You know, I'll watch Ron Jeremy do pretty much anything. Hell, I've WATCHED Ron Jeremy do pretty much anything! And were it not for his presence in this film, Andre the Butcher would be languishing as an unfinished edit on someone's Mac laptop — And maybe it would be better for everyone if that were actually the case.
Horror films, especially slasher films, are by their very nature, funny. We see a gruesome death, then laugh reassuringly that it wasn't us eviscerated by some masked serial murderer. And that really is where the humor should end. A recent trend though has been to front load the film with so much self-referential humor that the entire purpose of the film, to be scary, ceases to exist. The film then becomes a parody, not of horror or slasher films in general, but of itself. To me this is like being the asshole at the cocktail party with the lampshade on his head. Sure, you think everyone is laughing at your irreverence because you are three sheets to the wind on warm Zima and Jell-o shots, when in reality they laugh at you for being a shithead who'll most likely spend the rest of the night alternating between manic fits of laughter, choking on your vomit, and telling strangers how much you love them.
Such is the case with Andre the Butcher. The premise is so old there are most likely Neanderthal cave paintings detailing the plot concerning a small group of people, lost, and eventually hunted by some deranged maniac. And if it were the case that Andre the Butcher told that story in a straightforward way, this wouldn't be in the Hall of Shame. Also, if the film had been a true parody, it would probably merit at least one skull in the regular review section.
Instead, Andre the Butcher plays to both sides of the audience, one minute a straight stalk and slash, the next a gag reel, and it makes the 90 minute running time stretch like salt water taffy.
We open with a wounded, nameless, prison inmate running from a sheriff's deputy through the tall grass of a Florida meadow. The inmate gets pinned down behind a tree, and even though he's armed, decides he can't run any further.
Someone kills the deputy before the inmate can surrender. The poor guy turns around to meet Andre, a big fat guy in a leather butcher's apron and welding mask wielding a kitchen knife.
Andre pins the inmate to a tree with a well-thrown blade. Visually accomplished by cutting from Andre with the knife at the ready to the inmate with the knife stuck in his eye socket. No fancy CGI in this flick, which admittedly, I was very glad for.
The best bit of the first thirty minutes is that Cruz manages to use at least ten different porn setups that pay off in horror movie scenes. And by porn setups I mean, literally, as if they were the precursor dialogue to a porn scene. A girl keeping a driver awake with oral sex, girls sunbathing, girls exploring each other, etc… These are lifted directly from the clichés well established in porn filmmaking. The presence of Ron Jeremy on set, a director of 131 (at last count) porn films suggests that he leant his considerable experience to the setups and shooting of these tidbits.
Simple, they didn't suck. In fact, there is a lot to be glad for in the first thirty or so minutes of Andre the Butcher. The acting is pretty okay even from a cast made up of relative unknowns, the stock was filtered to at least look like film (shot on digital video), and the script throws enough weird little one-liners that often laughed at the cleverness of the jokes.
Then, something happened. Maybe director Philip Cruz lost his sense of humor, timing, or direction because the entire feel of the film changes and trudges bewilderingly down the well worn path of amateur stalk and slash sprinkled with unfunny jokes.
Andre, of course, is played by Ron Jeremy.
And speaking of the rest of the cast, most of these kids do a half decent job most of the time with the dialogue they're given. The cheerleading squad from some high school, their mascot is "The Beavers", is on the way to regional championships in Florida. They are Cookie (Heather Joy Budner), Kristy (Elizabeth Mullins), Jasmine (April Billingsley), and Jimbo (Justin Capaz). The breakdown of personalities is, no big surprises here, Cookie is bisexual and slutty, Kristy is fat, Jasmine is chaste, and Jimbo is a heterosexual male cheerleader.
The characters descriptions, in fact the descriptions of all of the characters who speak at least, and the overall story details are delivered by "The Narrator" (Gene Nash) an old man telling the story as if it was a campfire legend. This is an economical way to get the main plot points across in a film like, say, oh I don't know, Lord Jim, or Moby Dick, or hell, Blade Runner (yes, I prefer the theatrical cut), but in a film this uncomplicated it says only that the writing team Cruz /Hyde didn't think the characters were important for us to get to know before throwing them into the events of the film. So we won't expect any character development from the opening credits onward that isn't delivered in narrated format.
Hooray, the film thinks I am an idiot.
