Firstly, I ‘d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Anthony Cooney for allowing me access to a screener of the 80’s inspired, 12 minute Horror/Comedy short “Leaf Blower Massacre”. Leaf Blower Massacre sees a mysterious killer wielding a leaf blower, target hapless victims on the streets of a small town in Illinois. Theater goers and poker playing buddies are among the casualties of this madman. The film stars Anita Nicole Brown (from TV’S Boss and Chicago Fire), Shavar D. Clark, Anthony Cooney, Martin Sean Cooney and Karla Shaw. I’ve been tracking the movements of Leaf Blower Massacre since it wrapped way back in 2013, and it was strange because it seemed like it was going to be one of those films that just never came out. It’s taken me until mid 2017 to finally get the chance to check it out, So was it worth the wait?
Do I even need to state the obvious? Clearly it’s the memorable B movie title “Leaf Blower Massacre” that tells you everything you need to know about Cooney’s debut short. The 80’s SOV (shot on video) inspired poster art, with its complementary pun-filled tagline is certainly eye-catching to a fan of the genre. I was pleasantly surprised with the high standard of cinematography from first-time DP, Josh Stephenson (who also wrote the screenplay). There’s a number of good establishing shots as well as a range of different setups and angles to keep things looking professional. Given this is a micro-budget short, the audio is quite good when natural. However, Cooney does rely heavily on obvious ADR (additional dialogue recording), probably due to a chunk of the film taking place outside, where you can get a lot of background noise. The standard of performance ranges somewhat but everyone is serviceable in their specific roles. The villain lays down a couple of fun and cheesy one liners and the weapon of choice is nothing short of hilarious (although the comedy isn’t so overt). There’s a humorous nod to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in here as well, good stuff.
My issues with Leaf Blower Massacre are equal parts technical related and creative choice based. The aforementioned re-recorded audio is the most discernible one, but there’s an oddly framed sequence where a couple walk the streets and talk about the movie they’ve just seen. It’s a relatively short scene and you’d usually just see a common two shot as they walk, or even a wider shot, but Stephenson opts to frame the individual who isn’t talking at the time of the shot and alternates, it’s a little distracting. Sections of the dialogue are a bit too “gangster” for me, considering most of the characters are white. The music is definitely the weakest aspect in Leaf Blower Massacre. I was hoping for some old school synth to accompany the 80’s themed plot line, instead, we get a piano ballad during the intro and a lot of scratchy background strain during other times. To make matters worse, there’s a boring and repetitive jazz theme with bass and guitar that plays almost the entire length of the poker sequence.
I’ve been highly anticipating Leaf Blower Massacre, and while not necessarily offering up anything special, it still provided solid entertainment value on its very small budget. I love the cheesy puns and the killers look, clearly an homage to 80’s B movies like “Nail Gun Massacre” and Umberto Lenzi’s “Nightmare Beach”. The camera work and audio are much better then in some of its counterparts and the performances are fun. Not so good are certain chunks of the dialogue and most of the music choices. The one thing largely absent from Cooney’s short is the blood and gore, though that can somewhat be excused due to the small budget. He’s currently in post production on the sequel, which is going to be a feature-length. I, for one, look forward to what will hopefully be a more violent and bloody entry. Though it does beg the question, How does one go about massacring with a leaf blower? On that note, I’ll leave you to ponder. Keep an eye out for a review of Cooney’s second short film “The Dirty Sanchez” which will be coming soon!
My rating for “Leaf Blower Massacre” is 6/10