Slasher
2004
John Landis directs this fascinating, intensely funny IFC documentary that looks at the bizarre life of Michael Bennett (aka "The Slasher"), a raspy-voiced salesman who's called upon by auto dealerships to help them quickly dump their stale inventory. Landis brilliantly turns his comedic eye on one particularly crazed weekend where Bennett comes to the aid of a struggling dealership in Memphis.

Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

This film takes a strange trip, winding up proving itself wrong without intending to make a point at all. It began as a John Landis documentary comparing politicians (especially George W. Bush) to used car salesmen, with the emphasis on lying being a part of both jobs. Then Landis met Michael Bennett, a price slasher who sets up blow-out sales at car dealerships by offering extreme sales tactics; the guy is a fascinating character (he'd have to be) and his reputation for selling something like 200 cars in four days precedes him.

That's the problem, I guess. The introduction got me so psyched up to see Bennett go to work selling fleets of cars in a jiffy that the actual results were a letdown: He blew his big lead on the first day, and the crowds never returned. Whole scenes consisted of him barking through the loudspeakers to an empty dealer lot. If it was Landis's intention to demonstrate the man's dishonest nature by making a dishonest film, then he succeeded, but his comments on the DVD and Bennett's own genuine conviction that he's an honest man don't do much to support that hypothesis. Like the best circus barkers, Bennett and Landis summon us to watch a grand spectacle, then give us very little once we're inside the tent. At least it has a fantastic Stax soundtrack that vividly brings Memphis to life.

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