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Monday, June 29, 2020

Fatal Games (1984)




The further I go down this Slasher movie rabbit hole the more oddball flicks I find. Fatal Games certainly falls into that category. In this one we are introduced to a batch of Olympic hopefuls trying to qualify for nationals, the first step to reaching the games. They are all students at the Falcon Academy of Athletics and get specialized training from the faculty. It is also hinted that they are getting some pharmaceutical assistance as well. This becomes important later on when it is hinted that at least one of the potential suspects might have anger issues because of the “medicine”.

Now that the setting is established let’s take a look at the story. Someone clearly doesn’t like these kids as a mysterious killer shows up and starts to bump them off. The interesting twist to the killer is that they do all their damage with a javelin! I guess that keeps with the Olympic theme of the movie since it is one of the items we see being used by the track and field students. After giving us some suspects, the cast is whittled down until we finally get the reveal. Who is the killer and why are they murdering the heck out of these kids? You aren’t going to get any spoilers from me!

Fatal Games is a solid effort, but not a great one. They have the formula down with the kills spaced evenly throughout the duration if you include the near misses. This is interesting because they setup the kills only to pull back a couple of times. It adds a “is it going to happen this time” vibe to the proceedings that is unusual for the slasher subgenre. They also toss in a lot of nudity which is important to this kind of movie. There are expectations that were established by eighty-four and the filmmakers deliver the goods. I felt the need to highlight this as the movie does stick to the formula.

Sadly, these expectations are also key to the biggest failing of Fatal Games. While we get a unique killer with an odd weapon of choice, the javelin, the kills suffer because of it. How many ways can you kill someone with a giant pointy stick? We get five kills, not including the ultimate demise of our antagonist, and all of them are variations of someone getting run thru. This limits their creativity in most of the kills and it gets boring after the first couple. The most memorable and overly complicated kill involves the swimming pool and a scuba suit. Even then the payoff is the same javelin sticking out of the victim gag we have seen over and over again.

They could have maybe made up for this with some good gore, but the effects work is tame. We see the javelin flying in the air and then a character run thru. There aren’t any onscreen hits or much blood at all. There is very little blood and the gags are forgettable. Again, by eighty-four the bar was set much higher than this. Between the lack of creativity and explicit kills I found this part of Fatal Games to be very disappointing.

As I’ve already stated this is a solid movie. I do like the setup of the athletes training for the Olympics. There aren’t any slow spots to the movie, and they do a great job with the stalking scenes. I also haven’t mentioned the big twist at the end, which I rather enjoyed. Though the reveal is a bit abrupt and feels forced it is a cool gag. Sorry I can’t go into more detail without some serious spoilers. The kills and lack of gore though are a big issue. Better effects work might have made this a must watch. As it is, I’d say this is worth checking out if you can find it on the cheap and keep expectations reasonable.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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