Directed by Ruggero Deodato [Other horror films: Ultimo mondo cannibale (1977), Cannibal Holocaust (1980), La casa sperduta nel parco (1980), Inferno in diretta (1985), Un delitto poco comune (1988), Minaccia d’amore (1988), Vortice mortale (1993), The Profane Exhibit (2013, segment ‘Bridge’), Ballad in Blood (2016), Deathcember (2019, segment ‘Casetta Sperduta in Campagna’)]
This Italian film (most commonly known as Body Count) was a bit of a muddled, scatter-shot mess. It was certainly still enjoyable as a slasher fan, but boy, you’d hope that Ruggero Deodato would have been able to make a more stable slasher than what this shows.
As it is, the kills throughout are decent. I particularly liked seeing one character’s fingers getting chopped off by an ax, or another in which a girl gets stabbed through the hand, and the killer twists the knife. There are some painful scenes in this one, and though it doesn’t really compete with the best of the best, the kills were very competent.
A bigger problem, though, is the story and characters. Maybe it’s because the movie’s Italian, but the story here seems a bit on the messy side. It’s true that I had an issue remembering who was who here (though to be honest, I don’t know if that matters much), but starting out the movie, then jumping 15 years later, then later throwing in a flashback of a ‘bear attack’ (that was very obviously a murder, on a side-note) just left me feeling jumbled. The ending, which implied that there was another killer, also didn’t help.
Even once we find out who’s behind the murders (which isn’t a big surprise, but there were a few legitimate suspects here), we’re told that one of the earliest murders (that happened in the introduction, 15 years prior to the core of the movie) wasn’t done by the killer. Wait, I missed something – who killed that first person, then? Maybe it slipped past me, or maybe that wasn’t clarified.
The characters here were all sort of goofy and hard to really feel much for. The worst offender was Andrew J. Lederer (who provided us with some solid male frontal nudity), but to be honest, he did crack me up a few times, and at least stood out, which can’t be said for any of the other teen characters (despite the fact that a handful of the young women weren’t what you might refer to as ‘modest’).
Some of the others here were okay, though. Ivan Rassimov (who starred in a handful of classic cannibal films, such as Man from Deep River, Jungle Holocaust, and Eaten Alive!) brought a solid performance as a sheriff, though I wish the movie did more with him. Ditto John Steiner, who I thought would play a bigger role here. David Hess (Last House on the Left) and Charles Napier were also solid presences, but given the story they’re dealing with, I don’t think either stood out.
I’ll give Body Count kudos for the 80’s score, which I rather liked, but I’ll take the kudos away due to the atrocious lighting at various parts throughout the movie. Maybe if the lighting had made some of the scenes more visible, some of the movie might have been more on the comprehensible side.
The question is, though, did I enjoy Body Count? I did, given all of it’s flaws. I still think this Italian slasher is below average, but hell, it’s an 80’s slasher, and there are decent kills here, so even if the story is lacking, at least we get a little something.
This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if so intrigued, check out below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Body Count.