I love slasher movies so when I find one I have never seen it fills me with glee and this was the case with 1982 horror The Slayer also known as Nightmare Island. It seems it wasn’t just me that hadn’t seen this obscure oddity considering it was heralded by Arrow as one of the most sought after titles for slasher fans everywhere when they released it recently.
Opening with a scary and surreal nightmare featuring the deformed hand of some sort of demon we see Kay (Sarah Kendall) suddenly violently awaken in her bed with her husband David (Alan McRae) trying to console her.
Haunted by disturbing dreams her whole life Kay has used them in her career as an abstract artist however with their frequency and ferocity increasing of late her friends and family have become worried about her mental state and so David has organized a holiday taking her away with her brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook) to a remote island where their friend has a house.
Promising a secluded spot to rest, relax and recharge the foursome find the location nothing like they imagined beset by bad weather and covered as it is with ruined buildings including a derelict theatre. When the menacing pilot Marsh (Michael Holmes) who brought them to the island informs them a hurricane is on its way towards them which will leave them isolated they ignore his warnings.
Determined to have a good time and help Kay break the depression and delusion she has sunk so deeply into the others carry on like normal eating and drinking and attempting to enjoy the slightly spooky setting despite the fact that Kay is convinced she has seen the house they are staying in and the other weird wreckage in her dreams and feels full of fear.
However Kay’s premonitions come true as in the dead of night while everyone sleeps David awakens hearing a noise from the basement. Going off to investigate he discovers something shocking which throws the holiday makers into a living hell that no one will be able to wake up from.
Blending fantasy and reality in a chilling and tension filled horror film The Slayer directed by J.S. Cardone who also co-wrote the script is far superior to many other movies of the period seeing as it spends its time creating a tone of utter dread rather than racking up a ridiculous kill count.
This pays off tenfold making each murder monumentally more terrifying seeing as the suspense is increased the further the film moves forward. Don’t worry there is still some glorious gore however the build up to the brutality becomes much more unnerving and unsettling than the painful payoff something you rarely see in slashers even now.
With a truly original story predating Wes Craven’s nightmare slasher classic by 2 years The Slayer keeps you suspended in the realm between the dreaming and waking world, the same way Kay has spent her entire life. Toying with the audience as the killer toys with their victims the film never lets on what is really happening right up to the very end where Kay faces her true fears in their hideous and horrifying form.
Wonderfully shot with a warped story that will unnerve anyone watching and packed with a fear filled atmosphere The Slayer is a must have for slasher fans everywhere offering up an anxiety filled antidote to the dumb but fun films of the same period that will give you restless nights for sure.
The Slayer – The Arrow Video Story