Microwave Massacre (1983)
WRITER: Screenplay by Thomas Singer
Based on an Original Story by Craig Muckler
DIRECTOR: Wayne Berwick
STARRING: Jackie Vernon as Donald
Loren Schein as Roosevelt
Al Troupe as Philip
Claire Ginsberg as May
QUICK CUT: A man gets fed up with his wife's cooking, and things come to a head.
Donald - Really, the only character worth a damn in the whole movie. He's your typical blue collar loser. Down on life, hates work, his wife, her cooking. He's very much the Ralph Kramden stereotype, but worse.
May - Donald's wife, who thinks by making fancy sounding food in the new microwave, it will make her more important and special. And she can't stand her husband. That doesn't go well for her.
THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions! I don't have anything terrible clever here to ramble on about, aside from saying this week's movie ready to be served is Microwave Massacre, a little horrory movie with a dash of comedy for flavour that came out in the 80s. And the order is up, so let's get right to the first course! Huh, I guess I did have some silly ramblings to make...
And the movie starts right off with the very definition of 'exploitation'. Well, actually it starts off with this ominous shot of a GIGANTIC mechanical box which I guess was the microwave of the time, or what this movie THOUGHT microwaves looked like. At worst, it looks very much like an alien tried to design a microwave based on a bad description. At best, it looks terribly dated.
And THEN we get the exploitation, as you can see above, the title card is placed right over a pair of girl's bouncing boobs. I was tempted to gif it just to show y'all how in your face this is, but I have more respect for women than this movie does. But don't worry! It also shows her ass while the credits continue on! Equal opportunity offense!
But surely that's as bad as we'll get this early in the movie, right? Ha ha, wrong! As we settle into a construction site where our main character Donald works, we see the girl come across a hole in a fence, and looks through it. She meanwhile gets groped from behind, at best, and her chest PERFECTLY fits through the hole. Whew, it's a good thing her shirt is covering every...OH wait, it somehow gets pulled away and reveals her naked chest to the guys at the construction site.
Fortunately, she escapes before some of the construction workers can run over and grab her chest, violating her from both directions from no less than three strangers. We don't actually MEET any of the characters in this scene. We SEE Donald and meet him later, his two friends come back later, the girl is never seen again... This scene bears zero weight on the plot, and is purely there for titillation and exploitation. And sums the movie right up.
Elsewhere, Donald's wife is coming home and sees her new microwave has been delivered. And this is where the crux of the dilemma comes to the fore. Donald is very blue collar, very Ralph Kramden, he likes his life simple, his food simple, but his wife, she has...aspirations. She wants to Be Better. Make fancy food, particularly. Try to feel like a bigger person. It is very much keeping up with the Joneses. She is the sort of person that thinks making rich people food will make you rich.
Which begs the question, why is she thinking a microwave will make her food better? I can only assume this was the idea when they were first coming to market, but by now we know that's not true. Proper chefs frown on the use of them, even though they have their purposes. But it doesn't matter, May is really all about appearances. It doesn't matter that she's saying all the fancy french words wrong (like 'cue-seen'), what matters is that she's just speaking French and being all FANCY!
Anyways, Donald is clearly not happy with this, and would kill for a simple bologna sandwich. In fact, Donald is so blue collar, he'd be even HAPPIER if it was a baloney sandwich. But instead she sends him off to work with a giant crab slapped between two slices of bread. I'm not even going to get into the levels of wrong there.
We break from the wacky workplace antics to cut to the local bar, and the least helpful, most unsympathetic bartender ever. He's very much the anti-bartender trope. People pour their troubles out to him, and his response is, "Why are you telling me? Why do I care? I'm not a shrink!" I only bother to even point it out, because Donald hangs out there a lot.
Donnie Dorko finally returns home, and oh, his neighbour is the center of a running gag where there's weird sex things going on next door. It's really just there for more boobs and sex in the movie, so Donald can make weird faces at the shenanigans but never interact with anyone over there, and doesn't really go anywhere. Which seems to be a running theme with this movie. Random shit that doesn't go anywhere.
And we finally get a glimpse into how Donald and May work as a couple. Short answer, they don't. May is a bit of a harpy, always haranguing Donald for every little thing he does, calling his manhood into question, and he responds in kind. She tells him not to sit on the couch with his grimy work clothes, so instead he stands on it and cleans off his shoes on the cushions. Yeah, they're that kind of couple. They're all those 'lovingly hate each other' tropes, but without any actual love between them. Imagine every single sitcom with the put upon husband with a 9 to 5 job, and throw out any actual affection.
But Donald has had enough, and kills his wife with a wakizashi. NO wait, that was just a fantasy. Sigh. We could seriously get to the plot now, movie. We get the idea. She's horrible, he's going to kill her, let's cut to it.
