Title: Naked Massacre (aka Born for Hell) (1976)
Genre: Exploitation, Drama
Starring: Mathieu Carriere
Director: Denis Héroux
Duration: 92 mins
A man returning home from fighting in Vietnam is forced to make a stop in Belfast (apparently Belfast is in between Vietnam and the US). Not being able to secure a transport to the States, he bides his time by playing pinball in pubs, making friends with a Vietnamese man, and ordering one beast of a hooker, all while the religious conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants wages in the streets. Having so much free time on his hands, he recognizes more and more the deep hatred he has for women. Not being able to maintain his pleasantness any longer, he decides to make an unannounced appearance at a boarding house full of young nurses he passes by on his trips to the pub. Initially planning on robbing the nurses to afford a ship home, he takes the night to rape, humiliate, and murder the eight women that reside there.
No doubt made because of the fluke notoriety of the hardcore roughie Forced Entry in 1973 and it’s R-rated remake in 1975 (which were both pre-dated by the little seen sex shocker, The Ravager, in 1970), Naked Massacre joined the ranks of these and similar shell-shocked-Vietnam-vet-returns-home-to-cause-mayhem films. However, this movie isn’t as shallow as it might seem. Naked Massacre also inventively (yet somewhat accurately) retells the real-life Richard Speck murders of 1966. Though rather being set in Chicago, the story takes place amidst the turmoil and instability in 1970’s Northern Ireland, setting an even bleaker context to the already bleak film.
It is not hard to take a film like Naked Massacre seriously; for it sets the pervasive, somber tone by showcasing intermittent scenes of austere reality, including the bombing of a steadfast, yet half-empty church and a group of children playing a game of reenacting a firing squad execution. You might think that with such a sleazy sounding title, this film would not be able to portray such serious subject matters in an honest presentation as well as it does. There is even less comfort in that there is an almost total lack of “camp value” in Naked Massacre. This movie may be wallowing in the gutter, but the situations and acting provide little material to laugh cynically at (though the latter may seem a little dated). Even the needless scenes of the nurses walking around in their underwear and drying each other off after a shower (hint, hint… cliché lesbian subtext) aren’t enough to make this a film to gather the friends around and enjoy. It really is a downer, but an intentional downer nonetheless.
Technically this film is nothing to write home about. All of its positive attributes are taken from the story and the physical content shown onscreen. Maybe if a decent print of the film was ever released I could say more about the quality of filmmaking that was put into it. But for now, a grainy picture and sub par sound is what we’ve all been left with. Ah well, it suits the movie. Who wants to watch a grindhouse flick in HD anyways?
When I turned on Naked Massacre, I was expecting a half-assed sleazefest filled to the brim with the most tasteless and sexist shenanigans the director could think of. What I got was a socially conscious depiction of crime, violence, and the world’s concerns of the mid 70’s. Naked Massacre may not be a hoot, but it definitely deserves more recognition than… well, none at all.