Two wannabe superheroes become vigilantes in order to track down a crazed serial killer who is terrorising their coastal town in Daniel C. Davis’ comedy-horror Slaughter Beach.
Opening with a lovely tracking shot of the Delaware coastline, a pier, and a fairground that is very reminiscent of The Lost Boys’ Santa Carla, we are thrown straight into our first killing; a guy is hooked by a fishing line, yanked off the pier with an exaggerated jump, and then sent back to his girlfriend in pieces. It’s daft, it’s silly and completely ridiculous, but it raises a smile and that’s the key to director Daniel C. Davis’ film – he gives us a great, goofy way to get the audience ready for what they’re about to witness. Slaughter Beach is a parody of every ’80s and ’90s slasher film you can think of, as well as providing nods toward Jaws. It is completely ridiculous, but who cares about that as long as it’s entertaining, and Slaughter Beach does manage to entertain.
As well as directing the film, Davis also wrote the screenplay and he aims purposefully for tongue-in-cheek humour and silly set-ups that are generally employed to fun effect. The movie, which has clearly been shot on a shoestring and with guerrilla-style filmmaking in certain scenes, boasts a roster of hopelessly forgettable supporting characters who are just in the film to die in ridiculous ways, lurching from one set-piece to the next. Over the 79-minute runtime, the film does begin to run out of gas and this is usually the death knell for B-movies however, this would be a bigger problem if it wasn’t for the performances of the two main protagonists, Ralph and Barry (played with enthusiasm by Jon McKoy and Ethan Han). They become similar to The Frog Brothers in the aforementioned Lost Boys, donning their kit and capes in order to save their town from criminality. There is some justifiably bad acting between the two of them, but the chemistry is definitely there, and their partnership mirrors the likes of Abbot and Costello, Hope and Crosby, or Martin and Lewis, and it’s the interplay between these two that, between the killings, that help Slaughter Beach shine.
Like most low-budget productions, there is an uneven nature to the film, but overall, it manages to create a fun throwback to the horror movies it parodies. Of course, most of those films were played seriously while Davis’ film never rises above B-movie campiness, but it does contain some scenes of violence alongside cheesy humour and one scene of gratuitous nudity. So, in that sense, it ticks all the B-movie boxes. Although those who prefer more straightforward horror/slasher movies may become irritated by all the winking and nodding done by Davis and his cast. The music by Sam Bishoff is suitably over-dramatic and suits the film down to the ground, while the cinematography by James Brett Taylor shows some lovely flourishes with images staying sharp and easily distinguishable.
Overall, Slaughter Beach is a daft-yet-fun B-movie and although it won’t linger too long in your memory, it will leave a smile on your face while you are watching it. I’ve no doubt that if viewed around about midnight and after consuming a large amount of alcohol, Slaughter Beach will become even better.