“Slash” is one of those little direct-to-DVD horror films I would have paid no attention to but for the fact that Steve Railsback is the star. I have seen nearly everything the man has been in, interviewed him and met him twice at Chiller and he is a true Texas gentleman as well as being an outrageously underrated actor. So, I thought I would give “Slash” a chance and I wasn’t too disappointed.
A pretty by-the-books slasher film, “Slash” is unusual in that it was filmed in South Africa which gives the landscape and the architecture a slightly “off” look as the film is supposedly set in the Deep South of the US. The movie opens with the rock band, Slash, headed by Joseph Macdonald (James O’Shea) aka Mac, performing a gig and being informed that an A&R rep had seen their act and was interested in possibly signing them the next week. But before that good news has time to sink in, a weird character who could have stepped straight out of “Deliverance”, Billy Bob (Nick Boraine), comes to the band’s dressing room to give Mac a message that his Aunt Edith has died and his father wants him home for the funeral. Billy Bob also leaves behind a toy that plays an important part in the flashback at the beginning of the film when Mac was a child. So, the whole dysfunctional band: the African-American keyboardist, Keith (Craig Kirkwood), the groupie-obsessed guitarist, Rod (David Dukas) and his tarot card-reading girlfriend, Candy (Nina Wassung) who bickers constantly with Mac’s bass-playing, bad-ass girlfriend, Suzie (Zuleikha Robinson), the stoner drummer as well as the band’s roadie/bus driver all head to “Old Macdonald’s Farm”, planning to only stay the night for the funeral.
Of course, weirdness kicks in right away when the great Steve Railsback makes his appearance as Jeremiah Macdonald, Mac’s estranged father and a guy with a WARPED sense of humor (“I was just yanking your chain.” is his favorite thing to say after threatening to gut someone like a pig). Then, at Aunt Edith’s funeral, a local woman, Jesse (Jocelyn Broderick), makes an unfortunate appearance, spouting nonsense about Jethro Macdonald, Mac’s late grandfather, and a “harvest of blood” beginning again. Jeremiah apparently has a short fuse and it takes Mac and the local Sheriff/Minister (Michael Richard) to keep Jeremiah from attacking the woman.
When the band leaves the next day to return home for their audition with Heretic Records, their bus, of course, breaks down and not all that far from Jeremiah’s farm so back they all go. And, one by one, they all begin to disappear. Seems there was something Mac’s grandfather did that terrified the locals and now that the last remaining Macdonald has returned, everyone is afraid things are starting again. Unfortunately for the film, the kills are mostly bloodless even though they are carried out, usually, by a scythe-wielding “scarecrow”. Or in one inventive scene, with a huge thresher in a cornfield in the middle of the night. But the characters are just SUCH pains in the ass, you don’t really miss any of them when they meet their demise.
The cinematography by Mark Lennard is very effective, especially with the low-angle shots of the creepy Macdonald farmhouse as well as the nearby cemetery and cornfields. The rock soundtrack isn’t bad as it IS a movie about a rock band. But the story just has too many holes and the characters are too one-note. If it weren’t for Railsback and the comic relief of Nick Boraine, I wouldn’t have bothered rewatching this movie. But it DOES have an eerie atmosphere to it and nobody can do sinister or creepy as well as Steve Railsback. And he even told me in an interview that “Slash” was one of HIS personal favorite films. Can’t have a much better recommendation that that! And the Harvest of Blood secret is a little nauseating…