The Headless experience kicks off with a retro groove right out of the Tarantino/Rodriguez playbook (Did anyone else see their whole Grindhouse double feature in theatres? Wasn’t that awesome?). Here we have a preview for the new (fake) horror movie, Wolf-Boy. It’s so bad that it’s good. I fully expected the rest of Headless to fall into this category. But I was wrong. It is actually a good, solid movie.
A bit of history: in Todd Rigney’s book, found., the protagonist Marty finds a slasher film that his older brother has stolen from the video store. That slasher film is Headless. For Scott Schirmer’s movie adaptation, Found (2012), he filmed additional scenes and included them as a movie within a movie for when Marty and his friend watch Headless. And the movie we have now is a spin-off, I suppose you could say.
The film opens with a montage of those movie-in-a-movie clips. And herein lies my only criticism of Headless. This is not the slasher movie that Marty takes from his brother. The scenes he watches with his traitor friend are presented as this brief introduction, and then Headless takes off on its own course. My disappointment about this was huge. I really, really wanted to watch the actual movie that Marty and Steve watched. But I didn’t want to go all Annie Wilkes here and rage that this is not the cockadoodie movie the kids watch in Found!
So I got over that.
And then I enjoyed Headless immensely. Shane Beasley returns as our severed head-fucking, eyeball chewing psychopath. For someone who loves eating eyeballs so much, he sure does spill a lot of the delicious juice down his chin! This movie is gleefully gruesome. And though there are wonderfully campy moments—roller girl against the counter made me laugh— these scenes never crossed over into horror/comedy. I appreciated that. Nor did I need any reminders that this movie was supposedly made in 1978. The film captures that essence perfectly and never lets go. It truly looks and feels like the lost slasher it purports to be.
The biggest surprise of Headless is the humanization of the killer, by all outward appearances a true monster. We learn of his tortured childhood. The abuses his mother and sister perpetrated were disgusting. Heartbreaking, really. A friend of mine told me that she cried a little. I can see why. The best touch is perhaps Skull Boy, who represents the shattered thought processes of this serial killer. I love how he speaks by clacking his teeth! All the gore and depravity are here for us to revel in, but screenwriter Nathan Erdel adds this tragic backstory, and we suddenly see the desperation that the killer feels. A sort of empathy is created and we understand that the killing and necrophilia does not bring pleasure. Only a modicum of relief before he self-exiles himself in a cage to sleep, having never grown beyond the mistreatment of his youth.
Headless is a superb, fully realized horror film with a climax of sheer awesomeness. This is a true nightmare-inducer! And the multiple levels of story transform this into a larger experience than what shows on the surface. Headless is a must-see for fans of Found, and I highly recommend this one for slasher and retro horror enthusiasts everywhere! I’m giving this five gruesome dweller heads!