Studio: Midnight Releasing
Director: Carl Lindbergh
Writer: Carl Lindbergh
Producer: Carl Lindbergh
Stars: David Scott, Joshua Lang, Julianne Dowler, Jennifer June Ross, Heather Daley, Marshal Hilton, Stefanie Estes, Sarah Newswanger, Jamie Bernadette, Kate Bowen, Maria Olsen, Patrick Lazzara
A costumed killer and his homicidal partner terrorize backwoods campers and countryside hikers.
I initially wrestled with the idea of reviewing “Bunnyman Massacre” because it looked like too much of a low-budget schlockfest for even my tolerant B-movie tastes. Yet the cover art of a mall Easter Bunny wielding a bloody chainsaw with the tagline “Inspired by True Events” was too ludicrous of a temptation to resist. I figured if I adjusted my mindset to expect something bizarre, silly, or both, low expectations would mitigate what might be highly likely disappointment.
Then I learned that “Bunnyman Massacre” is actually a sequel to “Bunnyman.” I sought out the original film despite reading a bevy of negative opinions and discovered that the criticisms were indeed justified. “Bunnyman” (review here) was rightfully maligned as an all around dismal woodland slasher. Would there even be a point in giving its sequel a go? At the very least, it didn’t seem like an insurmountable task to clear the low quality bar that “Bunnyman” knocked itself unconscious on.
A line in the “Bunnyman Massacre” press release reads: “Also known as ‘Bunnyman 2’, the film is a drastically improved sequel to the 2011 cult hit ‘Bunnyman’ which gained notoriety from a huge amount of press…” Now, I don’t mind that someone tasked with marketing the film took it upon him/herself to conclude that it “drastically improved” upon its predecessor, since that would not be a terribly challenging accomplishment anyway. I also don’t dispute that “Bunnyman … gained notoriety…” That much is true, too. But claims of “cult hit” and “huge amount of press” are a touch more questionable.
As of this writing, “Bunnyman” bears a 3.0 rating from 636 IMDB users, 219 of which, or 1 out of every 3, scored it with the lowest rating possible. Maybe this movie has a cult, but I’m not sure that qualifies as a hit.
IMDB logged one “Bunnyman”-related news item in 2008, one in 2009, and six in its release year of 2011. Two of those latter article titles include “Bunnyman and Incompetency: A Movie Review” and “The Worst Five Horror Films of 2011!” IMDB may not be the definitive indicator of media reach, but eight blurbs over four years is hardly a “huge amount of press,” and it is not exactly overwhelmingly positive, either.
Before dissecting the sequel, let’s have a brief word about that “inspired by true events” claim for posterity. The “true story” of “The Bunny Man” is an urban legend that originated in Fairfax County, Virginia in 1970, when someone in a rabbit costume allegedly used an ax to attack people. By most accounts, the scant few reported “Bunny Man” sightings were so vague that it is inconclusive if any such incidents ever actually took place. See Wikipedia or Google for more information, but not these two films, as an ax-wielding man in a rabbit costume is basically the full extent of the inspiration.
Also, a note of warning/information to my friends in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in PAL territories: “Bunnyman Massacre” is a different movie than the one previously released on DVD by 101 Films as “The Bunnyman Massacre,” which was actually just the original “Bunnyman” needlessly retitled for its UK release. Angry reviews on Amazon indicate that some understandably frustrated customers purchased the previous “The Bunnyman Massacre” without it being clear that it was the same movie as “Bunnyman.” Now a sequel with the official title “Bunnyman Massacre” is released, pointlessly confusing the UK home video market even further. (NOTE: "Bunnyman Massacre" was released as Bunnyman Resurrection in the UK.)
“Joe Massacre” doesn’t have the same enticing ring to it as “Bunnyman Massacre,” although it would be a more accurate title seeing as how the titular terror’s hillbilly partner features more prominently in the plot by at least a 4:1 ratio. Actually, “plot” is not the right word. “Bunnyman Massacre” isn’t a story, but rather a series of barely connected vignettes.
Proceedings get underway promisingly enough with the surprisingly amusing scene shown in the teaser trailer of Bunnyman terrorizing a busload of schoolchildren. From there, Bunnyman borrows Jason Voorhees’ sleeping bag kill as he slaughters three campers in a sequence seemingly built around showcasing the fake boob job of a nude actress.
A man on a road trip with his family then stops at Joe’s General Store, where he unknowingly buys beef jerky made from a dead man’s carcass. The family goes on their merry way without incident and Bunnyman fades into the background after a laborious dinner scene with Joe, who replaces the costumed killer in the spotlight for the remainder of the runtime.
By this point, nearly half an hour has elapsed and nothing has happened yet that matters even marginally to the rest of the movie. Joe finally sets his sights on a quartet of female hikers and once Bunnyman carves up two of them, Joe takes the other pair captive and prepares to indulge in the type of masochistic entertainment expected of a murderous movie hillbilly.
One of the tied up women, Sarah, then proposes the stupidest scenario ever spoken out loud by a potential slasher victim. To bargain for her friend’s life, Sarah mentions that she saw four other female campers in the woods and offers to bring them to Joe and take their places. First of all, why would Joe need this girl to collect more victims for him? He and Bunnyman have zero problems kidnapping women on their own. What can she do that they can’t?
Joe agrees anyway and arms Sarah with a gun. Instead of shooting her captors like anyone with a functioning brain would do, Sarah actually uses it to threaten these other hikers into returning to the evil lair as hostages. And even though she specifically said she saw four girls, Joe tells her to bring back three. Somehow when she makes it to their campsite, the four of them are in fact only three. Where did the other girl go?
Surprisingly, Joe really does let them go, albeit temporarily of course. Lauren and Sarah then have a morality debate about what just transpired when Lauren admonishes her friend for “sending three innocent girls to die!” Sarah’s rationalized response is, “you don’t know that!” She doesn’t? What does Sarah think these two maniacs are going to do with three young women in tank tops and shorts that might not involve rape and/or homicide?
This is the point where I remember just how inane the dialogue was in the first movie, too. It is also at this point that I find myself in the same situation I did while reviewing that film. Here I am 1,100 words deep and I haven’t even chipped the tip of the iceberg frozen around the myriad problems of “Bunnyman Massacre.” Now I have to wrap up without even getting to the beyond unbelievable resolution to Sarah’s storyline, the barrel supposedly containing a body that bounces like a rubber ball as it rolls downhill because the prop was left empty, or the sheriff credited as Baxter whose nametag reads Lindbergh, and whose patch reads Iowa even though he drives a patrol truck with California plates.
As poorly conceived as it is, “Bunnyman Massacre” is arguably better produced than “Bunnyman.” But in deciding what to score it, I have to rank it lower than its predecessor. This is because if the dumb hiking woman forced me at gunpoint to watch one of these films again, I would choose “Bunnyman” simply because its idiocy is mildly laughable, whereas the sequel’s is just annoyingly pointless.
Review Score: 30