By Richard Winters
My Rating: 1 out of 10
4-Word Review: Javelins can be deadly.
Student athletes with promising futures are suddenly turning up dead at the hands of a mysterious killer who pierces their bodies with a javelin that he is able to expertly throw from a far distance. Authorities fear that time is running out as more of them are killed and no witnesses or clues to identify the culprit.
Many consider this to be a rip-off of Graduation Day and while both films aren’t very good this one at least starts out better. I enjoyed the lighthearted comedy used at the beginning and how a formal dinner meeting turns into a big food fight and then a group tug-of-war. The film also keeps it realistic by showing the athletes actually training and conditioning.
In fact it really doesn’t start to go downhill until it reverts into a horror movie mode and dwells almost religiously in all the formulaic clichés seen in every other ‘80s slasher flick. The killings aren’t as novel as they sound and eventually become quite redundant. They are also lightly sprinkled in-between long, drawn out dramatic segments dealing with the characters relationship struggles and pressures to perform until you almost forget that this is supposed to be a slasher film at all. Most ‘80’s horror movies will have boring extraneous dialogue at the start to help create ‘character development’, but once the killings get going they will usually drop the other stuff and stick just to the scares while also picking up the pace, but this one just keeps the stale drama going, which along with its synthesized music score gives it a very amateurish quality.
The acting by the young cast isn’t as bad as the adult actors who speak like people under a trance. The film’s director Michael Elliot who plays a doctor who secretly gives them team members some ‘retardation shots’ (no joke that’s what they call it) and the movie’s screenwriter Christopher Mankiewicz who plays the coach give the two worst performances in the movie. Even Sally Kirkland, who plays the team trainer is bad and seems to be playing down to the level of the material.
The female cast is attractive and there is an abundance of nudity including one segment where the killer chases a fully nude Angela Bennett down the darkened hallways of the school. However, the film’s cute and perky star, Lynn Banashek, was too shy to take off her clothes and so in the scene where she gets a rub down by Kirkland scream queen Linnea Quigley was used as her body double.
The identity of the killer was a bit of a surprise and something I hadn’t expected and I’m pretty good about guessing these things, so in that regard it’s kind of original, but it’s still not worth sitting through as everything else is by-the-numbers.
My Rating: 1 out of 10
Released: March 13, 1984
Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes
Director: Michael Elliot
Studio: Impact Films
Posted in 80's Movies, Horror, Low Budget, Movies with Nudity, Obscure Movies, Slasher/Gore, Sports Movies
Tagged Angela Bennett, Entertainment, Linnea Quigley, Lynn Banashek, Michael Elliot, Movies, Review, Sally Kirkland
By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: Killer slashes track team.
When the high school’s top track star Laura (Ruth Ann Llorens) collapses mysteriously after winning a race strange things start happening to her teammates. One-by-one they get knocked-off by a killer who has a way with swords, but who could it be? Her brash, driven coach (Christopher George) who pushes his players past their breaking point or maybe it’s her strange sister Anne (Patch Mackenzie) who comes back home from the military. The clues and suspects keep piling up, but can the police find the culprit before the entire team gets killed?
Writer Anne Marisse and director Herb Freed teamed up four years earlier to make the very original one-of-a-kind horror film Haunts where they created an excellent atmosphere on a nickel-and-dime budget that is completely lacking here. The scares and suspense even on a cheap level is non-existent. What is even worse is that there is no central character just a mishmash of uninteresting people and scenes that does not help to create any empathy from the viewer nor story momentum.
Freed’s direction is lively to some extent as he does inject some humor and a couple moments were he uses quick flash editing, but his other camera work is off-putting. I particularly got annoyed with a tracking shot showing a person running alongside a moving camera that seemed to make them look like they were on a treadmill, or going unnaturally slow in order to not outrun the camera. This is done several times throughout the film with different characters and the result is very artificial looking. He also features a band named Felony that sings a long seven minute song called ‘Gangster Rock’ that almost turns this thing into a music video. A scene showing a woman being chased by the killer is intercut between the band playing and this takes the viewer out of the film completely and kills what little suspense there already is.
The killings themselves are unimpressive. The scene showing a victim getting beheaded looks too much like it is a mannequin and it is highly doubtful that any sword could make that type of precise and quick cut. Another death features a pole- vaulter being impaled by a mat full of sharp spikes, which is pretty much ruined when we can clearly seeing that the victim is still breathing even as he lays there with the spikes having gone right through him.
There is logic loopholes as well including having the killer store the Laura’s dead body inside his bedroom and pretend she is still alive, which is too reminiscent to Psycho to be effective or interesting. I also didn’t know how somebody could dig up a dead body from a cemetery and not have the victim’s family, or the cemetery workers not notice. The make-up used to try to make her appear decomposed instead made her look more like she was a member of the KISS rock group.
Michael Pataki hams it up nicely as the school’s beleaguered principal and becomes a scene stealer in the process. Christopher George is so irritable and belligerent with anyone who makes contact with him that he becomes fun as well. Linnea Quigley has a nice topless scene as the horny Delores and Virgil Frye who is the father of Soleil Moor Frye of Punky Brewster fame has a few goofy moments as the school’s incompetent security guard. The funniest though is Patrick Wright as a grungy, overweight truck driver who feels that he is entitled to take liberties with Ann who is returning home from the service simply because he is a ‘taxpayer’.
Sources list Vanna White as the character of Doris, but I didn’t spot her and I don’t feel like going all the back through this cardboard thing again just to see if I can.
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: May 1, 1981
Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes
Director: Herb Freed
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube
Posted in 80's Movies, Adolescence/High School, Horror, Low Budget, Movies with Nudity, Slasher/Gore
Tagged Christopher George, Entetainment, Herb Freed, Linnea Quigley, Michael Pataki, Movies, Patrick Wright, Review, Virgil Frye