Memorial Valley Massacre - Memorial Valley Massacre(Blu Ray) [Vinegar Syndrome - 2020]Appearing in the dying embers of the 80’s slasher boom Memorial Valley Massacre is an enjoyable, at times tonally wonky, though not terrible original addition to the genre. The straight-to-video stalk ‘n’ slasher venture flip flops between the camp & comic, charming & cheesy- with deranged at points brutal killings, and a killer that managers to flick between the ridiculous & tragic- all topped off with a wonderful off-kilter easy listening synth soundtrack, that you’ll either love or hate. From the guys over at Vinegar Syndrome here we have a region A Blu Ray release- taking in the company’s normal great scan, and a few extras.
Coming out in 1988/89 Memorial Valley Massacre(Valley of Death, Memorial Day, or Son of Sleepaway Camp- apparently this version featured hardcore inserts) was an American production. It was helmed by Robert Hughes(as Robert C. Hughes ) who started his career directing roller coaster doc 1982’s wildriders, going onto backwoods survivalist horror of 1986’s Hunters Blood, a comedy about shooting a horror film in Iowa 1989’s Zadar! Cow from Hell, and a few episodes of US 1990’s TV shows like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers & V.R. Troopers. On the whole Memorial Valley Massacre is a cheap if well enough shot slasher, which at points has a decidedly set on campground comedy feel.
The film is set is a just reponed campground that sits in a seemingly largely untouched valley. A selection of characters turn-up to camp- taking in a couple with a spoilt teen boy, a group of bikers, a few teen boys & the girl they're trying to score with, ex-military man(William Smith) & his blond bimbo wife, and a single mid-twenties woman. The camp re-opening is been financed by big businessman Allen Sangster(Cameron Mitchell)- who turns up briefly near the beginning as various issues have popped up just before the campers role in- like a dead dog in the camps water tank. Looking after the camp is brash-yet-troubled tracker/ ranger George Webster(John Kerry), and fresh out of college David Sangster(Mark Mears)- son of the camps financer. As you’d imagine things start to go askew quickly- first with dangerous pranks like killer snakes left on campers table, before escalating to murder.
Kill wise it takes a little time to kick off- we first get someone pulled off a bike & whacked to death, a few spike bit falls, tame axe kill, and few impaled on stake trap kills. The killer is shown very early on-so there is no mystery here- it’s a buck teethed, long & crudely hacked wigged, and animal skin wearing young man who lives in a cave at the side of the valley. As mentioned early on there is a decidedly comic/ light air to much of the film's runtime, and added to this we get this buoyant & at points wonky synth-based easy listening soundtrack which is full of dated/ cheesy sounds- so do take that in mind when going into the film- but for me, this adds on much of the films charm. On the whole, I enjoyed Memorial Valley Massacre, sure it’s not terribly gory/ inventive with its kills, there’s little dread/ tension, and it liberally steals from other films. But if you enjoy later & decidedly cheese bound slashers with a few nasty/ deranged edges- I think you’ll also enjoy what we have here.
Moving onto this new region A Blu Ray- and first off we get another classy VS print- it’s a 4k scan from the original negative, with a great punchy-yet-balanced picture, and a great crisp audio that really makes the cheesy & wonky score pop. On the extras front, we get two on-camera interviews, each running between ten & thirteen minutes- first is with the film's director Robert C. Hughes- here he goes from talking about the film's concept, moving onto discuss the often rain bound location, going on to talking about a few of the more recognizable members of the cast Cameron Mitchell & William Smith- both of who have an impressive over four hundred acting credits to their name. The other interview is with lead actor John Kerry- here talks about how he got the role, how he approaches acting certain characters, and memories from the set- so both of these interview are worth a watch.
It’s great to see another lesser-known less 1980’s slasher getting the VS treatment here. And really if you enjoy more camp/ comic, yet tonally unpredictable stalk ‘n’ slash fare you’ll be needing to pick up this release of Memorial Valley Massacre.Roger Batty