The Backlot Murders

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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The Backlot Murders (2002, dir: David DeFalco; cast: Priscilla Barnes, Charles Fleischer, Cory Haim)





A slasher is loose on the Universal Studios backlot (called Empire Studios in the film) while a rock band films a music video. The body count mounts.

In the DVD Special Features, the director calls this "an intellectual film," and a "thinking person's horror film."

Well, no. It's not. The Backlot Murders is a good, basic slasher film. It's marketed as a horror comedy, though the humor is more satirical than funny. Which is good. The humor does not overwhelm the horror to the point that it ceased to be suspenseful.

As for the satire, it's cute. But the targets -- film and music industry stereotypes -- are so old. Basically, lots of cynical jabs at bimbos, airhead rockers, and anyone else who'd do anything to "make it" in showbiz. It's been done to death.

Even so, it's done well here. Priscilla Barnes is excellent as the raspy voiced band manager. I won't give away any spoilers, but she's still sexy well into her 40s, and hilarious. Having seen her on Three's Company, I always thought her comedic skills were high, and highly under-appreciated.

Charles Fleischer is also hilarious as the gay director. And there are some funny lines in this film, even if the satirical observations are ancient.

Even so, it's a small film. Not too scary or funny, but an enjoyable mild blend of both. Entertaining and well made, but nothing special. I bought this DVD in the bargain bin for a few dollars, and it was well worth it.



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