Starring M. Catherine Holseybrook Wynkoop, Gustavo Perez, David Vogel, Andrew Vingo, Walter Maseda, Joel D. Wynkoop, Anthony Wayne, Rachel Stidham, Emma Banks
Directed by Joel D. Wynkoop
Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of no-budget and shot-on-video horror cinema. My admittedly expansive collection of movies probably contains more independent productions than the stuff churned out by Hollywood studios these days. And while I do enjoy watching badass superheroes save the world from nefarious villains in multi-million-dollar motion pictures, my heart belongs to the stuff people are making in backyards for peanuts. Spending hours upon hours watching cheap, Z-grade horror movies as a kid is likely to blame for this condition. Movie Warehouse and USA’s “Up All Night,” how I miss thee.
Thankfully, we live in a day and age when anyone with a camera, a script, and a few friends can churn out a movie in a matter of months. Perhaps that’s why I thoroughly enjoyed writer, director, and producer Joel D. Wynkoop’s Slasher Weekend, a gloriously cheesy and slightly offensive no-budget feature distributed by the folks over at The Sleaze Box. Granted, the movie and its bargain basement sensibilities aren’t for everyone, but it scratches an itch that most mainstream movies cannot reach. That declaration probably makes me sound like some sort of elitist prick or a no-budget apologist who carries around a soapbox wherever he goes, but I’m okay with that perception.
Produced by Wynkoop Productions, CreationsToGo Studios, and Lions Kill Productions, Slasher Weekend kicks things off with a drunken hobo telling a story to a mysterious stranger around a blazing campfire. The intoxicated bum, who is clearly three sheets to the wind, begins spinning a handful of familiar yarns (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Dawn of the Dead) before settling on an admittedly generic tale that will serve as the basis for the rest of the flick.
After consuming more “brain fluid,” the hobo jumps into a tale that begins way back in the year that was 1971, although you’ll quickly realize that the bum was way more intoxicated than he may have realized. The last time I checked, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Universal Soldier wasn’t available on DVD back then. Regarding the actual plot, you should know the drill by now — a seemingly innocent trip turns into an unrelenting bloodbath filled with sex, violence, and gratuitous nudity. However, what separates Slasher Weekend from the rest of these no-budget productions is its presentation. Wynkoop has been in the business long enough to know that you can’t put together this kind of slasher without having your tongue pressed firmly in cheek. And, for the most part, it works.
Here’s the plot in a nutshell: A group of colorful characters decide it’s a good idea to go on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere. Tagging along for the adventure are Jenny, her deliriously horny and very homophobic boyfriend (played by Joel D. Wynkoop), and her gay friend Johnny. Not surprisingly, Johnny boyfriend, Alex, isn’t too happy about getting left behind. Could he be the lunatic who’s killing off a handful of busty women in the woods? The next 60 minutes or so are standard slasher movie fare filtered through an enormous wad of cinematic cheese. It’s kind of like the Scream of shot-on-video horror flicks, though the filmmakers may not appreciate that comparison.
Not surprisingly, every single performance is completely over-the-top and utterly insane. It’s hard to believe the cast could keep a straight face while shooting some of these scenes. The film’s first kill, for example, finds a guy suffering from “blue balls” and his girlfriend hanging out in the woods. After ranting about his significant other not giving it up at Disneyland, he’s quickly dispatched by a hulking brute in a rubber mask. He then turns his attention to his female victim, who has her shirt ripped open before her throat is slit with a large knife. It may sound generic on paper, but Wynkoop’s decision to keep everything hyper and exaggerated allows the film to rise above its non-existent plot.
The rest of the movie is filled with oddball dialogue, borderline offensive characterization, actors stumbling over their lines, and a considerable amount of dollar-store gore, all wrapped in a sleazy, deep-fried grindhouse aesthetic. There’s also a completely random moment when one particularly excitable actor is watching Joel D. Wynkoop’s martial arts flick Lost Faith, a clear sign that Slasher Weekend doesn’t strive to take itself very seriously. Had it aimed for loftier goals, there’s no way I could have made it all the way to the end. Silliness goes a long way with me.
Slasher Weekend certainly has its fair share of problems, but they’re nothing that fans of no-budget cinema can’t endure. In case you’re wondering, the cheap effects, hammy acting, and non-existent production values are all part of the flick’s goofy charms. And while the movie probably won’t win no-budget and shot-on-video horror any new fans, those of us who love spending time with this kind of cinematic experience should have absolutely nothing to complain about.
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