You VHS buffs may remember MICROWAVE MASSACRE for its memorably packaged Midnight Video release. The cover art, depicting a man salivating over a cooked head, was more memorable than anything in the film itself—which incidentally boasts art direction by the sometimes-great Robert Burns, of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE HOWLING and RE-ANIMATOR, and the presence of actor/comedian Jackie Vernon in what was sadly his final film role.
This film has a copyright date of 1983, but appears to have been made back in the seventies. It was recently released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video, who attempted to pass it off as a gore fest, which it definitely isn’t.
Overweight construction worker Donald really hates the lunches his wife May packs for him. She’s using a microwave, whose convenience inspires her to cook all sorts of disgusting cuisine. One night Donald grows fed up and demands May make him a bologna and cheese sandwich. This leads to May smushing Donald’s dinner plate on his head, after which he beats her to death.
Donald stashes May’s corpse in the microwave, and the next morning cooks and packs her body parts in the garage freezer. He eventually eats her flesh and decides “I may have underestimated May’s taste.” The following day he shares the meat with some coworkers, who agree that it’s damn good. Soon he’s providing lunch for all his friends, and finds his meat supply running out. No problem: Donald picks up a hooker and takes her back to his house, where he kills her, and afterward cooks her body parts in the microwave.
He next picks up an exotic Big Bird impersonator and makes her his latest meal. It seems he’s now addicted to screwing and eating women. He also starts having heart problems…
The opening shot of this film is unexpectedly compelling: a slow pan in on the titular microwave, followed by a dissolve to a woman’s decapitated head inside. As it turns out, it’s the most artful and affecting shot in the entire movie. More typical are the opening credits, taking place over a close-up of a blonde hottie’s bouncing tits, which adequately set the tone. There’s a dumb sex joke every few minutes, making this the SCREWBALLS of cannibal comedies (although such a comparison would be an insult to SCREWBALLS).
The whole thing resembles an especially scuzzy student film, with a cinematographer who can’t seem to keep the boom mic out of the frame and performers who only rarely hit their marks. Speaking of performers, the most memorable part of Jackie Vernon’s performance is his ultra-thick New York accent, as his acting is hardly what you’d call “good,” and nor is he ever too believable as the supposedly undernourished character he plays.
It doesn’t help matters that all the jokes are of the hacky variety. As Vernon says 1). to a slow moving nun: “You remind me of my mother in law–at her funeral!” 2). to a hot chick with a cat: “What a nice pussy!” 3). about a dog named Napoleon: “I’m gonna kick him in his Bonaparte!” and 4). into a phone: “Hello Coast Guard, is the coast clear?”
What’s ultimately most interesting about this film is the early-model microwave it depicts, a massive space-agey contraption that more closely resembles a kiln. Yes kids, microwaves did once look like that, and the presentation of such provides this film’s sole redeeming element.
Director: Wayne Berwick
Producers: Craig Muckler, Thomas Singer
Screenplay: Thomas Singer
Cinematography: Karen Grossman
Editing: Steve Nielson
Cast: Jackie Vernon, Loren Schein, Al Troupe, Marla Simon, Claire Ginsberg, Lou Ann Webber, Anna Marlowe, Cindy Gant, Sarah Alt, Karen Marshall, Phil De Carlo, Aaron Koslow, Ed Thomas, John Harmon, Norman Friedman, Debra Draper Berwick, Malvina Ackerman, Alex Mann