Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ripping and tearing, blood and boobs and franchise, oh my!

D. Jimmy O
All Episodes Shot and presented in Hi- Def

The Burril Family have been trying to launch the Chainsaw Sally character into becoming a horror icon for the better part of ten years now. I remember seeing them at Cinema Wasteland as far back as 2001 selling T-Shirts when there was no movie yet, just the rather striking image of April Monique Burril as the title Character being all they were banking on. The whole shabang being to push a franchisable horror character, with or without major material, didn’t seem to be the point. The point was that she was sexy, fierce, and all the things that adolescent male horror fans should want in their stew.

The movie finally came out in 2005 on DVD and didn’t make too big a splash but did alright as far as these direct to DVD things go. As far as I can tell the character of Chainsaw Sally herself has a huge fanbase online with her various facebook pages overflowing with thousands of fans. But something tells me that most of them never picked up the dvd. Once again the key here is the image of Chainsaw Sally herself, something carefully sculpted by the husband and wife team and sold incredibly well through Jimmy O’s amazing photography and art design. The couple’s online presentations, the artwork, photography, painitings etc. are second to none.

So all of that sets the bar incredibly high for the actual CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW which is hitting DVD from Troma home video. An impossibly high bar to achieve unfortunately which may leave a lot of fans of the online stuff feeling like they are not getting quite the ride they felt they would. By y no means is bad, the show is swiftly directed and shot, the editing crisp, clean and always reminding you it could really play on say MTV without a problem. The biggest issue is that the material is stretched out to be a TV (or was it a web series I am not sure) when it could have easily just served as one longer movie. Repetition becomes the order of the day, with some meandering plot threads and conversations that don’t really receal much at all.

But the positives, the show always looks good, and April Monique Burril always has a handle on the character of Chansaw Sally. After ten years it is clear she has no problem slipping right in and playing her up. On this disc is ten episodes and on longer not quite a movie. While I wouldn’t call it character growth, you can at least see a consistency of the character throughout it all. She toys with the audience and her victims all at once, obviously relishing the chance to be on screen. Which is something else to be said for the whole project. Her director and husband Jimmy O Burril uses his camera to fetishize his wife in almost every single scene she is in. While some viewers might find that annoying, I find it refreshing in this day and age. They remind me of another cult film couple I adore, Jess Franco and Lina Romay. To mine eyes I can’t help but to wonder if in making this series and putting April front and center in such a clearly sexually idolized way isn’t playing out some personal fantasies for them. For that I so go for it.

The story of the show never really progresses as much though. Sally is hiding in a small town with her grown up but sexually deviant brother Ruby . By day she is the shy Librarian but at night she goes around killing the people in town she feels are not nice folks. People who do things like fuck sheep, or are mean to her best friend, a teenage girl who works with her. Hot on Sally’s tail is a Cowboy (Bill Price clearly based on Dennis Hopper from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2) and a busty/gorgeous cosmetic sales person (Jordan Wyandt) who talks a lot and never does much of anything. 

But Sally and her Brother also take several people prisoner for personal sexual toys, eat several people, and torture a couple of teenage girls to death in highly sexualized ways. So her “code of ethics” is highly debatable at best. When she is admonishing a redneck for raping a sheep before killing him it is hard to feel she means it when she has a teenage girl scout in a dog cage at her house with an electro shock collar on that she uses for various sexual escapades (off screen of course). There is a lot of talk about her morality, but then the show dips into highly questionable stuff often clearly to give the “goods” to the audience. So it is odd bed fellows at best. Her code is never as successful as that other TV serial killer DEXTER who seems to be learning as he goes and adapting.

Maybe that is the problem here. There is not enough attention being paid to the characters and character development and way too much attention being paid to what the fans are expecting and wanting for this to work as a TV show. TV hinges on things developing as the episodes move along. Here each episodes strives to give you more kills, a little more skin (around episode 7 or 8 Sally finally does a breif nude scene) and sicker situations. But not enough meat on the bones of the story. What does develop is a really weird sense of bizare sexuality as the characters do more weirdo stuff to people. From torturing a teen girl by forcing her to pee in a bottle and when it fills the weight triggers a blade to cut off her head, to another teen girl who gets her “tittie caught in a bear trap” and that girl scout I mentioned earlier. What makes all of it so weird is all the victims are supposed to be around 15/16 years old and playing out these clearly fetishised BDSM/ stalk and slash scenerios. Is it intentional to make the audience squirm? To make the villians look that much more evil? Or was it not noticed by the filmmakers in an attempt to get to the next set piece? Something more intentional? Who knows.

So overall if you are a fan of low budget franchise driven horror/slasher stuff, you may like this. It delivers the blood and guts for sure. The lead character is solid and certainly is exactly who they set out to create. I just wish there was more going on in the script department to make it feel like there was more weight to it. After watching the whole thing in one long marathon it strikes me the Chainsaw Sally character would be more at home in a Horror host situation. Maybe a Max Headroom for the horror set. A Chainsaw Sally Talk show where she ends up having to kill the guests. That could be very interesting.

So check it out. If you Dare.

Review © Andy Copp

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