I think this is it. I think my 80s Slasher Vaults series comes to an end with this 13th installment of lesser-known titles from the end of the 80s horror era. This one takes us right into the early 1990s, giving a brief glimpse at the disastrous state of slashers only four years before Scream saved and revived the genre.
THE DEADLY INTRUDER (1988)
From its Carpenter-esque score to the awesome atmosphere during the kill scenes, The Deadly Intruder would be a classic 80s slasher—if the rest of the movie was completely different. This entire mess seems to be structured just to deliver its twist ending, which is nothing less than a big WTF moment.
The intro scene begins with someone being chased by authorities (I think), then a woman is drowned in her kitchen sink—with her boobs hanging out.
Next, we meet some detectives who pretty much have no role in the rest of the movie. We also briefly meet the police station mascot – a cute dog whose shitting and farting problems are stressed. WTF?
One of the major detectives on the “case” is none other than hottie Daniel Greene from Elvira Mistress of the Dark, and his superior is veteran actor Stuart Whitman.
Meanwhile, Molly Cheek of It’s Garry Shandling Show is throwing a dinner party. Amongst her guests is Danny Bonaduce.
As this boring gathering continues, thankfully the film keeps cutting to random people getting the good old slasher treatment by an unseen killer.
Eventually, dinner is done, Molly Cheek is left alone, and an intruder comes in and holds her captive, at which point this disaster totally falls apart and loses its slasher charm.
The captivity sequence is laughable, and the twist at the end makes things worse.
HOUSEBOAT HORROR (1989)
Houseboat Horror comes from Australia and actually stars Alan Dale, known back then for his time on the Australian soap opera Neighbours, the show that launched Kylie Minogue’s career!
A typical 80s low budget slasher, this one is about a rock band shooting a video by a lake. The crew goofs around, plays cheap scare pranks, has sex, dances to really bad music, wanders all around the woods, and wears fashions that look like something from the U.K., circa 1983.
Between all the tedious filler, there are loads of kills. Seriously. There are so many characters you don’t have time to distinguish who is who before they’re killed off. Which is why the kills are the only reason to watch.
The unseen killer (although we see flashbacks to a “burn” accident that happened years before) uses knives, axes, machetes, a bow and arrow…it’s a virtual Friday the 13th knockoff. You’ll especially think so once you see the killer and the film’s final frame at the lake.
The three most notable moments in Houseboat Horror include a rockin’ head split (all the gore effects spent in one shot), a horseshoe to the eyes, and one of the most brutal scenes I’ve ever witnessed in a slasher of someone being stabbed repeatedly through a mattress.
NIGHT OF THE DRIBBLER (1990)
I had high hopes when Night of the Dribbler opened with an animated intro set to an “Oh Yeah” style 80s electronic dance song. My expectations shot even higher when I discovered the movie is from the director of 80s-bad Zombie Nightmare.
Then reality came crashing down on me. This film about a waterboy that wants to be on the high school basketball team – even though players are being killed off by a psycho in a basketball mask – fails miserably as a horror comedy slasher spoof.
For starters, the film mostly forgets it’s spoofing slashers. There are limited kills, which is unfortunate. Their cartoonish presentation is the highlight, with “basketball face” snickering while taking out basketball players to “Boom!” and “Dzzzzzz” exclamations that appear on screen like something out of the original Batman TV show.
Second, it’s just not funny. The humor doesn’t even live up to the comedy of the worst 1960s sitcoms. Part of the problem is that the film in large part is a platform for comedian Fred Travalena, who plays THREE roles in the film – the coach, a detective, and an announcer at the games. His shtick is a complete failure in all three cases. It is tedious and grueling to sit through.
The film would have been better to just focus on the teammates and adolescent sex humor between kills, especially since main guy Gregory Calpakis (Night of the Demons 3) is such a cutie.
In the end, the killer steals the show during the campy unmasking scene.
THE REFRIGERATOR (1991)
This film about a killer fridge takes itself way too seriously, but somehow, it totally entertains! The low budget look and feel work to its advantage—as does, I imagine, the lowest of low expectations when going into a movie about a killer fridge.
After an opening kill of a beary guy and his lady friend having sex by the fridge with deadly results, we meet a young couple from Ohio. They move to an apartment in a rundown building in New York, where they quickly meet the eccentrics, including a Flamenco dancing plumber and a woman who warns the wife not to move in.
Before long, both the husband and wife are having nightmares/visions of the refrigerator.
However, the wife is terrified of her dreams, while the husband begins to fall under the fridge’s control. Pretty soon, the fridge starts devouring unsuspecting victims!
The death scenes and the wife’s nightmares are played with genuine horror elements, and the final battle with the fridge gets surprisingly gory, as other appliances – including fans – start attacking. This is also when the film just lets go and has total fun with its premise, something that would have been welcomed even earlier in the film.
I also would have welcomed a side plot that seems to be implied but never pans out. The husband grows increasingly angry and suspect of the way the plumber and his friends look at the wife while seeming to giggle at and mock him.
His jealousy seems unfounded, because the plumber’s gang comes across as very gay, which could have added a comic twist to the plot but is never addressed.
Working in the video store in the late 80s and early 90s, I witnessed a “sexy horror” offshoot taking over both in direct-to-video titles and made-for-cable films, from the sexy slashing of the Stripped to Kill movies to the sexy supernatural of the Witchcraft series.
Toss Zipperface into that category. If remade today, it would be a much better and more disturbing film. This sexy scary leather master with a machete is disappointingly vanilla with both the sex and the slashing, and there’s barely any boobs or blood!
Problem is, Zipperface is more interested in its lame plot, which revolves around a chick promoted to detective in her precinct, a female mayor’s political career, and how each is affected by a masked leather daddy killing S&M prostitutes. This could easily have been a smart commentary on feminine power in both society and slashers, which I think may have been the goal.
Unfortunately, it feels too cheap and low budget to get any message across, so you have to just go with the schlock. The first kill has a prostitute freaking out when she sees Alpo stacked on a shelf in Zipperface’s dungeon (I totally laughed). She tries to flee, but he snags her with his whip.
The newly promoted female detective goes to question a cute S&M photographer, and when he invites her back, within minutes she’s doing a sexy photo shoot for him, setting the women’s movement back like 30 years.
Just to be subversive, a priest’s ties to one of the victims is thrown in, as well as a scene of a guy in drag being chased by a biker gang.
The biggest guffaws come from the final scene. Our leading lady goes undercover in leather and gets bound and whipped by Zipperface.
Things get unintentionally farcical when the mayor arrives and reacts to everything she’s witnessing. But the highlight is when one of the detectives actually barks, “You’re under arrest, Zipperface!”
He would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that meddling bitch in leather….