Film Review: Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)

SYNOPSIS:

A man visits Alcatraz prison after having dreams about all the people who died there. When he gets there, his brother is possessed by an envil cannibal demon. The ghost of a female heavy metal singer who was killed there tries to help the man fight the monster.

REVIEW:

One of the lost B-movie horror films of 1988, “Slaughterhouse Rock” is probably best forgotten bearing a few notable inclusions. 80’s singer Toni Basil stars as heavy metal rock singer Sammy Mitchell appearing mid film. The other highlight is an (almost) full soundtrack composed by Devo. In fact the closing credits tune is an original duet combo Devo song featuring Basil spouting out in her best metal voice titled, “The Only One” (I found it a welcome change from her “Mickey” style material)

Alex Gardner (Nicholas Celozzi) a young college kid has been suffering from a series of odd nightmares. In each, he is attacked by monsters and demons stemming from the former killers exploits living at Alcatraz…(that is before it became the prison). The monster attacks usually resemble zombies or creatures clawing their way thru the walls (Nightmare on Elm Street style). To be honest, I didn’t really catch the entire reasonings behind Alcatraz or the demonic influences (I comment on this more below).

These nightmares seem to be growing worse, so Alex turns to his college professor Carolyn Harding (Donna Denton) to gab some quick advice on the whole ordeal. Carolyn advises him to head off with his friends to the island and see if the ghost he’s being haunted by will make contact freeing him from his night terrors. The group becomes stranded making matters worse. What viewers might find amusing (well at least I did) was how easily the group breaks in a few prison doors without much effort (This is Alcatraz right??).

Alex’s brother Richard (Tom Reilly) is overtaken by one of the demons and becomes a teeth-bearing menace killing several as a result. It is during this chaos that Alex is approached by Sammy Mitchell (Toni Basil) of whom aids him during his stay. Sammy, now a ghost, reveals that she used to sing for a band known as “Body Bag”. Her inclusion still seems a bit odd, getting even odder when she performs a dance number midway thru the film. Though for the record, Basil still looked hot in her prime in what I am guessing was her only horror movie acting gig. (Basil went on to act in quite a few other film related projects)

“Slaughterhouse Rock” seems to get lost at times in its own retro-genre presentation often making much of it a bit confused while other times failing to deliver on its poor attempts at humor. Perhaps one too many ideas influenced by other horror films from its time spoils the broth. It’s target audience is quite apparent with a script that is poorly executed. The Alcatraz segments were most likely done in studio while using the actual location for its establishing footage.

“Slaughterhouse Rock” promoted as a rock horror film, ends up being more of a silly attempt at using Alcatraz as a set with Basil popping in for spiritual guidance. The movie features a small share of gratuitous nude scenes attached to 80’s style killing segments. One of which has the demon raping his girlfriend for a quickie demonic takeover.

MTV cheesy visual effects using colored lighting and smog machines are used through out the production often replacing its horror aspect with something from a set of Motley Crue.

The film originated under the Taurus label and then found its way to VHS. As of this review, its copies are generally weak bootlegs from the VHS itself with no plans for DVD. The film was also released as “Alcatraz Horror” and “Hell Island”, but anyone who might remember it will most likely only make the “Slaughterhouse Rock” connection.

Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)

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One Response to Film Review: Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)

  1. Charles says:

    This was a fun movie. Its far from a cinematic masterpiece, but I did enjoy seeing it.

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