Friday, July 15, 2011

DVD Review: PSYCHO HOLOCAUST (2009)

PSYCHO HOLOCAUST (2009)


Label: Independent Entertainment
Region: Region 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 mins
Video: 1.78:1 Widescreen 16x9 Enhanced
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo

Director: Krist Rufty
Cast: Trent Haaga, Raine Brown, Billy Garberina, Vanelle, Don Prentiss
Tagline: Six innocent people… Three brutal killers… One night of mayhem and madness you will never forget.
 


Synopsis: Eager for one final vacation before their lives change forever, six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area. By nightfall, their lives WILL change forever...in ways too horrific to imagine. For in the shadows awaits a pack of the most evil, vicious rejects of humanity, addicted to violence and thirsty for blood! This is Psycho Holocaust…
 
Six friends cram into a van and head out to a remote cabin near a place called Whisper Lake for a weekend of fun. It's their one last hurrah before one of 'em squirts out a kid and life as she knows it ceases to exist, because that's what happens when you have kids, unless your Casey Anthony. Anyway ...you know they're fucked, right? No one goes to a cabin in the woods without some rape, torture and/or death, not since like 1974, and this film ain't gonna be any different.

Unfortunately for them there's not just one lunatic stalking them but three psychotic Iraqi War veterans prowling the woods with dismemberment on their minds. Since returning from the war these grunts haven't been right in the head, unable to curb their bloodlust they've taken to raping, torturing and dismembering visitors to their woodland killing grounds. We've got the smart(er) one, the leader of the group, Buddy (Trent Hagga, EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL!), the rape-y loose cannon Carp (Don Prentiss, DOOMED TO CONSUME) and the chainsaw wielding, hulking-masked mute Pillow Face (Ash Bowen), think Leatherface meets a pre-hockey mask Jason Vorhees.

As with a number of micro-budget flicks it's a bit hamstrung by amateurish performances, though Troma alumnus Trent Hagga turns in a decently demented performance as does Raine Brown (BARRICADE), the blood-spattered final girl. Up front I'll say the victims aren't particularly interesting or sympathetic, the scripting is a bit weak and the film more or less devolves into a series of brutal sadistic killings, which is fine by me, I dig it but this ain't gonna be a strain on the brain.
 
While the story borrows heavily from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE playbook and the acting is pretty weak sauce the violence is unflinching. There can be little doubt that if you crave gore, pain and sadistic violence this delivers with shot after shot of practical gore effects. There's a LOT of suffering going on here; a scalping, some dismemberment, bloody lashings with a cat o' none tails, gut spilling, chainsaw carnage and the crescendo is a depraved anal rape performed with a strap-on handsaw, a nod to SE7EN and DELIVERANCE, that's just beyond sick. The tone of the film is super grim, it's not trying to be funny, so if you require some modicum of humor with your violence this one ain't for you.

Worthy of mentioning is the awesome GOBLIN-inspired filmscore from the GIALLOS FLAME, great tunes pretty obviously influenced by the iconic Goblin scores from Argento's classic Italian films. Apparently they also scored the awesome EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL!, yet another reason to rewatch that one.
 
PSYCHO HOLOCAUST is a rough looking film hastily shot in six days, director Krist Rufty makes the most of what he had available to him, and that's not a lot, but what he was able to get on film is quite entertaining with a few nice flourishes. My hat is off to the special effects team on the film, there's some great low-budget gore effects and while the film's made-in-the-backyard aesthetic may not have broad appeal it's worth a watch for the indie gore hounds. One last note, the Godfather of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis makes a vocal only appearance as a radio broadcaster, very cool. 

DVD: Independent Entertainment's DVD of PSYCHO HOLOCAUST is 16x9 enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen in Dolby Digital stereo with no subtitle options. Visually the film looks pretty poor, the colors are washed out, the whites are a bit hot and image is interlaced with occasional combing issues. The stereo audio is decent but drops out a few times, the aforementioned score from the GIALLOS FLAME SOUNDS pretty good.
 
The disc is well-stocked with bonus content beginning with an informative commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette with special effects make-up guy Hank Carlson at the make-shift S/FX studio where we see the creation of several of the gore gags in the film as well as get some background for the "pillow face" character as a disfigured Desert Storm POW. 'Making Cheesy movies in Wisconsin' features interviews with cast and crew, 'At Home with Billy Gaberina' a goofy 15mins of the actor at home in bed with sickness as he talks about the film, there's a few outtakes and a collection of trailers. A nice selection of features that give some nice insights about making a no-budget feature film.

Special Features:
- Commentary
- Behind-the-Scenes (15:08) 4:3
- Making Cheesy movies in Wisconsin (24:37) 4:3
- On Set Interviews (30:35) 4:3
- At Home with Billy Gaberina (14:48) 4:3
- Outtakes (8:00) 16:9
- Independent Entertainment Trailers: DEFILED (:59), DIARY OF A SEX OFFENDER (1:32), FACES OF SCHLOCK (:56), RED RIVER (1:43)

Verdict: PSYCHO HOLOCAUSTis not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, it's super-derivative, but if you're looking for a gore-heavy indie flick that riffs heavily on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and DELIVERANCE there's gonna be a lot to enjoy here. 2.5 outta 5



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