Tenebre (1982)

Directed by Dario Argento [Other horror films: L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970), Il gatto a nove code (1971), 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971), Profondo rosso (1975), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Phenomena (1985), Opera (1987), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Black Cat’), Trauma (1993), La sindrome di Stendhal (1996), Il fantasma dell’opera (1998), Non ho sonno (2001), Il cartaio (2003), Ti piace Hitchcock? (2005), La terza madre (2007), Giallo (2009), Dracula 3D (2012), Occhiali neri (2022)]

Dario Argento is a director that I’ve long appreciated, and while Tenebre isn’t the most famous work of his I’ve not seen up to this point (Phenomena is still a film I’ve not taken the time to witness yet), it is one of his bigger ones. Finally seeing it, I enjoyed quite a bit about it, but I also don’t think it’s quite up there with the big boys.

And by “big boys,” I primarily mean Deep Red, which is not only my favorite Argento movie, but among one of the 24 or so horror films I rate a 10/10. Tenebre isn’t that good – I feel the ending, while pretty solid, could have done with a bit more explanation, and I’d have liked to see a bit more information given on some of the characters – but it’s still a perfectly solid film.

I’ll say this much – I never guessed the killer. That took me completely by surprise. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but the fact that I can watch gialli and still be taken for a ride just shows how much I love this subgenre of horror, and Tenebre is a good giallo.

Anthony Franciosa (Curse of the Black Widow, Death House, and Julie Darling) isn’t a name I recognize, but he played a pretty strong lead, bolstered by quality performances from Giuliano Gemma and Daria Nicolodi (Phenomena, Le foto di Gioia, Schock, Paganini Horror). I was expecting a bit more from Christian Borromeo’s (La casa sperduta nel parco and Estigma) character, and Veronica Lario’s character didn’t quite connect to me, but whateves. Other good performances include John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Black Christmas, etc.), Carola Stagnaro (Minaccia d’amore), Mirella D’Angelo (Maya), and Lara Wendel (Killing Birds: Raptors, I frati rossi, La casa 3).

Of course, the kills here were pretty good. Someone’s arm got chopped off, which caused quite the blood spray, which I found amusing at the time. Murders by straight razor and ax were the flavors of the day, and even attacks by terrifying dogs. Perhaps one of my favorites deaths, though, is one done in a public square – a quick stab to the gut. Reminded me of a kill in The Case of the Bloody Iris, and if something reminded me of that one, then that’s a point to the film’s favor.

Even so, as good as the kills were, as fun as the mystery was, and as bitching as the soundtrack was (apparently recorded by three of the four members of the then-disbanded Goblin), I still felt like something more could have been tacked on. I especially was hoping for more from Lario’s character. Part of the reason I love Deep Red is that if you pay attention during the beginning, you get an important clue. Here, I don’t know if there’s anything comparable. I’m not saying the finale comes out of nowhere, but I can’t imagine too many accurately guessed the answer to this one, so in that way, it’s a bit of a let-down.

Tenebre is still a great movie. I don’t think it’s Argento’s best, but I did enjoy a lot about it, and during future viewings, I’m wondering if more will click into place. As for now, it’s definitely above average, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as many others may think.


O Segredo da Múmia (1982)

Directed by Ivan Cardoso [Other horror films: O Lago Maldito (1980), As Sete Vampiras (1986), Um Lobisomem na Amazônia (2005), A Marca do Terrir (2005), O Sarcófago Macabro (2005)]

Perhaps better known, though not by that much, as The Secret of the Mummy, O Segredo da Múmia is the only Brazilian horror film I’ve seen not directed by José Mojica Marins. To be sure, The Secret of the Mummy is more a comedy/horror mix, but even so, for that one fact alone, it stands out.

