Through the transformation of the glorious WTF-Films into the even more glorious Exploder Button and the ensuing server changes, some of my old columns for the site have gone the way of all things internet. I’m going to repost them here in irregular intervals in addition to my usual ramblings.
Please keep in mind these are the old posts without any re-writes or
improvements. Furthermore, many of these pieces were written years ago, so if
you feel offended or need to violently disagree with me in the comments, you can
be pretty sure I won’t know why I wrote what I wrote anymore anyhow.
An overdressed man (Bill Metzo) comes into a bar in New Orleans. He asks the
resident helpful prostitute Sherry (Gwen Arment) who among her colleagues there
is the most evil. After being pointed in the direction of the evil gal of
evilness, he introduces himself with the words "Hello....I understand....that
you are the most...evil woman...here". Having thusly won her trust (and
delivered his big line of the movie), he takes her home, straps her to a massage
table in the evil temple to the Aztec goddess of Evil part of his apartment and
cuts her heart out.
He'll do that intermittently for the rest of the movie with women of whose
evilness he has made sure of by the mystical power of asking about it, because
they are evil, the goddess is evil, and they'll be happily evil together
everafter. His final goal seems to be to kill three prostitutes at once on Fat
Tuesday to bring the evil Aztec goddess of Evil back to (presumably evil)
When we are not watching him and his evil designs (of evil, etc), we have the
dubious pleasure of witnessing the investigational efforts of the two cops (Curt
Dawson & another guy) who are supposedly working on the case. In practice,
they are sitting around in bars and drinking a lot and Dawson is romancing
Shelly in a way that makes the romance plots of Don Dohler films look positively
riveting. And that's it for the plot.
I can recommend Mardi Gras Massacre only to the true scholars of
horrible independent local filmmaking from the US. Less inquisitive/depraved
minds will probably, nay certainly, be bored out of their minds with this one
even before the cops make their first snail-like appearance.
And yet the movie looks so good on paper: a Blood Feast rip-off
taking place in New Orleans on the eve of Mardi Gras! Whatever could go wrong?
So it is too bad that MGM's director Jack Weis makes Herschell Gordon
Lewis look like a genius filmmaker. There's no shot too static for Weis, no
actor too slow and boring, no interior too drab and brown. It is difficult to
truly comprehend how little creativity a director can bring to the plate and
still be called one, really. Speaking of a lack of enthusiasm for his work would
be sounding much too positive here. I suppose "zombie-like" is a fair
description of Weis' directorial style.
Not even the gore effects are worthy of consideration, mostly because it is
one single, improbable heart-cutting effect repeated ad nauseam.
And don't go around thinking Weis will show you much more of New Orleans than
darkened bar interiors (although I doubt that it is in truth more than one place
filmed from slightly different angles) and a handful of naked women, the latter
often dancing unenthusiastically. True, there are two musical montages (yes, one
of them a love montage) and a "chase" (if you like to call it that) through a
Mardi Gras procession, but the former are painfully disinterestedly filmed and
the latter comes much too late in the course of the movie to matter anymore.
There's a complete and utter apathy about anyone we see in front of the
camera, too, except for Bill Metzo's nameless killer. He isn't exactly
sprightly, mind you, yet I appreciate his brilliant failure to sound or act like
a human being,
his...awkward...pauses...after...every...single...word....he.......says and his
near-permanent bug-eyeing. At least someone is putting a little effort in.
Then there's the music, a never-ending, throbbing mass of bad disco funk with
only short breaks for pointless, wavering synthie throbbing. The music never
fits anything we see on screen, and if I were a cynic, I'd say that Weis just
dubbed a "Worst of Disco Funk" compilation onto the film's soundtrack to keep
himself awake while editing and forgot to replace it with something more
appropriate later on.
But that's not the worst of it. The worst, the terrible, unspeakable truth is
that I somehow enjoyed watching this.
Mardi Gras Massacre has the warm and cosy rhythm only the truly
great cinematic abominations have, combined with the curious thrill of watching
a film in which every camera movement or an honest to god close-up are
sensational moments of visual creativity that suddenly jolt the viewer
There is something about a film that is structured like this one is - boring
scene, utterly boring scene, boring scene, sudden idiotic line of dialogue,
another boring scene, an even more boring scene, sudden excitement as a victim
shows her dancing skills before she is sacrificed, another boring scene, more
boring scenes, Shelly demonstrates her imaginary disco dancing prowess to the
viewer's shattering mind, more boring scenes, the end - that makes it hard for
me to look away while it is running. When one's taste has gone so far down the
drain that one begins to think that Herschell Gordon Lewis wasn't actually so
bad in comparison to the director of the film one is watching out of one's own
free will, something like Mardi Gras Massacre develops a kind of
hypnotic power much too perverse to be explained by a concept like "so bad that
Mardi Gras Massacre is so far beyond trivialities like this that I
can't help but think of poor, overused Nietzsche and one of his most overused
little ditties. Enjoying its presence is what happens to you when you have
stared into the abyss, the abyss has stared into you, and you have learned that,
gee, you kinda like this abyss. At least nothing ever happens in it.