Midnight is creeping, and I'm writing about a latter-day Full Moon film. Can you imagine the piercing disappointment in my parents' eyes? They probably feel like Charles Band's parents. Alright, that was a low blow, but I needed a creamy, agrestal segue. It's sad to see where this humble horror studio was just three years before Shrieker was unleashed. To wit, Castle Freak came out in 1995. It had tenable production values, an erudite cast and permissible special effects (actually, that's an understatement). If you ask me, it's one of the best monster movies of the 90's. Fast-forward to 1998. The distribution ties to Paramount had been severed. Interest waned in key franchises. The video rental market, a crucial boon to Band's success as a producer, was drawing its last breath.
Obviously, the spending budget was considerably smaller. Most of the pictures lensed during this era were nugatory, lightweight b-flops confined to a couple of cheap sets. Shrieker is not the exception to the rule. Having said that, I enjoyed it more than I thought it would. The script follows a group of squatters living in an abandoned hospital. Ah, gritty realism. Maybe they're drug dealers strung out on heroin, eating roaches and bathing in piss. No, they're pulchritudinous college students. The girls have shapely measurements and the guys...well, I'm pretty sure that they are gay porn stars. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Predictably, this destitute drive-in escapade was helmed by David DeCoteau.
In a rare display of attrition, DeCoteau decided to direct Shrieker under a pseudonym. Brace yourself; he chose the name, Victoria Sloan. David, you sassy bitch. To be honest, I couldn't tell that this flick was directed by anyone. It's redeemed by a halfway absorbing whodunit angle and an amiable creature suit ("suit" isn't really the word; it's a Halloween mask paired with an olive tallith). I'm sorry, I don't usually do this, but I'm going to elaborate on my parenthetical statement. The shrieker seems to be wearing a Jewish prayer shawl. I don't know how to describe it. Why didn't they construct a full ensemble? Gee whiz. At any rate, it's a demon with two heads. Let's move on. Together.
If you're hankering for a real synopsis, read the plot summary for 1957's Night of the Demon. It's basically the same deal. I'll give Shrieker credit for colluding to create characters who manage to avoid becoming boneheaded clichés. After putting it to a vote, they opt NOT to split up in a creepy building. Send my compliments and felicitations to these fake, yet smart people. And for what it's worth, the film is never boring. That doesn't change the fact that there are oodles of loose ends, the supporting players are asleep and the climax is a buzzkill. Literally. The shrieker is killed way too easily. Still, I'm the kind of guy who would recommend a Full Moon movie because it's a Full Moon movie. Robert Z'Dar says, "That is sound reasoning, bro."
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:03 PM