Shock, R, 83 Mins
Churned out during the slasher boom of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, this drab and dated 1981 horror has a few minor points still worth mentioning:
1) Star Melissa Sue Anderson was best-known at the time for the coyly conservative TV series Little House On The Prairie and must have been keen to change her goody-goody image (see also Jessica Biel, who took lots of edgy projects – like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake – to get out of her 7th Heaven contract)
2) Anderson’s co-star Glenn Ford and director J. Lee Thompson (of the original Cape Fear and much more) were obviously hard up for a buck
3) It was obviously shot in Canada for cost-cutting and tax break reasons, but set in American Nowheresville
And 4) Some of the splattery murders herein are pretty cool (including the infamous death-by-shish-kebab given away on the DVD cover) but they take an awfully long time to start, and by then you’ll be half-asleep
Melissa is Virginia Wainwright, who’s one of the popular ‘Top Ten’ at a snobby private school, but she has a troubled past that’s flashed-back upon very clumsily. It transpires that some time ago she was involved in a car accident and thereafter required dangerous brain surgery that was presided over by Dr. David Faraday (Ford shortly after he played Superman’s Earth Dad in the 1978 movie), and now she’s a bit erratic, and this psychological tenderness isn’t helped when members of the Ten start being bumped off in nasty ways.
All this activity is taking place in the build-up to Melissa’s 18th birthday party (providing this with a title that links in to the holidays/celebrations/special calendar dates so popular with these sort of films at the time: Halloween, Friday The 13th, Mother’s Day and so forth), and it starts to look like there could be no one left to attend the festivities, which leads you to ponder what the surprise twist ending might be. And yes, it is totally absurd but, nevertheless, so wonderfully silly that it’s almost worth wading through the rest of the movie to get to.