A woman is distraught because she believes her dreams have come true and no matter how much she asserts it to be true; those around her think her crazy. When Kay’s husband goes missing, she already knows that he must be dead and convincing the couple she is on vacation with of the fact is next to impossible. Kay knows that the creature she dreamed of has slipped into the waking world and when she is the last one alive, she knows that she must stay awake if she has any chance of staying alive. At least she hopes so.
The Slayer, released in 1982 is a fear-fraught film packed with tension and horror courtesy of director J. S. Cardone who paces it out just right, filling it with some very gory scenes and doing it all without revealing just what it is that is doing the killing until the very end. Right from the offset, audiences know that things are going to go wrong when introduced to Kay; a woman who is having very strange and very horrific dreams, dreams that she believes are prophetic in nature and Sarah Kendall who plays her is on point for the entirety of the film. Kendall is perfect as not only the lead of the movie, but also as the damsel in distress – a different take on the classic trope and one that works perfectly as there is nobody coming to save her. Things begin innocently when the foursome reach the island where they plan to vacation, a very foreboding, yet lovely place, but Kay already feels at unease, not wanting to stay in the slightest. That tension starts to build immediately with a sense of claustrophobia, the quartet closed off from society with no way out should things go wrong. When Kay’s husband David goes missing that first night and not long after, her brother Eric, followed by his wife, with each successive death, Kay starts to crumble.
The kills in this movie are quite inventive, especially that of David which is not only bloody, but slightly disturbing and even more so when it pans away from his nearly severed head to watch his body give off its last few twinges as the life fades from it. The special effects are exceedingly well done and it is not only the various kills that look great, but the creature that is responsible who looks extremely gruesome in appearance – the stuff of nightmares as they say.
One of the few faults to be had was the characterisation of Kay and the fact that she seemed like a hysterical woman at times, with nobody taking her at her word, even though it must have seemed a little insane at times. It is a common cliché to be found in many a film and though it is not necessarily tiring to see, how different would the film be if for once, they believed the main protagonist in the beginning of the movie before the last of them was killed off towards the end?
For a moment, it seemed as if the film would end on a strong note, one that was unforgiving and one that would have had people talking. In its place, almost like an afterthought, Cardone buckled and made it much weaker by taking the easy way out. It would not ruin the film per se, but it did not make the movie better for it. Some call it a twist, a scene that might not take place chronologically last even though it was the final shot of the movie, a flashback, but as it was just that, it is hard for viewers not to take it as such. However one wants to explain it away, The Slayer was a good one and a strong showing from early 80’s horror.
3.5 out of 5