Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bloody Nightmares #18: Las Vegas Bloodbath (1989)


If you've spent your life up to this point begging the universe to combine your loves of misogyny, extreme violence and hot oil wrestling into one piece of entertainment, then I have some very good news for you. However, if you're anyone else it's possible that Las Vegas Bloodbath might be missing some of the elements that you typically associate with “quality” or “competence”. Revenge fantasies don't get much messier and more unpleasant than this, but those with a love for Z-grade movies will find enough scenes of jaw-dropping awfulness and bad-taste to make a watch worth your time.

Ari Levin stars as Sam Butler, a young businessman who has just closed a big sale in Sacramento and decides to surprise his wife in Las Vegas with a new sports car before taking her on a vacation. These plans are interrupted when he finds his wife – sporting some of the worst hair i've ever seen – in bed with a local police office (his suspicions are peaked by smelling a strange pair of shoes he finds in the front porch). In a fit of anger he gesticulates wildly with the officer's gun, before two vaguely gunshot-like sounds ring off on the soundtrack.


Sam – now insane – decides that he's going to teach all females a lesson by randomly killing all that he encounters. The first target is a prostitute who Sam immediately calls a whore, before parking in a filthy alley and tying the classy temptress to some errant pipes. Pulling out his wife's severed head, he hits us with the classic “you give me head and i'll give you head”, before stabbing the women through her mouth and tying her leg to his car. Luckily, the woman is held together with clothespins as her limb flies off as soon as the vehicle tugs on it.

After some lovely scenes of late-80s Vegas locales – usually featuring a bunch of confused looking tourists staring at the camera – Sam randomly kills a bartender before stumbling upon the home of pregnant Barbara, who is having a get-together with some of her hot oil wrestling buddies that have just got back from a big match in New York. These gals – with names like Tuff Tiff, Bambi, and Cherry Blossom – eat doughnuts and drink beer before playing a ridiculous game of Poker Truth or Dare and watching an episode of B.L.O.W. (Beautiful Ladies Oil Wrestling). We're treated to long clips of women rolling around on garbage bags while men hoot and holler in the background. Classy. “I'm so glad the match went national”, says one, and I have to pause the DVD until my eyes stop rolling.


Eventually Sam interrupts the love-in and has Barbara (incompetently) tie up her friends before being led upstairs into a very odd bedroom featuring walls that have obviously been covered with white fabric. This will become important in a moment. They make small talk and Sam reveals that, like Barbara, his own wife was pregnant before he murdered her. Unfortunately, this reminiscing leads to some hallucinations which send Sam off the deep end, and he proceeds to cut her stomach open, pull out her unborn fetus, and throw it at the wall!

Yes. This happens.

Not finished, Sam kills the other women via power drill to the head, claw hammer to the stomach (which is provoked when, after the young lady admits her profession, Sam yells out “Ruth LOVED oil wrestling!”), and, um, arm pulling. He literally pulls a woman's arm off after fending off a rather random baseball-bat swinging vigilante. Coming downstairs, Sam decapitates a Jehovah's Witness via swinging door (“You're not a witness anymore”) before heading back to the bathroom and bathing in the blood and limbs of his victims. A not-so-real looking police officer finds him and tells him to get his hands up, but Sam is wearing falsies and shoots the police officer. The credits roll over a still frame of the actor's face, as the worlds worst theme song (“Las Vegas Blood Baaaaath”) plays in the background.


Shot on video, Las Vegas Bloodbath often looks like a particularly seedy porno movie, with dialogue that seems almost entirely improvised – particularly in the seemingly endless “party”scene featuring literally twenty minutes of small talk. Ari Levin seems to be trying hard, but effort doesn't quite make up for lack of talent, though he's Olivier compared to his oil wrestling co-stars who laugh when they should be terrified, make small talk when they should be screaming, and somehow fail to even die convincingly. Director (producer, writer) David Schwartz effectively manages to point a camera at the things that are happening, though every other element of production seems beyond him.

I should give some credit to the special effects, which are terrible but plentiful, and remain amusing in a Troma kind of way. The abortion scene is mercifully silly, but there are plenty of perfectly serviceable rubber limbs and the stabbings are appropriately nasty looking. Sound is muffled and picks up plenty of ambient noise, but the dialogue is generally intelligible.


Image quality is about what you would expect for a shot-on-video feature from the late 80s. Fuzzy with a few tracking issues, though at least the lighting is consistent throughout. The music (by Chris Crump) is totally forgettable, except for the title theme that runs over the closing credits, which is endearingly goofy. From watching the trailer, this version seems to be missing a few minutes of footage - most notably a shovel face smashing - but I can't imagine it affects the plot very significantly.

As is usually the case in this collection, there are no special features. Not even chapters. How am I going to jump to the fetus scene whenever I want?


Rather shockingly entertaining in parts, Las Vegas Bloodbath is repulsive and fun in about equal measure. Nobody seems to be taking the proceedings too seriously, and though the actual film-making is almost entirely without merit there are moments here that show a surprising amount of inventiveness. Certainly not good in any objective sense, there is a decent amount of bad-taste fun to be had as long as you leave your brain at the door.


Drripdry said...

I just wanted to say "bless your heart" for reviewing all of these.


Doug Tilley said...

My pleasure. And I mean that legitimately. While it takes a strong constitution to tolerate some of these films, I really do enjoy watching the fruits of often a shocking amount of (sometimes misdirected) effort.

And it's been such a bizarrely mixed bag. I love it.