"Directed by Andrea Bianchi (who also directed the gross out zombie classic “Burial Ground” aka “Nights of Terror” aka “Zombie 3”) under supervision by maestro Lucio Fulci, “The Massacre” centers around the making of a film entitled Dirty Blood – a zombie film naturally
Horror fantasy becomes horrifying reality when girls start being killed in grisly fashion by a perverted maniac. Even before the opening credits a hitch-hiker is bloodily hacked to death with an axe.
Reminiscent of the splatter movies glorious pre-politically correct hayday, “The Massacre” certainly lives up to its name."
Andrea “BURIAL GROUND” Bianchi's 1989 giallo MASSACRE opens with a bang. A red gloved maniac sporting gaudy Miami Vice style mirrored shades, brutally assaults a prostitute, cutting off her hand and then chopping off her head. (Those of you who have seen Fulci's NIGHTMARE CONCERT (1990) (aka A CAT IN THE BRAIN) will recognise this scene and several others throughout the course of the movie).
As the credits role we are in a graveyard where a woman is being harassed by demons taking part in some occult ritual. But fear not – this is just the set of a movie called ‘Dirty Blood’ and the woman in question is our heroine Jennifer. The director, Frank, is anxious to make the supernatural elements of the film as realistic as possible and hires a medium, Madam Ullrich to perform a séance for the benefit of the cast and crew. Naturally, the séance is held at the creepiest location available - the local tennis club!. But before we get to the spooky shenanigans we have to sit through half an hour of soap opera style antics with our principal characters. There’s chauvinist pig Robert, the Producer who hits his wife, Lisa for being a bit slutty in front of the boys. However this doesn’t prevent him from bullying her into convincing assistant director Mira, a lesbian, to join them for a threesome. Lisa is more interested in the on set eye candy John, who looks suspiciously like a more mature member of kiddie pop atrocity ‘Hanson’ – or to put it another way, he looks like a chick. Then there’s gay actor Adrien, a stereotypical screaming queen (in true Italian exploitation style) who gets to dress up as various Hollywood harlots for his art. Mixed in with this troupe of misfits is Jennifer's boyfriend Walter – a cop who is investigating the pre credits murder, which we learn is the fourth of its kind in the last 20 days.
The séance is held with all the main characters in attendance except Walter who waits in the bar. The medium, Madam Ullrich tries to contact her regular spirit guide Gabor but instead is confronted by an evil spirit called ‘Rack’. The overpowering sensation of contacting the dead leads to hilarious facial contortions (imagine someone shoving two golf balls in their mouth and crossing their eyes) and a miniature earthquake that knocks everyone to the floor. Madam Ullrich cannot continue and returns to her hotel room. Later that night, Lisa arranges a rendezvous with ladyboy John. She meets someone on the way who is obscured to the viewer but who she obviously recognises. The next day she is found dead on a nearby fairground. The show, however, must go on and filming continues with Adrien mincing around doing his best Minelli, Monroe and Dietrich impressions. (Quite what this has to do with the earlier scene of a big haired woman being attacked by demons with giant rubber hands is beyond me – the video blurb claims they are making a zombie movie but looks more like some arthouse pap to me.) Madam Ullrich decides to leave for home but gets into a spot of car trouble. Someone familiar to her pulls up to her assistance - but sparkplugs and valves are the least of her worries as she soon ends up impaled on railings. And so starts a string of murders involving all those involved in the séance. But who is responsible? . In typical giallo style everyone seems to give a shifty look to camera at some stage or slips in a subtle line of dialogue like "I’d cut her to pieces if I could" to help add to the mystery. Unfortunately there is a kind of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (1985) moment earlier in the movie where the killers identity is more or less given away. Still, the film does throw a few other minor twists at the end, if only because it’s de rigeur.
Despite having plenty of sleaze, copious amounts of wobbly naked boobs and a fair helping of gore – MASSACRE still lacks many of the elements that made the gialli of the 1970s so special. The traditional convoluted plot has been replaced by a far more linear slasher storyline. There’s a noticeable absence of suspense and the mystery element is uninvolving as the killers ID is made clear early on. The possibility of there being multiple killers is mentioned but this plot line is disposed of in a throwaway manner And the supernatural element sits uneasily with the rest of the film. Still it’s all trashy enough to keep you entertaining for 90 minutes with lots of glittery dresses, crap hairstyles and ludicrous shoulder pads to please 80s obsessives like myself.
The dialogue gets pretty juicy too. Not too many films I know of feature lines like “You have 24 hours to get that lesbian in bed with us, otherwise pack your bags and go to the shithouse gutter” ! (That guy obviously subscribes to the “treat ‘em mean and keep ‘em keen” school of dating).
The film is part of the ‘Lucio Fulci presents series’ (which also consisted of the likes of Mario Bianchi's MURDER SECRET and Umberto Lenzi's HELLGATE (both 1989)). Whether or not Fulci had anything major to do with these films is questionable. From what I’ve read he merely lent his name to increase the potential market for the product – although in MASSACRE the late directors eye for a good severed hand is in evidence. Some of these films ended up achieving a certain degree of infamy when Fulci used them as raw materials for his delirious NIGHTMARE CONCERT. The two standout moments in MASSACRE end up in that 1990 gory megamix – the bloody pre credits murder and the boat house sequence. NIGHTMARE CONCERT actually acts as a nice ‘trailer’ for a number of late 80s Italian horror movies. It was upon watching Fulci's enjoyable nonsense that I decided to seek out Bianchi's film and I’m glad I did. Not a classic for sure but it out-sleazes much of its late 80s competition. Oh and if you think the score sounds familiar that’s because Luigi Ceccarelli more or less recycles his new wave music from RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (1984).
female:5 / male:7
1) Female decapitated with axe
2) Female killed offscreen
3) Female killed offscreen and impaled on railings
4) Male stabbed repeatedly in back
5) Female has throat slit
6) Female stabbed with spike
7) Male gets hook in the neck
8) Male stabbed several times in the stomach with spike
9) Male stabbed in stomach with spike
10) Male stabbed in stomach with spike
11) Male stabbed repeatedly in chest
12) Male shot in the stomach