'Microwave Massacre (2-Disc Special Edition)'
(Jackie Vernon, Loren Schein, Al Troupe, et al / Blu ray+DVD / NR / (1983) 2016 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Fed up of his wife's bad cooking, Donald kills her and turns to cannibalism to satisfy his appetite!
Blu-ray Verdict: 'Microwave Massacre' stars legendary stand-up comedian and actor Jackie Vernon (the voice of Frosty The Snowman from the beloved animated Rankin / Bass classic animated holiday special) as Donald, a disgruntled construction worker whose wife s predilection for haute cuisine drives him to cannibalism.
Described by its original DVD distributor as "The Worst Horror Movie of All Time" (I kid you not!), this 1983 black comedy doesn't quite live up to that promise, but it's a close thing! The painted cover art is fantastic, and typically unrepresentative of the lousy content of the film, in all truth.
Donald (Jackie Vernon) is a depressed, disillusioned construction worker who returns each evening to his frumpy, nagging wife, May (Claire Ginsberg). She feels she doesn't get the gratitude she deserves for "slaving away" at her new microwave all day. One night Donald snaps and murders May. Naturally, the only way he can destroy the evidence is by cooking and eating her. He gets a taste for it (excuse the pun) and thus begins enticing ladies of the night back to his suburban home. He cooks them and feeds them to his insatiable, ignorant co-workers. Donald is now free and he's impressing his new best buddies. What can possibly stop his campaign of cannibalism?
Vernon was a stand-up with a distinctive deadpan style, which is entirely incongruous with the farcical events of this story. Combined with the film's weirdly languid pace and Leif Horvath's eerie electronic score, it's quite an unsettling experience – although this is mostly due to it being an outright tonal disaster, rather than any controlled sense of atmosphere.
With the humor and delivery of a 70's sketch show, it's a movie badly in need of canned laughter, if only to inform us of when we're supposed to laugh. Genuine humor comes in the briefest of snatches: Donald's encounter with Dr Van der Fool (Ed Thomas), who doesn't know which side the heart is on; or the scene where May's sister stops by and Donald has to prop May's disembodied head in the bed to pretend she's still alive ("She looks awful pale...") Yep, that's the level of dead pan lines that we're dealing with her, folks!
It's a movie of a mercifully bygone era in which all the women are nags or sluts, although this is par for the course in trash horror of the time. What the flesh sandwich lacks is a juicy layer of satire. Given that the microwave was just becoming a household essential in the 80's, promising the death of the conventional cooker, this has to go down as an opportunity missed – we get none of the consumerist satire of "The Stuff", nor the grotesque farce of the more enjoyably outrageous "Street Trash", sadly.
In closing, 'Microwave Massacre' just about claws its way into the midnight movie slot through a certain uniqueness and, frankly, its brevity (it comes in at around 75 minutes). But it's more of a freak-out than a fun time, for sure. On the bright side, the producers somehow managed to scrape together quite a few pretty good-looking women and get them to take their tops off! In fact, I'm rather surprised that Marla Simons didn't go on to do more films after this one, even if this would have been due to her assets rather than her acting! This is a new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration of the original camera negative
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray (Region A) and Standard Definition (480p) DVD (Region 1) presentations
Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with writer-producer Craig Muckler moderated by Mike Tristano
Brand new making-of featurette including interviews with Muckler, director Wayne Berwick and actor Loren Schein
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork to be revealed
First pressing only: fully-illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower