Today I’ll be merging a Coroner’s Report into a 31 Days of Horror to kill two children with one large rock. Now, some may not like Jack Ketchum’s Offspring (this movie, not the book of the same name), but I found it oddly appealing and totally surprising. Perhaps my enjoyment was tied to the fact that I expected nothing from this Ghosthouse Underground title and got a pound and a half of gore and 248lbs of dead kids. Offspring revolves around a small North Eastern town where a roving band of cannibals, descendants of a family gone missing a century before, have found the taste of human flesh to be quite appealing. They’re also enamored with the idea of stealing babies, because the baby the have is cursed – and you know how it is dealing with a cursed baby. The cannibals kill many and kidnap some while retired detective George Peters returns to action to kill some kids get justice.
I tallied up around 15 kills for this movie, a very respectable body count that includes infants, small children, teens, and old people. No age discrimination here!
There is plenty of killing to go round which means plenty of blood to come out. There is a chopped up body, a hatchet to the head, a dead body stuffed in a bag, someone gets scalped, there is some self-flagellation (and later team flagellation!). There are bites, one of which results in a geyser of blood, someone is cut then has their intestines pulled out and bodies are mutilated. A guy gets stabbed in the eye, then in the head, a few kids get shot in the face, a kid gets his face shoved in a fire, a baby is tossed across a cave. And perhaps the illest of them all, an evil baby breast feeds evilly. I’m not kidding. This is the cursed kid and it breast feeds and apparently this is really, really painfully because the woman just loses her shit.
There is a girl, who at the time of filming was of age (I checked), but she looks young so it’s kind of disturbing in a Chris Hansen “why don’t you have a seat” kind of way. She shows full frontal and later gives a gross guy a handjob, then mounts and rapes him. There is a hot chick in the film and she exposes her breasts and her ass – only downside is it’s in the middle of being raped. So…
Never hesitate to kill a kid. Also, keep a gun in your house, especially if you live in the woods. Blammo.
The movie starts off with some very long, very boring credits. The first thing you notice is the visual style of the film, which very effectively channels the 70s film aesthetic. It seems to nail the style more than Rob Zombie’s attempts (and he’s good at it), though perhaps due to the low budget they were forced to used some machinery right out of the 70s.
Speaking of budget, it is readily apparent there wasn’t a ton of money thrown at this. There are no real name actors, though many of them have worked before and you might even recognize one. The acting can be stale and even laughable at times, but to me that was part of the charm. This felt like a real film, lost for 30 years, that you just found in a bin at the video store. Several movies have tried this and failed, like The Wild Man of the Navidad. It’s hard to channel a time period and nail it, but for me at least, this movie felt like it was pulled out of a time capsule, so I was able to overlook and even enjoy the camp, the odd plot, and the acting. I call the plot odd because it’s not something you’re apt to find anywhere out of a Jack Ketchum novel. Or maybe a 70s flick. What it boils down to is the film has balls. It does what other films won’t. You’ll have trouble picking out a main character, because when you think you find one, they’re soon killed – violently. That takes balls. So does killing kids – lots of kids, in violent ways. Sometimes, it’s a full out battle, like when two 9 year olds battle to the death. Other times, it’s anti-climactic in a very real way. A half-naked girl threatening a man with a gun is going to get shot and killed.
When your life is on the line, there is nothing that will stop you from putting a gun to kid’s head and pulling the trigger, slamming a teen into a fire or tossing an infant across the room. Still, with all this violence, the movie is rarely disturbing or scary. You want to laugh sometimes, like when the Lost Boys crawl in through you window and threaten your wife. It’s a funny thing to see a bunch of small children, dressed like Little Indians from a grade school Thanksgiving play, brandish knives and growl at you. It’s even funny then when they try to kill you. Though you might stop laughing about the time they pull your guts out and stomp on them. Offspring is not a great movie, but it does nail the 70s exploitation vibe. I found it easy to ignore the films flaws and just bask in the celebration of taboo violence. I think this is one Ghosthouse Underground title you should give a shot, though clearly its subject matter isn’t for everyone and not all who watch it can forgive its flaws.