They do say that when you live in a small town, you make your own entertainment.
You can solve your problems of having nothing but sheer nothing by doing one of two things. You can throw yourself into work, like the Amish, and simply brutally toil the days away until you just only have enough strength to bang out a couple more kids to help out with the chores. Or, you can be the town whatever, because unlike in the Big City, where there's ENTIRE GROUPS of people like you, you are an army of one. The town Goth. The town Skater. The only Gay in the Village, to quote the would-be king homosexual of a remote Welsh Village, according to a series of skits on Little Britain.
Or sometimes you get a small group together, and while away your time at some pursuit. That general region of the world is alive with it. The guys over on the Canadian side with puglife turn go-karts into souped up Evil Kenievel machines they jump over flaming discarded dishwashers, often with disastrous and sometimes life-changing results. One of their number broke his back and got disabled by trying to jump a surplus school bus. Their tete-a-tetes with the local constabulary on this sort of matter is well documented.
And on the other side, the American side, south of Rochester which in itself is already the backwater of the east coast - Canadaigua, New York is 50 miles up her.
Chris Seaver is not the first nor will he be the last to gather a bunch of eager amateurs together to deliberately make a schlocky B-movie. It's the sort of thing teenagers do with their mom's camcorder recording little skits. Some move on to do student films out of it, and others try to make a go of realizing that someone, somewhere wants this kind of content. Amazon Prime for example - and says hey, let's take a whole bunch of free time, some bored amateurs, some willing eagerness to ignore self-consciousness, and weave whatever you have into some kind of coherent picture.
Upstate New York looks a lot like upstate New Jersey, and so an affectionate parody of the slasher genre rapidly begins. There are some college kids, you see. And their heavily tattooed selves are heading up to the lake for some fun filled debauchery. Naturally, there's the set piece of weird old local yokel who tries to warn them of the curse, you see, and tell them some exposition and backstory. Also, there's a groundskeeper of sorts on the premises, and he isn't all he seems.
Now, horror comedy was an 80s trope, and many horror films tried out the Norm McDonald "this might be lame, so I'm not going to commit just in case" route. But in this case their budget was something to the effect of "go through the car seats and dig under the sofa cushions" and most of what they had was basically the use of a friend's lakeside cottage.
So they went north north west. They didn't do Freddy Krueger funny, they simply decided to be weird. But not weird in a cool, acceptable way, weird in a - well, I'll give some details.
The McGuffin that brings together the yokel and the teen tropes is them running out of gas because the stoner one inadvertently put only $5 of the $20 "for gas" into the tank, preferring instead to spend the bulk of the money on munchies. After the exposition, and the warning not to go near the cursed "Blood Fart Lake", he offers nonetheless to fill their tank for them, and as he continues his exposition, quietly unzips his pants and proceeds to urinate into the gas tank, while continuing the tale. And it works, they drive to their destination.
There's the requisite stoner character, the token obnoxious sexist catcalling male, the metalhead, the relatively normal guy, the fat Goth girl, and... a 1920s flapper. Well, she's not exactly a flapper, she's not thin like they were and has a huge noticeable cleavage tattoo and many on her arms, but she wears feathered pillbox hats, those divine long gloves, and practically tap dances in and out of frame with a zany grin while talking like a 1930s screen dame with that "hey, whatcha, wouldja know" early Stooges accent. They tolerate her endless stories where she's supposedly a Silver Age screen queen, and for all intents and purposes they humor her and she stays fully in character. Only once does one character roll his eyes and say "Gwen, you're only 23, you know that right?"
Spoiler alert, but when she falls afoul of the Scarecrow Killer, her death scene is a perfect pastiche of the drawn out, overacted, hammy, complete with orchestral swells 1940s stereotype, complete with long soliloquy with a speech to each remaining character.
I'm spoiling absolutely nothing with this, if you can't figure out most of the people on the screen are cannon fodder because of your total lack of genre knowledge, you'd figure it out quick.
Yes, you see there's a surprise twist. But the main antagonist is Jimmy Van Brunt, an unpopular kid who was teased and bullied by other kids but eventually died when the jocks set fire to a corn field he was hiding in. He tried to hide in a scarecrow's clothes to escape the flames but.... things got worse. Legend has it his ghost haunts Canadiagua, and stabs people unceremoniously with ears of corn.
Apparently every other type of weapon has been so done to death impaling someone with a cob... well, it's novel, right?
And that's what makes this movie a perfect delight. In many instances in which they could have gone way or another, they took a third option. And you can tell that in the hands of people with more money and technical skill with better equipment, a lot of the jokes would have played a bit better - with the ability to have multiple cameras edit back and forth, catch nuances, and weigh the "beat" in a joke that the actors clearly provide. Whether going for the obvious scatological groaner or just the plain weird (having a horror scene turn into a black and white Casablanca "I'm going now" swan song monologue is priceless) there's clearly a twisted germ of something interesting there, that wasn't unrealized for lack of trying. The girl who plays "Gwen Bouvier" particularly throws herself into her role with an almost Will Ferrell-esque commitment. And they're clearly having fun, which is kind of the point isn't it? You "play" a character, you don't "work" one. And aren't actors who are very very self-obsessed and so serious all the time complete bores?
Is this movie total shit? Of course it is. Does it take itself seriously? No it doesn't. Do these people mind they're often going beyond their own limits? Nope. Are they having fun? Yes. Are we having fun? We should. As Mike from Mystery Science Theater said to a flummoxed Servo, "Oh, give in."
And what would a movie like this be like without some welcome breaking of the fourth wall? Best yet was one character staring straight into the camera and very believably saying, "I hate my life".
No prizes for guessing that the number of living decreases, the corpses pile up, there's a shocking twist at the end, and then the weirdest dispatching ritual ever committed to film. Kudos to the actors involved for taking a really ridiculous premise and giving it the acting job it deserved. No, I'm not spoiling it, but you'll never think of the Algonquin natives the same way again.
It was followed by a sequel that didn't do so well, Return to Blood Fart Lake. In it, the lead actor, whose deadpan monologues anchored the pitch decided to deliberately dial the overacting up to Will Shatner levels, which meant suddenly everyone was playing things hard in the paint with no straight man to tone it down.
The Canadiagua gang at Low Budget Pictures eventually made rollergirl fight club nomadic wasteland cat fighting treasure "Moist Fury", "Sexsquatch", and a few more. But I think for my money they really hit their stride with Blood Fart Lake. Nothing quite like seeing a resummoned masked killer first remove someone's fingers, stab him with an ear of corn, and then in a rather human and "slice of life" moment, pause to break wind before walking off screen.
Low Budget Pictures is no more. The actors and actresses clearly moved on to other pursuits, other places. I'm sure some grandchildren will come across grandma having mirrors on her nipples and have questions. Eventually you have to get your life started. Move out of the area and make real films, or take over the family carpet warehouse business.
But we'll always have Jimmy Van Brunt, and Blood Fart Lake. For what it's worth.