The Catcher 1998 Review
The Catcher 1998
Directed by: Guy Crawford/Yvette Hoffman
Starring: Monique Parent, David Heavener, Joe Estevez
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Ever since Black Christmas hit cinemas thirty years ago, the slasher genre has terrorised nearly every form of escapism that is available to modern civilization. From holidays to carnivals, trains and houseboats and even ski resorts and building sites have become the stomping ground of an insane killer with animosity scalded into their heart. It came as a shocking surprise then, when I first discovered that no one had yet decided to pitch a deranged slasher against America’s favourite past time. That’s right, surprisingly enough, not one psychopath had yet invaded a Baseball stadium, despite the glaring amount of victims and potential.
It took right up until the year 2000, but The Catcher has set about changing that by offering us a story that involves a twisted ex-ball player with murder on his mind and a bat in his grip. Who needs a hockey mask when you can wear a helmet? Who needs summer camp, when you can stalk a stadium? And who needs a machete, when a baseball bat can do just as much damage? Guy Crawford and Yvette Hoffman obviously saw the possibilities, so without further to do, let me tell you about The Catcher…
We start where we’ve started countless times before with the good ol’ abused child murders parent scenario. The gimmick added this time is that the motive involves baseball and the weapon of choice is a handy bat. Next we are introduced to the compounds of The Devils’ stadium, presumably sometime in the future. (We never find out for sure.) ‘The Devils’ have been unable to recover from a slump that the players believe is down to the performance of David Walker (David Heavener), their one-time top hitter.
It’s the last day of the season and Walker has already been thrown out of the game and whilst he’s waiting to say good-bye to his teammates, his girlfriend enters the locker room to tell him that she’s leaving. As if that wasn’t enough of an excuse to turn someone into a homicidal masked-maniac, next up he finds out that his new manager (Monique Parent) is about to sack him. (I hate those days) Before long, a mysterious killer begins slaughtering the sportsmen one by one using various macabre methods. Is it Dave Walker getting revenge for being fired? Or has someone else got something against the players?
For a direct to video horror movie, The Catcher at least looks fairly well financed. I noticed a couple of crane shots and there’s the inclusion of cast members that actually do have some previous experience. The performances aren’t great, but David Heavener had the odd moment and Monique Parent wasn’t dreadful either. The only really obnoxious turn came from Joe Estevez, who underlines here why Francis Ford Coppola chose the other brother to send up the Do Lung River to terminate Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. I admit that it’s harder to judge actors for their efforts in flicks like this, because I am sure there’s no more motivation than just phone something in for a small paycheque.
Crawford and Hoffman direct fairly well for their first time out and the use of dolly tracks and steady-cam means that they haven’t scrimped on what’s needed to make the right impression. There were various baseball themed killings that were fun. The best of them included ‘death by pitching machine’ and another unfortunate guy gets a bat rammed up his bottom, which was rather bizarrely staged. I mean, at first I thought the maniac was about to rape him!
All the typical slasher clichés are accounted for, including the hulking masked killer, final girl and a cheesier than a dairy POV shot through a baseball helmet. They’ve included a few decent twists to keep you guessing through the mystery and although it’s all been done before in previous efforts, there’s the odd authentic touch that was commendable.
One scene stuck in my mind, in which the killer and one of the players were dressed in the same garb and the surviving girl has to decide which one to stab with a broken bat. Without giving away the conclusion, let’s just say that it works fairly well and thinking about it, The Catcher does have a lot here that is really well done.
There’s no memorable gore that warrants a mention and most of the murders are either off screen or just involve a splash of corn syrup, which was disappointing. The script could have done with a few re-writes also. We never even found out where the killer came from after his identity was revealed. Did he escape an asylum, or did he work on the Hot Dog stand? Who knows? The lighting also left a lot to be desired and Paul Amorosi’s music was patently under-produced in places, leaving scenes that could have generated tension that were crying out for accompaniment. The editing and sound mixing was somewhat ‘chop-socky’ as well, jumping like a drunk playing hopscotch at times.
The apparition parts were laughable to say the least and the psycho’s motives were never resolved, leaving an unavoidable feeling of half-heartedness. One of the chase sequences involves Monique Parent fleeing the nut job through the corridors of the stadium. Although the pursuing shots weren’t really that bad, it was obvious to see that she was ‘running’ at the speed of a tortoise that was recovering from a leg operation, so that she wouldn’t outpace the dolly track.
The Catcher isn’t a good film, by any means. But it at least manages to provide a few campy thrills that’ll bring about the odd giggle. There are a couple of bright ideas on offer, but the bad ones usually ruin them and to be honest we could’ve done without Joe Estevez’s unconvincing shouting fits. He died at the start of the movie, but makes a comeback later as an imaginary fiend in the killer’s mind, which we really didn’t need.
So we have had a baseball themed maniac flick now, I am still hopeful for a psychopathic soccer star. A soccer ball kicked the right way can really do damage…. Oh and I almost forgot to mention that inside the VHS box I got a free The Catcher postcard with an image of the killer with glow in the dark eyes…. make of that what you will…
Final Girl √√