Appellate Judge Tom Becker was once caught naked in a barn; there was a lot of screaming.
Captive young girls…chained…abused…by a MADMAN!
Some movies are so bad, they're good; some movies are so bad, they're funny. And some movies are just bad—sad, tedious exercises that try your patience and adamantly refuse to entertain.
This incarnation of Maria's B-Movie Mayhem offers up a pair of Category Three duds: Scream and Barn of the Naked Dead.
Scream (a.k.a. The Outing) concerns itself with a disparate group (i.e., they're not all young, good-looking people—in fact, there are no young, good-looking people here) on sort of outbacking adventure who find themselves stranded in a deserted ghost town (excuse the oxymoron). Someone starts killing them off, with virtually all the killings off happening off-screen. You've seen these kills before from films that couldn't afford special effects: a weapon is raised in the air, it whooshes down, a thunking sound is heard, then the weapon is raised back up, this time with red paint sploshed on it. Yep, our nondescript character is dead.
This is one of those films that goes nowhere, but it doesn't get there fast enough. I'm not even going to get into the "whodunnit?" aspects, but let's just say that if you're a good viewer and sit quietly to the end…you won't exactly be rewarded.
Scream is a hunk of lead from the Golden Age of Slashers, a cheap, dull, and bloodless concoction that's a chore to sit through. It's horrendously shot and wretchedly acted by a cast of nobodies, with "name" actors Alvy Moore (Green Acres) and the great Woody Strode (The Italian Connection) turning up in pointless cameos.
Next, we turn our attention to a trio of "showgirls" on their way to Vegas. Failing to heed the warnings of a mechanic who tells them their car could break down at any minute, they wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere and rescued by a handsome stranger named Andre (Andrew Prine, Bandolero!). He takes them to his ranch, where they see his nice house, a shed, and a barn—only, this isn't any barn, it's the Barn of the Naked Dead! Well, not really. It's actually a barn with a bunch of fully dressed women chained up inside. It seems that Andre is nuts; he kidnaps women, treats them like animals, and then has them do circus tricks while he's dressed like a ringmaster. When ennui sets in, he smears blood on them and unleashes a cougar to chase them. Can our ladies fair escape with their limbs—if not their dignity—intact, or will Ringmaster Andre's circus of horrors be the death of them?
Barn of the Naked Dead (a.k.a. Terror Circus, a.k.a. Nightmare Circus) has so much promise; it could have been an exploitation great. It was directed by cult fave Alan Rudolph (Trouble in Mind, Welcome to LA, The Secret Lives of Dentists) and stars cult fave Andrew Prine (Simon, King of Witches, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, Crypt of the Living Dead); its plot concerns showgirls who are imprisoned by a psychopath and forced to do degrading, circus-style activities or suffer punishments like being whipped; and most of the chained-up lovelies also did turns in other exploitation films, so genre fans will see a familiar face or two.
Thing is, this film is just dull and dumb. For instance, when our trio of showgirls first discover the barn, they're all unchained and horrified at what they see. Then, Andre comes through the door. Now, Andrew Prine was a big guy, but these showgirls aren't exactly petite flowers, and there's three of them. Somehow—we never see how—Andre just casually subdues them and chains them up. The abuses heaped out are so poorly done that the film barely seems as misogynistic as it is; on top of that, the only word in the title that's really accurate is "barn," since we get all of 20 seconds of some "naked" women (shot tastefully from the back and side), and no one really ends up "dead" until the end.
Both films were previously released by Shriek Show, and Barn also had a release from Legend Films. This Barn is apparently a port of the Shriek Show release, with a featurette, "Barn Again," that includes interviews with make up artists Douglas White and Byrd Holland, actress Jennifer Ashley, and others who worked on the film, as well as a lively commentary by White and Holland. The earlier release of Scream included a director's commentary, which is not on this disc. The transfer for Barn is pretty good, with solid colors, but Scream looks pretty bad, with a good amount of print damage and lousy contrast, though that might be attributed to the source. Naturally, the set comes with the requisite bunch of Code Red trailers, along with Maria's "Fantasy" music video.
If Maria's going to keep showing movies like this, she'd better learn a few more letters; calling these films "B-movies" is like calling small pox a heat rash, and "B" is far too high a grade for them.
Maria gets to walk the walk, but the less said about these films, the better.
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