The Slayer, 1982.
Directed by J.S. Cardone.
Starring Sarah Kendall, Frederick Flynn, Carol Kottenbrook, Alan McRae, Newell Alexander, and Ivy Jones.
Two couples visit a secluded island where they are attacked by a monster linked to one of the visitor’s dreams.
Brother and sister Eric (Frederick Flynn – The Forsaken) and Kay (Sarah Kendall – The Karate Kid Part II), and their respective spouses Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook – Thunder Alley) and David (Alan McRae – 3 Ninja Kids), take a holiday on a remote island with the idea of helping Kay to try and rid herself of the nightmares she has had since childhood and that are now becoming so real they are affecting her work as an artist. Once they land on the island they are informed by their nervous pilot that a hurricane is incoming and so he drops them off and leaves quickly to avoid being stranded there himself, leaving the four visitors alone on the island.
Naturally, the storm moves in and Kay tells the others that the island is the place she sees in her dreams and that they are all in danger if they stay, which is actually what happens as it turns out. You see, Kay’s nightmares involve people being killed by a huge monster on this island but if the monster is in her dreams then how could it kill for real? Well…
…And a sneery ‘well’ indeed, because The Slayer isn’t about to make it easy for you. In fact, it is going to make it a bit of a chore for you to get through because despite landing itself on the video nasties list back in 1983 and therefore being forever immortalised as a film to be terrified of, this is actually one of the dullest and most tedious movies to make that legendary list. Quite why it was on there in the first place we can only wonder because the gore scenes, despite being very well executed, are few and far between and no more extreme than anything that was hitting the mainstream at the time, but that sort of sums up a lot of the films that made the list.
The Slayer is a movie rife with problems, with the pacing being the biggest culprit. It takes around 30 minutes for the first proper non-dream kill, and to the filmmakers’ credit it is a fairly decent and original kill which could make you forgive the previous half an hour of tedious setup if the movie were to continue in this manner, but once that is out of the way the tension that it mustered slips away and the film just sort of drifts for the next 30 minutes as the remaining three characters try to find their missing friend by wandering around the same places over and over for a bit before heading back to their house. Bear in mind this a 90 minute horror movie that has reached approximately 60 minutes with only one kill and three more people to off, which should make the final half an hour a whirlwind of gory murders and spectacular creature effects… shouldn’t it? Well, in the hands of other filmmakers that could be a possibility but in the hands of writer/director J.S. Cardone – whose other writing credits include the Prom Night and The Stepfather remakes – it just sort of plods, admittedly a little faster than the first hour, to a weak ending that should have at least been an interesting reveal but instead turns out to be a Creepshow-ish flash of the monster before a confusing and unnecessary coda wraps things up in a totally unsatisfactory but consistently disappointing way.
However, The Slayer does have a few good points, namely the kills and the special effects which, for a film that got lumped in with the slasher movies doing the rounds but is really something more, do raise the kills above the level of just being stabbed with a knife or similarly sharp implement; do keep an eye out for the scene involving the pitchfork, the victim’s wet shirt and the totally exploitative camera angle which is about as close to Friday the 13th-style titillation as this film gets. Had there been a few more scenes like this then The Slayer may have been more tolerable but the nonsensical plot, excruciatingly slow pacing and acting as painful to watch as the clock on the front of the DVD player when you realise there is still an hour to go suck all of the fun out of any potential story ideas and make the film a bit of a drag. It does look good, has a higher production quality to it than many other slasher/horror movies from the era and those kills – oh, those kills – are glorious when they are happening but it just isn’t enough to save The Slayer from being anything other than pedestrian. It says something when the 50-minute making-of documentary in the special features is more exciting than the main feature…
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★