Detective Gary discovers that his wife is having an affair. Despondent, he drinks and discusses his problem with friend Dan, a police detective. When someone in a copper mask begins ... See full summary »
Detective Gary discovers that his wife is having an affair. Despondent, he drinks and discusses his problem with friend Dan, a police detective. When someone in a copper mask begins slaughtering people connected to Gary's life, Dan begins suspecting Gary, whose cousin Mike had a similar slip of the gears. Dan discusses the case with eminent psychiatrist Dr. Siedow, who has a few sexually slipped gears of his own. Together they try to stop the fiend before more people are killed. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
I was actually quite impressed by the original Truth or Dare. It may have suffered from stinking performances and continuity that made The Blazing Ninja' look like Mensa staged it. Nevertheless, it's outright exploitation and Tim Ritter's balls to go where most directors are fearful to so much as look, made it stand apart as a particularly nasty slasher that really packed a punch. If you aren't aware of his previous work, Ritter is the closest thing that America has to Jesus Franco. His movies are usually always unrated and contain explicit sexual situations and violence that would never in a million years make it through The British Board of Film classification for any kind of release! After Writer's Block, the unofficial throwaway that was often confused as the direct sequel, it was decided that he should dust off the old copper mask and bring his unique sleaze-ridden perspectives back to the slasher genre for something that had been anticipated for quite some time in cult circles.
In the beginning a woman in kinky bondage gear (she's got to be a porn star?) is seen straddling a bearded man and asking him to beg for it'. A bespectacled middle-aged guy that looks like Queen guitarist Brian May's deranged brother is watching them unnoticed from the doorway. We soon learn that his name is Gary Block and he's just caught his wife sleeping with someone she works with (sorry I didn't remember exactly who he was), a fact that's emphasised by his threatening to blow their brains out with a handgun. Clearly distraught he heads around to his buddy Dan's place where yet another female (but the same actress?) in little but some pervy underwear greets him! Dan is a police officer that has been friends with Gary for some time, but has his reservations about him because his cousin is Mike Strauber, the maniac responsible for killing eleven people eight years ago. After hearing his tale of woe, the kind-hearted cop says that Gary can stay until he gets himself sorted, but later that night he finds him with a gun in his mouth playing truth or dare and threatening to take his own life. Somewhat concerned about his pal's mental-health, the detective takes a trip to Sunnyville mental hospital to discuss it with Dr. Siedow, the head psychiatrist. The shrink tries to calm the situation by telling him, `I think your friend is having some difficult times but I don't think he's going to put on a Copper mask and go on a killing spree' (!) As a form of proof, if ever it were needed, that you shouldn't trust a Doctor that uses his stomach as an ashtray in his spare time (don't ask); someone in an identical false face starts slaughtering sexually promiscuous individuals all around town. But is Gary Block the killer? He's certainly proved he's unstable by heavily drinking, smashing a bottle over the head of his love rival and urinating in a plant-pot outside a restaurant (please don't ask!) As more bodies pile up, Detective Dan realises that it's looking more and more like his mate's gone too far off the rails
Wicked Games' exploration of rejection and how people that look respectable on the outside can have a deranged sexual persona as an alter ego; made for a deep and interesting approach. Where as most mystery/slashers fall flat because their conclusions are far too evident right from the start, Ritter's managed to produce a good puzzle that's obvious when it's resolved, butt will keep you guessing all the way through. It's a neatly handled story with an element of welcoming sleaziness that's rarely seen to such extremity in the horror that we're more accustomed to. Due to the lack of a rating, he's been able to chuck in a fair bit of gore that's always a bonus. Almost every murder spews buckets of blood, but the best would have to be the woman that's impaled on a sprinkler, which starts spraying crimson all over the garden! There was also a decidedly nasty ripped can to the throat and gory barbed wire strangulation to name but two.
This almost manages to give a new meaning to the word gratuitous. Basically, it's the closest that you're going to get to porn without actually buying porn! Most of the women wear very little or nothing at all and the endless un-needed references to bondage and kinky sex actually become quite irritating. The only problem is that the cast is filled with mainly ugly characters and the only really good looking one is murdered almost as soon as she arrives! (A scene that is classically described by the first cop on the scene, `It looks like they came out for a little picnic, a little sex got killed!) Every single character in the story is either a bizarre nymphomaniac with a fetish for pain or fag-burns, a rapist or generally just a pervert; and it can get a little overpowering at times. But the thing that really prevents this from scoring is the home movie like quality that's no less than atrocious. The first Truth or dare was filmed on a budget of a million Dollars with fairly decent camera(s) and sound. Wicked Games was made for about thirty grand and shot with a camcorder and no boom mike. The budget for this sequel was so miniscule that Patricia Paul played the two lead parts, which explains the agonising wig! Acting that would make day-time Soap stars look like Academy voters is never particularly inviting and the fact that these guys are probably just hookers/folk from the street should be enough of a warning what's in store for you if you hunt this out. Perhaps the only thing that's improved since the first in the series was the Copper mask that's one of the best that I've personally ever seen.
Tim Ritter should've taken the time to raise a bigger budget and made good use of the interesting premise. I guess some will argue that this is how underground' movies are supposed to look, but I'd rather watch something that's visually clear and I can hear what's going on without turning the volume up to the max and when it ends nearly deafining my girlfriend, any day of the week. Wicked Games is not without its charms, but you need to be especially forgiving in the first place to find them. Kudos for not softening on the shock-factor in a bid to go mainstream, but A Critical Madness still does it for me a lot better than this disappointing sequel.
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