Movie Review: “Music Store Massacre” Needs A Much Stronger Script


Review by James McDonald

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I get to review a lot of movies: blockbusters, foreign, independent, low-budget and no-budget. I watch them all and just because some of them have big budgets doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the film will be any good (cough, cough, “The Lone Ranger”, “Wild Wild West”, cough, cough). I was recently contacted by Gordon Price, the director of the ultra-low budget “Music Store Massacre” and he asked me if I would review his film. I told him I’d love to but I had to caution him that I would be brutally honest and if I gave it a not-so-favorable critique, I had him swear that I wouldn’t wake up with a horses head in my bed.

I started out making movies when I was 12 years old and for many years, I made countless “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare of Elm Street” short movie ripoffs. Why? That is a question I got asked a lot back then but the answer was simple: it was cheap to buy a hockey mask or make Freddy’s glove using butter knives taped to my fingers concealed with a glove. And these were movies that inspired me so in a way, I was paying homage to them so I know all too well, the hassles and burdens of shooting with a very low-budget or no budget at all. With “Music Store Massacre”, I felt that Mr. Price was influenced very heavily by Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II”.

The film’s MacGuffin (a plot device often with little or no narrative explanation) is a seemingly evil guitar. It is eerily reminiscent of the Naturon Demonto, a Sumerian version of the Book of the Dead, bound using human flesh and blood, used to great extent in “The Evil Dead” movies. During the course of the film, the guitar is passed from character to character, story after story and any one of them that is wicked in nature or full of hatred, will be punished. This aspect of the story actually reminded me of an old horror movie called “From Beyond the Grave” which starred Peter Cushing as an old man who owns a small antique shop full of haunted trinkets and the fate that befalls his customers who try to cheat him.

One evening however, a customer enters the store who is kind and generous so naturally, he is able to defeat the evil spirits. In “Music Store Massacre”, those who are righteous and honest have nothing to fear as the guitar only possesses those who are evil. In terms of plot, there really isn’t one. We have a succession of scenes that feel separated from each other, almost like they were a part of another movie and every now and again, a possessed character will walk through one of these scenes, just as a bad person is about to commit a barbaric act and he gains retribution against them and it is this one familiar character who is the thread that binds these scenes together but just barely.


I have seen a lot of movies with bigger budgets and bigger stars that were absolutely terrible. With “Music Store Massacre”, the cast and crew obviously worked with practically nothing, financially speaking so they have to be creative and work around those obstacles. In the end though, no matter how hard a cast and crew work together to make a film, sadly, it’s the finished product that matters. Some would argue that the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” looks too amateurish and unrefined to be effective but I, like many others, would argue that it was these specific elements which director Tobe Hooper used to unrivaled effect.

With “Music Store Massacre”, one of the main detractors for me, was the fact that almost every woman in the movie takes her clothes off and most times, for no apparent reason other than the director told them to. They’re either call girls, sluts, junkies or a combination of all three and after a while, it gets old, fast. For me, it became quite apparent that the women in this movie were just mere objects to be ogled. In one scene, a group of girls are sitting in a hot tub and they keep flashing their breasts to each other. The scene does absolutely nothing to move the story forward and it’s blatantly obvious that these scenes were added simply because the women involved were willing to do so.

The other women in the movie that didn’t take their clothes off, were either dictatorial and czarlike or abused wives. I honestly can’t recall one strong woman during the entire film and a lot of the violence throughout, is aimed directly at women, with them taking the brunt of the kills. Some other characters are introduced, like a group of black men who consider themselves tough guys who are actually walking cliches quoting sayings like “I’m gonna pop a cap in yo ass” and another threesome who just happen to be white supremacists. Almost every character was unlikable so I genuinely found it hard to empathize or connect with anybody in this movie. In order for the viewer to be able to relate to the characters onscreen, we first have to care about them.

I liked the overall idea, a possessed guitar is somewhat original and with a better script and with much better actors, I feel that “Music Store Massacre” could find a cult following, much like the critically-acclaimed “Rubber”, a movie about a car tire, who discovers his destructive telepathic powers and sets his sights on a desert town. As it is, “Music Store Massacre” is a decent effort by all involved but with a much tighter script along with some very necessary character exposition and story development, the movie could be so much more.

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James McDonald
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