This shot-on-high-definition-video feature is a further entry in the extreme reality game show genre alongside SERIES 7 and MY LITTLE EYE. However, Canadian Maurice Devereaux’s SLASHERS went into production some two years ago and ambitiously stages proceedings (using camera techniques and careful editing) in real-time, similar to the concept employed in Hitchcock’s ROPE (1948) and Josh Becker’s RUNNING TIME (1999) so that it appears to be entirely shot by one cameraman in one continuous live take for a studio audience.
Six American contestants (Sarah Joslyn Crowder, Kieran Keller, Tony Curtis Blondell, Sofia De Medeiros, Jerry Spiro and Carolina Pla) try to win the coveted $12 million on the Japanese reality game show $LA$HER$: to do so they must survive 90 minutes in a massive warehouse that includes various sets that include corridors, mine shafts, torture chambers, waxwork horrors, pits, traps and wild western style ranches. Lurking in the warehouse are three serial killers, Chainsaw Charlie, Preacherman (both played by Neil Napier) and Dr Ripper (Chris Piggins last seen in SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY).
As the contestants make a run for it, they can arm themselves by devising weapons culled from the sets, receive cash bonuses for killing a Slasher, and can buy time by removing clothes, or making love in a special “Sex Room” where they can get immunity until the next commercial break. The lone cameraman follows the contestants, so if they split up and he happens to be in their vicinity they know something dangerous is about to happen. There’s a healthy dose of black humour evident, the Serial Killers are household names and the Japanese studio audience (who view proceedings via a huge screen in the television studio) root for them throughout, at one stage a Slasher is under threat and begs the contestants not to kill him as he has a wife and kids at home to support.
I loved the introductions and trailers that accompany the film, introduced by the Japanese game show hosts much in the style of the UK’s BANZAI but with gory highlights from previous shows. The SFX are handled by the Maestro FX team led by Adrien Morot (whose sterling work can be seen in the upcoming SAMHAIN) and C. J. Goldman of Infliction Films fame, and includes disembowelment, decapitation, slashed throats and multiple stabbings to please the gore crowd. The film’s creative editing and lighting effects really do give this fairly low budget effort a touch of class and the set design is fantastic. All in all Devereaux has crafted a classic piece of camp gore here that is bound to develop a cult following. I had previously read that the feature run for around two hours, but my DVD screener from MTI Video (played on an all-region player) clocked this up at 99 minutes. I understand the official releae includes various edited scenes as an extra, which the director informs me were removed as the film seemed"way too long, and
the pace needed some help". It’s probably a good idea since at times the dialogue between the contestants does drag a bit as it is, nevertheless SLASHERS remains carefully constructed splatter, that stands decapitated head and shoulders above the usual horror fare. The title is available on the FANGORIA Presents label from MTI Video, and is available from the USA from the majority of on-line retailers.
Carl T. Ford