Saturday, April 7, 2018

'70s Trash?: Savage Weekend (1979)

After owning this thing for Years (if not a Decade!), I finally decided to watch it.  This is Savage Weekend, a 1979 Film that really is a prototype for the Slasher Genre that is soon to emerge in America.  Some backstory on me: long, long ago, my friend and I bought the Drive-In Movie Classics 50 Movie Pack from Best Buy.  The couple we watched were less than 'Classics,' so I ended up with the set.  It's been sitting on various shelves since then and I only realized that I had this Film after the double whammy of re-checking the Set for a Movie (Voodoo Black Exorcist) and highlighting the Poster on the Site.  Even still, that was in February!  So how is the Movie after all of this time?  It's...interesting.  There are some good, clever moments inside the slow-as-molasses Plot that are worth highlighting.  The Film tells the tale of some yuppies who spend the Weekend out in the Woods to oversee the building of a Boat- as you do.  Eventually, a masked man starts picking them off one by one!  Is it one of them?  Is it the creepy local named Otis?  Is it someone else?  To find out the answer, read on...
The Film opens In Media Res with our Heroine running from someone and freezing up as they approach her with a Chainsaw.

Okay, I'm listening...
Before all that happened, we see the group preparing for the trip.  Her ex-husband (a cross between Sean and Chris Penn) is not happy about her going, but will still watch the kid for the weekend.

This, incidentally, is the first of two times that they introduce a kid into the Plot with zero payoff.
Out in the Woods, Otis is walking around talking to a tombstone about how those 'rich folks' were coming and how he doesn't like them.

On the plus side, William Sandersen is here before being typecast as a Tech Genius.
After lecturing Otis about being behind schedule and putting another guy on the Boat work to help him, the local Builder- David Gale- tells a tale of Otis supposedly tying and branding a woman.

I'd listen, but that sweet, sweet mustache is too distracting.
FINALLY a masked man starts wandering around and puts on said mask to start stalking them.
He picks off one guy- the one who replaced Otis- before a big Dinner and nobody seems to care.
One of the group is introduced in a Scene where he beats up some guys in a Bar.  This is all a build-up to...him being stabbed through the ear with a needle and dying with no fight put up.

Pointless or clever misdirection- you decide!
After killing everyone there save for one (saved by a faulty light), the killer reveals himself to be...the Ex-Husband.  They do set him up as being jealous and a little crazy, so alright.

The pay-off is this epic battle between him and Gale (who was away with his Daughter- Yancy Butler!) when the killings happened.
We finally return to the intro as Otis appears, grabs the chainsaw and...kills the killer.  Touch√©, Film.  The End.
I'm kind of on the fence about this one.  On one hand, the Film does play with your expectations in some pretty notable ways.  It also feels like an early Slasher- before they became all about building up the Heavy- like My Bloody Valentine or the original Friday the 13th.  On the other hand, the first 2/3 of it drag really bad and are just mostly slow Character build-up.  It's just not that interesting.  The Pacing is just so bad here that it hurts the whole Film.  You can see that they were somewhat aware of it, as they throw in random Nudity and that supposed Otis Flashback bit.  Even so, it is just not enough.  When it gets to the 'good stuff,' it mostly delivers quite well.  That's kind of what makes the first half of the Film so disappointing.  A slow build-up to nothing is almost better, since it doesn't exceed expectations.  When you know that a Film could have been better, it's just worse.  Savage Weekend is not a complete waste, but it is definitely a conditional recommendation from me.  Speaking of recommendations, I recommend that you keep the damn Boom Mic out of the shot!
Next time, I review Dracula vs. Frankenstein.  Yes, there is another one (or two).  Stay tuned...

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