Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by William Asher.
Starring Jimmy McNichol, Susan Tyrrell, Bo Svenson, Britt Leach, Bill Paxton.
Horror, USA, 96 mins, cert 18.


Released in the UK on 4K UHD & Blu-ray via Severin Films on Monday 13th May 2024.


A very lyrical title that bears little resemblance to anything in the movie, BUTCHER, BAKER NIGHTMARE MAKER is former video nasty been given a 4K UHD makeover by Severin Films here in the UK, and for a movie that is a slasher at heart, there is an awful lot going on here that lifts it above most of the other familiar slasher names from the early 1980s.


Riffing on PSYCHO and themes of nature versus nurture, the movie begins with the parents of a young baby handing him over to babysitter Cheryl while they go out in the car. Whilst driving on a tricky road they realise the brakes have been tampered with and the car crashes in what can only be described as one of the most insanely contrived traffic ‘accidents’ outside of FINAL DESTINATION 2. Nevertheless, both parents die, and baby Billy is left in the care of ‘Aunt’ Cheryl (Susan Tyrrell).


Fast forward fourteen years and Billy (Jimmy McNichol) is now a high school basketball star with a girlfriend and is generally a popular young man. He is also popular with Cheryl, who has an irrational fear of losing him to either his girlfriend or a college scholarship, and after the sex-starved Cheryl is rejected by the TV repair man and kills him, Billy becomes the focus of the investigation by odious detective Joe Carlson (Bo Svenson), who believes Billy to be in a homosexual love triangle with the TV repair man and his basketball coach. This enrages Cheryl even more, forcing her to go full psychopath to protect the one she loves.


There is a lot to unpack in this movie once you get past the surface-level plot of a woman protecting her nephew, such as why she tampered with his parents’ car, why she has incestual feelings for him, what is it with Detective Carlson and his obsession with gay men, and why wasn’t Bill Paxton cast as the lead? The last one is easy, as Paxton always plays a great slimeball and he does it here, in a role that adds fire to Carlson’s theories about Billy’s feelings for other men (and possibly gave an idea or two to the creators of FREDDY’S REVENGE).


Carlson’s obvious homophobia makes his character utterly repellent, which is a different angle as the detective in a horror movie is supposed to be ‘the hero’, and Bo Svenson plays the cop with relish, but it is Susan Tyrell who steals the show as Cheryl, her odd behaviour towards Billy hinted at early on when she wakes him for school, but increasing with every scene until the inevitable showdown, during which Tyrell has a full-on meltdown and really goes for it. Between her and Svenson, there isn’t really much room for Jimmy McNichol to do anything other than whine and be a bit mopey, which he does but seeing as he is the main character, he does come across as rather dull.


Even so, BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER is a rewarding slasher that has a lot more to it than the average FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel, delivers some fun gore and a maniacal performance from the main villain. A 4K UHD release may seem a little over-the-top for such a movie, but then again, why not?


Chris Ward.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans