Monday, June 25, 2012

Bloodbath in Psycho Town (1989)

... aka: Small Towns Are Murder
... aka: Video Demons Do Psychotown

Directed by:
"Allessandro deGaetano" (Alessandro De Gaetano)

Filmed as Small Towns Are Murder, this received a very obscure VHS release under the title Bloodbath in Psycho Town by American Video in the late 80s. That title likely pissed off a lot of people who rented it because this film has next to no blood in it, let alone a bloodbath! Well, unless you think someone getting killed in the bath tub constitutes a blood bath. As it turns out, video renters weren't the only ones to feel burned by this particular production. I noticed on IMDb that a crew member who worked on the special effects (Brett Kolarik) had posted a comment stating he and others got stiffed by writer/ director De Gaetano, who fled town so he wouldn't have to pay everyone. Kolarik refers to deGaetano as "a thieving conceited mean-spirited moron" and adds "He was consistently rude, obnoxious and overbearing..." He also apparently didn't like the lead actress ("The tramp he imported from L.A., by the way, was a complete snob - and I had to put up w/her B.S. for an entire month...") or the male leads ("The two stiffs were boring as hell, and thought they were God's gift..."). Regardless of what went down behind-the-scenes, this incredibly bad low-budgeter *should* have died alongside the video stores that originally stocked it. Unfortunately, Troma later acquired it, gave it a memorable new title (Video Demons Do Psychotown) and then unleashed it upon the unsuspecting masses. Now it can live on to annoy and bore a whole new generation.

We first meet two thoroughly unlikable people that I refuse to call our "heroes" because by the end of this film I hated both of them. College student Eric (Ron Arragon) needs to complete a video project to graduate so he drags along his cute girlfriend Karen (Donna Baltron) to Casa Della to film a documentary. Casa Della, which has a population of just 360 people, is a strange town full of secretive psychics who don't like or trust outsiders. Eric's father is helping to restore an old hotel in the area ("The Packard Place") and that's where Eric and Karen are staying while they're in town. Just a week earlier a man mysteriously died at the hotel after falling off some scaffolding (the chalk outline for his corpse is on the front steps when they arrive!) and Karen gets upset Eric didn't tell her about it before they came. Well, not that upset I guess since she's having sex with him about three minutes later. The two go around town dressed in their matching jean jackets working on the video but have a hard time getting an interview with anyone. Everyone is nasty and uncooperative. And what the hell kind of "video class" is this, anyway? One where the person taking it doesn't even operate the camera? Oh brotha.

Eric visits a psychic's shop. She acts like a complete bitch and says she hopes the hotel burns to the ground. Me too sister, and preferably with every existing copy of Video Demons Do Psychotown inside of it. A visit to another psychic reveals that the townspeople actually object to Karen's presence, not Eric or his father's. See, Karen also has powerful psychic abilities and keeps seeing and hearing things associated with the death of the hotel's former owner; a death the whole town seems to want to cover up. Someone dressed in a raincoat is lurking around the hotel, cuts the power lines and then stabs an electrician to death. A general store owner is next seen polishing a knife by a rack of raincoats. Can you say red herring? Karen decides she wants to leave because the camera equipment keeps shocking her and because "This place reeks of death and negative vibrations!" Since everything they shoot is being ruined by strange interference patterns anyway, Eric finally stops whining about his class and decides they can finally go. But, uh oh, someone has cut up the wires in his truck. Good thing Karen's ex-boyfriend Scott (David Elliott) stops by just in time to... uh... well, basically do nothing. Everyone just stays at the hotel to get attacked by the raincoat killer.

Basically what we have here is an extremely thin storyline being drawn out by any means necessary. The whole "town of psychics" premise proves to be perfunctory, why the entire town would cover up the Packard killing makes absolutely no sense and the idea that Karen's powers somehow put images of the crime on the videos is poorly developed. The film ineptly fumbles around with multiple "suspects" and just like many slasher and giallo films resorts to making the culprit an underdeveloped side character we know (nor care) nothing about. Everyone is constantly bickering and there's probably about twenty minutes worth of footage of people sitting in front of TV sets in the dark rewinding tapes and watching the same footage over and over again. The dialogue and most of the performances are awful. After Scott gets his throat cut and lies bleeding to death, his buddies start screaming at him for not carrying his keys in his pocket and only having half a tank of gas in his car (?!) The lead male might look good (probably the sole reason he was cast), but he's one the worst actors you'll ever see. There's very little blood and even the few sex scenes are botched by bad lighting and the refusal to really show anything.

This is one of those rare instances where I cannot come up with a single redeeming quality; it's slow and poorly made, exploitation elements are almost nonexistent and it's not even unintentionally funny. If you take a shot of whiskey every time they show a wind chime you might be able to get through it.


Unknown said...

OMG I was the female body double for the sex scene in this POS!

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Ha, then that makes you the best part of the entire movie!

spookyx3 said...

fortune teller complains during the palm-reading computer demo that automation could impact her job. not interactive, these screens were produced with an early animation package called aegis.

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