For months now the demonic duo of Nom DePlume and Razor88 from The Church of Splatter-Day Saints and I have been trying to join forces for a joint review, only to have the idea put on the back-burner countless times for countless reasons. Finally the dark stars have aligned and we agreed to cover a film that none of us had seen before. We decided on David Paulsen and John Mason Kirby’s 1979 effort Savage Weekend, and who wouldn’t? It’s got Savage right in the title, right? And the poster is all kinds of badass, right? Unfortunately for all involved, this was yet another case of THE POSTER IS FUCKING LYING! Let’s do this shit, shall we?…
A group of thirty-somethings head upstate for a relaxing weekend and to check on the construction of their custom-made boat. The players: a recently divorced and slightly kooky MILF, her sister, the token gay guy, the new boyfriend and some asshole who knows about boats; not to mention the cast of creepies they meet upstate. There’s also an erotic cow-milking. How could this be bad?
Murphy: Savage Weekend starts out in typical backwoods horror fashion with a woman running frantically through the woods, assumingly being chased, while the sounds of hillbilly banjo picking score the scene. After a minute the music gives way to the sound of a running chainsaw and we see her pursuer, Otis (played by William Sanderson of Blade Runner/Newhart fame.) The banjo gets faster, the bitch stands there like a deer in headlights screaming and Otis picks up the chainsaw and… Fucking freeze frame! This is the first time I’m calling bullshit on this flick. Cut to a New York high-rise where a bunch of cardboard characters are preparing to leave for a road trip upstate to help somebody do something with a boat, blah blah completely lifeless characters and inane dialogue… The only member of the group that has any semblance of character is short-short wearing superfag, Nicky. Once in town, Nicky decides to have a drink at the local dive bar and get to know the locals. After flirting with the dimwit bartender Nicky is confronted by two of the locals that clearly take offense at his presence. The funny thing about this is that one of them looks like he’s probably had his fair share of anal play at the leather bar, what with his sailor hat and sweet blonde ‘stache. Nicky shows the two that you don’t fuck with a fag from the South Bronx in what is, quite possibly, the worst staged fight in film history.
Nom DePlume: Ha! I thought the exact same thing about Capt. Cornhole; you only hate it ‘cause you can’t stand how much you love it, sister! I actually didn’t mind this one so much. It was nice to have a movie that wasn’t based on teenagers and their typical teenage problems: who to fuck, why your boyfriend is looking at the blonde with the big tits, where to smoke pot and the ramifications of telling ghost stories by campfire. I was excited to see the familiar faces of Christopher Allport (Dead and Buried, Jack Frost) as the ass-kicking queen who took no shit and the illustrious David Gale (Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator) as the sinister lumberjack/handyman with rape in his eyes. Speaking of eyes, I will never be able to unsee the sexualized cow-milking. What. The. Fuck.
The movie centers on the group going to check on some boat, which I’ve never even heard of anyone building a boat from scratch, but boats exist so it has to be possible, right? Anyway, William Sanderson has apparently been building it with some old guy and he dies so Sanderson is all pissed off when these city folks come poking around in his country-fried business. He’s kinda obsessed with the boat and he’s clearly a few bricks short of a load. There are several scenes of him looming about spying on everyone and he spends his idle time conversing with a gravestone and smashing rats with the butt of his shotgun.
The main slut, Marie is goofy as all get-out and won’t stop whining about what some corrupt politician did to her ex-husband. Her sister is a fucking whore who will let any dude who shuffles up next to her lay some pipe (quickest, most motionless sex ever) and what was the deal with all of Marie’s crazy fantasies? Remember when Mac (David Gale) is telling the story in the boat about crazy Otis and she fantasizes that it’s her and her husband? She does that a few times and as much as I wanted to understand what I was seeing, I just didn’t. It managed to keep things schizophrenic enough for me to stay interested but I can’t say that I understood what they were going for. Also, there was that sweet scene with the sister in lingerie (complete with garter and stockings) getting tied down to a power saw; I found that fulfilling despite the lack of grue.
Razor88: Whoa, back the truck up… nothing is worse/better than the fight scenes in Dolemite. Ever. First off I need to say that this isn’t what I was expecting at all. I was under the impression that Savage Weekend was some sort of nasty lesser known slasher gem for some reason. Turns out it’s more of a sleazy soap opera with a crazy guy in it. That in itself is interesting considering David Paulsen only directed one other horror film (Schizoid) then moved on to direct random episodes of 80s nighttime dramas like Knots Landing and Dallas. All the little character quirks and sub plots are indicative of the soap opera template and to be honest really didn’t manage to hold my interest very well for the most part; the murders almost take a back seat to all the bullshit going on. It’s easy to see how the subgenre ended up focusing on naked pretty girls getting taken advantage of instead of a handful of dullards with a bunch of grown-up issues. That being said, it was kind of a refreshing twist and at least there was still plenty of T&A to keep one somewhat amused. It’s also always nice to see William Sanderson (Fight For Your Life) in one of his earlier roles as he always manages to add some much-needed hillbilly grittiness to everything he touches.
Obviously the film does have quite a bit to offer for the more stoic of viewers; where I was really disappointed was in the kill scenes themselves. Despite being too few and far between and having to slog through the mire of pro-gay and “suicide ruins lives” rhetoric for far too long before it gets anywhere, one would think the film would redeem itself with a few amazingly nasty murder sequences. Instead, the filmmakers tend to shy away from graphic violence almost entirely. WTF. Also worthy of mention is how the identity of the killer is so obvious. I mean really? I get the feeling that Paulsen thought he was being SO FUCKING CLEVER when he wrote that reveal scene in there… I don’t think my eyes could have rolled back into my head any further.
Murphy: While I agree that the lingerie scene and seeing some genre faves make appearances were definitely highlights, overall the pacing of this had me checking my watch. Razor, you said the operative words – soap opera. I too went into this expecting an early proto-slasher sleaze-fest and was disappointingly served up a big old dish of melodrama with a small side of nastiness. Nowhere near enough to fill me up! I completely agree that it is refreshing to follow adult characters instead of the usual dumbass teens, but when the characters are this flat I’d rather watch a group of sexed-up teens get offed. That’s not to say Savage Weekend is a complete bust, because it isn’t. The scenes with Otis muttering to himself in the graveyard and being supercreep #1 are entertaining enough and you can’t not like a character like Nicky. My problem isn’t that the film is “bad” (which it technically is, you can make a drinking game out of boom-mic appearances), my problem is that it’s boring. Bad I can handle, boring is unforgivable. I had no idea beforehand that this was the same director as Schizoid, which I like quite a bit. In fact something along the lines of Schizoid is more what I was looking for in this. This was good for a one-time watch but I can’t imagine ever going back to it.
Nom DePlume/Razor88/Murphy: While the film had a lot of promise, it just ended up being a flat and lifeless affair. It’s not bad enough to hate nor is it good enough to warrant repeated viewings. A film whose highlight is the attempted seduction of a woman via erotic cow milking is indicative of its lack of substance. Recommended for slasher completists and bovine enthusiasts only.
Official COSDS Nunspank™/Basement Screams Rating: 2