Saturday, December 10, 2022

10 Toxic Family Nightmares!

The holidays are a marketing scheme, plain and simple. The campaigns all make it sound like they're selling peace, love and togetherness, but it's really just an attempt to lull you into a state of suggestibility so they can sell you products. Besides, this "togetherness" can involve the people who are most likely to push our buttons in the worst way - our families. If you feel anxiety about what your family is likely to do or say when you visit for the holidays, here's a list of 10 movies - with plot spoilers, so be warned -  that will make you feel a whole lot better about whatever problems your own clan may have.

 - Frightmare (1974)

The family in Pete Walker's "Frightmare" is one of the examples that immediately comes to mind when I think of the phrase "totally fucked up". Let's start with their biggest issue: mother is a cannibal. Father was her reluctant accomplice and lacks the ability to stand up to his wife's aberrant behavior, and he was imprisoned alongside her (apparently they have double occupancy cells in English prisons for married couples). 15 years later, they're both declared "sane", and they return to their small rural village, where mom immediately starts reading Tarot cards and eating her customers again. The two daughters in the family are mirror images of both parents - the older daughter, Jackie, has been raising 15-year-old sister Debbie and has emulated her father's tendencies to make life easier for the troublemakers in the family. Debbie, on the other hand, takes after her mother and delights in committing acts of violence. The lying, excuse-making and manipulation reach epic proportions in the film's climax, where the now-murderous Debbie joins her mother in killing anyone who knows their secret, including Jackie. She also manages to successfully turn the father against Jackie with just one lie, ensuring that he blocks her escape and refuses to intervene when they advance on her with blades. And you thought YOUR family was messed up!  

- Home For The Holidays (1972)

Murders are a sure fire way to ruin any holiday gathering, or at least a close second to arguing about religion or politics.  That's what happens to the family in this movie, one of them is a cold blooded killer, and the rest of the clan is unsuspecting. Eventually it's Sally Field on the run from the killer, who turns out to be one of her sisters disguised in a yellow rain slicker. Her motives for the murders? Plain old sibling rivalry. And nothing says "Christmas" like that.

- My Brother Has Bad Dreams (1972) 

Another case of deceit being the undoing of traumatized survivors, Robert J. Emery's 1972 film (originally known as "Scream Bloody Murder" until another movie came along at the same time with the same title) features another pair of siblings with a murder in their past, and murder in their immediate future, too. After young Karl witnesses his father killing his mother with a fire poker, his sister Anna raises him alone in the family's big old spooky house. Now a young adult, the neuroses that Karl carries with him (a pathological fear of cats and an unhealthy obsession with mannequins for starters) begin to come to the forefront. The audience comes to understand Anna's complicity in Karl's mental illness, keeping him dependent on her by encouraging his emotional immaturity, because she fears that Karl is always on the verge of remembering a key piece of information that he witnessed - Anna herself helped their father hide the body after the murder. Karl's sanity finally breaks and he kills Anna and her new lover, then takes his own life by slashing his wrists and leaping from a bridge into a canal, where he is eaten by sharks. 

- Blood And Lace (1971)

After someone bludgeons her prostitute mother and a john to death with a hammer, a young teenage girl is sent to live in a state-funded orphanage. She also seems to be pursued by the killer, a man with a burned face wielding a hammer, but we later learn that she is in fact the murderer, and the weirdo pursuing her is actually the detective who has been investigating her mother's case. The reason? Unbeknownst to her, he is her long-estranged father, who has been using his knowledge of the murders to blackmail her into marrying him and having his children. Yes. The bulk of the movie is spent dealing with her misadventures in the orphanage, which is run by a funcationally insane woman and her skeezy handyman helper. They abuse and torture the children whenever they step out of line, and if the kids happen to die from the abuse, they keep the bodies in the freezer, taking them out and putting them in bed whenever the state social worker arrives to check on the facility. The bizarre family dynamics of our teenage heroine are mostly just a bracket to this action, but they're pretty hard to forget. It's still amazing to me that a movie like this could be rated PG, but there ya go.

