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Fatal Games 1984 Review

Fatal Games 1984

aka The Killing Touch aka Olympic Nightmare

Directed by: Michael Elliot

Starring: Sally Kirkland, Sean Masterson, Lynn Banashek

Review by Luisjo Joaquín González

Fatal Games was released a couple of years after the largest peak in the slasher cycle’s popularity period and it 13was one of the first additions to my collection on big box VHS. I have watched it many times, but it is never one that I have held a particular fondness for and it rarely gets mentioned alongside other genre favourites. It lacks even the charm of say, Graduation Day, which is a film it is often accused of imitating. 9838937837373

Many eighties slashers that don’t deserve their cult status managed to live on simply because they became rare, which meant that enthusiasts like me, dedicated weeks (sometimes years) trying to to find them. A fair few were also castrated by censors upon release, which meant that the human nature of us wanting to see the things that we weren’t allowed, gave them a notoriety that they would never have deserved without such intervention. In cases such as the one that befell The Dorm that Dripped Blood, the honour of being chucked on the video nasty list and banned for public consumption was a golden ticket to a longer life expectancy as bootlegs would surface and interest would sustain.

This entry lacks any nostalgic benefits and therefore only offers what it says on the tin. However no one can 98383783763763763say that a film featuring a hooded-javelin wielding maniac can be totally devoid of interest, so I was keen to give it another look after years of it collecting dust particles in my garage.

An athletic training school is preparing for a National contest and all the young hopefuls are being put through gruesome training routines. Things take a turn for the worse when a javelin brandishing nutjob begins slaughtering the students when they stay behind to practice after hours. It becomes apparent that the disappearances are linked, so who or what could be behind the occurrences?12

It seems bizarre to accuse a movie of ripping off Graduation Day, because the film’s director, Herb Freed himself, will probably admit that his cheeseball is hardly a title worthy of such adulation. It’s hard not to level that accusation at Fatal Games however, because there are a few otherwise inexplicable similarities between the two. Everything from the athletic teens getting slaughtered and then their faces crossed off of a team-photo to the javelin stick being used as a murder weapon seems to reference the former sports-themed genre piece. They even start with almost identical credit sequences, which show the characters training in 664673737378383873slow-mo shots with a funky rock tune setting the vibe.

Do you remember during the eighties when almost every film had a sugar-coated message and an equally mushy theme tune to hype up headband wearing audiences (which we all were back then)? Songs like Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ are postcards from a lost generation that fortunately thus far hasn’t found its route to return. Now if you thought, “Everybody wants to be a winner” from the opening of Freed’s Graduation Day opus was taking the biscuit in terms of eighties pumping up tracks, then Fatal Games runs away with the whole biscuit pack. Here we have lines such as ‘winning is everything’ and ‘take it to the limit’ (clearly ripped from Scarface’s ‘Push it to the Limit’) and the song is so laughably energetic that I almost jumped out of my bed and began doing press-ups. 90389378373763

It’s a shame that first (and last) time director Michael Elliot never ‘took it to the limit’ as his direction is so flat that it feels like the print was placed under a steamroller before it received distribution. What we have here is two gears: bland and even blander and things don’t get any better than that. There’s one very good shadowy ‘studio shot’ that must’ve been filmed by the next-door neighbour or perhaps it was stock footage, because it is re-used continuously every time the killer strikes and nothing else from Elliot comes close to matching it. Like the maniac from Baby Doll Murders, this guy is a bit of a 873247643764fashionable psychopath. When on massacre duties, he dresses in a shiny striped tracksuit with matching trainers and it’s easy to see that this is an assassin with considerable eighties style. Of course we are all meant to be trying our hardest to work out who it is hiding under the hood, but the conclusion, upon revelation, is completely implausible if fun all the same.

There’s no real tomato juice goo on display here, but there’s some creative ways to finish off a teenager with a javelin. The guy under the mask has a ‘supernatural slasher villain ability‘. These are much like super hero powers and many eighties psycho killers had them. Like, for example, this guy is able to magically transport to appear exactly in front of a fleeing victim or being able to move a corpse and clean litres of blood in seconds without any products available to do so. The nut job here can throw the said javelin with enough power to impale someone from as far out as 500 yards! That’s a necessary skill however, because the director doesn’t believe in close-ups on the action and everything is filmed from football-pitch length distances. I really enjoyed the swimming pool killing, which was obviously lifted from The Prowler, but it is a real slice of fun as well as being grimly effective. The assailant puts on a full scuba kit and climbs in to the pool, before swimming underneath his903983783783783783 intended victim and waiting for her to pass by, before adding her corpse to his collection. How the girl managed to remain oblivious to someone with a bubble-bellowing scuba tank attached to his back and a two-foot pole in his hands was quite amazing, but the sequence is amongst my favourites simply for that.

The only thing that this can really be remembered for is the extremely high levels of nudity on display. All the bunnies (and most of the guys too) are naked at one point throughout the runtime and there’s a hilarious sequence where a girl flees the killer in her skin suit, which goes on for about three minutes. The cast also warrants a mention, with Sally Kirkland who would later get an Oscar nod and comedian 89378378373763Sean Masteson as one of the youngsters. The performances are pretty lame throughout, but I think most of the student-aged cast members were hired more for their gymnastic abilities than their dramatic credibility.

What else can I say? Well the finale is quite well staged, as a guy on crutches finds the bodies of his colleagues stashed in lockers and there’s a chase sequence that ends on a scaffold tower, which was a novel idea. But that’s pretty much the best it gets to be honest.

So this is somewhat lacking in charm and it’s flatly directed, but it’s not necessarily that bad of an entry. I would pick this over 90% of the modern day slasher trash anyway...

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Silent Madness 1984 Review

Silent Madness 1984

aka Beautiful Screamers, The Omega Factor

Directed by: Simon Nuchtern

Starring: Belinda Montgomery, Viveca Lindfors, Solly Marx

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

In my review for The Scaremaker, I mentioned that it was one of a number of slasher flicks that were overlooked due to the barrage of releases at that time. Silent Madness is another such entry that barely gets any recognition nowadays, which I was keen to investigate once again having not watched it for a decade or so. As you are well aware, a SLASH above is always trying to hunt 988976556out hidden gems for your collections.

Recently, there has been a wealth of 3D in our cinemas, which could lead you to believe that it was something of a new invention for the humble stalk and slash category. Although effects have definitely improved, the truth is that we were treated to offerings in three dimension long before the remake of My Bloody Valentine. You are probably aware already of Friday the 13th part III, but there was also this much lower budgeted effort that launched across cinemas with the neat gimmick that you need groovy specs for.

After a blunder at a mental hospital, the staff release the mute and psychotic Howard Johns who was responsible for some sorority slashing years earlier, instead of the relatively harmless John Howard. A considerate shrink believes that he could be on his way back to the location of his previous crimes and heads there in order to stop him.

By 1984 the genre was already less of a draw for studio financing, so it’s somewhat refreshing to watch an effort that seems to have the mission statement of being played in theatres rather than 1564561523aiming straight for video store shelves. It’s notably bold in that unlike the same year’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Silent Madness makes absolutely no effort to do anything even remotely authentic and instead sticks to the formula of a dollop of Slumber Party Massacre with a bit of Halloween and Friday the 13th thrown in just for good measure. 8978766554The killer is your typical muted menace with a murder lust and there’s a whole host of teenagers that he slices through and stalks using the trademark methodology.

I own two copies of this feature. One is on VHS, which is totally uncut and then I have a budget UK DVD that omits a few fun cheesy gore scenes. In their entirety, the murders are all quite creative in their delivery and I was quite impressed with the director’s imagination. One skateboarding bunny gets her head crushed in a vice and there’s a couple of other gruesome highlights that are worth a look. Watch out for the bit when a girl is slaughtered whilst playing that old arcade classic, Dragon’s Lair, which I used to spend hours trying to complete with my brother on my Commodore 64. The director pulls off the odd moment of suspense and there’s a very good jump scare here too.

