Spend much time on a website dedicated to genre films and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find its author(s) reminiscing about the golden era of video-rental stores. This site is no different in that regard, and I think most of us who grew up in the 1980s look back fondly at browsing the aisles for the evening’s entertainment. Video stores changed the way we watch movies and, especially for those of us in small towns, gave us access to low-budget movies otherwise only available in big-city grindhouses and art theaters. More than that, though, video stores changed the very way movies get made by opening up the direct-to-video market, allowing filmmakers to bypass movie theaters completely. Now, just about anyone with a camera could shoot a movie and get it placed on at least a handful of video store shelves. While most of these straight-to-VHS offerings were spectacularly unpolished, they were often wildly entertaining to the point that their rough-around-the-edges qualities could be forgiven and even embraced by fans. Some, though, were rougher than others.
Splatter Farm is the story of twin brothers Joseph and Alan taking a vacation to their Aunt’s farm only to discover that her handyman is a crazed killer. On paper, the movie appears to contain everything the average, degenerate horror fan would want – there’s self-pleasure with dismembered body parts, a sexual assault conducted by an eighty-year-old lady on her nephew, implied horse-murder, and death by rectal fisting, just to name a few of the movie’s theoretical high points. The problem is that movies aren’t shot on paper, they’re shot on film (or in this case, a two-dollar Memorex VHS from KMart) and this particular film is really really terrible.
Splatter Farm stars real-life twin brothers John and Mark Polonia who also wrote, directed, produced, and edited. By the brothers’ own admission, they made the movie on a budget of just under a hundred dollars, but I challenge anyone to figure out what they would have spent even that amount on. There’s no actual acting – just people reading lines, the gore scenes are so bad that they can’t even manage to be unintentionally funny, and the only things thinner than the plot are the brothers’ wispy, teenage mustaches. It’s a movie in the sense that convenience-store security cam footage is also a movie: people have been captured doing things on videotape. After watching, I was surprised to see that the running time is only 70 minutes as it felt like it had dragged on for hours. A good 45 minutes of that 70 minutes is taken up by walking/sitting in silence with no apparent objective or impact on the “story”. It does succeed in being fairly creepy at times, mostly due to poor lighting in an old farmhouse, but the only truly horrifying moment comes watching the brothers run across the yard, each gangly limb flailing about independently of the others in a manner that would cause a kinesiologist to rethink his entire education.
But perhaps I’m being too harsh. In all fairness to the Polonia brothers, we should keep in mind that they were still in high school when they made Splatter Farm (their first of many no-budget horror movies), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it isn’t very good. Therein lies my dilemma in writing this review: as a fan, I think it’s really cool that a couple of kids made a horror movie – they had to start somewhere, after all – but as a reviewer, it’s my sworn duty to help you, the good people of the world, make smart viewing choices. In other words, I can appreciate that a lot of love went into the making of this movie, but that doesn’t mean I think you should watch it, unless maybe you’re the grandmother of the Polonia brothers or a fan of some of their later movies curious to see where they got their start. Everyone else can safely take a pass on this one without fear of missing out. There’s just not much to see.
Over the years, the demand for Splatter Farm rose mostly, I think, because it was almost impossible to find, and we humans are really good at wanting what we can’t get. In 2007, the movie was released as a “Cult Classic Edition” DVD, a term that, in this case, seems a bit generous, but, hey, if I created something and thought that calling it a cult classic would help it sell, I can’t say I wouldn’t give it a shot too.
You have been reading the original release of the Horror Binge review of Splatter Farm. For the Cult Classic Edition, send $19.95 (check or cash) and I will mail you deleted paragraphs along with a “making of” featurette and an author’s commentary guest-starring my cat who witnessed the production of this review in its entirety.
“What is it about her you don’t like…I don’t understand?”