When I encountered smoking hot director Matt Farnsworth on Twitter, I had to know more about him and his movie The Orphan Killer. On the movie’s official site were pix of a deranged killer in a freaky mask with a hot babe slung over his shoulder. Plus, the film is banned in Germany! I didn’t hesitate in ordering the Blu-ray.
The disc comes in a special metal case and includes the movie’s heavy metal soundtrack CD. Definitely a goodie for collectors. Sexy packaging aside, now I had to watch the movie. What had I gotten myself in to? I feared this was going to be an hour and 20 minutes of misogynistic torture porn.
But The Orphan Killer has more than that going for it. It’s part heavy metal slasher and part grindhouse torture flick, pushing the boundaries of a couple of favorite subgenres, especially for younger horror audiences who find the oldies but goodies lame!
The backstory of The Orphan Killer (who is affectionately nicknamed TOK) is told in vividly detailed flashbacks and is familiar territory for us veterans. Audrey and her little brother Marcus were sent into a Catholic orphanage after their parents suffered violent deaths. Marcus was totally fucked up by the tragedy and begins doing sick shit at a young age. So the nuns find ways to punish him—including putting a constricting mask on him. It’s all sort of Silent Night, Deadly Night combined with Rob Zombie’s Halloween, only way more hardcore.
Needless to say, Marcus grows up to be not much of a fan of religion…yet oddly devoted to it. Meanwhile, Audrey is eventually adopted and grows into the sexy Diane Foster. Diane as Audrey is such a great “final girl.” She shows off her bangin’ body early on, which sends up a dead meat bimbo red flag—but instead, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Audrey works at a Catholic school—which probably just makes TOK even more furious when it’s time to come kill his bitch sister! The first half of the film has plenty of classic slasher moments like killer POV, heavy breathing behind his mask, and quick flashes of him moving in front of the camera or standing momentarily in the background.
Added to the traditional slasher elements is Matt Farnsworth’s heavy metal horror style—jarring metal music, sharp edits, and frenetic camera work, all of which manage to get across just how violent and crazed TOK is. And if that doesn’t do it, then the seriously vile slicing and dicing will. These are some of the best close-ups of cringe worthy mutilation I’ve seen since old school Argento movies.
And then comes the rockin’ chase scene. Audrey is virtually alone in the school at night when TOK comes for her. The suspense of this segment brings to mind Wendy’s chase scene in Prom Night (replacing the disco song with screaming guitars). Unlike Wendy, Audrey fights back viciously. But of course, TOK still gets his girl.
Audrey is strung up with barbed wire, making for some flesh peeling scenes that will have you squirming. She also gets plenty of physical damage from TOK as he torments and terrifies her, but it’s really not as much of a torture film as you think, and plenty is left up to the imagination. It’s Audrey’s pained expressions and cries that enhance the effect.
TOK also verbally harasses her. Yes, he speaks. He has a creepy as hell voice that sounds almost demonic through his mask, and once he starts talking about pain and religion, you know he has some awful plans for Audrey.
There’s plenty to shock and satisfy horror fiends. A scene in which Audrey imagines blood coming out of the showerhead seems to be an homage to the original Carrie; from her physical gestures to her facial expressions, Diane Foster does a dead-on reenactment of Sissy Spacek’s reactions to her two “blood” scenes. And speaking of blood, there’s a cool scene involving blood cascading over the side of a staircase when TOK drags a dead body across the floor above. There’s also an amazing kill that I’ll just describe as a reversed bathroom stall death scene.
Then there are the religious aspects of the film that could easily offend. At one point a hunky shirtless stud is getting a BJ from a nun—and when she goes to wipe her mouth, we see she’s no spring chicken! A priest receives quite a bit of grisly abuse and TOK makes it clear that it’s because of his penchant for little boys. A barbed wire crown of thorns even comes into play….
Director Matt Farnsworth (left, next to TOK in photo) has a small role in the film. Matt began as an actor, even appearing in a few episodes of 7th Heaven. The Orphan Killer is a far cry from heaven! But Matt was also in the Gacy movie, so he’s no stranger to horror. In fact, if you check out his Facebook page, you’ll see that he seems to live and breathe it.
And finally, there’s TOK himself. His look is one that could easily become iconic in the world of horror. The mask has an archaic torture device design that highlights his psycho eyes. His deep, dark tone of voice is almost otherworldly. And David Backus, the man behind the mask, has a long, lanky stride that gives him a monstrous quality, which leaves you wondering, is TOK a supernatural being like Jason or Michael Myers, or just a crazy dude in a mask? Word is that a sequel is in the works….