555 1988 Review
Director Wally Koz
Starring, Greg Korovac, B.K. Smith
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I bet that many of you have at times wondered what on earth motivates some of these B movie hacks to go ahead and produce the majority of the plop that has been transferred direct to video over the years. There are many slasher flicks that have had me stumped as to what was said throughout the long meetings of pre and post production concerning the release of such dismal excuses for home entertainment. I actually got the chance to ask Wally Koz – the director of 555 – that exact question, and he gave me a bold and credible answer. He stated that after watching countless shoddy horror movies and feeling disappointed with their bargain bucket quality, he had told his wife that he believed that he could make something much better with no previous notable experience. And so, with a little help from his family and friends, that’s exactly what he did! 555 is in many respects the evidence to prove that all you need to make your own movie is a fair budget, a sprinkling of talent, a few eager relatives/friends and a huge pair of cojones!
It kicks off on a beach-front in the midst of a murky evening. An elderly man wanders the sandy shore as the sun fades over the crashing waves of the sea. On another corner of the beach, a maniac dressed as a sixties-era hippy disturbs a young couple’s romantic evening by decapitating the male and then slaughtering his unsuspecting girlfriend with a large angled blade. Later we learn that the killer raped the hapless female AFTER she was dead! A psychopathic necrophiliac – now that’s something that we haven’t seen in the slasher genre before.
Next we transfer to the office of the fiery Sgt. Conner (Greg Kerovac) and his partner Detective Haller (B.K. Smith). They are interviewing the elderly walker from the beach who heard the female victim’s final scream before discovering the bodies and also caught a brief glimpse of the killer. Colonel Wayne (Charles Fuller) is an ex-military officer who suffered severe psychological torture in Vietnam, which immediately arouses the suspicion of the arrogant sergeant. The following night another young couple of lovers are ruthlessly slaughtered, and the detectives uncover a link with a spate of killings that have occurred every 5th month for 5 consecutive nights every 5 years. The town is thrown into a panic as more teenagers are found dismembered and Conner’s blood pressure levels are reaching boiling point! Will the cops solve the case before the maniac disappears again for 60 months? Or will the sadistic sergeant end up completely loosing his marbles and just violently arresting the entire population of the seaside town?
If you’re drinking something at this moment in time I suggest that you put it down and take a seat. Surprisingly enough, 555 is not that bad at all. In fact it’s actually quite good. Almost immediately the level is lifted by a flamboyant performance from Greg Kerovac, who successfully brings the script to life with a ballsy presentation that really sets the screen alight. Kudos also to his partner B.K. Smith, who helps to nail the ‘good cop bad cop’ theme perfectly. I’d even go as far as to say that for performers at this level, these two could have climbed the steps to bigger budgeted motion pictures if they were given half a chance. It seemed a big surprise that their debut would also signal their departure from the movies, especially when you consider the fact that people like Ashton Kutcher and Sylvester Stallone continue to get work in Hollywood. There’s no doubting the fact that they were helped no end by a fantastic piece of screen writing from Roy M. Koz. His script was obviously based on the tough as nails cop-dramas of yesteryear such as Dirty Harry and Popeye Doyle. Some of the dialogue was deliberately hilarious and brilliantly gratuitous in equal measures, which gave the characters their own individual identities from the off.
555 ups the exploitation levels with a barn full of topless porn rejects and a cauldron of corn syrup that is splashed over victims in abundance throughout the shoot. There were also two extremely well created splatter scenes, which have found a place in the hearts of gore hounds across the globe. One guy gets his fingers lopped off ala The Burning and before he has a chance to scream he is decapitated in arguably one of the top three cinema beheadings ever filmed. Another victim gets a machete pushed through his throat, which is perhaps a tad too hokey, but great fun all the same. Dressing the killer as a sixties-era hippy may seem like a silly idea, but somehow it only helps to add originality to an offering that was certainly trying to be different from the start.
Unfortunately the rest of the cast couldn’t live up to the talent that was glowing from both Kerovac and Smith. Mara Lynn Bastian didn’t only disappoint with her unconvincing moaning, but she also had the most irritating hi-pitched voice since young Bob’s voice-over in The House by the Cemetery! It seemed that director Wally Koz re-used an identical pre-recorded scream (not the Wilhelm one) for each of the female victim’s murders. This was not only patently obvious, but also sounded more like the woman in question was having a multiple orgasm, not being sadistically slaughtered. I guess the bargain basement sets also warrant a mention; especially the Police ‘headquarters’, which looked more like a refurbished broom cupboard!
Still 555 is a great demonstration of what a talented family can put together in their backyard with a little bit of enthusiasm. Looking at the credits makes you realise that Wally looks to have used every member of his bloodline in various different roles in the production. I had a lot of trouble finding this VHS when I was studying in Spain, but Wally Koz sent me out one FOR FREE and told me a few things about the movie that I have included in this review. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple of years ago, but let’s thank him for a great addition to our beloved category
Keep your fingers crossed for a DVD release as the VHS has become virtually impossible to find. Thoroughly recommended…
Killer Guise: √√
Final Girl √