Butcher, The (1990)

Directed by Maik Ude
Absurd Produktions DVD

Forty minutes into The Butcher, a teenage band plays a song in an attic. The guitarist wears a plaid scarf and looks like Antoine Doinel in The 400 Blows. The singer wears a denim vest with a Metallica patch on the back. His long hair is combed forward and he looks like Cousin It from The Addams Family. The drummer wears a sweatshirt that’s at least three sizes too big. He looks like every drummer in every band at your high school looked like. The band sounds like Wire having a fist-fight with Napalm Death — spazzoid pop with unexpected key changes and throat-shredding vocals. When the song is over, the band members are slaughtered by a killer who looks like the Texarkana Phantom from The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

That’s all we need.

Like Nigel The Psychopath and Day Of The Reaper, The Butcher is a document of teenagers making their dreams come true. It’s a 60 minute SOV trash-gore opus that plays out like a video mix tape made by high school mega-nerds. But instead of random clips from The Idiot Box and The Mr. Bill Show, The Butcher has a dimestore castration scene. This is the flipside to the calculated angst of adolescent epics like Freaks And Geeks. No adults were allowed anywhere near this movie. There’s no mission statement. No bullshit. This is the closest anyone has ever come to capturing what it feels like to be sixteen, sitting on a curb in mid-September and smoking weed with your burn-out friends. The chopped-off legs, disembowelments, and throat-slashings are simply a bonus.

Three kids wearing leather jackets, ripped jeans, and peace medallions sit on a bench, smoke cigarettes, and talk. Another kid walks by. His name is Jack. The kids make fun of Jack. Then one of them follows Jack to his house. Jack gets a scythe in his gut. The kid runs away. Cut to: Jack bursting out from under a pile of leaves, now wearing a white hood and a puffy jacket. He also has a pillow in his coat, which suggests the illusion of a beer gut. It’s not clear why.

The rest of the movie is a beautiful dirge of repetition. Kids hang out. Jack kills them. Repeat. But the joy comes from the details. A phone receiver emits slime. Zombies eat Jack’s victims. Kids are mutilated, but return minutes later without explanation. A dummy is thrown off of a water tower. A kid wears a neon yellow sweatshirt that says, “ON TOP.” Eyes are gouged out, M-80 firecrackers are used as squibs, and a wheelchair is destroyed. Eventually, a kid is set on fire. The hang-out scenes slow things down, but all is forgiven when Jack finds a Garfield t-shirt and puts it on over his Michael Myers onesie.

At one point in The Butcher, two kids are sitting on a couch and watching a movie. But they’re not watching Jason Goes To Hell, like Todd Cook did in Demon Dolls. They’re watching Doctor Butcher, M.D. That says a lot. Most importantly, it says that Director Maik Ude and friends are the REEL DEEL. They’re not fans of Fangoria magazine — they’re fans of Chas. Balun’s Deep Red. From this scene on, Ude steals Walter Sear’s music from Doctor Butcher and uses it in The Butcher, replacing the music cues from Friday The 13th Part 2 that had been previously heard throughout the movie. This lo-fi pilfering complements the maniacal zooms, constant jump cuts, and crusty video quality. It all coalesces into a hypnotic and disorientating experience that we don’t have to work for. Ude makes it easy to love this movie. It’s simple, filled with enthusiastic carnage, and hilariously stupid. Although The Butcher was completed in 1990, Ude decided to “make it better” in the mid-2000s. He added sparse sound effects and transitions with what appears to be a beta version of iMovie. But those intrusions are no match for the power of a horror-obsessed teenager with access to his parents’ camcorder. And an ultra-gory dream.

It should be noted that this movie was made in Germany and contains zero subtitles.