Fatal Games (1984)

“Is winning worth killing for?”

Luis Bunuel – a movie God, the acclaimed father of cinematic surrealism. His son Raphael meanwhile will be remembered for writing this entry into the niche horror sub-genre of athletics orientated slasher movies.

By 1984, the slasher movie was suffering a decline in both quality and interest. With the market saturated it would be a number of years before its resurgence, although the mid to late 80s did generate some classics such as The Mutilator (1985), Stage Fright (1987) and Child’s Play (1988).

With Fatal Games, we begin during U.S Regional competitions at the Falcon Academy of Athletics in Brookfall, Massachusetts. A heavy synth-based piece of motivational power pop cheese by Shuki Levy and Deborah Shelton dominates the soundtrack as we watch a slew of competitors taking part in an array of events. It takes a while for Fatal Games to gather any momentum as during the opening twenty minutes or so we only really get minimal character exposition, a little athletics training as well as some mighty huge y-fronts and some good old locker room towel whipping.

This subdued start sadly may leave the casual viewer left reaching for the eject button as coupled with the mundaneness of the aforementioned visuals, we’re subjected to some staggeringly awful acting. In the first quarter we struggle to for any definition on some seriously anonymous characters, although amid the stilted dialogue we are treated to our first javelin orientated killing – which unsurprisingly falls pretty flat.

If you enjoy subjecting yourself to really bad movies though, there is undoubtedly a great deal to enjoy, albeit in a masochistic manner. This movie is worth a watch if only for Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland’s role as a predatory lesbian nurse who’s occasional massage is foiled by those pesky straight kids unwilling to let themselves go. This leads to the fact that there is a quite eye-popping conveyor belt of nudity that should keep boys and girls entertained, if only for the dated underwear and forced conversations of those in the buff.

With regard to the gore, it’s pretty non-existent – which in itself is quite an achievement considering there’s someone going round impaling people with a six foot pole. The lack of it is pretty frustrating considering that we’ve all stuck with below par slashers simply because the blood spilled has been notable, but here its consigned merely to some entry wound red stuff.

Overall Fatal Games comes recommended purely for its banality. It’s a perfect example of why a genre becomes tired and uninspiring due to the lack of originality exhibited by its filmmakers, along with people presuming that to make a successful movie all that’s needed is to pinch a few ideas from some successful entries and hope for the best. That said, it is a blast for lovers of all things cheese-tastic as well as a certified curio that has been likely consigned to the VHS rubbish heap for eternity.

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