Mardi Gras Massacre (1978)

The fact that the creator of Mardi Gras Massacre, Jack Weis, went on to direct a Melissa Etheridge special makes me happy to no end. Because it’s as far away as possible from this scuzzy, scummy and downright nasty addition to the world of the slasher.

While most slashers spend so much time naming their killer exciting names like the Phantom Killer, Madman Mars or Frank Zito, the killer here is just named John.

That said, he may as well have been named Fuad Ramses, because if Mardi Gras Massacre was any more like Blood Feast, it would have to film a TV playing that film.

John is searching the bars and strip clubs of New Orleans to find the most evil women possible so that he can take them home, tie them up on his Aztec altar, but on his metal mask, give them a massage and then rip out their hearts in a ritual to the goddess Coati. If the shot of the heart being sliced out looks the exact same every single time this happens, so much the better.

Sergeant Frank Abraham gets assigned to the case after the first girl, Shirley, is found on the train tracks with her organs missing. Along the way, he starts sleeping with one of the local girls, Sherry. Their romance is, well, it’s not really a romance as much as a bad cop sleeping with a bad girl with a heart of gold. Honestly, no one in this movie is all that morally sound, as we should see Frank as the hero and then there’s a scene where he slaps Sherry around. When they reunite at the end, it’s not really something that’s a call for celebration.

What does make this movie worth shouting about are the extended disco scenes that seem to go on forever. There’s an amazing one where several girls get into a dance floor skirmish that I watched several times in a row, shouting at the screen in pure joy. There’s also a montage where he cops are questioning suspects intercut with dancing, particularly a dancing street performer who answers all of the cops’ questions with some fancy steps.

Mardi Gras Massacre has everything a movie needed to make it in the slasher boom: an amazing poster, a great tag, lots of gore and nudity, an interesting title and a willingness to be reprehensible trash (that’s a compliment, I swear).

It’s no accident that it ended up as one of the original video nasties, a title that I’m certain it wore with no small amount of pride.

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