"Turn around slowly because
[SHADOWS RUN BLACK]"
directed by: Howard Heard
starring: Kevin Costner, William J. Kulzer, Elizabeth Trosper, Shea Porter, Dianne Hinkler, Julius Metoyer, Terry Congie, Lee Bishop, George J. Engleson
(back of video blurb):
"In the deep, dark still of the night [SHADOWS RUN BLACK]. Only terror illuminates the darkness.
After three college co-eds are found dead, Detective Rydell King is bought in to investigate. King discovers that the victims are from a group of close friends - only one is left alive.
Judy Cole has nowhere to hide - darkness will eventually fall and terror will scream through the night."
"I excommunicated them from the human race!"
- Rydell King has to listen to yet more loonies falsely confessing to the rash of killings; this time it's a mad preacher.
SHADOWS RUN BLACK … what an evocative title. It just screams 'classy thriller', or, perhaps, even a gorgeously decadent giallo; joining the ranks of those other great Latin titles- DEATH WALKS IN HIGH HEELS, FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON, and, er, SPASMO. So, imagine my surprise - my complete and utter bewilderment even - to discover that SHADOWS RUN BLACK is no classy little number, in-fact, SHADOWS RUN BLACK has no class whatsoever. It is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest slasher trash atrocities ever to (dis)grace the subgenre. I can honestly say, it might even be worse than THE FOREST. This film, my friends, makes DON'T GO IN THE WOODS…ALONE! seem like DELIVERANCE in comparison!
Things ain't all bad though, as, if you're a seasoned reader of you'll know that nine times out of ten if something is this goddamn abominable then there's a high chance that there may be cheesy times ahead. SHADOWS RUN BLACK, luckily for us, is the PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE of slasher movies, not only that, it was made at the height of the early 80's golden era and stars a future Hollywood superstar. Oh yes, there's cheesy times ahead to be sure.
Shot in 1981, but kept from the public for four or five years (perhaps it was in quarantine?) the film kicks off as it means to go on- with absolutely no style and two of perhaps the most irritating characters ever set to celluloid. … A slack jawed teenage boy chases a girl, with a laugh like an air raid siren, through the woods- quickly establishing that he doesn't want to do her in, rather, … oh you know. The chase ends at his parked car, where they clamber onto the backseat and begin to make out to the sound of (surely canned) birdsong. Before getting on down to it they tease each other with cutesy sign language innuendo, which ends in the first of the film's many topless scenes- where the boy strangely fondles the girls nipple in the manner normally associated with winding up an alarm clock. Sadly they do not die at this point. No, we're forced to witness some more mind numbing character building, as firstly he gets to work on the car and she trundles off to their secluded woodland cabin. Right, so they get it now? Erm, no … What seems like an hour later, but can only been a matter of seconds, it's nightfall and he's still quite happily lying underneath the car, on a trolley. Finally, we hear some footsteps, and after that old "No, not that size monkey-wrench- the other size!" shtick, he gets it- well, I presume he gets it, we don't actually see anything. The unseen figure suddenly pulls the trolley out of shot (perhaps they went go-carting?). … The girl turns up looking for her boyfriend and screeches, "Want some of my beer, sweetheart?" (I'm sure I could hear glass shatter in the distance), when she gets no answer she repeats herself- and it was all I could do not to scream at the TV set "For the sake of all humanity kill her now!". Finally she does get it when she starts poking around the car and the unseen assailant slams the bonnet down on her, complete with the sound effect of someone headbutting a piano. Again we see very little, but the fx budget ran to ˝ a mug of red food colouring which we see trickle off the bumper- and in this film we should be thankful for any small tidbit.
OK, I wish I could tell you it gets any better, but I expect you've already guessed- it doesn't. Next up we're introduced to detective Rydell King (who's all arch looks, tough guy stance and ill fitting toupee), who has been brought in to investigate the 'co-ed killings' and track down what the press have dubbed the 'Black Angel'.