Film Review: Nutbag (2000)

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SYNOPSIS:

A serial killer stalks prostitutes on the mean streets of Las Vegas.

REVIEW:

It is sometimes said that in an author’s first work, he or she often ends up spinning a highly personal and highly autobiographical tale as their inexperience can cause them to (inadvertently) fall back on what they know. I don’t know how this theorem translates over to film, but let’s hope Nutbag is all the product of the director’s (unoriginal) imagination. The slasher sub-genre has often been criticized for having a less-than-healthy attitude toward women (a criticism that is not always unfounded), but with Nick Palumbo’s initial effort, a bitter glaze of racism is added in to the mix.

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Nutbag is the same generic slasher movie you’ve already seen, over and over. You could change the name to Las Vegas Bloodbath, or 555, or Murder-Set-Pieces (Palumbo’s more (in)famous film), or a number of others and you’ll still have the same general movie. Psychopathic killer has family issues, takes them out on various naked women. But as I mentioned before, Nutbag ups the ante.

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Our monotone killer (a character named only “killer” and played by Mack Hail) rambles non-stop, talking to his pet tarantula when he’s not blowing smoke in its face. From his diatribes, as well as an awkward flashback about ¾ through the movie, we learn that he was often beaten by his father (who then killed himself) and his mother left him. Or she had sex with a black guy, who then killed her? Either way, he now hates women and black people, as well as women who love black people. Fathers who beat their children? No, they are safe in this psycho killer’s world. Nutbag’s killer only wants to stab women in the vaginas with his knife. And no, that’s not just metaphorical.

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There really isn’t much more to say about the story of this movie. It really is just a guy in Las Vegas walking the streets and killing women. Sometimes he wears a mask when he chases them. Sometimes he makes them wear a mask (and nothing else) as he taunts them for being women and then kills them. Between kills (which, by the way, are poorly done, both effects-wise and originality-wise), he rants like Travis Bickle (but with none of the charisma) about how the streets are full of scum and how he’d kill himself but then there would be no one left to take care of the garbage. He also has the occasional breakdown, sometimes pounding his fists against his door and his skull, sometimes yanking grass from the ground, handful after non-eco-friendly handful, for what seems like way longer than is needed.

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All of the acting in Nutbag is atrocious. Some people will blame this on the fact that this is a very low budget film, but that’s just an excuse. I’ve seen films with lower budgets with great acting and much better gore effects. But the killer really is the worst. He’s like the dude you met at Denny’s back in the late 1990’s who always sat in the back corner booth and quoted Kevin Smith movies non-stop. He’s a hulking man who shaves his head but leaves his sideburns and has a bad, nu-metal goatee.

You know he’s a winner immediately, but wait ‘til you see his apartment. Headless p*rn centerfolds on the walls, creepy masks, McFarlane action figures, perpetually lit candles, and a “Scream” inflatable (not from the Wes Craven movie, but from the Edvard Munch painting). There is an especially telling dialogue between the killer and his neighbor Mandy (played by Renee Sloan, who not only played the illustrious “Hooker #1” in Murder-Set-Pieces, but also plays the role of Scott Baio’s wife) where either the off-screen cue cards are stuck together, or the abilities of our cast truly shine.

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I can’t think of any reason to suggest Nutbag to any horror movie fans outside of those who, like myself, have a life goal to see every horror movie ever made, even the worst. The acting is bad, the gore is weak, the story is bland and generic, and the undertones are disturbing, to say the least, but not in that “cool, edgy” way that we might prefer.Nutbag-2000-Movie-9

The fact that writer/director Nick Palumbo has so little care for his female characters that he names them things like Motel Hooker, Smoking Hooker, and Elevator Girl (a step up from naming them Hooker #1, Hooker #2, etc, as he does a little bit later) tells me that I don’t need to worry about his characters, either. Which means I’m not worried about searching out his next film either, unless it’s for a similar purpose as this; to provide a warning to those of us with “good” taste.