After a run in with their cheerleading enemies from another school that leads to a roadside cheerleader brawl, the Beavers head off again on their long sojurn to Regionals. Jimbo, however, is tired but doesn't want to hand over the wheel to his ancient Dodge Colt. Because the other girls are apparently asleep Cookie decides to blow him to keep him awake (porn setup number one).
Kristy watches, Jasmine tapes, Cookie blows, Jimbo moans, the Dodge Colt slams into a pole beside a vast orange grove.
How Cookie manages to get away without at least a broke jaw is a mystery, so is the fact that Jimbo, with his junk in Cookie's mouth, emerges from the wreck with his manhood intact. Didn't these people see The World According to Garp?
Anyway, now stranded in the middle of nowhere the team needs to find a phone to call for a towtruck.
Meanwhile, Andre stops to "assist" the rival cheerleading team. We later see him stuffing their bodies in his minivan. We will never see them again. But that's okay, the narrator already told us they were rotten so I guess they got what was coming to them.
Anway, the Beavers find house in the middle of the orange grove and sneak in. Is this Andre's house? Probably, and if that's the case, he has a nice pool table and new cabinets in his kitchen. But both the phone and power are out (Jimbo's fault) and there isn't much food, just some leftover chili in the refrigerator, and some canned goods in the one cupboard that isn't completely bare. Jasmine heads to the basement but doesn't descend the steps because she's too frightened. Why? No idea, and it's never mentioned again anyway.
Bring on the narrator again as Tober (Alan Fessenden) and Hoss (Maury Sterling) have escaped from prison and are chained together. As they run through the meadow they stumble, literally, on an open casket and a half-a-sheriff's-deputy, still alive and begging to be killed.
They steal his gun and leave him.
Back at the house Jimbo and Cookie are about to bump uglies when Cookie catches Jasmine watching them (porn setup number two).
They invite her in (porn setup number three). But she balks and instead suggests that maybe someone should go for help since they have no power. They vote. Kristy, naturally, is selected to leave the house to find help. In a strange twist (for this film at least), Jimbo goes with her.
That allows Cookie to sunbathe nude outside while Jasmine films her from behind a tree (porn setup four). Andre is also watching from somewhere in the yard, as are Tober and Hoss. The girls go back inside. Jasmine is eating peaches from a can, Cookie is eating Vienna sausages from a can and the two compare their taste in food, which is a heavy handed metaphor for sexual preference (porn setup five). The girls end up in bed together licking chili off each other's feet (seriously… yuck) when Tober and Hoss find their way into the bedroom.
Now we have a foursome at the house and a pair in the wilderness.
Cut to Kristy and Jimbo talking about their mutual attraction as they walk (porn setup six) where Krisy reveals that she joined the cheerleading squad to be near Jimbo. They decide to have sex when Kristy is distracted by a donut hanging from a tree.
No seriously. It's a glazed donut on a string.
She doesn't think this is weird at all and is drawn to it almost as if she is a cartoon mouse being led by the smell of cheese. Ho ho… fat people SURE ARE FUNNY AREN'T THEY? Get it! She's fat, and can't resist a donut!
By now I have decided to hate this movie.
Andre springs out and grabs her after hacking her hand with a meat cleaver (fake meat cleaver, about $5 at Spencer gifts).
Cut to the house where Hoss is trying to reassure the girls that he and his redneck friend mean them no harm. This isn't working though and the girls won't give their real name to either of them.
Someone pulls up in a car, it's Sheriff Cooper (Terry Mross). Tober and Cookie hide in the bathroom, Hoss tells Jasmine to make sure the cop leaves without suspecting anything. He then hides, while wearing an orange jumpsuit mind you, behind THE FRONT DOOR. Jasmine lets the sheriff in for a look around and reassures him that she is waiting for some friends to pick her up.
Jimbo is alone and runs off into the wilderness where Andre corners him. Jimbo's dialogue and delivery here is so stunningly fucking awful it almost defies description. Even in self-referential horror there are moments that are supposed to be "true horror" and this is one of them. However, Jimbo manages to deliver his lines as if he is whining at a Subway sandwich clerk about putting too much mayo on his Italian BMT.
The scene is horribly shot too, alternating between a ground-up perspective at Jimbo to a top-down perspective of Andre waving his knives around. To create visual tension it should be the other way around.
