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Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove (2005)

Starring Rhett Giles, Tom Nagel, Kristina Korn, Bernadette Perez

Directed by Gary Jones


Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
The mannequin heads, they be flyin’ by the ton.

It’s The Fog meets Leprechaun! Needless to say, Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove is more interested in being silly than scary.

Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove is the latest movie from the rapidly rising independent production company that appropriately calls themselves The Asylum. The thing about the movies that usually roll out of The Asylum’s assembly line is that they tend to be of better quality than most of the low budget, shot on digital, direct to DVD fare that litters store shelves these day, yet despite having solid premises and being better than average they still never quite seem to fully deliver on their potential. You almost always walk away thinking, “That was almost a good movie.” Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove falls into that category. Fortunately, the movie is pretty much a one-man show and the movie entertains whenever that one man is the center of attention.

That one man would be Jolly Roger himself; played with campy gusto by Rhett Giles, most recently seen in another Asylum production, Bram Stoker’s Way of the Vampire. I wasn’t joking when I brought up Leprechaun. Both title characters have accents. Both make jokes before killing their victims. Both tend to get a little creative when killing. Both are in search of their missing treasure. The Leprechaun gains his power from his pot of gold and Jolly Roger’s powers are centered round his currently empty treasure chest. The Leprechaun often recited limericks and Jolly Roger often recites sea shanties. And much like the Leprechaun flicks, not all of the humor seems to have been intentional due to the cheap and cheesy nature of the production.

The biggest difference between the two (besides the obvious height difference) is that the Leprechaun usually did his victims in using magic powers whereas Jolly Roger, albeit undead, still relies on old-fashioned murder means such as swords and muskets. Good thing director Gary Jones knows how to make these deaths quite lively. Seeing mannequin heads go flying doesn’t hurt either.

Jolly Roger is brought back to life when some teens find a treasure chest that washed ashore containing his skull. He immediately comes back to life in the form of a wise cracking pirate zombie and promptly slaughters all but the most uninteresting couple as warm up before heading off into town. The boring couple that managed to escape the bonfire bloodbath gets taken into custody because the law doesn’t buy their story about a smart mouthed, undead, pirate spree killer for some reason. The hyperbolic mayor of Cutter’s Cove insists upon keeping the murders quiet so as not to ruin the reputation of the town and the Chief Brody-esque police chief begrudgingly goes along with her for the time being. The boyfriend becomes convinced the cops are going to railroad him because he once did time in juvenile delinquent center for beating someone up so he encourages his girlfriend to escape the police station with him in order to find proof that clears their names; proof they seem to think they’ll find by looking up info about legendary pirates online. They easily escape the precinct but do so just in time for Jolly Roger to arrive in town and begin slaying descendants of his old shipmates that murdered him, stole his treasure, and used it to found the town. The police now consider them the prime suspects. It ends up being a race against time to clear their names, convince the cops, uncover the truth, and help save the townsfolk from Jolly Roger before his vengeance is complete.

But before it’s all said and done you’re going to be asking yourself quite a few questions that the movie doesn’t seem able to answer. For example:

Why is it that slasher movies like this almost always make the dullest character the main protagonists?

How is it that nobody in town notices a guy that looks like a decomposing body in a pirate’s outfit skulking about in broad daylight?

Why is it that hardly anyone acts like being approached by a decomposing guy in a pirate outfit is all that out of the ordinary, especially the stripper that apparently considers a guy in a seaweed covered pirate outfit with the worst skin condition imaginable to be just another patron?

Why is it that Jolly Roger almost never seems to behave like a fish out of water despite having just awoken in the 21st century after being dead for hundreds of years?

Does Jolly Roger have a “Spidey Sense” that helps him locate these descendents specifically or does he just happen to wander into their general vicinity and lucks out when he spots them or both?

You mean to tell me that none of these descendants ever decided to move away from Cutter’s Cove in the hundreds of years that passed since its founding?

Was the mayor named Mayor Bates as an inside joke because the actress resembled Kathy Bates and hammed it up along the lines of Kathy Bates’ Misery character?

How is it that a single mounted security camera managed to film a shot from about eight different angles?

Was Jolly Roger’s first kill supposed to be an “homage” to Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday since it was done in almost exactly the same fashion as the couple that got killed while having sex in the tent in the unedited version of that film?

Could someone please teach me how to pick a door lock using nothing but a bra clasp?

At about an hour in when the girlfriend finally comes to the realization of who and why Jolly Roger has been killing, the reason having already been quite apparent to every single person watching the movie since about 10 minutes in, and loudly exclaims, “Oh my god, Jolly Roger has come back for revenge,” will you be able to resist the urge to yell “No shit!” back at the screen?

But all gaps in logic aside, what really counts in a movie like this is the creativity of the killing, and to its credit, Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove delivers on the massacre portion with a variety of bloody death scenes, most of which you’ll probably find yourself giggling at due to the often cartoonish nature of the execution. Sometimes it isn’t so much the way he kills them that’s laughable as it is the obviously phony head used in the beheading. For me though, the highlight was seeing an angry Jolly Roger rip a guy’s arm off and proceed to beat the man to death with it. The scene is very silly and way over the top but that’s exactly what it should be in a movie like this.

So in summary: Jolly Roger killing people is entertaining. Other characters talking about Jolly Roger and why he’s killing people is not. Also, be forewarned, the film concludes with an extremely lame total cheat of an ending that’s all but guaranteed to leave you feeling completely ripped off. While I enjoyed the slashing antics of Jolly Roger, as slight as they may have been at times, that ending did not leave me wanting more.

2 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit