Sunday, October 10, 2010

Death And Disco!

Video Nasty #5

Mardi Gras Massacre


NTSC Running Time: 91:42
Directed, Written, and Produced by Jack Weis
Starring: Curt Dawson, Gwen Arment and William Metzo
Body Count: 5
Naked People: 3
Availability: Out-of-print NTSC VHS from VCII

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Breasts and blood in the same shot.
What was cut: Not a thing.
Current UK Status: Mardi Gras Massacre remains banned in the UK, as it has never been submitted for classification.
Mardi Gras Massacre was successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, making it one of the DPP39.

Okay, this is not a great movie.

But it has some charming facets.

A mysterious man known only as "John" (William Metzo) wanders the bars of New Orleans, looking for "something special".  He asks every pimp and prostitute he meets where he can find girls who are evil.  Literally.  He talks about evil so much that you know the tongue is in the cheek.  When he lures a girl to his apartment, he ties her to a table, slices her hand, her foot, then removes her heart...or, as he refers to it: "The part you use for your evil!" in a sacrifice to an Aztec deity.  See?  Charming in its' ridiculousness.

He dumps a body and the cops get involved.  Curt Dawson stars as the cop on the case.  He enlists the help of a hooker named Sherry (Gwen Arment) to help track down John.  They fall for each other, romance ensues, leading to a falling out and Sherry falling into the clutches of the villain.  Sound familiar?

This had to have been inspired by Blood Feast (see Video Nasty #1).  Mardi Gras Massacre is one of those movies that needs to be viewed from a certain angle to be enjoyed.  Feature Film?  Snooze.  1970s Public Access Cop Show?  Fun!  Everything about this screams 70s, from the ridiculous clothes, gratuitous nudity...and even more gratuitous dance sequences!  Scenes in strip clubs and discos feature extended shots of ladies dancing for no good reason but to pad the running time, and one of the victims gets into the act as well, combining the gratuitous nudity and gratuitous dancing by taking off all of her clothes and dancing her way to the slaughter.  The fact that the pounding disco soundtrack rarely lets up and fights the dialogue through most of the movie is galling.  The music ranges from the annoying to the awful to the occasionally good...for 1978 disco tracks, anyways.

And there are some facets to this movie that will make you smile: the longhaired Al Yankovic lookalike who pimps a girl to the killer while speaking entirely in rhyme.  The mugging-gone-wrong sequence where a couple tries to attack John and all of them are silent the entire time.  And, my favorite, the footage of Mardi Gras near the end.  Apparently Mardi Gras in the late seventies was less like an extended wet t-shirt contest and more like a party you'd want to attend...that is, if the footage here is accurate.

All in all, Mardi Gras Massacre is amateurish and gratuitous, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Writer/Producer/Director/Cinematographer Jack Weis certainly tried, and if his goal was to make a police procedural with a lot of topless women, he succeeded...although he definitely put more effort into the nudity than the cops, and none of the nudity is erotic, it's just there.  And all of the murders are shot exactly the same, but they didn't skimp on the effects budget and the heart-removal sequences are (relatively) tough to watch: the camera holds in closeup on a ceremonial knife plunging into a naked female torso (this is where the BBFC said "That's not cricket, old boy!") and hands removing the heart, all done without a cut, a ballsy technique for a low-budgeter.  If you're one of the lucky few souls with a rental outlet or library that still stocks VHS and is open to all kinds of films (the only way one of those places is still open anyway), check it out and MST3K it with a box of wine and a few tasteless Glenn Quagmire-types.  Good times, good times.

I'm not quite sure what's next...but since the only Nasty in my possession that does not belong to me is the aforementioned Jesus Franco slasher Die Sage des Todes, so that's a prime candidate.  But I don't want to say one thing and do another.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

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