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Burro Of Blood

Killer Pinata is a 2015 horror film directed by Stephen Tramontana. The film was released to DVD/Blu-ray by LCFilms in January of 2017. After watching his friends get the stuffing literally beat out of them, a donkey piñata seeks revenge on those that have wronged him.

The film begins with the owner of a party supply store, an older Hispanic woman who has been christened “The Shopkeeper” (Joette Waters), opening her business for the day, only to find one of her employees lying dead on the sales floor. She slowly approaches the body, but not before brandishing a hook in place of her left hand. Using her own spilled blood, the young clerk has scrawled the letters “p-i-n-a” on the tile floor. The Shopkeeper looks up from the girl’s body to see a donkey piñata lying on the floor nearby. The camera cuts back and forth between the two, a look of pure terror on the Shopkeeper’s face. Yes, the entire thing is just as ridiculous as it sounds.

After a title sequence that features an extreme close-up of blood slowly pouring over the pinata’s body, the film picks back up to find a family preparing for a child’s birthday party. The father has been sent on a mission to retrieve a pinata for the party, a task he failed to listen to his wife’s “instructions” for. He arrives at the Shopkeeper’s store, although she is not currently in.

With the woman not available, Dad is forced to deal with Juan, a slow-witted sap who doesn’t even seem capable of managing the low-stress requirements of his slow-paced job. Unable to remember what pinata he was supposed to purchase, the father hedges his bets and buys 3 of them. His son can just pick the one he wants to smash when Dad gets home. He buys an elephant pinata (although it looks much more like a fuzzy donkey) and one that’s obviously a Captain America knock-off. The man also wants a standard donkey pinata. After losing his patience with Juan, he bribes the clerk into selling him the donkey pinata stashed behind the sales counter, even though it clearly has been marked “Do Not Sell”.

Pinatas in tow, Dad returns home just in time for the party. Here, we are introduced to his daughter, Lindsey (Eliza-Jane Morris), a college student who is home on break. With her is her desperately horny friend, Rosetta (Lindsay Ashcroft). Rosetta Stone. Yeah, painful joke, but at least it’s never focused on.

After a highly amusing encounter with a party-crashing, garden gnome-stealing homeless person, the time has come for the birthday boy to pick his pinata. The fuzzy donkey is chosen, its death portrayed as a vastly barbaric act. The scene is slowed down and set to classical music to highlight the “dramatic effect” of the moment. The party-goers are shown to be cheering loudly and pumping their fists, the savagery of the moment blatantly ludicrous. The scene ends with a hilariously effective pan of the camera behind the “killer” pinata’s shoulder, its view is that of its broken friend lying below.

The party ends and the guests have left. The surviving pinatas have been hung up in the shed. With her family preparing to leave town for the weekend, Lindsey chooses to stay behind with Rosetta. Her father calls her out on her plans to throw a party in their absence, but Lindsey’s real intentions are quite different. Lindsey has invited her sex-starved ex, Scott (Billy Chengary), to the party, as well as his more “successful” friend, Chad (Nate Bryan). Unbeknownst to Lindsey, Rosetta’s nerdy “Momma’s boy” cousin, Martin (Daniel Hawkes) will also be attending as Rosetta’s way of paying off money that she recently borrowed. No one is happy about Martin’s presence.

Meanwhile, the Shopkeeper has discovered that the pinata has been sold and begins her quest to hunt it down. This involves trashing all of the pinatas at the wrong child’s party. Waters steals the show as the film’s equivalent of a “Dr. Loomis” character, always over-playing her scenes for successful comedic effect. She does occasionally go a little too “over the top” at times, but given the film’s constantly high level of “camp”, it is excusable. Nothing here should be taken too seriously, if at all.

Lindsey’s party (if you can call 5 people sitting around drinking beer a “party”) begins with Chad discovering the pinatas in the shed. He asks Lindsey for permission to smash one, mostly because he believes that breaking paper mache takes some form of strength, and doing so might impress Rosetta. At this point, anything with a dick would impress Rosetta. This time, Captain Murica meets his “demise”.

Its friends now dead, Donkey is pissed. It frees itself from the shed and begins to exact its bloody revenge. One by one, the pinata dispatches its victims by biting them, beating them with sticks, or by tricking them into eating poisoned candy that it has just shit out. Poisoned or not, I’m not eating any candy that came out of anything’s ass.

Killer Pinata is rightfully played for laughs. Well, of course it is. Any attempt to take this plot seriously would only lead to failure. That said, the musical themes are just as heavy and droning as those found in far more serious minded horror films. This helps to accentuate the overall absurdity of the film, with the characters complete disregard for logic finishing off the job.

The acting tends to be a little inconsistent, but performances are more than tolerable. Given the tone, budget, and subject matter at hand, Oscar caliber performances weren’t expected, but at least one character gets annoying. Credit this more to the character’s behavior, although I did find this performance to be the weakest.

Killer Pinata also features a short animated sequence that serves as the pinata’s “origin story”. While I really enjoyed the animation itself, I was admittedly disappointed with the given backstory. Not that there was anything really wrong with the explanation of how the pinata came to be, but I personally (without giving too much away) would have preferred our little festive pal to be nothing more than a pissed off pinata.

While Killer Pinata was a pleasant surprise, it’s not without its share of minor flaws. There are 2 scenes later in the film that, while not necessarily uncalled for, feel somewhat out of place with the film’s cartoonish tone. One particular death is very much intended for comedic effect, but the sheer volume of blood, as well as the location of the injury, stands out drastically from the previously “tame” deaths.

Another scene features 2 characters rolling around in vomit. While also intended for comedic value, the scene really missed the mark in my opinion as (other than the aforementioned scene) there is no precedent for “gross-out” humor in the film. Both scenes feel highly out of place when compared to the rest of the film.

It’s also worth noting the film’s camera and lighting work. Simply put, it sucks. More than a few shots are out of focus. As a few of these occur when actors are centered in the shot, it seems almost inexcusable. It’s not something that ruins the film, but it is noticeable enough to possibly dissuade less adventurous viewers with its unpolished appearance. Whatever was being used for the lighting set-up unfortunately causes numerous scenes to be insanely bright. While not a deal-breaking distraction, it is definitely not doing any favors for the actresses, as most of them (Morris, in particular) now have a washed-out appearance due to glare. In other instances, the lighting has them taking on an orange hue akin to that of a spray tan. Again, this will not ruin enjoyment of the film and is only a minor annoyance.

There’s nothing groundbreaking or innovative to be found in Killer Pinata. To quote the poster for the Italian splatter classic Pieces, Killer Pinata is “exactly what you think it is”. It’s a movie that allows you to turn off your brain and just laugh at stupid things happening to stupid people in stupid ways. There are a few speed bumps on this road, but far less than you might imagine.

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