What is your favorite splatter epic? Is it John Carpenter's The Thing? How about Jörg Buttgereit's sickening Nekromantik? Perhaps you are more inclined to enjoying such icky Eastern offerings as The Guinea Pig Series or the Mediterranean macabre of Lucio Fulci. From Day of the Dead to Hostel, Cannibal Holocaust to Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, blood and its onscreen bounty has been a jolly genre given since the gruesome gave way to the gory. Of course, there has to be more than mere vivisection, as many of the above titles and artists confirm. Still, some movies want to get away with being nothing but autopsies and atrocities. Take the recently release The Summer of Massacre. Jack-of-Too-Many-Trades Joe Castro set out to make a record-breaking bit of human deconstruction. Because of the means used to achieve this redolent record, however, the end result is nothing short of ridiculous.
Intro - the police have surrounded a warehouse. Inside, we see a huge pile of corpses and three insane murderers. Eventually, we watch 'FBI' tape of the trio, each explaining their murderous modus operandi.
"Rampage" - a beefy jogger is assaulted and brutally beaten by a gang of robbers. Instead of dying, however, he 'lives' and goes on a massive multi-person killing spree.
"Lump" - a young paraplegic is given very little time to live. So naturally her slutty sister takes her to the park and pushes her off a cliff. Of course, that doesn't stop this handicapped killer from Hell.
"Son of the Boogeyman" - a young man tells his girlfriend about his questionable past. Suddenly, his paranormal parent shows up, seeking to satisfy his bloodlust.
"Burn" - while on a camping trip, a group of teens are regaled by the story of two gay firemen and their hate crime death at the hands of their buddies. Naturally, their burned bodies were never recovered.
Epilogue - our trio are cornered...and take it out on each other.
Of the four plots present, the first makes little sense. Our jogger, who is apparently possessed by some manner of rage virus (or zombie-like death disease) is just a vehicle for various Voorhees level kills. The filmmaking flow offers up a random victim, a momentary pause, and then animated mayhem. No investment. No rhyme or reason. Just brutal, sadistic murder. At least "Lump" provides Scream Queen Supreme Brinke Stevens, doing her best considered Mom routine, to get us interested. Even the simple storyline delivers a few moments of meaning. But once our handicapped cretin is reanimated and in full Shape mode, however, we're lost. Perhaps the most underwhelming of all the set-ups is "The Son of the Boogeyman." Again, it's a great idea for a fright film, like the boy who became a giant insect monster in The Beast Within. But Castro can't find the right tone. Is this something serious? Satiric? Or just plain silly? That just leaves "Burn," which is nothing more than a crappy campfire tale with an unnecessary same sex angle. Snore.
In the past, gorefests like this would get a pass from most horror fans for purely technical reasons. The chance to watch some make-up effects wizards work their magic was much more important than a cohesive core idea. Here, Castro has four chances to get things right - five if you count the opening and closing bits - and yet he can't find a way to make it work. This is partially because of the reliance on CG. Once the novelty has worn off, the Emperor's crimson clothes are painfully obvious. Some of the 'stunts' work, but most are middling, like a teenager's attempt to bring his favorite Tales from the Crypt funny book images to life. It's not just that the work looks and feels cheap. It is applied to randomly and with such bracing ambivalence that we wind up wishing for less. Since the movie loves to claim its proposed place in the Guinness Book of World Records for highest body count (155, though that seems REALLY high), it's clear why Castro does this. It doesn't make it any more interesting, however.