Slasher (2004)

“It’s not a sale—it’s a show.”

Slasher an entertaining documentary from John Landis focuses on a three-day sale held at a Toyota car lot in Memphis, Tennessee. The car dealer employs the services of Michael Bennett–a professional Slasher. Slashers earn their name for their “ability to move vehicles” during used car sales. While some companies have their own Slashers, Bennett is an independent contractor, and he brings his own crack team of specialists to Memphis “to move stale merchandise” over the big Memorial Day weekend. This sales team includes D.J Kevin, and a “mercenary salesman”, Mudd. The three-man team then employs a handful of local girls–the Slashettes–to act as hostesses for the event.

The film follows the Slasher’s campaign starting with his departure from his California home to the end of the three-day sale. With a blitz of advertising, hundreds of customers make their way down to Chuck Hutton Toyota in Memphis, lured in by the promise of an $88 car. We see some of the tactics used to detour the consumers to other cars. The Slasher argues “excitement breeds excitement”, and we see how the team tries to keep that excitement at fever pitch for the three-day sale. We see the deals made, and the deals that flop.

Slasher is a fascinating documentary. This is due in part to the personality of Bennett–a hyper person who is quite aware of his own faults, and the psychology of car buying. D.J Kevin is a perfect foil for Bennett. He’s laconic, stoic and immutable–everything Bennett isn’t. Mudd is a charismatic salesman who admires Bennett, and it’s clear that the three of them have a good time doing what they do best. Under the deft directorship of Landis, ultimately all the players here are sympathetic. Bennett and his crew earn every penny, and yet the buyers who hope for the $88 deal, but are pressured into bigger loans remain sympathetic too.

The film includes an IFC featurette, director’s comments, and deleted scenes.

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