In fact, I'm going to do just that, and skip past the dinnertime antics, a return to the construction site, and finally after a long horrible day (And ten more minutes of movie), Donald comes home drunk to more bad fancy frou frou food, and he trashes the place.
And oh, I am torn. On the one hand I get why Donald is upset by a wife who doesn't listen, who outright says to him, "I don't understand what's bothering you!" no matter how many times he tells her...but on the other hand, he's kinda monstrous to her. There are no good guys here.
So, finally, Donald bashes her brains in with a giant salt grinder. And in a genuinely funny bit, after smashing her head a few times, and spilling salt from it, he puts some in his hand and tosses it over his shoulder. Like you should.
Donald wakes up the next day, his lunch isn't ready, and he's calling for May to get it done, since he's late for work. He must assume it was all another dream, until he looks in the microwave to see if she left his lunch in there for him, and finds her stuffed inside. Which begs the question of how she would fit inside the microwave, but I guess in the same way the microwave fit inside that box from earlier. Must be shipped straight from Galifrey.
He broils her in the microwave, and heads to work. When he comes back home, he hacks her up and looks to store her in the fridge, and finds all of May's fancy meats already taking up all the space in there. So he tosses out all the meat (Which c'mon, could be used for real food still.) and puts her pieces and bits in there instead.
But oops, he stacks them poorly, and her foil-wrapped hand falls out of the fridge and into the trash barrel full of real meat! This can't possibly come back to haunt us!
Donald Rump Roast wakes up in the middle of the night with a hankerin' for a snack, and grabs some leftovers from the bin, and oop! It just so happens to be her hand, which he doesn't notice until well into taking a few bites. My first round through this movie, I was a little freaked out at just casually chowing down on raw meat of ANY kind, but I did catch him nuking his wife for a bit this time through.
NOW I'm just freaking out by eating meat that's been sitting in the trash for a few hours. Sure, it's all bits of meat safely wrapped up, but just being out in the air for that long? Ew. I was this close to Googling, "Can you eat human flesh raw, or do you gotta cook that shit first?" and am at least glad I won't have that in my search history.
And what is Donald's reaction when he discovers he is eating human flesh? "*shrug emoji!* *goes back to eating!*"
Fortunately, this is a turning point in the movie. Kinda. We shift from the Lewis Black-alike being a downtrodden schmoe to actually doing something to cheer himself up. Which is killing and eating women. And the movie does not shy away from the sex metaphor either, as Donnie can't seem to get it up anymore, unless he's about to eat a girl, and not in THAT way.
The next day, Donnibal Lecter takes some food to the construction site, and his pals are curious about it. So he offers them some, and what d'you know? Mikey likes it! So even MORE accidental and unknowing cannibalism!
Life is good for Donald! We could seriously just end the movie here, and it would be fine! Well, maybe after he gets his comeuppance, but still. This movie could be over shortly. Instead, we're only halfway through, and instead Donald has to meet a hooker back at the bar, and take her home. That's when he discovers he has performance issues, and kills her.
And the movie settles into this pattern for most of the rest of the film. Boy meets girl, boy kills girl, boy eats girl. You get the idea pretty quickly, and I can't decide if I am entertained, or just want to get things over with.
The movie intersperses Don Juan's adventures with assorted scenes to keep it from getting too boring, at least. We get to see a homeless man rifle through his garbage, find the hand, and use it as a scratcher. Now, the movie set up earlier, via a tv program, that the only way to commit the perfect crime, is to eat all the evidence, because then there's none left for the cops to find. You would THINK, having a missing hand out there, would be a means to end the movie, but nope! Just for laughs! Ha ha.
There's also the issue of the hand being in the trash made sense when it fell in there accidentally...but then Donald has already taken it out of the trash, and started eating it, starting the whole cannibalism thing in the FIRST place. You would think he would've followed the earlier advice the movie shoved in his and our faces, and eat it all, somehow. But nope!
I do like that he picks up a chick, literally. Some poor girl, dressed in a chicken costume, trying to make some money busking on the streets. At least he's trying to stick with food. It also gives us many, many chicken puns.
Donald also visits his psychiatrist to work through his performance issues, but the guy just pulls a Bruce Banner and sleeps through his confession. He catches the barest details, and offers the advice, "If it feels good, do it!" Oh yeah, that's the advice to give.
There is the briefest of scenes that could have really been something, but instead feels squandered. As Donald is packing the latest victim in the fridge, still full of plenty of meat by the way so this is NOT about acquiring food he likes at this point, we see he still has May's head. And it disappears. It reappears shortly afterwards, and then disappears again.
They could really have gone in a direction where this head haunts him, acting as his conscience, until he cracks...but nope, like everything else in this movie, it's a 30 second moment and then it is tossed aside when May's sister shows up.
