The F*cking Black Sheep: Home Sweet Home (1981)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!



Happy Thanksgiving our fellow Arrow in the Headers…boy do we have a fat, juicy capital-T Turkey ready to carve up and serve to you hot. Normally, during our biweekly F*cking Black Sheep Article, we either highlight a beloved movie and shit on it, or contrarily, bestow much needed love to a movie most people loathe. Ah, but today is Turkey Day, and we thought what better way to celebrate the annual tradition of good eats and family fun than by steering you toward a holiday-centric slasher joint that’s oh so bad it’s too good to be missed. You know, treating you to a real cinematic turkey! That something you think you have room for in that crammed belly of yours? Good, let’s platter this f*cker and slice it up!

The turkey in tow this fine Thursday is the 1981 slasher film called HOME SWEET HOME (aka SLASHER IN THE HOUSE). Directed by Nettie Pena, who would go on to great acclaim as a still photographer, the movie is painfully hamstrung by its unforgivable frugality, lack of resources, insipid acting, moronic dialogue and generally uninspired story. And yet – yet – there’s something akin to a car-crash on the side of the road you just can’t help but peel your eyes away from. As the movie progresses, it becomes quite enjoyable for how truly inept it is, and for some of the genuinely humorous slasher-film tropes that get upended, discarded and even ignored altogether. Moreover, Thanksgiving horror movies are such a rarity, slasher flicks at that, we can’t help but stomach this one and all its deficiencies for at least being one of the first flicks to take advantage of the historic holiday. So with that, friends and fam, let’s have a bash with Turkey Day: HOME SWEET HOME, The F*cking Black Sheep!

One of the few plaudits about HSH is how it wastes not one second before jumping right into action. The film literally kicks off with our deranged killer Jay Jones (real life fitness guru Jake Steinfeld) – a ‘roided out muscle-man who looks like Lou Ferrigno in a skin-tight tee ready to hit the gym and get his lift on – as he jacks a car, shoots a syringe full of PCP into his neck before quickly strangling one dude and then mowing down a helpless old granny in the street. Two dead before the title even kicks up. Gotta like it. But then, the one-note story becomes all too clear. Jay - the incessantly giggling, hulked-out whacko with Home Sweet Home tattooed on his hand - is inexplicably intent on crashing the Bradley family Thanksgiving dinner, located on a rural ranch outside of L.A., which includes a ragtag band of deeply unlikable characters (save for most of the women). Some are related, most aren’t, but it doesn’t really matter, as they collectively prep and cook a Thanksgiving day feast, each one is systematically slaughtered by Jay, one by one, in a bevy of different ways.

Hell, since this Turkey is already well overdone, why not spoil it some more? There’s one death scene in the film that induced an authentic howl out of me…a legit LOL. One of our idiotic victims has car trouble, so he looks under the hood to figure out what’s wrong. With his head firmly focused under the hood, Jay suddenly comes flying into the frame like a goddamn frog and lunges onto the middle of the car’s hood, smashing it down and crushing the poor bastard underneath. Words cannot do justice to how hilarious this scene is. It’s an all-timer! In fact, so too is Steinfeld as the psychotic killer. This dude’s performance is so rabidly over the top, so ridiculously strained, that will be difficult for you to dismiss from your memory altogether. The fact he makes no attempt to mask, hide, shroud or disguise his identity is part of it, the buffed-up meat-head just skulks around and uses anything he can to kill – a rock, a garrot, a knife, a broken bottle, his bare hands, whatever. Sheer lunacy!

As for the unbearable characters, there is one that easily ranks among one of the most annoying to ever grace the big screen. And that says a lot. Really though, this guy must be seen to be believed. Among the eventually vitiated is a cat perfectly named Mistake (Peter De Paula), a mime-face-painted weirdo who walks around with an electric guitar and portable amp strapped to his back. He goes around obnoxiously bothering everyone in sight, and right when they’re about to do something fun (ahem, sex), he ruins it by shredding a loud metal riff in their face. Total D-bag! He, and a girl named Maria (Lisa Rodriguez), who is so flagrantly and offensively stereotyped as a loud, fiery, thickly accented Latina – are two of the people we actually root for to meet a swift demise at the power-gripped hands of angel dusted Jay. Not to ruin it all, but Mistake catches a nice dose of electrocuted hell late in the flick via his own guitar!

In terms of the more likeable lot, it’s worth noting that HOME SWEET HOME marks the film debut of Vinessa Shaw. She’s only 4 or 5 years old here, but it’s interesting to see where she got her start. Speaking personally, I’ve had a crush on Shaw twice in my life, once in the 1992 film LADYBUGS, and again seven years later when she appeared as Domino in Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT. Other than Shaw, clear standouts in the film we actually want to see survive include chicks named Gail (Leia Naron) and Linda (Sallee Young), the latter of which also starred in the great 1980 horror flick DEMENTED. These two gals give the best performances in the movie, as they feel natural and come off as likeable people you could actually see yourself haning out with. Oh, and randomly, the guy who directed one of my all time favorites, ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE S.S. (Don Edmonds) also stars in and produced HOME SWEET HOME. Man this movie has a whole lot of head-scratching all around. I guess that's what you can expect from a script written by the assistant sound editor on EVIL DEAD II (Thomas Bush). Bush league indeed!

So then, why indulge, you may ask. Again, this is that rare Thanksgiving slasher film, a subset of a subgenre that continues to elude us. We ought to be grateful then, right? F*ck yeah we should, even if the film ranks as one of the all time so-bad-it’s-good 80s slasher films. As poor and cheaply made as it is, at only 83 minutes, the movie sails by at a very palatably entertaining clip. In the end, it’s just another Turkey to enjoy on Thanksgiving, another source of joy and laughter you can share with friends and family while half-drunk (okay, soused!) and full of food. Let’s be honest, on a day like today, where else would you rather be than HOME SWEET HOME?!

Feel free to peep the entire flick via Youtube below. Happy Turkey Day yo!


Extra Tidbit: This is Nettie Pena's second feature behind the 1978 X-rated horror porno DRACULA SUCKS.
Source: AITH



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