Hide and Go Shriek 1987 Review
Hide and Go Shriek 1987
aka Close your Eyes and Pray
Directed by: Skip Schoolnik
Starring: Bunky Jones, Brittain Frye, Annette Sinclair
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
As I have said in previous reviews on the site, despite the fact that many collectors believe that the slasher genre died early on in the eighties, there were still a few decent entries released right the way through the decade. Whilst Hide and Go Shriek is not quite up to the standard of say, The Prowler or My Bloody Valentine, it makes a good enough slasher Tortilla without adding any new herbs or spices to the age-old recipe.
During a break from school, eight teenagers decide to spend the night in one of their friend’s father’s Department store. Little do they know that they are not alone and an unseen maniac begins killing them off one by one…
What this distinctive latter entry to the cycle does exceptionally well is create a sleazy atmosphere for its plot to unravel within. The opening shots of graffiti-covered back streets in a gloomy American city, set an impressively grim tone, which acts as a launchpad for the murderous mayhem that eventually follows. In a way, the obvious low budget means that the subdued-lighting becomes a benefit rather than a hindrance and it keeps in check with the gritty undercurrent of dread. Much like Spiegel’s Intruder from the same year, Hide makes the most of its spacious locations to build some intense chase sequences. Once the kids are trapped inside, the director manages to keep the suspense running-high by throwing a handful of tricks at us. You can always rely on mannequins to be one of the creepiest props for creating false scares and here we get a couple of really good ones thanks to some razor sharp editing. This was Schoolnik’s debut picture, but he was no stranger to horror because he had worked as an editor on Halloween 2. I know that John Carpenter was heavily involved behind the scenes with that sequel, so maybe Schoolnik picked up some tips from the master? Either way, I am sure that it helped him to understand timing, which he used in a few impressive flourishes that are dotted throughout the runtime.
John Ross’ score is interesting as it somewhat resembles Brad Fiedel’s legendary composition from The Terminator. I realise, of course, that this sounds incredibly cheesy, but it’s actually quite pulsating and distinctive. The killer spends most of the runtime in the shadows and the only real development of his persona is his mad cackling after each murder. As a bit of a gimmick, he steals the clothes of each victim after they’re dead (both male and female) and cons his next target in to the false sense of security that he’s actually their friend. He then leads them to secluded corners and brutally murders them using various creative methods. The slaughter scenes are gruesome, if not graphically outstanding and we get one of my favourite and most startling decapitations of all time late on in the feature. (I posted it above) There are moments during the finale, where things get quite tense and although not a master of suspense, Schoolnik does keep the pace very high.
When the teenagers realise that they’re trapped inside with a marauding maniac, they run to the store front to scream for help and are relieved to see a Police car parked directly outside the front door. They bang on the double-glazed glass to try and get the attention of their only chance of safety, but look on in horror as their cries go unheard and the patrolman drives off in to the night. It was a great way of underlining their desperation, isolation and sense of impeding doom, which really helped to keep the momentum running. It’s also worth noting that the body count material here are also a lot smarter than usual. After working out that they’re being picked off one by one, they get in to a corner, grab a weapon and decide to stick together until help arrives.
The film seems to continue working really well up until the climax, which springs something of a poorly played twist upon us. I mean, without ruining anything, I would say that it is like going to a fancy-dress party stark naked. Many may give you credit for having the biggest balls of them all, but really it’s a stupid idea, because for sure you are going to offend some people. I can see what the filmmakers were trying to do, but instead of being scandalous, the conclusion is just distasteful, thoughtlessly delivered and well, a tad peculiar. Much like the previous year’s City in Panic, Shriek gets lost in its ambition somewhat; and if you are going to use a social comment in your screenplay, then you need to be a bit smarter so as not to offend. Unfortunately the script handles everything with butter fingers and comes across like a deep-rooted chauvinist doing a marketing campaign for feminism, you know?
Performance wise, almost everything was ok, but Bunky Jones let the side down with a torrid cocktail of overacting and just plain shouting. The kids are all picked more as eye candy and there are some hot chicas here, especially the unfortunate who loses her head (quite literally). We also get the usual amount of silly late-eighties shenanigans and campy fun before the terror starts (watch out for the hilarious moonwalk and musical chairs in a van scenario. Pure comedy gold!) I felt that a few more murders would have made the film better as a whole, but these guys had a neat defensive strategy, which is why the killer didn’t work his way through that many of them.
A poorly handled conclusion doesn’t subtract too much from the rest of the feature and Shriek is good enough to keep you entertained. This would go well on a double bill with the equally fun Terror Night from the same year, which has finally seen light of day. It’s often overlooked, but Shriek does have moments that deserve a standing on your slasher shelf
Final Girl √√
Worth a look…