Morons. Watch a little Hitchcock sometime.
Deputy Hollingsworth (Faye Canada) appears, shotgun at the ready, and shoots off Andre's arm. Andre scoops up the limb and runs off. Deputy Hollingsworth is black, therefore she must be a poorly acted variant of Coffy/Foxy Brown, the tough-ass black woman characters made famous by Pan Grier. However, the "sugar", "honey", and "jive turkey" lingo is so stunningly dated and poorly delivered by Ms. Canada it's impossible to concentrate on the film whenever she is central to the plot (and that increases as we go on).
Cut briefly to Andre sewing his arm back on. Huh?
Back at the house the sheriff mentions that the power is out because someone hit a pole a few miles away. However, they still have a working refrigerator, so the house must have power, or be on a different circuit.
Huh? What the hell? Is this just lazy filmmaking? We already established that power was out from the crash. Now the fridge is cold? I think Terry Mross accidentally opened the fridge door and forgot it was supposed to be off, and rather than reshoot it, they left it in. Well, that ads a whole new level of stupid to this film. Now, because Jasmine lied to him, he handcuffs her to the fridge and expects her to screw her way out of trouble (porn setup seven). Hoss rescues her though, strips the sheriff of his clothes so Tober can wear them, and the group makes a break for it in Cooper's patrol car.
Cut to Jimbo and The Other Stereotype heading back towards the house. They stumble over the half-deputy, still begging to be killed, Cut to 70's blaxploitation mode for a blast of funk as Hollingsworth is framed in hot pink. Then the sun sets.
Cut again to Tober, Hoss, Jasmine, and Cookie in Cooper's car making their escape. But there in the middle of the road is Andre. Rather than, say, drive past the killer, they stop and hurl insults at him.
Andre pulls a meat cleaver from his apron and… uh… magically shuts the car off and locks all the door. The hell? If Andre is going to a magic man, we gotta know WAY fucking earlier than this.
Andre pulls Tober out of the car and headbutts the redneck convict's head off. Hoss pulls the girls out of the car (how as the doors are locked we will have no idea) and they run back to the house.
Jimbo and Hollingsworth appear.
Hoss is handcuffed again, this time to a pole, and Hollingsworth doesn't believe Jasmine's tale of rape. Before anything else stupid can happen, something REALLY stupid happens. The TV turns on and shows Andre torturing Kristy in some basement somewhere.
Hoss mentions he has to pee. This seems like an innocuous little detail, but this film is as subtle as a drunken rhinoceros orgy so even the casual viewer should figure that Hoss' pee has something to do with the resolution.
But, let's get back to the story -
Kristy's hand is miraculously healed. We then get a montage of her eating donuts, a turkey leg, and a piece of candy from the ground. Get it! She's FAT!!! Haaa haaaa hooo hoooo.
Andre kills her and shows another montage of him making chili from Kristy's body parts, culminating with the scene of Jasmine licking chili off Cookie's toes. Uh… okay, so Kristy, the girl he just killed on TV is the same girl he killed in the past, from whose body he made chili that Kristy discovered in the fridge, and ate, when they first arrived at the house and was later used as a soft-core lesbian prop?
Uh… I think my TV just fell into a black hole created by an inadvertent time paradox. Oh, but that's not all we get on Andre-TV. Now we get a montage of Sheriff Cooper's misdeeds; killing a man in cold blood, throwing a tied woman into his trunk, and finally feeling up Jasmine. Andre appears briefly and draws his knife across his neck.
Hmmm… Gluttony and Wrath. Hey, anyone seen Morgan Freeman or Brad Pitt lately?
Sheriff Cooper tells everyone to sit tight and that he's leaving. Andre cuts his throat before he can go.
Hollingsworth blows off Andre's arm again, which he staples back on outside.
Okay, I admit I laughed at that.
The gang confronts Andre outside and shoot at him, but miss. Jasmine mentions that she doesn't think he can be killed by bullets anyway. They do manage to blow up the police car he's standing in front of though, the only to escape.
They run out of bullets.
Andre rises up as the explosion didn't kill him. The gang runs back into the house. Hoss begs to be uncuffed but Hollingsworth refuses. They decide to make a stand and "fight back with every weapon they can find in the house" perhaps the stupidest plan so far. Since they all apparently forgot that only one minute ago they shot and blew Andre up yet he didn't die.
