Ever since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre first came on the scene in 1974, horror filmmakers have searched for violent tools for their killer to use in slashers. But director Anthony Cooney may have found the most ridiculous one yet in Leafblower Massacre 2…
…The sequel to Cooney’s 2013 short film, Leafblower Massacre, part 2 is directed by Cooney and written by Cooney & Michael Wade Johnson (Candie’s Harem). Leafblower Massacre 2 takes place after the murder of Shavar’s (Shavar D. Clark) fiancé. Vowing vengeance, Shavar sets out to hunt down the killer, who happens to have a penchant for yardwork weapons.
In describing Leafblower Massacre 2, I want to borrow a term from writer S. Craig Zahler, which he uses in his article “Malignant Growths” in Fangoria Volume 2, Issue #1. In the article, Zahler uses the term “homemade” horror when talking about films made on a shoestring budget. Like Zahler, I prefer the term “homemade” movies, because it takes the budget out of the equation, and brings the focus to what the film is attempting to achieve. And it applies to Leafblower Massacre 2 perfectly.
Anthony Cooney’s film is, by definition, a homemade horror movie. The dialogue mixing is poor to bad. The picture isn’t great. And the effects leave a lot to be desired. There’s nothing wrong with that. Cooney went out and made a damn movie. That’s what matters. And it’s one that revels in its low production value, choosing a grimy, 70s grindhouse aesthetic reminiscent of films like Dennis Donnelly’s 1978 film The Toolbox Murders. Leafblower Massacre 2 is a grungy movie, where every image feels dipped in dirt, accompanied by a heavy metal soundtrack that screams sleazy but fun filmmaking. The tone is immediately attractive for fans of low-brow horror, as we open in an unclean basement with the killer and his next victim bound to a chair.
Speaking of said victim, the kills in Leafblower Massacre 2 are generally outrageous, the way they should be in a film like this. The way in which our, er, I guess I’ll call him the “Leaf Blower”, kills his/her victims ranges from things like shoving a leaf blower into someone’s mouth until their head explodes, stabbing with a leaf blower, and even some leaf blower impalement where the sun don’t shine that would be pretty cringe-worthy if it didn’t look so ridiculous. Cooney’s heart is in the right place with the kills, but many times throughout chooses to go with CGI blood and effects, which greatly takes away from the value. These effects just look cartoony, like something you might see in Sharknado, making them funny for all the wrong reasons. Which is disappointing, since the initial victim actually sets the bar pretty high with an explosion of practical, bloody brain bits that lead us to believe if anything, the slasher scenes in the film will be worthwhile. But in this case, “worthwhile” depends purely on taste.
The killer him/herself on the other hand looks great. No, they don’t have that iconic, scary look like Michael, Jason, or Leatherface, (this is a tongue-in-cheek comedy after all), but there’s something uniquely enjoyable about a stalker running around in a motorcycle helmet and camo. The image strikes up somewhat forgotten horrors like Strip Nude for Your Killer, which also has a killer that dons a motorcycle helmet, only wearing all leather instead. It’s fitting that Cooney may have taken inspiration from that film, as the two are similar in their strange, seedy silliness. In fact, it’s easy to tell that Cooney is a fan of slasher films, referencing such classics as Friday the 13th Part 2 or, of course, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, evident in not only the title, but the way the killer revs up the leaf blower before each gory act.
But this is about where the strengths of the film end. There’s nothing wrong with Leafblower Massacre 2 having that homemade movie feel, but in this case, everything else that goes with it feels phoned in. For one, the script is a mess. That’s because, for one, we have no idea who we’re supposed to be following in this movie. Shavar seems to be our main character, but to say that he’s hardly in the film would be an understatement. And then there’s the bumbling cops, Detective Randy (Michael Schmid) and Detective Stew (Tommy Nowicki), who have the most personality, but are one note characters without an ounce of development. Lastly there’s Olivia (Yuri Barcenas), a reporter whose main purpose is to cause slight conflict between the detectives, but doesn’t really have her own story.
The acting in Leafblower Massacre 2 is as rusty as the tools in the killer’s shed, rendering every performance as completely unbelievable. It’s difficult to be engaged in a film when you’re constantly reminded you’re watching one. The characters in this film are forgettable, mostly unlikeable, and severely lacking the emotion to pull the audience into the scene. The script is so sloppy in the way it handles its characters, in fact, that when the killer is finally revealed, the moment is more of a whimper than a bang, because the viewer has to remind themselves of who the killer even is, which isn’t the bare-knuckled punch I think Cooney was going for. Needless to say, the overall story in Leafblower Massacre 2 blows.
Yes, we don’t always watch a film like this for the story, but even the worst slashers have something in the plot which is memorable, either because it’s interesting or is just so bad that it’s good. But Leafblower Massacre 2 is like a leaf floating aimlessly along a scummy alley, spilling some blood occasionally along the way. But again, this is the sort of film that features a lesbian shower scene complete with “classy” porno music, so it’s unfair to expect much out of the plot.
Home movie production value aside, the script, approach to the effects, and character development which is nowhere to be found, severely hurt what could’ve otherwise been a dose of mindless, slasher entertainment. Instead, Leafblower Massacre 2 is best left in the toolshed.
Leafblower Massacre 2 is now available on VOD through LeafBlowerMassacre2.com
By Matt Konopka