In 1982, a year before A Christmas Story was released, our beloved Ralphie starred in a 1980s slasher—as “the final girl.” Yep. Death Valley is a road trip slasher flick in which the killer is predominantly stalking a little boy. See, Ralphie goes away with his mother (Chucky’s mom from the first Child’s Play) and her new boyfriend (the main man from Strange Invaders).
Amazingly, the killer drives around in what looks like a gold version of Christine. As in movies like The Hitcher and Road Games, he randomly kills people driving down the endless desolate roads in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, little Ralphie almost stumbles upon a gruesome murder scene and, even though he DOESN’T, the killer still decides he needs to die.
Death Valley has some very traditional early 80s slasher kills, nice big boobs, bright red blood, perfect camera angles, and awesome slasher musical cues. Plus, Ralphie is constantly in some sort of stalk/chase scene. And seriously, the killer does try to shoot his eye out!
One of the most entertaining moments involves a creepy looking, obese babysitter. She becomes obsessed with a Twinkie; it’s like she knew they would become extinct in 30 years. In what almost seems like an in-joke in hindsight, she says, “I’ll be right back. I hate the scary part.” And the killer lures her with the promise of a free soda. It’s like this insulting idea that fat people will choose sugar over death. Okay, I’ll admit, if it was an RC Cherry, I’d probably go for it too.
As the film comes to a conclusion, any 80s slasher charm just falls apart. In a very bizarre scene, the killer seems to disassemble a car piece by piece, because he hurls endless parts through windows. He dances on the roof of a house. And he somehow gets tricked by a reflection in a mirror—a mirror in his OWN HOUSE. You’d think he’d know that he was looking at a reflection. On top of that, the “combat” acting is just terrible. But the good news is, Ralphie does get to shoot a gun in this film, even if it isn’t a Red Ryder BB Gun.