Reviews

Abomination, The (1986)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

A woman has puked. Her son has puked. His boss, his girlfriend, her kitchen cabinets, and a washing machine have puked. I think even Jesus has puked.

Tabloid was the first feature film from Texas-based filmmaker Bret McCormick and friends. It was a vignette-styled, John Waters-esque spoof that featured aliens invading an aerobics class, senior citizen zombies, and a computerized vacuum that killed people. While all of that sounds stunning when you say it out loud, the film never found a way to balance action, comedy, horror, and tedium. It also never found an audience. McCormick wasn’t fazed.

Surfing the wave of homemade horror that saturated video stores in the mid 80s, McCormick and partner Matt Devlen grabbed a Super 8 camera, hit the backyard, and created Ozone! Attack Of The Redneck Mutants and The Abomination. They’re two trash-gore films that were shot back-to-back, edited on video, and crammed full of neon barf, disembowelments, and ambitious latex monsters. While the more lucid Ozone faded into obscurity, The Abomination fared better. Donna Michelle Productions, the Hollywood-based company responsible for unleashing Jon McBride’s Cannibal Campout and Michael Savino and Mark Veau’s Attack Of The Killer Refrigerator, picked up the movie for distribution. The success or failure of this movie is a moot point. It found limited distribution. It was placed on video store shelves. And it entices to this day.

Cody lives with his mom in a wood-paneled shack. Mom devotes her life to shady evangelist Brother Fogg. She also has a tumor. Cody fills his days by working as a mechanic, driving around in a truck with his girlfriend, and suffering from nightmares. Mom hacks up the tumor, but it’s never explained exactly how or why this happens. The tumor infects Cody. He coughs one up, too. Soon, the tumors multiply, infect the entire house, and take form as The Abomination. The Abomination — a beet-red mass of teeth and curious openings and tentacles! The Abomination — a force that originates from the Bible’s prophecy of Daniel and eats everyone! There’s also a scene of Brother Fogg taking a shit.

The infamy of The Abomination is built on a gritty onslaught of barfing, Biblical riffing, and extreme gore. That’s why you’re inspired to seek it out and watch. You want to see a bloody vagina monster that hides in cupboards (and a washing machine) bite a person in half. But The Abomination isn’t significant because it’s disgusting. Street Trash is also disgusting. But Street Trash is slick and professional. It feels like the filmmakers were intentionally trying to make a gross-out “hit.” By the nature of its no-budget origins, The Abomination is something more distinct and special.

Douglas McKeown’s The Deadly Spawn. Nathan Schiff’s They Don’t Cut The Grass Anymore. George Barry’s Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. Each of these films builds its own set of rules within the confines of trash-gore cinema. They hold no ties to rational thought. They push the boundaries of exploitive D.I.Y. filmmaking that were set by The Wizard Of Gore and Blood Freak in the decades before. The Abomination, with its mismatched post-dubbing, constant jump cuts, and stray insertions of tape-manipulated voices, synthesizers, and library music, is included in this group. Ideas are reiterated obsessively, beginning with a five- minute gore reel that kicks off the film. Events are thrown together as if by chance. After the initial set-up, the film devolves into plotless chaos. The final twenty minutes explode with the stench of wet cow intestines and pissed jeans. There’s no escape. It’s psychedelic anxiety, 1980s style.

For all of its inventiveness, The Abomination isn’t perfect. There are many scenes of people driving in trucks. Repetition slows things down. A slight dip into intentional comedy fails. Unlike The Deadly Spawn, which shares a similarity in general design and theme, there’s no real focal point to the film as a whole. It’s a problem that’s very much in keeping with They Don’t Cut The Grass Anymore: Gore overload without thematic clarity. The Abomination may not be a complete success, but it’s far from forgettable.

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