THE SLAYER (1982) Reviews and overview

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‘Is it a Nightmare? or is it…”

The Slayer – also known as Nightmare Island is a 1982 American slasher horror feature film directed by J.S. Cardone (Wicked Little Things; The Forsaken; Shadowzone) from a screenplay co-written with actor William Ewing (Deathmaster). The movie stars Sarah Kendall, Frederick J. Flynn (8mm 2; The Forsaken), Carol Kottenbrook, Alan McRae and Michael Holmes.

The Slayer gained notoriety and was classified in the UK as a video nasty in the 1980s. In the US, it was released by 21st Century Distribution Corporation (Scalps; The New York RipperNightmare, 1981; et al).

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On August 21st (UK) and 29th (USA), 2017, the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD by Arrow Video in a new 4K transfer, restored from the original camera negative, with the following special features:

  • New interviews with cast and crew
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn
  • Collector’s booklet featuring liner notes by writer Lee Gambin


Siblings, Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his surreal abstract artist sister Kay (Sarah Kendall), her doctor husband David (Alan McRae), her sister-in-law Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook) along with pilot Marsh (Michael Holmes) become stranded on a rugged isle.

For thirty-something Kay her current situation is her worst fears realised, for she’s been troubled since her childhood by recurring prophetic nightmares in which she is stalked and slain in a burning room by a figure known as The Slayer.

Now it seems this place may be in fact its dwelling and she’s sure somehow that this so-called entity is lurking close by, biding its time until nightfall, where it will be drawn to Kay who (for whatever reason) dreams of its killings. But, then again, what’s real or make-believe? Not everything is what it seems in this place…


The Slayer was released in the US on double feature video format by Continental Video alongside another feature – Scalps. It was cut by five minutes or so, in order to make room for the second feature, but all the gruesome scenes and violence are intact.

In the UK, the film had several home video releases. It was initially released on VHS uncut from Vipco before being banned when it was one of the several films to appear on the video nasty list in October of 1983. It remained on the list before being dropped in April 1985. It received a new release in 1992 by Vipco, with 14 seconds cut by the BBFC, the scene where pitchfork prongs emerge from a woman’s chest causing concern.

The Slayer body on beach

However, in 2001 the film was released once again by Vipco for the first time on DVD and was passed uncut by the BBFC. The same DVD version was released in 2010, uncut by Cornerstone Media, but it is only the outer packaging that is new, the disc is from Vipco’s release. The extras include trailers and filmographies. Both DVD’s have an aspect ratio of 4:3 full screen.

slayer dvd

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The Slayer plays fast and loose with what should be a straightforward plot line but isn’t. That, plus the considerable skill behind the camera, means The Slayer isn’t a standard early 1980s US horror film, but more something that harkens back to the ambitious, weird and often outright loony backwoods USA pictures of the 1970s.” House of Mortal Cinema

“Overall, if you are a slasher fan, you owe it to yourself to watch The Slayer […]  If bleak and oppressive sounds like a good time to you, then you will enjoy this one.” The Nostalgic Attic

” …The Slayer is a class act, from its surprisingly adept symphonic score to its final out-of-the-left twist, which manages to get away with one of the most hackneyed devices in the genre […] a marvellous creation, like something dredged from the swampier recesses of Weird Tales…” Stephen Thrower, Nightmare USA

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“My biggest gripe with The Slayer is that I simply wish there were more of it; it clocks in at a quick 75 minutes … Overall, the acting was better than average, and it’s always refreshing to watch a horror movie that doesn’t rely on the stupidity of teenagers to provide tension- the characters, though mostly grating, are all adults.” Final Girl

The Slayer is a truly underrated, gore-soaked adventure into tool shed utensil terror that succeeds at its only real goal; entertainment.” Oh, the Horror!

“There are some interesting sequences throughout the film, Kay is so haunted by her nightmares that she starts to fight off sleep and a couple years before Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors we are treated with a scene involving a person scared of falling asleep and using a lit cigarette in order to stay awake.” HNN

Filming locations:

Tybee Island, Savannah, Georgia

Technical details:

86 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1





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