What I was really impressed with was the film’s subtle political commentary. There’s a lot said about the asylum not having the budget to keep all of its patients and they are trying to release as 898976676565many as possible. This is an obvious dig at the cost cutting ideas of the Reagan era when it was noted that many unfortunates were being freed too prematurely and it’s quite effective in its delivery. I also picked up on a heavy dose of obvious misogyny; not only in the maniac’s choice of victims, but in the way that the male characters approach the heroine. All the hospital workers treat her as an idiot and she is even disrespected by the orderlies (watch out of the hilarious evil laugh scene). If it weren’t for the fact that the head manager was a woman who was equally as dubious, I would have been sure that it was another subtle expression of cultural topic from the filmmakers.

The other character with a confused sense of morals is the goofball sheriff who spouts lines such as, ‘Just because the gawdamn broad is so good looking, don’t mean we all have to think with our dicks!’ In typical genre fashion, he’s a bit of a doofus and to call him ‘smart’ would be like saying that Ryan Giggs was ‘faithful’. No one really believes the Doctor when she warns them that the maniac could be on his way back to the sorority and she only has a journalist as a partner to help apprehend the murderous nut job. There’s a pretty unexpected twist that came as a surprise and in a rare move, there is no open ending so it hints that the production team were never considering a sequel even if this had have been a major success, which I doubt it was.

None of the teenage girls are given any real depth or personality and they are only there to be murdered, but the leads put in a good enough shift with what they are given. Belinda Montgomery was charming as the final ‘woman’ and Viveca Lindfors gave it her all in the smallest of parts. The momentum stagnates a tad in places and some of the dialogue scenes were fairly limp. The story has just enough to keep you hooked and I never felt the need to take my eyes off the screen.

Silent Madness is pretty much stalk and slash in its comfort zone and never manages anything out of the ordinary and plods through the clichés like a tortoise on Valium. It’s by no means a bad film, but not a diamond in the rough either. It is certainly no worse than some of its peers that it shares a release date with and I can only put it down to bad luck that it is not more often mentioned as a referential piece of slasher hokum.

If you’re a collector, I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t pick it up and it offers much more than the likes of Final Exam and He Knows You’re Alone. It made me want to download one of those C64 converters a have a shot at Dragon’s Lair and The Last Ninja once again…

Slasher Trappings:

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The Prey 1984 Review

The Prey 1984

Directed by: Edwin Brown

Starring: Debbie Thureson, Jackie Coogan, Jackson Bostwick

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

If imitation is truly a form of admiration, then Friday the 13th was entitled to carry an ego the size of a Brazilian rain forest during the early eighties. The success of Sean Cunningham’s opus led to an invasion of almost identically themed titles, which ranged from the good (Just Before Dawn) to the rancid (Don’t go in the Woods). Interestingly 1625632653632672672762enough, The Prey was generally thought of as yet another of those bandwagon jumpers, but recent cast-member reports have suggested that it was actually shot in 1978, two years earlier than Friday, but was shelved for a few years whilst finding a distributor. I find this hard to believe as it is CLEARLY borrowing from Halloween and that was released in October of that year. If I had to guess an earlier production date. I would say mid-1979, which still pre-dates Sean Cunnigham’s opus by enough time to give it the benefit of not being a rip-off. Just to think, with perhaps a little better marketing and a 6733782387282892982quicker post-production, this could have been the one with ten sequels and a remake under its belt. Forget Jason, we would have had the disfigured cave dweller from this one to contend with…

After a muted release, The Prey rapidly disappeared under the landslide of negative media coverage that engulfed the genre during its heyday. Despite some impressive gore, Edwin Brown’s effort didn’t even manage to garner the cult status of an appearance on the UK’s notorious video nasty list, which added vitality to many of its undeserving cousins. Still awaiting a second shot at recognition on DVD, it looks as if this slasher has long since been forgotten and scrapped to the video graveyard.

The only available version of the feature is missing huge chunks of footage that had been filmed from the original script but failed to make it to the final cut. This includes a background story for the bogeyman’s motives and some 64367367387378278287282gratuitous extensions to the gore scenes. The reason for their exclusion remains unclear and I would be interested to see a director’s cut, although that’s becoming more and more unlikely with every year that passes.

