Directed by: Colin Eggleston
Starring: PJ Soles, Kit Taylor, Grigor Taylor
Review by Luis Joaquín González
After watching so many modern slashers of late, I really felt the need to go back and check out an early-eighties piece. It’s interesting how the new-age entries can be so similar to the peak additions in one way, but there again, to the trained eye, they do, in effect, have striking differences. There’s something about the oldies that just sets them apart. The characters were so much easier to like and the fact that I grew up hunting them out across rivers deep and mountains high, means that they carry a certain amount of nostalgia. They’re also cheesy as hell…
This particular picture is an interesting example when it comes to discussing dates, because it was shot in 1983, completed in 84, but sat on a shelf until 1991. That makes it a golden-age slasher that was released during ‘the lost years’ and barely made a ripple upon genre fans. It’s from Colin Eggleston, a prolific horror auteur, who already has two titles listed on a SLASH above: the first of the five Stage Frights and also Cassandra from 1986. Eggleston has never hid the fact that he’s a huge fan of Carpenter’s Halloween and here he cast a recognised face from that picture, P.J Soles, as his heroine. Whilst Innocent Prey is certainly a slasher movie, it boasts something of a unique structure that allows it to stand apart…
Soles plays Cathy, a Dallas based woman who is married to a business man from New Zealand. Thinking that her husband may be betraying her trust, she follows him one night to a hotel, where she looks on through a window whilst he sleeps with and then murders a young prostitute. After helping the authorities to capture him, she is terrified to learn that he has escaped his asylum and is heading back to take revenge. Cathy flees the country to her friend in Australia, however she soon realises that she’s jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire…
I recall writing that Colin Eggleston’s Cassandra stood out as an intriguing slasher flick due to its creative photography and bundles of suspense. Innocent Prey offers more of the same slick direction in places and manages to make a lot more out of its premise than I assumed would be possible. Unlike Cassandra and Stage Fright before it, Prey is not a typical genre entry. We don’t get either a masked killer or a whodunit angle. Instead it offers a synopsis that’s a lot more authentic; and as much intriguing as it is diverse. Cathy’s husband is the lead antagonist and despite being given an identity of sort, he carries a similar maniacal aura to that of Michael Myers. He’s sadistically evil and imposes himself on the screen with impeccable menace. When his unfortunate wife escapes to Australia after his initial rampage, she meets another loon that’s equally as murderous, but different in his approach and MO. The fact that she hotfoots it from one nutjob and immediately bumps into another means that she could well be the most unfortunate final girl in the whole history of slasher films.
It’s indeed interesting that Innocent Prey switches location and antagonist halfway through the shoot and it does give the film an extra layer of uniqueness. To be frank, the second killer has less of an impact than Cathy’s husband and I wonder if it might have played better if the story had focussed solely on the initial villain and his plan of revenge. I can’t but help wonder if there may be a production based reason as to why the change was necessary? Would this explain the delayed release? It’d be interesting to know for sure, because it’s hard to ascertain why the film didn’t secure immediate distribution. Unlike Cassandra, Prey is superbly acted and Brian May’s intense operatic score compliments Eggleston’s expertise with shadow play immaculately. Soles is convincing as the unfortunate final girl, but despite the quality of her acting, I was left feeling that she wasn’t particularly approachable. Perhaps she should have followed in the footsteps of her school friend Laurie Strode, from her most famous film.
When all’s said and done though, Innocent Prey delivers enough to remain worth a look. It’s not quite a classic, but it generates some spooky moments and a riveting finale. There’s some suspense and violence when the killer strikes, an incredibly cheesy final scene and hell, they even cast Debi Sue Voorhees (topless.) Colin Eggleston may not be as celebrated as other genre names, but his films are fairly underrated and deserve to be seen. This one’s debatably his best.
To Become One 2002
Directed by: Neil Johnson
Starring: Emma Grasso, Jamie Giddens, David Vallon
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I’m in my early thirties and to be totally honest I envy those that were old enough to experience the initial boom years of the slasher category. Imagine going to see Halloween, Friday the 13th or The Prowler at the cinema, it would have been amazing! I have a wide age range of readers here on a SLASH above, with some in their teens and some much older. Despite the disappointment of being a child during the key period, I can at least say that I lived through and enjoyed the second onslaught of slasher pictures after the Scream rebirth.
