February 29, 2024

What would it be like if the dearly departed singer and laid-back lifestyle guru Jimmy Buffett were a murderous monster? I’m going to guess that after watching Murdaritaville, a new horror movie from a distributor called Haddonfield Horror, you still won’t know the answer to that question.

In the days of grindhouse cinema, making marketable movies on a tight budget often meant choosing subject matter so sensational that the posters caused moviegoers to say, “Good lord! There’s a movie about that?” and then pony up for a ticket. The results of this marketing-first approach were known as “exploitation” films, and while some were cynical trash heaps, others were works of secret genius.

For whatever reason, hitting people right in their sense of propriety and good taste seems to be harder these days, but if the fervor around last year’s Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is any indication — along with the recent streak of irreverent Steamboat Willie adaptations — it seems you can still rattle people by hitting them right in their economic assumptions. Like the Pooh-centric public domain-exploitation film that may or may not have inspired it, Murdaritaville appears to target a loophole in copyright law — the carve-out for parody, in this case — causing potential viewers to go, “Surely someone is going to be sued for this.”

Moreover, Buffett only passed away last September.

Murdaritaville, if you’re really curious, “follows a group of friends on their way to a concert when they start getting attacked by a parrot man,” according to the Haddonfield Horror website. That site refers to the film as a “send up of your Dad’s favorite margarita sipping beach crooner,” and although the trailer includes referential snippets of dialogue like “it’s my own damn fault,” the film doesn’t appear to use the terms “Margaritaville” or “Jimmy Buffett,” and is almost certainly on the safe side of things in terms of intellectual property law. And since “too soon” is not a strong basis for a lawsuit either, no one will probably be suing Haddonfield Horror for this.

Murdaritaville was directed by Paul Dale and written by Dale and Dylan McGovern. It stars Jenna-Francis Duvic and will be available “via Amazon,” according to the Haddonfield Horror site, probably meaning Blu-ray and VHS copies can be bought there on March 1.