Andre the Butcher (DVD)

Andre the Butcher (DVD)
Dinner is severed.
Updated: 04-12-2006

When a mystery indie horror DVD called Andre the Butcher arrived on my doorstep, I wasn't sure what to think: Porn legend Ron Jeremy as a serial killer? Actors and filmmakers I've never heard of? Cannibals again? Hm, OK…


Within a few minutes, I was hooked on this quirky horror parody which, in spite of what the back cover says, is a gross, gory, goofy comedy. Think of it as something like the Scary Movie franchise, but with a lot less spit and polish. (Well, OK, there's spit, but little polish on this go-for-broke low-budgeter.)


As the gruesome and hilarious plot unfolds, you see flashes of  9-1/2 Weeks, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Student Bodies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pulp Fiction, Bring It On, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Arachnophobia, Sweeny Todd, and Graveyard Alive — to mention just a few. Andre the Butcher sends up nearly every horror movie cliché you can think of, including filmmaking flubs like obvious body-doubles, incongruous insert shots, and cheesy metal songs that don't fit the action.


The story follows a quartet of ridesharing cheerleaders, The Beavers, who take to the road for a long drive to a cheer-competition. Along the way they run afoul of their rivals, The Gamecocks, but their real troubles begin when they get into a car accident and are forced to take refuge in the isolated farmhouse belonging to Andre the Butcher.


At regular intervals, we are fed bits and pieces of the story by a harmonica-blowing Greek chorus of one, a nameless old man (Gene Nash) who looks a lot like Denver Pyle but has the sex-drive of Hugh Hefner. He acts as our guide through the gore — sort of a "Masterpieces Theater" host.


The cheer group's apparent leader is a hot, spunky redhead named Cookie (Heather Joy Budner). Her girls are the bi-curious Jasmine (April Billingsley) and the snack-obsessed Kristy — aka, "Kristy Kreme" (Elizabeth Mullins). Jimbo (Justin Capaz) is the randy-but-poorly-endowed male on the squad. The four characters have a believable and easy vibe as good friends (and sometimes more) who like to joke around and tease each other. These scenes, where there isn't any horror or suspense, is where the film's excellent dialogue, goofy jokes, and the actors' good delivery is key. Without such a strong script, Andre the Butcher wouldn't work half as well as it does.


That's not to say the movie doesn't pull some boners (literally and figuratively). It does wander here and there, and the forays into the Butcher's back-story and his uncanny ability to mentally project black and white video images, border on the tedious.


Obvious but effective edits and segues bolster an otherwise cheap shot-on-video look, as do the interesting camera angles and decent mix of masters, close-ups and action sequences. Director Philip Cruz keeps the story moving along, despite having few actors and little to work with onscreen as far as locations and props.


One area that is not neglected is the grue. While these moments are actually few and far between in relation to the sex and comedy, they're gory and grotesque. Memorable moments include the lingering death of a Sheriff deputy who's been bisected in a field; his guts roil in the grass, and flies slurp at the blood. Like any good horror villain, Andre is indestructible; but even when his arm is severed, he sews and staples it back on and is again good to go in the knife-wielding department. When a hapless victim tries to exit stage left, he's skewered to the trunk of a tree with a blade through the eyeball.


As I mentioned, the acting is above-par for a low-budget horror flick (with one or two exceptions, who shall remain nameless here) and Jeremy was surprisingly good as the menacing, masturbating, scab-masticating murderer.


The DVD features some Chablis-soaked commentary by Cruz and Billingsly, who are joined by co-writer James Hyde, and "naughty nurse" and body double, Miranda. The commentary is sometimes amusing and sometimes informative, but it doesn't add anything to the viewing experience. There's also a deleted scene that, while funny, is rightly excised — it would have been the only blatantly self-aware moment in the film.


If you like horror comedies with grit, then Andre the Butcher is definitely worth the price of a rental (in stores April 25, 2006).


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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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