Long abused by home media releases, The Slayer thankfully arrives uncut and with a glorious new scan on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video. Hiding behind a generic slasher flick title, this relatively unsung classic concerns an ill-fated trip to a deserted island for troubled artist Kay, her husband David, Kay’s brother Eric and his wife Brooke. Kay has always had ‘bad dreams’ but recently they have become increasingly bleak and disturbing. David and Eric hope a break will snap Kay out of it but they could not be more wrong.
Once on the island, and with no one else around, a storm moves in and strands the group. They try and initially make the best of it but Kay’s dreams of death and violence start to seemingly come true. Someone, or indeed something, is on the island with them and Kay is convinced it is a presence from her dreams breaking through into the real world. There’s an ambiguity about what is happening and that helps The Slayer stand out from other contemporary films. There’s multiple ways to read the movie if you so choose.
What isn’t ambiguous is that it’s an absolutely beautifully shot film (DOP Karen Grossman is a star), tightly controlled by director J.S. Cardone and deliberately paced. It makes fantastic use of the Tybee Island locations and rather than a cheap slasher is actually an elegant, haunting horror. You could argue not much actually happens if you wanted to be critical but it certainly doesn’t harm the film.
As for this release, to compliment the restored print that shows off how visually arresting the film is, Arrow have packed in substantial extras that make this essential. We get two audio commentaries, one with Cardone (plus cast and crew) and one with The Hysteria Continues. If that’s not enough, there's an isolated score and audio interview with composer Robert Folk. This is a welcome addition as Folk’s score is another reason The Slayer is so good, a wonderful soundtrack that becomes another character itself.
If you want more there’s an audience reaction track and Q&A from when the film was shown at the island’s theatre, restored to its glory and far from the dilapidated mess that features in the movie. There’s a 10-minute plus, interesting revisit to the locations on Tybee Island (like the score, the location is integral to the film’s success) and a near-hour long making-of documentary that features contributions from many of those who made the film, including Cardone. First pressings also come with a booklet featuring liner notes.
This is a welcome release that finally does The Slayer belated, deserved justice. Very highly recommended.
THE SLAYER / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: J. S. CARDONE / SCREENPLAY: J. S. CARDONE, WILLIAM R. EWING / STARRING: SARAH KENDALL, FREDERICK FLYNN, CAROL KOTTENBROOK / RELEASE DATE: 21ST AUGUST