And it is a unique movie. It’s not exactly zany, but the comedy here can feel a bit goofy at times. Some of the movie is in black-and-white, and other sequences are in color, and what’s more, there doesn’t seem to be a thematic reason for switching between the two. Some of the plot is ill-explained (why is the mad scientist locking up half-naked women and turning them into werewolf-like things?), and so while I do think the film is different, I can’t say I’ve ever cared for it.

I have seen this once before, some years back. I remember thinking it was a bit wacky, but fundamentally okay. Truth be told, I may have been too generous – not that The Secret of the Mummy is bad, but it’s really not my type of movie, and I probably thought more of it just because I’ve not seen many horror movies from Brazil (the only ones I have save this one would be At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse, Awakening of the Beast, and The Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures).

Being a mummy movie, I will say I enjoyed seeing the mummy attack people. It didn’t happen near as frequently as I’d have liked but I did enjoy it when the mummy popped up. There’s not that many great mummy movies past the early 1970’s (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb FTW), and this one certainly isn’t great, but at least there was a mummy, and his sequences were solid. Oh, and the mummy decapitated someone, so that was funny.

As far as performances go, I have to give some credit to Felipe Falcao, who played a servant named Igor. Falcao’s performance was a bit much at times, but he consistently reminded me of Anthony Carrigan from Gotham. I mean, he looked and acted almost exactly like him. It was uncanny. Otherwise, Wilson Grey was decent, but lacked character, and others, such as Evandro Mesquita, just didn’t get enough to work with.

I certainly wish I did enjoy this one more. It’d be cool to have some somewhat obscure Brazilian horror movie in my back pocket to recommend to friends and show that I’m a man of culture. I just don’t dig The Secret of the Mummy that much.

I liked hearing a foreign cover of The Beatles’ ‘I Should Have Known Better’ during a mummy attack, and I’m amazed at how much nudity Brazil was apparently okay with during the 1980’s, but otherwise, this isn’t a movie I’d really recommend unless you wanted a taste of something different.


Heavy Metal Massacre (1989)

Directed by Steven DeFalco [Other horror films: N/A] & Ron Ottaviano [Other horror films: N/A]

Well, this is about as inept as a movie can be. Heavy Metal Massacre is one of those SOV horror films that can be amusing, but ends up more tedious than anything else.

Part of it is a lack of story. No doubt, there is a story – there’s just not much of one. Some metalhead (played by David DeFalco, though credited as Bobbi Young) is killing women, and the police are looking for him. And that’s about it. There’s a little more, primarily revolving around two friends (played by Sami Plotkin and Michele De Santis) who run afoul of the killer, but really, there’s no conclusion to the story, and things just end.

That’s not exactly what makes Heavy Metal Massacre tedious, though. It’s more the constant dull heavy metal (many of the songs performed by an artist credited as The Electric After Burner Band) and really amateurish special effects. I don’t mean special effects as in CGI or anything, I mean in pointless aesthetics that can apparently be done with a video camera, such as changing the contrast or superimposing some scene on top of another, or even a corny blood dripping thing to convey a scene switch.

Really, I’m not a filmmaker, so I don’t have the vocabulary to describe exactly what they do here, but it’s something I’ve never seen in a movie before, and I don’t think it’s hard to figure out why after seeing this.

If I have to give credit for performances, I guess I can say that David DeFalco, despite a complete lack of character, did okay. I mean, he posed in his leather and spikes, staring into the camera with the best of them (that’s literally the first four minutes or so of this movie). Michele De Santis and John Thayer were okay, I suppose. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot of strong points here.

Apparently filmed in Providence, Rhode Island (a fact you can tell by the police cars in the film), Heavy Metal Massacre isn’t a movie without charm, and if someone out there listed this as a guilty pleasure, I could sort of see it. Honestly, the kills weren’t awful – someone getting hit in slow motion with a giant sledgehammer was pretty decent (and in fact, this is the fate that befell two people), and another got #FuckedUp with a chainsaw, so that was all fine and well, but I don’t think that’s near enough to make this palatable.