After a murderous and appealing opening, we meet a van full of kids that are heading into the forest for a relaxing vacation. They are welcomed by the Park Sheriff who becomes a key player in the plot and a memorable figure in the film’s poor reputation (more on that later). As they head deeper into the woodland, we are made aware that they are not alone due to the constant 2836point of view shots from an unseen maniac. After what seems like a lifetime, the killer finally gets to work on the youngsters and it’s up to the lethargic sheriff to come to their rescue.

The Prey is among the most widely panned of the early eighties slashers, which is probably the key reason why it hasn’t yet been offered a stab at secondary acknowledgement on DVD. The first factor that the film’s critics set-upon is the use of a large amount of wildlife stock footage, which digresses somewhat from the ‘horror’ structure of the plot. Although certainly over-used, I 73783783872829829822actually felt that the shots of nature worked well to build the backwoods surroundings of the storyline and I never found it as irritating as most describe it to be. I actually would never have criticised or even noticed its inclusion myself if I hadn’t have read other reviews previously.

I said in my description that I would return to the Park Sheriff and rightly so, because he has become something of a cult figure in slasher cinema – unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. His self-confessed ‘phoned-in’ performance sets a tone that’s impossible to take seriously from the start, but he is most fondly remembered for three exceptional slices of unintentionally hilarious cinema. One bizarre piece of scripting sees him telling a rubbish joke to a faun in the midst of the forest, whilst another equally peculiar sequence has him playing a four-minute solo on an ukulele, which offers7387387238728728728722 absolutely *nothing* worthwhile to the storyline. The inadvertent humour doesn’t end there and there’s a slow-mo chase scene during the climax that is pure slapstick. In fact, it’s probably all the more amusing because it was supposed to look rather creepy. And while we’re talking of the climax, I cannot forget to mention final girl Nancy (Debbie Thureson)’s contribution. The Prey, just like many of its slasher brethren, boasts performances around the level of a 8276252high-school musical. Thureson’s portrayal of a woman awaiting her fate from the maniacal assassin is so randomly offbeat that at times I wasn’t sure if she was joking. Perhaps it’s best I don’t mention the ‘good chow’ lines from the opening scene. 

Edwin Brown attempts to emulate Joe D’Amato’s method of feature pacing, which to be fair is about as beneficial as a playboy using Eddie Murphy’s methods of contraception. The film drags along at the speed of a one legged tortoise and if it weren’t for the odd inter-cut shot of the heavy-breathing psycho, you could be forgiven for forgetting that this is a horror film at all. The score is a jumbled 836353mix of ear piercing keyboard jaunts that sound like it was rustled up on a Casio keyboard and the photography is limp and lacks energy.

To be fair when the maniac does get focused on the slashing, the murders are lively enough to bring you out of your siesta and John Carl Buechler’s gore effects outshine the minuscule budget. It’s interesting for me that the things that most people criticise, I actually found to be rather credible. It’s almost as if the philosophy here was to build an environment through visual examples of wilderness desolation and a slow boiling climax. The problem is that we are not seeing the movie as it was intended to be seen, which means it is impossible to blame the director when a full cut may have 73873872387282892982982222222delivered a clearer example of his vision. More than likely, this footage has long since been destroyed and will never resurface. This is a shame as there are parts of this effort that play really well. 

The Prey is not gonna be anyone’s idea of a classic and it’s not my idea of one either. To call it one of the worst of the cycle though is incredibly harsh and I rather enjoyed watching it again. 

