THE SLAYER (pre-cert UK video cover).jpg
This is one of the group of horror movies banned in the UK in the early 80's; which came to be known as the 'Video-Nasties'...   3 stars   Cheese Rating: 25% Dairylea Lite!

"Is it a nightmare?
Or is it...

directed by: J. S. Cardone
starring: Sarah Kendall, Fredrick J. Flynn, Carol Kottenbrook, Alan McRae

(back of video blurb):
       "In the early morning hours of a cold and gloomy day, two young couples awoke and began preperations for a long awaited vacation. None of them anticipated the web of diabolical terror which was awaiting them on the isolated island retreat they had chosen for that vacation.

       Only one of them was aware of the existence of 'The Slayer' and up until that morning it lived only in the dark regions of her nightmares.

       'The Slayer' is the story of what happens when imagination becomes reality and the maniacal, inanimate things which inhabit nightmares are unleashed in the real world. It is a terrifying descent into a maelstrom of horror from which those who journey rarely return."

choice dialogue:

"Dreams don't drag men out of bed in the middle of the night!...
It's not a thing from a nightmare, it's something real and alive"

slash with panache?

        I remember seeing THE SLAYER on video back in about 1982 or ‘83, just before it fell victim to the frenzied moral panic that surrounded the ‘video nasties’ debacle. Within a year of seeing this film I can recall seeing news reports on television of bulldozers crushing piles of videosA face of fear- from THE SLAYER (probably driven by reporters from The Daily Mail- mouth foaming no doubt, and accelerator quivering with excitement!), which were seized from up and down the country- films like THE SLAYER. I must have been in my early teens when I saw it ,illicitly but not at that time illegally, with a group of friends and I remember it scaring me quite badly- so, with some eager anticipation I finally got around to re-watching this dark secret of my youth. And I was happy to realise, as the credits rolled, that, for once, a film still held some of the qualities that I remembered.

       THE SLAYER, although it uses many of the sub-genres conventions; POV, gory deaths, etc..., is not really a ‘slasher’ film in the strictest sense. The story concerns a thirty-something female artist (no teens in this one!), who has suffered from the same reoccurring nightmare since childhood. A nightmare where she is stalked and killed ,in a burning room, by someone (or something) called ‘The Slayer’. These nightmares form the basis for her new paintings and she becomes increasingly obsessive about putting those images on canvas. Her obvious signs of mental imbalance worry her husband, so he arranges (along with her brother and sister-in-law) to take a vacation to a remote island in an attempt for them all to get away from the pressures of everyday life. When they do reach the windswept and desolate island the woman starts to get feelings of deja-vu, eventually realising that one of the buildings there is the same one from her nightmare- the same one she has been painting repeatedly. She becomes increasingly hysterical as she comes to the conclusion that as her nightmares become more vivid, the more danger they are all in and as she sleeps, it appears ‘The Slayer’ becomes real- with deadly results.

       I enjoyed THE SLAYER a good deal, second time around, although a few things haven’t stood the test of time. Mainly the generally poor acting prevents the film being as effective and scary as I remember it- at thirteen I probably didn’t notice! And the pacing is occasionally a little arbitrary. Having said that though the film does still retain much of the eerieness I remember; fleeting glimpses, in silhouette, of ‘The Slayer’ and a high-gothic thunderstorm battering a windswept house on a desolate beach. It is also a very gory little number- I managed A victim of THE SLAYER.jpgto see the uncut version again but be warned, the VIPCO re-release (approved by the BBFC) lists cuts of 14 seconds....But what probably piqued my interest most on second viewing was the similarities between this film and Wes Craven’s ,(much later), A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984). Both movies have a monster that comes alive and can only affect reality when someone is asleep (although ‘The Slayer’ is silent and only fleetingly seen threat (until the very end), as opposed to the wise cracking ‘Freddy’). And both movies have a heroine that, aware of this fact, desperately tries to stay awake by any means necessary- in THE SLAYER she tells her husband, "I know this sounds crazy but sometimes just as I’m drifting off to sleep I feel that...when I wake up my real life will be gone, my dreams will have taken its place..." and she keeps telling herself towards the end, "Stay awake, Stay AWAKE!". I’m not belittling Craven’s film, which is justifiably regarded as a classic, but it does make you wonder if he saw Cardone’s film and he was a ‘inspired’ in any way?

       THE SLAYER, is an interesting -if flawed film. A low budget (and none the worse for it) oddity that has a true ‘creepiness’ about it. Oh, and there is a pretty good twist ending. So, one film that (more or less) lives up to my memories as seen through crimson tinted glasses!

BODYCOUNT 5  bodycount!   female:1 / male:4

       1) Male has head smashed open with paddle
       2) Male almost decapitated by trap door
       3) Male has fishing hook embedded in neck and then is dragged into the sea
       4) Female has pitchfork rammed into back- exiting through breasts
       5) Male has hand stabbed and then shot dead with flare gun