Friday, September 2, 2011

Sledgehammer - AC Center Stage Review


Review by William Hellfire

When asked what David A. Prior's inspiration was in shooting Sledgehammer he said plainly 'the horror movies of the time, I don't even remember 'em it's so long ago…ah...Jason.."...Sledgehammer was not a work of an inspired horror film enthusiast, just a guy who wanted to become a filmmaker and learn while doing it. This was considered nothing more than 'product' for it’s distributors and for the first wave of potential fans who rented it, it must have been a shock to the system as shot on video releases were unheard of at the time of its release. \

Having myself come from the world of shot on video low-budget and micro-budget films, Sledgehammer was still a shock to MY system as it was lensed in 1983 and I had never seen anything quite that dated shot on video. The film itself is a mad train wreck padded with slow motion, repetitive bland interior scenery (I.E. living room, hallway, kitchen, bedroom repeat!) shot with a dreamy blurred filter starring a male stripper/model as the hero and a sledgehammer-wielding snuffalufigus ghost as the killer who switches back and forth from child form to grown up form. In one memorable scene he even GROWS before our very eyes from child to adult. The plot is loose, the pacing clunky, the character interactions awkward (and sometimes even gross). Add in seemingly arbitrary supernatural elements and it makes for a surreal experience.

Bad is the new good, we have made cinefile sport out of limited films who’s intentions are pure and end results were none the less bananas! As horror film fanatics we have seen all the greats, unearthed the cult faves, and now the only way to satiate our lust for ‘80s horror is revisit the bottom feeders, search for the forgotten, the odd balls and the awful. Movies rushed into production to cash in on the video craze, some of them are snooze fests, low-budget rip-offs of commercial genre pictures and some are small screen gems in their own unique way as is SLEDGEHAMMER!!!!

Some of the gore effects are truly gruesome, especially a grey matter exposing sledge to the back of the head head, but the choreography of the kills are amateur and awkward; usually the drama and suspense added only by slow motion playback. (The 80 minute run time would be much shorter if a third of the film was played at the actual speed.) The food fight scene is actually more revolting than most the kills and fortunately plays out in real time.

That all aside this is an entertaining movie if for no other reason than it is completely foreign to the senses and presents a brand new experience and look into the early years of no budget filmmaking. The score is a well done synth drone a la carpenter and makes up for the grating obnoxious characters and their poorly delivered, chuckle inducing dialogue.

The DVD presentation and extras are really the star of the show. Intervision's presentation holds true to the retro enthusiast vibe and compliments this shot on video feature with a few great intuitive and entertaining extras as well as amazing trailers for more ‘80s shot on video movies: “Things”, “A Night to Dismember”, and “The Secret Life of Jeffery Dahmer”. Even Intervision’s logo is made to resemble the authentic ‘80s video graphics as well as its synth sting accompaniment. The logo seems to have been laid off to VHS and re-encoded to giving it an authentic VHS feel. Nice job guys, really dig the style and all the love you put into this release.

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