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Blu-Ray Review - THE SLAYER (1982)

the slayer 1982 review
A disturbed artist's nightmares are manifested during her stay at a remote coastal cabin.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: JS Cardone

Starring: Sarah Kendall, Frederick Flynn, Carol Kottenbrook, Alan McRae, Michael Holmes

the slayer 1982 arrow video bluray
Previously only available in a murky VHS, director JS Cardone's 1982 shocker The Slayer gets a stunning 4K restoration from Arrow Video. Released two years before Wes Craven brought us A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cardone's film similarly explores the idea of a killer (in this case a monster, rather than a human) manifested from dreams. Given the disparity in quality, it's easy to see why Craven's film became an instant horror classic while Cardone's sank into obscurity.


the slayer 1982


Moira Shearer lookalike Kay (Sarah Kendall) is an artist whose work is inspired by the increasingly dark dreams that have plagued her since childhood. With her disturbing paintings failing to sell to an audience presumably more interested in tableaux of dogs playing poker, Kay's not so understanding hubbie David (Alan McRae) decides his wife could use a break. The two head off with Kay's brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook) to an idyllic home on the Georgian coast, in hopes that the break will help Kay get her mind focussed on neon murals of dolphins diving over Ferraris, which seemed to be the only art that sold in the '80s.

You won't be surprised to learn that nothing changes for Kay. In fact, things get worse once she realises the beach locale is the same one she's been seeing in her nightmares. Ominously, those dreams also feature the deaths of her three friends...


the slayer 1982

The Slayer is very much a graduate of the 'we've got a great location; let's just film characters wandering through it' school of filmmaking. Granted, it really is a gorgeous setting, and if the film works as anything it's as an advertisement for the Georgia tourist board. Cinematographer Karen Grossman composes some beautiful landscape shots and makes great use of the area's light, with Cardone opting to shoot much of the footage at sunset like some b-movie Terrence Malick.

If you enjoy watching people with bad hair (Kay appears to have borrowed a wig from Queen guitarist Brian May), clad in out of season Christmas sweaters, wander around a pretty beach and the ruins of a theatre, this is a must see. For those expecting the thrills of a typical slasher of the era, The Slayer almost universally fails to deliver. The kills are admittedly quite inventive, but each one is preceded by 10 minutes of the would-be victim walking around aimlessly, with Cardone failing to establish any sense of threat with his camerawork.


the slayer 1982

Cardone holds back from showing the titular terror until the movie's final moments, and when we see the monster - which resembles something a teenage apprentice at Jim Henson's Creature Shop might have put together while drunk - it's understandable. Trouble is, he can't find a way of creating tension or suspense in its absence, making his film a snooze-inducing slog. Had Cardone shown the beastie from the start, the movie may have been laughable, but it would have made The Slayer a whole lot more enjoyable.
Extras:

A gorgeous 4K restoration is backed up with some impressive bonus features. We get two audio commentaries: one from director JS Cardone, actress Carol Kottenbrook and exec producer Eric Weston; and one from podcast crew The Hysteria ContinuesNightmare Island: The Making of The Slayer is a 50 minuted doc featuring most of the film's key players. Return to Tybee: The Locations of The Slayer is a featurette that returns to the film's idyllic Georgia location. The Tybee Post Theater Experience is a feature on a screening of The Slayer held at the now restored theatre that features as one of the key locations, and you can also watch the movie accompanied by an audience reaction track recorded at the event. A trailer, gallery, booklet, isolated score selections and an audio interview with composer Robert Folk complete an essential package for '80s horror completists.

The Slayer is released by Arrow Video on dual format blu-ray/DVD August 21st.

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