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Deadly Games - Deadly Games(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2022]

From the early 1980s Deadly Games is a slasher that has a rather pronounced drama, later on, romantic edge to its proceedings. It is a decidedly lopsided affair, but boy when the slasher elements coming in, they are cruel, at points damn right chilling. Here from Arrow Video, both in the UK and stateside, is a new Blu ray release of this lesser-known slice 'n' dice- with the disc featuring a new 2k scan of the film, a commentary track by the great slasher loving podcast The Hysteria Continues, and a few other extras.

Released in the year 1982 Deadly Games (aka The Eliminator, Who Fell Asleep) was the debut film by Scott Mansfield, who wrote and directed the picture. He only has one other feature-length credit to his name Imps*(1983), which is apparently a rather low-grade skit comedy. Deadly Games is a technically proficient enough film, with the acting being passable enough- the only issue is the overt focus on the 80’s small-town drama side of things- with at times it seemingly taking a fair bit of time to get the stalk ‘n’ slash elements.

The film is set in small-town Californian- and it kicks off in a decidedly sleazed manner- as we see a woman coming home late at night to expose and touch herself in the moonlight. The phone rings and she goes inside, and next thing a heavy breathing, black-gloved and balaclava-wearing man is breaking into her house, stalking and taunting her- she falls out of an upstairs window. We flash forward to the next day, as one of the lead characters local cop Roger Lane (Sam Groom) is investigating the death- up pops Clarissa Jane Louise 'Keegan' (Jo Ann Harris) who first introduces herself as a journalist- and Roger tries to shoo her away before she reveals the dead woman is her sister.

From here we get introduced to a group of female friends, who vaguely know Keegan and her dead sister. With the next chuck of the film focusing in on the relationships between the friends. And Roger hanging out with his rather shifty and breathing problems ex nam buddy Billy (Steve Railsback), who works in the local picture house. With later on a romance developing- with cheesy montage footage to boot.
The slasher elements- when they appear are very effective, moodily creepy, and frankly very cruel and nasty- there’s not really much blood, but we get some downright mean kills- like a woman tied to the bottom of a pool with the killer watching her drown, nasty car park strangulation, or a woman been stalked through fog enshroud forest before been buried alive. The killer himself is highly creepy- with his rasping breaths, cold staring eyes, and seemingly enjoying suffering persona.
 
 
On the acting side of things, Groom is good as the local cop- who shifts well between brash, charming, and a little sleazy. Ms Harris playing of the dead girl's sister 'Keegan’ is going to be rather divisive- as she’s constantly bright and breezy, often making meant to amusing quips and general goofy-ness. And Railsback works as the shifting & awkward friend of Roger.
 
On the whole, I’d say you’ll need a fair bit of patience with Deadly Games, as the drama elements do get too much screentime, and the quipping/ goofy elements do annoy at points. But when the slasher elements click in, they are most effective, cruel and nasty- with a very tangible air of unease and chill. 
 
Moving onto this region free release- and we get a new 2k transfer, and this largely looks good & clear- with even most murky nighttime shots having good clarity. Moving onto the extras- and first up we, of course, have the commentary track from the slasher loving podcast The Hysteria Continues- and as expected this is both informed and entertaining. They start off by mentioning the hot pink credits, and how they feel more beach movie than horror film-like. Moving on they mention the wonderfully cleaned up print, and how it really improves the pre-cert VHS version that they’d seen. They talk about the film’s tonal shifts, which at points are quite jarring. They give actors bios, commenting that many of the cast had been in US soaps. They talk about the quipping dialogue of Keegan & some of the plot points which hint at 1996's Scream. We get quotes from interviews from the time with members of the cast. Talk about the use of a board game in the film, and later films that used this trope. Later on, they talk about the love song used over the cheesy montage, discuss crew members/ their other work, and comment on the slashing scenes. Otherwise, we get two around twenty minutes on-screen interviews- ones with the film’s actress Jere Rae-Mansfield, and the others with special effects and stunt coordinator John Eggett. With the finished release coming with an illustrated inlay booklet with new writing on the film by historian/author Amanda Reyes.
 
It's always great to see a slasher from the golden age of the genre getting a release, and while the drama elements are fairly pronounced in Deadly Games, there are some most effective moments of atmosphere and cruel slashing on display. With this Arrow Video release, featuring a great print, wonderful commentary track, and worthy interviews.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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