Slasher

Although "Slasher" is set for June 29 premiere on IFC, a savvy distrib could get limited theatrical mileage from first nonfiction feature by vet helmer John Landis. Docu is an amusing and insightful study of Michael Bennett, a motor-mouth, gravel-voiced go-getter who takes a hired-gun approach to his itinerant career as free-lance used car salesman.

Although “Slasher” is set for June 29 premiere on Independent Film Channel, a savvy distrib could get limited theatrical mileage from first nonfiction feature by vet helmer John Landis (“The Blues Brothers”). Docu is an amusing and insightful study of Michael Bennett, a motor-mouth, gravel-voiced go-getter who takes a hired-gun approach to his itinerant career as free-lance used car salesman.

During a typical weekend marathon of hard selling, Bennett and his two long-time partners swoop into economically-depressed Memphis to hype business at an overstocked auto dealership. “Slasher” confirms worst suspicions about used car salesmen while revealing tricks of Bennett’s trade. (Prices are artificially raised to facilitate dramatic price “slashing.”) And even though he offers a sympathetic, even grudgingly admiring portrait of Bennett — a hard-drinking ex-con who admits he spends too much time away from his family — Landis doesn’t shy away from noting many of the bamboozled customers are low-income African-Americans. In one case, a young woman gets what she thinks is a great deal on an $88 car. She barely gets the clunker home before it dies on her. Soundtrack percolates with classic R&B golden oldies recorded for Memphis-based Stax label.

Slasher

Production: An Independent Film Channel presentation of a Stick Figure production. Produced by Steven Cantor, Daniel Laikind, Chris Kobin. Executive producers, Alison Bourke, Ed Carroll. Directed by John Landis.

Crew: Camera (color), Paul Dokuchitz, Peter Rieveschl; editor, Martin Apellbaum; music supervisor, Mandy Stein. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (Special Screenings), Austin, Texas, March 15, 2004. Running time: 87 MIN.

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