For a long time, I knew this film would probably end up being a mess, and by all means, Heavy Metal Massacre is. The story is quite uninspired, and given there’s not really much of a conclusion, unsatisfactory. Maybe it’s worth a watch if you’re into SOV horror, but for most people, I think turning it off halfway through, if not sooner, is a more likely fate for this one.


Screamtime (1983)

Directed by Michael Armstrong [Other horror films: The Haunted House of Horror (1969), Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält (1970)] & Stanley A. Long [Other horror films: N/A]

This British anthology horror film may be cheap, but I think it has a lot of heart and occasional originality. It’s not the most polished movie, but Screamtime does have a decent amount going for it.

I’ve seen this one before, and I remembered a good portion of it (being the framing story, along with two of the three tales here). I remembered that I thought it was decent, but not great. That assessment is spot on, but that’s not at all damning. All three of the stories here are, at the very least, good, and when all the stories in an anthology horror film are good (which doesn’t happen very often), then you know you’re doing something right.

To be sure, the framing story here is laughably weak. It’s not as bad as Slices, but then again, what is? Here, two guys steal some videotapes from a store, and go to a friend’s apartment to watch them. Those tapes make up each of the three stories, being ‘That’s the Way to Do It,’ ‘Dreamhouse,’ and ‘Do You Believe in Fairies?’. Obviously, the set-up is utter weaksauce, but because I sort of like the movie, it doesn’t lose anything because of that.

Of the three stories, the one that comes closest to great is the last one, ‘Do You Believe in Fairies?’, This is partially due to quite an original story dealing with gnomes and fairies, and it’s just a lot of fun, especially with the performances of Jean Anderson and Dora Bryan. Both of the others are pretty fun too – ‘Dreamhouse’ is more a slow-burn about a woman seeing visions in her house, whereas ‘That’s the Way to Do It’ is decently solid throughout, about an older gentleman being put down by his family for running a Punch and Judy puppet show.

There are good performances in all of the stories (aside from the framing sequence, that is), which is nice. From the first segment, there’s Robin Bailey (See No Evil), whose performance reminds me a decent amount of Peter Cushing from his segment in Tales from the Crypt. Yvonne Nicholson wears the biggest pair of glasses I’ve ever seen in ‘Dreamhouse,’ and she’s believable throughout. And from the final story, as I mentioned you have the pair Dora Bryan and Jean Anderson. Both played the sweet older women nicely, and Jean Andersone reminded me of a mixture between Frances Bay (Happy Gilmore) and Myra Carter (Storm of the Century).

No doubt Screamtime is a cheap film. There’s not much in the way of special effects, and the framing sequence is never great (though I do love the utterly ridiculous ending). Even so, Screamtime has a lot of heart and originality, and I deeply applaud this British film for that. If you want an anthology horror film that’s worth seeing, give Screamtime a chance.


Island Claws (1980)

Directed by Hernan Cardenas [Other horror films: N/A]

There are some movies that I just wish were better, either because I think the concept is pretty cool or the film has a lot of potential. Island Claws is one of them. While it could have been a nice little treat from the early 80’s, instead it’s just mostly slow and really doesn’t have much in the way of reward.

A small part of this perception may be the print I watch, which was likely a VHS rip, and as such, was quite low in quality. Specifically, sequences that took place at night were quite difficult to decipher, and though I doubt my rating would change much had it been Blu-ray quality, that is worth taking note of.

Either way, it’s no doubt a slow movie, with it’s plot just crawling along and rarely doing much to pull the audience back in. There were a few good sequences – a man who lived in an old bus (not typical living quarters, but it looked comfortable) gets attacked by crabs, and the bus catches fire and blows up. And now that I think about it, that might be the only sequence I think of as actually good.

There were only five performances of note, and that’s being generous. Robert Lansing (Empire of the Ants, 4D Man, and The Nest) was pretty decent as one of the leads, working well with Steve Hanks (12/12/12) and Jo McDonnell. Barry Nelson (who some may recognize from The Shining) was good also, though he didn’t stand out as much as I’d have liked. Tony Rigo (who reminded me a little of Dick Miller) had his moments also.

