Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dead Girls (1989)

Directed by:
Dennis Devine

A late entry in its genre, but (surprise!)... this film is a blast! DEAD GIRLS falls into the now-defunct category of "heavy metal horror," a small subgenre that mixed 80s rock mentality with either a slasher or Satanism horror plot. Other films in this field include ROCKTOBER BLOOD (1984), TRICK OR TREAT (1986), SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (1987) and SHOCK 'EM DEAD (1990), but DEAD GIRLS has most of its competition beat. Despite a loopy plot and your usual low-budget limitations, director Dennis Devine pulls out the stops to make sure this is a highly entertaining film. The Plot: Gina (Diana Karanikas), lead singer of the all-female-except-for-a-male-drummer rock band called The Dead Girls, has ESP abilities and foresees the future. In the opening dream, Gina's sister Brooke ("Life's a dog! A total bummer!") and her friends committ group suicide, slashing their wrists with razors. Brooke (Ilene B. Singer) ends up surviving, prompting Gina and the band take a vacation so Brooke can recuperate and they can avoid bad publicity, so off they go (with tour manger Jeff and a nurse) to a secluded lakeside cabin. A black-gloved psycho in a trench coat and skull-face mask shows up and starts to kill everyone off one by one. The murderer kills according to the band lyrics, leaving behind such titles as "Nail Gun Murders" and "Drown Your Sorrows" at the scene of each murder. Since the locals in the small town blame the band's morbid lyrics for the suicide deaths, the list of suspects is basically endless.

Points are deducted for its fully cliched set-up and, like I said, it's a late bloomer in both the slasher and heavy metal subgenres, but that doesn't mean this is all bad. In fact, it's surprisingly quite fun and a highly entertaining little movie. While the cast isn't perfect, many of the actors are likable, appealing and seem well-suited for their roles. The film doesn't concentrate heavily on gore, but what is shown is done well. Best of all is a well-written script which contains several interesting plot twists. Some may think the ending goes a tad bit overboard, but it's still nicely unpredictable. And despite what some other reviews have stated, this was not shot on video. I believe it was shot on 16mm and looks fine.
The cast includes Angela Eads, Kay Schaber, Jeff Herbick and Brian Burr Chin (all of whom appeared in director Devine's previous film FATAL IMAGES), as well as Deirdre West (from VENUS FLY TRAP and the Devine-scripted HELL SPA).


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