Savage Weekend - Savage Weekend(DVD) [Artus - 2018]For many years this lesser known, though effective & sleazy proto-slasher was in the public domain- so it appeared on a bunch of low-grade collections, and budget releases as various bad prints. Here from French cult/ horror movie label Artus- is a great re-mastered print of the film on DVD.
Savage Weekend (Aka The Upstate Murders) was made in 1976, but didnít get a release until 1979 due to the success of Halloween. The film was the first director/ writer credit David Paulsen- who became known in the 80ís for changing the tone of US campy soaps Dallas & Dynasty, from melodramatic to more natural/ realistic. The film was co-directed/ produced by John Mason Kirby, and sadly Savage Weekend was his only credit.
The film's plot tells of a group of five New York friends going into the countryside for the weekend, and unlike a lot of slashers, the cast/ victims are all adults- lead up by wealthy businessman Robert (Jim Doerr). After the credits, which shows a sweating lank-haired hillbilly attacking a woman, the pace slows down somewhat- as we get a series of well-played character development scenes, some fairly explicit sex scenes, hillbilly bar fights, and moody countryside shots. When the killer does appear he wears a fairly distinctive & grotesque mask-which is a half skull, and half-blood dripped male face. And while the killings themselves are not exactly creative, or original- they are executed with a good amount of tension, surprise, and sleaze. The cast, for the most part, is good-to-great, and worth a particular mention is Christopher Allport, who plays the fairly well fleshed-out homosexual character, Nicky. On the whole, Iíd say itís certainly one of the more memorable & effective of the 1970ís proto-slashers, and it certainly needs more attention from the wider horror fandom- which hopefully this disc and ones like it will do.
Going onto discuss this pressing of the film, and as mentioned in my introduction the picture looks great. Iíd only seen it before in a very low-grade print, and this print really brings out the classier & moody elements of the film, as well of course making the fleshy & bloody moments pop too. This print of the film is the original US language version of the film, though there are French sub-titles set into it -though I didnít really find I notice them much. Extras wise we get a two twenty-to-thirty minute featurettes about the film, and itís production- sadly these are all in French with no subtitles- but from what I could make out they look fairly through & interesting. You also get a stills gallery taking in alternative poster art & stills.
Ever since I originally saw Savage Weekend some years back in the form of a ropy/ low-grade print- the film stood out in my memory from the clutch of proto-slashers/ slashers that appeared in the 70ís & the 80ís. So itís great to now finally have a good print of the film, and if like me you enjoy both 70ís sleaze & stalk Ďní slash pictures- itís well worth picking up this DVD. Roger Batty