Review – Chainsaw Killer

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Review – Chainsaw Killer
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SRS Cinema
May 20th, 2014
Release length: 1:20:00

Chainsaw Killer is a new shot on video Horror/Slasher flick from SRS Cinema. It was written and directed by Mark Polonia, Feeders, Splatter Farm, Snow Sharks) who presents an old-school analog romp through the regions of New York and Pennsylvania to tell the tale of a tape collector that stops at nothing to obtain a VHS that only one copy has been released of due to a factory recall. Shot through 2014 and finally released on DVD a year later, this feature length film is now available for the masses craving another taste of this always growing subculture of independent film making. But does the movie issued by the production company behind releases like Horno and Evil Dead Inbred Rednecks stand as a testament to the glory days of limited straight-to-VHS releases, or is it basically a waste of eighty minutes?

Chainsaw Killer

Chainsaw Killer is actually set up as two different films that share the same general context at the very least. Things kick off with an internet vlogger named The VHS Madman, who’s real name is Victor McCoy. He talks about an unreleased film titled “The Force Beneath” and how he intends to track down the only known copy in existence. However, that very VHS is shown in a flashback with a man ripping it out of the shell and hanging himself with the film inside. But, somehow, Victor happens to find someone who claims to have bought it with a number of other flicks from a video store going out of business. Victor eventually meets up with this person and obtAINS thAT VERY tape.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, there is legend of a man, dubbed the Chainsaw Killer, who has not been caught, or seen as of late. The film sets this up as having something to do with “The Force Beneath” and it’s director, Verner Banks, who nobody has seen because to the movie not being picked up by a published due to the murders being questionably too real. People began to assume Verner was behind said murders. Eventually, he was never seen again, rumored to have committed suicide, which is shown through the aforementioned flashback. But, none of this stops Victor from running home, which is apparently in some city in New York, to finally watch the film and brag about its existence on his web blob.

The second part of this film is “The Force Beneath” itself. When Victor gets home with the VHS, he sits down to watch it. Reaction shots are spliced in, as are two trailers for the films “Something Taboo” and “The Bog Monster” [both of which I believe to be actual trailers from other SMS Cinema releases, even though I can’t find any information of their existence]. Here the same chainsaw killer from Victor’s reality is seen hunting two couples, the two remaining men eventually happening on his home and going inside, though that’s about as far as it goes before launching to the end of the actual film’s world, which again asserts there’s something about the film that is twisted.

Chainsaw Killer

Chainsaw Killer is a shot-on-video style Slasher flick that, well, isn’t. It actually carries itself as a slightly better reboot of thhe Violent Shit film series laced with a vlogger’s own personal bragging rights. Most of the film is random death scenes and Victor bragging about himself and his collection, which we get a guided tour of what I genuinely believe to be a cast or crew member’s actual house and belongings, not to mention showing on-line that he has the tape and is considering letting people watch if they pay him, even after obtaining said VHS through questionable methods. Other than a bit of back story through a mayor and sheriff, possibly from Pennsylvania given the established setting from the dialogue introduction, who are aware of the killer returning and wanting to put a stop to it. It’s an angle scarcely explored until the last ten minutes when the killer happens to run across the stereet in front of the sheriff, leading to a punch out ending that answers no other questions.

Of course, if this is a Slasher, it must have some good death scenes, right? Nope. In fact, it’s all pointless. The killer apparently has a magic chainsaw that automatically turns on at the push of a button instead of revving it up or pulling on a string to jump start the motor. The introductory shower scene shows him right behind the shower curtain, then slashes away with a sudden jump-scare style roar of the engine (something that happens constantly), not to mention sneak up on a man in the car, kill him, and then the passenger who returned from take a piss not too far from the car and apparently didn’t hear the murder regardless of being drunk or high. And then there’s a scene later on where the chainsaw is turned on overhead as it’s swinging down to kill, as well as the killer jumping up into view right in front of the victim. The latter of those pushes the fault that every single person that dies is basically expendable fodder who only exists to die. There’s no background other than a brief explanation of why they are in the woods, if even that, all to push one of two character tropes: Stupid or oblivious. One victim even stands there watching her assumed boyfriend run away from the killer and ask him where he’s going..

Chainsaw Killer

As far as the story goes, Chainsaw Killer has a lot of bad post-production decisions. A prime example is the flashback scene being set up as the only widescreen segment of the film with the black bars a highly distracting television static that immediately pulls you away. There’s also cell phone footage used during an interview that clashes horribly with the VHS tape quality of the film. While the analog approach to the film is suiting to the theme, it just felt more like it was a gimmick to the plot that was only fleshed out a maximum of twenty minutes to this eighty minute film. “The Force Beneath”, however, actually does a better job at everything than the real movie you’re watching.

“The Force Beneath” feels like a genuine Slasher film despite not much being shown. There’s far more character development to the four people on screen opposite the killer, an actual story that makes sense despite not being completely fleshed out thanks to only being given snippets of the film, even far better acting than what Chainsaw Killer presents. The two male leads actually have great chemistry together thanks to the range they have, one a lot less than the other sadly, but you’ll wish these two were actually in the main film and not Victor. But, much like the end of Chainsaw Killer, this fake movie, leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Chainsaw Killer

While shot on video style underground films really aren’t as bad a concept as millennials born and raised on digital think, films like Chainsaw Killer give that underground devotion a bad reputation. The execution is basically nothing but padding to a short film. No character development, very little story with no pay off, off-screen death scenes with stock chainsaw sound effects, poor acting, and a fake VHS that is better than the actual movie you’re watching, just ends up a painful experience that is insulting to the genre and the laws of how things work. As soon as you see things like the suicide via noose made of cassette tape, the killer sneak up on the first few victims, and turn on his automatic chainsaw, you’ll realize how unbelievable this experience is, suffering through one giant chunk of padding to the next as you wait blindly for the next random nameless schmuck to die as you inch closer to the climax that shows crumbled VHS film can be used as immobilizing netting.

Sidenote: The back of the DVD claims it to be a “[…] retro film filled with homages and nods toward a bygone era […]”. Neither flashing images of box art from other better Horror films nd dropping movie titles are paying a homage or a nod. It just shows the viewer what other great and classic films he or she could be watching instead of this one.

Overall Score: 2.5/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.