During the home search Cookie and Jimbo explore a bedroom (porn setup eight) while Hollingsworth sees a spider and panics.
Oh, she's an arachnophobe, which is something a competent filmmaker would have introduced way earlier than this.
Cut to Hoss watching the newly active TV showing his past. He was a priest who hit on a girl, then killed a car jacker, both events forced him to lose his faith in God etc…Andre spares him.
Back with Jimbo and Cookie, well, Cookie and a bloody-handed Andre. She doesn't realize that Jimbo is dead (he's in the corner, dead and with a boner) and Andre is rubbing blood into Cookie's back.
Oops. He kills her.
This is the second time that the principal victims have to perform completely idiotic and illogical foreplay to make it easy for Andre to kill one of them. In fact, the script doesn't even bother to shake things up so that now, just like before, Jimbo and his co-victim, turn their backs to each other before undressing so that neither can see Andre take the other. The first time was when Kristy spotted the donut in the tree. Now it's in the bedroom with Jimbo and Cookie they do the same thing. Jimbo isn't smart enough to say "hey Cookie, here comes Andre!" nor is Cookie smart enough to turn around once she's undressed.
Fuck, why not make them blindfold each other, or claw each other's eyes out, it would make as much sense as the no looking-no talking foolishness going on here.
Hollingsworth crawls to safety and unlocks Hoss.
Jasmine walks downstairs where she has a vision featuring "The Narrator" his enema bag carrying wife, and all her dead friends begging her to save them. This scene is lit red to suggest hell, or at least some other worldly place. The Narrator whispers something into her ear before she runs away and appears upstairs where Hoss and Hollingsworth have found the bodies of Jimbo and Cookie.
Now it's time for Jasmine to spill the beans on Andre and throw the film into complete and utter idiocy. Keep in mind we've gone from so-so comedy to porn-inspired horror comedy to cheap shitty horror movie that rips off Se7en, and now we are plunging headlong into Fundamentalists Christian Dogma to wrap up the morality tale.
Hooray, after spending nearly 80 minutes up to my knees in crap, I'm going to get preached at.
Thank you movie. Now I hate you even more.
Jasmine has a few minutes of exposition to fill in the remaining cast, and the bewildered audience, as to why Andre seems indestructible. See, in the 1950's he was a happily married butcher in town (this is show to us in black and white with Ron and his family walking zombie-like toward the camera in slow motion. We know it's a flashback because Ron has a tie on. Anyway, his wife and daughter died in an accident but Andre couldn't understand why "God took them away, so he turned his back on the almighty and started butchering the townspeople and grinding them up for display in his deli case.
The town caught figured out what was in the meatloaf (or something) and lynched him. Now Andre works for Satan bringing in the souls of sinners and send them to Hell. The souls belong to Hell but the victim's flesh belongs to Andre.
Amazingly, Jasmine even knows how to end the madness now. See, if they consecrate Andre's grave then God can take possession of the butcher's body for a brief time and end t he slaughter. But, they need a man of God to consecrate the itinerant butcher's grave (which we've now seen twice). Not coincidentally Hoss is a lapsed priest.
Flashback to Hoss in priest's clothes.
Huh. Wait one cotton-picking minute! The very idea of God, or the Almighty, is that he/she is in fact omnipotent so why all the arcane bullshit about consecrated graves? If God wants Andre's body he can take it whenever he wants. According to Christian mythology he made the universe with a couple of finger snaps, so putting the squish down on Ron Jeremy should be a non-issue. But of course, because all of the characters are, I now believe, mildly retarded, this is never discussed.
They make a few gallons of Holy Water and head off to consecrate the grave. Strangely, rather than have Hoss do the blessing of the water, Jasmine does it, because, remember, she's a good Christian girl with lesbian tendencies and not a lapsed priest who killed a car jacker… or something.
I dunno, maybe I was home sick when we did that lesson about the hierarchy of those that can make holy water in Sunday School. Thankfully there wasn't a Cardinal who is also a vigilante hit man, or a monk who loves porn, or a nun who can fly, or we’d spend the last ten minutes of the movie trying to figure out how the hierarchy of holy water blessedness works.
God blesses Hollingsworth with a shirt full of bullets and shotgun shells.
I guess the Almighty is an NRA member, or works part time at Wal-Mart in the sporting goods and armor piercing bullets department (right by the Korean tires and Mexican toys, aisle 7).
