Obscure Horror Cinema: The Abomination

by William Burns

The shot on video movement of the 80’s is like horror cinema’s punk rock revolution. With accessible and affordable video equipment, horror fans could now make their own films for little money. No more did filmmakers need huge budgets, studio backing, industry connections, big stars, exploitive distribution deals or years toiling away hoping for a one in a million shot at making a film.  With the advent of home video, all one needed was a weekend, a bunch of goofy friends, buckets of Karo syrup, cases of beer, and some homemade special effects to make you horror film dream come true. Just like the punk rock movement, technique and skill were secondary to the passion and raw energy of actually doing it for yourself and seeing your ideas come to fruition your way without any concessions. Normally, these types of amateur projects would be regulated to screenings in the director’s basement for friends and relative,s but because the demand for product was so intense, video companies and distributers scooped up anything that was barely feature length, put it on tape, stuck it in those ridiculously big and luridly covered boxes, and shipped them to unsuspecting video stores across the nation. The SOV horror phenomenon produced some classics, some bombs, and, best of all, some films that can’t be classified, films that are so bizarre, awkward, and absurd that they would have never seen the light of day if it weren’t for avenues opened up by home video: Boardinghouse, Sledgehammer, Black Devil Doll from Hell, Tales from the Quadead Zone, Video Violence, Woodchiper Massacre, and, perhaps the finest SOV horror film of all time (though it may have been shot on Super 8), 1986’s The Abomination. The Abomination takes several 80’s concerns (single parent homes, Televangelists, cancer, out of control dirt bag teenagers) and cooks them up in a sleazy VHS smeared stew. Cody is a teen in a dead end town, dealing with his distant though judgmental mother. It seems that mom has come under the influence of Brother Frogg, a television preacher who promises to solve all his watchers problems as long as they send him money. Cody’s mom puts her hands on the TV to absorb Brother Frogg’s healing piety and abruptly coughs up a bloody, phlegmy tumor chunk. Praising God and Brother Frogg for curing her of cancer, Mom throws the discharge in the trash but the tumor has a mind of its own and the intelligent diseased mass crawls its way into Cody’s sleeping mouth. The tumor somehow takes over Cody and starts to reproduce. All of these tumor babies need flesh and blood to grow so Cody begins a murder spree to feed his expanding brood. Clearly, director Bret McCormick (using the ultra cool pseudonym Max Raven) has issues with pay to pray religion and neglectful parents but it’s his H.G. Lewis meets Jean Luc Godard approach that makes this film so memorable. Mind numbing long shots of nothing are interspersed with ultra gory set pieces, and the perfromances alternate between coma -like to histrionic. The score is a Casio produced masterpiece of repetition. The tumor creatures pop up in the most unexpectedly funny places (toilet, cabinets, washing machine, oven) and look like Audrey from Little Shoppe of Horrors if she was built by a disturbed 12 year old.  If you like puppet monster films like The Boogens filtered through a No Wave aesthetic, than check out The Abomination.


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