2 and a half stars   

“An occult film so terrifying it will never be shown on TV!”
directed by: Evan Lee
starring: Christopher Lee, Larry Justin, J. Arthur Craig, James Habif, Robert Clark, Doug Senior, Bob Mead, Alisa Beaton, Pat Nagel, Woody Wise, Paul Kelleher, Undine Hampton, Lisette Kremer, Doug Ely

choice dialogue:

“The Professor is lying in a coma like a carrot!”

- someone noting Professor Cantrell’s dire state of being.

slash with panache?

[review by Amanda By Night]

Supernatural slashers are not all that uncommon. They hit an artistic (and box office) high with Wes Craven’s excellent horror opus A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) and its subsequent sequels, but there were a few notable titles before Freddy Krueger was even a bloody twinkle in Wes’ eye. Diehard fans have also noted the slice and dice flick THE SLAYER (1982) as a noteworthy pre-Nightmare contribution to the sub-sub-genre, but lest we forget movies like or NURSE SHERRI (1978) or TERROR TRAP (1979) which mixed paranormal elements with carnage. And check this, MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE predates all of those by at least a couple of years (and after a cursory keyword search of supernatural and slasher on IMDb, this mystical massacre appears to be the first of its kind!).

Another not-so-uncommon force in horror is Christopher Lee. Having starred in several Hammer productions as well as other assorted genre flicks such as HORROR EXPRESS (1972), Lee became a credible mainstay who upped the bar of whatever project he graced. However, it’s debatable that he could have possibly given any real leverage to something called MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE, but here he is acting as a bookend of sorts to this sordid tale of murder and magical revenge. According to Lee lore, he was duped into filming these segments, which feature him talking endlessly about nothing in what looks like a wood paneled cabin. Lee himself looks like the classiest pimp you’ll ever see, so how ironic is it that his appearance is simply used to pimp this grindhouse flick? Lee is here solely as a narrator, introducing the audience to the world of mythology and demons. Although he does add a bit of integrity, the monologue he’s been supplied leaves a world of want (but the story about the Shaman convention is pretty awesome).

The real story is about Professor Cantrell (James Habif) who is obsessed with the otherworld, lecturing his students endlessly on demonology. He’s quite into this Borak character (who we mostly only see via a rather silly painting). The majority of his students seem amused and interested by Cantrell’s spirited lessons… except one. This guy named Mason (Larry Justin) is one of those “cool” kids with a serious chip on his shoulder. Outside class he chides Cantrell only to have the professor one up him (and based on the inane exchange between the two, that’s not saying much!), so you can guess that Mason goes all crazy from humiliation and plots to break into Cantrell’s place and kill his family. It’s a bit much, I agree. He enlists his three friends, Dirk (Doug Senior), Phil (Bob Mead) and Sean (Robert Clark) to help him. They make a late night trip out to the Cantrells’ and after beating the Professor on the back of the head with a candlestick (in the study, no less!) they slaughter the rest of his family. Unfortunately for this marauding quartet, Cantrell lives. In his coma-like state he conjures up dear, reliable old bloodthirsty Borak and commands him to avenge the deaths of his beloved.

At this point MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE gets odd. There is a nifty little black & white psychedelic dream sequence before Dirk takes one of his regular desert hikes only to be attacked and killed by a nasty cactus! It’s a strangely effective scene and sets the bizarre tone to follow.

Unfortunately, although that uncanny feeling permeates the rest of the film, it begins to lose steam after the cactus attack. The premise is certainly intriguing, but there’s just too much plodding about and the murders that follow are all of a lackluster nature. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting too much, but seriously, how much does one truly anticipate from a movie called MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE? It’s not like I’m asking for the world or anything.

Produced in the decade following the infamous Manson murders, MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE sports varying productions dates. Listed with release dates ranging from 1975 – 1977, the post hippie vibe clearly resonates with the earlier part of the 70s, and The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Horror does seem to confirm the 1975 date. This low budget shocker was Evan Lee’s directorial debut and subsequent swan song. Despite the overall sluggish nature of the film, he shows a certain prowess behind the camera. He’s helped along with some nice cinematography courtesy of stalwart SPFX guru Guerdon Trueblood (who also makes a cameo in this movie along with his famous screenwriter father!), making MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE slightly more enjoyable than it really had any right to be. There is also a surprising twist involving lots of psychedelic type imagery. So yeah, it’s got a heaping spoonful of sleazy 42nd Street horror flair mixed with some dashes of the supernatural and just a pinch of Christopher Lee to make it an odd but semi-watchable recipe for terror! Oh, and Borak 4ever!


BODYCOUNT 6  bodycount!   female:2 / male:4

       1) Dog with slit throat
       2) Female strangled
       3) Female’s slit throat
       4) Male strangled with cord
       5) Male impaled with possessed cactus (!)
       6) Male stabbed with spike under car hood (!!)
       7) Male electrocuted