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Microwave Massacre

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    Ian Jane
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  • Microwave Massacre



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: August 16th, 2016.
    Director: Wayne Berwick
    Cast: Jackie Vernon, Loren Schein, Al Troupe, Claire Ginsberg
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Directed by Wayne Berwick and released in 1983, Microwave Massacre stars comedian Jackie Vernon (probably best known as the voice of Rankin/Bass' Frosty The Snowman!) as a middle aged schlub named Donald. He spends his days toiling away as a construction worker and, when his day is done, he comes home to his shrewish wife May (Claire Ginsberg) who insists on feeding him all manner of fancy food. Donald, however, is a man of simple tastes. He doesn't care for all of these hoity-toity delicacies she's trying to whip up. He's a meat and potatoes kinda guy.

    One day he hits his breaking point and after May nags him that one last time, he grabs a pepper grinder and clubs her to death with it. Not sure how to really get rid of a body, Donald chops her up, microwaves the pieces and then leaves them in the freezer with the rest of the meat. When he winds up inadvertently eating one of those pieces, he realizes that human flesh is actually pretty tasty. Soon enough he's making treats for the guys at the job site, and they're all loving it too. But when he runs out of May's bits and pieces, he has to replenish his stock. Thankfully, there are all sorts of dim-witted beautiful ladies running around the neighborhood who seem unusually susceptible to Donald's charm.

    Made on a modest budget, Microwave Massacre features Vernon front and center, pretty much surrounded by a cast of unknowns. The movie has its own hokey charm, and while the subject matter is rather salacious, more happens off screen than on screen in terms of the murder set pieces. At times this plays more like a T&A comedy than a straight horror movie, the sense of humor inherent in the storyline is typically put in front of the gore. It's goofy, it's hokey and it's often times pretty funny. The pacing is quirky, almost languid in spots, but the filmmakers ensure that anytime things start to slow down a bit, there's a bizarre set piece around the corner to regain your attention.

    Vernon is completely deadpan here, playing the stereotype of the Jewish comedian exactly as you'd expect him to. His voice is almost entirely devoid of emotion and he never once breaks character. It's odd seeing Vernon meandering about working his schtick for the camera, surrounded by gross, but admittedly fairly time, gore scenes and gratuitous female nudity. It makes for a decidedly bizarre tone, but the, that's part of the film's charm. Things are clearly played with tongue firmly in cheek - we're not supposed to take any of this seriously as is made evident not only by the completely unconvincing gore effects and by Vernon's jokey style, but by the microwave itself (this thing is huge!). The supporting cast is all terrible in the right way, playing their various stereotypes with some obviously over the top styling. Really the whole thing is just a series of sight gags sort of mashed together with the thinnest of plots, but it's fun to watch. If you've ever wanted to see a naked woman slathered in condiment and then put between two giant slices of bread or dig seeing random gals flash their goods through conveniently placed holes in construction site fences, this is the movie for you!

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Arrow brings Microwave Massacre to Blu-ray in a “brand new 2K restoration of the original camera negative” in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. It's almost startling how good the picture looks here, anyone familiar with the past VHS and DVD release of the film will be mightily impressed. Colors look great, never over-saturated but bright, bold and quite natural. Skin tones appear lifelike and natural and there is very little in the way of print damage, but a noticeable, natural amount of visible film grain. Detail is surprisingly strong here, especially in close ups, and there's good depth and texture throughout. There are no problems with any compression artifacts nor is there any obvious edge enhancement or noise reduction to complain about. Really, the movie looks damn good here.

    The English language LPCM Mono track is also very good. Vernon's completely deadpan delivery is clean, clear and perfectly easy to follow. The score sounds decent here too, with a bit more oomph behind it in a few spots. Sounds effects and foley are nicely balanced against the music and the dialogue and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. This is a clean, clear and nicely rendered single channel mix that gets the job done with no issues at all. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras include a new audio commentary with writer-producer Craig Muckler moderated by Mike Tristano. This is a really fun track that covers a lot of ground. Muckler's got a lot of fun stories to tell, as he discusses how and why he got together with Berwick to make the movie, where the inspiration for the concept behind the film came, shooting the picture on a very low budget, casting Vernon in the first place, and a fair bit more. There's also some talk about locations and the effects featured in the movie, as well as the other casting choices, almost landing a major studio deal for the picture, Muckler's background in filmmaking, and his thoughts on the project as a whole. There's also a good sense of humor running through the track that makes it enjoyable and easy to listen to.

    Also found on the disc is a new featurette entitled Microwave Massacre Memories. Running just over twenty minutes this piece is made up of interviews with Muckler, director Wayne Berwick and actor Loren Schein. This is a pretty amusing look back at the making of the movie wherein the interviewees share their experiences working with Vernon, talk about why it took a few years for the movie to get out there after starting it in 1978, who did what in front of and behind the camera, what it was like working with such an inexperienced cast and crew and quite a bit more.

    A theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection are also on hand. As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie containing the same supplements is also included inside the clear Blu-ray case that also holds a reversible cover sleeve with original art on one side and a newly created piece on the opposite site. Also included inside the case is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film from Nightmare USA's Stephen Thrower that provides a nice history of the picture.

    The Final Word:

    Microwave Massacre is a quirky, screwball cult oddity that remains a pretty entertaining watch if you're in the right mood for it. Vernon's deadpan delivery is the main draw but the goofy effects work and over the top set pieces keep it fun. Arrow's presentation is top notch - it's almost hard to believe how good it looks here - and it's got some pretty sweet supplements too. Fans of low budget horror/comedy/trash films ought to enjoy this one, especially now that it's been given a legitimate special edition release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





















    • King-Wasp
      #1
      King-Wasp
      Senior Member
      King-Wasp commented
      Editing a comment
      Just finished watching my copy that I snagged for $23 via Amazon. I'm gonna to paraphrase Full Metal Jacket, by saying that these are great days we're living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth with incredible presentations of trash cinema!

    • Matt H.
      #2
      Matt H.
      Senior Member
      Matt H. commented
      Editing a comment
      This one's a beaut! Jackie Vernon seems either brain-damaged or heavily sedated throughout. It's bliss.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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