by: Dr. Boogie
I had never heard of Slash Dance until recently, and chances are, neither have you. Because it's a hidden gem, you ask?
Imagine Flashdance, but without the sexy dance numbers. Now, imagine that the cast has been replaced by actors who aren't talented enough to be extras in a Michael Bay movie. Add in a couple murders to bookend the whole thing, and you've got Slash Dance!
The VHS cover suggests that you're going to see a couple expressionless mannequins in skimpy workout gear facing off against a dorky magician with a knife. Oh, if only. Aerobics do take place, but not with the same horror-themed fervor seen in Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout. Rest assured: there are no studded bras, no underboob, and no dances reserved for hell. They couldn't even decide if the movie was supposed to be called "Slash Dance," or "Slashdance". Clearly it is the former, as the slashing and dancing occur independently of one another.
Slash Dance is a movie that punishes you for watching it. It tries to be several different things at once, but it doesn't try very hard to be those things, nor does it try very hard to tell you a story through the visual medium of film. The only thing keeping it from being a movie created solely to justify a crappy pun on an existing movie title are a handful of screenwriting blunders, throbbing pustules of failure that need to be lanced and drained by the hollow needle that is internet criticism.
#5 The Fight Scenes!
What better way to introduce our protagonist, Tori Raines (Cindy Ferda, aka: "Americana" from G.L.O.W. - The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), than by having her get into a few fights? How about having her get into a few choreographed fights with trained stuntmen? Well, we don't have anything like that, but we do have a fight scene featuring a couple of roller derby veterans playing the roles of steroid dealers. Oh, but listen to me, stating the obvious. They're wearing spandex, and they have a cardboard box. What else could they be doing besides selling steroids? Actually, they're from G.L.O.W. as well - "Matilda the Hun" and "Beastie the Road Warrior".
Here's the kicker the editor didn't add any sound effects to the fight to make up for the fake punches and kicks. We wind up with a largely silent fight sequence perked up by the manly grunting of the participants.
Later, there's another fight scene with Tori and a couple of bald thugs, and the editor still hasn't figured out that if you don't put sound effects in a fight scene, it just looks boring and unfinished. He tries to make up for the lack of solid impact noises by splicing in some goofy music, but the end result...
#4 The Captain!
The Captain of the LAPD is more of an antagonist than the actual killer! The captain is, in a word, smug. As smug as a man playing a role in which the only character motivation given by the director is, be smug! As smug as that one friend who told you for years that that one guy you thought was in that one movie really wasn't, and then he was in the room with you when you decided to look that one guy up on IMDB. That kind of smug. Also, Tori's partner points out that the captain has been known to, play 'Nazi soldier and the schoolgirl' with prostitutes after hours.
Something about the actor portraying the captain seemed familiar. Looking up his filmography, I discovered that he's a prolific softcore porn actor! That's where I'd seen him before. I mean... that's where my friend had seen him before... and then told me about later because he knew I was writing about a shitty slasher film from the late 80s.
Consider his body of work (sadly, he has not been in an erotic thriller called Body of Work):
-Sins of Desire
-The Witches of Breastwick (Well, it LOOKED like it would sound the same!)
The man deserves the Lifetime Achievement Award for Softcore Porn. I believe it's a golden sweatsock.
#3 The Dancing!
During the middle 40 minutes of this 80-minute fiasco, the director forgot he was making a slasher movie. In place of murder and mayhem, we have dance numbers. And not good dance numbers, either. Long, drawn-out sequences where the dancers just sort of gyrate in place while the camera pans over their goods. They go on for so long, it's as though the director was hoping that if it pushed hard enough, the producers would give in and make it a softcore porno. He almost succeeds when the tedium of the dance numbers is broken by a topless makeout scene, but it ends before the audience gets to see the main character's breasts. After that, it was back to counting the lumps in my popcorn ceiling, waiting for the next dancing scene to end.
Amos is one of the two brothers who owns the theater. He's also far and away the worst actor in the entire film, which is really saying something. For starters, the actor portraying him decided that the character should be suffering from a non-specific mental illness, a learning disability, and just plain being an idiot. Imagine Adam Sandler, playing Billy Madison, impersonating Forest Gump.
Not surprisingly, every moment Amos is onscreen feels like an hour being added to a movie where there's already nothing going on. It isn't until the last third of the movie that the killer finally makes time for Amos, in the dumbest way possible:
The killer sneaks into the prop room and swaps a fake knife for a real one. Shouldn't be a problem, right? Anyone with eyes and the ability to gauge the weight of an object by holding it should be able to tell the different between a knife made out of rubber and a real knife. Not Amos. Before the movie can decide if he's autistic, or insane, or just the world's dumbest tool, he performs a strangely dramatic suicide scene with the real knife in front of everybody:
"It hurts. I hurt myself. I'm bleeding. Help me."
Not since Hamlet's final soliloquy has a character uttered such poignant words at the moment of their death. Who knew he had such depth!
#1 Thrilling Finale!
The killer of this awful two-act story turns out to be Logan, the director who rolled into town to direct... some kind of cabaret act, or something. All I know is they spent way more time showing us the Dance than they did the Slash!
Anyway, he makes some allusions to the theater's former owner physically abusing him when he was young. He doesn't go into detail, but suffice to say, it's probably something that totally explains why he killed two random dancers and the two sons of his abuser. Well, technically, he didn't kill Amos. He just left a knife where Amos could find it, and Amos took care of himself. Oliver, on the other hand, is killed by Logan with Tori's own gun, which he stole from the DUFFLE BAG THAT SHE LEFT UNATTENDED! Maybe the Captain was onto something when he said he didn't want her involved in a scandal. A scandal like a police officer losing her gun, only to have it used in a homicide. That's a good scandal.
Logan plans to make it a double homicide, but Tori gives him the old soft shoe:
Logan can't believe what just happened, and I have to imagine prop and makeup had the same reaction when the director told them they needed to have the broad, flat heel of her shoe stab into Logan's head.
I fully expected the shoe to kill him, given the tone of the movie thus far, but no. The chase is on, as Tori barely manages to stay ten feet in front of Logan. Lucky for her that shoe gouged out the part of Logan's brain that knew how guns work. He corners her in the prop room and tries to strangle her. With her last breath, she reaches for...
No, not the other shoe...
A saw! She slices the air next to his head with such force that a big wound appears on his cheek. He grunts in pain and falls over dead, and the movie's over. As the credits roll in total silence, we see an entry for Music. I wonder how long it took to make a half dozen shitty synth tracks and lay them out at random over these 80 minutes.
Slash Dance is a movie that leaves you with some questions: Why did the killer bother to sign on to direct a play at a theater he intended to shut down via some grisly murders? Why did the killer kill two girls in the beginning, and then no one else until the last ten minutes of the film? Why didn't the director feel that the film needed some kind of resolution at the end?
And perhaps the most obviously question of all: Was this movie, at any point during production, ever intended to be a softcore porno? If not, why not? All the non-sex stuff was there, and all the elements needed to make a real movie were not there. At least splice in some sideboob for the rerelease.
If you desire that classic combination of horror and dancing, I suggest sticking with Linnea Quigley for such things.
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