The Slaughter

No-budget zombie/demon wig out "The Slaughter" has energetic fun rehashing genre cliches. Pic benefits from knowing but not-quite-camp approach and some funny lines, even if final reels go overboard. Sum is disposable yet still slightly above-average for this type of film, likely to win some fan support at fantasy fests and as a DVD item.

With:
With: Jessica Ellis, Zak Kilberg, Terry Erioski, Adriana Esquivel, Jen Alex Gonzalez, Laura Stein, Travis Wood, Billy Beck, Brad Milne, Carmit Levite, Cheyenne Ault.

No-budget zombie/demon wig out “The Slaughter” has energetic fun rehashing genre cliches, many lifted directly from “Evil Dead” and its imitators. As its requisite cast of hotties is trapped in a creepy-old-house of horror, pic benefits from knowing but not-quite-camp approach and some funny lines, even if final reels go overboard winking at the inevitable audience of jaded genre addicts. Sum is disposable yet still slightly above-average for this type of film, likely to win some fan support at fantasy fests and as a DVD item.

After two successive prologues — a witches’ coven summons forth an evil female spirit, then a possessed young mother kills her own daughter — the cleaning service of modern-day collegiate entrepreneurs Dana (Jessica Ellis) and Tyler (Terry Erioski) is hired to hoover four decades of dust from an uninhabited and suitably isolated manse by a noxious real estate agent (Brad Milne) and his put-upon assistant (Jen Alex Gonzalez).

But when the geek (Zak Kilberg) from the crew of amusingly etched youth stereotypes — including confessed slut (Laura Stein), jock jerk (Travis Wood) and uber-stoner (Billy Beck) — discovers a skin-bound volume of supernatural incantations, it becomes rapidly clear that this lot isn’t meant to survive the night.

Decent jolts, savvy perfs, gratuitous female nudity, cheesy digital f/x, gore so over-the-top it’s more funny than disgusting, and vigorous direction by Jay Lee (“Noon Blue Apples”) keep “The Slaughter” hopping for quite a while. But once the majority of the cast has gone undead, things get a little too in-joke silly, with an excess of comedy dialogue slowing down what should be the most frenzied set pieces.

Tech package is adequate but will definitely come off to better advantage on the small screen.

The Slaughter

Production: A Spotlight Pictures presentation of a Scream HQ production. Produced by Calvin Green, Judy Marcelline, Michael J. Zampino. Executive producer, Angela J. Lee. Co-producers, Camit Levite, Chauncey Mahan. Directed, written, edited by Jay Lee.

Crew: Camera (color, DigiBeta), Lee; music, Chauncey Mahan; production designer, Sara Kugelmass; art director, Tim E. Smith; sound, Francisco Garcia Espinosa; special makeup f/x, Patrick Magee; 3-D animation, Willem Zwaan; additional special effects, Michael Shu, Bongani Ndlovu. Reviewed at Another Hole in the Head, San Francisco, June 10, 2006. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Jessica Ellis, Zak Kilberg, Terry Erioski, Adriana Esquivel, Jen Alex Gonzalez, Laura Stein, Travis Wood, Billy Beck, Brad Milne, Carmit Levite, Cheyenne Ault.

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