Even so, the story here was just so slow, and even the occasionally interesting elements thrown in (such as some racism toward Haitians who are hiding out on the island) just didn’t amount to much in the end, especially when the final battle against the sole giant crab was so damn luckluster. I mean, I guess the crab looked okay, but when you have a choice between a film like this and Corman’s Attack of the Crab Monsters, and you’re leaning Corman, you know the movie has a problem.

Certainly there is a little charm to be had here. I personally liked the small-town feel, especially a scene early on in a rambunctious bar where everyone knew everyone. It was nice and homey. That doesn’t make the film worth seeing though, and despite hoping that I could like this (and I gave it two chances – I first saw this one some years back), it’s just really not that good.


Lucifer (1987)

Directed by John Eyres [Other horror films: Project Shadowchaser III (1995), Judge and Jury (1996), Octopus (2000), Ripper (2001)]

This is a bit of an odd film. Lucifer (which was apparently released under the much catchier title Goodnight, God Bless later on) is a slasher with a fantastic opening, but very little past that point really makes an impact.

I have to first say, though, that I don’t quite know the origins of this one. It’s filmed in London, and multiple reviewers call it a British movie, which makes sense, but then IMDb lists the country of origin as Canada, so I don’t know what that’s about. I’ll just assume it’s a Canadian film made in London for some reason, as that’s really all I have to work on.

No matter where it’s from, though, that opening is strong. It’s also sort of sad, because nothing else in the movie comes even close to matching it, but hey, I guess if you start off strong, then that’s the risk you have to run.

A man dressed as a priest approaches a schoolyard – kids are frollicking and playing as kids do, and being watched over by a teacher. The priest enters the yard, and the teacher walks up to him. It’s a short conversation, though, as he pulls out a knife and stabs her. He then pulls a handgun out and shoots the kids. He doesn’t kill all of them – only five children die in the opening (we see their body bags a little later on) but one of the girls he does attempt to kill gets lucky, and becomes the focus of his obsession throughout the film.

Not too many horror films deal with the death of kids in a senseless act of violence like this, and I definitely appreciated how this film ignored convention and began with five young kids getting shot in a schoolyard. Masterful opening, definitely memorable, and it’s a shame little else in the film does much.

Which isn’t to say the other kills are bad – there was an okay one dealing with a police officer falling prey to a spike-trap of sorts, which was sort of fun. There was an almost suspenseful scene in a movie theater in which the priest stabbed a knife through the chair in front of him, which would have killed the target had they not dropped something and was leaning forward to pick it up. Even so, for a slasher film, Lucifer just doesn’t have enough pop, and feels far more sluggish than one would hope.

Frank Rozelaar-Green wasn’t a very interesting lead, but then again, Emma Burdon-Sutton wasn’t particularly noteworthy either, but I guess Jane Price did well as a young kid who almost gets killed multiple times throughout the movie. Really, there’s no great performances here, and that coupled with the sluggish nature of the film, not to mention bloodless kills, is a disappointment.

Oh, I should mention a couple of more things. We never find out the killer’s identity – despite the fact we never see his face and it just seems that his identity might be important, I guess we were misled (which is a mild shame, because while simple in design, I did like the killer’s priest look). Also, the final scene, in which there’s a confession given, strikes me as nonsensical, unnecessary, and somewhat ridiculous.

Lucifer (or as I prefer, Goodnight, God Bless) is a dull film with not much aside from the opening truly going for it. For a late 80’s British/Canadian slasher, I’m guessing there’s not a lot of choices out there, so if you’re desperate, give this a watch. Otherwise, this isn’t a great film, nor a good one, and though I recommend watching the first five minutes, most of this film isn’t worth it.


