Face The Slayer!

She searched through the dark corridors of the unknown only to find…


Kay is a struggling surrealist painter with recurring bad dreams. When she sleeps she has horrifying visions of agonizing death and is chased by a hideous looking murderous monster. Is it a nightmare, or…

Kay’s husband David, who also happens to be her doctor, wakes her from the madness and offers to take her to the next best place to paradise – an island in the middle of nowhere. Kay’s successful director brother Eric, and his actress wife Brooke also come along for the trip. Brooke isn’t excited about spending a week with the always emotionally distraught Kay, but Eric assures her it will be a vacation she will never forget. Once the gang loads onto a small plane and leaves for the isolated island, there’s no turning back. Kay is now on vacation weather she likes it or not.

After arriving at the cold and barren beachfront, Kay remarks that feels like she’s been there before. The plane’s creepy pilot (and part time prophet of doom) Mr. Marsh tells her she ain’t the first he’s heard say that, and that she won’t be the last. “This island is the kind of place folks dream about.” As the group begins making the mile long trek to the vacation house where they are staying, Brooke gets the creeps and feels like she’s being watched. Eric again assures her that there’s nobody on the island but the four of them…nobody living, that is. They then pass the remains of what appears to have been a large theater. Kay is mysteriously drawn to the abandoned building, and is eerily convinced she had already painted it. David tries to convince her that it’s a coincidence and Eric tells everybody to hurry and leave before they get eaten alive.

The couples finally make their way to the large house, which appears run down on the outside but is nicely furnished and fully stocked with food and booze. As they begin to settle in, Mr. Marsh returns with a warning. A violent storm is brewing, and despite the calm outside… things ain’t always what they seem to be. Eric dismisses Mr.Marsh as “one weird dude” and ignores his warning. We then get to meet a good hearted old salt named Wally who is fishing on the beach. Just as Wally starts to crack jokes, the unseen slayer shows up and cracks his skull with an oar. BUT IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM! Kay wakes up on the beach with a sudden fright, as the rest of the gang is having fun in the sun. Later that night, the couples have dinner and drinks on the beach, but the night is ruined as Eric begins harassing Kay about her unsuccessful career and her shitty surrealist paintings. Kay later tells David that the island is giving her the creeps, which angers him. He tells her that she’s building a wall of depression around herself because of those damned dreams of hers and he fears she might be slipping over the edge.

David later apologizes to Kay in bed, where Kay agains explains how scared she is. As Kay drifts off to sleep sometimes she feels like when she wakes up her real life will be gone, and her dreams will haven taken their place. David assures her it’s all her mind and not real. “It’s just one of those demons that surface every once in while. We all have them.” They then make love and go to sleep together. David wakes up in the night hearing a strange thumping sound. He wanders into the basement, investigates the empty elevator shaft, and incredibly enough winds up being graphically decapitated by the elevator doors! The next morning, Kay wakes up in bed next to David. She rolls over and proceeds to give her lover a tender kiss on the lips to wake him. To her horror, David’s eyes slowly open and blood begins to pour from his mouth. Kay then pulls back the covers to discover his body is missing and that she was kissing his now decapitated, but still apparently still alive head! BUT IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM, AGAIN!! Kay wakes up with terror, now alone in bed with no sign of her husband.

Kay screams for help, and Eric & Brooke come to investigate. Kay tells them about her dream, and the trio then unsuccessfully look all over the house for David. Kay is sadly convinced that David is dead, but Eric assures her that it was just a nightmare and that David is probably off on the coast somewhere taking photos. Eric and Brooke then proceed to spend the next two days searching the surrounding areas for David while Kay sits around on the porch in a daze working on, and then tearing up a drawing in her sketchbook. Kay finally gets off her ass and slowly investigates the abandoned theater, and eventually stumbles upon David’s headless corpse, which has been hung up from the rafters like a trophy!

Kay tells the others about her grisly discovery. She also tells Brooke that she has seen his slayer in her dreams, and if she goes to sleep they will all be killed. “Have you ever had nightmare that was so real, that you thought it was actually happening?” Brooke tells Eric about Kay’s warning, which leads Eric to tell her a little story about his sister. When they were kids Eric & Kay’s parents gave Kay a kitten for Christmas and two days later they found the animal frozen to death in a meat freezer. Kay said something in her dreams did it. Kay then spent years in therapy because of her nightmares. Later that night, Brooke slips Kay some sleeping pill laced coffee, which is perfectly logical thing to do to a manic depressive person with years of nightmare fixation.

