Wednesday, 4 February 2015


At the risk of making half of my readership think I'm a bit odd (although I know you horror fans are an open-minded lot, so I should be ok), I have a bit of a fascination with serial killers. I've watched plenty of cheesy late night documentaries on the most vile and deranged men to ever walk the face of the earth: the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, the Zodiac Killer, Jack the Ripper and Ed Gein.
So imagine if a horror movie were to assemble a group of the worst of the worst, like a team of psycho Avengers, then set them loose on a suitable group of victims in a slasher flick?
Obviously this raises some morality questions but as a premise, that does more than enough to raise interest.
So is this film a killer? Or does it Butcher its potential?
Read on...


Dir: Steven Judd
Starring: Damien Puckler, Cameron Bowen, Semi Anthony, Milly Sanders, Hawk Walts, Mary LeGault, Marion Kopf, John C Epperson, Gary Kasper, Rick Williamson, Randall Bosley, Braxton Davis, Jeremy Thoresen, Tonya Kay, Ire Wardlow, Charito Mertz, Jacob Hobbs, Christy Keller, Mara Hall

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk.

The movie opens with a wealthy African man, JB (Anthony) meeting with a collector (Bosley). The collector is the proprietor of a roadside attraction, The Death Factory, a macabre museum dedicated to the worst serial killers in history. The collector has several original artefacts that belonged to six murderers: Albert Fish, Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer,  The Zodiac Killer, John Wayne Gacy and Jack The Ripper.
It is soon revealed, that JB is also a killer and he has need of these artefacts. He plans to use them, along with an incantation from an ancient grimoire, to raise the serial killers from the dead and enter into competition with them. It seems that these dark souls absorb the power of their victims and by killing them JB can, in turn, absorb their power to become the ultimate killer.
Meanwhile a bus loaded with tourists on their way to the Grand Canyon breaks down nearby. 
The passengers set off to the nearby Death Factory. Soon the serial killers are on a collision course with the eclectic mix of personalities from the bus — including former soldier Simon (Puckler), his exercise obsessed brother Brian (Bowen), preacher Bill (Davis) and his meek wife Daisy (Sanders), Goth rebels Ren (Thoresen) and Star (Kay), fun-girls Candi (Mertz) and Nicole (Wardlow), sweet brother and sister Kip (Hobbs) and Jan (Keller) and feisty May (Hall).
With this many individuals vying for survival and power, who will survive? Which killer is set for supremacy? And what the hell did they do to Jack the Ripper????

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): The Butchers/Death Factory is one of the most imaginative horror films I've seen in some time. It manages to pack a hell of a lot of great ideas into its running time. We have a veritable Galactico team of killers, some quite fascinating interpretation of some of them, an inspired motive behind the main villain, plenty of thrillingset-pieces and some suitably mystical hocus pocus, including the Highlander-esque quickening energy transference.
The story, by Stephen Durham and David McClellan, just goes to show that there are some original thinkers out there in the film-making business.
I've got a lot of respect for what director  Judd has managed to do with the limited resources at his disposal. The Butchers rarely shows signs of any budgetary constraints, cleverly never overreaching and focusing on telling its story well, not flashily. 
There are quite a few fight scenes in the movie and, surprisingly, the choreography in them is pretty damn good. Both Puckler and Anthony are clearly accomplished martial artists and between them take part in plenty of enthralling tussles. But it wasn't just the physical side of their role that they nailed, they were both capable performers too and displayed fine acting chops. 
Other cast members also impressed. I liked the versatility that Sanders showed with her character, and I predict big things for her. I was also a big fan of Kasper as Gein. He wasn't really much like the real man, but he made a brilliant depraved redneck murderer. This is a big, imposing guy with a natural talent for horror villainy. Of all the killers, Kopf was the man who best resembled his real world counterpart. His Dahmer was eerily lifelike. Well done sir!
Of the potential victims the very attractive Mertz and Wardlow brought some fun energy to two characters who could have been nothing but huge annoyances if their performances had been broader. Arguably the best character is the delightful May and Mara is brilliant in the role. One of my very favourite scenes featured Mara finally losing her cool and throwing down with the hulking Zodiac Killer. I laughed out loud!
Finally I want to praise the mood this movie takes. Playing out almost like a VERY dark action movie, it combines fun and horror in equal measure. Some of the death scenes (and just about anything with Walts's Gacy) are legitimately creepy, the fistfights would slot neatly into a Van Damme movie and there are plenty of good laughs to break the tension. 

WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): I'll get straight to it — there is some seriously dubious morality at play in a movie that depicts some of the most heinous and vile predators the world has ever known. Gacy, Dahmer, Zodiac et al ended real lives and they left shattered families in their wake. I cannot imagine how the friends and relatives of the victims of these sick individuals feel seeing the killers brought to life for entertainment purposes. Luckily the new title of The Butchers managed to avoid another potential source of offence — while I think Death Factory was actually a cooler name, it is also a term that has been used to refer to German Externination Camps in WWII. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief at that dodged billet.
In defence of the movie, I'd argue that plenty of liberties are taken with the characters to distance them from the real-life monsters they represent. However, this in itself can be a little distracting. While I praised this in some cases, one in particular raised a WTF — Jack the Ripper.
While the identity of the real Ripper (if indeed there ever was a single killer) is still very much a mystery, I'm pretty sure that the famous Victorian serial killer was not actually a leather clad dominatrix who hid her face with a wrinkly latex mask and spoke in an appalling (and very badly dubbed) cockney accent.
In fact, 'pretty sure' may be downplaying my feelings somewhat.
Finally, the movie struggled to give adequate screen time to its huge cast. Some members were relatively well-served, but others were merely two-dimensional stereotypes and pretty much just included to provide more victims for the admittedly very high body count.
Perhaps if the slight 80 minute running time had been stretched out by another 10-15 minutes we could have been given a bit longer to get to know our cast of characters? Oh well.
Finally, a pet peeve — the DVD artwork doesn’t match the flick at all. If those cool masked chaps were the Gein and Gacy in the movie, I could dig it, but they really aren’t. I know this is down to the marketing team rather than the filmmakers, but I’m calling shenanigans here!

VERDICT: I'll be honest, I had a great time with The Butchers. It was imaginative, thrilling, had some serious scares and featured a great cast, well directed by a talented hand. 
What more could you ask for?
The film is available on DVD over here in the UK now, so check it out.
While you're at it, why not hit the movie's official Facebook page and give it a Like?  You know it makes sense!

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.


  1. Thanks a lot for taking the time to watch our little film. Glad to see you watched it the way we intended it to be watched. A funny, action packed scary, little bit of everything film. It you're ever in L.A. give me a shout and we'll get together.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it!
      All the best