Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.
Cannibal Campout was Jon McBride’s debut shot-in-Connecticut SOV film. Someone ate a fetus in that film. Woodchipper Massacre is McBride’s direct follow-up. It was also shot in Connecticut. But no one eats a fetus in it. Something is wrong. However, a twelve-year-old with a mullet wears XXXL gold-rimmed glasses and rips some ass on his air guitar.
Something is right.
When Dad takes off on a weekend trip, he leaves siblings Jon (Jon McBride), Denise (some girl), and Thomas (air guitar boss) under the care of pain-in-the-ass Aunt Tess (Patricia McBride, Jon’s Mom). Denise yells “She’s a pill!” and Thomas replies, “What a space cadet!” Denise paints her toes. Jon plays the piano. Birds wander in the backyard. After a misunderstanding, Thomas’s authentic Rambo survival knife plunges into Tess’s gut. The body must be disposed. To the woodchipper! Soon after, cousin Kim arrives. He is AMPED. He also has a problem with spittle on his chin and says “fuck” a lot.
Falling somewhere between an episode of Small Wonder and a high school madrigals performance, Woodchipper Massacre is fine entertainment. But that’s not due to anything intentional. Like Phantom Brother and Video Violence 2, this film follows the trend of most late-80s SOV in that it attempts to make us laugh, rather than puke. Aside from the $400 budget, lack of actual actors, and obscenities, this could pass for a nondescript 80s sit-com. But that’s not why it’s funny. It’s funny because there are montages of people cutting the grass and cooking dinner. There are establishing shots of bird feeders, extreme close-ups of mouths during mundane conversations, and songs that sound like what happens when you push “demo” on a Casio keyboard. Woodchipper isn’t what you’d expect from the title. That’s why it satisfies.