Buddy (Mark Schroeder) and Doug (Drew Talbert) are a couple of hipsters are backpacking through American woods. Their small talk changes to wonder when they stumble upon a huge illegal marijuana-growing operation. Elated, they start to pack as much of the dope as they can into their bags. Alas, a knife-wielding assailant in a black feathery costume has other ideas ...

So begins 4/20 MASSACRE, the highly spirited product of writer, director and editor Dylan Reynolds (NIPPLES AND PALM TREES).

The 4/20 of the film's title refers to, of course, our dope-smoking friends' unofficial holiday, the 20th April having been declared International Marijuana Day a few years ago. So, the tone is hopefully set for this one before we even press "play".

Anyway, back to the synopsis. We next meet Jess (Jamie Bernadette) whose birthday is on - wait for it - April 20th. A quartet of her mates - Aubrey (Vanessa Rose Parker), Rachel (Justine Wachsberger), Michelle (Marissa Pistone) and Donna (Stacey Danger) - have arranged a hiking trip deep in the hills, where a spot of camping is anticipated.

These party-loving gals are so resolute in their plans that they barely blink when local ranger Rick (Jim Storm) warns them of the over-zealous farmer growing marijuana in the hills, who will fiercely protect their harvests ...

A short journey through the woods, and the girls run into Buddy. He's fleeing for his life, and is so frantic to get out of the trees that he happily offloads his huge stash of ill-gotten weed onto them. Jamie and pals still don't take the hint, and are quite happy with their latest acquisition. As the evening draws in, their partying begins.

None of this is going to end well, of course. Especially when the mysterious murderous figure from the opening scene returns (James Gregory), wanting to kill whoever smoked his prized marijuana.

4/20 MASSACRE may sound like a bad mash-up of CHEECH AND CHONG stoner comedy and cheap slasher. It's actually a pretty well-made proposition, with keen cinematography making full use of the expansive American countryside location and a cast of competent, game performers. Bernadette (THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE; AMERICAN SATAN) takes top honours in terms of affability, but Gregory's imposing presence as the villain is not to be underestimated either.

Reynolds' script is savvy enough to avoid most stoner cliches, and finds a fine balance between its (often genuinely amusing) humour and surprisingly straight-faced horror.

Slick editing, a consistent pace and some enjoyably splashy old-school gore effects help make 4/20 MASSACRE even more agreeable.

4/20 MASSACRE was provided for review as an online screener by distributors Film Chest. The presentation here preserved the original 1.85:1 ratio in a clean, bright and sharp 16x9 transfer. Colours were robust, blacks were solid throughout.

English 2.0 audio offered a similarly problem-free playback.

I understand Film Chest's US DVD also includes a commentary track from Reynolds along with 15 minutes of cast and crew interviews.

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting too much from a film called 4/20 MASSACRE. But it's a nifty little retro-shocker which balances its horror and humour in skilled style.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Film Chest