Throughout those times of the late nineties and early noughties, video stores were once again packed to the absolute brim with slasher movies and I remember very fondly hunting through the shelves for the newest releases. There was a (now defunct) label in the UK called Film 2000 that played a huge part in the circulation of the next phase. With a track record that included, Dead Above Ground, Camp Blood, Carnage Road, Granny and Paranoid (gulp), it’s tough to decide if they should be considered a friend of the genre or a foe. Another example from their catalogue was To Become One; and even if it has a title that sounds like an Adam Sandler, Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston rom-com tribute video, it’s actually a stalk and slasher.
We’re back in the world of Aussie horror here, which means we are either going to get an hour and a half with Katie Upton or an hour and a half with Katie Price. I think that’s what I like most about the entries from down-under, you never can be sure what you’re going to get.
Melinda is an uncannily unlucky teen. One year ago, her mother was brutally murdered by a gas-masked killer brandishing a sword right in front of her eyes. Now it seems that he has returned and is happily slicing his way through all of her friends, methodically clearing a path so that he can catch her on her lonesome. More and more bodies begin hitting the deck and Melinda will have to think quickly if she wants to stay alive.
Ok ok, let me take a deep breath here. Right. So… things started intriguingly enough with a murder in the first five minutes, which included some cheap but mindlessly diverting gore. Then, the bogeyman is back on screen, weapon in hand, within the next three. It’s like the director just skipped the generally poorly-acted character development stuff to jump straight into the action. I did think though that just like Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final, throwing your all into the opening was a bit of a risk. I mean, who can keep up that momentum for eighty-minutes? I was of course right, but even my cocky know-it-all-ness did not quite prepare me for what happened next.
You see, when the nut job’s unmasked only half an hour into the runtime, things take a turn for the… how can I call it? … Deranged! What begins as a typical slasher by the numbers with a homage to Halloween and Friday the 13th (there’s even a hammy old guy that tells the heroine that her friends are doomed) degenerates into… well, there’s nothing that I’ve ever seen before that could give you a comparable description. The final girl is dragged to a ‘hospital’ that is supposed to seem more like a cross between a torture chamber and a Nazi concentration camp (but really just looks like an ordinary basement). There we learn a ‘shocking’ secret that I won’t reveal and following that, we are left in the hands of some clunky dialogue and dramatics that have the credibility of an email from a dying African politician who wants to leave $200,000,000 in your account. Only if you’ll kindly supply your bank details and also your credit card number…
Ok so this project cost a measly $2,000 to make. That doesn’t make things any easier for me watching it though. Keep your $2k and spend it on something more worthwhile (film studies courses are fairly reasonable nowadays). The second half of the movie touches on grades of ineptness that have not yet been defined. It’s like the Z-movie version of the USS Enterprise; boldly going to sewerage plant levels of cinematic smelliness that no one has ever been to before. If I were to be generous, then I guess that I can credit the authenticity of the story. Having a good idea however does not mean that you have the ability to direct a slasher movie and the net result is absolutely awful.
There are a few unintentionally amusing scenes that I enjoyed. The best that springs to mind is when Melinda’s father tries to comfort her by singing a soppy lullaby into her ear. That’s exactly what’s needed when your friends have been pick-axed in front of your eyes. Neil Johnson’s heavy-handed approach at ramming the message that ‘we shouldn’t ridicule people with disabilities’ is forced down our throats clumsily, in a manner that would offend those that the story is using as subject matter. That’s just unforgivable and takes away any comedy that could have been enjoyed from the pure ineptness of the picture.
You could forgive the inane characters, fishnet script (the whole slasher part made zero sense), awful dramatics and the director’s needless switches between colour and black and white photography at the strangest of times if there was something there worthy of merit. I mean, even Camp Blood was kinda fun and certainly delivered a lot more logic than this. One character states, “We’re playing this out like a B-grade movie, when the killer finds us, he’s gonna pick us off one by one!’ Change the B to a minus Z and that statement might make sense.
To Become One picks the wrong subjects to exploit and is not even laughably bad. The ever-reliable IMDB took a fair time to put this on their website and it’s not surprising, because it doesn’t deserve a place in cinema history. As Butt Head so philosophically stated when he and Beavis ‘’did’ America, ‘ This sucks like nothing has ever sucked before’…
Killer Guise: √√
Directed by: Colin Eggleston
Starring: Tessa Humphries, Shane Briant, Susan Barling
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Australia left an often unnoticed but essential mark on the slasher genre and it could be argued that after Canada, they probably had the biggest input outside of the US. Their entries can generally be spliced into three categories: Very Good (Small Town Massacre, Coda), Average (Cut, Stage Fright) and absolutely awful (To Become One, Houseboat Horror).
