Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Splatter Farm (1987)

...aka: Degenerates, The

Directed by:
John Polonia
Mark Polonia
Todd Smith

These days, a good number of horror films are shot on video, but during the 1980s that wasn't such a common practice and very few that were shot on this format actually got a video release. This is one of those rare homemade camcorder horrors that did, and in some ways it's easy to see why. Despite the fact that the acting, script, filming quality and special effects are as bad as they could possibly be, it still goes that winning extra mile to be sick; memorably so in some instances. It claims to be based on "a shockingly true incident that occurred on a rural Pennsylvania farm in the summer of 1968" and warns "Please be advised that this film contains graphic subject matter" (for once, not an exaggeration). Before the credits even roll, a young guy chops up a body with an axe in loving slow-mo detail as way too-runny Kool Aid blood flies all over the place. And after the credits roll, we see that same young guy cut up another body with a knife, remove the heart and eats it. The sick-o responsible for those murders is named Jeremy (Todd Smith, sometimes credited as Todd Rimatti), an extremely disturbed/ perverted handyman in a John Deere jacket who lives on a farm with a lonely old bat named Lacey (Marion Costly, one of the worst actresses you'll ever see). Lacey's nerdy identical twin teenage nephews Joseph and Alan (John Polonia, Mark Polonia) come to her secluded country home to spend the summer and have no clue what's in store for them. And to be perfectly honest, neither did I! So if you enjoy cheap, sick films you may want to stop reading right here and save the sick surprises for yourself.

Jeremy (who usually seems to be wearing eye makeup and lipstick) stares at people licking his lips lasciviously, picks skin off his hand and eats it, plays with himself under the dinner table, beats a horse to death with a hammer and sleeps in a barn decorated with various human body parts (some in jars) and dead animals. In one scene, he decapitates a guy in the woods, licks the bloody neck stump and then uses the severed head to give himself a blow job. Yikes! Not only is Jeremy sick, but so is Lacey. She likes to play footsy with her favorite nephew Alan under the table (before slipping drugs into his tea and raping him!) and keeps her dead husband Ray's corpse hidden in a shed where she rubs its crotch and says of Jeremy, "He's a fine boy and you would be proud of him... even if he did kill you with an axe." Turns out her husband was actually her brother and Jeremy is actually not just a handyman, but also her inbred son from when he raped her.

Just as the brothers start discovering body parts all over the place, they also discover that the phone is out and their car won't start. But they really never seem overly concerned about what's going on. Eventually, Jeremy knocks out Joseph, ties him up on the barn and slaps his around until he's spitting up blood. He then pisses on him (!), rips off his pants and fists him (!!), licks his own hand (!!!) and then rubs shit all over poor Joe's face and mouth (!!!!) Going into this not really knowing anything, that was something I wasn't really expecting to find here. When all is said and done, someone gets buried alive, someone has their head blown off with a shotgun and someone has their crotch blown away with a stick of dynamite (it actually looks like a Pringles can wrapped in aluminum foil). While there's plenty of blood and gore in the film, the fx are seldom convincing. The sound actually isn't bad and every once in awhile there's an interesting or creative camera angle used.

A lot of people saw this during the video era (with the director credited as "P. Alan"), but now it's on DVD thanks to the folks at Camp Motion Pictures, who have also unearthed several other forgotten 80s SOV efforts such as the VIDEO VIOLENCE films and Jon McBride's CANNIBAL CAMPOUT and WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE. The extras include a commentary track from John and Mark Polonia, the 25-minute documentary featurette "Back to the Farm" with the Polonia's going back to the Wellsboro, Pennsylvania shooting location and discussing the film, as well as some Super 8 slasher shorts from the hard-working siblings. They would go on to direct over 20 more videotaped horror and science fiction films from the mid 90s to today.


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