“Upstate Man” by Dov Seltzer. Actually, I’m not sure if he’s the singer or not. It never clarifies who did the song but at one point it does say music composed by Dov Seltzer.
Interesting Dated References: Blaming stuff on pranksters. Being able to walk up to a woman who is sunbathing nude, having sex with her, walking away without her pressing charges.
Best Line: Take match, light it, shove in/near woman’s face — “See that, that’s what you’re playing with… .”
Social Context: There’s a lot of undertones about how the corporate/corrupt consumer culture makes people feel empty and unhappy. Of course, most of it is buried or chopped up. The fact the killer was the victim of the media and some type of government corruption plot serves to drive this home.
Summary: Originally filmed in 1976 as The Killer Behind The Mask, but never officially released until 1981 when the slasher craze was in full swing, Savage Weekend sort of got lost in the shuffle because of mismarketing. It’s certainly not a straight slasher film by any means. The killing doesn’t start until the last 20 minutes, and all of the drama, nudity, and conversation probably bored most people looking for teens getting killed. Instead, you get 30-something yuppies talking about life, who just happen to get killed at the end. But Savage Weekend holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first Betamax I bought when one of the last independent video stores in the area started to sell off their old Beta stock. This was the mid-90s, and it was odd enough the place still had Beta for rent, so a friend and I bought up as much as we could.
Savage Weekend has been with me a long time and I’ve watched it a lot over the years. When the tape first starts, it’s a typical slasher film. A faceless killer is chasing a distressed woman through the woods with some type of chainsaw. But there’s much more going on here. Halfway through the chase, the music fades out. Then for about five seconds it’s just a shot of a woman’s feet running. Just when you get comfortable with the fact some artsy silence is going on, the music comes blaring back. But it doesn’t like start over, it just comes back right in mid-note. It’s like someone in the mixing room leaned on a slider, then instead of going back and fixing it, they just left it as is. Then the real payoff happens when it is revealed the maniac giving chase is none other than William Sanderson.
Those not familiar with the beginning of Sanderson’s awesome career should really check out Fight for Your Life (which I’ll get around to reviewing in a few years) and Savage Weekend. He’s great in both of these movies, and it’s an awesome testament to the talents of an actor that was later pigeon-holed by television. Luckily he was later able to breakout in Deadwood. Anyway, the scene ends with a freeze frame as Sanderson approaches the damsel in distress with a chainsaw. It’s sort of obvious this is one of those scenes they throw in to confuse you as to who the killer is.
Flashback to an apartment where several really clichéd character types are preparing to leave for vacation. There’s Power-Hungry Businesswoman (who was also the damsel in distress in the flash-forward chainsaw scene), The Gay Disco Queen Guy (the always awesome and unfortunately deceased Christopher Allport), and finally, The Horny Gold-Digging Girl. And there’s a little kid running around who gets picked up by the awesome ex-husband of Power-Hungry Businesswoman. The movie takes a seriously serious turn here. This whole scene with the ex-husband feels like really dramatic Woody Allen, ala Interiors. The dad is just picking the kid up so his ex can go camping, but it turns into this whole super serious thing. Piano, sparse dialogue, etc.
So now the camping group is on the road. Naturally, they stop at a corner store and The Gay Disco Queen Guy wanders off to a bar where he gets in a fight with two yokels.
The whole scene is really homoerotic because he fights a guy in a navy hat and another guy in an army jacket. Then the group arrives at the vacation home, which sort of just looks like a house with boom mics hanging into the shot. I should mention that the two additional members of the camping troupe are Smarmy Stock Broker Guy and Other Businessman Guy. Wow, not only is the boom mic in the shot, it’s actually moving around from person to person. Upon arrival at the vacation home they find a dead bat nailed to the door. Not much is made of this and suddenly it’s the next day.
