I had no expectations going into Lumberjack Man, figuring it was going to be another awful slasher only worthy of the SyFy Channel. After catching it on cable, I’ve put it at the top of my “to buy” list. At a time when new, fun slashers are so hard to come by, it’s everything I want in a party movie.
I’d almost like to compare the film to cheesy 90s slashers like Ice Cream Man and The Dentist, when the killer was the star and had a ridiculous shtick. I mean, the killer here pulls around a cart of huge pancakes and uses his victims’ blood as syrup. Why isn’t the film titled Flapjack Man?
It sounds absurd, and the movie plays it for its silliness when necessary. However, Lumberjack Man isn’t like, say, Leprechaun. He’s not running around snarling, “I want me stack of pancakes,” rather than “me pot o’ gold.” HELL NO. Lumberjack Man is actually a frightening, dark, non-speaking presence—and he’s as violent and vicious as fuck.
And there lies the perfect balance of this movie. The plot has a bunch of not-so-saintly kids heading to church camp! There are no serious characters here, just playful stereotypes in the best possible way, from the exaggerated religious camp leader to the burnout bus driver. The boys are all looking for sex, and the girls are all willing to flash their tits. There’s a food fight, drug hijinx, a peeping strip tease (complete with a faux 80s freestyle ballad), and skinny-dipping. Lumberjack Man smoothly celebrates 80s summer camp slashers like Sleepaway Camp without becoming a total spoof of them and retaining its own unique and fresh identity.
To make things even better, the kills are campy-gory awesome, and become more graphic and brutal as the film progresses. In fact, as the more central characters begin getting slaughtered, their agonizing screams when they are being mutilated are cringeworthy. And even while Lumberjack Man resorts to darkly comic kills, like bending a victim into a table to eat his pancakes on, or sticking a maple sap spile into another’s head to dispense “syrup,” he’s so intense in his execution that the kills don’t come across as comical. But the killer party atmosphere definitely kicks in when he decimates a cafeteria full of kids. This over-the-top scene rox.
Things are eventually narrowed down to a final girl, and she doesn’t mess around. And I’m not talking about her saw. I’m talking about the maple syrup she has rubbed all over her body….
The icing on the cake (or syrup on the pancakes, in this case) is the inclusion of iconic horror actor Michael Madsen, who steps in as the authority on the dangers of Lumberjack Man.
He even tells the bizarr-o backstory of the killer, complete with graphic novel animation. If ever I wanted a sequel to a slasher, this is it.