STONES OF DEATH (1988)
I like being pleasantly surprised. On the surface, Stones of Death bears all of the trappings of throwaway discount bin detritus. The plot is a hodgepodge of 80's horror clichés, but smart writing and sinister imagery keep this creepy catamaran from capsizing (ugh, I sincerely apologize for that sentence). Get a load of the synopsis...a group of teenagers begin having the same nightmare. They each wake to find a stone on their pillow. Sadly for our expendable youths, the stone signifies their death. It has something to do with an aboriginal curse, and of course, the lead chickadee happens to reside on an ancient burial ground. Basically, it's A Poltergeist on Elm Street. I'll admit that the stones are a novel touch, but they're just moppets to machinate the narrative.
The damsel in distress seeks out the help of a local shaman. You knew there had to be a local shaman. As prescriptive as Stones sounds, it's deliriously entertaining. I had fun, though I can't speak for the ten other Americans who have seen it. Oh, right. I neglected to mention that this is an Australian picture. I'm embarrassed to reveal that I'm not particularly well-versed in Ozploitation, but that's a problem I shall soon rectify. Anyway, believable characters anchor Stones of Death. They actually come across as real people. Writer Ian Coughlan and director James Bogle could have done more with the puny ending, but at the end of the day, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this fright flick from down under. That's my critic quote.