A film uniting six of the most deviant and infamous serial killers of all time sounds like a hell of an undertaking, doesn’t it? Picking from history’s closet full of skeletons and mixing up the combined psychoses of a sextuplet of the most deviant and cruel minds to walk this earth seems like a tailor-made horror flick idea; the only question that comes to mind is why the hell hasn’t someone thought of this before?
The Butchers, originally titled Death Factory, is a film short on means but long on vision that dares to embark upon this task. I gotta admit, I was pretty excited when I first heard about this upcoming feature; of course, when you’ve seen as many horror flicks as I have, there’s always a little trepidation mixed in with said excitement; you just don’t wanna get your hopes too high…
Our story begins with a young boy named Simon witnessing (and participating in) a horrific night that scars him for life. Flashing forward to adulthood, we find Simon and his brother (where he was that night is never revealed) on a cross-country bus trip, Simon having left a mysterious career in the military to try to get his life back together. This trip with his sibling and some friends is intended to be therapeutic; a kind of family bonding journey, to put some of the demons of the past to rest. Of course, this would be some kind of feel-good family drama if that’s where we went; no folks, of course the bus breaks down on the journey, naturally out in the middle of nowhere where there’s no cell reception. Fortunately (at least it seems so at first), the group is within walking distance of a tourist attraction called Death Factory; it’s a museum of serial killers…great entertainment. Anyways, the group heads there hoping to find a land line to contact someone about the bus and get on their way.
Unbeknownst to the busload of people, however, is that a strange African attorney has arrived just prior to them, and has begun a ritual of resurrection to bring back the six sinister murderers that are showcased in the attraction: Jack the Ripper, Albert Fish, Ed Gein, the Zodiac Killer, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer; his reasons for this become apparent as the film moves forward. Simon, with his combat training and natural paranoia, proves to be the only real hope that the group has to face this resurrected assembly of some of the most vile and merciless souls ever to draw breath; but even with his skills, is there any real chance against such a collection of evil?
OK, right off the bat, the film’s production values show it’s budget limitations; at it’s best, it looks like a higher-end SyFy production, at its worst, like every other low-rent horror mishmash out there. Still, there’s stuff to like about the flick; obviously, the filmmakers were passionate about their contribution to the slasher subgenre; the story hits all the high points (most of the typical characters are here, as well as the tried and true “stalk and surprise” tropes), but, with the shadowy African lawyer and his odd motivations, still manages to inject a little mystery; with the character of Simon (well-played by Grimm’s Damien Puckler, being a broody, mobile can of woop-ass), we also have a tainted hero that draws out some sympathy while also giving us someone to cheer for.
The acting holds par with my description of the overall production; some of it’s upper-end TV quality, some is forced and wooden; like any low-budgeter of our favorite genre, it’s often hit-and-miss. The special effects were bloody enough, but most of the goodies happen in silhouette or just offscreen, giving us only glimpses of aftermath.
Despite it’s highly ambitious concept (or perhaps because of it), the flick has it’s issues. Along with the unavoidable constraints mentioned above due to funding, the script leaves a lot of holes and unanswered questions, and both the beginning and ending of the film are vague and tend to be a little confusing. My biggest issue with the film was aesthetic: the opening credits are a montage of historical photos of the serial killers that are showcased (those that there were photographs of…Jack the Ripper was notoriously camera-shy), and we have it firmly established right at the start who we’re dealing with. Then, when they are brought back from the dead, the characters don’t look a damned thing like the killers…well, OK, the guy playing Albert Fish could pass for him, but the guy playing Dahmer looks like cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch, the Zodiac looks like a medieval executioner moonlighting as a house-painter, Gacy looks more like Ronald McDonald than Pogo the Clown, and although Ed Gein was a slight little man, here he’s about six-five and two-ninety…and don’t even get me started on Jack the Ripper…
All in all, the film turns out to be an average lower-end entry into the annals of horror flicks. It had some things I liked, but left me scratching my head a lot; it brings a couple of new angles to the table, but overall it’s going to leave most of you going “ah well…another cookie cutter hack ‘n’ slash“. Personally, I’d like to see these filmmakers take another shot at this script with another five million bucks or so…even still, I liked it well enough; it’s not a flick that I can say I’ll make haste to purchase, but I can say that if sometime down the road I’m flipping through the channels late one night and run across it, I’ll be pretty likely to watch it again; I found it a fun time-burner, and we Fellow Fans have certainly sat through a hell of a lot worse.
Two cents gone.
Uncork’d Entertainment will be releasing The Butchers on DVD and VOD November the 11th.
JUST CLICK HERE
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