So, The Slayer. A somewhat obscure, yet much sought after by those in the know supernatural slasher from the early 80s is the latest to get the deluxe remastering treatment from Arrow Video. Originally heavily censored on both sides of the Atlantic, Arrow finally present the film in all it’s gory glory for the first time. But is it worth the effort? Read on, Fiends, read on….
Predating Wes Cravens far more well known A Nightmare on Elm Street in it’s use of the dream world imposing it’s threat upon the waking world, The Slayer concerns 2 couples who take a vacation to an isolated island community. Once there Kay, a troubled artist who has painted scenes from the island despite not having seen them, begins to have vivid, violent dreams of an unseen assailant killing her friends (and any other visitors to the island). Is she imagining this, killing them herself, or is it really a demon from her past, come back to haunt her? Once a storm arrives, we head towards the fiery, and slightly confusing conclusion.
The film is really rather entertaining, in a typical early 80s low budget manner. It is clear from the outset that the majority of the films budget was allocated to the effects work, but this for once doesn’t really affect the acting as each of the core 4 performers gives a more than solid showing. The film moves along nicely, with the killings suitably gory and inventive. The films fiery conclusion ramps up the supernatural element, and features a well staged reveal of the previously unseen assailant that will certainly be memorable for most viewers. As I stated earlier, this idea of a dreamworld killer being drawn into the waking one pre-dates ANOES, and there is some debate as to whether Craven was aware of The Slayer or not. The films audio is a perfectly reasonable mono outing, with a fine score.
As is expected, Arrow have put together a damned fine package, featuring a beautiful transfer from an original camera negative, viewable in both HD and SD on the accompanying DVD. The extras include a commentary the writer/director, one of the films stars, and its producer., a second commentary with The Hysteria Continues, some isolated score selection with commentary, an all new “making of” documentary, a return to the films locations, a feature length audience reaction track recorded at a screening shown at one of the films locations, a stills gallery, and the films original trailer. You also get reversible cover art featuring the original poster/sleeve image, and a newly commissioned piece (which you can see at the top of this review)
Overall, I really like this set. The film is nicely made, and the extras are more than enough to keep you entertained.
Gallery (click to enlarge):