- Midnight (1982)

What the hell is going on in rural Pennsylvania? Well, Satanism for one, and that's not even the worst of it.  A young girl escapes her sexually abusive stepfather, who tries to rape her and is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, she's flown the coop, so he tells his wife a bullshit story about what a bad girl she is. Did I mention he's a police officer? The teenage runaway and her two new friends she met while hitchhiking decide to rob a grocery store, and when they hide out in the woods, a family of deranged hicks who worship the devil kill her friends and take her prisoner while she awaits human sacrifice. This backwoods family keeps their mother's rotting corpse in a chair a'la Norman Bates, only they apparently never learned taxidermy. Our teen heroine ends up escaping her doom, with some help from her pervy stepfather who tracks her down - probably because he's afraid she'll tell someone what a creep he is. He ends up fatally stabbed but takes a couple with him for the team, ensuring that he'll only be sent to a less tortuous level of burning hell.  

- The Children (1980)

There isn't a healthy family in this entire movie. When a small busload of children passes through a radioactive cloud, the kids are transformed into murderous atomic zombies who microwave their loved ones alive with their hands. After each death scene, we start to realize that this is something closer to revenge on their part, because this seemingly idyllic rural town is populated by citizens who don't seem to know how to do the right thing, especially when it comes to their kids. Alcoholic wretches, pill poppers, disco bodybuilding swingers, women who smoke while pregnant and speed past school busses - the town of Ravensback has got them all. Even the blissfully daffy old general store owner admits that her husband, who drives the school bus, has the potential to abscond with the kids, even if it's just for an impromptu picnic. Maybe it's a good thing that he ended up looking like an overcooked pot roast. 

- Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

Incest, domestic violence, mental and verbal abuse - the family in this movie has it all, including a fabulous house on Long Island with these quaint little attic windows. The fact that these issues seemed to exist *before* they moved in makes the demonic influence sort of a moot point, at least if you think about it. My advice is, don't think about it, just roll with it - this is the best in the series, if you ask me. 

- Curse of the Black Widow (1977)

Dan Curtis gave us this made-for-TV monster movie about a woman who turns into a giant spider during the cycle of the full moon. She's one of a pair of twins, and the murderous transformations turn out to be linked to the jealousy she feels toward her twin sister, who is *not* a spider woman and has no idea what is going on. She only knows that every man she has ever so much as glanced at seems to wind up dead with large holes full of spider venom in his chest. But wait, there's more. As the film reaches its climax, the non-arachnid sister discovers that their mother, presumed dead years prior, is actually alive and living in a state of dementia in the attic of the family mansion, deepening the implicit betrayal committed by those who are aware of this trans-species family phenomenon. Can you imagine mourning the loss of a family member and then finding out years after the fact that she's been alive the whole time? True to the title, this curse is passed on from generation to generation, as the young daughter of the spider woman is revealed to have the same hourglass birthmark on her abdomen, indicating that somewhere in there she's got eight legs just itchin' to come out. 

- Silent Scream (1979)

Speaking of family members locked away in the attic, this movie has a real doozy. A mad stabber terrorizing a spooky college boarding house turns out to be a lobotomized woman who has been kept hidden in a secret attic bedroom for years after she became pregnant out of wedlock and attempted suicide. The family's attempt to earn some extra cash by renting rooms out to college students ends up being a very bad idea indeed. But she's not the only victim of these family secrets - the illegitimate son she bore is now a young man, and he believes that his grandparents are actually his parents. Confirming that murder runs in the family, he responds with deadly gunfire when he learns the truth.  

- Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) aka "Death House", "Dark Night of the Full Moon"

What a creepy film this is. There are a few stylistic and thematic similarities to the later "Black Christmas", but "Silent Night, Bloody Night" isn't quite as polished and straightforward, and I love it for that reason. It features a convoluted plot that may be difficult to follow on first watch. Mary Woronov has the worst Christmas ever when she discovers that her dad is actually one of several dangerously disturbed mental patients who, decades prior, escaped an asylum that used to be housed in the local spooky mansion (now abandoned).  But that seems like nothing compared to the family problems of the asylum's former proprietor, who apparently turned his house into a mental hospital just so he could have his daughter committed there - after he raped her and she bore his child. If he'd do all that, then it should come as no surprise that he would fake his death, live the rest of his life as a patient in a local asylum, then escape in order to carry out a deadly plan of revenge involving murders commited by ax, blunt objects, shovels, and any other thing that happens to be lying around. It isn't quite as stalk-and-slash as it may sound, but the morbid atmosphere meshes beautifully with the Christmas elements.  

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Visit our Etsy shop and pick up the new issue of fanzine DRIVE-IN ASYLUM, our special tribute to horror hosts!


Friday, November 6, 2020

Massage Parlor Murders! (1973)

Where has this marvelous movie been all my life? Well, apparently there was no home video release for this until 2013, but this is 2020 so I have no excuse for ignoring this rough gem for too long. The production quality is up and down throughout the movie - some scenes have a Doris Wishman quality, with dialogue dubbed in without actually showing the person speaking on camera. The framing is off in a few scenes, and the sound level of the dialogue is a bit sketchy in at least one crucial scene. Most of the acting is similar to what you might find in a porn flick that attempted to have some kind of plot. Also like porn, long periods of the film don't feature dialogue, and are instead accompanied by a very groovy soundtrack.

All the amateurishness aside, if you judge this on sheer entertainment value, this movie really delivers. The ultra 70s decor alone could have made this a must-see - this is definitely a Furniture Movie for me - but you also get some magical footage of New York City in the early 70s, with some particularly lingering shots of 42nd Street grindhouses. The scenery looks even better due to the incredible transfer Vinegar Syndrome did with this film.

There's not much of a script, but the movie does have the right idea in certain regards, such as the depiction of two police detectives who both have sleazy secrets in their own lives. Rizotti (George Spencer) sleeps with prostitutes (sorry, "massage girls") while on duty, then goes home for long evenings of ignoring his wife, whose bids for his attention have turned into epic tirades of nagging and bitching. She's like the sister of Beverly Hills from "Invasion of the Bee Girls", or at least a client of the same beauty salon. Rizotti's partner, O'Mara (John Moser) is sincere but inept; while staking out a nude club (and doing as the Romans do while in Rome himself), he decides to chase a suspect on foot, commandeering a civilian taxi while wearing nothing but a short towel he managed to grab on the way out. He then endangers countless citizens of New York by instigating a high speed car chase that devolves into a demolition derby, only to corner the suspect and somehow apprehend him - still barefoot and wearing nothing but a towel. Those naked super hero hijinks aside, this cop is so short-sighted that he knows someone is murdering massage girls, yet doesn't even give his girlfriend any protection when she goes to her a massage girl. Later, Rizotti and O'Mara both know the killer is about to strike, but still decide to get something to eat and have a few drinks first. When they arrive too late and miss all the action of the movie's staggering grand finale, they discover that the final would-be victim didn't need any help from them, thank you. (I hope she got to keep that money, she sure earned it.)

OK names, names - Brother Theodore has a brief scene in this, where he gets to recite some of his monologues. Fans will recognize them immediately from his recordings and appearances on The David Letterman Show. He plays a kooky astrologer and possible suspect who gets slapped around by our two fine examples of the NYPD. They also kick the shit out of George Dzundza, who doubles as the Assistant Director of this movie. Maybe he directed his own physical assault? Look fast for Beverly Bonner from "Basket Case" in a brief scene as one of the massage girls who (luckily) doesn't get singled out by the murdering creep. The only female character the movie allows us to get to know at all is played by none other than Sandra Peabody from "Last House on the Left".

