A killer who makes his victims into meat dishes and serves them to unsuspecting diners. That’s been done, well, to death. But adding tissue from cattle with Mad Cow Disease as a special sauce, that’s something new. And that is the basic plot of writer/director/star Michael Moutsatsos’ The Butcher.
Set in 1995 a helpful voiceover tells us that we’re about to see a recreation of the crimes of serial killer Thaddeus Hyatt who killed over one hundred people and was never caught. A quick visit to Google found an American inventor and abolitionist by that name but no serial killers. Big surprise.
The meat of the story so to speak is that Thaddeus Hyatt (Michael Moutsatsos) kidnaps, tortures and kills foreign tourists in Los Angeles. The footage of the film’s first killings segues into the credits and footage of meat being cooked in a restaurant. Followed by one of the dinners going home and making sushi out of one of their kids.
Thaddeus kills another tourist. Then he gets abuse from the rotting corpse/ghost of his mother Beatrice (Maria Olsen, Eminence Hill, Ashes) back in his apartment. I think she had Mad Cow Disease and judging by the shakes he’s getting she’s destined him to follow suit. How she passed it on is one of the film’s attempts at being shocking.
He and partners in crime Slayer (Sam Mason) and Mr. Cremator (Noel Jason Scott, Slice And Dice) rack up an impressive body count but this can’t go on forever. Can it?
Shot on video The Butcher reminds me of films like Las Vegas Bloodbath or Spine. It wants to be an over the top piece of extreme horror but doesn’t have the effects budget to back up its plot. And with a plot involving mass murder, cannibalism, and child-killing the potential for extreme is there.
The one time The Butcher tries to get graphic it looks like they spliced in footage of an animal being dissected or possibly slaughterhouse footage. Most of the killings rely on sound effects and occasional blood splashes. It’s actually funny when you see a hammer swung repeatedly at a victim accompanied by what sounds like a watermelon being cracked open and there’s no blood till the fifth or sixth strike.
Between this and the lack of anything resembling a plot The Butcher really does seem like a bottom of the barrel SOV film. And if recreating and paying tribute to them was Moutsatsos’ aim he’s succeeded. If he was trying to make a serious horror film however he’s failed rather badly.