It would be far too easy to boldly proclaim Wayne Berwick’s unforgettable 1983 slasher flick Microwave Massacre to be amongst the worst horror movies ever made. I know those six oh-so enviable words appear at the very top of the DVD artwork, but that’s simply not the case. However, please do not twist and dry hump my words into something positive; this bizarre nugget of no-budget nonsense isn’t a great film by any stretch of your limited imagination. It’s crude, short, uninspired, and technically bankrupt, devoid of anything that would constitute a living, breathing motion picture. Thing is, that’s part of the appeal. Despite themselves, Berwick and company have crafted a genuine cult item, a satisfying trash cinema experience that deserves much better than to be labeled as the worst the genre has to offer.
A word to the woeful blind buyer: Microwave Massacre does not contain an actual full-blown massacre, nor are these supposedly heinous crimes perpetrated by a common household appliance. The body count is more of a light slaughter than anything else, and the proverbial instrument of destruction is usually a sharp object wielded by none other than Frosty the Snowman himself, Mr. Jackie Vernon. And while we’re on the subject of on-screen terror, I should note that this particular vehicle for blood, guts, and debauchery has more in common with, say, H.O.T.S. and Spring Break than other films which have incorporated the term “massacre” into their mildly misleading designation. To be fair, its these unexpected elements which turn an otherwise stale premise into something worth watching, but it’s worth mentioning.
The story itself is suitably simple — a man accidentally discovers something yummy after killing his wife and cooking her in the titular device — effectively setting up the victims in quick succession so our cannibalistic culinary wizard can strip them naked, knock them down, and turn them into tasty treats for his co-workers at the construction site. There’s a fair amount of dime store grue for those interested parties, but it’s quite tame when compared to the level of ickiness currently clogging the digital arteries of modern-day prime time television. If you’re searching for something seriously warped with an insane amount of ketchup, keep looking.
As expected, every single performance is pure, uncut Colombian cheese. Jackie Vernon is as greasy as a street stall rat ball, littering the entire picture with oily stains and creepy chest hair. The specimens cast as his female prey, of course, are curvy and scantily clad, delivering their respective lines with the enthusiasm of a struggling actress forced to shed her top in order to get a few movies under her belt. The rest of the participants are probably friends and family members who were returning a favor or two. They all serve their purpose in one way or another.
What’s my favorite part of Microwave Massacre, you ask? If I had to really narrow it down to one specific scene, I’d probably choose the one which finds Jackie Vernon rearranging his tiny, overstuffed refrigerator in order to make room for new individually-wrapped body parts. This all-too-brief sequence is repeated a few times throughout the picture in order to demonstrate how, exactly, homicidal maniacs deal with limited space and excess product. Okay, well, maybe not. But it’s these small moments which ease the cinematic pain of Microwave Massacre’s seething worthlessness.
And when I say “worthlessness,” I secretly mean “awesomeness.”