If there was a year of slashers, it would be 1981.
Pamela Voorhees had just set the tone and formula for which all slasher films would inherently adopt and with her own offspring Jason carving up the screen halfway through 1981, it was inevitable that other killers would walk in his shadow and dominate.
It says something though that it’s not just about a token killer roaming the woods or alternate location killing promiscuous teens left, right and centre. There is another magical ingredient, that when struck right will bring the audience into the cinema and generate a cult following.
The 80s was ripe with this dedication to the genre with a no-holds barred approach to filmmaking that would provide creatives with free license to explore their craft.
In steps Director Jeff Lieberman who had already made waves with his eco-horror film Squirm in 1976 and his experimental drug horror Blue Sunshine in 1978 to add his own twist on the sub-genre.
Unfortunately, whilst the ingredients are there, it is missing that magic to hook you into the fold.
Set in the mountainous range of Oregon, there are the usual teen victims who take no heed of warning from Forest ranger Roy McLean (George Kennedy) to venture into the mountains. Of course, they come a cropper from some The Hills Have Eyes style hillbillies who pick off the characters one by one. You can clearly see inspiration for future films here though, especially in Wrong Turn which uses a similar plot device.
What it does boast though is some stunning cinematography by Dean and Joel King who manage to capture the remote landscape and activate some disturbing scenes into the mix. And the musical score by Brad Fiedel (The Terminator, Fright Night) using the haunting whistling motif from the movie with an unsettling effect.
If like me this one passed you by and you’re a fan of slasher films, definitely check it out but don’t expect too much as it does wander of the path too much, sticking too a very mediocre approach to sub-genre.
- Saul Muerte