“The Slayer” is a pseudo-slasher film that employs a popular tactic from the VHS-heyday: killer cover art but underwhelming content.
Stranded on an abandoned island, two couples must survive an unseen killer which seems to act upon the dreams of one of them. Let’s dig into 1982’s “The Slayer”, directed by J.S. Cardone!
As I See It
Nothing undercuts the efforts of a film like ending it with the realization that it was all a dream. Of a child, no less! That implication of how much living needs to be done before they find out if her premonitions will come to fruition is tedious. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I’ll concede that the tone accomplishes what it needs to, but waiting thirty-plus minutes for anything even resembling horror is a huge mistake.
It never feels like a slasher, it sorta feels like a ghost story, but there’s never enough dread or tension built to be fearful of anything happening to the characters.
Even the brightest spot — besides the flash in the pan sighting of the monster — where Kay makes out with a severed head is undermined by chalking it all up to a dream.
The lines of reality are not blurred. Choosing a direction would have helped.
No eighties horror would be complete without the gearing-up montage, readying for battle with the big baddie. Except for this time, the gearing up is closing a few shutters. *shrugs*
Special effects makeup artist Robert Short had some mighty gigs during his career. He was an alien designer on Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as on the crew for E.T., and he created the killbots for the cult classic Chopping Mall.
Of Gratuitous Nature
The requisite 80’s horror shower scene occurs just four minutes in and has absolutely no effect on the story. No tension is even built.
The monster is wicked, but especially the cast on the hands. It’s reminiscent of the garbage bag monster from House (1985).
Ripe for a Remake
Stranded on an island with a crazed killer isn’t an original idea, but it’s a great starting point. The biggest scare (the Slayer) is whisked off camera faster than a yawn. Other than that, there is nothing new under the sun.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Arrow Films released a dual-format version with a bunch of extras and could be had on the cheap from them at the time of publishing. You can also stream it from their network or Tubi.