You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...
'Woodchipper Massacre' - 1988, Directed by Jon McBride
This one is a total classic of the home-video era. Notorious for its complete lack of budget and (almost) complete lack of gore, the film could be found in just about EVERY video store during the late 80's. You might chuckle at the concept of a guy making a movie entirely on his home camera using his family as actors, but Jon McBride obviously has some skill and does the best he can considering.
So basically, it's your average 'babysitter from hell' story. Kind of. Some kids' parents go out of town, and they have to spend the weekend with their awful aunt. She's so awful, in fact, that they kill her. Okay, it was an accident, but really, that's what you get when you fight over a knife. Luckily, their father has a woodchipper rented for the weekend, and they dispose of her with it. Well, first they cut her up and freeze her because everyone knows you can't put liquid things in a woodchipper. Problem solved, right?
Because their jailbird cousin comes by to borrow some money from his mom or something. Then, he puts the moves on his own cousin so they have to kill him too. No big deal. Of course, the kids finish everything (including the yardwork) by the time their folks get home, and no one is the wiser. So, you've got your 80's sitcom vibes and your 80's slasher vibes, all set to some silly Casio keyboard music.
The whole thing plays like some family having a good time on the weekend, being creative and not really trying to impress anyone. Jon is obviously the mastermind, but the fact he used his family and friends for actors means they play off each other quite well. No word on whether or not he was grounded when his mom saw the final result, though.
VHS photo by Toby Hudson.