Evelyn is just as bad as May is, even more so because she's NOT Donald's wife, and doesn't have to occasionally show any societal niceties. He distracts her by faking a body in the bed with her severed head on top, and when she twigs to what's going on, he shoves her in the closet and gags her with a piece of bread.
You would think that would be the worst gag ever, since she could, y'know, eat it and start screaming. Instead, she sits in the closet for the rest of the movie, for days, the bread getting moldier and moldier. And I guess he draws the line at killing and eating Evil-Lyn because he has no desire to screw her.
Meanwhile, Donatello has been having random chest pains and visits Dr. Von Der Fool but he's the biggest quack I have ever seen, telling him everything is fine with his pacemaker! Hmm, what could be causing his pacemaker to go wonky...
And I JUST NOW noticed that apparently another girl died somehow? We never see Donald meet this woman, we only see some guy delivering food with a hand sticking out of the pot?! Which makes NO sense, that should be a giant red flag. They also mention a black woman going missing, as they eat some 'dark meat' from Donald's latest food from home. I could've gone along with this, giving him more victims quickly, but that random guy carrying the hand around is gonna haunt me.
But we do get to see him pick up his next victim, and since she's Asian, get ready for the Chinese food jokes! At least there's not a repeat of the 'hungry an hour later' gag from The Jitters.
At this point in the proceedings, there's only six minutes left to the movie, and you're just wondering how this is all going to end, and how rushed it will be. Instead, the movie decides to hang out more with the guys at the construction site and make jokes about Donald's car.
The plot comes to a crashing halt, when Donald comes too close to the microwave while it's running, and his pacemaker gives out. We don't even get to see it happen, just his friends finding the body. And the bodies. Which is when it sinks in what they've been eating.
So, this is largely an isolated story of one guy going on a small killing spree, with no one suspecting him, until it all just stops one day because he drops dead. This borders on a non-story.
Not only that, but I'd barely call five people a 'massacre'. And the microwave is not involved in the story at all. Save for killing Donald. The microwave is, in fact, the hero of the movie.
But the movie is not content to end just yet. In case the audience doesn't get it yet, make sure to show the pacemaker warning label on the microwave. And if you STILL don't get it, there is a tacked on pointless scene of some people, who are clearly not police, but are clearing out the house, standing at the microwave and saying "THIS IS A DEATH TRAP TO ANYONE WITH A PACEMAKER!"
Get it? GET IT?? The microwave messed with his pacemaker, killing Donald, but I'm just not sure.
And finally, the movie decides to be merciful and end on a shot of May's head still in the fridge. Which would be fine, right up until THE EYES START TO GLOW. No. Nope. No, you did not earn that little surprise, movie. Nor did you earn the giant orange circles bursting from the eyes to fill the screen into the credits, but it's a neat segue into them, at least.
Video: Something this silly, with no budget, shouldn't look this good, but it got restored wonderfully.
Audio: It sounds pretty good too!
Sound Bite: "I'm so hungry, I could eat a whore!"
Body Count: Do not let the title fool you, there is no massacre.
1 - 27 minutes and Donald finally kills his wife.
2 - Dee Dee Dee gets smothered and hacked up
3 - Chicken girl gets hacked up next.
4 - A girl gets killed off camera??
5 - Another prostitute gets killed
6 - Finally, Donald dies thanks to his heart.
Best Corpse: Donald's because it means the movie is over.
Peak Corpse: Never achieved until they find dead Donald!
Blood Type - C: They smear some around here and there, they give me a wonderful gush as Don is hacking girls up, and there's no real effects to speak of.
Sex Appeal: So...much...boobs...
Drink Up! every time May says a French word wrong. It only lasts for the first third of the movie, but will get you nicely buzzed for the rest.
Video Nasties: Watch as Donald discovers the joys of cannibalism. The tasty, tasty joys.
Movie Review: This is one of those movies with a tone problem. It's trying to cover a *ahem* massacre, but is all jokey the whole time through. Largely thanks to Donald's Jackie Mason-esque one liners he is constantly making during the situation. As I repeatedly mentioned, the movie is packed with pointless padding to drag things out, and/or add more boobs and exploitation. And again, it's a non story. Don is off on his own, doing his thing, and no one suspects him until things are done. It's directed well enough, and surprisingly well made, but the plot, acting, and story leave something to be desired. Two out of five buttered boobs.
Entertainment Value: This is tough for me. On the one hand, it's not quite a horror movie. But it's not quite funny either. It gets more into the realm of silliness to the point of camp. Which I don't mind, but this movie is all over the place. It's got a few good laughs, but the kills are repetitive and samey. I did enjoy it on some level, more than I thought when I put it in, but it was not what I expected at all. It's entertaining though, in its weird, exploitative way. Still, tone problems and a tough ride only get it a three out of five skittering dogs.