BLOODY MESS with Matt Dean

Matt Dean had some issues with this week's BLOODY STREAMS. He encountered a "Bloody Mess" of a film and he struggled with the term "cult status". Can a bad film end up a cult classic? Join Mr. Dean as he searches for an answer to that question.

BLOODY STREAMS MESS: Butcher Boys and the “Cult” Status

I started my work on this week’s Bloody Streams and got one movie in when I stumbled upon a quandary. The film in question is titled Butcher Boys  from 2012. I’ll preface my next statement with saying that obviously I don’t know everything about every horror movie coming out, but I spend a lot of my time reading, preparing, nerding out on horror news so, I am pretty knowledgeable about current releases. However, the first I heard about Butcher Boys  was when it popped up in an Amazon search for new releases back in October. I did not buy it, read about it or click on it. It looked like every other straight-to-dvd piece of shit that comes along attempting to lure some sucker for the genre in and feed on him/her until they’re nothing but a lifeless, jaded fan of the mundane and vapid blockbusters currently residing in the multiplexes today. Cut to three weeks ago and it showed up as a Netflix Streaming new release. I did everything in my power to find other movies to watch and suggest for you. I know it’s my job as a Deviant, but sometimes we're all a little selfish.

I watched it. For all of the other deviants out there; I watched it. Initially, I couldn't believe what I was watching and how bad it really was. While the cinematography was actually decent quality, the acting was so unbelievably horrendous. It starts out with a fragmented abduction that we care nothing about and goes straight into a dinner with a group of four incredibly annoying teenagers. They get into a bit of a scuffle with another group of incredibly annoying teenagers and both groups end up colliding with a Latino/greaser/meathead gang in the “bad part of town”. During the initial part of their chase, the teens run into a man with a “Grimm’s Bakery” shirt on trying to lure them inside with cookies. Kids are running and screaming down the street and a man stops them to tempt their sweet little innocent selves with treats - seriously. The gang comes along though and the alpha male cracks the man’s neck. Ok, so, I automatically assume this is the director saying that this isn't your normal fairytale; that they’re going to murder the “normal” fairytales. As you can guess, the group is dwindled down to one girl and she’s taken to their lair, where there are a bunch of other girls locked up in various states of undress. They run tests on her vagina and when, in a matter of minutes, the tests results arrive they realize that SHE’S THE ONE! The one for what? We’ll probably never know because immediately after this the movie derails into a usual piece of shit’s third act. There’s a grandpa who dresses like a lady, a bald Russian, a giant monster who is prodded around with an electrified collar, a naked cowboy slathered in some kind of ointment trying to save his daughter, turmoil among the ranks, a dinner scene straight out of Texas Chainsaw – complete with shouting, laughing, eating a live girl’s head, etc. – fixing a big pot of stew to cook people in, lavish parties, bazookas, Uzis, pick axes; the list could go on and on.

Finally, the credits began to roll and my ordeal was over. I began to write my scathing review/pan. I thought, “I'll go with the Grimm’s possibility. So much crazy shit happened that this HAD to be based on a fairy tale.” And you know what, I found at least six Grimm’s Fairy Tales that could have just been randomly placed in this movie. While it’s said to be a rough retelling of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal wherein Irish commoners are suggested to eat their children as opposed to starving, the widespread Grimm similarities could not be overlooked. This is where things got tricky for me. I turned to the trusty IMDB page to find out who all of the actors were, the trivia, filming locations, etc. And I was shocked to find out that this film reunited the most Texas Chainsaw Massacre  series actors in cinematic history; NINE, to be exact.

1. Perry Lorenz – Pickup driver from the original
2. Edwin Neal – Hitchhiker from the original
3. Marilyn Burns – Sally Hardesty from the original, Next Gen  and 3D
4. Ed Guinn – Cattle truck driver from the original
5. Bill Wise – Heckler from Next Gen
6. John Dugan – Grandfather from the original / Various from Next Gen  and 3D
7. Teri McMinn – Pam from the original
8. Bill Johnson – Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Part 2
9. James Bargsley – uncredited role as a chili cook-off contestant

If THAT wasn't enough, the film’s writer, Kim Henkel, also wrote the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre  and wrote/directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation! Oh yeah, he also originally wrote this as a direct sequel to the original “before re-writing it to become a second franchise”.

I found all of that out and I suddenly wanted to see the film differently. I needed to see the film differently…but why? Here was this awful movie. Nothing about it was redeeming upon first viewing. Was it merely because of the ties to one of my favorite franchises of all time...and no other reason? I started analyzing my thoughts and decided it wasn't just the ties. Hell, Texas Chainsaw 3D  has blood ties to this same franchise and I had no problem hating that piece of shit. I started to think that maybe, just maybe, it was because this movie had those same ties and – at the same time – it was SO INCREDIBLY HORRIBLE! Did this movie have the potential to achieve cult status someday? I had to watch it again because I wanted to have a reason to suggest this movie beyond the reasons listed above. Sadly, it didn't get any better. Maybe it was because I watched it twice so close together, but this time I couldn't wait for it to...Just. Be. over. So, this begged a new question…

Why are we (myself included) so quick to slap the word “cult” in front of something to make it seem more legitimate? 

I think we need to look at what the word cult means. While it’s usually set aside for religious definitions, in a more broad sense it means a deep devotion to something that not everyone likes or enjoys doing. When you look at that, I think what it comes down to is that people don’t want their personal interests bashed. It’s a get out of jail free card. Instead of standing up for movies that you enjoy – for whatever reason – you feel the need to say, “Well, it’s going to be a cult classic, maybe you just don’t get it” as a defense mechanism. I heard some people doing this recently after I was bashing Fright Night 2. They got so upset that our opinions clashed when really it doesn't matter what the hell I think. Let’s take a movie like The Toxic Avenger that already has cult status; I just don’t get into it that much. It’s really cheesy. Arguably intentionally so, but nonetheless, it has no “cinematic” value. It’s socially acceptable to adore that movie, though…because it has the four letter word hovering just above its head. Really, though, the entire horror fanbase is just one big cult. We enjoy things that the normal world doesn’t. We watch Serbians  and Centipedes  and Killer Clowns  and the Living Dead. That’s why we’re called Film Deviants; we “deviate from the normal world of film” and I love that title. Differences and individual opinions are something to embrace, not put down. What I’m suggesting is, just because a movie is labelled “bad” and you enjoy it doesn’t mean you need to justify that to anyone else. Let the word "cult" attach itself.

Now, what to do with this movie. I'll watch it again in a few months and I’ll probably end up getting the DVD and start passing it around, but what I’m not going to do is try and build it up as anything more than it is just to have more things in common with people. The movie is a train wreck – plain and simple, but a few train wrecks ended up becoming some of my favorite movies. So, watch it, love it, hate it, hate me; just have your own opinion and stand by it. And don't forget to deviate every now and again.

Matt, Signing Out