Director Stevan Mena is the man behind the Malevolence trilogy: Malevolence, Bereavement, and the forthcoming Killer: Malevolence 3. Considering it took over ten-years for him to make this indie horror trilogy, he’s no stranger to the pitfalls of trying to make a movie.
Brutal Massacre is a comedy that I would imagine is based on many of Stevan’s own experiences making films. It’s a mockumentary following the making of a horror film by a director, played by horror icon David Naughton.
In fact, the movie is loaded with familiar faces, including Ellen Sandweiss of the original Evil Dead (in a great role as a production manager), Brian O’Halloran of Clerks (who’s way better here), Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen, and Ken Foree of the original Dawn of the Dead.
Beginning at a Fangoria event and poking fun at media and fan criticism of horror movies, Brutal Massacre takes us through the process of filmmaking, including funding, location scouting, casting, and filming. There are some running jokes, including the constant insistence on tits in the movie (we see plenty) and jabs at gay ignorance. For instance, when Naughton argues with a producer about putting titties in the film, claiming this film is different, the producer says, “Why? Is it for queers?” Later a guy declines the offer of a beer from Gunnar Hansen, and Gunnar asks, “What are you queer?” to which the guy responds, “Why? Gay people don’t drink?”
There’s plenty of insider horror humor as things start going terribly wrong on set and horror fans will be able to appreciate much of it, but after a while, the film starts to lose its edge of playful humor and shifts tone, feeling more like a bit of venting from a director who’s been through the ringer himself.
However, the final sequence, focusing on the movie’s big opening day, brings back the charm presented at the beginning of the film. It’s definitely one of those films that would have been better if the center of the film were tightened up and lost about 20 minutes of running time.
Finally, I think director Stevan Mena should actually make movies out of some of the faux films made by Naughton’s character, such as: I’ll Take the Ring Back…and the Finger Too; Sasquatch at the Mall; Bowel Movement; and Killer Koala.