JULY 16 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : FATAL GAMES
"Oh what, dear Corpse Rot, what do you have in store for us this fine eve?" you may beseech, anxious to partake in a Slasher sequenza. Allow the maestro to conduct your attention to another time-honored vintage production simply known as 'Fatal Games'.
Featured in this routine installment are the athletes of Falcon Academy of Athletics, eager to test their physical prowess among other potential young Olympians in the US Regional Competition. The plot tightens its grip when centering on a clique of boys and girls that qualify for the Nationals. But alas! Someone is envious of the aforementioned talent and taking matters into their own hands; quietly railroading the operation by killing each individual with a javelin. Could it be Coach Webber...a man still bitter about his athletic shortcomings? Or is it Joe, the star javelin thrower who's been exhibiting signs of frustration and a volatile temperament against the staff?
Fatal Games, Olympic Nightmare, The Killing Touch - whatever title you choose to refer to this after-school-special-sissy are all acceptable working titles. What I find interesting is that the actors and actresses chosen must've surely been selected solely based on their gymnastic abilities. The outstanding qualities of a tragedian were assuredly an after-thought. Adding another hindrance to this negative value is a script that hones too closely on family values, relationship quarrels, and the difficult lifestyle of a dedicated athlete; a ridiculous notion to consider when expecting a Slasher film. I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that after the film's completion, the authority figures who were unfortunate enough to lead this conquest failed to address the absence of any decent horror-related material. "Oh! Our mistake Sir! I thought the output of all our labor was for the good of the community and finely tuned moralistic values, certainly not that of a Slasher entry!" they muttered as armed security ushered them out of the building.
Falling in line with other Slashers we're tossed a few distractions that attempt to build interest in identifying the killer; really, at this point, such an expression should receive the same depth and attention as a circle. But in keeping my smart-alec comments to a minimum, this sprinkling of herrings are mere salt grains to a tabletop; lightly frosted, if you will, and too convenient to be true. When the final reveal is thrust hiterto, it's handled terribly and there's no logical explanation for the motive. The choice to pin it on "mysterious killer A" with no build-up or evidence renders options B, C, and D pointless and you'll be left wondering why they distracted you with those individuals in the first place. I challenge anyone to watch this film and make an accurate prediction, 100%, of what'll happen during the final moments...because quite honestly, with such little evidence, I can't see how it's possible. "Ah, forget all of that, it'll just be this person anyway...they'll never guess this."
Much to the contrary of a film like 1983's Sleepaway Camp in which the viewer has some notion of the outcome and an inkling of what to expect, Fatal Games just tosses the idea straight into your lap like a scared animal, thrashing about and clawing your person with reckless abandon. If you're totally lost, don't worry - the camera will quickly pan to a shot of a newspaper article that just happens to be lying face up, on the ground, revealing all of the details. "We'll just throw this newspaper on the ground featuring an article outlining all of the necessary details, and hell, why not, the motive of the killer too. Yea, that sounds like it should do just fine."
Viewers may be treated to a period of reprieve when witnessing the director of Fatal Games, Michael Elliot, acting out the role of Dr. Jordine - the head physician that's strictly adhering to a program that focuses on the use of anabolic steroids. Why should we care about this bit of commentary? There's absolutely NO use for it. Especially when an utterance of Russian Olympians juicing up is spouted forth; assuming that Slasher audiences would give one iota of a cow's tail to be outraged over steroid use and the increasing media coverage centering around the Olympics in the 1980s. In what can only be described as a great civic duty, a close friend or a sponsor from an AA organization must have stopped Michael Elliot from making another film after the release of Fatal Games in 1984. A man in a lobster suit could've met him on a sidewalk one late afternoon and politely expressed his opposition to another title; a pleasant request to quit the 'biz. Regardless of how it happened, the world can rest on its laurels and avoid sleep deprivation therapy.
I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you about the failure that encompasses Fatal Games. A flash of the title and a quick glance at the box art will cement your opinion almost instantly. That is to say, if you heed my warning! I can speak with confidence in assuring you that no exact replica of this premise is floating around in circulation. I can say, however, that 1981's Graduation Day is closely resemblant in that they both utilize a "sports" angle. If you enjoy reveling in failed attempts at horror you may want to catch a viewing of this one. This slop-house feature, celebrating its 27th year of existence, really only fits the needs of a fanatic with a desire insatiable; plagued by that vicious disease known as completism.