Back of Box: When
Ivan Moser (LYLE ALZADO), a hulking, convicted serial killer, was sentenced to be electrocuted,
a devastating prison riot erupted on the day of his execution. In the wake of destruction and death, the prison was
shut down and Moser became a legend. No proof of his death ever existed.
Eighteen months later, a film director (ANTHONY PERKINS), intrigued
by Moser's legend and the eerie emptiness of the prison, decides to use it as a film set.
On the last night of filming, the truth about Moser's fate is about to be revealed.
The film crew, trapped inside the prison, begins to disappear one by one, all victims of the 300-pound killing machine who
survived 3,000 volts to stalk his prey as the DESTROYER.
Plot: Death row inmate,
Ivan Moser, sits in the electric chair for the rape and murder of twenty-three people. The only problem? The chair
doesn't kill him. A mere year and a half later a film crew takes over the now abandoned, riot shook prison to film an
exploitation film, but Moser has plans of his own. Well, it's clear that the following year's Shocker and The
Horror Show borrowed heavily from this little known gem, only here the idea isn't as supernatural. Honestly, that's
why I enjoyed this one more than the aforementioned. This film didn't need the hokey supernatural gimmick, the shock
just fried Moser's brain and turned him into a mindless killing machine...It didn't stop him from spitting out his corny one
liners, but you take the good with the bad.
Acting: Deborah Foreman
turns in a pretty good performance as the final girl, Susan Malone (Definitely a step in the opposite direction from her
Valley Girl portrayal). Lyle Alzado was fantastic as the psychotic Ivan Moser (He, without a doubt, should've
played a maniac more often). The rest of the cast is made up of great characters played by very competent actors
and actresses. Anthony Perkins plays a great Independent director type, Lannie Garrett (My personal favorite)
nailed the tormented starlet, Tobias Andersen was right at home as the creepy janitor, Jim Turner was extremely fun as
the tech nerd, and Clayton Rohner won me over as the screenwriter/boyfriend/hero. For a forgotten, late '80s, 'B'
grade horror flick, this section doesn't disappoint.
Gore: Body Count (9
+ 10ish) The 'ish' for this one is kind of hard to explain...There's a scene toward the end where a room full of
people disappear and, other than a select few, most of them don't turn up at all for the remainder of the film. It's
a little disappointing, but there is some blood splatter and a bunch of recorded smashing and screaming that leads one to
believe everyone in that room didn't end up surviving. With that being said, let me continue with the fact that
the cover of this film doesn't lie to the perspective viewer. Not only does the jackhammer come into play, but so does
an industrial size blow torch, the pivotal electric chair (Sweet), and even a beauty pageant sash. A lot of
fun to be had here.
Suspense: The death
scenes in this one get a lot of points here. The build up to the kill was untouchable, especially the blow torch in
the bathroom. Otherwise, the suspense doesn't really hit until after the non-sensical turn of events that
leaves our final girl alone with the killer. When they're alone things really get good. Foreman's Malone character
goes all out and it is a sight to behold.
staged, point and shoot shots abound. There were some fun tracking shots and there was expert use of the much abandoned
setting. Simple and, for the most part, effective.
Tech: The lighting
was grey and blue and faded and grimy...it was perfect. The flashes or red and orange were a nice touch. The editing
gets a nod here for holding together a less than linear script. The soundtrack was top notch and the sound was good
too. Some of the lines got lost, but I blame the sometimes mumbling actors, not the sound.
Other: The baby doll
that Ivan Moser's character is obviously attached to is never elaborated on. It was just a fun, random side note.
There is a scene full of gratuitous nudity for all those interested. The scene is made even more enjoyable with
it's self-irreverence, it uses the fact that it is a film within a film to poke fun at itself (Anthony Perkin's
character even spouts the nugget, "The whole point of this scene is to show some skin"). I mentioned in the Gore
section the disappearance of a room full of people and I'm bringing it up again because it's the only part of this film that
really bothers me. I mean, if the rest of the bodies had turned up near the end I would've accepted it, but
leaving almost ten bodies unaccounted for is unacceptable.
Final Word: I can't understand why this film
has been overlooked for so long. Decent death scenes, great setting, acceptable production value, likeable characters
played by familiar faces (To the cult lover anyway), what's not to like? If Shocker or The Horror
Show did it for you, then give this one a try. Hell, '80s slasher and horror fans alike should check this one out.