Directed by: David A. Prior
When I heard that this sequel to Deadly Prey was coming out, I was only barely dipping my toes into writer/director David A. Prior and actor/brother Ted's immense DTV output. So I wasn't really all that intrigued as I had yet to actually see the first one. Considered a bonafide cult classic and one of the best Bad Movies ever made, the first film, Deadly Prey, did everything right in creating a truly enjoyable Bad Movie Night experience. While it's safe to say that the resulting entertainment value and laughs were not on purpose, surely the brothers reveled in the popularity, allowing them to continue making many, many more films in the next few decades.
After finally watching Deadly Prey, I got it. I understood the cult status and it instantly became a favorite. So much so that I decided to seek out writer/director David A. Prior's vast library of low-budget films. While some are easier to find than others, some of these are entertainingly bad cult gems, while others are just plain terrible. So we went into the sequel with some apprehension, knowing full well that it could go either way.
* Slight Spoilers Ahead:
I'm happy to report that this sequel DOES NOT disappoint. Quite frankly, Deadliest Prey proudly lives up to the low-budget insanity of the first film. Though it did take a little while for things to get rolling, once it did it's pretty much a constant love letter to the first film in every way possible. So much so in fact that you can almost say it's really an updated remake, in an odd way. It predictably hit all the same exact notes as the first film, and to my surprise, even brought back most of the original key players. And I can't state that enough, Deadliest Prey was a constant surprise in the best ways possible. While it was surreal seeing an older and much slower Ted Prior without the mullet and jean shorts, he does a fantastic job resuming the responsibilities of the "kidnapped warrior single-handedly killing everyone who crosses his path in the forest". Has anyone else ever noticed that he's a dead ringer for Christian Bale? Or is that just me?
One thing is for certain. 3 decades of filmmaking has not made David A. Prior a better director, which quite honestly, is a good thing if you ask me. Deadliest Prey could easily have gone the other way, and in doing so, it would not have been half as entertaining. And that's probably what worried me the most going into this, knowing it was the same writer/director and worried that his skills had sharpened somewhat in the 27 years since the first one. Gladly, they haven't, because that's what makes Prior films so goddamn entertaining. The writing, acting, camerawork, editing; it's all "still" so amateurish that you can't help but laugh and fall in love with this team all over again. This is exactly the sort of sequel Samurai Cop deserved, but sadly failed at. That director was already terrible, and for some strange reason tried harder at being terrible for the sole purpose of delivering a sequel worthy of it's predecessor. And it failed.....miserably. It was a blasphemy to the legacy of Samurai Cop. Thankfully, this film does not suffer the same fate. Prior delivers the goods as an incompetent and amateurish filmmaker. He doesn't have to try, he just is, and I don't mean that in any negative way. Quite the opposite. It's what makes him so great and I'm sad that he's left us and we won't be getting anymore gems from his genius. At least we got one last GREAT film out of him before he left us.
Deadliest Prey easily will fix your Bad Movie Night craving, even better as a double-bill with the first film. If you were ever wondering whether this was any good, lived up to the original, or was worth a purchase, I'm here to tell you YES!
Directed by: Peter Hyams
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Peter Hyams is one of my all-time favorite directors and he's so criminally underrated as a quality filmmaker. I don't even think most people give him the credit he deserves or even know who the hell he is or what he's done. He's dipped his hand in nearly every single genre from drama, comedy, action, sci-fi, thriller, and even martial arts, yet most people "still" do not recognize his name. It's a travesty really, so real quick, let me refresh your memory or fill you in on some of his incredible output in the last 3 decades. Some of his best films include the incredible Outland (a personal favorite), as well as Running Scared, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, The Presideo, Sudden Death, Timecop, Narrow Margin, and this little seen and completely underrated gem. Sandwiched between the 1990 thriller Narrow Margins and 1994's Timecop with Van Damme, Hyams decided to return to comedy for the first time since 1986's Running Scared, and the results are an immediate cult classic.
The film revolves around an unhappily married couple going through the motions. The husband, John Ritter, is obsessed with television, a constant irritation for his wife, and when a door to door salesman randomly shows up at his house with a deal he just can't pass up for a brand new satellite dish, huge television, and 666 channels of shows you can't find anywhere else, he immediately jumps on it. Except, the salesman works for Satan, and the catch is that if you come near the satellite dish, it sucks you into hell's television world and you have 24 hours to escape or else your trapped in television purgatory forever.
