Saturday, June 16, 2012

Movie House Massacre (1984)

... aka: Blood Theater
... aka: Blood Theatre

Directed by:
Rick Sloane

Discovering his girlfriend has been unfaithful and is going to leave him, a young theater owner (David Millbern) stabs the ticket booth girl to death and then gasses the place, killing all of the patrons and employees inside. Many years later, the Spotlite Theatres chain is planning on expanding to their eleventh location. Guess which abandoned building they pick? The one with the history of murder, of course! Experienced projectionist Adrian (Andrew Cofrin), his squeaky clean girlfriend Jennifer (Jenny Cunningham) and some other dude named Malcolm (Daniel Schafer) have all been hand-selected to help open and run the new location. Their cheap, sleazy boss - Dean Murdock (Rob-Roy Fletcher) - is promising them a 1000 dollar bonus if they can pull off a successful opening night, but that includes lots of cleaning and prep work. As soon as the trio arrive in the new theater, strange things begin happening. The power goes on and off, furniture tips over on its own, a spotlight turns on by itself and mysterious clouds of smoke appear. A couple of Jennifer's cheerleader buddies pop in after everyone has already left, only to get stabbed to death by a mysterious old man (Jonathan Blakely).

Adrian and Jennifer decide to go back to their old theater to watch "The Clown Whores of Hollywood" (I guess "Chainsaw Chicks" and "Amputee Hookers" weren't to their liking). Bitchy usherette Selena (Joanna Foxx) is pissed off they get free popcorn. After hearing input from an angel and a devil on each shoulder (!) she goes and sits next to Adrian and rips her top off, then starts fighting with the entire audience and knocks the popcorn out of their hands. I reckon that kind of behavior would get most people fired from a normal job, but here it only merits her a transfer to the new theater branch. The next day, Adrian, Jennifer and Malcolm get back to work fixing up the other theater. They find film cans that contain footage shot during the day of the original "massacre" but think nothing of it and don't report it to the police. Jennifer is almost strangled by the same old man who knifed the cheerleaders earlier and decides she ain't setting foot back in that place until opening night... Good thing since two other girls get stabbed in the meantime. Some other girl gets yanked under the stage, a guy is electrocuted and another gets his head lopped off. The end.

It truly doesn't get much worse than this, folks. I'm not the biggest slasher fan to begin with, but this is so mind-numbingly inept it makes me want to award an extra star to every other mediocre / formulaic slasher I've seen just for possessing basic competence. This film is riddled with plot holes, continuity errors, cardboard characters and painfully unfunny "comic" elements. Fun ideas emerge every so often only to be trampled over by the piss poor execution. Even the basic premise doesn't make a lick of sense. The psycho responsible for the original murders is clearly doing the killings in modern times, so who exactly is haunting the place? And how does a seemingly normal psycho suddenly get supernatural powers? Nothing is explained. It's also not a wise idea to use titles like Movie House Massacre and Blood Theatre to sell your film to a specific audience and then refuse to give them any blood or gore. Most of the kills are off-screen and even a decapitation is bloodless and almost impossible to see. Viewers expecting a "massacre" are really gonna be pissed, especially if they wasted their money on this.

Most of the acting is dreadful. For some reason the actress playing Selena had all of her dialogue dubbed over later. If they had the rest of the audio recording set at a "5" on the volume knob, then Selena's seems set at an "8." Even the characters who should be likable aren't, including our cheerleader "heroine," who looks like an over-tanned Tonya Harding having a bad hair day and screams at her boyfriend because he didn't pick her up from school and she (God forbid!) had to take the bus. "What if someone had seen me?!" Ugh. The sole bright spot here and what single-handedly spares this film from my lowest possible rating is the presence of Mary Woronov in a nice-sized supporting role as Miss Blackwell. Woronov - an underrated talent with a unique charisma who Hollywood never had a clue what to do with - gives a wry, witty, winning performance here as the theater owner's sassy assistant. Her scenes are actually worth watching even if the rest of the film isn't.

Rick Sloane, who not only directed but wrote, produced, edited, photographed, scored and did the special effects, is best known for HOBGOBLINS (1987); a film considered by many to be one of the worst ever made. I haven't seen it yet but it would have a hard time "topping" this one, that's for sure. The DVD was released by Retromedia, and there were several VHS releases.

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