The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One DVD Review
Written and directed by Jimmyo Burril
2010, Region 1 (NTSC), 275 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on January 11th, 2011
April Monique Burril as Sally Diamon
Azmon Toy as Ruby Diamon
Lilly Burril as Poe
Jordan Wyandt as Gretta Morehead
Nicolette le Faye as Busy Bee
Bill Price as Cowboy
Brad Smoley as Earl Nylund
Aaron Martinek as Zeke Patrillo
Just over four years ago, I reviewed Chainsaw Sally, a fun little film starring April Monique Burril as the title character. Librarian by day, Sally is a dispenser of justice to those who slight her by night. I dug that little low-budget gem, and after reviewing it I hoped that would not be the last I saw of Sally and her antics. Fortunately it wasn't, as Jimmyo Burril — writer / director of Chainsaw Sally, and husband to April — brought our anti-hero back in 11 "fucked up" episodes of The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One.
For those that have never seen the original film, the premise for Chainsaw Sally is quick and dirty. After her parents were violently murdered, Sally takes it upon herself to raise her and her brother on her own. Obviously seeing the slaughter of her parents left a big mark, and Sally makes those who cross her — even in the smallest way — pay mightily. Infractions can be from parking in a handicap spot when you aren't disabled, to getting her girl scout cookie order wrong. Death may seem like an undeserving punishment for such things, but watching Sally destroy inconsiderate assholes is part of the charm of The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One. There's a certain glee in witnessing her eviscerate the two popular girls who make the life of Sally's library assistant, Poe, a living hell.
One thing that impressed me the most in the film was April Monique Burril as Sally, and that carries over to this Webiseason. She bounces between maniacal vengeance seeker and concerned friend and big sister quite well. Like the movie, her strength is still when she is not playing the Chainsaw Sally character. Burril is at her best when she is just Sally, being overprotective of Poe (played by Jimmyo and April's real life daughter, Lilly Burril) or playing the annoying big sister to Ruby (Azmon Toy). Yet there is a noticeable improvement to her portrayal of her character's crazed side too. It's as if Chainsaw Sally is not so over-the-top. Her sarcasm has more of an edge, making her one-liners a bit more humorous.
Another character that has improved on from the movie is Ruby, Sally's cross-dressing, incredibly sheltered, brother. I hated the Ruby character (then played by Alec Joseph) in the film because he was so in-your-face. "HEY! LOOK AT ME! I CROSS DRESS! I'M WACKY!" Good Christ that character really hurt the enjoyment of the flick. In The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One, though, Azmon Toy has stepped into the shoes of Sally's younger brother and, I don't know if it's Toy's performance or Jimmyo's decision, but thankfully Ruby has been reeled the fuck in. He is still somewhat of annoying character, partially because it just reeks of lazy writing. It's as if the decision was made to add someone nutty to the role, and what's more ca-razy than a flamboyant cross-dresser?!? Well, a lot, but I will give credit where credit is due, and Ruby is much more tolerable now.
Where I don't like the writing of Ruby, I will say that Jimmyo did impress me with something I did not expect when I sat down to watch this first season of Chainsaw Sally: A bona fide story arc. I anticipated a season one to be 11 stand-alone shows that could be watched in any order, with maybe a two-part episode thrown in the mix. In a sense, that's what is delivered here as you can sit and enjoy a random episode. However, throughout the season a mysterious character known as the Cowboy is investigating the mysterious disappearances in Sally's small town, and he's closing in on Sally. The Cowboy is joined by local Gretta Morehead (Jordan Wyandt), a Nosey Nelly who has been conducting her own investigations long before he blew into town. The two pop up here and there in various episodes until the Cowboy and Sally inevitably meet up in the finale.
The acting throughout the season is generally better than what you'd expect in an ultra low-budget affair. Part of this stems from Jimmyo seeming to be writing to his actors' strengths. April Monique Burril is the obvious stand out, as she should be, but Azmon Toy made a character I originally despised somewhat bearable, so I have to give him high credit as well.
The blood and guts in The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One is plentiful and wisely done. Chainsaw Sally uses a variety of tools to dispatch her victims from a hammer to, you guessed it, a chainsaw and everything in between. The filmmakers expertly film what they know will look good on camera and imply what can't. You can tell this was a fun set to be on as everything, including the killings, seems so very tongue-in-cheek. This is made most evident when Sally takes a spine she had just ripped out from a victim and holds it to the sky à la Predator. Good times.
At the end of the day, The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One is, like its film predecessor, just a bunch of goofy fun. If you liked the movie, there is no doubt you will be wanting to pick up this two-disc set. Those that like the schlock Troma delivers will have a good time with this season too.
Video and Audio:
The 1.78:1 presentation is fine doing day or well lit shots, but screams its low-budget roots about everywhere else. Some of this may be the fault of the mastering, but the filmmakers hold a good chunk of the blame, especially when it comes to lighting. I'm a huge fan of independent filmmakers, but it gets irritating when there seems to be very little effort to light a scene properly. There are times when there's not enough light, and I'm watching a character deliver lines in shadow when I shouldn't. There is no excuse for this.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 fares as well as the video. The dialogue is generally clear, but there are plenty of times where the audio becomes muffled to the point you have no idea what the person is saying. This is incredibly frustrating. A little quality control — be it from Troma's end or the filmmakers' end — should have been done before release, allowing for looping.
- Commentary on Select Episodes
- 21 Weekends in Porterville Featurette
- Anatomy of a Kill Featurette
- Can You Hear Me Now? Short Film
- Sexy Slideshow
- Season Two Sneak Peak
- Theme Song Music Video
- Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman
- Troma Trailers
- Troma T&A
- Very Special Episode: It's Groundhog Day
As you can see, The Chainsaw Show: Season One is packed with special features. Commentary is available on episodes 1 - 4, 7, 9 and the "very special episode". There is nothing standout in the commentary, mainly each one seems to have a room full of people, so it bounces between everyone talking at once to no one talking at all. I really would like to see writer/director Jimmyo Burril to do solo commentaries, as when he is discussing the episodes, it is more than just "I liked this person here."
21 Weekends in Porterville is a video diary of sorts, running about 19 minutes or so. There were a few moments that made me chuckle (like when the person behind the camera was focusing in on Jordan Wyandt's... twins), but this is probably more enjoyable to those involved in the film.
Clocking in at just about four minutes, Anatomy of a Kill is a very brief featurette on the effects of the show.
Can You Hear Me Now? is a fun five minute piece of Chainsaw Sally up to no good.
The very special episode — It's Groundhog Day — clocks in just under 53 minutes, more than double of the average 20 minute running time of the regular episodes . It's Groundhog Day, while enjoyable, could do with a lot of cutting as it moves at a snail's pace. However, it's well worth the watch, if only for Debbie Rochon's appearance as a sexy psychic.
Troma T&A is nothing more than a Tromaette showing her boobs. You have to love Troma.
While not listed, each episode has the option to be played with a laugh track. While not for me, it's certainly a cool little bonus for those that like that sort of thing.
Last, and certainly not least, there is a wonderful Easter Egg found on first disc. From the main menu, highlight "Play All" and hit right on your remote control. Once you see the gray skull light up, hit enter. There you will be given the treat of "April Belly Dancing to make the Forbidden Pictures Logo". That April is a dirty, dirty girl.