In this installment, it’s a slasher smorgasbord of three random flicks that got lost in the video store shelves back in the day. In my opinion, one of them should have gotten more love and deserves a DVD release.
NIGHT RIPPER (1986)
I think the biggest downfall of this shot-on-video slasher is the overuse of driving montages set to bad 80s muzak to fill the running length. Other than that, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a direct-to-video movie of the time: a thin plot stringing together a series of murders of pretty women in what has the appearance of a home movie.
The biggest claim to fame for Night Ripper is that one of the stars is the fricking Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, playing a creeper photographer who works at a photo studio alongside the main guy and his lesbian friend. Various women walk in and out of the photographers’ lives and bring drama filler. Some model for them, some sleep with them, all of them die at the hands of a knife-wielding killer.
After the tone is set with some good 80s synthesizer horror music over credits featuring mannequin faces all dolled up with makeup, we get the first kill. Death scenes are pretty much always the same, with the victim being stabbed in the neck. Often, it’s a series of still shots to give the effect of a model being photographed…and to hide the absence of special effects. The limited lighting (sometimes drenched in 80s neon colors) is befitting of the era and gives the kill scenes the perfect 80s atmosphere.
Other than that, we do get a shower scene with the main guy!
And when his new woman is lured to a warehouse filled with mannequins, there’s a chase scene. This is pretty much the best part of the film…and it also ends quite abruptly (the scene and the movie). It’s rather disappointing that the conclusion doesn’t even feature the main guy, but instead his new woman, who is a minor character.
**SPOILERS** Finally, adding to the history of LGBTQ characters in 1980s slashers, which most often consisted of men gone psycho over confusion about their gender identity or sexual orientation, the killer in Night Ripper is…the out and proud lesbian, who happens to hate models (which she refers to as mannequins) because her lover left her for one. Not surprisingly, while she’s presented as happy-go-lucky in her few scenes throughout the film, she’s also made out to be predatory, coming on strong and pervy to any woman that crosses her path.
HUNTER’S BLOOD (1986)
This backwoods movie loaded with familiar face—including Kim Delaney, a brief appearance by Billy Bob Thornton, one of the Tool Time buddies from Home Improvement, and even Sheriff Brackett from Halloween—is basically Deliverance without the anal. It’s a horror fag’s…uh…fan’s disappointment considering it comes from the director of awesomely awful backwoods slasher Memorial Valley Massacre.
After a nice sudsy torso scene of veteran actor Sam Bottoms in the shower, he and some friends head to the woods to go hunting, including Clu Gulager of Elm Street 2 and Return of the Living Dead fame, Fame TV series vice principal Quenton Morloch (he left that show for this?), and John Travolta’s brother Joey.
They talk during their road trip. They get into an awkward standoff with hillbillies during a pit stop. They get into a bar fight with rednecks. They go on a joyride through the wilderness. They sit around the fire talking. They smoke pot and listen to music on a boombox. FINALLY, hillbillies show up and harass them, but the guys chase them off with their hunting guns. So the war begins.
But, forget slashing. Hunter’s Blood consists mostly of gun battles and death by bullets. The only one using a knife to kill is Sam Bottoms, who becomes a one-man army taking on all the hillbillies alone. There’s some gore and body reveals, but this really isn’t much of a horror movie, and the highlight is Clu Gulager and creepy horror actor Billy Drago fighting over ownership of Travolta’s ass. Never thought I’d get to say that in a blog.
THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE (1990)
It amazes me that this late entry to the slasher decade doesn’t get more love. The very derivative nature of it makes it one that was so satisfying back in the rental days. It has everything you’d want. There’s an awesomely 80s horror score and a freaky gardener with a sack and goggles hiding his face because he was in some sort of chainsaw accident, so the perfect slasher tone is totally set from the start.
There’s also a slumber party, loads of faux scares, genuine tension at other points, some unique kills, body reveals, and a chase scene in a barn—complete with a limping final girl! Plus, there’s a twist.
Also crucially important is all the cheesiness. The killer walks around with heads of victims in a sack. The killer corrects the population number on the town’s “Welcome” to reflect how many people have been killed.
The killer goes for a chick in the shower, but retreats when she spills her Diet Pepsi (yes, in the shower). The sheriff’s confrontation with the killer is absurdly casual. But best of all, the sheriff’s secretary is perfectly snarky.