Weekend of Fun & Violence
Four lowlife losers get what they deserve when losing an amusing street race by crashing their hot rod vehicle into a river. The winning Corvette car belongs to rich pervy playboy dentist Harry (Chuck Shamata), who’s just looking for some sex with fashion model Diane (Brenda Vaccaro) in his secluded house by the lake. Diane did all the driving, which immediately makes her a very strong & resourceful lady and him a sore whimp. The four antagonists don’t handle defeat very well, so they go searching for the couple to even the score.
Let me just go a different route right away by claiming that ‘Death Weekend’ is as much a comedy as it is a serious home invasion / revengeploitation effort. I can’t tell for sure if that producer credit of Ivan Reitman has something to do with the laughs you’ll be getting out of ‘Death Weekend’, but fact is that this film is one of his earliest producing efforts. I mean, the dialogues aren’t of too high a standard, but they’re often downright blunt and funny (especially Diane doesn’t hold back on the hard-hitting replies). Then we have those two hillbillies, clearly added to the script to provide some oddly placed comic relief (if acting dim-witted & getting shit-faced drunk on pure pharmaceutical alcohol doesn’t cause giggles, then surely stupidly crashing your car into your own house will do the trick). And there’s always watching the villains gain immense pleasure out of demolishing the beautiful and expensive interiors of the house by the lake, getting wasted themselves while at it, happily causing deadly boat accidents and hitting each other in the face when having nothing better to do.
But what would you do when four scumbags enter your home and start trashing the place completely? You’d try do something, right? Clearly, resorting to violence is not an option, as you are outnumbered. So what are your options? Try to reason with the fuckers, perhaps? If that doesn’t work, you can offer them all the booze you have available (and that was a lot in this case), then wait until they’re all hammered, not drinking one drop yourself so at least you’ll have a fighting chance. At any rate, be a man about it all, take a stand, saying at least something like “Fuck you assholes, I don’t care what happens next but you let the lady go, okay?”. But no, our playboy sissy doesn’t get much further than constantly pleading “Oh, come on guys, stop it, please” while they’re joyfully messing his place up and harassing Diane. Moreover, she is the one who actually calls them a bunch of assholes. Needless to say such an insult doesn’t go down well with those crazy brutes, but she’s showing them some spirit here nonetheless.
All this goes on until one of the punks tries to rape her. Then she decides to fight back. And she does so in a fairly inventive and sadistic manner, I might add. Slicing one’s throat with broken glass, setting another on fire. And that’s just the half of it; things get even better near the end. And during all this, you can’t help but cheering for the lady.
What’s remarkable about the whole film, is how its tone shifts throughout the three acts. The opening car race is a very amusing event that grabs the viewer’s attention immediately. And while the first act uses its running time to set things up, it also features some comedic events (the punks fighting each other in the river, the introduction of the comic hillbilly duo). During the second act, the home invasion begins and while it ensures a fair amount of terror and mayhem, it’s largely portrayed so over the top that again you can’t help being amused by all this. But when the third act comes around, things get serious when Diane starts to exact her revenge, resulting in a satisfying finale of the picture. The shifting of tone and the decent pacing of the events make sure you won’t be bored for a minute with ‘Death Weekend’.
William Fruet is known for delivering some interesting genre films like ‘Baker County, U.S.A.’ (1982), ‘Search and Destroy’ (1979) and ‘Funeral Home’ (1980). ‘Death Weekend’, though perhaps not explicitly out to shock audiences but still packing a fair amount of terror, sure is up there with exploitation classics like Wes Craven‘s ‘The Last House On The Left’ (1972), Ruggero Deodato‘s ‘House On The Edge Of The Park’ (1980) and Meir Zarchi‘s ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ (1979).
Watch trailer (the terror version without the comedy) on YouTube.