The Slayer (film)

Last updated
The Slayer
The slayer 1982 vhs video.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by J. S. Cardone
Produced byWilliam R. Ewing [1]
Eric Weston [1]
Anne Kimmel [1]
Written byJ.S. Cardone
William R. Ewing
StarringSarah Kendall
Frederick Flynn
Carol Kottenbrook
Alan McRae
Music by Robert Folk
CinematographyKaren Grossman
Edited byM. Edward Salier
Production
company
International Picture Show Company
Distributed by 21st Century Film Corporation
Release date
  • October 1, 1982 (1982-10-01)
Running time
80 minutes
86 minutes (uncut)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budgetc. $750,000 [2]

The Slayer (also known as Nightmare Island) [1] is a 1982 American horror film directed by J. S. Cardone. Set on a small island near the Atlantic coast, the plot concerns two couples who upon visiting the island get trapped there due to an oncoming hurricane. As one of the women knows from her plaguing nightmares that the island is dangerous, over the next three days they begin to be killed by something unseen. The film is notable for gaining notoriety and being classified in the United Kingdom as a "video nasty" in the 1980s.

Contents

Plot

Kay is an abstract visual artist who has been plagued since childhood by a series of disturbing dreams. The intensity and frequency of the dreams have fluctuated over the course of her life, as has their content; some of her dreams are simply of glimpses of desolate locations that leave her feeling dread upon awakening, while others feature the gruesome deaths of her friends and loved ones at the hands of a supernatural force. Recently, her dreams have become more frequent and disturbing than ever, resulting in a shift in the quality of her work. Afraid that the dreams are aggravated by stress and depression, and fearful that her newfound success may be slipping away, Kay's family and friends plan a vacation for her to a small island off the coast of Georgia. Accompanying Kay are her husband David; Kay's brother Eric, who introduced her to David; and Eric's wife Brooke.

As the couples' plane prepares to land, their pilot, Marsh, informs them that he's just received notification that an Atlantic hurricane has shifted course towards the island. Marsh hurriedly drops the couple off, telling them that he has to leave the island before he's stranded there. The couples discover that, against expectations, the island is deserted, and populated largely by derelict buildings and the ruins of a once-thriving resort town. Kay informs the rest of the quartet that the island is the place she has been dreaming about since childhood, and that they are all in danger if they stay. Unable to leave due to the hurricane, the others try to assuage her fears.

The following evening, David is murdered by an unseen assailant, and Kay dreams of waking up next to his severed head. That day, she finds David's decapitated body hanging in an abandoned playhouse on the island. Eric believes that Marsh never left the island and brought the couples there to kill them, a supposition that is granted some support when Marsh is later seen on the island. Kay believes that the island has allowed her dreams to cross over into reality, and that the creature from her nightmares is responsible; a theory supported by the fact that the deaths only occur when Kay is asleep. During the night, Eric tells Brooke about Kay being given a black kitten for Christmas as a child and that it was found frozen to death in the family freezer two days later. Kay blames the creature in her nightmares for the cat's death.

As night falls, Eric goes to retrieve flares from a boathouse, and is murdered on the beach before being dragged into the ocean. Later, Brooke is attacked in the boathouse and impaled with a pitchfork. After finding their bodies on the beach, Kay barricades herself in the beach house and struggles to stay awake, incessantly drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes to remain stimulated. In the middle of the night, Marsh attempts to gain entry into the house. Kay shoots him with a flare gun which kills him and sets the house on fire. In the chaos, Kay discovers a flaming, skeletal creature waiting for her at the front door as she tries to flee.

As the grotesque creature approaches her, Kay (as a child) is woken up on Christmas morning by her parents, telling them that she had a nightmare. Kay's father then presents her with a black kitten, as Eric enters the room. Kay looks at the cat and becomes visibly frightened, as she realises that the nightmare she just had wasn't just a bad dream, but was a premonition of things to come.

