Blood on a Budget
As winter inevitably approaches and everyone’s seasonal depression sets in, I felt it appropriate to dwell on the more dirty and crude fare of the film world, known as “The Ghoul Movie”. Coined by the Junk Food Dinner podcast, the term “ghoul movie” has a loose definition but normally refers to a film that either deeply disturbs you or is made by someone deeply disturbed. These are sick movies made for sick people, and normally fall in the extreme, underground, and shocksploitation sub-genres. Some classic horror films falling under the “ghoul” umbrella are Last House on the Left, Cannibal Holocaust, Men Behind the Sun, and Faces of Death.
This ghoulish sub-genre is alive and well in the only place it belongs: independent, low-budget horror. Carrying the rotten torch for this entry are They All Must Die! and Homicidal Maniac.
Just like Hollywood, indie horror hits hard around Halloween. If you’re looking for some underground gore to compliment the season, allow me to suggest the haunted-attraction documentary Monsters Wanted and All Hallows’ Eve, an interesting twist to the seasonal anthology sub-genre.
Getting laughs out of a genre audience isn’t especially easy, and indie horror-comedies are a case-in-point for this. What might seem to be knee-slapping hilarity to the filmmakers often translates to groan-worthy cheese at best, and at worst, sexist, offensive tripe. Proving my point are these two aspiring gut-busters, Vampire Camp and Fat Chance; both of which, despite some charm, don’t come off quite as funny as intended.
Germany’s reputation for extreme horror, brought about by gritty underground films Violent Shit and Nekromantik, can be hard to live up to. Thankfully, our no-budget buddies across the Atlantic are up to the challenge, and with entries like Voyage to Agatis and Necronos: Tower of Doom, they prove there’s still plenty of extremity left in das Vaterland.
While most films covered in covered in Blood on a Budget are American, some of them, like Amerikan Holokaust and An American Ghost Story, feel it necessary to state their patriotism in their title. Ironically, these films don’t always depict our best friends to the south in the most favourable light. Read on!
Although Blood on a Budget is dedicated to indie features, a group of people who truly embody the DIY spirit are The Ghouligans. Beginning in the mid 2000s with a handful of no-budget web shorts, that put Universal-inspired Monsters is cheesy comedy sketches, these ghastly goofs have been dedicated to their hand-made horror-comedy for years, producing two DVDs and tirelessly touring conventions. Finally they landed a TV show which highlights what The Ghouligans are best at: classic horror-humour with a ton of heart. Though all 6 half-hour episodes of the first season, which can be best described as a cross between The Munsters and SCTV, you can truly see how much fun, love, and elbow grease this ghoulish gang have put into this project, and on such a criminally low budget.