Power-Hungry Businesswoman and Other Businessman Guy are fishing with a tour guide. Yeah, that’s famous actor David Gale who most nerds remember from Re-Animator. He tells them about the crazy yokel Otis (played by Sanderson) and how he once went ballistic and branded a girl with an iron. This whole time Otis is watching from the shore. Oh yeah, and somewhere in there we see Sanderson go talk to a gravestone about some boat. Then Other Businessman Guy steps on a fish hook Cool-Looking Mustachioed Tour Guide intentionally left out. Meanwhile Horny Gold-Digging Girl sunbathes nude and Smarmy Stock Broker Guy decides to have sex with her. While they bang, Gay Disco Queen Guy watches from behind a barbwire fence. Apparently he’s into masochism because he squeezes the fence with his hand and starts bleeding.
Alright, the plot is starting to come together a bit. Otis was hired by Other Businessman Guy to finish building a boat Otis’ deceased brother had begun building. Otis is really possessive of the boat because he is crazy. Otis keeps going to his brother’s grave talking about how “the city folk” are going to ruin the boat. Then Other Businessman Guy and Power-Hungry Businesswoman have sex over a weird free form synth soundtrack. The next day Cool-Looking Mustachioed Tour Guide and another guy work on some type of lumberyard and talk about “doing something to that group.” The boom mic is in so many of these shots I think it’s going to get a screen credit. Then everyone goes swimming. Finally, the movie starts to turn into a slasher flick when we get a first person shot of someone walking around the vacation house looking at underwear.
For some reason we are then treated to Cool-Looking Mustachioed Tour Guide getting Power-Hungry Businesswoman some eggs. While he does this, Power-Hungry Businesswoman lovingly massages a cow utter in her bathing suit.
No seriously. She strokes and caresses the cow’s utter and Cool-Looking Mustachioed Tour Guide watches and asks her if she “ever tasted it fresh.” Then he guides her hand and helps her squeeze milk.
Super weird erotic, dude. Totally confused. Smarmy Stock Broker Guy and Horny Gold-Digging Girl who’ve had sex twice, are now fighting for no apparent reason. They were literally just having sex two scenes ago, and now she’s mad at him. Angered, Smarmy Stock Broker Guy goes for a walk where we get our first kill. He is killed with a rope around his neck, then hoisted up near the boat. No one bothers looking for him because they are having a fancy dress-up dinner with the boom mic.
After the meal, Power-Hungry Businesswoman and Other Businessman Guy decide to have sex in some hay. I don’t care how in love you are, or how much you enjoy being “spontaneous.” No one wants to have sex in a bunch of hay. Horny Gold-Digging Girl then tries to seduce Gay Disco Queen Guy during a way-too-long scene involving some type of tango record, make-up, hide & seek, and lots of dancing. He is killed before anything happens, though. Push pin to the ear. Then the killer goes after Horny Gold-Digging Girl, with a table saw to the back. After the two love birds get done making love in the hay, they find Smarmy Stock Broker Guy’s body and mistake it for a suicide. After they come inside, they find the others and I think they figure out the situation. Other Businessman Guy gets thrown out a window and then it’s time for the big reveal: That’s right, the killer was the ex-husband of Power-Hungry Businesswoman. He proceeds to give an awesome fucking speech about power and jealousy and impotence. He’s fucking insane-over-the-top. This guy is seriously awesome.
They sit around until morning, then he escorts his wife into the woods. Cool-Looking Mustachioed Tour Guide arrives on the scene, discovers the crime, and chases them down where a hilariously denim clad fight ensues. Just when it looks like the ex-husband is about to get the best of Cool-Looking Mustachioed Tour Guide, Otis creeps up from behind and kills the ex-husband. Then the theme song comes in and credits roll.
Poster and Box Art: Since Savage Weekend was mishandled and designed to cash in on the slasher craze, it was given a generic slasher poster. It has nothing to do with the plot, the killer guy looks nothing like this. It’s like some airbrushing metal head sold some art he had laying around to the movie studio. I’m almost certain that’s exactly what happened. Nonetheless, It’s super awesome. If this was an album cover it would be a good album and have really fast guitar riffs.
Availability: There is a DVD print, but it allegedly has all the nudity and some violence cut and it isn’t restored. There is also a print of it on one of those 50 movie bargain packs that isn’t cut, but I’m sure it’s compressed to hell and really shitty. Do yourself a favor and stick with an old VHS on eBay. I don’t see one on there now, but keep looking.<