C.H.U.D. (1984)

Directed by Douglas Cheek [Other horror films: N/A]

Some movies hit the right spots. Some movies do very little wrong, and get as much appreciation as possible. Some movies are Gods among cinema.

And C.H.U.D. is one of them.

Dramatic, to be sure, but true. C.H.U.D. is an almost perfect movie in every way. The story is quite good and possesses a true organic feel. The characters and plotlines are great, and how some characters don’t even meet others when investigating the same mystery is a wonderful touch. Everything fits together nicely, and it’s just a wonder to behold.

There’s so much to enjoy about the story. Four of the bigger characters, being the photographer (John Heard), the soup kitchen guy (Daniel Stern), the freelance reporter (J.C. Quinn), and the police captain (Christopher Curry) all have tangential connections – Curry and Heard don’t even meet up until the final three minutes of the film, and Heard had little idea of who Stern was when he ran into him in the sewers, and I doubt that either Stern or Curry had any idea that it was Quinn’s character who helped get Heard to start investigating it.

The story is just very well done. Heard’s wife (played by Kim Greist) doesn’t have a lot to do to start off with, but by the final thirty minutes of the film, she has her own subplot as she has to deal with some cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers who are forcing their way into her apartment while her husband is trying to avoid the same things beneath the streets.

I just love this story. The movie doesn’t waste any time. Even the very first scene – which some movies would just use to show a random, unimportant victim, getting killed – is deeply crucial to the film, as that individual is a relation to one of the main characters, and is in fact one of the reasons these disappearances have been taken more seriously by police.

Not to mention the acronym C.H.U.D., which means multiple things (it’s a good thing that waste created what could be described as cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers, or they would have had to scramble for new matching words), and I just love the sequence where we find out the true meaning, and it shows just how sinister George Martin’s character really is.

Christopher Curry is great, and when he was finally able to punch out the antagonist of the film, that was quality fun. Curry isn’t an actor I know, but he did really well, and I quite liked his emotional scene in the bar. John Heard (Cat People and Locusts) isn’t an actor I generally notice, but he did quite good here, and I just wish his character had more time to work with Curry’s. Playing Heard’s wife was Kim Greist (Manhunter), and when things started going down in her apartment building, she knew how to handle business.

Daniel Stern I know only from Home Alone and Leviathan, but he did fantastic, and I loved his growing working relationship with Curry’s character. J.C. Quinn was used well to move the plot a bit, and George Martin played a horrible, despicable character with great talent. We also get a small appearance from Frankie Faison (The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal) and a longer appearance by John Goodman (Red State, Arachnophobia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and the series Roseanne), an actor I love in pretty much anything. The first time I saw this film, I’m guessing Goodman’s appearance went right over my head, so noticing him here out of the blue was a beautiful moment for me.

The design of the cannibalistic hombres is great, particularly the glowing eyes (and at times, they reminded me of The Mole People). I enjoyed how they didn’t show us much of them – just the clawed hands popping out of the sewers every now and again – until late in the film, when we can experience them to our glory. Oh, and the soundtrack is fantastic. It’s subtle, but it’s fantastic, especially during the apartment attack.

Some movies just work. I enjoyed C.H.U.D. when I first saw it, and I enjoyed it immensely with this revisit of it. It’s a great 80’s movie, has a nice New York City vibe (as it was filmed in and under the city), and just works in ways that not too many horror films can. Highly recommended piece of 80’s cinema.


Lo squartatore di New York (1982)

Directed by Lucio Fulci [Other horror films: Beatrice Cenci (1969), Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (1971), Non si sevizia un paperino (1972), Il cav. Costante Nicosia demoniaco, ovvero: Dracula in Brianza (1975), Sette note in nero (1977), Zombi 2 (1979), Paura nella città dei morti viventi (1980), Black Cat (Gatto nero) (1981), …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà (1981), Quella villa accanto al cimitero (1981), Manhattan Baby (1982), Murderock – Uccide a passo di danza (1984), Aenigma (1987), Zombi 3 (1988), Quando Alice ruppe lo specchio (1988), Il fantasma di Sodoma (1988), La dolce casa degli orrori (1989), La casa nel tempo (1989), Un gatto nel cervello (1990), Demonia (1990), Hansel e Gretel (1990), Le porte del silenzio (1992), Voci dal profondo (1994)]

When it comes to Lucio Fulci’s work, I’ve seen a fair amount of his better-known output. The New York Ripper, or it’s funner original title, Lo squartatore di New York, is one that I just hadn’t gotten to before. Finally taking the time to watch it, I can say I had a great time with it.

