Morbidly Beautiful

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A bizarre but compelling tale that will keep you guessing, this week’s Tubi Tuesday recommendation is 1982’s banned film “The Slayer”.

This week’s recommendation, like all those this month (see previous recommendations Don’t Look in the Basement, Don’t Go in the House, and Toxic Zombies), is a film that was banned as part of the 1984 Video Nasties panic in the United Kingdom.

Fourteen seconds. That is the amount of film which needed to be edited out of The Slayer before it could be released in the United Kingdom.

It’s curious how a mere 14 seconds would be enough to get a film banned in an entire country, including seizure of all copies of the unedited film. But the “Powers that Be” believed 14 seconds of violence in The Slayer was just too much for the general public to see.

What’s even more curious is that three films from the Video Nasty list actually had less time edited out of their films.

The Dario Argento classic Tenebre had a grand total of 5 seconds edited out of the film, The Cannibal Man had 3 seconds cut, and the most egregious of all was 1980 film Apocalypse Domani aka Cannibal Apocalypse aka Invasion of the Flesh Hunters, which had a mere 2 seconds of footage cut out. A mere blink of an eye, 2 second was enough for the government at the time to ban and confiscate the film — as well as prosecute the creators.

Luckily for the creators of The Slayer, they did not get prosecuted, and the director J.S. Cardone even had a bit of a career after the initial panic.

The film follows Kay, an artist, her husband, and a few friends, who travel to a small island. It’s somewhat of a retreat to help Kay get back her artistic eye. Lately, her work has been dark and macabre, as she has been painting the things she sees in her nightmares.

The group soon finds themselves stranded on the island as a hurricane swallows up the island. Not only are they stranded, but there is a killer on the island stalking them and murdering them one by one. Worst of all, the killer may be a sleepwalking Kay, as her paintings reflect the murders in advance.

This is a very ambitious movie that, even though it is a cheap, gruesome 80s slasher, requires a great deal of attention to detail to understand the plot twist completely. 

Even if you do maintain a laser focus on the film, you may be left with many questions as the credits begin to roll. Were the events real? Were they just some part of a young girl’s disturbed dreams? Or, as I like to believe, were the girl’s dreams actual premonitions about the future?

Whatever conclusion you come to, the storytelling in this film is absolutely incredible. And it’s fantastic to see that the banning of this film didn’t stop J.S. Cardone from directing future films, as it did for many of the filmmakers caught up in the Video Nasty panic.

It’s unclear which of the 14 seconds of this film were cut to comply with decency standards. It could have been any of the various graphic kill scenes. Regardless, The Slayer is a clever and unique film., and we should rejoice in the fact that the oppressive government officials did not demand more cuts. Losing any more of the film could have detracted from its greatness.

Check out The Slayer now, streaming for free on Tubi.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4

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