Josh Baker meets a very special woman, Cheryl, in the streets of New York. Suddenly she collapses, and she's picked up by an ambulance. When Josh wants to visit her in the hospital, it ... See full summary »
James Earl Jones,
I've been on the lookout for this obscure early 80's slasher since many moons, for the same old reason why I often track down films I don't know anything about Because the poster/cover image here on the IMDb, showing a killer with a knife in the reflection of a little kid's glasses, looks tremendously cool. That's all. So, of course, in too many of these cases the films turn out to be big disappointments, but luckily "Death Valley" is a worthwhile little hidden gem. It's a modest and reasonably stylish slasher/thriller with a marvelous setting (why there aren't any more horror flicks taking place in Death Valley, California is beyond me), an admirably creepy atmosphere, likable characters (no hormone driven teenagers out camping this time), a handful of unexpected brutal killings and a surprisingly well-written screenplay (sometimes). The film begins with a father in New York explaining to his intelligent and eloquent young son Billy that Ralphie kid from "A Christmas Story" with the big glasses that he has to spend his vacation with his mother and her new lover down in a touristy cowboy village near Death Valley, California. Once there, and in between the difficult acceptance of new parent process of little Billy, he spots a vicious looking old car following them around. There's a serial killer on the loose in Death Valley and he/she just butchered three people in a motor home. Billy wanders around the area and finds the killer's necklace. From then onwards he's the killer's prime target. "Death Valley" distinguishes itself from the other contemporary slasher flicks because of its dramatic and identifiable sub plot of parental divorce and the children's slow process of accepting mummy/daddy's new life partner. Many (too many even?) sequences revolve on conversations between Billy and his mother, begging him to give the new boyfriend a proper chance. The identity of the killer isn't exactly kept secret and the "twist" near the end is very predictable as well, still director Dick Richards attempts to bring more depth and tension-building than we are used to see in early 80's horror movies. The handful of murders are, as said, fairly gruesome with some slit throats and a lovely axe in the chest moment. There's also a hilarious comical interlude when Billy has to remain at home with the babysitter. She's a corpulent eating machine who munches all of the kid's chocolate, crisps and ice cream.
3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?