Duck! The Carbine High Massacre: Terrible Retelling of Trauma
Dir. William Hellfire and Joey Smack (1999)
A retelling of the Columbine school shooting, two neo-Nazis plot to kill their classmates and themselves.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
To say this movie is offensive is an understatement: it was made in 1998 (and released in 1999), shortly after Columbine, and it was based on the same events. There’s zero reverence towards the event, both completely ignoring the facts behind the real massacre as well as the motivations of the killers, trying desperately to fill these deficits with horrendous dialogue and some of the worst acting you’ve ever seen. I’d like to say that it’s still worth a watch, but it’s absolutely not: more on that in a minute.
The movie is filled with offensive language and the characters are clear caricatures of the actual victims and perpetrators behind the most infamous school shooting in American history. However, I am not and will never be one to criticize a film purely on its offensive content, even if it’s just offensive for the sake of being offensive (which this entire movie is.) If you only look at comedies from the 90’s, there are plenty of offensive films that are hilarious, well-acted, and well-made, delivering so much more than just the offensive content in order to create a watchable film. The reason Duck! The Carbine High Massacre sucks is because it’s a terrible, terrible movie. The actors are quite possibly the worst I’ve ever seen, and the scenes are all just strewn together with seemingly no connection between each other for the most part. Almost nothing in the film actually adds to the plot, save a few scenes that tie together the killer duo’s treatment at the hands of their schoolmates (which was not in any way rooted in reality) and the actual killings themselves.
They did get the haircuts right, though.
The movie was clearly intended to be funny, but it didn’t ever get so much as a smile out of me. Literally nothing about the film worked except for maybe the gore, which wasn’t half bad once everything started happening. There were a few periods of decent writing, like the scene containing the dialogue between the killers about suicide and the nihilism of life. That scene in particular was actually fairly brilliant, and it’s a decent look into the psyche of the types of people who would do something horrific like this. Unfortunately, the next scenes are filled with racial and neurally-divergent slurs, Misty Mundae playing the Cassie Bernall/Christian victim in a way that made you glad she got shot, and some bizarre scenes where one of the killers’ dads randomly freaks out when he hears rock music. It’s absurd, but it doesn’t work even in its absurdity. Just a terrible film from start to finish.
What I will say is that Saturn’s Core, the distribution company that partnered with Vinegar Syndrome to restore and release the film on a boutique label, actually did a really good job with the film. There’s a ton of extra features, a really good-looking film (for being SOV), and some really great packaging. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to save the film itself, and left me wishing that Saturn’s Core had instead turned their attention to working their magic on a film that was actually worth watching. Between the irreverent take on a horrific event (which, again, in and of itself would not be enough to make the film terrible) and the ever-present dangers of Newtown-deniers, this one would’ve been better left to the dregs of history.
This character was literally named “Retard.”
Who this movie is for: Saturn’s Core/Vinegar Syndrome completionists; Misty Mundae superfans; False flag school shooting deniers
Bottom Line: Terrible movie that shouldn’t be watched by anyone, but not because of its offensive content. The acting was god-awful, the jokes never hit, and what little good gore the film contained was few and far between. The restoration was great and the packaging was fantastic, so it’s not a bad own for those who would like to have it on their shelf. The movie sucks, though, and I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it for anyone.