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Televised horror is officially bankable again. Now that the genre’s very own serial drama THE WALKING DEAD has set ratings records, how long will it be before TV and Internet viewers are treated to similar gory antics, only this time swaddled in the heartwarming familiarity of the sitcom format? THE CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW is a prescient stab at making just that.
The series’ first season (now available on DVD from Troma) consists of 11 darkly comedic short episodes continuing the adventures of the title character from 2004’s CHAINSAW SALLY feature film. Sally (April Monique Burril) is tiny Porterville, Maryland’s meek librarian by day, hiding behind a pair of thick Clark Kent glasses. By night, and apparently sometimes on her lunch break, Sally is a merciless killer who stalks the nearby woods. Aided by her effeminate, wisecracking brother Ruby (Azman Toy), Sally operates like a trailer-dwelling, cannibalistic Dexter, wreaking lethal justice upon Porterville citizens guilty of such transgressions as parking in handicapped zones and being mean to Goth kids.
Let’s be upfront: THE CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW is a backyard endeavor replete with shambolic plotting, a murky sound mix (some dialogue in the library scenes echoes like it was recorded in a coal mine), kitchen-brewed gore FX and a cast apparently filled with friends who just happened to have that weekend off. Still, Sally has genuine appeal as a character; star Burril is admirably game and enthusiastic, as well as making for a great visual muse. The show has enough heart and underdog spirit to forgive some of the rougher edges endemic to productions like this, such as breathing cadavers and mumbled line deliveries. Writer/director JimmyO Burril is obviously a horror fan speaking sincerely to fellow fans with this project. As for SALLY’s approach to comedy, the Tromo logo on the DVD case should be all the guideline you need. If you’re one to appreciate Uncle Lloyd’s brand of laffs, you’ll be more than rewarded here.
The running time of each SALLY episode averages around 20 minutes. An additional 45-minute IT’S GROUNDHOG DAY, CHAINSAW SALLY special is included to close the season’s story out, and features a welcome guest appearance by Debbie Rochon as a shifty neighborhood fortune teller. The other extras in this two-DVD set are solid, if ordinary; we’re given a quick behind-the-scenes featurette filled with snippets of cast members clowning around, a look at the process of filming one of SALLY’s many creative kill scenes, a “music video” (recycled show clips set to music) of the theme song and a bonus Sally attack on some random twit wearing a Bluetooth earpiece. There’s also a slide show with Sally’s promo stills, a heap of Troma trailers and a puzzling, gratuitous clip called “Troma T + A” that is better experienced than described. The sneak peek of season two promised on the packaging is strangely absent, unless buried away on some menu as an Easter egg.
Most of the episodes come with audio commentaries, where cast and crew utter insights like “Here are the opening credits” and “Go, Sally!” The oddest and most appealing feature is the optional laugh track available for each segment. Hearing hollow sitcom audience guffaws while blood jets drench the faces of terrified victims is off-putting, and conjures up memories of the ugly, upsetting Rodney Dangerfield sequences from NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Thus, this feature comes highly recommended.
THE CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW carries its fair share of warts, but its bare-bones charm is undeniable. Now that introductions have been made, let’s hope the show improves in subsequent seasons and attempts a more ambitious storyline. There’s always room for another antiheroic chainsaw-swinger on the DVD shelf, and Sally shows an awful lot of potential.
DVD/ Blu-ray Reviews
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