Cain Adamson (Mathieu Carrière) is returning home from a harrowing time in the Vietnam War where he was an American soldier, and somehow finds himself in Belfast, Northern Ireland where no sooner has he disembarked than a British soldier is asking him for his identity papers. Not having anywhere to go, having run out of money, he wanders the streets and eventually visits a church for somewhere to stay for a while, but suddenly halfway through a hymn a bomb is detonated, injuring some of the congregation. Cain simply sits there impassively as the carnage goes on around him...
That's because Cain is not very well, though don't feel too much sympathy for him as he is soon hanging around a house where a group of nurses are staying, and if you know the story of nineteen-sixties Chicago mass murderer Richard Speck then you'll be way ahead of Naked Massacre. This was inspired by that criminal, so much so that the film's alternate title Born for Hell was taken from the tattoo - Born to Raise Hell - on Speck's arm, yet for reasons best known to the production team they preferred to dress this up in some location photography taken on the streets of Belfast at the height of the Troubles, not the most obvious setting for a film, as shown by the notable lack of many others taking place there.
Although it's unmistakably trashy stuff, this did appear to have some kind of message to impart about the state of the world. It was not in fact a Northern Irish movie but a result of a selection of Continental European countries in conjunction with Canada - director Denis Héroux, who would go on to be a successful TV producer with such eighties cartoons as MASK to his credit, hailed from that country, as did one of the most recognisable faces among the nurses, Carole Laure who oddly is the only one of them not dubbed with an American accent. The dubbing was problematic, as it was obvious when the supporting locals were speaking in somebody's curious approximation of Belfast tones, but not half as problematic as other happenings here.
The film takes a dour view of humanity throughout, as if the whole world is either currently a war zone or about to turn into one, and the more militarised violence Cain is escaping from (so why the hell end up there?) has degraded his mental faculties to the extent that he feels the need to lash out, initially breaking into the nurses' home because he needs money, but then because he wants to experience some kind of power trip over helpless women. You may wonder why with nine of them and one of him he managed to force them into submission, but that was what happened with the Speck murders, with only one surviving by hiding under the bed, but there was a difference.
That being Speck was a drink-fuelled psychopath and his fictional equivalent was supposed to be teaching us the bad news about human nature, and the two crimes do not convince as a state of the world warning quite as much as Héroux and his writers seemed to think. You could regard Naked Massacre as a low rent variation on better films about true life killers such as 10 Rillington Place or Zodiac, but when the best thing you can say about this is that it's not as bad as it could have been that's not exactly a recommendation. Only occasionally does Héroux take the opportunity to leer at the fates of the victims, but it is enough to make his movie a turn off, and when most of the rest of it mopes around after Cain as he wanders aimlessly around a site they readily view as a war zone in supposedly peaceful Europe then there's a sanctimony which is more akin to some would-be artist telling you the world is a cesspool and you'd better get used to it. If they wanted you to be depressed, they succeeded, but it's as easy to play the pessimist as it is not to indulge them. Music by Voggenreiter Verlag.