When trashcanman beats me to reviewing a film I introduced him to I know that it's way past time for me to return to my true love; The Wonderful World of Frequently Obscure Low Budget Horror Movies! Today's entry children is SLASHERS, a Canadian film written, directed, produced, and edited (!) by Maurice Devereaux. Devereaux finally managed to give birth to this film in 2002 after an arduous pregnancy that lasted nearly half a decade. SLASHERS was a nearly brilliant concept when Devereaux first came up with the script in 1998 because it was based on a few popular European game shows that had not yet made their way across the Atlantic, much less become the phenomena they currently are. His script not only anticipated this, but carried the idea to its logical conclusion--a reality game show where the contestants are pitting their own lives against hired killers for huge cash rewards. And he set it in the country from which such an extreme game show would probably be most likely to spring--Japan! Now I know what you're saying--this isn't really all that original, it's been done before in films such as THE RUNNING MAN and science fiction stories by such authors as Robert Sheckley. Okay, yeah, you got me! But even so it's still more original in concept and execution than 90% of what's on video store shelves today. And it's full of fun, fun, fun!
SLASHERS opens with the credits to the television show itself (all in Japanese of course), with a bouncy theme song, our appropriately pert hostess Miho Taguchi who explains the rules ("There are none!"), and the Slayerettes--the show's cheerleaders who have skulls on their pom poms and spend most of their time trying to look sexy but succeed only in looking awkward. (This is one place where they might have spent a bit more money and found a choreographer or something.) It turns out that this is a very special episode of SLASHERS, it's their first All American Special prior to being syndicated in U.S., and all six contestants are American. PLUS they are vying for an especially large prize of $12 million American since no one made it out alive on last week's show. To further entice the contestants there is a $2 million bonus for each Slasher they themselves might kill during the course of the show. Speaking of our contestants, this week they are; DeVon an ex-Marine (and candidate for Playgirl centerfold), Michael a computer programer, Rick a nightclub bouncer from Detroit, Rebecca a triathlete etc, Brenda a wannabe model and actress, and Megan a law student living in Tokyo. Our villains are a colorful lot starting with the newbie of the bunch Preacherman, who has yet to make his first kill, the popular Chainsaw Charlie a redneck stereotype wearing an Alfred E. Newmanish mask, and (back by popular demand) the all-time champ Dr. Ripper! Accompanying our heroes as they try to stay out of the killers' way is one lone cameraman (Hideo). HINT: If you are on this show and you do what characters in all horror movies do (i.e. split up) Hideo's presence is a sure indication that you are in for some serious scatological problems.
SLASHERS has a healthy amount of serio-comic bloodshed going on that starts immediately with the credits in which we see (among other things) 1 belly stabbing, 1 full gutting, a couple of slit throats from which blood oozes like jelly or spurts like Kool-Ade, 1 severed head, and at least 1 leg being removed via chainsaw. In fact the vast majority of the blood and guts action takes place during the first few minutes since we only have 6 protagonists and thus only six potential victims--9 if you count the Slashers themselves. Although it's not the most convincing display of viscera you've ever seen, I think most of gorehounds will find it enjoyable because (like almost all of the best low budget filmmakers) Devereaux's heart is in the right place--over there behind the chair...and a little bit on the wall, and I think there's some next to the door too. There is also a minor bit of nakedness as our youngest heroine, Megan (Sarah Joslyn Crowder), gives the male portion of the audience a much needed lesson on what very large mammary glands really look like, something I think they've forgotten in this era of silicone. Aside from that everyone remains discretely covered unless you count the scene where DeVon offers her his t-shirt and Michael makes a comment regarding exchanging cheesecake for beefcake.
The movie was filmed on videotape rather than on film stock which actually works in its favor since this IS supposed to be a television show, and the graininess of the tape gives the movie an extra air of reality. Even more interesting though is the manner in which chose they to shoot the film. Since this was supposed to be a live reality show shot by only one cameraman, they had to make it look as if there were NO cuts in the entire film and that isn't an easy trick! Check out the special features and find out the two techniques Devereaux and his D.P. relied upon to accomplish this feat! There are a large number of special features on the disc, but keep away from the "Making of..." types until after you've seen the flick unless you don't mind massive spoilers. The sets also turn out to have an interesting story in back of them--Devereaux really lucked out and found a place to film that needed no construction at all--a huge warehouse that was used for paintball wars! It was perfect for their use since it was nothing but long corridors and little rooms mixed with a couple of indoor open areas with lots of hiding places. All they had to do was scrub off paint blotches every day. Once again I find myself commenting on something I rarely mention, the music. This film's music can be very distracting since it tends to drown out dialogue, especially that of Dr. Ripper who wears a mask that partially covers his mouth. On the other hand, the music is also meant to be heard by the "contestants"--it's part of the show's plan to amp up their tension level and make the show more interesting for the viewers! Cute, huh?
The Slashers themselves are played waaaay over the top and are amusing in a quaint serial killer kinda way. Chainsaw Charlie and the Preacherman are played by the same actor, Neil Napier. He does a wonderful job although he appears to be ad libbing his lines which does make make them sound a bit repetitious at times. Sort of like redneck David Mamet. I doubt that will bother anyone else however. Chris Piggins as Dr. Ripper is also deliciously disgusting and worthy of special mention. Obviously I love this film. It has a nice look that denies its non-existent budget as well as an irresistible and unique charm that expensive Hollywood productions can't match. And I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy it too if you give it half a chance.
When you watch this film go all the way through the credits. At the end there are a couple of small ad shots for SLASHER'S sponsors. I've just learned that Maurice Devereaux has a new film out called END OF THE LINE. Can't wait to get hold of it.