Cast

Analysis

The Slayer has received critical attention from film scholars and horror film enthusiasts due to its ambiguous sensibility, with part of its narrative being told in a non-chronological order, allowing for multiple mutually-exclusive interpretations supported by various elements of the script. [3] The core events of the film which occur on the island have been noted by critics for their dubious nature, as they can alternately be interpreted in three ways: The events which take place are entirely part of a dream or premonition; a monstrous creature in fact exists on the island and is responsible for each of the murders; or the characters of Kay or Marsh are responsible for the killings. [4] However, the script does not resolve this fundamental issue, instead referring back to itself. [4] Additionally, each of the characters in the film foreshadow their own deaths in dialogue which occurs in the film's first act. [5]

Production

In 1981, writer-director J.S. Cardone was working at a liquor store in Los Angeles while attempting to break into the film business, and pitched the idea for The Slayer to producer William R. Ewing. [2] The International Picture Company, an independent film studio based in Atlanta, agreed to help produce the project on a budget of approximately $750,000. [2]

As a result of the studio's basis in Georgia, the crew scouted areas in the state to shoot the film, settling in Tybee Island, east of Savannah, Georgia. [2] Upon arriving at the island—which at that time was largely uninhabited and dilapidated—Cardone recalled it fit perfectly with the vision he had had for the film while writing the script. [2] Filming took place in the winter of 1982 on Tybee Island with additional photography in Savannah. [2]

Release

After the film's production company, The International Picture Show Company, went bankrupt, the film was acquired for distribution by 21st Century Film Corporation. [2] It was subsequently given a brief theatrical release in October 1982, showing in New York City in an edited rough cut that had not been color-corrected. [2] This print of the film would later be used for VHS releases in the mid-1980s. [2]

Critical reception

Allmovie wrote "The Slayer boasts some effectively eerie atmosphere and a dark, downbeat attitude. Unfortunately, sluggish pacing eliminates the tension that might have been established between the minimal cast and the sinister deserted-island setting." [6] Gordon Bowker of Variety deemed The Slayer a "boring horror film for hit-and-run bookings." [7] In his 1989 video guide The Horror Film: A Guide to More Than 700 Films on Videocassette, James Mulay notes: "Director J.S. Cardone manages to present this overly familiar material with considerable flair, considering his low budget, and the film does have a genuinely surreal, nightmarish quality." [8]

Film historian Adam Rockoff praised the film's special effects, and called it a "straightforward, sophisticated, and unexpectedly well-acted film." [9] Film historian John Wiley Martin called the film "a pretty modest, sub- Repulsion exercise in escalating alienation from the point of view of a troubled young woman." [10] Scholars David Kerekes and David Slater praised the film's opening sequence and noted elements of German Expressionism present in the film, but added that the latter portion of the film paled in comparison to its opening act. [11]

Home media

The Slayer was released in the United States on double feature video format by Continental Video alongside another feature: Scalps . [1] It was cut by five minutes or so, in order to make room for the second feature, but all the gruesome scenes and violence are intact. [12]

In the United Kingdom, the film was initially released uncut on pre-cert VHS format in 1983. However, it was subsequently seized and banned by the BBFC and placed on the infamous "video nasty" list in October 1983 in jurisdiction of the then upcoming Video Recordings Act 1984, which stated that all video content must carry a classification for home video releases. Films which contained extreme or excessive violence, gore or sex had to be edited to fit the 18 classification or banned outright. The Slayer was removed from the list in April 1985. [13]

The film received a 14-second cut version by the BBFC when it was picked up by the now defunct Vipco (Video Instant Picture Company) for VHS distribution and released on March 1, 1992. [13] This VHS would later become a collectible after going out of print, with an average resale price of $75 in 1996. [14] On August 13, 2001, Vipco released the film complete and uncut on both VHS and DVD, from their "Vaults of Horror" collection. [15] [16] On October 13, 2003, Vipco again released the same uncut version on DVD-only format for their "Vipco's Screamtime Collection" which contained newly commissioned artwork that differed from all previous releases. [17] [18] Although the company was popular, it was also criticized for stating that their DVD releases were digitally remastered, when in fact they were simply VHS transfer prints, which unfortunately led The Slayer to remain in its cropped 4:3 aspect ratio. [13] Vipco's company dissolved in 2007 [13] and distribution rights were later held by the defunct Cornerstone Media for a brief time under their subsidiary Beyond Terror, releasing the film on DVD on February 15, 2010. [19] [20] [21] However, Cornerstone Media made the film available only with updated artwork; the disc itself is from Vipco's Screamtime Collection release, which is something the company did with all titles they picked up from Vipco. The inserted discs were perhaps Vipco's unsold or refurbished copies.

Arrow Films released the film on dual format Blu-ray and DVD in the United Kingdom on August 21, 2017, [22] and in the United States on August 29, 2017. [23] The set contains a 4K transfer of the film and is available for the first time in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and contains English Mono uncompressed PCM audio and English subtitles for hard-of-hearing. It includes several interviews with cast and crew members as well as three audio commentaries. [24]

See also

Related Research Articles

A slasher film is a subgenre of horror films involving a killer murdering a group of people, usually by use of bladed tools. Although the term "slasher" may occasionally be used informally as a generic term for any horror film involving murder, film analysts cite an established set of characteristics which set slasher films apart from other horror subgenres, such as splatter films and psychological horror films.

