EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally was on the site on October 1, 2020 as part of one of the Slasher Months I do every year. Now, you can get the Arrow Video release of this movie. It comes complete with a brand new 2K restoration from 35mm vault elements; new audio commentary with genre film critic/author Justin Kerswell and film historian/author Amanda Reyes; new interviews with Julia Montgomery, Laura Summer, Lois Robbins, Paul Christie, Lauren-Marie Taylor and John Didrichsen, as well as an archival interview with Julia Montgomery; The Scaremaker alternate title card, original trailers, a reversible sleeve featuring original artwork and newly-commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Gingold. You can buy it from MVD.
First off, the fact that one of the posters for this film rips off Night School‘s art makes me love it before I’ve even seen one second of footage. Second, when I did watch it, it so shamelessly takes from other slashers that you’d very nearly be convinced that it was made in Italy.
Originally released as The Scaremaker, this was shot over the weekend at New Jersey’s Upsala College. That means that most of the scenes were shot in two takes or less.
After Dickie Cavanaugh kills his girlfriend in a jealous rage, gets committed and then hangs himself, all hell breaks loose. The men trying to bury him are killed and the school’s all-night scavenger hunt could not come at a worse time. Yes, I had no idea that when your college basketball team wins the big game everyone has to engage in just such a contest.
There’s a killer on the loose wearing the school’s bear costume, using serrated knives as if they were bear claws. There are lots of POV shots as if you’re being attacked by the bear and I always enjoy being the participant in a bear battle.
For a movie made on a shoestring, they got some big names. Hal Holbrook is on hand! Julia Montgomery from Revenge of the Nerds and Stewardess School (yes, she’s a star in my world)! Lauren-Marie Taylor (Vickie from the second Friday the 13th)! Page Mosely (who is something of a scream queen, with appearances in Open House, Edge of the Axe and this movie)! And most importantly Rutanya Alda, who makes this film all hers in the last few minutes, despite the fact that this movie rips off Mrs. Vorhees’ motivation, as all lower-level slashers must. I love Rutanya, who claims that she still hasn’t been paid her $5,000 fee for this movie. She should get way more than that, as the close is literally made so much better because of her commitment to more than one role.
If you’ve seen the trailers or poster for this, you may wonder, “Where are the girls in the artwork? Who is this girl in the trailer?” You are right to question these things, as the sales material was made reverse-Corman, in that it was created years after the film was complete.