Look at the poster above. It’s difficult to stop yourself from buying a movie with that artwork, with the same title as a certain John Carpenter film from ten years earlier and starring Oliver Reed and Elke Sommer. And that’s what I did when visiting Weekend of Horrors on Oberhausen, and I didn’t regret it. After some research if found out it was one of three movies Fangoria produced in the early nineties (the other ones was Mindwarp starring Bruce Campbell and Children of the Night starring Karen Black, need to see those two I think!), and if there’s something I can’t stop myself from watching it’s nineties genre cinema!
So, lets see if I can get this right: Billy Morrissette plays Harrison Harrison, bullied by his controlling mother Helena (Elke Sommer) who refuses him to leave the house, or more correct; the basement. Down there he’s working with some advanced DNA experiments, trying to invent a serum for healing humans. Her lover is Hans (Oliver Reed), who’s slightly more kind - but still extremely greedy. Anyway, one day Harrison manages to come up with a serum that seems to work, but Hans and Helena wants to take it and sell it to the highest bidder, or even to the military. Harrison gets his arm ripped off in an accident and escapes, but tries the serum on himself… and suddenly his arm grows out! But it’s not just an arm any more, it’s a living, separate being, half-arm, half-reptile - and it’s highly aggressive and out for BLOOOOOOOD!
Severed Ties is very cheap. The locations is few and the sets looks a bit cramped and wobbly at times, but it’s also extremely fun. Very, very fun actually. Reed and Sommer (in their second film together, the first one was Peter Collinson’s 1974 Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None) obviously have so much fun together. They must have been good friends or something, because both of them really shines in the over-the-top parts, part scene-chewing, but always with a twinkle in the eyes. I mean, it IS a comedy much like Re-Animator, so it’s suppose to be funny and silly. In a smaller part Johnny Legend shows up and is SO bizarre! Fun! Billy Morrissette is great too, even if he have very experienced and colorful talents around him, people who easily only by their charisma could have swallowed him in one piece.
It have some problems, which only comes natural with a small budget and probably a short shooting schedule. The whole film seems cramped and it should have been nice with bigger sets and locations, something giving us a bigger picture of the twisted world around this very special family. Sometimes the script just ignores some bigger problems and the story itself isn’t that good actually, it’s close to primitive and lives because of strong actors and fun characters.
But what it lacks in story and budget it gains in silly special effects. This is a movie about a reptilian arm, so you can guess there’s a lot of sequence when this arm de-attaches itself from our leading man, attacking people, rips up bellies, tears of faces and being just very rude in a violent way. The effects might not be top-notch, but is graphic and fun and the monster(s) looks completely insane!
You know, Severed Ties isn’t boring, and that what counts for me. The cast is great and inspired, there’s gore and silliness and in the end it’s just a nineties horror comedy that deserves some re-evaluation! Because now it’s completely lost in some genre cinema time warp, and needs to get back into the public eye. The DVD from Germany looks good (some of the gore scenes is taken from a slightly inferior source), in fullsceen (might be unmatted actually) and with the original English language track.