Valentine’s Day Review: Cardiac Arrest (1980)


“You stole my heart…seriously.” San Francisco is terrorized by “The Missing Heart Murders”. An unseen madman is lurking the streets, hunting victims and removing their hearts. It’s up to Officer Higgins to crack the case as the body count rises.

The lurid artwork of a surgeon holding a bloody heart leads one to believe this is a straight up horror venture. However, the PG-rated little yarn is actually a bit of a fusion of murder mystery/giallo, slasher and cop drama. There is a subplot involving a rich woman (Diane Gregory played by Susan O’Connell) who is willing to pay anything for a (controversial) heart transplant and the possible connection to the crimes. False leads (including cult activity and the Black Market) slow down the investigation as more innocent people are abducted and “operated” on.

The PG rating might scare off standard slasher fans, but rest assured there is plenty of intelligently crafted suspense and a decent enough body count that most of you should be satisfied. Obviously with the rating it isn’t very graphic (most deaths happen off screen) but we are treated to one bloody knifing as well as plenty of aftermath shots. There is also a creepy moment involving a mysterious phone call to Diane and her husband from an unknown man offering a donor heart at the expense of $200,000.

When the culprit is finally revealed a nice little ’80s style cop shoot out ensues. While the whole thing plays out like a typical made-for-TV melodrama it still contains all of the necessary Slasher film elements for a good time (oh, and watch for that pot scene near the end!). If looking for something to watch this Valentine’s Day other than “My Bloody Valentine” but still involving bloody hearts, this might hit the spot for the more sophisticated Slasher fan.

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About the Author

Dustin Ferguson is the director of the Terror at Black Tree Forest trilogy, The Legacy of Boggy Creek, Slumber Party Slasherthon and more.

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