You know, I used to go to school with a guy whose video cassette of The Usual Suspects ended before the last few minutes of the feature. When I asked him if he liked it, he said, “It’s ok, but who actually was Keyser Söze?” I realise that this might be an extreme example, but that’s why I’m never confident about rating films that are missing some footage. If it’s only a part of the vision, it’s unfair to judge…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:

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Final Girl √√



Satan’s Blade 1984 Review

Satan’s Blade 1984

aka Espada Satánica

Directed By: L. Scott Castillo

Starring: Tom Bongiorno, Stephanie Leigh Steel, Paul Batson

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

This will be the second time I have written a review of Satan’s Blade, as it’s a film I watched seven-years ago and 8987548754874874874874rated it under an old user name on the IMDB. As I have said previously, I don’t get as much time to browse my old collection of VHS and as this is not on DVD, so it is not one of those that I could convert to MP4 and enjoy on my iPad. I have, however, recently had a little bit of time on my hands. Basically my parent in-laws are visiting from sunny Poland for two-weeks and as we only have two bedrooms (one with a single bed), I’m off to my mum’s for a little break. When the cat’s away, the mice will play and all that, so I watched Cards of Death, Moonstalker and Satan’s Blade one after another on my first night of freedom. Oh the debauchery!

Now as I said, I have already had a say on this dirt-cheap but alluring entry, but as the years have passed and my film-knowledge has grown, I have actually noticed that my opinions have changed quite a bit. Of the 700+ slashers that I own, Satan’s Blade always stood out to me, because of the cheesy but intriguing cover, which boasts a skull-faced killer in a cape holding a blade and staring out in to reality as if to say, “buy me young man, I will 874734387983983989833absolutely terrify you“. To a teenage boy, this was pretty intriguing stuff and back then, these young eyes were unaware of how much hyperbole eighties cheap video companies would add to their VHS covers. It’s actually pretty fun nowadays to look back on the amount of boxes from that time that had absolutely *no* significance to the film contained inside. Nowadays if Apex, Mogul and the like were still distributing movies, ambulance chasing lawyers would have a field-day with the false-advertisement claims. I bought an Argentinian VHS that I found in a shop in Spain, because I also search out most flicks in my country of birth as in general they are unrated and it allows me to see the complete version. In case you are interested, the blurb and tagline on that copy are equally as nonsensical

A group of ski bunnies and a pair of married couples head off to a cabin in the mountains for a weekend break. They 8738738738738733soon learn that the site has a murderous past; with the most recent of its victims dying only a few hours earlier. Despite this, they ignore the warnings and book in to their rooms. Before long an unseen maniac begins slicing his way through the visitors one by one. But is there more to the location than meets the eyes?

Watching Satan’s Blade is a bit like hearing ABBA at an elderly relative’s birthday party. You know that its rubbish and you shouldn’t really like it, but as long as no one notices, you secretly 736733873873873983do. To be fair there’s an absolute heap of stuff that is easy to criticize here, but what Blade does do well, it does very much so. Atmosphere is one of the hardest things to build for a horror movie, and Castillo manages to give his film a macabre, foreboding and somewhat ruthless feeling throughout. Borrowing heavily from Carpenter’s method of creating a daunting mood from the start, the continuous score – although monotonous – adds to the apprehension. There’s one scene, a dream sequence, which is so skilfully edited and competently shot that it sits quite comfortably alongside Curtains‘ ice skating murder as one of the best of the genre. Seriously, it is THAT good.

There are mountains of minutes of character development where not a lot happens and I’ll get back to that in a bit, 783873873873878733but I actually felt sympathy for one or two of the personnel and was even disappointed when a couple of them died. When you consider the fact that ninety-percent of the cast were pretty rancid dramatically, to build audience sympathy is quite an achievement. As I mentioned earlier, the killings feel a lot more mean-spirited here and I think it’s because of their cheap execution (pun intended) and lack of gore. Compared to the majority of its brethren from the same period, Blade is extremely light in the blood department, but it makes up for that in the detail of the death sequences. The victims scream and struggle for their last breath and it’s much more unsettling than a gooey 837363decapitation. So much so that the BBFC (or the film Gestapo as they were known back then) saw fit to cut out three and a half minutes of footage.

Also check out the bank heist, which seems to have been included for no other reason (in terms of plot benefit) than the director wanting to include a bank heist in his movie. It’s fast, direct and pretty mean-spirited, even though the cashier could have prevented everything by simply 87348738738738738733closing the door. It’s a very interesting way to start a standard slasher movie and I thought it just about worked.

