Review Date: October 27, 2013
Released by: Hollywood Entertainment
Release date: May 11, 2006
Full frame 1.33:1
Ever since Eli Roth’s faux slasher trailer, Thanksgiving
, many horror fans have been clamoring for a slasher film on that holiday with the blackest of Fridays. Thing is…there already was. 1981’s Home Sweet Home
is one of the most unlikely of slashers. It was produced by Don Edmonds, who is most famous for directing the first couple Ilsa
movies and for helping kickstart Tarantino’s career as a producer on True Romance
. With the Ilsa well dry, Edmonds had moved onto the next cash grab, the slasher genre, but his Terror on Tour
is not one to remember. For Home Sweet Home
he passed the reins on to Nettie Pena, who at this point had only done soft core pornography. Add in a script by the assistant sound editor on Evil Dead II
and the lead performance by “Body By Jake” fitness star Jake Steinfeld and yeah, you’re in for something weird. Did I mention the killer is also on PCP?
Straight up, one of the wildest beginnings of any slasher movie. Not three shots into the film we see Jake Jones (Jake “Bodybuilder to the Stars” Steinfeld
) strangle a guy and pull him out of a car in broad daylight. He sits in the car, where the radio informs us that Jake’s an escaped mental patient who 8 years ago bludgeoned his parents to death. He shoots up some PCP through a needle in his tongue, and minutes later he’s ripping down the road plowing down an old lady who dropped her groceries in the middle of a crosswalk. He laughs hysterically as blood splashes all over the windshield. Home Sweet Home
. That’s about all you need to see from this movie, yet it goes on.
It’s Thanksgiving and the dysfunctional Bradley family is getting ready for dinner. There’s “Mistake” (Peter De Paula
), who’s dressed like Gene Simmons and plays the electric guitar with an amp on his back as he sneaks around the house. He even sneaks up on his dad (Ladies and gentleman, your producer Don Edmonds) and his new girlfriend Linda (Sallee Young
, with the distinguished credit of “Hooker” in Steigler and Steigler
) as they try to have sex on a bed. Nothing like a first impression. Then there’s little Angel (Vinessa Shaw
, The Hills Have Eyes
) who pretty much just repeats that she has to go to the bathroom the entire movie. Doubt Shaw uses this one on her resume anymore…or probably ever. Then there’s another visiting couple, Scott (David Mielke
) and Jennifer (Colette Trygg
), who Mistake sneaks up on while they’re having sex, this time in the seat of their convertible. It’s not even 4PM and everyone is getting it on. Who’s watching the turkey?
During all these slapstick hysterics, Jake drives his way inexplicably to the Bradley’s acreage and immediately starts to laugh hysterically while pounding his fists on doorways. It doesn’t take long for him to find the house patriarch and do a flying body slam onto the hood of his car while he’s fixing the engine below. He eventually makes his way to the house, and one by one he starts to carve out his drug-fueled legacy. “A little crazy never hurt anyone” Jennifer says. This was before she met Jake Jones! She meets him enough in the finale, along with Scott and Angel, in what has to be one of the worst final girl moments in the entire slasher genre. When Jake murders off Scott, instead of rushing to save the 4-year-old Angel, instead she locks herself in a room and passes out in fear when Jake comes near. Jamie Lee Curtis, she’s not.
Ohhh man. Home Sweet Home
’s about as undercooked as you can get for a Thanksgiving turkey. Bargain basement production values cause the majority of the final act to be lost to darkness. At one point a character peers off out of frame and asks “who is it?” Looks like the actors couldn’t see anything either. The logic of the film sure needed some basting too, with huge holes in the plot as characters pop in and out of the film with motivations nobody really can explain. The way little Vinessa Shaw is handled is particularly humorous – at one point all the horny adults leave her alone at the supper table to grab a huge butcher knife to play with alongside her dolls. It gets even better later in the film when the Final Girl ditches her – she just disappears in the darkness, the PCP killer forgets about her, and then in the resolve she’s found to have been on the highway alone. Talk about some bad parenting. Bad acting, too. Even Vinessa Shaw’s terrible, clearly shy in front of the camera and prodded on screen by all the actors to just try and say one word or two. Pretty much all she can muster throughout the film is again “I have to go to the bathroom”. She’s pretty amazing in Two Lovers
, though, while the rest of this cast pretty much only has this film on their resumes, so she definitely gets the last laugh.
