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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Andre the Butcher
Andre the Butcher
ThinkFilm // Unrated // April 25, 2006
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted April 24, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie:

The cover art for this release is completely misleading – what we see is a moody, dark, atmospheric picture of a behemoth of a man wielding a clever and looking pretty intense. It's an unsettling image, a picture of death personified and the quotes on the back of the disc's packaging back this up. Andre The Butcher looks like a pretty disturbing film based solely on that image. Unfortunately, it's entirely misrepresented and the film is actually a slapstick horror comedy, emphasis on comedy, and bad comedy at that. It does deliver on the gore, but without the story to back it up or a particularly good script to work with, this one proves to be a chore to sit through.

The movie begins with a cheerleading squad named 'The Beavers' (Ha! Clever!) on their way to a cheerleading competition somewhere in Florida. As they drive their van to their destination, they inevitably make a wrong turn down some back road and find themselves in the middle of nowhere. By some stroke of strange coincidence, they run into 'The Gamecocks' who are their rivals in the world of cheerleading, but that becomes less of a concern once they crash their van and have to find help. Thankfully for the girls and the one guy in the crew, there's a farmhouse not too far off in the distance, and so that's the direction in which they head. Unfortunately for them, the farmhouse is home to the titular Andre, who happens to enjoy butchering pretty young cheerleaders. Carnage, mayhem, and wackiness ensue.

There are more than a few problems with this film, but let's start with the obvious – the story. Once you clue in to the fact that this is a comedy it makes the completely unoriginal storyline slightly more forgivable than it would have been otherwise, but it's still so full of bad clichés that it hurts. It's all supposed to be a send up of your traditional slasher film but we've seen this done before and we've seen it done better. Putting Ron Jeremy in your film as the killer (yes, you read that right, Ron Jeremy is Andre The Butcher) doesn't automatically give you an excuse to go for the lower common denominator but that doesn't stop the filmmakers from doing just that, which brings us to the second big problem – the comedy. The jokes in this film are not funny. The delivery is bad, the timing isn't so hot, and the site gags that actually work are few and far between. This is in part do to the aforementioned scripting problems but also a result of some rather uninspired performances. I suppose when you're playing a stereotype as pretty much everyone in this film is, it's hard to find your motivation but no one hear appears to be really trying very hard.

There are a few shining moments in the film – the girls are pretty and there is a lot of reasonably well done blood and guts effects work – but it isn't enough. The movie is very referential and it makes nods at plenty of other horror films (almost always a no-no) and even goes so far as to make sure that the characters mention the fact that what they're going through is just like a horror movie, and by doing so it serves not to make us laugh at or with the performers but instead makes us groan and pulls us right out of the movie. Some of the cinematography is nice in the film and it doesn't look half bad for a low budget indy – there is some obvious talent and love for the genre on display in the film – but again, it's not put to very good use here. The idea of seeing Ron Jeremy run around and hack up cheerleaders, admittedly, doesn't sound too bad on the surface (at least it has the potential to provide some guilty entertainment), it's just a shame that the execution couldn't have been better.

The DVD

Video:

For a shot on video low budget production the non-anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen presentation doesn't look too bad. There's some heavy shimmering in a few scenes in places where you're used to seeing it such as on clothing textures and patterns and on the grills of cars but other than that the movie looks pretty good. Color reproduction isn't bad, skin tones look alright, and while there is some mild mpeg compression present in a few of the darker moments in the film, they're not overpowering.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo track is free of any hiss or distortion and for the most part, the levels are well balanced (there are a few spots where there are a few tweaks but otherwise it's all good). The score and sound effects sound fine and don't bury the performers in the mix. Optional Spanish subtitles are provided, though there are no closed captions available. An alternate Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also provided.

Extras:

Phillip Cruz provides a commentary track with some assistance from starlet April Billingsley and writer James Hyde. The three participants seem to have had a lot of fun making the movie and they're quite enamored with the final product – at least somebody loves the film. There are a few interesting tidbits here and there such as how some of the effects work was done and how some of the casting decisions were made, but it's really not worth sitting through the movie again to get to them.

Rounding out the supplements are a single deleted scene which contains more bad, self referential humor, a trailer for the feature, and trailers for a few other releases available on DVD.

Final Thoughts:

Andre The Butcher is horrible (as opposed to horrifying – two very different things when discussing a genre effort such as this). The DVD presentation isn't half bad but it doesn't help the movie in the least. Skip it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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