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The Slayer (1982)

Two couples become stranded on a rugged isle, and are haunted by a supernatural beast, drawn to the wife of one of the couples, who dreams of its killings.


J.S. Cardone


J.S. Cardone (screenplay), Bill Ewing (screenplay) (as William R. Ewing)




Cast overview:
Sarah Kendall ... Kay
Frederick Flynn ... Eric
Carol Kottenbrook ... Brooke
Alan McRae ... David
Michael Holmes ... Marsh
Sandy Simpson ... Norman
Paul Gandolfo Paul Gandolfo ... Fisherman
Newell Alexander ... Kay's Father
Ivy Jones ... Kay's Mother
Jennifer Gaffin Jennifer Gaffin ... Young Kay
Richard Van Brakel Richard Van Brakel ... Young Eric
Carl Kraines ... The Slayer


Four young people vacation on a barren island. One of them, a female artist, has dreams that depict ghastly murders. Sure enough, the fun begins when her boyfriend is found dead. Written by Christopher S. Bultman <meatmanmiller@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This time your nightmare is real. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This film was banned in the United Kingdom as a "video nasty" in the early 1980's. See more »


When Brooke leaves with diner, Eric had a cigarette in his mouth in the shot before, now he doesn't. See more »


Kay: It's this place... It makes my skin crawl.
David: It's not this place, Kay, for Christ's sake. It's those damn dreams of yours!
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version released on the Marquis video label is the full 81 minute version. The film was also released on a double-billed VHS cassette with Scalps by Continental home video, but the running time was shortened to 75 minutes. Interestingly, none of the violent scenes were altered. See more »


Featured in The Tybee Post Theater Experience (2017) See more »

User Reviews

An Unearthed Slasher
22 August 2017 | by gavin6942See all my reviews

Siblings Eric and Kay, her doctor husband David, her sister-in-law Brooke along with pilot Marsh become stranded on a rugged isle face off against a supernatural beast drawn to Kay who dreams of its killings.

The story and script were co-written by J. S. Cardone and Bill Ewing; Cardone eventually directed while Ewing produced. Cardone had been, what he called, "the white token of the black film community" writing for folks like Bill Cosby but was working in a liquor store to pay his bills. This was his first credited work on a feature film. Ewing had worked as an actor, and did cast coordination for "Meteor" (1979), but was also new to writing and producing films. Although today classified as a "slasher", the co-writers maintain they were really aiming for a psychological thriller with hints of Lovecraft.

The two were able to move from script to screen thanks to production manager Eric Weston (who horror fans may know as the director of 1981's "Evilspeak") and Lloyd Adams' International Picture Show Company (who then went bankrupt within the year). Outside of "Slayer", Adams may be best known as the producer of "Grizzly" (1976). This bankruptcy unfortunately caused any number of distribution problems, but the film did manage to find a life of its own.

For the appropriate setting, they chose Tybee Island, the easternmost part of Georgia… known for its hurricanes and for being one of the few places an atomic bomb was dropped on American soil. Though storms do factor into the plot, as well as the island's relative isolation, the atomic bomb part is not mentioned. Perhaps an unfortunate missed opportunity? Not only were Cardone and Ewing new at the movie game, but this was DP Karen Grossman on her first feature film. She followed it up with "Microwave Massacre" (1983), as well as a couple of Cardone's films. The bulk of her credits are with the George Romero TV series "Tales from the Darkside" and its quasi-sequel "Monsters" Robert Short, the special effects man, had come out of Don Post's crew and had previously helped design the mask from "Halloween"; he can claim responsibility for the cool pitchfork scene, which is as good as any trick Tom Savini had pulled. Short went on to many, many huge projects, including "Beetlejuice".

Leading the cast is Sarah Kendall, who really sells the film with her wide eyes; she looks like a more terrified version of Sigourney Weaver, making her the perfect lead actress. She had apparently worked with one of the creators (probably Ewing) on a TV show, though this is unclear from her credits. Quite possibly, she had been on a few shows in smaller parts that were not well-documented at the time.

Ultimately, "The Slayer" is something of a mixed bag. Kendall is a strong leading lady, some of the gore effects are pretty good. And the concept of blurring the lines between dream and reality is incredibly clever. Although it is not likely this film was an influence, some of the ideas presented do predate similar ideas in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films. What makes "Slayer" just alright rather than great, however, is the pacing. Far too much of the film is a slow burn and even at 86 minutes it feels long.

The film's early theatrical release saw it on Broadway with sections cut out and the color uncorrected, due in part to the bankruptcy noted above. Over the years the releases were degraded more and more, and fans who saw it on VHS probably saw it in its worst possible incarnation. This was until 2017, when Arrow Video saved the day. Despite these hiccups, director J. S. Cardone really went on to great things, directing movies with Cannon films, Empire Pictures and beyond.

The Arrow Video Blu-ray has an impressive 50-minute making of segment, with just about everyone attached to the film brought in. We also have a 13-minute feature on the locations, and a June 2017 Q&A that took place on the island. Typically I would say the only thing missing is a commentary track, but the making-of does a fine job of replacing it and actually goes above and beyond by breaking down how some effects were done, something that could not be done with just audio. "The Slayer" may not be the greatest of all slasher films, but it does have an important place in history and fans ought to check it out.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

1 October 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Slayer See more »

Filming Locations:

Savannah, Georgia, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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