I have to be honest. I remember seeing this when it first hit VHS, and I don't think it had a theatrical release as far as I'm aware of. And I remember this being weird, fun and a total blast. But for some strange reason, I never thought to revisit it until now. And the only reason being that my local, and last remaining video store finally shut it's doors and was selling everything for cheap just a few weeks ago. So when I came across this, I immediately grabbed it and I'm so glad I did. Revisiting this was such a fun and incredible experience for me. All of Hyams trademark visuals are on full display, and John Ritter is just in top form here. The film possesses such a rare and fun charm that through it's visual eye candy, excellent casting, and "dated" time period, the film never skips a beat and is a total blast from start to finish.
One of the best things this film has going for it is it's genius in recreating some classic films and television shows, but with a devilish twist. I won't ruin them for you here because when you see them, you'll surely laugh and get a kick out of some of the genius in these. While most of them are only commercials, they're so well done and creative that your imagination will run wild with the ideas presented by these insane commercials.
Whenever I bring this film up, "everyone" says they love it so much. Yet, it doesn't really carry the kind of cult status it desperately deserves. I think it's time to really give this treasure the cult status it needs. Criminally underrated would be an understatement. This film is gold. If it's been a while since you've seen it, I implore you to seek it out. You'll surely have a helluva great time.
Currently it's available on DVD, VHS and to rent on Amazon. The last DVD release was I believe in 2005 in a snapcase edition, which is the one I have. It does come in widescreen and with a healthy dose of Special Features for an older release, but the DVD will run you anywhere from $20-$50 on the secondhand market. Because it's a Peter Hyams film, I would strongly urge you to go with the DVD rather than the VHS, only because his visuals beg to be seen in widescreen. Maybe in time, with enough demand, this will see a blu ray release soon.
|VHS scan courtesy of Wallpart.com|
We have been on an 80's horror kick of late, and I've taken the opportunity to "finally" seek out a lot of horror films that I never got around to watching from that era. I have to be honest, it's a pretty long list. Considering I grew up on this stuff as a teenager in the 80's, there really is no excuse on my part. But hey, better late than never right?
We had been debating between Slaughter High and Cheerleader Camp for our 80's horror fix one recent Saturday night, with this one winning out, and I'm so glad it did. I have to say, Slaughter High was just the thing we needed, and it was more enjoyable than I was expecting.
It's very basic stuff about a nerd who gets relentlessly teased during high school, who exacts his revenge during a reunion. We've seen it before, and there's nothing new brought to the table, but there's just so much spirit in this one, and so much cheese that it all comes together so well. For example, while these actors are supposed to be high school age, they're clearly in their 30's, at least. And there are so many technical goofs to laugh at that I don't even know where to start. But hey, it's what makes the experience fun, especially in this one, not to mention the many WTF? moments filled to the brim with stupid characters making the stupidest, weirdest, or plain questionable choices.
The cast is quite large for an ensemble group, and each of them seem to display a rather odd way of delivering their lines. I don't know if that was intentional, or if they were just terrible actors, but again, it adds that odd bit of spice to the mix of an already thoroughly enjoyable 80's cheese dish. Some digging turned up some interesting info on this. Most of the actors are British, as this, to my surprise, is a British production, with only a few American actors thrown in from an acting class over there. Speaking of the actors, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to see Caroline Munro (Star Crash, Maniac) as the lead in this. For some reason, it just seems like an odd choice for someone of Munro's stature, to be in an 80's horror cheese-fest.
One of the best things Slaughter High has going for it is it's rather impressive effects work. While it's not filled to the brim with guts and gore, the scenes that do have practical effects work and gore are surprisingly badass. There's this one sequence in particular involving a bed that was damn impressive. Even some of the kills were delightfully original.
Another special thing to note, and trust me, it will be completely obvious once you watch this, is that Harry Manfredini scored this. He just so happened to also score Friday the 13th, and let me tell you, it's a near identical score here. It's kind of funny.
It's no masterpiece, but one helluva good time in the 80's horror cheese department. Mine came in a
cheap 8 Horror Film DVD pack for $5, which you can pick up at your local Wal-Mart or Dollar Store here in the states. It's totally worth the purchase, because aside from Slaughter, you also get a lot of other gems like Class of 1999, Waxwork, Chopping Mall and C.H.U.D. II to name a few. The only real issue being as that all of them come in a dreaded full frame aspect ratio. But when you consider watching these on VHS would produce the same results, then this isn't a bad deal at all.
Some internet digging shows that this did get a DVD release here in the states in 2009 as part of a "Lost Collection", claiming to be Uncut as well, which you can get pretty cheap. Unfortunately it's also in full frame, and the transfer doesn't seem to be any better than the one on this 8 Pack, so I'd just grab this one. It's the cheapest option for the same quality and you get a ton of other great films to boot. If you're a serious collector, you can pick up Arrow Films 2011 UK DVD release that is in widescreen, region-free and also uncut. I'm not sure about it's availability though.