Splatter: Architects Of Fear (1986)

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

A poor man’s George Plimpton introduces Splatter: Architects Of Fear:

“It is the year two thousand and two. The world has been destroyed by the final holocaust of nuclear fury.”

That may be so, but the survivors still wear Zubaz.

This is a fictitious documentary about the making of a fictitious SOV film. But really, it’s an ode to the mid-80s special effects guys who supplied horror films with multi-eyed mutants and full body dismemberment. Splatter follows a production company called Gory Philms as they’re holed up in Toronto shooting a triumph that remains untitled. Before you leave the room, consider this quote from our narrator, following the explosion of a beer bottle: “The effect would make even Rambo proud.”

Splatter utilizes an uncluttered template. We see the special effects scene as it appears in the “movie” (the screen features a border of blood around it when this happens, just in case you’re an idiot). Then we’re treated to an inside look at how each scene was created. There’s also a caffeinated comic relief guy named Fang who helps out. Fang was injured on a previous film, so he has one vampire tooth and scars that appear to be made with Jell-O. Narration helps us to understand that these people are “experts” and “professionals.” As girls with mohawks and face paint (“Amazons”) battle with guys in underwear and latex masks (“Mutants”), each stunt gets more ambitious, less convincing, and more hilarious. A girl ties a mutant to a wall, takes her clothes off, and has sex with him standing up. Instead of an orgasm, his head blows up. She says, “I fucked his brains out!” Another girl lies on a bed and moans before a full dismemberment. Her latex body cast looks like a blood-soaked Slip ‘n’ Slide tied around a mattress. Sometimes, there are slow motion playbacks of each gore scene. The video culminates with people doing doughnuts in a parking lot.

I have no idea why the filmmakers chose to create a fictitious documentary as opposed to a narrative film. Sure, Splatter is a stupid, pointless excuse to ego-stroke a couple of special effects guys. But it’s also a determined exercise in independent horror, second only to Gary Cohen’s work (Video Violence, Captives) in terms of scope. The gore effects are bat-shit crazy and also totally unconvincing. That’s what makes them so entertaining. In other words, Gory Philms knew a thing or two about Phucking Phun.

From the Archives