Microwave Massacre Blu-ray Review

A lovably odd black comedy from the Eighties with Jackie Vernon

Stand-up comedian and actor Jackie Vernon is mostly remembered by today’s public for providing Frosty the Snowman’s iconic voice in the beloved holiday cartoon. He also had a long string of Tonight Show appearances during Johnny Carson’s heyday. That is why fans will be shocked by Vernon’s lead role in Microwave Massacre, a nearly forgotten oddball black comedy that pushes the limits of bad taste. Released in 1983, it’s a goofy cannibal comedy with a cult following.

The delightfully eccentric film is light on real horror but serves as an excellent vehicle for Vernon’s trademark humor. The sheer incongruity of hearing Frosty the Snowman’s voice deliver lines about killing whores and other outrageous topics is worth the price of admission alone. It’s an awesomely awful movie straight out of the Seventies with politically incorrect laughs and a leering focus on scantily clad female victims. Director Wayne Berwick fashions a quirky mess that somehow gels together with its dated sitcom treatment of cannibalism.

Donald (Jackie Vernon) is a disgruntled construction worker whose wife’s predilection for fancy cuisine drives him to cannibalism. Donald unwittingly stumbles upon a solution to his one major problem in life, a seriously nagging wife who refuses to cook his favorite meals anymore. After years of marriage, there is no love lost between Donald and May (Claire Ginsberg).

It is definitely a love-it or hate-it movie, stuck in a different time and place.

One night after a long day at work, Donald bludgeons her to death with a pepper grinder in a drunken rage. Donald dismembers the body and sets about microwaving the remains in his wife’s industrial-sized oven. He begins to develop a taste for human flesh that needs satisfying after eating his wife’s body. Donald begins visiting prostitutes after his wife’s murder. He soon looks forward to eating them after the sex.

How one accepts Microwave Massacre will depend on your sense of humor. Did you ever want to see Archie Bunker snap one day and become a cannibal? Because that is fairly close to how Microwave Massacre unfolds. Much of it relies on T & A jokes and family sitcom punchlines from the Seventies. Delivered by stand-up comedian Jackie Vernon in his exaggerated trademark style, it’s a trip hearing this material from Frosty the Snowman’s voice. I’m not sure I will ever be able to watch that cartoon again in the same way. His character Donald is a non-stop source of sexual innuendo and double entendres.

Viewers with less fondness for dated cultural humor from the Seventies and Eighties will likely find Microwave Massacre a miss. It is definitely a love-it or hate-it movie, stuck in a different time and place. It’s not blind-buy material unless you absolutely love black comedies with corny jokes and easygoing cannibals. That being said, Microwave Massacre is a uniquely guilty pleasure for people that grew up on Frosty the Snowman and want a serving of pitch-black humor.

Microwave Massacre Blu-ray screen shot 14

Video

Arrow Video does a fantastic job with this 2K restoration for Microwave Massacre. Restored from the original 35mm film negative, the video is absolutely perfect for independent filmmaking from the Eighties. The 1080P video is shown in a pristine 1.85:1 presentation.

The 76-minute main feature is encoded in flawless AVC on a BD-50 at serious bitrates. Bright, startlingly clean, and with its proper grain structure, this is a striking transfer for the 1983 release. Microwave Massacre has no right looking this great on Blu-ray, bettering more well-known movies from the period.

The picture quality offers crisp colors with lovely saturation. Clarity is impressive, only slightly faltering in a few shots set inside a darkly lit bar. Exteriors display fabulous detail. This is sharp video with excellent textural content. While some mild filtering has likely been applied, the grain structure shows no significant alterations.

Audio

The 1.0 PCM soundtrack includes intelligible dialogue in ordinary fidelity. The score is wildly dated and very much of its original era. Microwave Massacre’s original monaural mix doesn’t make a big splash, offering average dynamics and adequate impact. Its sound design is fairly typical of independent filmmaking. This isn’t Hollywood material.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.

Extras

Arrow Video puts out Microwave Massacre in a Blu-ray and DVD combo package. The making-of featurette is a simple look at the film with three key contributors. The Blu-ray is coded for both regions A and B.

  • Brand new audio commentary with writer-producer Craig Muckler moderated by Mike Tristano – Muckler goes over the film in a loose, unorganized approach. It’s a relaxed, lightly informing commentary with plenty of personal memories included about making the film.
  • Microwave Massacre Trailer (01:25 in SD) – VHS? era trailer.
  • My Microwave Massacre Memoirs (21:07 in HD) – Brand new making-of featurette including interviews with Craig Muckler, director Wayne Berwick and actor Loren Schein.
  • Image Gallery (HD)
  • Original treatment and 8-page synopsis (BD/DVD-ROM content)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter

First pressings only: A fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower. This is a strong inducement to get Microwave Massacre early before it sells out. It’s an exhaustive exploration of the film by Thrower, a familiar author and speaker to Arrow Video customers.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review as a pre-production screener that may not reflect the final retail disc. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full-resolution 1080P screenshots taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered during the process. Patreon supporters are able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.