The problems haven’t gone away over time however and the film still struggles drastically for momentum. If you want to see a ‘horror’ film, then watching bad actors go fishing and talk about ‘passing the bar’ can become very tedious very quickly and structurally the plot suffers. I have read the few comments from the cast that mention constant script re-writes and a lack of vision from the production team, which is quite apparent throughout. I find it hard to believe that there was no finished script, but hey if the cast members say so that must be the case. – Unless they’re a little bitter at not getting any 87373873873983983944money after this was released???

So Satan’s Blade is still not really worth tracking down unless you’re an obsessed enthusiast (hey, like me!). You have to question why the producer didn’t just film this on cheaper 16mm instead of 32 and invest some more cash in the production. An average genre entry that had the right ideas but struggled with the execution (yes I am using the same joke twice).

Oh and by the way – I still have *NO* idea what this has to do with Satan…?

Slasher Trappings:

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Final Girl √√



Don’t Open ’til Christmas 1984 Review

Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas 1984

Directed by: Edmund Purdom

Starring: Edmund Purdom, Belinda Mayne, Alan Lake


Review by Luisjo Joaquín González

Don’t open ’till Christmas was the middle of the three slasher flicks from the short-lived Dick Randall/Steve Minasian production partnership and by far the most bizarre. Most of it was shot in August 1982, but after various creative disagreements, it was shelved, whilst extra footage was filmed and then spliced together some two years later.

After three potentials rejected the script, it was set to be the debut of Edmund Purdom in the director’s chair, but he soon realised that he was way above his head and so handed the steering wheel over to the story’s writer, Derek Ford. Ford shot a number of scenes, but also gave up on the project, so Randall drafted in someone who had experience of taking over the hot seat in a jumbled production, namely Ray Selfe. He was also given the unenviable job of editing the footage and making some kind of cinematic sense out of the misguided work of three separate visions, which was an incredibly difficult task. Many scenes failed to make the final cut and it is perhaps credit to Selfe that he managed to put enough together to get the film released.

Randall’s previous production, Pieces, had been a relatively successful entry and the mission statement here was most definitely to aim for more of the same. Make no bones about it, this is pure slasher by the numbers and has been given a Christmas gimmick for the chance of a big festive audience and a longer life expectancy. But what this flick does do differently is instead of having a maniac in a Santa suit killing off people, which had already been done, they turned it around to give us a masked psycho killing guys wearing that distinctive clothing.

After a Father Christmas is killed during a fancy dress party, the victim’s daughter and her boyfriend get involved in the investigation. They believe that the Police aren’t doing all they can with the mystery and before long, the killer begins to target them. With only hours remaining until the big day and Santas dropping like flies, who will be able to solve the mystery?

You know what? Don’t open ’till Christmas plays like it was the result of three opposing personalities that had thrown contrasting ideas in to a saucepan and hoped for the best. Hold on a minute; that’s exactly what happened! Ok, so seriously, this one is a bit like singing the words of Living’ on a Prayer over the backing track of Sweet Child o Mine at a karaoke bash. Before I was informed about its production woes, I just assumed that it was a poorly paced and rushed released mess, but now I know about what happened, it’s easy to see the reasons why it’s such a patchwork. Characters pop up here and there without any real structure and some scenes, like the hilarious twist revealing phone call between Kate Briosky and the housekeeper were definitely added in a lazy attempt to string the plot together. George Dugdale, the director of Slaughter High and the hubby of Caroline Munro, was involved in this project and got his wife to turn in a cameo in an obvious attempt to add some experience to the cast. She is on screen for two minutes tops (singing an awful disco oddity) and then vanishes like the sense of the storyline. The movie starts very well, with three murders in ten minutes, but from then on the momentum just vanishes and the fun comes to a screeching halt. It’s hard to tell what was in the original concept and what wasn’t, but the film is something of an enigma. It spends ages building up a possible final girl, only to brutally slaughter her and bring on a substitute who doesn’t fit the traditional characteristics about half way through. I guess that Randall took the real reasons that an interesting venture fell apart to the grave with him in 1996.

