An insane javelin-thrower is picking off the elite of the promising young athletes at an elite school for young, promising athletes by, insanely, throwing javelins at them. You know the drill: Look! A psycho-killer! Quick love, pop your top off!
In the hands of one-time-only director Michael Elliot, slasher movie Fatal Games is so ineptly executed you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a largely unfunny spoof of the genre. The usual tropes are all in place but are somehow rendered even sillier than the norm. For instance, there are lots of shower scenes to facilite copious scream queen nudity – genre legend Linnea Quigley is in there somewhere in an early role – but the equivalent scenes for the male characters (“scream kings”?) has them showering with their underpants on, begging the question: was this somehow easier than shooting from the waist up or do American males actually keep their pants on in shared showering situations?
Now, Tapes For My VCR is usually all about what I’ve been calling “celebratory criticism”. The featured videos are certainly not all classics but I hope to find something there of value. Also, I generally don’t do that “so bad it’s good” thing – that level of sneering is just not for me. So then, why review Fatal Games? It has virtually nothing to recommend it. In fact, it’s an utter bag of complete arse. Admittedly, much of the javelin-based carnage and the unmasking of the killer do hit some heights of mildly enjoyable absurdity – and at one point the gold standard is set for unintentionally funny fictional newpaper headlines – but it’s not enough to save it.
The one thing that really made this stand out as worth writing about is something unique to the tape format and therefore apropos for a VHS-centric blog. With impeccable timing, during the “dramatic” unmasking of the killer, there is a sudden burst of vintage ’90s UK telly – I think it was Bugs starring Jesse Birdsall. Just a few seconds’ worth before cutting back to what I’ll loosely term the “action”. A quick check afterwards shows that, unusually, the cassette has an intact recording tab. Oops. Some weary soul presumably hit the record button by accident while resuming playback, armed with a fresh cup of tea and the resolve to watch the film to its bitter end as the rental was two quid. I considered sending it back (it was a recent eBay purchase) but really, that telly clip was one of the highlights, so what the hell.
Nice to think that a dreadful film could be rendered marginally more entertaining today by a remote control fumble from thirty years ago. Only on tape … you won’t get any of that with your BluStreamingDVDRays.