Zipperface 1992 Review
Directed by: Mansour Pourmand
Starring: Dona Adams, Bruce Brown, David Clover
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Creepy facemasks and slasher movies have gone together like cheese and chives throughout the lengthy lifespan of the cycle. People often assume that it was John Carpenter that started the trend, but as is the case with many of the genre’s clichés – the Italians did it first. Movies like Eyeball,Torso and Blood and Black Lace were the originators of a hooded maniac in a murder mystery. There were also a couple of American pre-Halloween slashers that warrant a mention. Classroom Massacre, Keep my Grave Open and Savage Weekend clearly pre-date 1978, whilst The Town that Dreaded Sundown is widely regarded as one of the first teen-kill movies.
Carpenter’s seminal flick may not have been the maiden masked nightmare, but it certainly started the competitive race between directors to unveil the spookiest disguise for their bogeymen. Over the years we’ve seen some memorable contenders, but my favourites would have to be: My Bloody Valentine’s maniacal miner, The Prowler’s sadistic soldier and Wicked Games’ copper-faced assassin. I’m also keen on many of the killer clowns that have made an appearance throughout the category. The final scene in The House on Sorority Row has to be listed as one of the best and The Clown of Midnight also ranks highly amongst the greatest madmen’s costumes.
A leather mask was probably the last type to be used in a slasher movie, maybe because they are widely linked with sexual perversion, which of course doesn’t exactly make for a scary disguise. But in later years both Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre and this obscurity decided that fear could certainly be incorporated with a gimp suit. (Maybe you could count Blackout, but I don’t really think that’s a slasher) Here’s how the earlier of the two fared…
The screen lights up with the rush of blue sirens, as cops race to the scene of a hostage situation. It seems that a stressed-out gentleman has possibly had enough of being cast as an extra in cruddy low-brow turkeys, so he’s decided to hold his wife and kid at gunpoint. Detective Shine (David Clover) manages to wrestle with the gunman, but unluckily for him he loses the fight to grab a loose pistol and it looks like it’s the end of the road for the grey haired officer. Fortunately he is saved in the nick of time by some precision marksmanship from Lisa Ryder (Donna Adams), the California Police Department’s hottest female law-enforcer.
Her heroic encounter earns the brunette a promotion to Detective first class, and it’s a feat that is heavily envied by her male counterparts. Meanwhile a leather-clad maniac is jollying around town slaughtering hookers and dumping their bloody corpses on street corners. Ryder and Shine are put on the case of the murderous gimp and their first call of questioning is a sleazy back street photographer called Michael Walker (John Mandell). Lisa is such a top notch inspector that normal Police regulation doesn’t seem to apply to her, so before long she’s dating the cameraman even though he’s suspect numero uno. When the bodies continue to pile up around the city, she decides to go undercover in an attempt to flush out the S & M madman…
If anything, Zipperface effortlessly sums up all that went wrong with the slasher genre towards the end of its rein. What started as a great stepping-stone for up and coming filmmakers and thespians had been reduced to a sewer of cinema faeces by movies with flat direction, zero suspense or shocks and talentless mediocre actors. The boom years of early eighties splatter flicks managed to conceal their lack of strong dramatic line-ups with gooey special effects and exciting directorial flourishes. Unfortunately, by this point in the cycle titles like Evil Night, Deadly Dreams and The Majorettes had seemed to be produced in a conspiracy to put the category where many of the aforementioned features’ characters ended up: In an early grave.
Donna Adams doesn’t even vaguely convince as an officer of the law and her inexplicably idiotic behaviour – which includes doing a striptease for a top suspect in a nationwide murder investigation – is more mind numbingly pathetic than you might even expect it to be. Mansour Pourmand couldn’t direct traffic and the wide majority of the cast members would struggle to get a second reading for a radio commercial. I searched and searched, but found nothing here of merit or note.
On the plus side, if you manage to keep the TV turned on until the end then you may be fairly surprised by the killer’s identity. To be honest though, I doubt that by that time you’ll even care. And another plus point? Well, erm…. the disc is perfectly symmetrical, which means that you could use it as a coaster to place your cup of tea upon? The killer’s mask was pretty cool. Come on, don’t pretend you don’t like it. Thing is, he doesn’t even get enough screen time and mostly we are forced to watch the BANAL dramatics of a horrible cast. Aside from that there’s really no other reason to go out and buy Zipperface. Bad bad bad and not in a good way, this is 90 minutes of my life that I could have spent more constructively by plucking my chest-hair.