Woodchipper Massacre

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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Woodchipper Massacre  (1988, dir: Jon McBride; scp: Jon McBride, Glen Skaggs; cast: Jon McBride, Denice Edeal, Tom Casiello, Patricia McBride, Kim Bailey)





In terms of production values, this late 1980s film is bad. Really bad.

Woodchipper Massacre looks to be shot on a VHS camcorder. The images are not very sharp, the colors not very vibrant. This "film" has that faded, low resolution, consumer videotape look.

The cast are obviously amateurs. They sound like they're reciting lines. They mug for the camera, and display exaggerated hand gestures and eye rolling. The cousin who threatens the kids is so buffoonish. His dialog is ridiculously over-written -- and then he over-acts, making an already silly character that much more so.

Yeah, the script is bad. Ludicrous story. Gaping plot holes. Stilted dialog.

And no explanation as to what happened to the second body after it exited the woodchipper. The kids merely look at the body chunks (which are offscreen), but make no attempt to clean up the evidence of their crime. We then see ... wood chips? A dog wanders over and eats something. We presume it's a body part, but we don't see any body parts. We do, once, see a closeup of some wood chips with blood on them, and a bit of -- what is supposedly? -- flesh.

The sound recording seems to have come solely from the camera's built-in mic. The actors are always raising their voices. Sometimes screaming, often shouting, but always speaking loudly throughout the film. At first I thought it was because the aunt was hard of hearing, but then I realized that, because they were shouting with or without the aunt present, they were shouting for the mic.

The aunt is obviously wearing a wig.

There is no "massacre." A very low body count. No gore. The deaths look very fake.



In terms of skill and talent, this film is one star. But I'm giving it two because I mostly enjoyed it. I was bored at times, but it was okay.

I didn't enjoy Woodchipper Massacre for its own sake, but because it's an artifact of horror film history. When consumer camcorders were introduced in the 1980s, a few amateur auteurs began shooting low-budget features in the VHS format. Porn producers were the first VHS filmmaking pioneers, but they were closely followed by horror producers.

So, Jon McBride is a filmmaking pioneer, having earned his brief mention in horror film history.

Apart from its historical value, Woodchipper Massacre has nostalgic appeal. The clothing and art decor is so 1980s, with touches of the 1970s (e.g., the boy's paneled bedroom).

Not a great film. Not even a good film. But enjoyable for what it is.

Review copyright by Thomas M. Sipos


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