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Friday, February 19, 2016

Splatter Farm


Splatter Farm
1987
John and Mark Polonia

Ever since experiencing the magic of Science Crazed, I've been on something of a shot-on-video kick. Any hunt for SOV isn't complete without running into the works of the Polonia Brothers. For those who are blissfully unaware, the Polonias are twin brothers (John passed away in 2008) who have had a very prolific output of zero budget video productions. Their work is often drenched in cheap gore and bad acting. Their passion shines through any technical limitations they might have and they've earned a legion (well, at least, a few hundreds) of fans as a result. Splatter Farm was their first feature and possibly their best.

The look on most people's faces after watching their first Polonia Brothers movie.
Splatter Farm begins with a young handyman, Jeremy (Todd Michael Smith) hacking a woman's corpse (or, at least, a very bloody dummy) to pieces inside a barn. That barn is situated at the destination of twin brothers Alan and Joesph (Mark and John Polonia). They've come to visit to visit their Aunt Lacy (Marion Costly) but now have unwittingly wandered into the sites of Lacy's crazy handyman. The brothers aren't too sharp and it takes them several corpses and a few dead ponies later to realize that something isn't right on Aunt's Lacy's farm.

Splatter Farm is out to push some buttons, and it attempts to do so with wild abandon. It conjures up severed head oral sex, sledgehammered ponies, blood, bugs, rotting skulls, and a healthy amount of poop just to name a few things. From the opening scene, this films exists to gross out the viewer.

I've heard of necking, but this is ridiculous.
Films that wall-to-wall gore and torture usually turn into pretty dull affairs unless there are some exceptional special effects being shown, but it is here where the Polonia magic starts to work. The effects in this film are never convincing, it transforms many scenes that might have had some weight into weirdly farcical moments, probably the most laugh-worthy being Jeremy's attempt to have sex with a decapitated head in the woods. Watching a man grin on a bloody manikin head for a full minute is horrifying, but probably not in the way intended. However, the copious cheap gore, the low fidelity image, and the barren farm all coalesce into something that is legitimately unsettling. I call this the Sledgehammer (1983) effect, making something so cheap and strange that eventually it becomes it's own panic inducing aesthetic, see also Things (1989) and Science Crazed (1991) for more on this phenomenon.

Later Polonia Brothers films would approach their subjects with a certain amount of humor, but Splatter Farm is deadly serious the whole way through. It sticks to its thin story and keeps things moving along. The acting is amateurish all the way around, but Todd Michael Smith shows the most range and that's good since he has to display various shades of crazy through the whole affair.

By no means is Splatter Farm an easy movie to watch, but if you've been bitten by the SOV bug, I feel that it is an essential one.

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