31 Days of Gore: The Slayer (1982)

It’s October. Time to talk horror. This year I’m reviewing a different horror movie each day of the month.

Yesterday’s Hatchet III is probably going to be the newest movie I review for this feature. I just prefer the fine vintage of movies like The Slayer, which was crafted in an era in which mutilations and monsters were shown rather than suggested, and shower scenes were par for the course. I’m sure some of the cheese from the early 90s will sneak into the movies I feature this month, but The Slayer is, in my mind, the classic model for 31 Days of Gore.

Note: I’m not embedding the trailer here because it shows nearly every kill in the movie.

Here’s everything you need to know: four people take a vacation on an island, but they’re not alone. We’re not talking a human slasher, but something more supernatural like Freddy Krueger. This killer, however, is not above using low-tech methods such as bashing a victim’s head in with an oar. Like most movies of its type, it’s slow to get started, but early on there’s a delicious slice of cheese on the private plane that’s chartered by the leads: one character gazes out the window and remarks of the island, “It’s surrounded by water.”

God, I love this shit.
“G’mornin’, honey!”

The Slayer opens with a series of disjointed images involving a redheaded woman who’s being attacked by… something. Whatever it is, we can tell it’s pretty gnarly and the film (at least the uncut version) isn’t going to shy away from the good stuff. The only problem is scenes containing the good stuff are few and far between.

Naturally, it turns out this scene was just a dream, which immediately reminds us of A Nightmare on Elm Street, an observation which will beg even more comparisons towards the end. Just don’t call it a ripoff because Wes Craven’s franchise was still two years away. I wish I could say The Slayer is ahead of its time in that regard, but that would be more praise than it probably deserves.

If there’s anything the filmmakers want to make absolutely clear in the beginning, it’s this: “There’s no phone service on the island!” By the way, the redhead who had that terrifying nightmare has been having dark premonitions all her life and, surprise-surprise, she really doesn’t want to go the island where the rest of the movie will be set.

Following a disappointingly tame sex scene, the redhead’s lover wanders into a dark, creepy basement. I’m expecting to see a lot of creepy basements and cellars this month, but let’s call it a trope rather than a cliché. When you only have a handful of characters to kill in your little horror movie, you’ve got to concoct ways of splitting them up and killing them separately so you don’t blow your load too soon.

That’s beside the point. The point is, while The Slayer is little more than a standard horror movie of its time, it’s a fairly solid one and worth a watch. It’s suffering from many of the same problems films of this type almost always have, chief among them its plodding pace. But maybe, just maybe, it subconsciously planted the seed in Wes Craven’s head which would later become A Nightmare on Elm Street…

Eh, probably not.

Come back at midnight Central Time for the next movie.

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