Sometimes, it's impossible to convey in words how truly awful a piece of cinema is.
Welcome to Heavy Metal Massacre.
Released in 1989, Heavy Metal Massacre is an incredibly shitty slasher flick starring former professional wrestler and movie director David DeFalco. I came across the film thanks to the Pink Flamingo theatre in Sydney's Inner West, an art gallery and screening space that airs "niche, genre, avant-garde and trash cinema" every Friday night.
And when they mean "trash cinema", they really mean it. Here's the trailer — make sure you watch with sound, and stick with it. The title card is absolutely worth it.
Unsurprisingly, Heavy Metal Massacre was a direct-to-video flick. The world of film was probably better off without it, but Bleeding Skull! Video did everyone a solid by bringing it back to life with a VHS release a couple of years ago.
Bleeding Skull, which specialises in "ultra-obscure, no-budget horror and exploitation movies" from the '80s and '90s, never released or distributed the film in Australia. And that's how the niche cinema was able to showcase the film as part of a Satanic-themed flick night, although the only demonic influences here were transitions like this:
The whole premise of the film is that David DeFalco — starring as Bobbi Brown here — plays a serial killer who hangs around metal bars, preying on women who have some apparent attraction to his flowing hair.
But that isn't established from the off. Instead, the actual opening is literally just still frames of this bloke set to metal music:
After that, the movie pans around the outside of a building, before slowly panning inside what looks like someone's living room. Everything starts flashing and spinning about halfway, like someone just discovered a filter in Windows Movie Maker.
After about eight minutes, we're finally introduced to the police. There's been a couple of homicides, and with no leads to go on the cops opt to shake up some bloke called "Rico". He's more or less the bloke who waits outside The Dungeon, a metal club that's in a dank alley somewhere.
Rico's having a conversation with a young lass, although since the people making the film couldn't afford a boom mic, you can barely hear anyone on screen. The two cops show up, and go to ask Rico some questions. They don't have a warrant, and Rico tells them to bugger off.
So, naturally, the cops just handcuff him anyway. After which point Rico immediately starts talking — but they take him back to the station anyway.
We then get a scene where Bobbi — I shit you not — walks into a room, turns, and stares at the camera.
Imagine being on set for this kind of galaxy-level genius.
This film goes for 83 minutes, by the way.
Things become a bit clearer after that: Bobbi buys drugs in a dark alley; the cops continue to rough up Rico while the white balance shifts from one shot to the next. We then get to see The Dungeon, the brick ladened metal bar where Bobbi preys on his victims.
There's just one problem: Bobbi isn't exactly Ted Bundy. His method of "picking up" involves standing by a wall and waiting for someone to get bored enough to walk by. It's also one of the first main scenes — after that weird slow pan through Metal Lounge Room, we get a shot of Bobbi standing by a wall, staring into the distance. The opening credits play. The camera pans in. Rico walks up, says something, then buggers off.
Nobody says a word.
This scene runs for nearly three minutes.
Later on, when the movie decides it wants to actually try and be a slasher film, we get to see more poorly shot footage from the bar. The ladies' faces are almost completely obscured, because the director obviously only had the budget for one camera. The three ladies sit and chat, and eventually someone gets bored enough to strut up to Captain Serial Killer.
He remarks that her hair is cool. Her response, mid-conversation, is to do a spin in front of him.
Dating was so much simpler in the '80s.
The next several minutes are mostly just a chance for some crappy metal in the background, and some highly questionable effects. The bar gets a screen door effect, which possibly is meant to indicate how shitfaced everyone is.
And because this happens to be Slasher's First Video Project, an owl shows up:
I have not slowed or sped this up in any way.
If you're ... experienced enough to understand what's going on here, and why it's on screen for so bloody long, please get in touch.
Heavy Metal Massacre starts to drag from this point. A couple of people die — slowly, not because of torture but just because every scene is about four times longer than necessary. And the VHS quality, botchy filming and constant metal make it hard to take it anything seriously.
There's also a scene where a metalhead walks to work, and the camera switches to a long shot from behind. Not in a provocative or sexual way, but more like someone left the camera on the ground.
It's such a terrible film, in so many ways, that it should almost be educational. When shots and effects are used poorly, it shows the value of good cinema. And when you've only paid a dollar or two for the experience, it's hard not to laugh if off. Plus, most people were already buzzed from one of the excellent breweries in the area — honestly, it's the closest Sydney has got to Melbourne's much better night life.
There's no closure at the end, of course. Nothing else in the film was structured or shot properly, beyond Bobbi's hair and the one pose that he opens and closes the film with.
There's a good reason why Heavy Metal Massacre never saw a wide release. It's an atrocious creation on all counts, although you can have an awful lot of fun laughing at the stupidity of it all. It's not exactly something you can load up on Netflix, so I'm eternally grateful for the Pink Flamingo for bringing such trash into my life.
And it's a great confidence tool. Think you suck at something? Then imagine being the person who cut this together.
It's actually amazing how this film even got 3.0 on IMDB. It's so much worse.