It’s a sleazy, grimy movie, with a lot of sexual situations and violence. It’s not playing for laughs (unless you, like me, cracked up during the shrieks of quacking the killer let out), and it can sometimes feel a bit bleak and occasionally almost aimless. In other words, it’s gritty fun.

Not that there’s not a story, because I actually think this has a decent plot, but it’s hard to pin-point a main character (characters played by Jack Hedley and Almanta Suska fit the bill), and there are some random side-steps (such as dealing with a woman named Jane who gets into more than a few sexual situations) that just give an interesting flow to the movie.

Most of the main performances here were decent. It’s true that some, such as Almanta Suska, Howard Ross (Five Dolls for an August Moon), and Jack Hedley (Witchcraft), failed to make a big impression on me, but I did like both Paolo Malco (The House by the Cemetery and You’ll Die at Midnight) and Andrea Occhipinti (who starred in A Blade in the Dark the following year). Occhipinti doesn’t peak until later on in the movie, but Malco, whose character we never really get too much information on, is fun as a straight-laced psychologist with fun magazine habits.

Being a Lucio Fulci film, what many may find of paramount importance is the gore, and I have to say I did love the kills in this film. You had a broken bottle stab an unfortunate woman’s vagina. And that wasn’t even the most violent scene, as we also see someone’s nipple get cut in half (in a close-up), along with someone’s eye and eye-socket come in contact with a razer-blade. This movie wasn’t playing around, and I dug the gore throughout.

Among the work of Fulci I’ve seen, I do think I enjoyed this a bit more than Zombi 2, if only because I enjoy slashers on average more than zombie movies. It’s been so long since I’ve seen The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, I can’t accurately rate either one, but I can say that with as much fun as I had with The New York Ripper, I think Don’t Torture a Duckling is still better (and for those wondering where The House By the Cemetary fits in, well, it’s not among his higher-caliber works).

I’ve wanted to see The New York Ripper for a long time, and having finally done so, I found it quite a gritty and gory film. It’s not Fulci’s best, but it is a pretty solid time, and I’d definitely recommend it to horror fans of all stripes.


Murderlust (1985)

Directed by Donald M. Jones [Other horror films: Deadly Sunday (1982), Project Nightmare (1987), Evil Acts (2015)]

Murderlust isn’t a movie that I think about often, and it’s not really worth more than a couple views in my estimation. Even so, it’s not a bad film, though it does tend to be a bit dry at times, and almost feels more like a 70’s film than one from the mid-80’s.

One strong point in this movie’s favor is the setting. Filmed partially in the Mojave Desert (in fact, the killer in the film, played by Eli Rich, is dubbed the Mojave Murderer), this has a great deserty feel. The setting is quite beautiful, and even in suburban areas, when you see more sand than grass, it just feels different than so many other films. Mikey had the same thing, but unlike Mikey, the desert plays a big part of this film (that’s where Rich’s character hides the bodies), and it just gives Murderlust a bit more feeling.

Which was badly needed, I hate to say. The story here follows Eli Rich’s character as he goes through his day-to-day life, from being a Sunday school teacher to his failed attempts to hold down other jobs, from a watch guard to a janitor. In his spare time, he kills women by strangulation, primarily ladies of the night. That is, when he’s not arguing with his bosses or his cousin and drama-like things of that sort. This movie can be quite dry, and the fact it runs for an hour and 38 minutes doesn’t help matters.