The violence is hardly realistic in the way a movie like "Last House" might be, but "Massage Parlor Murders" still manages a few visceral surprises. When it's time for the film to reveal the fate of a character we've become at least reasonably invested in, it does so in a shockingly rote manner, a cold and clinical view of a bloody crime scene. The on-screen carnage is often reaching for a little more than the movie's special effects can deliver. A scene where a victim is dispatched with a shattered glass object doesn't look particularly convincing, yet also manages to make you squirm just a little. Most of the lovely female corpses blink, so nobody would ever accuse this movie of being a snuff film. You may be more shocked by how far over the top and out into left field "Massage Parlor Murders" is willing to go in the non-sexual and non-violent scenes, like when we see a large group of naked strangers in a co-ed bath house cavorting in a giant Olympic-sized pool full of balloons, or a kinky voyeurism scene where a chubby guy in a leotard dances a crude form of ballet with a topless woman to "In the Hall of the Mountain King".

The film received a reissue with an alternate cut entitled "Massage Parlor Hookers", with an obvious refocus on the hooking parts of the movie as opposed to the murdering parts. That's exploitation, baby. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Guru, The Mad Monk (1970), directed by Andy Milligan.

The Middle Ages were hard times for mad monks. Father Guru (Neal Flanagan) is a corrupt chaplain in the 15th Century, employed in a bizarre prison complex. Assigned to deliver the last rites to condemned prisoners, Guru also carries out punishments like heating up an iron cross and then searing the flesh of sinners while they kneel before him. When prison guard Carl's girlfriend Nadja (Judith Israel) is locked up, accused of murdering her newborn baby, Carl (Paul Lieber) appeals to Guru to save his girlfriend from execution. In return, Guru enlists Carl's help to acquire corpses to sell to medical schools for profit. Carl also finds himself indebted to Guru's secret mistress, Olga (Jacquelin Webb), who gives him the drugs necessary to fake Nadja's death.  Olga demands that Carl allow her some alone time with all the recently deceased corpses at the prison so that she may drain their blood for use in her 'experiments'. What she really meant to say was "meals", since she is a vampire.

Are you still following this?

"Mirror on my chamber wall, who's the maddest monk of all?"

Guru, who not only likes to date vampires but also has two-person conversations with himself in the mirror, is resentful over the fact that the mother church refuses to send more money to his parish. When Nadja is revived, they hide her in a tower chamber, where she spends her days looking out the window and noticing that people keep coming to the church and never leaving. Sometimes Guru kills them for Olga, and sometimes Olga kills them herself, but Guru has a knack for picking the right ones, especially when they say things like "Nobody knows I came here." Nadja can't wait to tell someone about it, bored in her tower chamber while Carl is on a long body-collecting journey for Guru. She also befriends Guru's hunchback assistant, Igor, who is clearly so in love that he can hardly speak around her.  He has a memorable freakout moment when she shows him the slightest bit of interest and cheerfully asks him questions about himself.

"Igor, I swear to you, my interest in you as a person has nothing to do with the
fact that I'm currently a prisoner in a church tower and you're the only one I ever see."

I've always thought of Andy Milligan as the John Waters of horror movies. Although he lacked recurring stars as outrageous as Divine, Edith Massey and Jean Hill, his films are driven by a similar manic energy. Not as earnest as Ed Wood's cinematic output, Milligan movies usually don't aspire to be better than they are, they just want to wallow in despicable behavior for an hour and then move on to the next feature.

"Guru the Mad Monk" is one of the better examples of the way Milligan's films take the more ridiculous aspects of the plot for granted. The plot goes on and on with daytime drama involving true love, religious convictions, and the abuse of power, with very little regard given to the fact that one of the characters is a fucking vampire. We are just supposed to accept that she's a vampire, with no explanation given other than a throwaway line when Guru makes reference to when she was "bitten by that animal!" I kinda want the movie to be about that, ya know? But instead, you just have to go with it, because the movie charges full speed ahead right past it. Don't worry, it runs just short of a full hour, so it won't waste too much of your time.

"This won't hurt a bit, my sinning child!"

