By Richard Winters
My Rating: 0 out of 10
4-Word Review: Cutting up the coeds.
This review will be the first of many in which we celebrate October by reviewing all horror movies for the entire month. The film we look at today has managed to gain a strong cult following and deals with a Boston area college that is under attack by an elusive killer who slashes coeds to bits and then uses their body parts to create his personal human-sized jigsaw puzzle.
Horror director Eli Roth describes this film as being one of the top “horror films of all-time” and “the ultimate slasher film” with “the greatest ending in horror history”. Unfortunately I thoroughly disagree with him and was genuinely beginning to wonder if we had even seen the same movie, or if he was just joking. To me it was just another cheaply made horror flick made by a producers looking to cash in on the ‘80s slasher craze by churning out something that is completely formulaic and offers nothing new or imaginative to the genre. The plot is dull and predictable and the scares nonexistent. Even the killer is boring by appearing as this shadowy figure that has no features or distinction. Also, the film’s setting is Boston, but no one speaks with a New England accent and instead just about everyone has a European one.
The opening bit, which supposedly takes place in 1942, is full of anachronistic errors and the other killings, with the exception of the one that takes place on a water bed, fall equally flat. The one that I found particularly ridiculous features a coed, which is played by actress Cristina Cottrelli, who gets killed while swimming in an indoor pool. The killer stands on the edge of the pool and uses a long handled net to ‘catch’ her as she swims and then drags her back towards him. However, the net would be too flimsy for this and if she had given it any resistance at all it would’ve been enough to make the killer to lose his balance and fall into the pool. She also could’ve easily escaped from it by diving beneath the water. The fact that this same net also manages to knock her out is even more absurd although she does manage to regain consciousness only to see the killer coming at her with a chainsaw, but instead of just rolling back into the water for an easy escape, which is literally just inches from her, she instead passively lies there and screams while he hacks her up.
I might’ve given it a few points had the gore been better, but I really wasn’t impressed. There’s lots of quick cutaways before anything much is shown and the body parts were clearly just stuff taken from mannequins and then doused in red paint.
The film got some notoriety at the time for its violence and then was disown by its two stars Christopher George and his wife Lynda Day George who insisted they were aware that this was going to be a horror film when they agreed to sign on. The truth is they were already doing a lot of horror films before this as their careers were in severe decline and it was the only thing they were being offered. Chances of them thinking this was going to be anything different was slim and they probably were simply reacting to the critical backlash and trying to save what was left of their reputations by ‘disowning’ it even though it made very little difference as George ended up dying from a sudden heart attack just 2 months after its US release.
Edmund Purdom, who was at one time a top European star during the ‘50s should’ve been equally embarrassed and apparently was equally desperate to have signed on. The only other recognizable face is Paul L. Smith who gets stuck with an insignificant role as the maintenance man and uses some over-the-top facial expressions that I found more annoying than funny.
That ‘greatest ending in horror history’ that Roth describes is also really stupid and in fact may be the dumbest part in the film. If you don’t want to read a ‘spoiler’ then look away now although it really doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the plot anyways, which is the reason why I’m choosing not to give this paragraph my usual ‘spoiler Warning’ alert. Anyways the scene deals with a hand of a dead body suddenly reaching up and grabbing the crotch of the protagonist (Ian Sera), but the corpse was facing away from the character meaning that if it had somehow extended its arm then only the back of the hand would’ve touched the character and no grabbing would’ve occurred. Also, there were no supernatural elements ever introduced into the film, so how then does this body suddenly manage to move anyways? ‘Surprise endings’ can be fun, but if they make no sense and have nothing to do with what’s occurred before then they become pointless and shouldn’t be added.
Some fans seem to enjoy this for its cheesiness, but for me it was a real chore to sit through and not amusing even on a bad movie level. Even if one makes a party of it by showing it with a group of friends and some beer I don’t see it getting much better.
My Rating: 0 out of 10
Released: August 23, 1982
Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Studio: Artists Releasing Corporation
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video