(When the much-missed horror site The Slaughtered Bird closed its doors some time ago, a number of my movie reviews fell into limbo. As some of the reviews are worth retrieving from that dark and empty place, I am posting my review of Killbillies here. I don’t hate all B-movies. Just the really bad ones.)
Killbillies is touted as the first horror film to come out of Slovenia, which makes it historical, after a fashion. I didn’t know where Slovenia was before I looked it up (I mean, I knew it was in Europe somewhere). To save you a Google search, just imagine a small, irregular splotch just to the right of the top of Italy’s boot, and there you are: Slovenia. Judging from the movie’s cinematography, Slovenia is a beautiful, wooded place with mountains and valleys and a nightmarishly dark urban center where you’re as likely to be served distilled cerebrospinal fluid in the dive bars as you are a refreshing Slovenian beer. (I don’t know if the latter exists, but I imagine it does.)
The title says it all, and that’s where this movie shines. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than an homage to films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance. The plot is admirably uncomplicated: a pair of beautiful models, their photographer, and a makeup artist go into the wilderness to take pictures; they meet up with some seriously inbred primitives; death and horror ensue. You don’t go to see a film like Killbillies for the existential angst.
If that isn’t enough reason for you to run, not walk to the nearest Killbillies-purveying establishment and put your fat fingers on a copy right away, here’s another: it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The style of filming brings a freshness to the subject matter that goes beyond the expected blood, gore, and shrieks. Screenwriter Tomaz Gorkic makes us care about what happens to these poor victims, despite how unlikable most of them are, and once the real terror stops, it doesn’t let up until the closing scene.
The two heavies, Francl and Vintlr, are entertainingly vile. Vintlr is particularly disgusting, with his horrible teeth and drool and overall demeanor, while Francl’s facial deformity, with its peeling scabs and bloodshot eye, makes one want to turn away whenever he’s on screen. Putting Francl in lederhosen was an inspired choice, adding a soupcon of black humor to his lumpish, menacing figure.
Don’t expect boobs, because you won’t see any. You will see a lot of blood from a number of lens-splattering gore effects, which is great because the breathtaking outdoor scenes can only carry the film so far.
So what are you waiting for? Do you really want to pass up the opportunity to see the first Slovenian horror film? Francl’s waiting, after all, and his rusty old axe is pretty thirsty.