Thirty-six years ago, Vin Crease’s lost masterpiece Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun was scheduled to be released to a generation of 60’s radicals who had already seen their dream of peace and love shattered by the brutality of war, the Manson Family murders and the tragic overdoses of Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin and Jim Morrison. Just 3 days before its release, Executive Producer Benjamin L. Mankiewicz was attacked and brutally murdered by the films Writer/Director/Star Vin Crease. Immediately charged, Crease was later declared unfit to stand trial and incarcerated at the California State Hospital for the Criminally Insane where he remained until his untimely passing just 5 years later. The only known print of Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun was confiscated and later lost, only to be rediscovered some 30-years later in a Pakistani Market. After an intense restoration effort, Perceramborol Pictures in conjunction with ThinkFILM have unearthed Vin Crease’s lost masterpiece of modern horror and given the film the debut it so richly deserved.
The film tells the bleak tale of Jennifer (Rhonda St. John), an adult film starlet who after suffering a mental break on the set of one of her films seeks out the help of Dr. Denver who prescribes Jennifer an antipsychotic in the hope that it will calm her maddening delusions. Soon after leaving the care of Dr. Denver, Jennifer is attacked on a desert highway and rescued by a ragged cult of hippies in search of a desolate farmhouse where a series of vicious murders took place. Having no place to go, Jennifer takes in with the gang and soon finds she is drawn to their Svengali leader Damon Gray (Vin Crease). This dark bond will eventually pit Jennifer against Damon in a bloody battle between the unholy sickness that dwells deep within her soul and the cultist madman with whose fate she is inextricably linked.
The Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun is certainly an intense film and one that, given its historical significance, stands as a catastrophic monument to the lost innocence of the flower generation. The impact that the film has on its audience is made even more intensive considering the fact that the entire backstory of the film and it’s terrible history are nothing more than a fabrication, a hoax played on the world by the cast and crew of this 2004 production.
Director Vin Crease did not tragically pass away in 1977 at the age of 41. In fact by the looks of him, Vin Crease was probably just starting grade school in 1977. But, the undeniable truth is that Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun is a revelation of neo-nostalgic cinema. From the tint and grain, to the camera angles and score, this film is the very definition of homage. The bonus amongst the shocking realization that the film is a new creation is that the storyline is intriguing as contemporary cinema as much as it is a fascinating retrofit to the drive in oeuvre of Al Adamson or Sam Arkoff. The filmmakers have painstakingly recreated many of the signature pulse points of the lost 60’s mindset. The film is oozing with hallucinatory imagery and steeped in an unsettling sense of foreboding, particularly during a brief plot interval in which the characters stop to frolic in a nearby stream. The cinematography and shot design in this sequence evoke the prescient terror found in the very best moments of films like Last House on the Left.
The crew behind Slaughterhouse of the Rusing Sun has certainly traversed a mighty moviemaking mountain with their absolute realization of the aesthetic value, in homage, to an era of vanished hope and bloodcurdling horror. It is my sincere hope that their attempts at furthering the current horror genre are as successful as their foray into its evocative and powerful past.