The Slayer (1982)
Back of the box...
“In the early morning hours of a cold and gloomy day, two young couples awoke and began preparations for a long awaited vacation. None of them anticipated the web of diabolical terror which was awaiting them on the isolated island retreat they had chosen for that vacation.
Only one of them was aware of the existence of ‘The Slayer’ and up until that morning it lived only in the dark regions of her nightmares.
The Slayer is the story of what happens when imagination becomes reality and maniacal, inanimate things which inhabit nightmares are unleashed in the real world. It is a terrifying descent into a maelstrom of horror from which those who journey rarely return.”
Director: J.S. Cardone
Starring: Sarah Kendall, Frederick Flynn, Carol Kottenbrook
Watch the Trailer
In the course of writing this blog we’ve encountered many a film that would otherwise be doomed to obscurity had it not been awarded immortality by a U.K. “video nasty” status. Otherwise terrible movies that gain unwarranted notoriety because of a ban their violence and gore inspired spark the interest of horror fans curious to see just how far the envelope can be pushed. Like Eve in the garden of Eden, gore fanatics can’t resist the allure of supposed forbidden fruit. These infamous films typically feature high body counts, graphic deaths, and are loosely held together by a poorly acted semblance of a story. This, however, is not the case for The Slayer. We we’re onboard and ready (as always) for a horny teen slaughterfest but The Slayer gave us something much more mature.
Two couples visit an uninhabited island on vacation for some much needed R & R. Kay, an artist, is accompanied by her husband David, her brother Eric, and his wife Brooke. Upon arriving, Kay feels a strange sense of familiarity on the island, recognizing landmarks from her paintings that had been inspired by a recurring childhood nightmare. A storm traps the vacationers on the island as Kay’s nightmare seems to come to life. Years before Nancy chugged pots of coffee in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jennifer burned herself with a cigarette in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Kay enlists the same strategies in her fight to stay awake and prevent “The Slayer” from killing.
While the deaths and their build-ups feel like familiar territory, The Slayer is far from your standard slasher. The acting is better than typically expected and the writing treats the characters like real people. These aren’t oblivious horny teenagers following their hard-ons to their deaths, they’re responsible adults who react to situations practically. The film’s slow pacing does well to build an eerie sense of dread that’s punctuated by the occasional graphic death. Slow pacing and a low body count are often the things that drag a slasher down but The Slayer uses them to its advantage. While most horror films fail to carry that quiet dread through the second act, The Slayer maintains its atmosphere throughout the entire film.
The elephant in the room when discussing The Slayer is its film quality. It is DARK! Really DARK! There’s also visual damage to the film in a few scenes from occasional scratches to light bleed coming in from one side. While the darkness can be both bad and good, we actually like the scratches and bleed. Sure, a pristine print would be nice but the damages give the film a little added character. Also, if it really bothers you, Arrow Video are releasing a Blu-ray of The Slayer in August and they may have cleaned up some of these issues.
The Slayer is bleak pseudo-slasher, heavy on the atmosphere, with some great kills, better-than-your-average-B-movie acting, and a real “WTF” ending. We fully recommend this almost forgotten classic but make sure you watch it in the dark. Not just to heighten the scare factor, but because if you don’t you won’t be able to see shit!