Welcome to Porterville. It's a small community based on the edge of Hicksville USA and is populated by seemingly nothing but fuck-ups. None more so than Sally (April Monique Burrill).

We first meet the well-endowed Sally at her job in the local library. When pretty young Poe (Lilly Burril) comes looking for work, she asks Sally how she ended up running the library and a flashback ensues.

We get to see how Sally stole books from the library on a regular basis and finally flipped when the condescending owner refused to let her go legit by acquiring a library card. The problem being, she had no proof of identity or address (just who is she, and whose house is she living in?).

After a brief heart-to-heart with her equally demented brother Ruby (Azman Toy), she decides to go back to the library and ask for a job there. When the boss and his assistant laugh in her face, you just know things are going to get ugly. And so they do ... with a little help from Sally's trusted chainsaw.

Comfortable in the knowledge that Sally is psychotic, the occult-obsessed Poe becomes her employee, her friend and ultimately over the course of the series, her protégé.

But, as the title suggests, this is very much Sally's show.

The next instalment finds Sally brutalising a young woman in the woods for selling her the wrong cake. It ends with the inventive, and gory, double slaying of a couple about to fuck in the same woods.

In-between, as with all 11 episodes proffered across two DVDs, we get to see more of Sally and Poe bonding at the library, as well as learning more of the titular heroine's bizarre home-life with singing cannibal Ruby. If you're looking for a semblance of plot among all of this, we do get the storylines of dumb cops Zeke (Aaron Martinek) and Earl (Brad Smoley) who wear sunglasses in all weather and are always two steps behind Sally's trail of mutilation, along with pork-bellied private eye The Cowboy (Bill Price).

Other notable recurring characters are Busy Bee (Nicolette Le Faye) and Blondie (Debbie Rochon, who also co-produces).

Although each episode has an individual situation at its hub, it's these consistencies that help this flow as events unfurl further into the series. And, to be honest, the storylines are only there as a mere wafer-thin backdrop to the jarring mixture of wisecracking gags, semi-nudity and at-times-surprising gore. For instance, a scene in episode six where one character suffers a bear-trap to the breast is excruciating - I'm not sure those piercing screams or the proceeding mental torture of this convincingly upset victim can be described as "comedy", but hey-ho ...

Uneven tone aside, THE CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW is often stylish beyond its digital video format and clearly miniscule budget (reportedly $12,000.00), and provides clear evidence that director Jimmyo Burrill has come on leaps and bounds since helming the original CHAINSAW SALLY film back in 2004.

Each episode plays out like a blood-caked latter-day comedy (it's not so much a sitcom, as something more dramatic and constantly flowing by virtue of its ever-developing characters, akin to 'My Name Is Earl' or 'Scrubs'). It's funny, irreverent and deceptively rather clever. The more casual viewer may balk at the darker moments. Though, not the average SGM reader ... surely?

Billed as "a Herschell Gordon Lewis presentation" (he's the executive producer) and coming to Special Edition DVD courtesy of Troma Entertainment, that should tell you most of what you need to know about this 11-segment trash-fest.

"From the dark and dirty mind of Jimmyo" boasts the cover. You may remember from the previous feature film that, not only is he the writer and director, he's April's husband ... and does a fine job of exploiting her assets by caking them in blood at regular intervals and zooming in on her curvy backside whenever the opportunity presents itself. Although, there is no nudity in any of these 20-minute episodes.

'Please stand by' the black-and-white intro screen to each episode advises as we hear a chainsaw being revved up, and then: 'It's Sally time!' as blood spatters across the screen.

From there, most episodes open with Sally chasing unfortunates through woodlands, her fulsome breasts bouncing everywhere before she catches up with her prey and it all ends in a gory kill ... perfectly setting the tone each and every time for what's about to follow.

'Guest victims' are listed in the credits for each episode, along with the main regular players, letting you know that all but the protagonists are there simply to be hacked apart at some point.

Well-edited, well shot and graced with a frequently rousing score, THE CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW is a guilty pleasure. Lord knows, 'Diff'rent Strokes' was never this much fun. That's a cue for you to say "what ya talkin' about Willis?".

Disc one of this two-disc set includes the first six instalments of the show's first season. The remainder can be found, unsurprisingly, over on disc two.

Each episode is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 and looks very good. Given that this is a Troma release, they look very, very good. Blacks hold up well with little in the way of compression issues, day scenes are extremely vibrant and colours are strong enough to ensure the blood flows in rivers of deep crimson.

English 2.0 audio is clean and generally reliable, although flaws in the original ultra-cheap digital shooting dictate that it occasionally drops a notch or two. There were a few occasions where I found myself turning it up only to have to hastily turn it down again when the music came blasting on seconds later.

An animated main menu page is one of the most colourful and raucous I've come across in some time, its dayglo visuals being complemented by the series' punky score.

Static chapter menus allow you individual access to each episode on each disc. There is also, of course, the option to 'play all' on each main menu page.

Extras on disc one include a brief introduction from Lloyd Kaufman. This was recorded live at a Troma convention. Why? I don't know.

Next up is an 18-minute featurette entitled "21 Weekends in Porterville". It's described on-screen as a 'video blog' but is essentially a high-energy behind-the-scenes documentary and is a lot of fun. Burrill wears a Captain Spalding T-shirt on the set, which is telling: it sums up perfectly the pitch of the sick humour and manic violence presented throughout the series.

"Anatomy of a Kill" is more behind-the-scenes" footage, this time running for 4 minutes and focusing on a typically bloody woodlands-based murder.

An extra labelled as a "sexy slideshow" does what it says, offering a nice array of stills of April in various semi-clad poses. This runs for 4 minutes and is accompanied by some iffy rock track.

The show's theme song is treated to its own video clip for our next bonus feature. It's called "Shattered and Blue", it's by Brian Huddell and it's pretty good in a Ramones-lite manner. The montage of gory clips from the season which plays over it works well.

Then there's a 5-minute short with Sally entitled "Can You Hear Me Now?", which builds to a predictably gory punchline.

As well as audio commentary tracks from the Burrills on each of the first four episodes, we also get optional 'laugh tracks' for all six chapters. These work unexpectedly well and provide a nice touch to an already crammed first disc.

Over on disc two, more audio commentary tracks (loud, amiable affairs) follow along with laugh tracks.

The most substantial bonus feature on disc two is found on the "Episodes" menu page under the guise of "Very Special Episode".

It's an exclusive 52-minute offering entitled "It's Groundhog Day" (or 'Grindhog Day' as the back cover puts it) which is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen as with the rest of the series and feels more like an instalment of something like 'American Gothic' at times. It starts with a flashback, has a slightly darker tone amid the obvious comedy and quickly degenerates into the expected gore and titillation. No bad thing.

Disc two is rounded off with the typical Troma fluff: trailers for FATHER'S DAY, DARK NATURE, POULTRYGEIST and TROMEO AND JULIET, as well as a 2-minute bout of light-hearted tit-fondling entitled "Troma T&A".

THE CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW places Sally and her cohorts in their ideal environment. The 20-minute capsule format works in so far as the pace is snappy, the stories are short and to the point, and the action is frequent. The gore quotient is high as is the camp factor, and the gags work for the most part.

It's not art, but it's fun. And well done Troma, for producing a sterling Special Edition.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Troma
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review