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#2,416. The Slayer (1982)

Posted on the 01 September 2017 by Dvdinfatuation
#2,416. The Slayer  (1982)
Directed By: J.S. Cardone
Starring: Sarah Kendall, Frederick Flynn, Carol Kottenbrook
Tag line: "Anticipate a web of diabolical terror"
Trivia: This film was also released as Nightmare Island
The Slayer, a 1982 horror movie directed (and co-written) by J.S. Cardone, has a handful of gory kill scenes, yet it’s not what I would categorize as a full-on slasher flick. There’s no doubt it was inspired, at least in part, by the ‘80s slasher craze (its makers have admitted as much), but its story goes beyond that formula, and features elements of a psychological thriller with just a hint of the supernatural thrown in for good measure.
However you classify it, The Slayer is, at the very least, an interesting genre entry, and there are moments in the film that are truly inspired.
Kay (Sarah Kendall), a noted artist, has been experiencing a series of violent nightmares, all of which are set in a location that she has never seen before. Hoping a change of scenery might do her some good, her husband David (Alan McRae) coerces Kay to take a vacation, and along with Kay’s brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook), the couple makes its way to a remote island, where they plan to relax on the beach and maybe even do a little fishing.
Moments after they arrive on the island, however, Kay begins to recognize buildings (including an abandoned movie theater), and realizes their idyllic vacation spot is actually the place she’s been dreaming about! To make matters worse, the pilot who flew them there, a guy named Marsh (Michael Holmes), has informed the two couples that a bad storm is moving in, and that they should think about heading home. But they decide to stay, and while David, Eric, and Brooke try to make the best of the situation, Kay grows more convinced with each passing hour that her nightmares are coming true, and that a killer is watching their every move.
It isn’t long before the others start to believe she may very well be right.
One of the biggest strengths of The Slayer is its setting; director Cardone shot the majority of the movie on Tybee Island (which is situated off the coast of Georgia), a beautiful yet seemingly abandoned landmass that boasts a number of genuinely creepy locales. Chief among them is the dilapidated theater I mentioned above, where one of the film’s most intense moments takes place (this theater has since been refurbished, and hosted a screening of The Slayer earlier this year).
Even more impressive are the various kill scenes. The first victim is a fisherman (Paul Gandolfo), who, while sitting on the beach cleaning his day’s catch, is struck on the head with an oar, and even though it’s a grisly sequence, it is merely a precursor for the violence to come (one kill in particular, involving a pitchfork, is so well-handled that it reminded me of Tom Savini’s early work on movies like Friday the 13th and The Prowler).
Of course, the fact that it is essentially a four-person story does limit the number of “slasher-esque” scenes, and large chunks of The Slayer are dedicated to the characters and their plight (especially Kay’s ever-growing sense of impending doom, which is ignored by the others until it is too late). Fortunately, the individuals featured in this tale are interesting enough to carry us through the slow times. This, as well as its effective location and gory kills, helps make The Slayer a worthwhile horror film.


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