2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 18: Deadline (1980)

DAY 18. RESURRECTIONISTS: Watch something that came out on one of the many reissue labels that we love like Arrow, Criterion, Bleeding Skull, Scream Factory, Indicator, Vinegar Syndrome, AGFA etc.

Vinegar Syndrome has a near-magic touch, finding movies that once gathered dust in the back racks of mom and pop video store horror departments and restoring them and doing their homework, getting the filmmakers to contribute and be interviewed so that the fullest picture of what they made can be finally displayed.

Deadline is a great example of what they do.

Writer Steven Lessey (Stephen Young, Soylent Green) is a horror writer who wants to be seen as an artist but is only known for his bloodier stories, such as The Executioners, a film in which children tie up their grandmothers and set them ablaze, or the shower scene bloodbath — quite literally — that opens the film or the gonzo psychic goat that forces a man to shred his own arms off or the appearance by Rough Trade as a band empowered by German scientists to make people explode via their bowels or the children clawing their way out of their mothers. His imagination is quite horrible in all the very greatest of ways and Deadline is at its best when these moments of insanity blast into the frame and by the very end, threaten to overwhelm reality.

While all that art against commerce war is going on inside his head, his marriage is falling apart and the horror of his writing intrudes into his children’s lives in a very shocking way. His agent responds by plying him with coke and women of loose morals, which leads to a brawl while watching his latest film that decimates the fanciest of houses before the drama leads to its foregone conclusion.

Deadline is a film that shocked me in parts and stayed with me way longer than I thought it would. It’s crazy seeing it in such high definition, as this is the kind of film that belongs marked with tracking issues. While he has worked mainly in television, I’ve heard that director Mario Azzopardi has also made a fact-based film called Savage Messiah which is the equal of this film.

This is everything you want from a horror film, whether you simply want an effects-based shocker or something that makes you think about the people who create the horror that helps you escape. Make it your own film. See it your own way.

You can get this from Vinegar Syndrome.

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