Speaking of laughs, Jake Steinfeld’s completely batshit killer is certainly good for a number of them throughout. There’s never been a slasher killer so absolutely schizo, especially after visibly shooting himself up with drugs, that it’s kind of a welcome change of pace for the genre. If only the film could sustain the energy Steinfeld brings to the role after he goes into the background following that undeniably memorable opening. He’s hilarious when he’s on camera, or at least when you can see him when there’s enough light hitting the film, but too much of the movie is spent following all these uncharismatic jackoffs. Again, talking about bad logic, I got a kick out of the fact that Jake camps out all night for the Final Girl with a dagger stabbed in his back. Given his size and the fact that having a knife impaled in your body probably doesn’t feel good, it’s hilarious that he just leaves it there all night and then just resumes killing the next day. Everything with Jake Steinfeld though, from that to the fact that every line he delivers is in CAPS LOCK!!!!!!!!, is pure camp and certainly the bright spot in this amateur little slasher.
Horror fans might like the boobs, too, but for sure the filmmakers did, as there’s a scene where pretty much the only thing on screen that’s exposed properly is a woman’s cleavage from the flashlight beam of a cop. Seeing as the director Nettie Pena had made the hardcore Dracula Sucks
(good title) prior, I guess it’s no surprise. As Producer, Don Edmonds also made sure to write himself a scene where he gets to suck on the breasts of one of his “pretty girl” actresses, which leads to the funny line from her, “God made me that way” as we clearly see her nipple scarring from breast augmentation. Edmonds should have augmented where the money went in this picture, because zero dollars were spent on gore. All we get are a bunch of splashes of blood, which is too bad, because some of the kills, like the old lady at the crosswalk or the car hood body slam had the potential to be wonderfully graphic.
I think the telling truth of this Thanksgiving slasher though, is the dedication at the end of the film. “Dedicated in Memory of: Thomas Bush” it reads, making specific mention of the screenwriter and 1st AD on the film. I think he saw the disaster of his first script being shot on set and knew instantly that his career was dead. You’d think such a memorandum would signify he was dead, but IMDb lists he’d go on to work in sound years later on Evil Dead II
and some movie called Not Since Casanova
. I’m thinking it’s another guy with the same name, but it’s still funny to think that the guy just asked to be killed off in the credits because he knew how bad his movie was. No matter what way you slice it, this movie’s a turkey!
“You look like the AIDS quilt,” the late great comedian Greg Giraldo once said at a Roast to Kathy Griffin. That’s kind of what we’re dealing with here. This probably bootleg transfer from Hollywood Entertainment certainly does this shit film no favors. There is very little exposure latitude here, where even in daylight scenes anything not perfectly exposed falls off into total black. On top of that, all the detail-less blacks all come off as dark grays thanks to poor gamma registry here, with most scenes looking like they were artificially boosted after the fact rather than from the direct camera negative. Colors smear, tones look washed out and there is aliasing and artifacting everywhere. The print is fairly clean however, so as bad as this is, it’s likely better than it has been in the past on VHS. Given the lack of headroom throughout, I'm guessing this is a cropped 4x3 and not open matte.
This track has more hiss than this guy
. There’s crackling, some record skipping and other vintage analog issues throughout. This Dolby mono track clearly can’t handle some of Mistake’s high pitched guitar riffs, and the track occasionally sounds shrill as a result. At the very least dialogue is mostly audible, although I can say that it was quite a challenge uncovering all the character names in this film given the way actors lines bleed over others and how the amateur actors mumble through much of their words. Gobble gobble gobble.
No stuffing in this one, and we’re all the better for it. I pity the Vinessa Shaw fan who reads the front packaging seeing her name front and center on the box thinking they’ll see the hot chick from Eyes Wide Shut in another horror movie only to find out she’s 4 in this.
You know you’re in for a bad movie when the credits give memory to the writer despite the fact that he was still alive! Calling this Thanksgiving slasher a turkey is probably still being too kind – it’s not even KFC. While the fanatical opening is amusing, and Jake Steinfeld sure embraces the crazy, the majority of Home Sweet Home
is boring, under-lit and mostly incomprehensible. The audio and video transfers here are of bootleg quality, and given the questionable legitimacy of Hollywood Entertainment, there’s a good reason why. While some might enjoy the originality of a protein prowler on PCP, Home Sweet Home
still gives slasher fans little to be thankful for.
Movie - D
Image Quality - D
Sound - D+
Supplements - N/A
- Running time - 1 hour, 23 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- English mono