I’ll give Murderlust props for Eli Rich, though. I think he makes quite a strong lead, and has a very good, strong look (that moustache occasionally reminds me of John Ashton’s Taggart). He can go from kind and sweet to menacing and deadly quite well, and his performance does lend this one a lot of weight. Others in the film, such as Rochelle Taylor and Dennis Gannon, are fine, but it’s really Rich who is the focal point of most of this.

None of the kills are overly shocking, but they’re mostly filmed well (when they’re filmed at all – a couple are just off-screen) and they get the job done. As it is, Rich’s character has a pretty decent bodycount, and he does have some rather young victims (one of whom he forces into pleasuring him), so if they focused a little more on the kills than his day-in-the-life drama, he could be a quality threatening force.

As decent as the central performance is though, Murderlust is still a bit dry. It’s luckily not that bleak – Rich’s character has a bit of a cavalier attitude when it comes to his personal and business relationships, which does lead to some amusing scenes – but it can be as arid as the desert they filmed this in. It’s still worth catching at least once, but I have to say, now that I’ve seen it twice, I don’t know if it’s a film I’d want to see again anytime soon.


Blood Cult (1985)

Directed by Christopher Lewis [Other horror films: The Ripper (1985), Revenge (1986)]

This early shot-on-video horror film is a bit of a mess. I mean, story-wise, it’s almost fine (aside from largely sucking), but with the quality of the overall film, Blood Cult doesn’t really cut it. It’s a somewhat tedious film with little to recommend, and I can think of plenty better SOV horror films to spend your time with.

In fact, this film is somewhat well-known among SOV fans as reportedly being the first shot-on-video horror film. It’s not – unless I’m deeply mistaken, I would think films such as Sledgehammer (1983), The Toxic Slime Creature (1982), and Day of the Reaper (1984) predate it. I should say, though, I’m no expert on SOV horror films, so perhaps there’s something about these earlier movies that disqualify them. Even if Blood Cult was the first, while an interesting historical note, it wouldn’t make the film any more palatable.

And it’s now I should mention that I watched this under the title Slasher. There was no cast listing, and in fact, no credits, aside from some link to an internet website, I believe. Also, the copyright date at the end was 1997. Not only this, but the copy I saw was 83 minutes, whereas IMDb lists the film as 89 minutes.

I go into that detail because while I doubt seeing an original print from 1985 would have deeply improved my enjoyment of the film, I want to be forthcoming in admitting I likely saw a marginally cut version. Slasher is just an awful retitling anyway, so I don’t know what they may have removed, but if I am able to see a better version of Blood Cult in the future, maybe I’ll appreciate it a bit more.

Charles Ellis made for an interesting lead, being an older gentleman (his character was the sheriff, and also running for Senate). He probably did as well as he could with a movie that was shot in nine days. Same with both Juli Andelman and James Vance. I didn’t love any of these performances, but with a movie like this, you’ve just got to give them credit for showing up.

The gore isn’t too bad, though. While a far cry from H.G. Lewis, there were some decent scenes in Blood Cult, such as the kill toward the beginning (following an excruciatingly slow POV sequence, to be fair) when a woman gets hacked to death with a cleaver. There’s a severed hand, a severed head, and this unlucky woman finds some severed fingers in her salad (admittedly, her screams of horror did amuse me). It’s not amazing or even necessarily impressive, but at least Blood Cult did have something to offer.

With muddled audio, though, along with less-than-stellar plot (and a somewhat horrible finale), there’s not that much here that’s worth seeing, at least not in the cut of the film I saw. What amazes me most about Blood Cult, actually, is that they managed a sequel in 1986 titled Revenge (and if IMDb can be believed, Charles Ellis actually reprised his role). Maybe that sequel fixes up some of the issues with this.

As Blood Cult, or Slasher, stands alone, though, I have to say that I didn’t have a good time with this, and found it more tedious than anything else.