Day Of The Reaper - Day Of The Reaper(DVD) [SRS Cinema - 2021]
Day Of The Reaper is a very crude ‘n’ raw early 80’s slasher. The films shot on super 8, with an overloud and wonkily droning synth soundtrack, awkward post dubbing, and very cheap gore. Think if H.G. Lewis, had been a slasher obsessed teen in the 1980s, then this could have been a film he might have made. Here from the home of all things SOV and ultra-low-budget horror SRS cinema is a recent region free DVD of the picture- taking in a commentary track, and a few other extras.
Day Of The Reaper appeared in the year 1984- and it was the very first film by low-budget horror film-maker Tim Ritter, who would go on to make 80's B horror classics like Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness and Killing Spree. And this really is low-grade horror, at its cheapest and most wonky- on the plus side some of the highly camp effects are neat, and the Reaper himself looks kinda cool…but on the less positive side of things, the pacing is very uneven, the wonky soundtrack really drills into your head, and the post dubbing is some of the worse put to film. So it’s very much a film for your more seasoned low-grade horror fan.
The plot, as it is, regards a killer simply known as The Reaper- he gets put away on death row for killing a group of four teen girls- with only one friend surviving. The film chops and changes between a dreaming flashback of the remaining girl, and the (then) present- when The Reaper has escaped. The Reaper I guess is a mix and blend of sack Jason( he wears black tried sheets), skinny Leatherface( he has a bloody apron), and Micheal Meyers( he constantly get up after to been killed, and he has real deep breathing problems).
Gore/ kill wise we get a neat throat slash and stabbed in the eye with a sharpie kills early on. Then as we get into the film we get dodgy stabbings, more throat cuts, dummy limbs hacked/sawn-off, & buried in the sand decapitations- it’s all extremely crude, though entertaining enough. The actors are largely I’d say 15 or 16, though we do get a slightly older flat cap wearing doctor( a dime store Sam Loomis knock-off). On the whole Day Of The Reaper is very, very low-grade slasher fare- with real pacing issues and less than shoestring production values, but there is some low budget horror charm about it. In no way is it in the same ballpark as either Truth And Dare, or Killing Spree- but it’s a crude and wonky first stab at feature-length filmmaking from Mr Ritter, it has its worth.
Moving onto this region free DVD, and as you’d expect with this type of lo-fi super eight production it’s very crude-looking- but the effects are largely clearly seen. Moving onto the extras and we get a commentary track from Ritter- and this is most rewarding/ interesting. He starts by talking about how he first got into genre films, watching them on a bad signal cable late nights on a black and white TV. He moves on to talk about his early super eight films in the late ’70s/ early ’80s. Going onto the film to hand discussing how he got actors via his high school, his own role as the Dirty Harry like cop, effects set up, and locations. As he moves on he talks about how it took a total of seven months to make the film, he chats about falling for the films female lead and how this nearly derailed the film altogether. He discusses the film original transfer from super eight to VHS, using a shoe box, and much more. Other extras on the disc taking in around sixteen minutes of behind-the-scenes pictures, two trailers for the film, and a collection of Ritter trailers.
In finishing I think you’ll know by now if Day Of The Reaper is for you or not- as I mentioned early it’s no way up to the level of Mr Ritter classic titles, but it’s a good look at a young film-maker finding his feet. And it’s great that SRS is keeping these types of titles in print.