Once in a while a movie shows up that really plays like an 80’s slasher flick. I’m not talking about an homage like HATCHET, which is fun in its own right for its own reasons, but a movie that would not be at all out of place with a VHS copy sitting on a shelf next to MADMAN or THE FOREST. Eamon Hardimon’s PORKCHOP succeeded as such in 2010 and I am happy to say Cameron McCasland’s THE LASHMAN succeeds this year.
The story follows the tried and true arc of the slasher genre. The film grabs the viewers attention with a busty blonde (Alea Jordan) displaying her goods before the titular legend shows up and makes mincemeat of her and her beau (Joe Downing). Billy (David Vaughn) is finishing up his last day at work before the weekend trip he is taking with his girlfriend and friends. Stacy (Stacey Dixon), her brother Bobby (Shawn C. Phillips), and Dan (Jeremy Jones) with his girlfriend Jan (Kaylee Williams) round out the group. Dan is not thrilled that Bobby is tagging along and to tell the truth, when I saw who was playing Bobby, neither was I. They stop off at the last gas station before there destination where they encounter crazy
Ralph Eustice (Larry Underwood) ranting, raving and gleefully cackling about how the Lashman will get them.
The young folks arrive at the cabin and start to set things up as Billy gets an eyeful from Jan. Dan’s later pass at Stacy helps crank up the tension between the group’s young lovers while Bobby is mostly unsure of the relationships going on around him and is just happy to have been invited along. The gang has their last big bash-including drinking, campfire tales and sex-at the cabin in the woods before The Lashman of legend shows up like hell on wheels.
Billy explains the legend of The Lashman that Eustice had previously mentioned. A renowned leathersmith moved to an insular town where he was not welcome. Eventually the townspeople get together and torture him to death and a witch of sorts ensures he will be able to get vengeance. For some reason he exacts his vengeance on young men, nubile girls, and bumbling sheriff’s deputies. Murky plot point aside, The Lashman is an original idea for a supernatural killer. He sports a duster, hat and bandanna and is played to menacing perfection by Lee Vervoort. The secondary plot lines bide the time between Lashman’s violent attacks and the final slaughter and pursuit is fast paced and well staged when the killing starts in earnest.
The young cast perform yeoman’s work as each does a good job bringing the slasher archetypes to life. The most surprising performance comes from none other than Shawn C. Phillips of whom I have been critical in the past. I will admit I was a tad put off when I noticed his name in the credits but he did a dandy of a job as Bobby. I found myself enjoying him in this role and hope to see him continue taking roles beyond comedy relief. In THE LASHMAN he has shown himself more capable than that.
Besides a couple of awkward shots the film is well done visually. It is vexed by sound issues as many independent productions can be. The sound is uneven and sometimes washed out and though distracting it shouldn’t prevent anyone who likes slashers from enjoying this film. THE LASHMAN premiered at the 2014 Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival and if a screening makes its way to your neck of the woods check it out.