Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies is a campy 1992 horror comedy that mixes hillbilly cannibalism with softcore titillation. Starring genre favorites Karen Black, Pat Morita, and Michael Berryman the film follows southern belle Auntie Lee as her horde of sexy nieces hunt down victims for her recipes. Vinegar Syndrome brings the cult horror-comedy classic to Blu-ray with an excellent new 4k scan of the negative, a lean DTS mix, and a bevy of interview featurettes. For those who take their cannibalism with a side of unbridled weirdness this comes Recommended.
"Sweet death the final act of eroticism"
Satan worshiper Auntie Lee (Karen Black) runs a successful bakery on her ranch selling meat pies to local businesses. The proper southern belle is joined by her disabled brother Larry (Michael Berryman) and a crew of bodacious nieces including Fawn (Kristine Ann Rose), Magnolia (Ava Fabian), Coral (Teri Weigel), and Sky (Pia Reyes). While Larry tends to repairs around the ranch, the girls are tasked with stalking and killing loners to use in Auntie Lee’s recipes. Katana wielding Sheriff Koal (Pat Morita) is oblivious to the operation, giving himself into the feminine wiles of the kindly matriarch. When a private detective and a rock band show up at the ranch the girls may have bitten off more than they can chew.
The first half of Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies is a fairly predictable setup/payoff with the girls hunting their victims allowing for plenty of tongue-in-cheek comedy and innuendo-filled exchanges. However, once the rock band arrives at the house the film takes a turn from backwoods cannibalism to ritualistic devil worshipping. A visual shift also occurs marking the radical change in the film's tone. Replacing the rather bland farmhouse setting are these abstract art installations the girls use as bedrooms/torture chambers. Their seduction techniques evolve into entire productions that resemble 90's centerfold videos. For example, Teri Weigel's bedroom looks like something out of The Lair of the White Worm. No complaints here! The film suffers at this point, stalling to explore the various rooms and cutting back to the rockers chatting up the girls in hopes of sleeping with them. Subplots and characters that helped raise the stakes earlier are pushed aside becoming last-minute fodder or dumped altogether.
The film employs plenty of horror cliches as well as softcore adult visual themes. You get plenty of overhead shots to focus on the girl’s cleavage and their skirts are always billowing skyward. Every scene could be the setup for an adult film... or a slasher! It's an excellent mix though it never completely settles within one rendering the film a tonal mess. Director Joseph F. Robertson’s experience in adult entertainment is on display here but the slapdash assembly keys in on the editorial flexibility that could be offered to cable channels and outlets that would offer the film. Anyone familiar with director Jim Wynorski’s adult fare can understand where I’m going here.
Auntie Lee's Meat Pies includes a killer cast of genre veterans with Karen Black, Pat Morita, Michael Berryman, and Grant Cramer who are all mostly here for a good time. The cast of Auntie's nieces is a Who's Who of Playmates and softcore regulars. Teri Weigel (Savage Beach), Kristine Rose (Demonic Toys), Ava Fabian (Ski School), Pia Reyes (Return of the Living Dead 3), and Petra Verkaik (Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV) never disappoint when on-screen eating up the cheesy dialogue and taunting their victims. Performances all around are enjoyable, memorable, and highly quotable. It seems everyone is in on the black comedy aspects of the film except for Pat Morita. His work here is very good but his stodgy portrayal of Chief Koal belongs in another film. Karen Black's southern belle matriarch Auntie Lee is spot-on keeping the film's narrative held together until all hell breaks loose.
Auntie Lee's Meat Pies is a fun horror-comedy that offers plenty to chew on in every scene. Nothing here works completely but I had a great time seeing Skinemax staples seducing men and chopping them to pieces. The “Playmate Sweeney Todd” setup is perfect with a southern belle using her bodacious nieces to lure men to their doom for the production of the famous meat pies. However you cook it, Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies is a delectable treat.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies arrives steaming hot on Blu-ray thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. The Region Free BD-50 disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork. Loading the disc offers the Vinegar Syndrome logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with typical navigation options.
Vinegar Syndrome serves up Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies with a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This new HD Image is bright and detailed with excellent color reproduction and even flesh tones. Primaries from costuming like Magnolia's purple skirt blowing in the wind are crisp and dynamic. Auntie Lee’s individual scenes lack some image detail and focus throughout the feature which is a disappointment at times.
Outdoor scenes are consistently bright and full of fine detail with some minor instances of overexposure. Plenty of fine detail in closeup from Teri Weigel’s tight curls and lacy lingerie to the smooth surfaces of Michael Berryman's famous cranium. Black levels hold steady though some detail is lost in shadow and nighttime scenes. Overall image quality reveals heavy film-like grain with natural-looking colors and saturation. While a popular film on VHS and LaserDisc, Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies never found official footing on DVD so grab up this impressive Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome!
Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies arrives on Blu-ray with a satisfying DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track. The mix is clear and clean with most dialogue exchanges relying on sharp ADR layers spliced into the soft on-set audio recordings. It’s noticeable but doesn’t distract from the feature. Rock tunes are loud and full but rarely overpower.
Vinegar Syndrome offers plenty of interviews for bonus materials here plus The Homicidal Homemaker's recipe for the famous meat pies. The special features menu screen is a loop of Teri Weigel dancing around that huge rattlesnake statue which is a nice touch.
Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies maintains its softcore roots as it explores cannibalistic horror and black comedy. While the end result isn’t a full course meal there are some great moments here with the cast and the insane production design. I would’ve wanted more beyond the singular premise of a Skinemax Sweeney Todd but there’s enough here for the film to retain its midnight movie cred.
Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray provides a very good 4k scan of the image, solid DTS track, and enough interview featurettes to please fans of the film. For those who take their cannibalism with a side of campy scintillation this comes Recommended.