing a huge cleaver. I think I was so hooked on my monster movies back then I missed a few of these slasher films along the way. How glad am I then that companies like 88 Films are now bringing these essential retro classics back to a new life on Blu-ray and DVD.

‘Slaughterhouse’ is so 80’s you can almost smell the hairspray…if it wasn’t for the sweat and pig shit! We have a by the numbers slasher, which maybe a little light on the slashing but more than makes up for that with colourful characters and its tongue firmly in its cheek. With a similar vibe to ‘Motel Hell’ and riffing on ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘, ‘Slaughterhouse’ is a perfect drive in movie of its time. Joe B Barton plays ‘Buddy Bacon’ the demented son of a pig farmer/butcher, who is bullied from his land by money hungry locals. The farmer and buddy then attempt to punish those men who threaten them and any unfortunate teenagers who hassle Buddy’s pigs!

Buddy was the major selling point of this film, in a decade of rock star killers like Freddy and Jason you can see the film makers have tried to create their own horror hero, stated quite clearly in the interviews on the special features. Buddy is oafish and as lethal as a puppy dog, I mean how hard would it be to out run a 350lb loon, carrying a 20kg cleaver? Buddy is just a blunt instrument exploited by his father, ‘Lester Bacon’ played by Don Barrett, who uses Buddy as a sort of attack dog. The film is in dire need of more action, it loses its pacing frequently by going off on tangents following around a group of teenagers who really have no business in the story as the scenes between Lester and the older conniving towns folk are far better played and at the real heart of the film.

The tone shifts all the time from stalker horror to black comedy but not in an even way. The music also veers from 80’s pop rock to a score like something from a British sitcom. ‘Slaughterhouse’ is what it is; a low budget shot at horror from a time when these films were all the rage and FUN! So many horror film makers these days have forgotten how to have fun with the genre; I mean will we ever see another ‘Return of the Living Dead‘ or ‘Night of the Creeps‘?

I’d say it’s a shame that director and writer Rick Roessler and producer Jerry Encoe never made another film. They do hint at a ‘Slaughterhouse 2’ script that was written but alas, was never made.

I enjoyed this film which is now approaching its 30th birthday and 88 FILMS have quite clearly delivered the definitive version of it to Blu-ray.

The 1080p anamorphic transfer is mostly solid and vibrant, after a fairly grainy opening night scene the film settles into its HD conversion and looks as good as it will ever look.

Soundtrack is HD stereo and serves its purpose just fine.

Special features are excellent; a couple of retro interviews, one from director Rick Roessler and one from producer Jerry Encoe, both filmed as part of the press tour as the film was sold across America. Rossler is obviously overjoyed that his film is out there and smack talks about other horror hero’s from the time.

The commentary from Rick Roessler and Jerry Encoe is sharp and detailed giving a great insight into the films low budget production and serves as a great how-to guide to budding film makers who have a vision and no money.

‘Buddy Meet the Public’ is more retro footage of Buddy Bacon meeting fans and even entering a nearly empty cinema during a screening wielding his huge cleaver! Imagine that happening these days? Buddy Bacon in full costume stalking the aisles…he’d probably get shot. Another snapshot of a ‘better’ time is here in all its nostalgic glory.

‘Raw Footage’ is a brief outtake reel from a couple of scenes.

You also get TV spots and theatrical trailer for the film as well as 88 Films trailer reel.

My favourite extra was the ‘No Smoking’ warning commercial for cinemas showing ‘Slaughterhouse’, where Buddy & Lester give cinema goers a hilarious warning to not light up during the film. Remember smoking in cinemas? I do. That was fun….

Great work again from the team at 88 Films.

Review by Ramrod from a disc kindly supplied by 88 Films.