Christmas plays host to the worst chase sequence anywhere ever. The location is immense (The London Dungeon no less), the killer has an outstanding guise, but it’s just so poorly handled that it is far more comedic than it is suspenseful. In fact, despite boasting a huge body count, none of the killings are creepy, even though they most definitely have the potential to be just that. The movie does its best to keep you guessing and the unmasking scene is ok, but to be honest, the whole thing is such a crack handed knot that it could have been anyone. Hell, it could have been you!

The film aims to come across as sleazy and therefore sacrifices the fun factor that’s usually abundant in eighties slashers. One overweight Santa gets castrated in a grimy urinal whilst another gets his face burned off on a grill for roasting chestnuts. The gore effects by Peter Litton are surprisingly good, but got the movie in a hell of a lot of trouble with UK censors and I was only able to see the full version because I picked it up in Spain. It also has a rather haunting score; a kind of eerie take on Jingle Bells, which if used properly could have set a creepy environment. I also thought that the various masks that the killer used were pretty cool, especially the one in the picture below. Whether it was intentional or not, the atmosphere conveyed here is one of depression and the film, much like Scrooge, ignores any attempts at festive spirit, which means it is definitely not one that I could recommend to be watched this time of the year.

By far the worst of Randall’s eighties output, it gives the viewer as much of a headache as I’m sure that it gave the people involved in the concept. I like seeing London as a backdrop and lines such as, “Get away, go on clear off!” in a Bermondsey tone were amusing, but I can’t find much here to warrant a purchase. The grammatical mistake on the title card (dont instead of don’t) is only the start of the incompetence and the film never escapes its clutches thereafter.

Not one of the merriest decorations on the ceiling, you would be better to deck the halls with Black Christmas and Silent Night Deadly Night instead.

Slasher Trappings:

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Gore √√√

Final Girl √


Silent Night Deadly Night Uncut 1984 Review

Silent Night Deadly Night 1984

aka Noche de Paz Noche De Muerte

Directed by: Charles E Sellier Jr

Starring: Lilyan Chauvin, Robert Brian Wilson, Toni Nero

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

I find generational changes in acceptance really interesting. What will life be like for my kids in twenty years? Whilst it was ok during the eighties in the UK for popular comedies like, Love Thy Neighbour and Only Fools and Horses 784784893893983298329829292to use slurs that would nowadays be considered so racist that they would cause riots in multi-cultural Britain, the sight of a teenager getting killed by the cheesiest effect imaginable caused a censorship outcry back then. Present day, most of those same films have been released uncut, but some sections of the left wing PC Brigade will jump on you for so much as singing Merry Christmas too loudly in case you offend 7474748389389398983someone. Somewhere between these two extremes lies the common sense that the general public are fine with and it’s only those that are light years away from working class communities that dream up such rubbish.

Silent Night Deadly Night was a victim of the eighties political correct massacre. After TV spots that showed the featured bad Santa wielding an axe, the campaigners that were starving for a reason to rebel against something – anything, went absolutely mad. So much so that they picketed the cinemas upon its release, which eventually led to TriStar Pictures pulling it after a few days. It had taken more on its opening weekend than A Nightmare on Elm Street, which goes some way to showing how much its marketing had captured the imagination of audiences. The news of its controversial withdrawal gave the film much more publicity than it would have ever gained if it had just been left alone to become a collector’s item for slasher enthusiasts and guess what? Children would have still believed in St Nick and loved Christmas.

Roger Ebert was characteristically at the forefront of the criticism of the film’s synopsis, but Leonard Martin’s comment of ‘…what’s next, the Easter Bunny as a child molester?‘ was pure bandwagon jumping on his part. How do I 7578878948993093093093know? Well he gave the similarly plotted Christmas Evil an extremely favourable review and called it ‘…a sleeper with cult status possibilities’ just four years earlier. Go figure…

After witnessing his parents murdered by a robber dressed in a Santa suit, Billy and his brother are sent to a Catholic orphanage. One of his carers realises that he is still suffering from the effects of the things he saw at such a young age, but she is powerless in her plea to get him some help, because the Mother Superior constantly punishes him for his lack of festive spirit and subjects him to regular beatings. Ten years later, he is given a job at the local toy store and seems to have put his demons behind him. A can of worms is opened when the shopkeeper, unaware of his history, asks him to stand in as Father Christmas in full bright red Yuletide get-up. This sends Billy over the edge and he sets out on a killing spree, still disguised as St. Nick.

