What separates this one from most of the rest of the Video Nasties, and from other Louisiana Horror stories, is the fact that this film is hilarious. It's one of the most unintentionally comical experiences one can have! At least, I think it was unintentional. There were a couple of moments here and there that made me wonder if Writer/ Director Jack Weis was actually working on a spoof here. Make no mistake, this one is very nasty and cuts to the core (in some cases literally) of just what the British Board of Film Classification was attempting to ban. In that way, it can be quite shocking as well. For the most part, however, this one is more of a laugh than a cry and while this is most certainly "A Scream"... it's probably not the kind of Scream that Weis and company had in mind.
We're getting close to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and The French Quarter is simply booming with life. Strippers and Hookers alike are gainfully employed as are the cops. In fact, it seems that more often than not the cops are employed with employing the strippers and hookers. Convenient, really. Unfortunately there's a Killer in town. A Killer looking for someone... evil.
This is where things start to get funny. The killer, William Metzo walks into bars looking for hookers, specifically, evil hookers. He narrows his eyes and says "I am looking... for someone... ", long, sinister pause, "... E-ville!" After receiving a suggestion on which hooker is an evil hooker he asks again "Is she... ", long, sinister pause, "... E-ville?" After meeting the lady of the evening in question, just to be on the safe side he asks her "I understand that you are the most... ", long, sinister pause, "... E-ville woman here! Are you sure you're... ", long, sinister pause, "... E-ville?"
The man likes to be sure, I'll give him that. It feels almost like a spoof the way he says that, cutting his eyes to one side before saying the word "Evil". It gets even funnier when he gets the prostitutes back to his Bob Newhart Show reminiscent apartment. You see, he's got an Aztec fetish, so he wants to tie the ladies to an altar and sacrifice them to some crazy South American god. That tends to... spoil an evening. Even in New Orleans.
But aside from that, he's really a pretty nice guy for a serial killer. He gives his victims some nice wine for them to drink, serves them dinner... what ever they want, actually. He even orders Chinese Food delivery for one of his sacrificial lambs. He even sounds evil doing that! After dialing the number by memory (the man likes his Chinese food) he slowly brings the evil receiver to his ear and says "This is 620 Madison Street Apartment Four. I would like you to deliver... an order of Shrimp Rolls, Lobster Cantonese, Jar Su Ding... ", long, sinister pause, "... AND A FORTUNE COOKIE!"
Still, he did say "I would like..." then he tips the delivery boy really well! At another point in the film, he leaves to go get some food that the hookers have specifically requested. Look, I've reviewed a lot of movies with a lot of murderers preying on a lot of women and I've never been witness to someone who is so willing to be hospitable and accommodating prior to an evisceration. Metzo seems genuinely concerned for the ladies' enjoyment of the evening, which is odd, I would say, for a "John" and even odder for a "Jack the Ripper". Nice guy, good host. Too bad about the human sacrifices. Again, deal breaker. Even in New Orleans.
Maybe he felt obligated, though. He clearly spent some money on having an altar surrounded by big-ass Aztec heads right there in the middle of his Bob Newhart Show reminiscent apartment. Even the poncho and head dress, not to mention ceremonial dagger, had to have cost him a few bucks. The rest of the time he's pretty much wearing tweed pants. Still, why kill them? You can role play, dude. It seems to me that if you've got a lovely naked woman in your remodeled parlor who is more than willing to be tied up spread eagle for your pleasure you could think of something better to do than that.
Some people are just kooks. You should see the look on his face when he finds out one of the girls isn't really all THAT evil. Talk about embarrassed!
But as each reenactment of the ritual comes to a close, we're left little question about just why this one made the Video Nasty List. In fact, it starts to look a lot like a lot of other video nasties. The camera switches between a lovely naked woman and a cheap, rubber dummy vaguely in the shape of the same lovely naked woman's torso. A knife cuts through the rubber tummy and real butcher shop guts are pulled out to a soundtrack of screams. Staple of the era, folks. In this case it looks about as real as a Howard the Duck costume. The camera might take in a big gut pile surrounded by a sliced up rubber chest and tummy only to switch back to the real naked actress who has... a little fake blood drawn along her middle. Maybe a little drawn on the ol' wrist too... you know... continuity.
Fie, Fie on't!
There's also an incredibly poorly acted subplot surrounding the cop investigating these ritualistic murders (with the pleasantly friendly preludes) falling in love with one of the hookers, an obvious potential target. What might happen when Frank the cop (Curt Dawson) is not there to protect Sharon, the looker/ hooker (Gwen Arment) he loves? What happens when he realizes he can't keep paying for sex on a cop's salary?
Most of the entertainment value here is ironic in nature and completely unintentional. Bill Metzo might not be such a bad actor in some things (as I understand it, he teaches Acting in New York to this day), but here his performance is cartoonishly comical. Not that the script or the situations call for much more. The thing is, even with that being the case he's at least acting. There's a feel to most every other player that they're reading casually scrawled lines that they may have only been shown once through a blurry mirror. Some of the women are very hot, though.
Frequent New Orleans partiers might get a laugh or two from the locations as this really was filmed in New Orleans in the 1970s. Although many of the buildings may have new owners and many of the establishments, new managers, the inside of various places look primarily the same in this movie as they do now. Man, I'm ashamed to say I recognized the inside of those strip clubs with an ease that surprised even me! And if I remember right, through my ethanol haze, the dancer on that stage looked like she might have been there since 1978. Yeah, we, um... we didn't stay in that club too long.
Well, what can I say... some things just don't age well. New Orleans, through hurricanes and floods still stands... Mardi Gras Massacre... not so much! But then, I can't imagine it was considered an instant classic even in 1978, amigos. Unintentional comedy and indiscrete nudity isn't enough to keep this one from the DOG Pound. Aztec Sacrifices in Louisiana during a Carnival Celebration before a Christian Season. Jack Weis, dude, where do you come up with this stuff? I'll see you folks in the next reel... that is... as long as you are... E-Ville!
I wonder when The Arbor Day Slaughter will get released!
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