America leads the way when it comes to releasing slasher movies on DVD, with lesser-known gems like Sweet Sixteen and Final Exam finding their way onto feature-packed special editions, and companies like Shriek Show, Code Red and Blue Underground bringing even greater obscurities kicking and screaming into the digital age. But slasher fans continue to wait for a handful of missing classics from the 80s golden age to turn up on Region 1 DVD, which is why Retro Slashers recommends a trip to Europe – and the UK in particular – to fill those annoying gaps in your collection. So grab your passport, pack a multiregional DVD player and leave that sunscreen behind, as we head off to investigate the joys of Region 2…
CURTAINS skated onto DVD in the UK in 2007, courtesy of Cornerstone Media. First the good news: it’s uncut – although it never was the goriest of slashers, to be honest. The bad news, however, is that it’s a poor-quality 4:3 video transfer with washed-out colours (which prove particularly noticeable during the blurry darkness of the final chase) and muffled sound. Worth seeking out? No. An old VHS copy is just as desirable.
THE MUTILATOR has had a couple of European DVD releases, the first being an uncut German edition from Dragon, which is now as rare as it is incredibly expensive. In the UK, however, it’s still fairly easy to get hold of the 2003 Vipco release, despite the fact that it’s also now out of print. What makes this edition less appealing is that the British Board of Film Classification ordered 7 seconds of cuts for “sexual violence” to the fishhook murder. In any case, the “Fall Break” theme song is arguably more gruelling… Worth seeking out? Yes, actually. The cuts are minimal and the affected scene is still shocking enough to retain its power.
Another 80s slasher still widely available (though technically out of print) in the UK is 1982’s DEATH SCREAMS, a.k.a. House of Death. Thanks to Vipco, fans are treated to an uncut edition with unspectacular (but watchable) fullscreen picture quality. If the censors, had wanted to cut anything, perhaps thirty minutes’ worth of teenagers wandering around a fairground from the first hour would have been a start. Worth seeking out? If you’re a fan.
1987’s underrated backwoods slasher BERSERKER: THE NORDIC CURSE has been kicking around on DVD in the UK since 2001, thanks to Moonstone Pictures. As well as being easy to find at exceptionally cheap prices, it’s uncut, the transfer is watchable and, if you’re really lucky, you might find it in a double-pack with the Wings Hauser zombie movie, Mutant (a.k.a. Night Warning). How’s that for a perfect double-bill of mid-eighties low-budget horror? Worth seeking out? Yes! A pristine digital remastering would only ruin this one.
Holland is the place to go if you want a DVD of 1988’s DEATH SPA – especially if you also want your DVD to feature a giant naked ass on the cover. The Dutch release is uncut and allows you to watch the film in English. Worth seeking out? If it’s a matter of completing your Ken Foree collection, then damn right it is!
And, still on the subject of gym-stalking slashers, there’s the über-cheesy Killer Workout, released in Britain as far back as 2001 under the alternative title, AEROBICIDE. Again, it’s not the best of transfers, but at least it’s uncut and there’s just no better movie dealing with the controversial subject of giant safety-pin murder, unless you count Fulci’s Murder-Rock and its hat pin of horror. Worth seeking out? Yes, it’s the only slasher that combines gore and nudity with a full upper-body workout to keep you trim.
Linda Blair followed her slasher classic, Hell Night, with the lesser-known backwoods effort, GROTESQUE, in 1988. While still unavailable on DVD in region one, it’s easy enough to get hold of in the UK from Pegasus Entertainment, who unleashed it in all its grainy glory back in 2004. Uncut? Yes. Worth seeking out? Why not?
Let’s end on a high with a relatively glossy studio effort that, despite starring James Spader and Cynthia Gibb, is really just a down-and-dirty-old slasher at heart. It’s 1988’s JACK’S BACK, a Jack the Ripper-themed thriller from director Rowdy Herrington, who went on to make Road House. Thanks to Showbox Entertainment, who put this out in the UK in 2007, it’s uncut and neatly presented (but why in fullscreen?). Worth seeking out? Yes, especially if you haven’t seen it.