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About seanofthedead

In 1987, after hearing Poison’s “Look What the Cat Dragged In” for the first time, Sean decided he wanted to play drums. After realizing all rock stars wore leather pants, he traded in his dreams of fortune and fame for 80’s sitcoms, horror movies, and punk rock. Sean has spent his recent years trying to recover from Catholic guilt while searching for an idea worth writing.

6 Responses to Film Review: Nutbag (2000)

  1. SteelScissorsInYourHead says:

    The death knell of horror is liberal PC bullshit. Half of this review is whining about how women are portrayed. The other half is whining about racism.

    For horror to survive and thrive as a genre it has to be free of the constraints of generic sheep thinking politically things. The film itself may be utter crap, but that would be for reasons other than the two our reviewer is harping on.

    Notice the great horror comes out of Europe these days? It’s because of whiny, weak minded PC reviewers like this one. North America is an abyss for proper horror.

  2. There we go! Discussion!
    For horror to survive and thrive as a genre, it has to come up with original ideas. The horror that is coming out of Europe is better overall, yes, but this review hardly has anything to with that. It’s because the European directors are coming up with new ideas; scary, creepy, disturbing ideas. Not because I am “PC” or a “generic sheep,” two things I have never before been called.
    Also, maybe re-read the review, my friend. You are exaggerating a bit. And I give a multitude of reasons why this movie is bad, not just the two “PC” ones you got hung up on.
    Have you seen Nutbag? The main character/serial killer is a non-apologetic racist and a mysogynist. I don’t know what you want me to do here, I’m only working with what the director has given me.
    I am actually super happy that the review has generated discussion, though, and I hope it can continue in a respectful way just as it has started. Thanks, SteelScissorsInYourHead, your response is appreciated.

    • SteelScissorsInYourSkull says:

      In the real world people there are racist and misogynists. Does that mean hate and violence shouldn’t be portrayed on screen? Do we need kinder, gentler or less realistic motivations for a killer? You certainly seem to think so.

      The new kool aid is political correctness and it’s poison for the genre. Hell, it’s poison for films in general and has practically killed stand up comedy. The fear of offending specific groups is so enormous that we’re trying to wrap society and all our entertainments in protective jackets.

      It;s ludicrous to pretend we can eliminate ‘hate’. I’ll go further and state that it’s not a desirable outcome even if we could. Take the edge off the human being and you have a sheep. Sheep like gentle, uninteresting things: i.e. the ton of piss poor PG rated Hollywood horror we’ve been getting for a long time now.

      Hooray for hate. It’s okay not to embrace the differences of others, it’s very very human.

      Help keep horror edgy. Ignore media manipulative words such as ‘misogynist’ or ‘homophobic’. They only exist to control you.

  3. Rob Getz says:

    I read the review and immediately thought “sounds like a piece of shit,” but perhaps I was missing some subliminal call to conformity? Nah, it think it was just a review for a terrible film. Of course, maybe I’m the idiot but I suspect that isn’t the case here, SteelSomethingInSomething.

  4. The Black Saint says:

    Ummm, I read the review (TWICE) and what I got out of it is that it’s a shitty movie – nothing more, nothing less. If it looks, walks & sounds like a duck…then it’s a duck.

    And (if you discount the opinion of my wife), I’m pretty sure I’m not an idiot that’s whining about racism or how women are portrayed in film. Bad movies are just that…bad movies.

  5. Dawnofthedead says:

    Hey Scissorsinthehead guy….Did we read the same review? Sure the reviewer mentions the way women were looked down on (also mentioning the killers hatred for blacks) but it’s mentioned more as a reason for WHY the killer does what he does, not to be PC or any of the reasons YOU stated. What I got out of the review is “this is a crap movie don’t waste your time” and some very good, believable reasons why it sucked.What I walked away with after reading this review was just what the author intended. This movie sucks , don’t expect much. And I certainly won’t be wasting my time adding it to my Netflix lineup.
    Thank you SotD, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time with the movie.

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