I got a new modem Monday and although it is the same type of modem as the one it replaced, suddenly my Roku will not connect to the internet. Lost without my channels of seemingly random on demand movies to choose from, I went in search of some online channels and found a site called Filmon, which has several horror channels. That’s where I caught from the beginning this weird fauxtro horror/murder mystery called Blackface Killer, a movie which I would have never sought out, but I will watch anything I start from the beginning on a streaming live channel because of the novelty of live TV (I don’t have cable, satellite or an antenna.) Unfortunately, when I had finished watching the movie, I realized that although Blackface Killer was entertaining in a guilty pleasure way, it seems that it ultimately went nowhere.
Set in the 70s, Blackface Killer features characters in thrift store clothes and a print which is scratched and faded, but it was filmed in 2009. The title describes part of what is going on: there is a killer in blackface, dressed up like a performer in a minstrel show, killing his victims in ways that were used to torture slaves before the Civil War. For a time, it seems that the local sheriff and an outside detective assigned to the case (played by director Michael Fredianelli) may catch the killer, but a detour to a backwoods family of cannibals makes that possibility more remote. Everyone in the film, except for the detective’s unasked-for partner who is a black guy, is a flaming racist asshole, but I’m not sure if there was a message or if it was just for shock value. A subplot involving trouble between the detective and his wife falls by the wayside. A visit to a couple of fat n’ furious pig farmers only provides the clue that the killer is “black.” Finally, the detective is, I believe, literally defeated by the killer, as in his feet are cut off, but I never quite figured out why the killer was doing what he did.
My only comfort for having spent my whole morning watching Blackface Killer is that much of the movie seems to have been played for laughs, with ridiculous and colorful dialogue; also, there’s a lovely surreal moment where the killer encounters a banjo player and we hear an unseen audience reacting to the ensuing dance and murder sequence. Such touches make me think that maybe this filmmaker does have a vision other than bad mustaches and repeated uses of the n-word. I just don’t know what that vision is.
Oddly, however, I want to see some more of this guy Michael Fredianelli’s films, not only because an IMDb search shows that he has been prolific in various genres since 2008, but also because it has been insinuated that he manufactured some controversy between himself and the NAACP over Blackface Killer, and I’m a fan of carnyesque marketing techniques. Overall, I have to say that you should approach Blackface Killer at your own risk, it is only for fans of extreme and potentially offensive weirdness, and for God’s sake, if you can explain the mystery of the killer, please let me know what the hell was going on. Otherwise I’ll have to conclude that the 70s homage effort extends to making the plot nonsensical on purpose, in favor of atmosphere, as many 70s B movie directors were fond of doing. If that is what happened here, it would make Blackface Killler one of the most accurate of the last few years’ crop of fake 70s horror films, as it captures that WTF feeling that can frustrate at first, but soon becomes addictive.