[Movie Review] ‘Smothered’ is a Love Letter to Horror Fans

Written and directed by John Schneider, Smothered is a love letter to genre fans who know and revere horror icons like Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, R.A. Mihailoff, and Halloween 5‘s Don Shanks, giving these renowned cinematic slashers their first real opportunity to take off the masks they made famous and display surprising depth, humor, and heart.

If those names don’t mean anything to you, many of the best jokes and running gags in the film will be unfortunately lost to you. It also helps if you’ve attended a few horror conventions, as the industry serves as the backdrop of the entire movie, making the Smothered world premiere screening this past Friday at the Mad Monster Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina just that much more fitting.

Organizers even rolled out a red carpet for the premiere, with Schneider, Moseley, Mihailoff, and Shanks in attendance, along with co-stars Malcolm Danare (Christine) and Dane Rhodes(Django Unchained), and producer Doug Blake.

It was the perfect crowd to enjoy the inside humor set around a convention (Voodoo Con) on a Friday the 13th that is particularly dismal for our main characters, a dream team of horror icons who have made their names as the most famous slashers in movie history. “It was a shit day,” Hodder screams at Mihailoff early on. “If Friday the 13th is a shit day, than Saturday the 14th will be even shittier!”

When the gang gets offered $1,000 to come scare visitors at a local trailer park, they ditch the convention and head out on a hilarious adventure that allows these physical behemoths to show all kinds of new sides they have never gotten to display on screen before.

When Schneider said later that he hoped viewers would care about the victims, rather than just counting minutes until the next kill, I figured it was just like when any director says something similar about their new slasher. But the genius of what the former Bo Duke has crafted in Smothered is that we, the gore-hardened horror afficionatos who most idolize these icons, actually do care when they become the ironic victims of a hugely endowed blonde fan/stalker named D.D., played by Brea Grant of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II and Dexter.

D.D.’s best method of murder is exactly what the film’s title implies, and Grant, armed with a pair of massive prosthetic breasts, offs her idols with a smiling glee that is infectious, sexy, and ultimately terrifying.

 Hodder is the leading man, complete with a (one-legged) love interest and an over-it attitude thanks to fans constantly asking him “Which one are you?”, and preferring Friday the 13th Part 3‘s Jason as played by the late Richard Booker, as opposed to Hodder’s version of Voorhees from parts 8 through 10. The film is dedicated to Booker, and the running gag is perhaps the best example of what makes Smothered a guaranteed future cult classic.

Simply put, for those of us who live and breathe the horror genre – the good, bad, and ridiculous of it all with honest and utmost respect and reverence – Smothered is a lovingly crafted lighthearted laugh at ourselves, and a celebration of all we hold most dear.

During the post-screening Q&A panel, Schneider said that the script was inspired by a real conversation he had with Booker after a real convention. He said he was especially pleased that the crowd in attendance laughed out loud at many of the moments he was not sure if audiences would get.

It was Blake who actually stated out loud what I was already feeling as the film reached its satisfyingly gory and ridiculous climax, that Smothered was made with convention goers and genre fanatics specifically in mind first and foremost. The roar of applause as the closing credits rolled suggests I am not alone in feeling that Schneider and company have created a must-see for those who like their comedy spiked with a few inverted slasher tropes.

Moseley brings his usual sarcasm and wit as the fictionalized version of himself, who has recently been cast as “Teddy”, the next Freddy Kruger, while Mihailoff is a revelation in his hilariously cautious, over-nervous version of himself, at one point channeling his Leatherface days with an electric sander in place of his old Texas chainsaw in one of the funniest scenes.

Don Shanks still looks every bit the body builder he ever did as the smooth ladies man of the group, who is only too eager to get intimate with D.D. until she shows him the full extent of her killer assets in a scene Shanks called the most memorable of his career.

Danare is heartbreaking as the outsider, known best a cinematic victim rather than stalker, constantly bullied and abused by his pals, each of which we usually love watching abuse people, and Rhodes manages to hold his own, rounding out the group as a former pro wrestler, a role Schneider said was originally going to go to real-life former wrestler Roddy Piper.

Despite the wackiness of everything going on, nothing really happens in the movie that could not actually happen in real life, adding a needed strain of reality to an otherwise dream-like narrative, made all the more so by the unconventional Pulp Fiction-esque story structure.

Smothered is not for everyone, but it’s not trying to be. This is a film that knows its target audience well, striking at the heart of the blood soaked fanboy in all of us, smothering us in a heaving love of horror and respect for the real makers of monsters.

official rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

You can view more of our exclusive images from the world premiere screening of Smothered in our photo gallery below!


Matt Artz

Founded Halloween Daily News in 2012 and the Halloween International Film Festival in 2016. Professional writer/journalist/photographer since 2000.