Title: Burlesque Massacre (2011)
Genre: Horror, exploitation
Starring: Crystal Swarovski, Timothy Whitfield, Olivia Bellafontaine
Director: Timothy Whitfield
Duration: 82 mins
Burlesque dancer Crystal and her co-workers take a relaxing retreat to her brother John’s suburban home in Burbank, California to train for their upcoming burlesque tour. However, Johnny boy has a little trouble getting a long with his one-night-stands. Seems he likes killing them. On the bright side, this should work out perfectly with Crystal’s secret plan for murdering her fellow dancers. Add a little incestuous brother/sister action on the side and we’re looking at a pretty busy weekend for these siblings. But how long will it be before their malicious plot turns around and bites them in the asses? Let me just say that you’ll be subject to a lot of tassel-twirling and bathing rituals before that happens.
Burlesque Massacre emerges from the current “grindhouse revival” wave that’s been sweeping the horror world since the Rodriguez/Tarantino 2007 double-feature. By now I would normally be saying that this recent trend is starting to get old, but what I like about it is that it opens up the gateway for filmmakers to make ridiculously violent and sleazy movies for us to enjoy as an alternative to the unoriginal, rehashed big-budget films saturating our local theaters. Whitfield’s movie offers fans everything they loved from films like The Gore-Gore Girls and Hard To Die but on an even more minute budget. That means it’s shot-on-video using scratchy film camera effects to make it look as if it’s been sitting in a vault for 30 years. Luckily, this effect actually does work to some degree, but it’s used so sporadically that often times you forget this movie’s trying to do that “retro” thang. Big deal though, right? It delivers the right amount of goods here.
Burlesque Massacre, as implied before, contains rampant nudity and el cheapo violence. The former content is usually rare in most flicks at such an essentially homegrown level of filmmaking. It usually seems like no-budget auteurs are often afraid of stocking their movies with such lovely ladies. So even though it is a film about showgirls, it definitely ain’t no tease! The generally tasteless depictions of incest, molestation, lesbian rape, and necrophilia can attest to that (as well as significantly trashing up this already trashy movie). The violence, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. I understand that on a small scale gore effects are a hassle to deal with sometimes, but mere strangulations is the usual cause of deaths here (though we do get to see a nice nether region stabbing, so it’s not a total lost).
Technically, this movie is typical of shot-on-video entries. The acting is very sub-par (but who’s paying these gals to act, right?). The suspense is totally shot dead from the get-go for two reasons: we are told who the killers are at a very early point; and the mask that John wears looks like it was bought at a Halloween outlet store. I don’t have much gripe about the second reason as this makes Burlesque Massacre rise to a higher altitude of sleaziness, but as a horror film there should still be SOME suspense retained. Lastly, the music is very good. The score itself compliments the goings on quite well, and the songs laced throughout do kind of have a fitting, burlesque flair about them. Lots for our ears to enjoy.
I do have one major warning for all of you that are possibly considering to view this exercise in sordid thrills: it does not star Cher nor Christina Aguilera. I know, I know. This is not the blockbuster musical you missed out during last Thanksgiving. But fear not! At least you won’t have to witness a 66-year-old strutting her surgically altered, has-been self on a three story screen. Burlesque Massacre is available on DVD and video on demand, and be sure to catch Whitfield’s upcoming film PhotoGRAPHIC later this year if you’re so inclined.