Right down to its title cards (done by Kyle Kelly), indie writer-director Cameron McCasland’s THE LASHMAN (2014) is a horror feature made to look like an early-80s, B-movie slasher. Although it has a few glitches, it succeeds in realizing its throwback ambitions while avoiding many of the pitfalls of this type of project.
The story uses the classic “cabin in the woods” template but gives it a Kentucky twist. Shot mainly at Copper Canyon Ranch in Hopkinsville, it follows five recent high school graduates as they have one last fling before going off to college or full-time work. This group of characters is also classic: two physically attractive couples — nice-guy Billy (David Vaughn) & buxom Stacy (Stacey Dixon) and obnoxious Daniel (Jeremy Jones) & bitchy Jan (Kaylee Williams) — and a lone male, Stacy’s brother Bobby (Shawn C. Phillips).
The film also has a fairly original villain. The Lashman (Lee Vervoort) introduces himself through a campfire story told by Billy. After Billy introduces his rendition of Lashman’s local legend, McCasland cuts to a well-done Western-style vignette, in which he includes himself as a “Handsome Bartender.” Billy continues to narrate in voice-over as the audience sees rather than merely hears about the origins of Lashman.
The quality of this vignette is so good that it highlights the problems in the rest of the film. The nighttime cinematography is often too dark. The sound is patchy, particularly when the local insect population almost drowns out the actors’ dialogue. The ADR
Foley work is a little corny at times.
Still, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. The story is solid, avoiding going down cliched paths at several points. The acting is surprisingly good for a low-budget indie feature. While there’s not a lot of blood and gore, kills are not stagey — and there’s an especially realistic shot of an ax strike to the head. Some good comedy — from the local village idiot, Eustice (Larry Underwood, a.k.a. “Dr. Gangrene”), and the members of the county sheriff’s department — counterbalances the horror-thriller aspects of the film. Finally, the original score (by Thomas Berdinski) and tracks by The Jeano Roid Experience (“The Lashman”) and Glen Longenhagen (“Soul Grinder”) add street cred with their authentic sounds.
In the two years since its premiere at Nashville’s Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival, THE LASHMAN has competed for ten awards at eight festivals. It won Best Throwback at the 2014 Matchflick Flicker Awards and took second place for Best Independent Film at the 2014 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. For his work on the film, McCasland snagged Indie Director of the Year at the 2015 IndieVille TV Awards. Vervoort took third place for Best Villain at the 2015 Horror Society Awards.
Frisco Kid’s IMDb Rating: 6 out of 10 stars
Disclosure: Cameron McCasland provided access to an online screener of THE LASHMAN in exchange for this solicited, “fair and honest” review.