Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Long Island Cannibal Massacre

Long Island Cannibal Massacre Directed by Nathan Schiff, Starring John Smihula (1980)

Reviewed by Richard Glenn Schmidt

Some shaving cream on black paper spells out “A Nathan Schiff Production” and we begin with some hijacked library music. A young girl parks her car and goes for a walk through the dunes. At a secluded spot, she strips all the way down to her tank top, jeans, and white athletic socks before we see that she’s being watched by a strange figure in a hood, carrying what appears to be a pickaxe. She lights up the last doobie she’ll ever smoke and whammo!
The moment this brute (named Bruce) attacks, her screams sound even more alien to the material, like they were transplanted from another horror film entirely. I’m already alarmed by this film’s consistency. Bruce runs over her head with a lawnmower and collects her face and some other assorted bits from the grass catcher.
“We’re in for one hell of an apocalypse.”
When we finally get to some dialog, this movie opens up its riches to my ears. Now it’s easy to see why nearly every other aspect of the film has been lifted from other sources. This philosophical exchange between plucky Susan and James, a morose schlub, will either set your teeth on edge or make you do an impromptu drum solo, all depending on your temperament. I’m of the latter variety.
“This has been one hell of a Sunday.”

On a lonely stretch of beach, James discovers a rotting head partially buried in the sand. Jack shows up. Who’s Jack? Well, he’s a mustachioed dude in a vest, professing to be the “owner” of the beach. He begs James not to call the cops, pays him $120, and then reburies the corpse. Now we follow Jack to his camper. He drives for a while and then he stops at the woods where he’s immediately attacked by Bruce and a blond biker dude named Zed.

This is where the film becomes almost intolerable to me. The wannabe gritty dealings of these fiends and criminals makes me want to stick a pushpin in my eye. Jack owes Bruce and Zed money and they have bags of “stuff” he needs. He pulls a gun on them and I’m really missing Susan right now. Bruce goes running off into the sunset. That’s kind of magical. Jack delivers the bags in a scene lit with a flashlight and a mysterious figure collects the bags. Color me intrigued!

Here's the Sasquatch riding off into the sunset scene

At the police station, we meet the police chief (or the King of Disco, not entirely sure which) named Lieutenant Lipschitz as he’s chewing out Detective James Cameron. So our buddy James has been undercover this whole time and investigating a syndicate but he doesn’t think they’re into drugs. He suspects that they’re into “something else”. The best part of this sequence is the sound of the Super 8 camera reverberating off the walls of the tiny office they filmed this in.
James goes back to the beach in his badass Trans Am and tries to dig up the corpse but it’s gone! He goes to his pal and fellow police officer Dave to talk about the facts of this strange case over some J&B. Dave is pretty annoyed with James. I am too.
A couple is smoking dope in a secluded location and they’re attacked by Bruce and Zed. The dude gets his head bashed in and she gets disemboweled. I really can’t wait until 2080. I imagine that the 100th anniversary of this film will be quite a party.

AHHHH This is so relaxing

This double murder drives James over the edge. He quits the force and decides to go vigilante. Dave is not very encouraging. This scene is interrupted by Jack driving and talking to a bag of human remains (yes, that’s the “stuff” he’s been delivering) and complains about his father’s predilection for eating female flesh. He brings the bag and a peanut butter covered leper dude approaches with some bad news. Holy poop, I wish the entire movie was this great.
“And what are you gettin’ so uppity with me for?!”

It's good to be back in LOONG GUY-LAND home of Billy Joel

James reunites with Susan in South Carolina (according to the dialog) for some relaxing on a boat, swimming, and flipping out over a forgotten case of beer. Before we can revel in this specialness, we go back to Jack who is sitting in his van and being tormented by horrific memories of a monster killing some people and (presumably) raping a woman. He’s interrupted from his reverie by Lori, a fun party girl who wants climb in his warm van. Jack tells her all about his father’s leprosy and she tries to make a break for it. She’s caught by Bruce and I finally know who my least favorite character is. Bruce ruins the film every time he shows up.
“Is it because my face offends the eye of the beholder?”

Was it something I said?

We finally meet Jack’s leprous father and he’s got a serious sore throat. They feast on a dead girl. I like when Jack bites her leg through her jeans. Suddenly, I wish I was listening to an Autopsy record instead of watching this. Is that a compliment?
The next morning, Zed picks up a cute hitchhiker and the next time we see her, she’s in a garbage bag. James puts a gun in Zed’s face and then they start fighting while some jungle adventure music plays. Once James gets the upper hand, he crushes Zed’s face with a piece of metal.
The big reveal happens and I get kind of lost in the flashbacks and warbly Errol Flynn swordfight music. Jack confronts his father with an M-16 but finding that ineffective, he resorts to a chainsaw to get the job done. Dad, Bruce, and Jack throw down and I don’t know how I’ve made it this far through the film. Cannibal children feed on the loser or losers and it all ends in a glorious sunset. There’s a 2003 copyright date at the end and a URL for which seems legit.

Long Island Cannibal Massacre is profoundly awful with a nugget or two of fun mixed in with all the chunks. The low budget gory bits are cool and bountiful but the bulk of the dialog is just aggravating. However, it’s the library music really puts me out the most. If there’d been just a little bit of synthesizer or heavy metal to break up the relentless old-fashioned strings, I would have enjoyed myself a lot more. Schiff made a few other Super 8 films with catchy titles but this will very likely be my one and only look into his world.


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