A Vengeful Past – Body Count (1986)

Some people either love Ruggero Deodato or hate him with a passion and such are the feelings for this movie as well. A few find Body Count pedestrian while others think it genius and yet if one were to put aside the man, they would find that there is enough here to love to make it a fun outing.

The story, which is paper thin, involves an old native shaman who kills a bunch of teens at a backwoods campsite that was a burial ground long before. While there may not be much to it, it is not necessarily the story itself which makes this as good as it is but everything that takes place throughout. There is a lot of murder, both bloody and gory and Deodato has no qualms about killing off as many people as possible. Suffice it to say, the man is not afraid to pepper his film with nudity as well, though it adds little to the horror which begins soon enough after the teens arrive at their destination. Bringing this to life is a packed cast that includes Charles Napier, Ivan Rassimov, Mimsy Farmer, John Steiner, David Hess, and Bruce Penhall among their number. They make for a solid group of players and the film does not lack for talent but there are a few moments where one of them will overplay their hand so to speak, exaggerating their performance here or there which will illicit a chuckle as it transforms from the serious into the ridiculous. That being said, there are not too many scenes like this but most horror movies that feature a plot along these lines always tends to be a little cheesy, it simply being the nature of the beast.

Good to hear is the soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin fame who sets the mood from the opening credits onward and it goes hand-in-hand with all of the bodies that fall, the blood that is spilled also creating the specific mood for a picture such as this. As far as the special effects go, they were done well enough to make for an extremely effective exercise in the slasher genre though the killer himself looked slightly ridiculous. One has to wonder if Deodato set out to make a solid slasher with this movie or if he was simply going through the numbers, again in reference to the story everything is centred around. If it had a little more substance, it might have made for a stronger picture overall despite it being as entertaining as it was.

Love it or hate it, Body Count has its place in the slasher genre. It had weaknesses and strengths much like the other films it calls companions and makes for a decent watch, something to pass the time where one can just tune out the outside world and enjoy the movie for what it is.

3 out of 5

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