Slashdance 1989 Review
Directed by: James Shyman
Starring: Cindy Ferder, James Carroll Jordan, Joel Von Ornsteiner
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Slashdance (like Flashdance, geddit?) is one of seven stalk and slash movies that attempted to mix murderous splatter shenanigans with the joys of bussin’ a grove. Lucio Fulci can be credited with kicking it all off for the post-Halloween crowd with his dull and relatively gore-less Giallo/Slasher Murderock in ’84. Then three-years later came Stripped to kill, which was followed by a sequel, Live Girls. The early nineties brought the sub category Deadly Dancer (90), Dance with Death (91) and Anthony Markes’ Last Dance (92) and to the best of my knowledge that was the end of the dancing slasher craze. Looking at the aforementioned list of mediocre titles meant that Slashdance did not have any real competition and wouldn’t need to do much to bring a little bit of panache to the combination. Sadly, I knew after the first twenty minutes that it was going to be mission impossible for James Shyman, as he seemed determined to produce yet another rancid horror/comedy.
In the opening scene, a pretty young blonde turns up at the Vans lake theatre company looking to audition as a dancer. Alice Ryan (Cynthia Cheston) is surprised that the place seems to be abandoned when she arrives, but continues onto the dimly lighted stage to stretch and warm up. We know exactly where this is heading when we see the silhouette of a caped and hooded stranger lurking in the shadows behind the curtains. The ominous figure picks up a handy saw and creeps up behind the unsuspecting female. As the ambitious youngster twists and spins, the maniac strikes; slashing her throat and leaving her gasping for air on the centre stage.
Next up we meet our protagonist and odds on heroine of the feature. Detective Tori Anne Raines (Cindy Maranne) is a Dirty Harriett-type tough as nails cop with a do or die attitude. We see just how raw to the core she is in two mindless scenes, which I’m sure were just thrown in as padding. First she batters and arrests two whale-like female steroid dealers who later become her buddies. Then, whilst undercover as a bag lady, she re-proves her toughness by bashing two leather-clad biker punks after a hilarious scrap in an alley. One of the said hoodlums compliments her skill for fisticuffs by remarking, “I got beaten up by a pair of tits!” Classy, huh?
Before long Tori’s egotistical and actually fairly amusing Captain (by far the film’s only real notable comic performance from Jay Richardson) puts her on the case of the missing dancers. After some help from her new buddies whom she arrested only days earlier, Tori decides to go undercover as a wannabe boogie queen down at the Vans Lake theatre. But just who could be the killer?
In a way it’s a shame that James Shyman thought he would get the best results by attempting to mix comedy with a slasher that could have perhaps had potential. Former GLOW wrestler, Cindy Ferder looked like she could have handled a serious role, while she had equally promising back up from Jackson Daniel and one or two other cast members that certainly weren’t the worst actors that I’d seen. In the end though, all that was left was a pile of tongue in cheek crap that just wasn’t engaging and wasn’t particularly humorous either. Everything’s played with a ‘circus-clown’-like style of humour and the background characters get caught up in the director’s misguided tone, which means they end up being far more irritating than they are comedic. One such unfortunate player is Joel Von Ornsteiner, who interestingly enough would go to find fortune as a celebratory criminologist after his stint in B-Movies. The only really funny scenes in Slashdance seemed to be created inadvertently. There was a real howler towards the end of the movie, which just about summed up the mediocrity of the entire production. Whilst fleeing the masked killer, the final girl throws her shoe at him in a last gasp form of self-defence. It was a wise decision by the strumpet, because somewhat miraculously the force of the high-heel killed him instantaneously. Maybe they were razor-capped stilettos, eh? Ho-hum indeed.
Shyman also directed eighties trash Hollywood’s New Blood, which is more like a Texas Chainsaw rip-off than an out and out slasher flick, but it’s also a penny-sweet budget throwaway. Funnily enough, after this, the film-making dream was over for him and there were to be no more low rent efforts coming from the pen of Señor Shyman. Here he gets nothing right, from ridiculous music to a peculiar tone and flat direction. Movies like this were the death knell for the slasher and along with the likes of Zipperface, they became so bad that even dedicated fans didn’t bother with them.
On the plus side, there is the chance to see a gang of moderately attractive thirty-somethings twist and wiggle around the stage in skimpy leotards. But if that’s what you’re after, you could go down to the disco on a Saturday night and see the exact same thing with the added benefit of perhaps taking one of them home with you. There’s also a poorly constructed mystery element that you’ll guess by the forty-minute mark if you’ve got two brain cells in working order. There’s no blood or creativity in any of the stalking scenes either. If I remember correctly, only two skimpy leotards were exchanged for funeral attire by the dancers. Both murders were anaemic, poorly staged and totally devoid of any tension. The killer’s disguise was also scrapping the bottom of the wardrobe barrel. It looked like he had a black pillowcase over his head with two hand-cut eye-holes. Now as it’s a boogie-themed slasher you’d think that there were at least a few choreographed routines, right? Well, think of throwing out time at a club when you’ve got an overweight middle-aged guy trying to impress the last standing female in the room by gyrating like a total retard? Let that image sink for s moment and you should get a pretty good preview of what’s on offer here. Shyman didn’t even manage to make it look like he wanted this movie to succeed. Perhaps it was an effort to launder some money?
So there you have it. Slashdance is an utterly avoidable trash-bag that fails to deliver as a slasher, as a comedy or even as a dance movie. There’s really nothing to recommend here and its best avoided.
Final Girl √√
Posted on November 18, 2011, in Pure Eighties Cheese, Slasher and tagged cheap as chips, cheesy wotsit, Hot Chicas, masked killer, Rare Slasher, Slashdance, Whodunit?. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.