Microwave Massacre tells the tale of Donald (Jackie Vernon), a construction worker with simple tastes driven mad by his wife’s obsession with fancy cuisine and constant nagging about his lack of sophistication. One night he snaps, kills his wife, and, a short time later, accidentally eats some of her remains as a midnight snack. Turns out he has a taste for human flesh, and he sets about town, luring prostitutes back to his place for sex and dinner, in that order.
There’s enough there to make some sort of movie out of, but I was left wanting. Vernon plays the antagonist, but it’s like watching Debbie Downer play Jason Vorhees — he’s so dry and sarcastic and very “wah waaah” with his delivery that it got boring pretty quickly. The other performances in the film are pretty thin and largely meaningless — there are a number of scenes that simply exist without driving the plot or developing much in the way of characterization. If they were funny, that’d be one thing, but they’re mostly cringe-worthy and the pacing and slow dialogue made everything take longer than it felt like it needed to. At 76 minutes of run time, if all that padding were subtracted, it’d be about a half-hour exercise in patience and late ’70s ridiculousness. Watching it at 1.5x speed is not unreasonable, and you won’t miss anything.
There are some fairly gratuitous boob shots, perhaps the most notable happening in the first few minutes of the film with The Knothole Girl creating a scene that made absolutely no sense. There isn’t much of a story arc — things just sort of keep happening and Donald wins over people by letting them sample his cannibalistic cooking, but no one questions it or presses the issue. There’s no tension or risk of him getting caught. When his wife’s sister comes over for a visit, the scene where she discovers what’s going on is anticlimactic and corny as he somehow subdues the sister with a baguette.
I’d read in the press notes that Jackie Vernon was a “legendary” comedian and actor. I don’t see how this film did him any favors, and thought that maybe he was an acquired taste. I looked up some of his standup bits on YouTube and found them to be genuinely funny. Maybe the Massacre would have been more entertaining if Vernon had written it himself.
The Blu-ray sports a 2K restoration from the original negative, uncompressed mono audio, and English subtitles. It doesn’t save the movie from looking old, but the picture quality is pretty good. Also included are audio commentary by writer-producer Craig Muckler and a making-of featurette with interviews with Muckler, director Wayne Berwick, and actor Loren Schein. Including both Blu-ray and DVD copies along with the reversible cover insert and eight-page synopsis included in the case round out the package for fans of the feature.
I have no doubt this movie has a cult following. It’s corny and cheesy and slow-moving and probably more fun to watch with friends to poke fun at it. For the solo horror viewer, however, I think you can find much better ways to spend an hour in front of the TV.