Thankfully, Cassandra is a member of the first grouping and is one of the rare few psycho-killer flicks that has an endearing macabre sheen. The bogeyman here has taken a liking to writing ‘who killed cock robin’ on the wall at the scene of his gruesome slashings, which measures up nicely with the killer leaving a broken doll beside his victims in The Baby Doll Murders and the spooky appearance of that creepy dolly in the classic Curtains. Of course, there’s bound to be some kind of deluded motive for this psychotic creativity and it’s down to us viewers to figure out the not so obvious connection…
It begins with cool credit sequence that boasts a notable theme tune and a great graphic for the title. Following that, we’re given one of the creepiest openings that I ever remember witnessing in a slasher flick. A young girl is shown throwing stones into a lake beside a remote cabin in the woods. A car pulls up outside the hut and out steps a woman and a creepy looking child who’s singing the nursery rhyme, ‘who killed cock robin?’ Next we see inside the cabin and the woman is turning a shotgun on herself in a suicide bid, while the boy mutters ‘do it’ in a spooky voice reserved only for horror maniacs. The young girl jogs up to the hut in excellent steadi-cam, but arrives too late; the woman had already pulled the trigger. It’s a great launch for the feature, which is skilfully photographed and smoothly edited, giving it enough power to keep your hopes raised for the rest of the movie. It brought to my mind the spooky commencement from that all but forgotten Ozploitation classic, Alison’s Birthday. At first I wondered if the two movies shared some kind of connection other than both hailing from similar parts of the world? But I haven’t managed to find any notes that would confirm this to be true.
Next we learn that the spooky occurrence was only a dream, one that has been plaguing Cassandra (Tessa Humphries) quite regularly just lately. It seems so realistic that she believes it may be a memory recollection from her childhood, but she’s confused and just can’t remember the truth. She asks her mother and father if she could have ever witnessed a similar course of events, but they suspiciously convince her that it’s all in her mind. To be honest, they look as if they have more skeleton’s in their closet than the local morgue has corpses, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn out to be hiding a few shocking secrets beneath their obviously false exterior.
Cassandra’s father, Steven, is a photographer with more than just a ‘photographic’ eye for the ladies and pretty soon we learn that he’s shoulder deep in an affair with one of his projects. Cassandra catches her dad and Libby together, just as the model was in the middle of telling him that she’s fallen pregnant. On top of her continuous restless nights that’s not what the troubled youngster needed to hear at that time. She heads to the local bar, where she pours her heart out to her friend Robbie, who lends a sympathetic ear.
The following night, Libby heads out to a remote beach house after an argument with Steven over why he wont tell his wife about the baby . After an extremely gratuitous shower, an unseen maniac creeps into the house in superb first person cinematography, picking up a bread knife en route a la Michael Myers. Some time later, Steve discovers her corpse in his bed with her throat slashed from ear to ear. He also finds a creepy message left at the scene by the killer, which reads: ‘who killed cock robin?’
The police turn up and question everybody and we find out that Cassie witnessed the murder through a psychic link that she mysteriously shares with the killer. From here on out the majority of the runtime resolves around the mystery, as we learn more about the characters and their shady backgrounds – and boy have they got shady backgrounds. To break up the dialogue, Eggleston chucks in some suspense as the shadowed maniac puts in another appearance. This time, he tries unsuccessfully to murder Cassie’s mother in yet another sequence that’s packed with credible tension.
Eventually the assassin manages to get everyone that’s on his list of would-be victims in the same place at the same time, including the unsuspecting heroine. After a cool decapitation by shovel (the first I remember seeing) and another brutal murder, it’s left up to Cassie to try and save herself and her family from his malevolent rage.
It’s looks a little more than obvious that Colin Eggleston was greatly inspired by the American titans of eighties horror, such as John Carpenter and Sam Raimi. Previously, he had penned the screenplay for 1980’s slasher misfire, Stage Fright and to say that he had ‘borrowed’ the basic plot pointers from Halloween for that script would be a considerable understatement. He showed much more potential once behind the camera, but still kept the horror references pouring thick and fast. Check out some of the flowing photography in the dream sequence, which clearly owes a great deal to Raimi’s first-person-possession from The Evil Dead. Still, don’t hold that against the man, I mean, you show me a slasher movie that doesn’t steal from its fellow genre-men and I’ll show you a pink elephant with wings and a driving licence.