Now the team talks about their plans for life after Andre: Hoss is going to Mexico for Nachos, Jasmine will get married and have lots of little fundamentalist babies, and Hollingsworth will get "two bottles of Hennessey and some dick".
Gee, why not work in that she wants some fried chicken, watermelon, and welfare checks too? I mean, you couldn't do much more to make Hollingsworth stunningly fucking stereotypical. It's not funny, it's offensive and stupid and dare I say, racist. I hope Ms. Canada saw the finished film and kicked Philip Cruz squarely in the stones, repeatedly, until he passed out.
They start their run for the grave with Andre in hot pursuit.
Andre breaks one of the holy water bottles.
Hollingsworth turns to hold the butcher back, runs into a rubber spider and panics, which allows Andre to kill her.
Hoss trips over the half deputy, STILL begging to be killed, and breaks the last bottle of holy water. Jasmine says she'll "hold him off" while Hoss prays over Andre's grave.
Since we've already ripped off countless films, let's steal from, TV!
Buffy… er… I mean Jasmine, fights with Andre using her cheerleader fu. If it wasn't such a shameless theft I'd comment that the fight sequence was actually well shot.
Jasmine only barely gets the better of Andre as Hoss punches the casket open.
Both Jasmine and Hoss get stabbed allowing Andre to steal the chainsaw dance from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (sans chainsaw) while the injured heroes crawl to his grave.
Hoss begs Jasmine to unzip his pants. Why the hell he can't do it is a mystery, he still has arms and stuff. See, Hoss is going to consecrate the grave with the only holy water he has left. Hoss pees on Andre's body and ends the curse.
Andre burns up.
Jasmine and Hoss miraculously heal right there on the ground, but they never discuss it because neither of them considers recovering immediately from kitchen knife stab wounds is in any way miraculous.
Cut to the narrator who ladles on the moral for anyone who fell asleep in the last thirty minutes or so – "Believe in a higher power, believe in yourself."
Yeah, fuck you. Okay?
End movie. Take DVD from player, stomp into tiny little pieces, use fragments to construct ornate replica of St. Peter's Basilica to destroy with Bandai Godzilla toys.
If Cruz and Hyde had managed to find one type of film they wanted to write, and stick with it, Andre the butcher could have been a repetitive but not wholly unwatchable stalk and slash flick, contra positively, they could have also embraced the cheesiness of the material and made a somewhat entertaining farce. But it's as if they wrote the script then decided ten pages is that they really didn't want to make a comedy horror film, but a real horror film, then a porn film three pages after that, and a comedy horror again, then a drama, then they got drunk and watched Buffy Season 3, Se7en, and ten straight hours of The 700 Club before co-opting all of that material into the final draft, sprinkled it with some Blanche Knot quality fat and black stereotypes, and voila! Roll cameras.
It's a shame that the material goes astray too, the melding of porn imagery and horror imagery is certainly intriguing, especially when you consider the parallels of both genres, but this evaporates a mere forty or so minutes as if the idea didn't have enough thought behind it to sustain the film.
But, it could have, if the script/directing didn't suck.
In case there is another project in the works from this gang, here's a helpful list of horror movie good and bad stereotypes for your next movie –
Horror movie stereotypes –
Nerd (always wears glasses doesn't know how to talk to members of opposite sex)
Chaste girl (innocent)
Hussy (not innocent)
Heavy metal fan (not as dumb as they look)
Regular guy (usually the second to last to die)
Here are actual stereotypes you want to AVOID using in your movie-
Jive talking black people
Fat people who can't stop eating (unless you are making a Lifetime TV movie about Bulimia)
Chinese who can't drive
Japanese with cameras always around their neck screaming "Gozirra!"
Redneck racist assholes (unless the film is actually about racist assholes – see Mississippi Burning for an example of this)
Greedy Jewish money-lenders
Arab terrorists (unless the film is actually about Arab terrorists) Indians who say "come again" and work in convenience stores who aren't Apu Nahasapeemapetalon
Notice the difference in the two lists? No? Let me point it out for you.
The horror movie stereotypes are not race specific while the actual stereotypes are, with the exception of the fat people category. The actual stereotypes actually turn your characters from people we might relate with to subhumans defined only by negative societal imagery.
There, see, I can preach too. Assholes.