Mardi Gras Massacre is a 1978 American horror film written, produced and directed by Jack Weis (Crypt of Dark Secrets). The movie stars Curt Dawson, Gwen Arment, William Metzo and Laura Misch Owens. It is an unofficial semi-remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ trailblazing splatter movie Blood Feast (1963).
A serial killer is stalking New Orleans and… Wait a minute. Does this sound familiar? Hmmm… okay, sorry, let’s continue… the police are powerless to stop him…
Okay, I swear, I think I’ve described this situation before. But, anyway, to continue with Mardi Gras Massacre … despite being the most obvious serial killer in history, the murderer is able to move undetected through the Big Easy. His motive? Human sacrifices to an evil power…
Okay, stop! I just realized that I’m basically rewriting my earlier review of Mardi Gras for the Devil. Despite the fact that there’s a 15-year age difference between the two films, both Mardi Gras Massacre and Mardi Gras for the Devil have the same basic plot. A psycho wanders around New Orleans and commits occult-themed murders while an intense cop tries to stop him. Eventually, the cop’s lover is targeted by the killer…
I mean, it’s the exact same plot! The only real difference is that Mardi Gras for the Devil stars recognisable actors like Michael Ironside and Robert Davi while Mardi Gras Massacre is a low-budget obscurity starring no one that you have ever heard of.
In Mardi Gras Massacre, the killer’s name is John and he’s played by an actor named William Metzo. John spends all of his time looking for prostitutes and strippers who he can sacrifice to an Aztec God. John has an altar in his apartment. The altar, of course, is surrounded by red curtains. As I watched the film, I wondered where he got the altar. Even more importantly, I wondered how he could fit that huge altar into what appeared to be a pretty small apartment.
John manages to sacrifice quite a few women without anyone becoming overly suspicious of him. This is despite the fact that John spends almost the entire movie wearing a three-piece suit and glaring at everyone he meets. When John steps into a bar, the first thing that he asks the bartender is where he can find the “evilest” prostitute. No one seems to find that strange. Then again, New Orleans is a very forgiving town.
Anyway, Sergeant Frank Herbert (Curt Dawson) is in charge of the investigation and, as soon as he shows up with his pornstache and his hairy chest, we know that we’re watching a movie from the 70s. Sgt. Herbert falls in love with a prostitute named Sherry (Gwen Arment). Halfway through the film, we get an extended falling in love montage. New Orleans looks really pretty in the montage but, at the same time, the film has just spent 45 minutes establishing it as a city where a serial killer can ask for the “evilest” prostitute without raising any suspicion. So, romantic montage outside, I have a hard time believing that Mardi Gras Massacre did much for New Orleans tourism.
I should point out that, much as with the case of Mardi Gras for the Devil, there’s not really a whole lot of Mardi Gras to be found in Mardi Gras Massacre. Towards the end of the movie, we get a chase through a Mardi Gras parade. It’s obvious that the filmmakers filmed the chase during the actual parade so, from a historical point of view, it’s interesting to see how Mardi Gras was celebrated in the 70s. At the same time, throughout the entire scene, drunk people are waving at the camera. (One person even tries to grab the lens as they walk by.)
On a positive note, Mardi Gras Massacre features one of the best trashy disco scenes ever. As for the rest of the film, it’s a movie that will be best appreciated by grindhouse aficionados. It’s a low-budget, poorly acted, thoroughly silly film and its obviously fake gore managed to get the film banned in the UK.
It’s a historical oddity and, like many grindhouse films, its appeal mostly comes from watching it and saying, “Someone actually made this and managed to get it into theaters.” At the very least, it will hopefully remind you to not admit to being the “evilest” anything during Mardi Gras.
Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
“The absurd parade of downbeat female exploitation and violence in Mardi Gras Massacre […] may come across as off-putting; that is, if you can stop laughing long enough to notice. In the span of 90 minutes, Mardi Gras Massacre weaves a gut-busting epic of illogical, dirt cheap sleaze.” Bleeding Skull!
” …you’ve got the disco soundtrack with at least thirteen prominently-featured songs […] and graphic gore (as much a part of dusting off the Blood Feast plot as it is a sign of the times with other gorefests like Dawn of the Dead out the same year and more on the way). The plot is just an excuse to connect three near-identical gore/nudity set-pieces, but it is there; even if it goes nowhere original and falls a bit limp at the climax, the journey is more interesting than the destination.” DVD Drive-In
“As an almost more-inept version of H.G. Lewis’ Blood Feast, this massacre simply massacres any notions of suspense, disgust, or engaging storytelling. With skanky, naked hos, beyond repetitive gore, and mucho stock footage of a Mardi gras parade, the movie certainly satisfies the need for those cruddy intangibles, just be aware that the tags for this movie include: plodding, cheap, boring, and stupid.” DVD Talk
“Mardi Gras Massacre has far too many faults and shortcomings to recommend as a good movie, but as a trashy slasher to be watched for only laughs, I do think it has slight merit. If you can get through the tedium of the kills and the sleazy feeling that oozes from nearly every line of dialogue, I think there is a tiny amount of cheap fun to be had with this one.” Oh, the Horror!
“The gore scenes are pretty fun, with gigantic cow hearts being pulled out of latex chests with surprising frequency, and the film manages to capture some interesting and seedy atmosphere any time it heads out into the streets of the city […] The movie never really comes close to making sense, but if you’re a trash film fanatic, well, they don’t come a whole lot better than this stupid piece of sleazy cinema.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“On the surface at least, Mardi Gras Massacre offers everything the fans of exploitation find so immensely appealing. Graphic gore, excessive nudity, a masked maniac and the added bonus of a ‘video nasty’ disqualification – it’s all here for the taking baby! But scratch beneath that glossy veneer and what you’re left with is a vial of tedium-drenched campiness that is so beguilingly awful that it almost defies description.” A Slash Above
” …this most definitely isn’t a movie suitable for all tastes, maturity levels, mental states, social sensibilities (strong feminists would do especially well to avoid this one unless they’re actively seeking to have their blood pressure raised for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom), or political persuasions — it knows it’s there to do an admittedly unpleasant job and it gets in, does it, and then gets the hell back out. Call it unflinching misogyny-by-the-numbers. It’s brutish, nasty, sleazy, unapologetic, and cheap.” Trash Film Guru
Mardi Gras Massacre was on the British Government’s list of so-called ‘video nasties‘ in the 1980s and has never been resubmitted to the BBFC for a certificate since.
Cast and characters:
Curt Dawson … Detective Sergeant Frank Abraham
Gwen Arment … Sherry
William Metzo … John (as Bill Metzo)
Laura Misch Owens … Shirley Anderson (as Laura Misch)
Cathryn Lacey … Dancer with Monk
Nancy Dancer … Nineteen-year-old dancer
Butch Benit … Sam the barman
Wayne Mack … Police Captain
Ronald Tanet … Detective Sergeant Mayer
Donn Davison … Doctor Lewis the antiquities expert (uncredited)
John Klisavage … Man in Tuxedo with Sherry (uncredited)
Aspect ratio: 1.78: 1