Kay, an artist of the surreal variety decides to go on a vacation with her brother Eric and their two friends David and Brooke. One would think the vacation would be ideal for Kay who is haunted by strange dreams, after all the group is going to an island where they will be secluded from the rest of the world. Soon enough however things start to get a little strange when Kay begins to have dreams in which she sees her friends murdered; when the murders start to come true the viewer will find themselves thrown once again into an 80’s body count picture….and well you know the rest.
Directed by: J.S. Cardone
Starring: Sarah Kendall, Frederick Flynn, Carol Kottenbrook and Alan McRae
“This will be a vacation you will never forget!”
Ah the glory days of the early 80’s slasher film. It really does feel like these films were popping up left and right and who can really blame the studios for gambling on them, Halloween and Friday the 13th paved the way and the cash cow was going to be milked until it ran dry. Enter J.S. Cardone’s 1982 example…..The Slayer.
Fans of the slasher/body count genre already know what they are getting into as Cardone lays down the plot. Kay is a surreal artist, who has been haunted by nightmares, her brother Eric believes a vacation with their two friends would be an ideal way for his sister to ease up and start relaxing so that the nightmares that trouble her will stop.
When the group arrives on the island Kay immediately realizes that she has been on this island before although she isn’t entirely sure when or how….perhaps it was one of her dreams. Soon the nightmares start again only this time she is a witness to several graphic murders. It is only after one of the murders actually happens does the film really get going and soon we are in familiar territory.
Let’s be real here, if you are a fan of this genre you already know from the build up what’s going to happen so let’s discuss what you really want to know here. Sadly The Slayer doesn’t live up to the hype of other body count films; in fact the body count is relatively small. The death sequences though are a little entertaining. Captured in this film is a person strangled by a floor (yes you read that right), a large fishing hook is also used to kill another victim and then there is a rather twisted death involving a pitchfork (were there any other weapons around in the 80’s….honestly it feels as if every slasher film from this era contains a scene involving a gruesome death with this piece of farming hardware). The deaths are pretty gruesome for the era though hardly as hard edged as say Tom Savini’s work in The Prowler (which I still find to be the most gruesome effects of this era).
There are some interesting sequences throughout the film, Kay is so haunted by her nightmares that she starts to fight off sleep and a couple years before Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors we are treated with a scene involving a person scared of falling asleep and using a lit cigarette in order to stay awake. There are a lot of similarities and they don’t just end there, again this is during the explosion of these types of films where a lot of them did indeed “rip each other off”.
One thing that does set The Slayer apart from its contemporaries is a truly strange ending. I won’t exactly reveal what happens, I will state however that I was left with a “what the hell was that” kind of feeling and of course my belly was full of laughter. Is it scary, perhaps it might have been when you were younger but by today’s standards the twist ending is actually quite unintentionally funny.
The Slayer isn’t exactly the most original film from this cycle however it also isn’t the worst. I can name at least ten more films from this genre and era that are worse. Is it worth checking out you are asking……my answer is sure. Fans of the slasher genre will dig the whole retroness of it, gorehounds will appreciate the death sequences and there’s enough suspense between the gore gags to keep just about anyone happy. It’s definitely at least worth a quick watch.
The Slayer (1982)