To me, Justin Russell is quite the underrated horror filmmaker, whose love for the genre shows in his work, such as the ’80s slasher homage, “The Sleeper” (2012). I wanted to talk about his project before that one that harkens back to the classic proto-slasher directed by Tobe Hooper.
WHAT IS IT?
Directed by Justin Russell, “Death Stop Holocaust”, is a 2011 horror-thriller about a couple of friends who take some time off on the summer home owned by the dad of one of them. There, they are seemingly targeted at random by a trio of masked killers.
WHAT DID I LIKE ABOUT THE FILM?
Justin Russell is a clear fan of the horrors of yesteryear, and it shows here. His film is heavily influenced by “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” but there’s also some touches of “Halloween” in there too. The film has nice, eye-catching color grading reminiscent of ’70s horror films.
The film is also pretty surreal as there are some well-shot artsy dream sequences, which is one step closer to paying homage to the Tobe Hooper classic, in my opinion. Other films that pattern themselves with that film seem to often forget the arthouse visuals that made the film standout, so props to Mr. Russell and his team. This is also incorporated in the film’s plot as we aren’t given explanations for why these women are targeted and why the island is seemingly in on it.
The film has a “homemade” feel to it to, which is appreciated. It felt to me like he’s a huge fan of the genre — thanks to this and “The Sleeper”, which are both made on shoestring budgets — as he stretches out the budget as much as he can, including the gore department.
The score, composed by Gremlin (homage to Goblin?), features ominously delicious synths. This, along with the bizarre plot, remind me of those games made by Puppet Combo, which are themselves throwbacks to old-school horror films.
WHAT DIDN’T I LIKE ABOUT THE FILM?
The acting is pretty spotty and there’s some questionable green screen. The impact of weapons on characters didn’t as feel hard or painful as they needed to be, at times. I also had concerns about sound mixing as there are times when the dialogue would be too soft or the score would be too loud.
“Death Stop Holocaust” isn’t very scary but it is an appreciated home-cooked love letter to the genre by passionate folks.