"A bloody trail of seemingly senseless murders leads a terrified young girl into a nightmarish web of police corruption and deadly, psychopathic madness!
Desperate to escape her dead-end life as a waitress, pretty young Janet (Pamela Collyer) reluctantly turns to prostitution. But her first "trick" goes shockingly bad when her girlfriend and a wealthy judge - their customer - are both viciously slashed to ribbons! After a strangely hostile reception from the authorities, Janet uncovers a grisly maze of murders, homicidal insanity and official cover-ups. With savagely mutilated corpses piling up around her, janet suddenly finds herself the target of both the scalpel-wielding maniac and the corrupt police! A nerve-shredding tale of justice - and horror - for all! "
This Canadian slasher-cum-conspiracy thriller actually comes from the hallowed slasher year of 1981 but sat on the shelf until 1984, before pretty much vanishing into undeserved obscurity.
EVIL JUDGMENT, like many Canadian lensed slashers from the early 80s, is obviously trying to pass itself off as one of its American cousins. However, like that other obscure canuck semi-classic, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE (1981), this film has that off-kilter, grimy - almost kitchen sink - feel that distinguishes it from much of what was coming from south of the border at the time.
Unusually, there are no teens to be found in EVIL JUDGMENT. The lead character, Janet (a rather one note and uneven performance from Pamela Collyer) is a down-trodden waitress who has dreams of becoming a dancer. Sadly, her dreams are rather scuppered by the fact that the tips she collects from her job at a deserted Greek diner are not even enough to pay her rent let alone keep her in leotards. Her low-scale Mafioso boyfriend Dino (Jack Langedijk), says he can't help her financially until his next scam takes off. However, her best friend April (Nanette Workman) is a lady of the night and suggests she joins her turning tricks to make some quick money. April eventually persuades Janet to join her at a remote mansion to service an old man - April promises Janet she'll pretty much just have to sit back and watch ...
However, nearby a mental patient escapes (Walter Massey - who looks disconcertingly like one of the Grandpas in the original WILLY WONKA - but who also had a small part in the glitzier Canadian slasher offering, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)). After breaking the neck of a doctor and gorily slashing the neck of a nurse with a scalpel (EVIL JUDGMENT is blessed with lots of splashy gore you'll be please to hear), he runs barefoot off into the night.
Little do they know, but when Janet and April reach the mansion they are greeted by escaped loon (or at least the spit of him). Janet gets cold feet and says she wants to go, but the man (who calls himself Ron) says there's no way out until midnight. But, just before they can get down to business, the lights go out. Ron goes to investigate, but doesn't come back - so April goes to find him. Eventually, after April has been missing for a few minutes, Janet investigates. She finds her friend in the throes of death; her neck sliced open. However, when she runs into Ron also with his neck gouged open she realises there must be someone else in the house! She manages to get out of the mansion, but is grabbed from behind by someone wearing black leather gloves and promptly faints. Janet wakes up in the hospital with a grumpy policeman (Roland Nincheri - a veteran of both TERROR TRAIN (1980) and VISITING HOURS (1982)), he tells her that not only were there no bodies but it appears that she tried to kill herself as they found her with slit wrists. Janet is then forced to prove her sanity by becoming a Nancy Drew in leg-warmers and find the murderer before he finds her ...
EVIL JUDGMENT reminded me of the non-slasher LIES (1983) (another nifty little half-forgotten gem), where a woman is forced to investigate events spiraling out of control around her. Janet soon realises she's the pawn in a much bigger game and is caught in the middle of warring factions. As Janet, Collyer is fine at times, but sometimes her performance is flatter than a pancake - and whilst this doesn't sink the film, but it doesn't help. Thankfully, the supporting cast is much better: Dino goes from being a right cad (he throws a naked Janet out of his apartment after they have an argument) to being sympathetic to her plight and helping her in time of need; also, Nanette Workman is great as the tart-with-a-heart.
EVIL JUDGMENT boasts a relatively intriguing mystery and mixes its subgenres well. There are some nicely kooky touches that further single it out from the majority of American horror films of the time: I can't think of any other film that has a disgruntled patron urinate into his bowl of soup because he says it tastes of piss! The slasher action is well handled and there are a number of excellent suspense scenes (the killer pursuing Janet through her apartment is a standout). The killer's black leather gloves obviously give more than a nod to the giallo (the director's name sounds suspiciously Italian), and it's also good to see a slasher from 1981 that wasn't hacked to pieces by the censors.
Definitely worth a look. Despite its flaws, EVIL JUDGMENT is a slasher movie that deserves to be rescued from obscurity.
BODYCOUNT 9 female:5 / male:41) Male has neck broken