DEADLY GAMES (1982) Reviews and Arrow Video Blu-ray news

 

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Deadly Games is a 1982 American mystery horror thriller about a young woman who resolves to identify the murderer who tried to kill her.

Written and directed by Scott Mansfield (Imps*). Produced by Raymond M. Dryden, Phillip J. Randall and Martin Wiviott.

The Great Plains Films production stars Alexandra Morgan (Spellbinder), Jo Ann Harris (Beyond Death’s Door; Cruise into Terror; The Beguiled), Sam Groom (Deadly Eyes; Beyond the Bermuda Triangle), Saul Sindell, Steve Railsback (Night Caller; Blue Monkey; The Wind; Lifeforce; Turkey Shoot), Denise Galik (Humanoids from the Deep 1980) and Dick Butkus (Spontaneous Combustion; Gremlins 2: The New Batch; The Stepford Childen; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow).

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In the UK, Deadly Games will be released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 21st February 2022.

Special Edition Contents:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
Sooty’s a Sh*t a brand new interview with actor Jere RaeMansfield
Practical Magic a brand new interview with special effects and stunt coordinator John Eggett
Extensive image gallery featuring never before seen production photos and promotional material
Original Trailer
Original screenplay under the title Who Fell Asleep [BDROM content]
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ralf Krause
Fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by film historian/author Amanda Reyes (first pressing only)

Plot:

A masked maniac with a penchant for a horror-themed board game is playing his own twisted game with the women of a small American town. Each time the dice is rolled, another victim meets a grisly end.

Meanwhile, returning home to mourn the death of her murdered sister, Keegan (Jo Ann Harris) befriends local cop Roger and oddball cinema projectionist Billy (Steve Railsback) but soon finds herself in the killer’s sights…

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Reviews:

“First and obviously, it’s screwy. It’s a premise that demands explanation even as it defies it, and I’ve never seen anything very much like it before […] But beyond that, the soap opera aspect of Deadly Games requires it to invest heavily in something that most slasher films all but ignore, the interior lives of all the people whom we’re about to watch die.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

” …don’t expect a tantalizingly suspenseful tale with nifty clues dexterously laid throughout, for the inept writer/director, Scott Mansfield, whose feature-film debut this is, blatantly telegraphs all his punches. Especially in the uncouth highlighting of the stranger of the men as the kind of blindingly-obvious red herring that, like a true killjoy of a storyteller, assures us it can’t possibly be him.” eFilmCritic

Deadly Games is an average early 80s thriller. I can see that Mansfield was trying to add a little more weight to his story than other films at the time but that results in a film that has issues with its tone and pacing. Fans of these kinds of movies want to be thrilled and scared, not expected to partake in a potential love story…” Entertainment Focus

” …though it does seem to be trying for suspense, there’s no real consistency to this approach, and it even seems to be trying for romantic comedy at times. The thriller aspects of the movie are nothing special (especially when you discover the killer’s motivation), but the real problem I have with the movie is when it tries to be something else.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

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“One can argue that the director might not have known what he was doing with so many opposing tones and tropes but I would strongly disagree and assert that he knew exactly what he was doing and managed to blend everything together in a solidly cohesive way. Deadly Games is a surprisingly low-key slasher that will shock you in ways that you probably didn’t expect.” Grimoire of Horror

“Lots of meandering between murders, and few kills to speak of, Deadly Games just gets dull and uninteresting fairly quickly. A definite ugly sister in the eighties vault, beyond the initial moments there’s little horror to grasp onto, and what is there is hardly worth the effort.” The Hollywood News

“I thought it was a boring, silly mess of a film […] Unless you’re looking for a “horror” movie with no suspense, horrible death scenes, a corny love triangle, a mystery so easy to deduce most people will figure it out within minutes and an ending that will literally make you face palm then avoid this movie like the plague.” Horror News

“To cap off the patchwork of dramatic styles and shades that went into Deadly Games, Mansfield finishes his film with perhaps one of the most stark, downbeat and disturbingly abrupt denouements to a slasher movie from this time […]  There is some pretty good stuff on offer here […] it’s just a shame that the sum of the parts don’t add up to a really satisfying whole.” Hysteria Lives!

“The most shocking thing about this would-be slasher obscurity is just how lame and uneventful it really is. The film starts out right away with a killing, which is poorly lit and the viewer can’t really see what’s going-on, and then proceeds for the next hour and a half to have a bunch of lightly dramatic moments that aren’t scary, or intense at all.” Scopophilia

“A pilot for a sitcom that would never be made? A John Sayles-style indie where characters converse at enormous length but lacking his insights, swapping them with such scenes as the one where Keegan and her married detective boyfriend (Sam Groom) play a classic horror movie-themed board game as the camera swoops around them to the strains of a ballad sung by a Barbra Streisand soundalike and co-written by the director? Who was this for?” The Spinning Image

“A likable cast graces this virtually bloodless horror (although Harris is occasionally overly chatty), buoyed by too few suspense sequences. The murderer’s motivation for killing falls flat. The interesting Railsback is underused. Still, a genial mood permeates the players, and makes Games worth a look.” The Terror Trap

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“Come the 75-minute mark, it’s almost as if Scott Mansfield realises he hasn’t thought of an ending so quickly – very quickly – wraps things up and then kind’ve decides to just leave a few things unresolved and just roll the credits […] The identity of the killer is pretty much who all the arrows were pointing at, which is pretty disappointing.” Vegan Voorhees

“It never seems to be sure of what kind of a film it wants to be and changes tones with an annoying frequency. Despite that, it is entertaining most of the time and has a cast filled with famous and familiar faces. It’s also nice to see a film where men still had hair on their chests and women didn’t have silicone in theirs.” Voices from the Balcony

Cast and characters (in credits order):

Alexandra Morgan … Linda Lawrence
Jo Ann Harris … Clarissa Jane Louise ‘Keegan’ Lawrence
Sam Groom … Roger Lane
Saul Sindell … Tom
Steve Railsback … Billy Owens
Denise Galik … Mary Adams
Dick Butkus … Joe Adams
Christine L. Tudor … Chris Howlett (as Christine Tudor)
Robin Hoff … Carol Bailey
Jere Rae Mansfield … Susan Theresa ‘Sooty’ Lane (as Jere Lea Rae)
Colleen Camp … Randy
June Lockhart … Marge Lawrence
William Patrick Johnson … Bob Bailey (as Bill Johnson)

Filming locations:

California

Original release date:

Theatrically released on March 5th 1982 in Port Arthur, Texas.

Alternate titles:

Brazil: Jogos Mortais
France: Jeux mortels
Portugal: Amor Sangrento
Spain: Juegos mortales
USA (TV title): The Eliminator
West Germany: Death Killer – Der laute Tod and Tödliche Spiele

Notes:

Apparently filmed in 1980 as Who Fell Asleep

Not to be confused with the French action horror film Dial Code Santa Claus aka Game Over (1989) which is also known as Deadly Games

Trailer:

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