The Slayer (1982)

I’m a little bit country, I’m a little bit rock and roll. Yeah, I like my movies gory and scary. As time passes, I’ve discovered a camp of moviegoers who find gore scary and sometimes prefer the sharp end of a blade to a shot of a bomb under a table, ticking away. Far be it from me to say that’s not right, horror is one of the most subjective genres going, and that’s awesome. Unfortunately, too many filmmakers thought gore always made up for what it lacked in story, hoping the audience would be more enamored with a decapitated head than the build up to a decapitated head. For viewers who carry a heavy heart over this, you can get the best of both worlds in an underrated movie called The Slayer.

For years, J.S. Cardone’s directorial debut floated around in many different, uncredited versions, which added a bit of mystery to the film when it first started popping up on video store shelves. It came out in different editions, including a double feature along with the far less scary Scalps, which is the version I have. I remember going into it blind and being simply enthralled by the atmosphere. I’m not sure if it was a conscious choice to make this film about adults that lends it an air of maturity, but this movie imbues a real feeling of dread, and at some points, hopelessness, even with the supernatural angle.

The Slayer is populated with unfamiliar faces and the setting is deliciously desolate. Ungodly pale Sara Kendall is perfect as the put-upon ‘protagonist’ whose nightmares just might be working their way into the real world. An interesting precursor to A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Slayer balances the supernatural elements against an all out slasher to great effect.

To say too much about the Slayer would be wrong, because it needs to be discovered and viewed without a sense of the rules of slashers. The Slayer bends every one as the film twists and turns into a downbeat surrealistic whirlpool.

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17 Responses to “ The Slayer (1982) ”

  1. The Slayer is such an excellent film. Pure horror. I’ve watched it countless times and it can still creep me out.

  2. The Slayer has been sitting in a pile of unwatched movies for months. I keep meaning to watch it, but something always stops me.

  3. Excellent review as always. I’ll definitely have to see this.

  4. I love The slayer and pround to have a vhs copy, this movie need a dvd realese!!! The movie creep me out all the time i listen it!!!! and the gore was great!!! i recommend it.

  5. I have a dupe of the Vipco DVD. I always enjoyed the flick and loved, when younger, seeing the trailer on all the horror video releases from Palace Explosive. A fine film, too caught between Phantasm and Nightmare on Elm Street to get any fanfare!

  6. I agree with the review. This film needs a wider release. Very atmospheric, great cinematography, and very suspenseful towards the end! I hope for a widescreen release someday, maybe by Code Red??

  7. Such a great movie. Still works on me. Great creepy, atmosphere. Thanks for bringing this one up Amanda!

  8. I’d love to see a legit DVD of this. It’s funny how some really good movies never get their dues. Like, how Just Before Dawn isn’t as least as famous as Hell Night is beyond me.

  9. i remeber wen i saw that movie damme the end is so chilllllling men i hope somme day we have the plesure to bye the dvd

  10. Vipco dvd is a dupe. It was a unauthorized relesed. They only had 15 years rights to the film, which expired in 1997.

  11. sesses

  12. Am I to only one who was bored by this movie? And seriously, i thought the ending was beyond cheesy.

  13. Im basically a fan of this film regardless as I am the grandson of Paul “Fisherman” Gandolfo.. the one who gets killed by an ore to the head!!! Good review though, I appreciate it!!!

  14. I liked The Slayer, but found it a little boring. Cool death scenes nonetheless and surprisingly a decent amount of gore. The pitchfork scene remains one of my favorite slasher moments. Needs to be lightened up a bit, and the ending sucked. Still, would love a DVD release of this.

  15. I just discovered The Slayer last week and it’s one of the most dreary and atmospheric slasher films I’ve ever seen.

    Sara Kendall looks genuinely depressed! Like she really does have emotional problems outside of appearing in this movie. It just adds to the mood

    The killings are suspenseful and gory. Cant ask for much more in a slasher!

    So often I’m disappointed by modern horror films, so watching The Slayer is a painful reminder of what is possible with horror cinema. Movies like this spoil me!

  16. R.I.P. Grandpa a.k.a. Paul “Fisherman” Gandolfo

  17. I think it’s interesting that this film is often said to have influenced Nightmare on Elm Street. Coz it’s actually got more in common with Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessings(1981). Older, married characters, isolated setting and the appearance of a demon. The slayer has more punch, though.

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