As a matter of fact, Cassandra’s imaginative use of the camera is perhaps its most alluring attribute. Take for example the first murder, which packs a great deal of suspense into a short sequence and skilfully manages to keep the tension running high all the way through. We look on in traditional hand-held shots as the victim climbs into bed, leading us to successfully believe that we’re watching from the eyes of the killer. However as the camera zooms in on the female, the knife appears from a different location than the one we were expecting, which provides a great jolt and a decent shock-tactic that can be credited as one of Eggleston’s own.
Let’s just say for argument’s sake that Stage Fright was Eggleston’s Halloween. Then I guess Cassandra could quite easily be labelled as his Eyes of Laura Mars. The two movies share a great deal of story points, most notably of course, the use of a psychic link between the killer and heroine. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Mars, so I didn’t notice many other similarities that I could immediately remember. I’m pretty certain though that it was somewhere on his list of inspirations before he sat down to pen the synopsis for this closely themed thriller.
Ian Mason’s screeching score helps to provide the tense atmosphere and Josephine Cook edits with a visible confidence that was one of the strongest elements in the brilliance of the opening sequence. It’s also stylishly produced for an underground slasher flick and doesn’t deserve to have become such an obscurity since it’s release. Initially the feature was going to get a cinematic run, but it ended up creeping out direct to video. I had never even heard of Cassandra until I found the DVD in my local newsagent’s bargain bucket. Later I learned that it was briefly distributed in the United Kingdom sometime in 1987, but vanished from existence pretty soon after.
The performances here are a bit of a disappointment, although I quite liked Tessa Humphies (Dame Edna’s daughter) as the protagonist. Despite obvious limitations as an actress, she at least offers some charm and a good screen presence. Surprisingly enough, the lack of any truly outstanding dramatics really didn’t spoil the movie too much and I still thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
There are of course a few flaws to be found throughout the runtime that may ruin the story for the more critical viewers. As I said previously, it isn’t greatly acted and some may find the character driven storyline a slightly disappointing alternative to a numerous body count. It’s also pretty easy to guess whom it is that’s actually killing everyone and I was expecting a slightly more intelligent conclusion than the mediocre and somewhat uninspired result that we ended up with. But the odd stylish sequence lifted this above the majority of its counterparts and almost every murder is neatly staged. Suspense is one of the toughest things to be found in underground slasher movies, but Colin Eggleston successfully manages to create quite a few credible sequences that give the movie a noteworthy professional sheen.
As far as Australian stalk and slash efforts go, it’s actually one of the best of its kind…
Final Girl √√
Directed by: Alec Mills
Starring: Leon Lissek, Christine Amor and Ian Williams
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Not to be confused with Bloody Moon, Jesus Franco’s gore feast of 1980; this Australian lensed slasher utilises the popular ‘killer on campus’ plot line that’s so frequently used by its US counterparts. It’s fairly amusing how much Alec Mills tries his hardest to Americanise the setting, but thankfully he refrains from asking the cast to perform unconvincing accents. Strangely, the characters that are actually supposed to be from the States still speak in flawless Australian twangs – go figure…
In the small town of Coopers Bay, there are two Hi-schools situated right next to each other. There’s Winchester, an all boys comprehensive and St Elizabeth’s, a girl’s only Catholic faculty. They are separated by woodland where pupils from both can meet and engage in the things that attract the attention of maniac killers. It’s not surprising then that an unseen one begins murdering the youngsters as they indulge, choosing to strangle them with a length of barbed wire before removing their eyes and burying them under the soil. Mary, the daughter of a Hollywood movie actress, becomes involved when the killer targets her and Kevin, her boyfriend. But who is this twisted psychopath and why does he want to kill all the kids?
Blood Moon opens with a terrific score courtesy of Brian May and some superb cinematography. The dense woodland in which the kids are pursued is brilliantly conveyed and I was immediately impressed by the general production values on display. After a couple of murders, we’re introduced to a predictable troupe of troublesome teens and our obvious final girl. There’s an interesting subplot that sprouts as one of the local poor kids falls for Mary, the daughter of an actress. The rich Winchester boys hate the local working class, so it’s almost like a homage to Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story but without the decent soundtrack (Instead we get ‘reach for the earplugs’ Heavy Metal). Shakespeare and the slasher genre, what a combination. I bet the poor author would turn in his grave.