<i>Snuff</i> (film) 1976 film by Michael Findlay

Snuff is a 1976 American splatter film directed by Michael Findlay and Horacio Fredriksson. It is most notorious for being marketed as if it were an actual snuff film. This picture contributed to the urban legend of snuff films, although the concept did not originate with it.

<i>Faces of Death</i>

Faces of Death is a 1978 American mondo horror film written and directed by John Alan Schwartz, credited under the pseudonyms "Conan LeCilaire" and "Alan Black" respectively.

<i>Zombi 2</i> 1979 film directed by Lucio Fulci

Zombi 2 is a 1979 Italian zombie film directed by Lucio Fulci. It was adapted from an original screenplay by Dardano Sacchetti to serve as a sequel to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978), which was released in Italy with the title Zombi. It stars Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, and Richard Johnson, and features a score by frequent Fulci collaborator Fabio Frizzi. Frizzi's score has been released independently of the film, and he has performed it live on tour.

<i>Freddys Nightmares</i>

Freddy's Nightmares is an American horror anthology television series, which aired in syndication from October 1988 until March 1990. A spin-off from the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series, each episode was introduced by Freddy Krueger, and featured two different stories. The pilot episode was directed by Tobe Hooper, and begins with Krueger's prosecution on child-murdering charges.

<i>Puppet Master</i> (film)

Puppet Master is a 1989 American horror film written by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, and directed by David Schmoeller. It is the first film in the Puppet Master franchise and stars Paul Le Mat, Irene Miracle, Matt Roe, and Kathryn O'Reilly as psychics who are plotted against by a former colleague, using puppets animated by an Egyptian spell. Originally intended for theatrical release in summer 1989, before being released on home video the following September, Puppet Master was ultimately pushed to a direct-to-video release on October 12, 1989, as Charles Band felt he was likely to make more money this way than he would in the theatrical market. The film was very popular in the video market and since developed a large cult following that has led to the production of twelve sequels.

<i>Silent Night, Deadly Night</i>

Silent Night, Deadly Night is a 1984 American slasher film directed by Charles E. Sellier, Jr., and starring Robert Brian Wilson, Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Linnea Quigley, Britt Leach, and Leo Geter. The story concerns a young man named Billy, who suffers from post-traumatic stress over witnessing his parents' murder on Christmas Eve and his subsequent upbringing in an abusive Catholic orphanage. In adulthood, the Christmas holiday leads him into a psychological breakdown, and he emerges as a spree killer donning a Santa suit.

<i>Humongous</i> (1982 film)

Humongous is a 1982 Canadian slasher film directed by Paul Lynch, and starring Janet Julian, John Wildman, and David Wallace. The story centers on a group of young adults who become stranded on a deserted island, where they are stalked and murdered by a monstrous assailant.

<i>Night of the Demon</i> (1980 film)

Night of the Demon is a 1980 American horror film directed by James C. Wasson, written by Jim L. Ball and Mike Williams, and starring Michael Cutt, Jody Lazarus, Michael Lang, and Melanie Graham. The film centers on an anthropologist who, along with a group of his pupils, embarks on an expedition to prove the existence of Bigfoot in a rural region of Northern California, only to be stalked and systematically slaughtered by the creature.

<i>Eaten Alive</i>

Eaten Alive is a 1976 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper, and written by Kim Henkel, Alvin L. Fast, and Mardi Rustam.

<i>The Toolbox Murders</i>

The Toolbox Murders is a 1978 American slasher film directed by Dennis Donnelly, written by Ann Kindberg, Robert Easter, and Neva Friedenn, and starring Cameron Mitchell, Pamelyn Ferdin, and Wesley Eure. It follows a series of violent murders centered around a Los Angeles apartment complex, followed by the kidnapping and disappearance of a teenage girl who resides there. The film was marketed as being a dramatization of a true story, and was briefly banned in the early 1980s in the United Kingdom during the "video nasty" panic. It has garnered a cult following in the years since its release, and been cited by horror writer Stephen King as one of his favorite horror films.

<i>Girls Nite Out</i>

Girls Nite Out is a 1982 American slasher film written and produced by Anthony N. Gurvis, directed by Robert Deubel, and starring Julia Montgomery, Suzanne Barnes, Rutanya Alda, and Hal Holbrook. The film focuses on a group of college coeds who are targeted by a killer in a bear mascot costume during an all-night scavenger hunt on their campus.

