In my journeys through horror I have come across praise for The Slayer in some far flung corners. Never attributed as being one of the best horror flicks of the 80’s nor a hidden gem, still it has garnered some accolades though quiet enough that I can’t remember where or when. One of the original video nasties, it’s one of those movies that gets occasionally mentioned in conversations about 80’s horror, but not often enough to dub it a “must see.” All previous releases have been very poor quality and hard to find. It’s one of those flicks that I’ve been meaning to see for a long time and thanks to Arrow and their amazing transfer, I finally had the chance.
The Slayer is about siblings Eric and Kay who get invited to a secluded island for a relaxing weekend of fishing, sex, and booze. Eric is a commercial director and Kay is a painter who was once a shining star but has fallen into enmity because her new work is too bizarre for her fans. She’s been painting her dreams, and her dreams are (no surprise) weird. Eric grabs his girl Brooke and Kay brings her mustachioed beau David and they take a private plane to the island to enjoy their weekend. Totally secluded, they have no phone, no cars, and no way off the island until the pilot comes back in a few days to take them to their fabulous homes. Once at the house they find the home well furnished and well stocked with top shelf hooch. Kay isn’t having any of it though. She recognizes one of the derelict buildings on the island from her creepy dreams and sees this as an ill omen. She stubbornly decides to be the stick in the mud for this trip much to the disdain of her fellow weekenders. Kay continues to be a bummer until David goes missing and Kay’s fears are proven valid.
Billed as a movie with a supernatural creature, The Slayer is a suspenseful slow burn. My problem is that I read the “supernatural creature” part and was hoping for some serious monster action. I love monsters and so i waited with excitement with my little monster pom poms but no monster. There isn’t really any monster action until the last 3 minutes of the film so if you’re going in hoping for some great creature action, you’ll be sorely disappointed like I was. Upon reflection, The Slayer doesn’t stink like i surmised last night when I watched it. As I said it’s a slow suspenseful movie with some slasher tropes, though I wouldn’t call it a slasher exactly. For one, there’s only 4 character (5 if you count the pilot) so there isn’t much opportunity for slasher mayhem. We do get some gory kills, but they’re pretty brief, and again, there’s only a handful. This film was made in ’82, right at the beginning of the slasher craze. This one tries to have it’s foot in both the slasher world and more high brow psychological thriller territory. So either it’s a gory thriller, or a weak slasher. It’s an odd duck of a movie but one that earns it’s mild reputation. Sure it isn’t a world beater, but it isn’t a dud either. For slasher fans, if you approach the film with reasonable expectations you’ll likely love this one. For 80’s horror fans in general, it’s a minor hit. It doesn’t stack up with Arrow’s other slasher releases, but I’m glad it’s finally available.
Previous releases were plagued with terrible transfers, cut gore, and poor distribution. Finally horror fans have a great release to add to their bursting shelves. The transfer is pristine, from camera negatives, and looks 100% perfect. If you like The Slayer, this is a must buy. If you love slasher flicks, this is a solid purchase. If you’re a horror fan in general, it’s worth looking into. While not a home run, it’s a solid piece of horror history and for some, it’s a treasure.