Headhunter (1988)

In 1988, L’Trimm released a Top 40 rap single called “Cars That Go Boom.” It told the story of how Bunny D and Lady Tigra from L’Trimm were really into cars with lots of speakers. The chorus went like this:

“We like the cars, the cars that go boom. We’re Bunny and Tigra, and we like the boom.”

The video for “Cars That Go Boom” featured Bunny and Tigra sitting in a Lamborghini with neon pink upholstery while dudes installed speakers. Sometimes, pop-art word balloons that said “BOOM!” would appear over their heads. There’s also an Eskimo in the video. L’Trimm were members of the “Miami Bass” scene. So it’s safe to say that if you wanted to experience some cool shit in 1988, you could go to Miami and make that happen.

Unless you’re talking about Headhunter.

Watching a movie about a voodoo troll who decapitates random people for no reason RULES. Watching a movie about a marriage falling apart during a police investigation DOES NOT RULE. The made-in-Miami Headhunter combines both of these things. Therefore, this movie RULES. For almost nine minutes.

After witnessing tribal rituals, camera swoops from Evil Dead, and voodoo violence that we don’t get to see, it’s not clear what’s going on. This is what is known as “set-up.” Then we meet tough cops Kat and Pete. Kat owns a book called “Diet Your Way To Safe Sex.” Pete wears toilet paper on his face to heal a shaving accident aka his divorce is hitting him HARD. Sometimes, Kat and Pete talk about how important it is that they stop the Headhunter from killing more people. But most of the time, they’re either: 1. Arguing with Pete’s wife, who is now a lesbian (“My wife’s a muff-diver!”), or 2. Looking for clues by wandering through meat-packing plants and abandoned train cars. Kat and Pete enlist a shaman named Juru, but he has no idea what’s going on either. Kat and Pete hang out at a police station while police chief Ray Krebbs from Dallas yells at them in a New Orleans accent. The Headhunter possesses people. Then he does not. The pressure of the case causes Kat to lose her shit. Eventually, our pals battle the Headhunter with a chainsaw in someone’s backyard. They topple over a picnic table and step on plants. This scene is interspersed with scenes from The Hideous Sun Demon, which is probably supposed to mean something.

Headhunter is your basic direct-to-video tragedy. It’s not tragic because a baby gets run over by a Toyota Tercel — unfortunately, that doesn’t happen in the movie. No, Headhunter is tragic because it smothers brief moments of greatness with many instances of not-so-greatness. The Headhunter is a rubber latex mutant who looks like Yogurt from Spaceballs as interpreted by John Carl Buechler circa Troll. Dripping wet, slightly hairy, and brandishing a magic sword, the Headhunter is incredible. But he only appears for two minutes at the end of the movie. The same goes for the scene where the music from Jaws plays as the Headhunter’s sword shows up in a lake. It’s hilariously out of place and entertaining, but it only lasts for a few seconds. When Kat and Pete started interviewing dementia patients, I wanted to turn the movie off. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What if Pete gets blown through a wall by a supernatural force again? What if someone’s head suddenly rolls across the floor again? I wanted to see more things like that happen. So I gritted my teeth through the pain.

This movie would have been better if it was directed by backyard gore-wizard Todd Sheets. Sheets is also not afraid of pummeling his audience with mundane details. In Goblin, he includes a scene of a man literally walking around the exterior of a house for twelve minutes. But then, the Goblin uses a scythe to remove someone’s genitals. That’s balance. Sheets makes things right. Headhunter is a competent, low-budget horror movie that has difficulties with making things right for the audience. It’s not as exhausting as other mid-fi video casualties like City Of Blood, but it’s never as fun as watching L’Trimm’s video for “Cars That Go Boom.” I am not saying that my ideal version of fun is a L’Trimm video directed by Todd Sheets.

But I am saying that you don’t have to watch Headhunter.

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