<i>Dont Go Near the Park</i>

Don't Go Near the Park is a 1979 American supernatural horror film directed by Lawrence D. Foldes, and starring Aldo Ray, Meeno Peluce, Tamara Taylor, Robert Gribbin, Barbara Bain, and Linnea Quigley. Its plot follows a brother and sister, both cursed in prehistoric times, who remain on earth and must subsist on the entrails of young people; in an attempt to break their curse and achieve immortality, the brother conceives a child as a virginal sacrifice.

<i>The Dorm That Dripped Blood</i> 1982 film by Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow

The Dorm That Dripped Blood is a 1982 American slasher film directed by Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow, and written by Carpenter and Stacey Giachino. It stars Laura Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, Pamela Holland, and Daphne Zuniga in her film debut. The film follows four college students who stay on campus over the Christmas holiday to clear out a dormitory, where an unknown assailant begins stalking them.

<i>Spookies</i>

Spookies is a 1986 American independent horror film directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran, with additional footage directed by Eugenie Joseph. It stars Felix Ward, Dan Scott, Alec Nemser, and Maria Pechukas, and follows a lost young boy and a group of partying teenagers who find an abandoned mansion and become trapped inside as a warlock tries to sacrifice the group with the intention of using their vitality to keep his wife alive.

<i>Ghostkeeper</i>

Ghostkeeper is a 1981 Canadian supernatural slasher film directed by James Makichuk, and starring Riva Spier, Georgie Collins, and Murray Ord. Its plot centers on a trio of snowmobilers in the Canadian Rockies who become stranded at an abandoned hotel where the elderly female innkeeper is hiding an evil entity within the building. The film is inspired by the Windigo legend of North America.

<i>The Initiation</i> (film)

The Initiation is a 1984 American slasher film directed by Larry Stewart, and starring Daphne Zuniga, Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, and James Read. The plot focuses on a sorority member and a group of pledges, who are stalked and murdered during their initiation ritual in a department store after hours.

<i>The Loreleys Grasp</i>

The Loreley's Grasp is a 1973 Spanish horror film written and directed by Amando de Ossorio, and starring Tony Kendall, and Helga Liné. The film centers on a series of horrific murders in a German town by the Rhine river perpetrated by a deadly water spirit known as the Lorelei. The film was released in theaters in the United States under the alternate title When the Screaming Stops on August 24, 1976. It was later released on VHS in 1985 before being released on DVD in 2007. Critical reception for the film has been mostly negative, with criticism directed towards the film's script, and phony monster costume.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Albright 2012, p. 205.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Nightmare Island: The Making of the Slayer(Blu-ray)|format= requires |url= (help) (Documentary). Arrow Films. 2017.
  3. Kerswell et al. 2017 (0:12:07)
  4. 1 2 Kerswell et al. 2017 (0:12:59)
  5. Kerswell et al. 2017 (0:11:58)
  6. Fred Beldin. "The Slayer (1982)". Allmovie . Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  7. Bowker, Gordon (1989). "Variety's Film Reviews: 1981–1982". Variety . Bowker. 17. n.p. ISBN   978-0-835-22797-1.
  8. Mulay 1989, p. 217.
  9. Rockoff 2016, p. 142.
  10. Martin 2007, p. 144.
  11. Kerekes & Slater 2000, p. 249.
  12. Ziemba, Joseph A. (September 1, 2005). "The Slayer (1982) VHS review". bleedingskull.com. Archived from the original on October 26, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  13. 1 2 3 4 "The Slayer". Vipcosvault.co.uk. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  14. Curtis 1996, p. 301.
  15. "The Slayer [VHS]". Amazon.co.uk . Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  16. "The Slayer". Vipcosvault.co.uk. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  17. "The Slayer [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk . Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  18. "The Slayer". Vipcosvault.co.uk. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  19. "Slayer (Beyond Terror) [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk . Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  20. "The Slayer". Vipcosvault.co.uk. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  21. "Re-Slayed...Recent re-release of the video nasty: The Slayer". melonfarmers.wordpress.com. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  22. "The Slayer [Blu-ray]". Amazon.co.uk . Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  23. Smith, Nathan (May 9, 2017). "Arrow Video to Release 'The Slayer' (1982)". Daily Grindhouse. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  24. Squires, John (May 12, 2017). "Obscure 1982 Slasher 'The Slayer' Coming to Blu-ray!". Bloody-Disgusting. Retrieved December 21, 2017.

Sources