There’s one really gruesome – if not graphic – murder, involving a desk, a young girl’s head and a deranged killer; but aside from that, there’s hardly any gore and most of the slaughters are left to the devices of an active imagination. There’s a tad of nudity and one of the girls is a real hottie. She brought to mind a young Angelina Jolie, but she was taken out pretty early, which was a shame. The performances are fairly poor throughout, with only Leon Lissek standing out as the troubled teacher. Although the plot mostly keeps things directly by the slasher rulebook, there are a few twists that you probably won’t guess and we also get some background on the reasons for the murderer’s insanity. His modus operandi was suspiciously similar to that of real life serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, especially the ‘sexual’ motive and removal of his victim’s eyes. Whether this was coincidental or not is purely sceptical, but an interesting slice of trivia all the same.
British born Alec Mills’ lackadaisical direction left a lot to be desired and he failed to generate any true suspense. He’s a much better camera man and his CV boasts Return of the Jedi and various James Bond movies through the seventies and eighties. It’s a fairly slow-moving story, but when the killer is revealed things begin to perk up right up until it ends rather suddenly leaving one or two unanswered questions. Like what happened to Kevin? Did he survive?
Even though the bodies start piling up toward the finale, the movie certainly could have benefited from a few more excursions into the well-lighted woodland with the killer and his length of barbed-wire. It was a decent choice of weapon that was literally begging for some creative special effects to make the most of its possibilities, but as previously mentioned, Bloodmoon is bone dry. As it stands, there was too little horror, no gore and an excessive amount of frolics that didn’t really do create any type of mood. It feels like a poor teen comedy with the odd slaying chucked in as a cheeky bonus, which is definitely not a good thing. Imagine an hour and a half long Neighbours episode, but with an unseen killer chucked in and you will be a lot closer than you actually think.
The storyline also feels half-hearted and un-finished. There are some good ideas that could add to the skeleton-thin characterisations, but they are never thoroughly developed and the whole thing feels thrown together. I felt sympathy for Helen Thomson’s plight and the rejection from her parents, but the script didn’t really take it anywhere
You can ignore most of the reviews that completely slate Blood Moon; it really isn’t all worthy of such criticism. It’s just that it’s best described as the sort of film that you’ll watch once and forget about immediately after. As far as Australian slashers go, it manages not to feel as cack-handed as Houseboat Horror or To Become One but then that’s still not much of a worthy compliment. I would call it an ideal hang-over movie. You know, one you watch in bed whilst nursing a sore head and your expectations are completely lowered.
Oh and I mentioned earlier the rubbish ‘Heavy Metal’. Well make sure to place those earplugs back in as soon as you see the end credit because the last song is a killer: ‘Blood moon is rising, stay home tonight’ and ‘Blood Moon arising over building and over hill, take care if you will!’ You get the picture…
Final Girl √√
Small Town Massacre 1981
aka Dead Kids, Strange Behaviour, Human Experiments, Shadowlands
Director Michael Laughlin
Starring, Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Digman, Dan Shor.
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I have already written reviews of this for other websites, but it’s one that I wanted to update a little, because it holds a very special place for me amongst the billions of slashers that I’ve watched and I think it’s an underrated gem of a feature.
I recently picked up the DVD version quite cheaply as Strange Behaviour (this flick has more ‘aka’s’ than a secret agent), but have chosen to post it under my favourite title, Small Town Massacre. It was this copy that I found in my local corner shop (which also offered a selection of videos to rent – including some of the, ahem, XXX variety out the back… Those were the days!). I had seen Halloween and Friday the 13th and I was always on the look out for more slasher action. I had already become a bit of an obsessive horror enthusiast and would spend hours hunting out flicks from the top shelves of local stores, but this one just captivated me. I remember my juvenile eyes peering at the cheesy hand dawn cover and reading the description, wondering what on earth words such as mutilated could possibly mean. I rented it lots of times and in the end bought it for 50p when it became a bit rugged from (probably only my) continuous viewing.
I don’t have the greatest concentration span even now, so you can imagine that as a ten-year-old, I never really understood the plot or even that it was different in anyway from the other slashers that I had seen. However I always recalled the awesome party scene and the claustrophobic final sequence, which still holds-up quite well.