Like Waters, Milligan has a way with dialogue that has to be heard to be believed. I won't accuse the actors of delivering bad performances with stilted delivery, because actually they are rather convincing in these hopelessly bullshit roles. There's nothing at all going for this movie without the performances, and I was not disappointed by these actors. Judith Israel is particularly good, channelling Mia Farrow from her hairstyle right down to her crisp, accented diction.

"Hey pal, watch the headgear!"

A period picture is an ambitious concept for an ultra low budget film, and "Guru" has Milligan's usual Halloween costume look to it. It's supposed to be the Middle Ages, yet the women all wear modern cosmetics and the lead actress has lovely hair that probably took her Middle Ages hairdresser about an hour to shape for her. I wonder if they came to her tower to do her hair right there. Don't let your guard down or you may catch yourself thinking this is one of the best ways to spend an hour of your life.

Friday, February 28, 2020

8 Traumatic Animal Deaths in Scary Movies

You know how it goes - people can die in horror movies and that's A-OK, but when it happens to an animal, suddenly it feels like things suddenly got way out of control. Here's my own personal gallery of terrors where a much younger version of me was traumatized by the representation of horrible death occurring to an animal.

8. COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970) - Erica eats her cat.

This movie has its share of campy vampire action, but there are a few genuine shocks within its reels, one of which is the moment when Count Yorga's victim Erica is discovered holding her dead, bloody cat in one hand while she (presumably) sucks its blood. It's a revolting and disturbing moment I never forgot!

7. HORROR HIGH (1973) - The janitor's cat gets it!

When "Horror High" started appearing on TV, it was retitled "Twisted Brain". Some of the film's most gruesome violence had been trimmed from the original R rated theatrical cut to make a PG version for theaters, namely the removal of an on-screen decapitation with a paper cutter. But for me, the most horrible thing in the entire movie is the death of a gorgeous black cat. It belongs to a mean janitor that works at the school in the movie, and why an employee would be allowed to bring his pet cat to school when he's working is beyond me, but the cat has this fatal hankering to attack whiz kid Vernon's guinea pig, Mr. Mumps. Unfortunately for kitty, Vernon is testing his Jekyll/Hyde formula on Mr. Mumps, who turns into a monster guinea pig and destroys the bully cat. We don't see it happen on screen, but when Vernon discovers the body, he ends up dropping it on the floor where it lies there in a puddle of blood. Instant distress!!

6. DEAD OF NIGHT (1974) - Andy throttles the family dog.

Bob Clark's 1974 creepfest "Dead of Night" (reissued in 1976 with a new title "Deathdream") is about a young soldier named Andy serving in Vietnam who appears to be killed in action, then mysteriously reappears back home as a decaying zombie that needs fresh blood to survive. One of the first things Andy does is to kill the family dog, Butch, when it starts barking at him (because that's what dogs do when they sense that you are an evil zombie). Not only this, he cruelly does it right in front of a bunch of terrified, crying kids. Seeing this happen right there on TV as a child was a real unexpected gut punch.

5. LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971) - The little mole is no more. 

One of the most effective elements of this cult fave is the engaging performance delivered by Zhora Lampert. She seems like a genuinely nice person, and when somebody loves animals, that's usually a good sign. Jessica spots a mole while she's out doing gravestone rubbings - ok, she's a little morbid, but still really nice - and she decides she wants to take it home and keep it as a pet. It may be a little misguided of her to keep a mole trapped in a large jar for her own amusement, but something truly uncalled for happens when an unseen person takes a large knife and abruptly puts the mole out of its misery at being imprisoned by a well-meaning woman. Jessica finds it the next day, screaming horribly as she holds the bloody corpse in her hand. Really, Jessica? When our outdoor cat used to bring dead moles home and lay them on our front porch, I never got the urge to pick it up.

4. FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) - Snake: it's what's for dinner!

OK, probably not everybody is disturbed by the idea of killing a snake, but this was the first time I had ever seen an animal killed on screen, for real, in a movie. Never mind the faked throat gougings, the decapitation, the killer arrows, the cast iron skillet used as a bludgeon - this murder is REAL!

