Originally announced by Code Red for release in 2008 (!), the cult classic BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER (1982) has finally hit DVD this year and this special edition is sure to be a treat for any fans of the film. With a storyline more befitting nowadays of a Lifetime movie, BUTCHER is a film ahead of its time in many ways. It is also the precursor to the popular late ‘80s/early ‘90s "________ from hell" subgenre (this being the "Aunt from Hell" entry). While the film itself could be considered a by-the-numbers thriller with some horror elements, it is still worth viewing for the absolutely amazing performance by Susan Tyrrell.
The movie opens with three-year-old Billy Lynch being left in the care of his Aunt Cheryl (Tyrrell) while his parents go away for a vacation. En route to their destination, the brakes fail on their car on a winding roadway in the mountains, resulting in a spectacular car crash (the makers of FINAL DESTINATION 2  definitely saw this wreck choreographed by veteran stunt coordinator Paul Baxley, father of future stuntman/director Craig Baxley). Fourteen years later, the seventeen-year-old Billy (Jimmy McNichol) is leading a normal life, having been raised by his Aunt in his parents’ old house. Weeks from his birthday and graduation, he seems to have it all as he is dating Julia (Julia Duffy) and might be able to get a full athletic scholarship to college for basketball.
responsible for the Frankie Avalon BEACH movies (!) in the 1960s. To say BUTCHER is unlike anything on his filmography (he made it between stints directing episodes of THE BAD NEWS BEARS and PRIVATE BENJAMIN TV series incarnations) is an understatement. I can’t remember the episode of LUCY that showcased an over-the-top violent finale featuring multiple stabbings, a garroting, a shooting, gutting by fire poker and a pickled severed head! Yet his steady hand brings a great seriousness and even some jet black comedy to the proceedings. The screenplay by Steve Briemer, Boon Collins and Alan Jay Glueckman is painfully similar to the earlier THE ATTIC (1979), going so far as to have the lead lunatic keeping a dead beau's corpse. Where it stands out are several allusions to incest and the subplot involving the homophobic cop played by Svenson, which allowed for quite possibly one of horrordom’s first positive depiction of an openly gay character in the basketball coach. The cast is fine with lead McNichol, brother of Kristy, providing the right amount of innocence as Billy and Julia Duffy, as Billy's put upon girlfriend Julia, taking her fair share of hard licks, including a violent scuffle with Tyrrell in a swamp (no stunt doubles here). Sharp-eyed viewers will spot a young Bill Paxton as a high school basketball thug.