Some of the best slasher action of the golden period –
A sleepy suburban town in Illinois becomes the target of a maniac killer when bodies of the local townsfolk’s teenage children begin turning up hacked up and dismembered. The Police are stumped as to who it is that’s slashing his way through the community, but things are far more mysterious than they initially seem…
Now Small Town Massacre is not a typical slasher movie – I mean in the Halloween rip-off kind of way. Director Michael Laughlin had an idea of a plot and included enough to make his movie appeal to the category’s fanbase, which was big in 1981. Clearly too intelligent a director to flagrantly imitate his inspirations, he instead pays homage with a few instantly recognisable nods. One of those is a stand out scene where the killer in a great mask (Tor Johnson – the wrestler/actor) stalks two teens parked in a secluded lane. There’s some great imagery and shots of the assailant lurking in the bushes and then picking off the male as he has to exit the vehicle, only to return to murder his unsuspecting partner. I honestly think that it is one of the best teen-kill set pieces of the golden era and you can’t really get any more ‘slasher trademark’ than that sequence.
Like the majority of eighties children that emigrated to London, my family were quite poor and I was brought up during my earliest years listening to old 7” singles on the grimy record player in our front room (we didn’t even have TV) and so I have maintained a fondness for the music of the the rock and roll generation, which my mum adored. That probably contributes to my love for this slasher because much like John Carpenter’s Christine, it boasts a deliberate retro ambiance that recalls the age of innocence and the locality of close-knit communities of the fifties/sixties. Suspense is built not by sharp editing or hokey gore, but by the storytelling. Deeply developed characters and well-worked relationships help to bring a ‘small town’ vibe to the plot and it gives the film a unique personality, which includes people that you actually care about in key roles.
Whilst talking about retro, we cannot forget to mention the (now) notorious scene where a bunch of teens dance in tandem to Lou Christie’s ‘Lighting Strikes’ whilst dressed as sixties TV characters. It’s an amazing sequence, because it doesn’t feel out of place and the story is so well delivered that the mood can change in an instant. The choice of song (writer Bill Condon’s favourite – the guy has taste) is another bonus from an already outstanding soundtrack, which sees Tangerine Dream keep the tone perfectly. – If you’re gonna mix former Rock and Roll teen idol Christie with a masked killer, you’ve got to be a man with ambition.
The choice of cast is notable for selecting actors based on talent and experience rather than status, which is exactly what the feature needed to maintain the closeness of the characters. There are solid turns from Fletcher and Dignam, whilst Lewis did a credible job as the sadistic nurse (She created a character that’s so easy to hate). The film really belongs however to Murphy, Shor and Young for the strength and chemistry of their relationships. There’s a scene in the beginning where Murphy and Shor engage in a conversation (about shaving) like a father and son would do and it’s moments like these that add welcome depth to the characterisations. I liked the microwave romance between the two ambitious lead youngsters and the warmth of the witty dialogue. It’s no surprise that Condon would later get an Oscar nod for his writing skills.
Producer Antony Ginnane harboured desires of getting Australian horror (or Ozploitation) on the map during the early eighties and this was one (arguably the best) of a number of features that he was involved with. I was surprised to learn that this was in fact an Australian production, as it has an almost entirely American cast and strong continuity to keep everything in check. It was filmed in Auckland (the first time for a horror film), but you’d never notice that it wasn’t a small Illinois town as the plot describes.
As I said earlier, the film relies on it’s storytelling to provide a fear factor and there’s no gratuitous gore, but there’s a nasty syringe pushed into an eyeball scene, which is very hard to watch. When the killer(s) strike, there’s enough creativity in the murder scenes to show that Laughlin had done his homework on the slasher genre and the ending is authentic, unexpected and intelligently conveyed.
The luscious wide lensed photography must’ve looked amazing in the cinema, with long tracking shots of the New Zealand countryside, but the transfer to VHS was terrible and cropped the visuals catastrophically. Thankfully DVD has solved that problem and the plasma generation can enjoy the beautiful photography as it was meant to be seen.
Aside from some cack-handed editing in places, there’s really very little wrong with Small Town Massacre. A neat and extremely underrated chiller that boasts enough of the necessary ingredients to sit amongst it’s slasher brethren from the period.
I truly believe that Small Town Massacre is overlooked and somewhat mis-understood and should stand much higher as a successful mix of cinematic styles and great performances from a note-perfect cast.
Killer Guise: √√√
Final Girl √√√√√