Kay breaks down and again tells Eric about the dream, the same dream over and over again. When poppa gave her the kitten. She woke up screaming, something far away coming at her. It did terrible things, and the more she dreamed it the more real it became. She created the slayer with the dream, and it will keep happening until it no longer needs her to give it life. She then drifts off to sleep against her will. Brooke begins to believe Kay’s story, but Eric remains convinced that something alive -not a dream, dragged David out of bed and killed him. He starts to suspect that the “weird dude” himself Mr. Marsh might be the culprit. In desperation, Eric leaves to go fire off a few emergency flares on the beach. He promises Brooke he won’t be long, and sure enough, he is promptly dispatched by the monster – who drags him away while still screaming for a midnight snack. Brooke makes the mistake of looking for David and takes a pitchfork in the tits for her efforts. If it’s only a nightmare, why is everybody DEAD?

This leaves Kay all alone in her world of dreams. She wakes up the next morning and wanders the beach in horror as she discovers the rotting remains of her brother and step-sister. She then locks her doors and windows and tries in vain to prepare herself for a final battle against her unholy creation. She searched through the dark corridors of the unknown only to find terror that strikes again and again. She could not anticipate a web of diabolical horror. This time the nightmare is real. Tonight she will face the slayer!

THE SLAYER has to be one of the most underrated and overlooked low budget horror flicks ever. I am a huge fan of this one and think it gets better every time I watch it. From start to finish, this flick has an unmistakable, eerie, dream like quality. It’s also punctuated with some really nice gory moments like the aforementioned decapitation and pitchfork impalement, and it features one of the coolest looking monsters in horror history. Most horror flicks with triple the budget can’t manage to be this convincing. There’s something about these low budget early 80’s horror flicks that just scream absolute perfection to me, and THE SLAYER is a prime example of that. It’s all about the little moments. My favorite scene in this one is the incredible “head in bed” gag, which I find be truly disturbing. There’s something about the way that the head opens it’s eyes and seems to be alive that really gives me the chills.

Much credit must be given to director and writer J.S. Cardone and co-writer Bill Ewing for writing such a fantastic little horror story. The script is fantastic, full of fun lines that are later ironic or prophetic like “hurry up before we get eaten alive.” Some people over the years have complained about the wrap around story and the film’s ending, but I have no complaints whatsoever. I think the ending of the flick is a real pisser, and wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone. The special effects by Robert Babb and the special effects makeup by Robert Short are also worth a mention. This flick has some very memorable death scenes, including the infamous pitchfork impalement, (which proceeds the notorious shower scene in “The Prowler” by a year or two) and when we finally get to take a quick look at the monster, he is one ugly, ugly bastard. It was all enough to have the film branded a “Video Nasty” in the UK, where it was unavailable for many years.

It’s worth noting that this was the very first horror flick to feature a nasty looking large clawed dream monster, and it first introduced the “don’t let me fall asleep or we will all die” gag. This all proceeds “A Nightmare On Elm Street” by a few years, and it does seem a bit unfair that THE SLAYER remains so widely unknown and unseen by horror fans. I would personally take this one over the Elm Street flicks any day.

THE SLAYER is probably best known and remembered by horror fans today for it’s very cool looking Continental VHS release, which was a double feature release paired with the 1983 Fred Olen Ray epic SCALPS. This heavily edited double feature came packaged inside a huge canary yellow box that was ugly as shit, but must have been hard to miss on video store shelves. Continental Video also used the violent scenes from THE SLAYER in their incredible VHS clip-collection TERROR ON TAPE, which was “hosted” by the one and only Cameron Mitchell. Sadly, both THE SLAYER and TERROR ON TAPE have never received a proper DVD release. TERROR ON TAPE is a bit more understandable to me, considering the legal logistics of releasing such a haphazard compilation film, but the lack of THE SLAYER on DVD was a crime against friggin’ humanity.  This was one flick that was always screaming for a remastered, special edition release.


Fortunately, the good folks at Arrow Video finally made my dreams come true and recently released a FANTASTIC special edition Blu-Ray/DVD release of THE SLAYER that is totally uncut, beautifully remastered in both standard and high definition, and packed with exclusive bonus features. For the first time ever, the film can now be seen fully intact with a fantastic picture quality. This is one of those examples of really “seeing” a flick for the first time. Night and day difference to the old DVD-R copy I’ve been watching for the last two decades.  The bonus features include a director’s commentary track, a brand new behind the scenes documentary entitled “Nightmare Island: The Making Of The Slayer,” and a very cool “Return To Tybee: The Locations Of The Slayer” featurette that highlights the film’s special home-town screening. A still gallery and the very cool theatrical trailer round out the package. Consider this release Brain Hammer approved in a BIG way and BUY OR DIE!


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