The Slayer: Surreal 1982 slasher film gets a 4K scan from Arrow Video
Even if you’re not an ardent slasher cinema buff, you have probably heard of J.S.Cardone’s legendary stalk and stab shocker The Slayer. The surreal and beautifully-produced indie chiller was barely released in 1982 before coming to home video hacked to ribbons by both the UK and the US censor. It then faded into obscurity with only a handful of faithful fans surviving to sing its praises. Now, Arrow Video have rescued the picture and given the original camera negative a 4K scan, presenting this effective, ultra-bloody mind-bender in HD for the first time ever. It was worth the wait. The Slayer is a strange, well-crafted and often disturbing dream-state slasher film that is far superior to its peers and out-freaks Friday the 13th and The Burning by corpse-riddled country mile.
The Slayer stars Sarah Kendall as Kay, a young woman who has been tormented by troubling, often violent dreams of a malevolent monster murdering people and coming after her. When Kay, her husband and her brother and his wife decide to retreat to a secluded island (really the gorgeous Tybee Island in Georgia) for some rest, relaxation, sex and solitude, the already on edge heroine begins having hideous dreams again. Or is the spate of graphic murders real? Is Kay losing her marbles or is she psychically linked to the mind of some sort of demonic creature?
This movie is true-blue ’80s horror treat, made with skill and written with more on its mind than just another dead teenager slasher massacre. There’s enough multiple dream set-pieces to out Phantasm Freddy Krueger and Cardone and co-writer/producer William R. Ewing’s screenplay ingeniously disorients the audience. We’re really never sure what’s real or fantasy and, because the characters are so well-etched, we’re genuinely concerned about their plight. And while The Slayer is indeed super-duper gory, it’s the more fevered moments that really hit. The sequence where Kay wakes from yet another nightmare, leans to her hubby for comfort and starts kissing him while he blinks and cries blood and blood is in her mouth and then she realizes she’s but making out with his severed head… just yikes. It’s an icky and deeply weird moment that packs a cosmic punch.
Arrow’s Ewan Cant steered this release and he’s an enthusiastic advocate, in one feature flying to Georgia from the U.K to introduce the film during a theatrical screening and even moderating the delightful commentary with Cardone, co-star Carol Kottenbrook and executive producer Eric Weston. Other features include a great mini-making-of doc and a bit where we go back to the island revisit the locations. And the film itself is crisp and bursting with color. This is an essential release of one of the best and least seen slasher films of all time.