After taking a few years off, the After Dark 8 Films to Die For film festival is back, and they are better than ever!! In the past, the 8 Films to Die For gave us such great films as ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION and DREAD, but there were also more than a few dudes in there. This year’s line up (I’ve already watched six of the eight films) is a solid offering of slashers, ghosts, and creatures. The first film I watched is the horror-slasher-comedy, LUMBERJACK MAN, about a demonic lumberjack who appears every few years to exact revenge for a past wrongdoing. The film is definitely not meant to be taken seriously and has many genuine funny moments. But there’s also a lot of fun to be had with the horror aspects of LUMBERJACK MAN as well.
The film stars Michael Madsen as the guy who knows all about Lumberjack Man and who no one else believes until it is too late. Madsen fills the role of the crazy, “you’re all gonna die” guy that was so prevalent in many of the slasher flicks from the 1980s. His character is goofy, overly dramatic, and it looks like Madsen had a blast with the role. LUMBERJACK MAN begins with a busload of camp counselors heading up to the woods to prepare the camp site for the Good Friends Church Camp. The camp is run by head counselor, Doug (Adam Sessler) who is as hysterical as he is annoying. Sessler just kills it with this role and he steals every scene he is in. Before they get to the camp site, Doug stands up in the bus and tells all the kids the rules for the camp. The first two rules are:
“Number one, no masturbating; number two, no laughing like a liberated woman.”
We get all the typical characters in this film. There’s the over-sexed, pot-smokers, Jeff and Stanley; the dumb girl, Courtney; the slutty girls, Jacqueline and Kendra; and of course the final girl, Faith (Ciara Flynn). These characters are obviously meant to be the standard archetypes one finds in a slasher film, and director Josh Bear has a fun time playing around with them and putting them through the paces.
The killer here is an old 1800s Lumberjack who had a kick ass pancake recipe that was stolen from him. So every year on the anniversary of his death, he rises from the grave and exacts his revenge on anyone in the woods. He cooks up some huge pancakes and then soaks them in the blood of his victims. After he eats all the pancakes up, his soul is satisfied and he goes back to the grave for another year. Yeah, it is completely ridiculous, but it is also fun as hell. Director Bear injects a lot of energy into this film, as well as lots of t*****s and really cute girls. The humor runs the range of being low-brow to getting a few winks and nods from past slasher flicks. The horror is also well done and we get some fun death scenes. If I had to pick something negative here, I’d have liked to have seen a little more gore, but that’s just my personal preference. There is still a fair amount of the red stuff being splashed around.
Besides lead camp counselor Doug stealing many of the scenes, Madsen’s character is also one of the more memorial characters. Madsen balances out his character nicely by retaining his typical macho-tough guy demeanor that we all know and love, but he’s also a huge dork/nerd. Towards the end when he and Faith (a rather stunning coed) are trying to figure out how to kill the Lumberjack Man, the following exchange happens:
Madsen: Ya gotta take your cloths off and douse your body in syrup.Faith: Why, what will that do?Madsen: [hesitates while trying to think of an answer] It’s the cotton… that’s the death fabric.
The ending has a great payoff and the entire ride was fun. The actors all did a great job and really committed themselves to their roles. LUMBERJACK MAN is a fun, horror-comedy hybrid that shouldn’t be missed.
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer