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  Deadly Games Chiller Chinwag
Year: 1982
Director: Scott Mansfield
Stars: Jo Ann Harris, Sam Groom, Steve Railsback, Colleen Camp, June Lockhart, Alexandra Morris, Saul Sindell, Denise Galick, Dick Butkus, Christine L. Tudor, Robin Hoff, Jere Rae Mansfield, William Patrick Johnson
Genre: Horror, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Linda (Alexandra Morris) arrives home in her quiet house in the Californian countryside to find her partner is not there, so she takes the opportunity to disrobe and lounge around as she receives a call on the phone. However, she is not as alone as she believes, for a heavy breathing, ski mask-wearing prowler is spying on her and getting closer and closer to her home. Suddenly, he breaks in and chases her around the rooms until he launches himself at her, knocking her through the window and over a cliff to her death below. Her sister Keegan (Jo Ann Harris) is unaware of the murder, like everyone else she thought it was an accident...

Slasher movies were big bucks in the early nineteen-eighties, they could be produced cheaply and quickly and turn some pretty decent profits if you were lucky. Deadly Games was one of the not-so-lucky ones, as it had actually been finished in 1980 but sat on the shelf for two years because nobody knew what to do with it. The director and writer, Scott Mansfield, also had misfortune with his next effort, a Kentucky Fried Movie type of sketch spoof film called Imps - that sat on the shelf for three decades! But on this evidence, he demonstrated a somewhat shaky grasp of what he wanted his opus to be - horror, comedy, romance?

Or none of the above? Although the characters seemed to be making with jokey dialogue, you had to say they were not funny, in fact more often than not the dialogue was just strange, like the way Mansfield thought people talked in normal conversation had somehow been warped in the transition from page to screen. What they sounded like was his stream of consciousness musings had been given to them to speak, since very little of what anybody said here was identifiable as normal chit-chat, from discussions of homosexual tendencies in the women's husbands and boyfriends to heroine Harris's supposedly quirky line in offbeat natter.

She even did a Charlie Chaplin impersonation at one point, as if desperately reaching into her repertoire to try and bring some life to her eccentric portrayal, presumably as ordered by Mansfield. Perhaps you were a horror fan looking for an undiscovered gem of an obscure slasher to add to your collection, well, you may be disappointed on that count, as there were only a few bloodless murders scattered throughout Deadly Games, and they did not display the director's interest in them to any great degree. Despite a few recognisable faces in the cast, it was as if he was forced to include the violence by his producer rather than being invested in making a shocker, certainly after that opening ten minutes of rather bad taste suspense were done and dusted, and it turned into...

What? A pilot for a sitcom that would never be made? A John Sayles-style indie where characters converse at enormous length but lacking his insights, swapping them with such scenes as the one where Keegan and her married detective boyfriend (Sam Groom) play a classic horror movie themed boardgame as the camera swoops around them to the strains of a ballad sung by a Barbra Streisand soundalike and co-written by the director? Who was this for? Yes, Mansfield included the nudity that usually kept a restless audience interested in your average slasher flick of the day, but these people were simply weird, leaving us nobody to latch onto, we merely observed them as if they were a form of alien life from 1980. In addition, the killer was absurdly easy to spot as he had a habit of creeping up on Keegan and other women, so there was no suspense there either. In its fashion, it was all somewhat confounding. Music by Richard Thompson.

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Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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