Silent Night Deadly Night was the last ‘peak’ slasher movie to be backed by a major studio and some horror buffs believe that the genre ended with this piece. Vera Dika in her book, Games of Terror, states  that the ‘stalk and slasher’ started with Halloween and finished immediately after this reached cinemas six years later. The trappings of the category are things that not everyone sees the same way and are dependent on individual opinion, but although I may 7737838487487489389389389398389389487478383stand alone in saying that Final Destination is not a slasher movie, I think that most will disagree with her in saying that everything produced after 1984 is not a slasher movie. If you can seriously tell me that Dead Girls, Intruder or Hide and Go Shriek are not category flicks, then we could have a debate that I am not going to back down from.

This, however, has no identity issues and is an out and out slasher in anyone’s book. The high production values give it a chance to really make the most of its concept and it benefits no end from some effective performances and crisp visuals. Robert Brian Wilson was solid as the troubled Billy and cinema vet Lilyan Chauvin was scary as hell as the sinister Mother Superior. Night differentiates itself from most of its brethren by offering an in-depth account of the bogeyman’s motives and it spends time developing a back story. You could be forgiven for feeling sympathy after such an unfortunate life of hardship, but the film opts to move the focus away from his plight as he begins his murderous rampage and on to more typical slasher ingredients.

In its uncut format, the killings are rampant and satisfying and I especially liked the antler impalement of a young (and topless) Linnea Quigley. There’s an ingenious decapitation of a teen on a sledge and the maniac’s chanting of 8747847838938939848748389398489849389983983the word,’Punishment’ as he murders each victim removes any mean-spirit and gives the film a more cheesy, fun kind of tone. He racks up quite a body count when he’s out on road and every murder is shown in gory detail. There are two scenes that must have really, REALLY peeved the hordes of placard waving do-gooders that set up the pickets around multiplexes. The first is when Billy hands a blood stained Stanley knife as a gift to a cute little girl who thinks he’s the real Santa (at first it looks like he’s going to stab her!). Then shortly after, a deaf Catholic Priest, who is dressed as Father Christmas and 167236536737627822mistaken for our loony of the title, gets gunned down in front of a group of children. Catholicism gets a hard time throughout this picture, but you know what? I am Catholic, but I have a sense of humour and can take things with a pinch of salt when I know that they’re not intended to seriously offend. Why they got so upset about a cheesy eighties slasher is anyone’s guess.

The movie is very authentic in the way that it depicts Christmas. A few characters mutter sentences like, ‘I can’t wait until it’s all over’, which is a more realistic way of how some look at the expense and stress involved with this time of year. It’s something that you would never see in typical Hollywood exaggerated visions of everyone holding hands and counting the hours. The 757854784893983983script aims for black comedy in many places and on occasion successfully delivers. Charles E Sellier Jr directs comfortably and builds a few well crafted shocks, especially with the Granddad’s speech and the ruthless murder of Billy’s parents. It’s fair to say that the film lacks any real suspense, which leads me to believe that the modus operandi was more to rely on gore and outrageous imagery.

Nowhere near as bad as the majority of its genre colleagues that this shares its calendar date with, Silent Night Deadly Night is a treat for slasher fans that are looking for a fast paced festive movie with enough of everything in its stocking. There are many turkeys that you can watch on the big day, but do yourself a favour and go for the one that is well roasted with the best seasoning… And if you can’t find Black Christmas, then give this one a whirl…Tastes all the much better with an alcoholic beverage and a good sense of humour (something the numbskulls on the campaigns  didn’t have).

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

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Final Girl √