Canadian Slasher Comedy

A gleefully trashy piece of exploitation in the spirit of Troma, Famine delights in its busty female cast and gory effects. Underground Canadian filmmaker Ryan Nicholson (Gutterballs) takes a simple slasher premise and goes wild with it, unleashing a fiercely bent indie horror comedy. His bizarre cast of “high school” kids are locked in school after hours with a mysterious slasher out to get them. Famine doesn’t take itself seriously, approaching everything with a deliciously twisted sense of humor. The plot barely makes sense.

After a prank horribly disfigures popular high-school teacher Mr. Balszack during the school’s annual famine (don’t ask) several years ago, the graduating class decides to hold another 24-hour famine “experience” with the help of Ms. Vickers (Michelle Sabiene).

Unfortunately, someone dressed as the school’s mascot starts murdering the students locked inside for the famine. High school bombshell Jenny (Christine Wallace) senses something is wrong and tries to piece together what’s happening before everyone gets killed.

Gloriously over the top, Famine is one part Scream and one part hilarious send-up of high school archetypes. There’s nothing thoughtful or reserved about its grisly death scenes, or the rampant juvenile humor. Famine’s unabashed enthusiasm papers over some of its biggest weaknesses, namely a cast almost entirely inept at acting. Most of the high school “students” look closer to thirty than twenty, which may or may not be part of Famine’s meta-commentary on high school flicks.

Famine doesn’t take itself seriously, approaching everything with a deliciously twisted sense of humor

Hammy and wildly zany, Famine relies on sight gags and a cast of women who frequently end up in their ample bras. Famine does wear out its early promise, which starts off shockingly well with a hilarious opening act full of outrageously fun characters. Spoofing a million high school flicks, the sexy but ditzy Jenny receives most of the early focus. She is Famine’s nominal heroine, though her character development takes a backseat for the sake of a few bad jokes.

As the final act comes around, the once-funny comedy and most of the characters have worn their welcome out. By the end, no character is particularly likable and you want them all killed off. Nicholson may have sensed this problem, ramping up the frequent death scenes with ridiculous practical effects for extreme gore hounds. If you are looking for creative kills, Famine certainly fills that quota.

More comedy than horror before veering into serious gore, Famine is one wild trip back to high school with blood and some laughs. It’s not a masterpiece but the indie film has a wicked sense of humor, in the so-bad-it’s-good territory.


Filmed in raw HD video befitting its circa 2011 independent production origins, Famine’s 1.78:1 presentation receives a perfectly faithful transfer that replicates Nicholson’s low-budget filmmaking and cheap cinematography. The 77-minute main feature gets a satisfactory AVC encode on a BD-25. The bright, glossy 1080P video has high clarity and razor-sharp definition, if over-driven and unpolished.

Famine’s picture quality looks kind of rough by today’s indie standards, filmed before cameras like the RED One and others made independent filmmaking affordable. Detail is on the low side, occasionally washed out in the bright lights and elevated gamma levels. However, it’s perfectly serviceable for a trashy z-grade horror spoof like Famine.


Going back to the glory days of DVD, the lossy 5.1 DTS soundtrack highlights Famine’s low-budget nature. The sound design is sufficiently convincing enough, cleanly reproducing Mr. Balszack’s screams as acid tears his face off. There isn’t much in the way of real surround action. It’s a front-heavy soundstage, often loud and overpowering.

No subtitles are included.


Distributed by MVD Visual for Unearthed Films, Famine gets some other trailers from the label and a stills extra. So not much in the way of special features. The packaging indicates the BD is marked for Region A but that has not been tested.

Stills Gallery From Famine (04:05 in HD) – A variety of shots from the production play automatically with musical accompaniment.

Famine Trailer (01:36 in HD)

Collar Trailer (01:43 in SD)

Darkside of the Moon Trailer (01:58 in HD)

Nightwish Trailer (01:38 in HD)

The Song of Solomon Trailer (01:24 in HD)

The Unnameable Trailer (02:12 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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A trashy but fun indie horror comedy that spoofs Scream and any number of high school tropes.

User Review
2 (1 vote)

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