3. BEWARE! THE BLOB (1972) - Samuel's last meal.

In this sequel to  "The Blob", an absolutely effervescent Marlene Clark has an adorable little kitten named Samuel. Unfortunately, her husband has just brought a frozen chunk of the blob home, where it thaws out and eats Samuel just when he's digging into a big serving of tuna. Hey, I guess it's a blob-eat-cat world after all. I was simply traumatized when this happened!

2. THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE (1976) - Gordon's terrible fate.

This movie is disturbing on several levels, but I'm still not completely over the scene where Martin Sheen, playing the scuzziest perv ever, tortures Jodie Foster's pet gerbil with a lit cigarette and then hurls it into the fireplace. It just seemed to come up so unexpectedly, although I was about 8 years old when I saw this so I could be forgiven for not seeing it coming.

1. RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975) - Ginger has a bad trip.

This is the big one, the very first time I can remember being traumatized by an animal's death in a movie. Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit and Lara Parker piss off some devil-cult members by witnessing a human sacrifice, and find themselves on the run when the cultists start following them. They go out to a bar one night and when they return, they are horrified to find their dog has been killed and gruesomely strung up on the door to their RV.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Fly (1958): Life's A Bitch And Then You Fly

"Honey, I heard that once there was a
woman who swallowed a fly..."
I never gave this movie much thought as a kid, but a lot of the film's concepts are more interesting when you think about them as an adult. For instance, we all know the plot concerns a scientist whose arm  and  head  are  swapped  with  a  housefly  during  a  teleportation  experiment he conducted on himself. As a kid, I was waiting for the moment when we'd glimpse the bizarre makeup effects. But now I can't get past the fact that this movie  is  told from the perspective of a woman who was living a life of privilege and happiness, and in an instant her life is shattered. Not only is her husband doomed to die, but it's a hideous death where he loses his very humanity.

"Darling, I think my tab just kicked in..."
"Mine, too."
Of course, you could also point out that this privileged life she leads is what has really destroyed her family. Both her husband and his brother have "more money then they know what to do with" (their words), and their lives are the picture of luxury. The family electronics business has given our fly-headed scientist the wealth to maintain a stately mansion with a staff of servants to cook his meals and look after his child and fetch whatever gowns his wife would like to wear, but unfortunately it also finances the expensive equipment necessary to build a machine that can swap a human's head with that of a common housefly. Rich people problems.
"Why do you leave me alone with these servants all day, that
nosy maid's been reading my mail again, Darling I hate her!!"
I want this in my house. I NEED this in my house.
And perhaps worst of all, she is complicit in her husband's death due to the fact that she doesn't pay enough attention to her own child, who desperately tries to tell her about the strange housefly he's captured. She ignores the kid and orders him to release the fly, but after she learns about her husband's unplanned body modification, she also learns that the fly her son miraculously happened to catch could have held the key to returning her husband to his old self again. If only she didn't have her expensively coiffed head in those blindingly white clouds of happiness. 
"Mummy, if there weren't any poor people in the world,
would we have to scrub our own toilet?"
She learns the hard way what happens to people who suddenly don't fit into this society where it's so important to be like everyone else: you wind up with your head and arm crushed under a machine press, while your widow is forced to feign madness and go to an insane asylum just to spare your good name. In true 1950s fashion, a cop-out ending is forced on us, when what's left of her husband ends up saving this shining example of a 50s housewife from an extended vacation in an institution, and the fly with his head and arm is spotted by the detective who previously thought she was crazy.
Fly Vision
"Honey, when I gave you 50,000 Euros to buy patio furniture,
I didn't think you'd spend it on this tacky bamboo shit."

Friday, December 6, 2019

The Slayer (1982) - Vacations can be murder!

