Plot: What’s it about?
Arrow Video never fails to provide me with a a solid choice for entertainment that veers out of the way of what I would ever seek out. I have enjoyed their releases of other ‘80s era slasher films, so I felt excited to check out The Slayer, the low budget first film by J.S. Cardone. As with other Arrow releases, it can be an acquired taste but it still has its moments.
The plot revolves around a group of four friends that fly to a deserted island when another friend lends them a home for vacation. There is Kay (Sarah Kendall) a surreal artist, and her husband David (Allan McRae.) Kay’s brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) brings his wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook.) Kay and Eric are a little bit at odds, because Kay is plagued by dreams of an evil force and believes that they should leave the island. She has had these type of dreams since she was a child and it has always been a sore point for Eric. When the group receives a warning from their pilot, Marsh (Michael Holmes,) that the island is about to be hit by a major storm, they decide to stick it out even though their residence is a good ten minute walk away from a road. Once stranded upon the island, someone or something begins picking off the four friends, one by one, while Kay continues to have nightmares.
In my opinion this is not exactly an essential horror film. It is pretty run-of-the-mill for most of the duration of the movie, and despite some fairly enjoyable Eighties schlock, it fails to rise above a very paint-by-numbers slasher film. Then it does something unexpected. The film has an enjoyable and memorable ending that delivers far more in the last ten minutes than the previous eighty minutes. This ending makes the film worth seeing, but I am not sure if it warrants owning it outright.
I appreciate all that Arrow does and was glad to get to check this one out. That said, there are far better Arrow Video titles out there that I would pick up before purchasing this one. I would rent prior to a purchase, but if you are as addicted to Arrow’s collection as I am, you will probably just end up buying it.
Video: How’s it look?
Arrow did a good job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec of a new 4K restoration from the original 35mm negatives in 1.85:1. The film has been given a strong uptick in resolution but at the same time can be very grainy occasionally. This is mostly a nighttime affair so certain scenes look grainier than others. I don’t think this is an issue with Arrow’s transfer so much as the source material. If you watch the making-of feature it will become obvious exactly how much work Arrow put into restoring this release. Fans will be delighted that Arrow continues to try to source these niche films in 4K, but this film in 4K still looks only decent in comparison to other titles.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The provided LPCM mono track holds true to the source materials. Clarity is for the most part excellent and the score by Robert Folk is really fun. Robert Folk has a real flair for dramatic and the sounds of his piano and strings working together is easily one of the film’s greatest strengths. Just because the depth of the track is limited does not stop the enjoyment of what is presented. Really good stuff.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – J.S. Cardone, Eric Weston, and Carol Kottenbrook – Mike Figgis gives an enjoyable and informative commentary on how the film came together.
- Audio Commentary – A second track featuring The Hysteria Continues
- Isolated score – selections and composer audio interview
- The Tybee Post Theater Audience Track
- Nightmare Island: The Making of The Slayer – full-length documentary on the making of the film featuring interviews with director-writer J.S. Cardone, co-writer William R. Ewing, producer Eric Weston, DP Karen Grossman, actress Carol Kottenbrook. This is a well done piece that explains how the film came together.
- Return to Tybee : The Locations of The Slayer – camera operator Arledge Armenaki gives a tour of the locations from the film as they appear today.
- The Tybee Post Theater Experience – commentary mentioned above, a brief introduction (1080p, 2:38), a quick intro from Joe Cardone (1080p, 1:04,) and a live Q and A with Arledge Armenaki.
- Theatrical trailer
The Bottom Line
The Slayer is another slasher film that would be easily forgotten if it were not for the uniquely satisfying finish. I have a penchant for films like these and this one will probably not blow anybody away that is only mildly interested in the genre. That said, Arrow have gone above and beyond to provide a plethora of satisfying supplemental materials and have given this film a new 4K restoration that has rescued it from the terrible shape it was originally in. For fans, this should be a no-brainer. For newcomers, I highly recommend a rental prior to a purchase.