Hide and Go Shriek 1987 Review
Hide and Go Shriek 1987
aka Close your Eyes and Pray
Directed by: Skip Schoolnik
Starring: Bunky Jones, Brittain Frye, Annette Sinclair
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
As I have said previously, despite the fact that many peeps believe that the slasher genre died early on in the eighties, there were still a few decent entries released right the way through the decade. Whilst Hide and go Shriek was never up to the standard of say The Prowler or My Bloody Valentine, it makes a good enough slasher Tortilla without adding any new herbs or spices to the age-old recipe.
During a break from school, eight teenagers decide to spend the night in one of their friend’s father’s store. Little do they know that they are not alone and an unseen maniac begins killing them off one by one…
Shriek is a fairly unique dose of hack and slash with some really neat pluses. What it does exceptionally well is create a very sleazy atmosphere for the plot to unravel within. The opening shots of desolate back streets in a gloomy American city that is shrouded with graffiti and smoke bellowing chimneys, sets a grim tone. In many ways, the obvious low budget is a benefit rather than a hindrance and it keeps in check with the gloomy environment. I think that the spacious locations of an empty store are great for stalking and chase sequences and much like Spiegel’s Intruder from the next year, this really attempts to make the most of the sets. Once inside, the lack of appropriate lighting only adds to the eeriness and you can always rely on mannequins to be one of the creepiest props for creating false scares. Talking of false scares, there are a couple of really good ones here thanks to some razor sharp editing and the director keeps his framing as claustrophobic as possible. Schoolnik was a first time shooter behind the lens, but he was no stranger to horror as amongst other work, he had edited Halloween II. I know that John Carpenter was quite heavily involved behind the scenes with that sequel, so maybe he picked up some tips from the master? Either way, I am sure that this helped him to understand timing, and there are some impressive flourishes dotted throughout the runtime that showed an eager hand.
John Ross’ score is interesting as it somewhat resembles Brad Fiedel’s now legendary composition from The Terminator. Even though that may make you believe that it sounds incredibly cheesy, it’s actually quite pulsating and distinctive. The killer spends most of the runtime in the shadows and the only real development of his character is his mad cackling after each murder. As a bit of a gimmick, he steals the clothes of each victim after they’re dead (both male and female) and tricks his next target in to the false sense of security that he’s actually their friend. He then leads them to secluded corners and brutally murders them using various creative methods. The slaughter scenes are gruesome, if not graphically outstanding and there’s one of the best and most startling decapitations of all time late on in the feature. It gets quite tense at times too and although not a master of suspense, Schoolnik does keep the pace very high.
There’s a very effective scene, which underlines the grim fate awaiting the teenagers in the abandoned store. When they realise that they’re trapped inside with a marauding maniac, they run to the window and are relieved to see a Police car parked directly outside the front door. They bang on the double-glazed glass to try and get the attention of their ticket to safety, but look on in horror as their screams go unheard and the patrolman drives off in to the night. It was a great way of underlining their desperation, isolation and sense of impeding doom and it really helped to keep the morbid pulse running. It’s also worth noting that the body count material here are also a lot smarter than usual and when they work out that they’re being picked off one by one, they get in to a corner and grab a weapon and decide to stick together until help arrives.
Everything works well up until the climax, which is totally out of left field and unnecessary. I mean, without ruining anything, I would say that it is like going to a fancy dress party stark naked. Many may give you credit for having the biggest balls of them all, but really it’s a stupid idea, because for sure you are going to offend some people. I can see the idea and understand what the filmmakers were trying to do here, but instead of being scary the conclusion is just distasteful, poorly delivered and well, a tad peculiar. Much like the previous year’s City in Panic, Shriek gets lost in its ambition somewhat; and if you are going to use a social comment in your screenplay, then you need to be a bit smarter so as not to offend. Unfortunately this handles everything with butter fingers and comes across like a deep-rooted chauvinist doing a marketing campaign for feminism, you know?
Performance wise, almost everything was ok, but Bunky Jones let the side down with a torrid cocktail of overacting and just plain shouting. The kids are all picked more as eye candy and there are some hot chicas here, especially the unfortunate who loses her head (quite literally). We also get the usual amount of silly late-eighties shenanigans and campy fun before the terror starts (watch out for the hilarious moonwalk and musical chairs in a van scenario. Pure comedy gold!) I felt that a few more murders would have made the film better as a whole, but these guys had a neat defensive strategy, which is why the killer didn’t work his way through that many of them.
A poorly handled conclusion doesn’t subtract too much from the rest of the feature and Shriek is good enough to keep you entertained.This would go well on a double bill with the equally fun Terror Night from the same year, which has finally seen light of day. It’s often overlooked, but Shriek does have moments that deserve a standing on your slasher shelf
Final Girl √√
Worth a look…