Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Final Girl Film Club: Bloody Murder Addendum

Cody is endeavoring to write about all of the Final Girl Film Club entries he missed over the years. The movies will be covered in the original Film Club order in most cases, while some of the articles will be posted to coincide with certain dates.

As it turns out, there are four movies in the Bloody Murder franchise.


Seven years ago, I wrote a "Final Girl Film Club Catch-Up" article in which I discussed the 2000 slasher Bloody Murder, its 2003 sequel Bloody Murder 2, and the 2006 film The Graveyard, which doesn't directly acknowledge the fact that it's part of the Bloody Murder franchise, but does take place in the same location as the two earlier films, Camp Placid Pines. With that, I thought I had covered the whole series. But then the webmaster of dropped a bomb on me: there is a fourth movie in the Bloody Murder series! Apparently Bloody Murder 2 was such a success, distributor Mainline Releasing had hired screenwriter Michael Hurst to write two follow-ups. The first was The Graveyard, and the second was The Butcher, which is even further removed from the Bloody Murder duo than The Graveyard was and reached home video just one month after The Graveyard did.

It makes no sense that Mainline hired Hurst to write two movies that were supposed to cash in on the success of Bloody Murder 2 and then didn't go through with the plan to call them Bloody Murder 3 and Bloody Murder 4, or that the stories have absolutely nothing to do with the stories of the first and second movies, but that's how it went. And since The Butcher was originally supposed to be Bloody Murder 4, that means I have to write about it now, for the sake of completion.

Hurst didn't even take the credit for writing this movie; instead, the credits tell us that it was written by a non-existent person named Ellis Walker. The Butcher is, so far, the sole feature directorial credit for Edward Gorsuch, who has written a hell of a lot of softcore porn over the course of his career (including several movies with "Sexual" in the title and the Busty Models, Busty Co-Eds, and Busty Housewives triple feature) in addition to working in reality television (Ice Road Truckers, Gold Rush, etc.) and producing 2008's Deviant Whores.

While the two Bloody Murders were heavily influenced by Friday the 13th and introduced the legend of a Jason Voorhees-esque slasher named Trevor Moorehouse, The Butcher is a Texas Chainsaw Massacre knock-off that's especially reminiscent of the 2003 TCM remake and was actually filmed in the same location as Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. The location was also used for Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, and The Butcher was probably filmed very soon after Zombie's movie, so the house The Butcher's killer lives in is immediately recognizable as the Firefly house from The Devil's Rejects. (The place had changed more since the filming of TCM3.)

The story centers on a carload of youngsters - several of them obnoxious and unlikeable - who are fresh out of school and celebrating their graduation with a road trip to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, they never reach Vegas. After they take an ill-advised shortcut down a dirt road that has a hand-painted "Do Not Enter" sign at the entrance, the group finds themselves being menaced by a hideously deformed, occasionally chainsaw-wielding madman named Franklin Mayhew (Bill Jacobson). The name Franklin was probably a nod to a certain character from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Franklin is first seen driving an Army truck, speeding past the annoying kids as they deal with a flat tire. Once the tire is changed, the kids catch up with the truck and decide to mess with the driver by having one of the girls (Liz, played by Tiffany M. Kristensen) stick her top half through the sun roof and flash her breasts at him. This prank goes horribly wrong when an injured woman whose tongue has been cut out - shades of the hitchhiker character from TCM '03 - wanders into the road, causing driver Mark (Alan Ritchson) to swerve and crash into a tree. Liz's body gets ripped in half in that crash. Breasts, vehicular action, and bloody death, all within the first 10 minutes. If most of the characters weren't so awful, I'd say the movie gets off to a good start.

The kids seek help at the nearest home, which happens to be Franklin's rundown place of residence... and between leaving their wrecked vehicle and reaching the house, the character Rachel (Catherine Wreford) undergoes a wardrobe change that puts her in a more revealing top. If you look beyond her now exposed midriff, you might notice that her original top has been tied around her waist. When Franklin comes home to find his place full of trespassers, things don't go well for them.

Liz's girlfriend Atlanta (Ashley Hawkins) is obviously not going to last long, and Mark is such an unpleasant douchebag that you know he's going to meet a terrible end. There is, however, some mystery over who of the three other characters might survive. Rachel is rather take-charge, so she could be final girl material, but so could Sophie (Myiea Coy), one of the more likeable people in this group. Sophie might even survive alongside Adam (Tom Nagel), who we see planning to propose to her. This potential proposal is another element that seems lifted from TCM '03.

The Butcher isn't particularly good or entertaining; the writing of the characters in the first 30 minutes or so may be enough to drive some viewers away. Still, if you're a slasher fan who has sifted through the dregs of the sub-genre, you've probably already seen a lot worse than this movie has to offer. There's nothing special about it, but it's watchable, and offers another chance to watch people stumble around in the dark and get knocked off one-by-one. If you're not a slasher fan who'll give every movie like this a look and instead would rather spend 84 minutes watching something really good, you can skip The Butcher and not miss out on much.

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