Review: Deadly Games (1982)

Written and directed by Scott Mansfield, a town is being terrorised by a masked killer who is murdering women. A young woman is attacked by the killer but escapes. She believes the killer to be either the town’s policeman or the manager of the local cinema, and she devises a plan to find out which is the actual killer. Starring: Alexandra Morgan, Jo Ann Harris, Sam Groom, Saul Sindell, Steve Railsback, Denise Galik and Dick Butkus.

Anyone who can’t appreciate the joy that is cheesy, silly, ridiculous and violent 80s horror flicks, is sincerely missing out. However, that’s not exactly what you’re getting with Deadly Games, while its setup may be the search for a killer, you’ll quickly realise that most of the characters don’t really lift a finger to find out who’s committing these crimes. What they are concerned with is much more along the lines of romance and some questionable morals. You definitely get the murder aspect, and the killer gets fairly inventive, but it takes such a back seat to the dramatic side of things, that there’s precious little tension or suspense to be built.

That’s really only the short version of how many problems this film has. There’s the lead character who’s happy-go-lucky and seems not at all concerned with her sister’s death, which judging by the dialogue can’t be put at fault of the actress (Jo Ann Harris). Then there’s the fact that you could use this film as a very blunt ‘how to’ for women of spotting red flags, such as men breaking into your house and hiding in the dark for a chat, or hitting on you while supposedly investigating your sister’s murder, while also married. Let alone the wild choices of sappy music over romantic montages and making men seem sinister purely because they have asthma.

Simply put, it’s unclear if the problem is that the filmmakers weren’t sure what sort of film they wanted to make, or if they just got completely lost along the way. The direction itself, however, works well and if the story had changed to fit the expected deadly tone, or at least more consistently, they could have something on their hands akin to Black Christmas.

Deadly Games is a tease of a slasher, promising carnage and delivering romance and drama. The killings are entirely disconnected and the focus of the film is completely in the wrong place. It had the pieces for a classic, cheesy horror flick but puts them together in the wrong order.

Verdict: ✯ | 2/10

Available now on Arrow Video

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