Used Cars ‘R Us: Wheeling and Dealing in the Lemon Trade


The title brings to mind a horror movie, but Slasher depicts an altogether different kind of horror: the life of a freelance used-car salesman who organizes bargain-basement sales for used-car lots in trouble. This engrossing documentary trails Michael Bennett as he leaves behind his wife and kids to go to Memphis with his team of mercenaries (a DJ to get customers excited and a tough salesman to close the deals). In three days, he’s expected to hawk dozens of crappy cars to customers who can’t even afford a bicycle. Bennett exudes a feverish intensity somewhere between evangelist and speed freak. Whether he’s on the job or off, he can’t calm the constant stream of patter. “I’m so frickin’ wound up,” he confesses early one morning. “Even when I’m sittin’ still, I’m frickin’ moving. I’m afraid if I stop I’m going to die.”

Director John Landis is best known for blockbusters like Animal House and Trading Places, but for Slasher he makes like David Mamet, immersing himself in the sour stench of failure. The pressure is on when Bennett puts on his fancy suit and strides into the Memphis heat, slashing prices as low as he can go, knowing that however many cars he sells, he’ll be off to a different city next week. Behind all his showbiz bluster, Bennett is trapped on a treadmill. As he says in a quiet moment, “Sometimes I wish the fucking ride would just stop and I could relax and be . . . normal.”

This Week’s Other TV Reviews:

The Parent Trap

Remote Patrol