Blu-ray Review: Deadly Games (1982)

February 19, 2022

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

After a little late night titty touch, solo style, a woman is stalked by a heavy breathin’, ski mask wearin’, son of a bitch resulting in her flying out a window to her doom!

Meanwhile the victim’s sister Clarissa Jane Louise ‘Keegan’ Smart Ass Goof Ball Lawrence (Jo Ann Harris) returns home and begins hanging out with her ever-horny high school chums… but the good times stop a-rollin’ quick as the masked man strikes again!

Now who could that killer be? Is it Billy Owens (Steve Railsback), the chain-smoking, beer keg lamp havin’, cat enthusiast/projectionist/asthma sufferer/board game creator/Nam vet (could you give this mother fucker any more affectations movie?!!)… or how about pervert policeman/counter sitter Roger Lane (Sam Groom)… or could it be someone else entirely?

That’s what Keegan will have to figure out if she wants to keep on breathing!

Deadly Games you do so much so very right, and a few things so shitty…

Let’s start with the film’s biggest asset, the acting on display.

Everyone here is in top form with Harris leading the pack with her bubbly, goofball energy and solid comic timing. Also excellent are Railsback who becomes completely lost in his character and the charming yet creepy turn from Groom… not to mention a sympathetic turn from pro-footballer turned actor Dick Butkus.

Also on point are the witty dialog, strong characterization, effective kill and suspense scenes, and the ample amounts of flesh on display… which is a hard combo to come by in the stalk n’ slay genre where the later two are more commonplace, but this flick is really quite charming when it isn’t being sleazy, and I dig the mix n’ mash.

As for the negatives, the film has some real pacing issues with way too much screen time being given to the bizarre Keegan/Roger/Billy love triangle, and the resulting assing around they do grinds the film to a halt deep into the second act.

Additionally there’s an optical involving a reflection of a bathin’ beauty in the killer’s eye that fails so spectacularly that you’ll be going completely bananas from the resulting ghoulish guffaws.

Back on the positive side, Arrow Video have included some fine special features on this Blu-ray release which include a wonderful audio commentary from the members of The Hysteria Continues who discuss the film’s themes and place in slasher history in a lively conversation from the fan perspective, as well as interviews with actor Jere Rae-Mansfield and special effects and stunt coordinator John Eggett.

Along with that, a duo of image galleries (one for stills, and one for behind-the-scenes pics), the film’s theatrical trailer, and a booklet featuring new writing from film historian and author Amanda Reyes are also included.

Also of note is the beautiful new 2K restoration from the original camera negative presented here with it’s rich colors and deep darks brought to a level that leaves the previous releases of the film in the dust, as previous versions were overly murky and hard to see to say the least.

All of the above comes nestled under a reversible sleeve featuring new artwork by Ralf Krause.

Possessed of great dialog and characters, Deadly Games is a wildly entertaining (if uneven) slasher gem, and shouldn’t be missed by fans of the genre looking for a slight change of pace!


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