If you ever get the opportunity to take a vacation on a secluded island -- the kind you can only access as a passenger on a small private aircraft -- it's probably a good idea to first make sure there isn't a hurricane headed that way. You should also be certain that it isn't haunted by a strange apparition that wants to kill you and anyone else who is with you.
"This reminds me of that time I had an earache, went to the doctor,
and while I was in the waiting room a roach crawled out of my ear."
This is the case with Kay (Sarah Kendall), a successful artist whose work has been negatively influenced by recurring nightmares she's had her entire life. She dreams of a spectral humanoid creature committing gruesome murders in an unknown location, and she finds that the nightmares are happening more and more frequently. Her brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) arranges a visit to a small island off the coast of Georgia for a vacation getaway, and joining them are Eric's wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook) and Kay's husband David (Alan McRae). When they arrive, however, Kay is alarmed to discover that the deserted resort that still stands there is the actual location of these terrible dreams, even though she's never been there before. Is it possible her dreams are prophetic and the murderous beast is real, too? Let's consult the Magic 8-Ball:

The pilot who drops them off, Marsh (Michael Holmes), warns them of an impending storm, effectively stranding them there, and from there it's only a matter of time until they start being slaughtered. It only happens when Kay is asleep, though - the first to go is a random fisherman we never got introduced to. This happens while Kay is napping on the beach. Then that night while she's sleeping, David does some classic horror movie poking-around-the-basement-with-a-flashlight and is decapitated by a storm door. 
"I'll never doubt her again when she says there's a Slayer."
The next day, Kay dreams she wakes up with David's severed head, but then she wakes up for real and discovers him missing. Eric refuses to believe that anything is wrong (apparently he can't wrap his head around the fact that 4-1=3), but eventually foul play is confirmed when David is discovered hanging around headless, and suddenly they realize they're in a survival situation. Kay catches on that the killer only attacks when she's asleep, so what do Eric and Brooke do? Give her a sedative, of course. I have to admit, sometimes I love it when bad things happen to stupid people.

"We gave her that sedative because it was in the script, jerk.
Also, my resemblance to Gaylen Ross is purely coincidental."
When all is said and done, Kay is left alone and desperately tries to stay awake long enough to avoid being murdered in her sleep. She barricades herself into their lodge as best she can, but someone breaks in -- she kills him with a flare, but of course it turns out to be Marsh, who is still on the island for some reason. The house goes up in flames, and when she tries to escape she is confronted by the monster, which turns out to look like a cross between adult Macaulay Culkin and an anglerfish:
This is it! Don't be scared now!
But instead of seeing Kay murdered by the monster, we see her as a child, waking up from another nightmare of The Slayer. Was the entire movie we just witnessed a dream? Is this a flashback? Was the Slayer real, or were the murders committed by a human being? It's possible Marsh was the killer, or was it Kay herself, since she's the one with all the problems? Let's ask the 8 Ball again...

It's just as I thought: despite the fact that we stuck with the movie through its entire runtime, we get no definitive answers. We're not meant to know. 

This could have been an actual artistic choice, or it could have been a creative way to avoid using any action footage that didn't look all that great once they saw it in the dailies. The creature does look cool, but it only rears its ugly head for a few seconds during the climax, and even then it's just standing there looking at Kay. I don't mean to suggest that the makeup FX aren't great, because there are a few standout moments here, the greatest of which is an on-screen pitchfork murder worthy of Tom Savini himself. I wish we'd seen more of the monster though, and that ending really feels like a cheat.
"Hey, did you ever hear the one about the isolated vacation spot haunted
by a Slayer? It was a nice place to visit, but you could never live there!"
Small price to pay for such a creepy, atmospheric experience, though. The locations are extremely effective, as well as the sense of isolation and doom. I was reminded of the movie "Ghostkeeper" while watching this, which also had a similar plot, except it took place at a snowbound resort in the mountains instead of a deserted island. Together they'd make for a great night of Travelogue Horror, just add your favorite movie where people are trapped in an isolated vacation spot, and voila!
"Hey Darlin', I love your nails. Maybe you can do mine sometime."