Starring: John Kasper, Dominique Capone, Mike Gavern
Director: Bob Keller
Duration: 55 mins
Being a recognizable television personality, local weatherman Dalton Law faces his fair share nuisances, whether it be from dope dealers, hookers, resident barflies, or an arrogant anchorman. But one day, he is approached by an ambitious intern, Holly, with an appetite for meteorology. Doing the girl a favor, he meets up with her after work to discuss the subject; but one too many glasses of wine and his own arrogance proves to be the breaking point for Holly’s residual mental instability, leading to the weatherman’s brutal stabbing. Believing she got away with the crime, Holly takes the role of lead weatherperson. Though, as luck would have it, an acid rain reanimates the body of Dalton Law who is now on a rampage, targeting everyone who’s ever done him wrong. Now, who could’ve predicted that?
Regarding this movie, I do believe I've stumbled upon something rather special. I’ve always been a fan of film oddities and obscurities, but with Deatherman I have reached a point I never knew existed: the “too obscure.” I was introduced to this movie by, believe it or not, Facebook spam. All my life I’ve always disregarded any spam that happened my way (Aryan clothing, Kindle deals, “hey there, handsome…”) for good reason, but then I was made an offer I just couldn’t refuse: a shot-on-video, direct-to-VHS horror film with an absolutely terrible pun for a moniker. Hook, line, and sinker. When it arrived at my door, the positive geek vibes kept coming: clamshell case, temporary Deatherman tattoo, and a promotional button. Everything about this was looking perfect, until I hit PLAY on the VCR…
I usually give at least SOME leeway on shot-on-video movies; I’m not what you’d call a cinema snob by any stretch, but Deatherman sure makes my love of horror on videocassette hard (not that I despised it, mind you). What to tackle first… it’d be a cheap shot if I lambasted the acting, as this movie appears to fit snugly into the category of “a bunch of friends making a movie in their hometown;” but, yeah, the acting is pretty bad. Like, making-a-video-project-for-a-high-school-class bad. If the players aren’t underacting, then they’re wildly overacting, turning their characters into exaggerated stereotypes. Pre-zombie Dalton Law, however, does a passable job. The horror of the film is rather sub par, also. Ever kill scene is weak except for one, and that “one” is so clever it almost makes up for the rest of the movie. So not to spoil it, I’ll simply say that it matches the campy ridiculousness of the beer can-stabbing in Creature From The Hillbilly Lagoon (previously reviewed).
On a technical level, and aside from the fact that this was shot on videotape, Deatherman is shoddy all around. The on-location audio levels of the film are inconsistent, sometimes being completely wiped out by the synth score. Many of the scenes are backlit, resulting in almost total darkness of the characters in the foreground. The dialog is awkward, without substance, and completely superficial. The faux news scenes are some of the most primitive I’ve ever (eye)witnessed. And last, but not least, the puppet idea was totally wasted and condensed into a very brief scene (yes, I’m saying there was a puppet involved, and yes, I’m saying that there should’ve been more of it). In short, this movie had “amateur” written all over it.
Deatherman harkens the glorious shot-on-video boom of the 80’s and early 90’s, when filmmakers took advantage of video rental stores that would shelve literally any movie submitted to them, while also taking part in the current wave of horror retrophilia and the novelty of the VHS comeback. While the content of the film soars far below what even I would call acceptable (plopping right beside such turkeys as Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker and Suburban Sasquatch), it is still a nifty release that pushes all of my happy buttons. Only recommended for hardcore VHS collectors and diehard SOV fans.