SLASHERS (DVD)

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 99 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

Fangoria Pictures manages to take a handful of no-name actors, a set that screams “low-budget”, and put together one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in a while.

This is the most bizarre opening to a DVD I’ve EVER SEEN. Seriously. It’s got half a dozen Japanese girls acting as cheerleaders, waving around pom poms built around human skulls. Meanwhile, in the background, Japanese pop music commonly called “J-Pop” is wailing with its typically upbeat peppy style. The refrain “Slashers! Super fine!” can be heard at regular intervals. I don’t know what the lyrics translate as, but it’s really something to hear.

You can tell immediately that this is about a game show just from the title. It’s spelled thusly:

“$la$her$”

Note the clever use of dollar signs denoting big prizes.

And indeed, that’s what it is…it’s a “extreme game show”, in fact, the most popular one in Japan. And tonight, it’s going to be big, or so says Miho, the show’s vivacious host. It’s an all-American special tonight, and half a dozen Americans are going to take a run at twelve million dollars US. The rules are cliche-simple. There ARE NONE. Anyone can work together or singlehandedly, with money to split or collect all at once.

The objective is simple–kill the slashers and walk away alive. Every Slasher killed adds another two million dollars US to the already-rich pot.

Our Slashers are bizarre to say the least.

Chainsaw Charlie, a described redneck with a weapon to suit his name, bears a striking and truly unsettling resemblence to Mad (r) (c) ™ (please God don’t let them sue me for mentioning their name in print i’m too poor to be sued!) frontman and logo Alfred E. Neuman (Alfred E. Neuman is a licensed property and official sponsor for Mad Magazine, see previous lawyer-pacifying rant).

Preacherman is a vaguely undead-looking fellow in a dour black outfit, toting a dagger in the shape of a cross.

Finally, we have Dr. Ripper, a truly hideous surgical type with a bone shear, and plenty of other malpractical tools of the trade.

There are other Slashers available that are only mentioned, or seen in the deleted scenes.

Weapons are scattered throughout the “Danger Zone”, where the events take place, a strobe-light-strewn warren of tunnels and various flat arenas.

Bookies take bets on who will survive the day, or on any number of permutations therein. The fix is in on any number of fronts, and you can tell it. It’s even possible that one or more contestants will in fact kill each other.

A little back-and-forth takes place in the seemingly safe haven of a plywood shack, before it too is attacked by our resident slashers. The party is separated by a surprise partition sealing off part of the shack, and two of our attractive female leads find themselves in the middle of a cheery warren of brightly-colored tunnels overlaid with calliope music.

And this leads to perhaps the biggest disappointment of the movie. There are indeed more Slashers available than the three we’ve already discussed. And the particular Slasher that generally shows up in this domain of balloons and calliope music is none other than “Slasho the Clown”. Think of the sheer scare power that THIS guy could’ve had! Would’ve been one of the best uses of “evil clown” since IT and they passed it up in favor of the “preacher” who couldn’t tell a bible from a phone book if you gave him two guesses.

I’m almost disgusted.

Preacherman takes his own cross blade in the eye following an action-halting commercial break. Chainsaw Charlie dies shortly after at the height of his duplicitous glory, showing way more brainpower than you’d expect from this guy.

Only a coldly enraged Dr. Ripper remains, along with four contestants. Our characters steadily die off, by one surprise method or another, until only two are left.

I can’t tell you much more about the last fifteen minutes. Slashers manages to fit more surprises into its last fifteen minutes than some major studio releases can fit into a full two hour presentation. Surprise ambushes all throughout the movie, and surprise endings, make Slashers a solid little competitor.

The extras menu is surprisingly indepth, with commercials for the game show featuring Dr. Ripper and Chainsaw Charlie, deleted scenes, an original article about the movie reprinted from Fangoria, and a handful of other features.

Here’s the interesting thing…when you watch the credits, note Chainsaw Charlie and Preacherman. That’s right…SAME GUY.

Wow.

What gives me the most pause about Slashers is that it’s so very likely to happen. Look at our current fascination with reality game shows. The only thing separating Slashers from Fear Factor is the level of violence involved. One key legislative act, and next thing you know we’d HAVE Slashers, ten o’ clock on Fox.

Willing participants? Oh, there’d be plenty, I’m sure. A prize stretching into the millions of dollars and an opportunity to legally kill people would call marginal psychopaths and die-hard horror fans from all over the continent. And the casting call for slashers would stretch around the block-a huge paycheck to act ghoulish and cut people to shreds? Advertisers would line up too, cash in hand, for a thirty-spot in the action. Official sponsorships would sell like water in the desert. Again I say, well populated, a sad commentary on society in general.

So all in all, Slashers is going to be one of the scariest movies you’ll find in a while, but not solely because of the multiple homicides.



Posted on May 26, 2004 in Reviews by
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