If the cover art doesn't sell you, you have no heart. 1988's Destroyer is a dumb slasher disguised as a dumb action flick. Before I reel out an in-depth vivisection of this steroid-addled corpse, I'll go ahead and give it two thumbs up. That's for all you shiftless fucks who don't want to read the entire review. The rest of you will grin and bear it while I eulogize Lyle Alzado. The would-be direct-to-video star died of brain cancer in 1992. He was convinced that his tumor (or "tumah," if you prefer) dilated as a result of steroid abuse. I'll be honest with you. I'm second-guessing my decision to refer to Destroyer as a steroid-addled corpse, but thankfully, I harbor no pangs of conscience.
This film also features Anthony Perkins in one of his less sovereign roles. He plays a director shooting a low-budget "women in prison" epic on location at an abandoned penitentiary. It just so happens that this godforsaken bastille was left in the lurch after a riot claimed the lives of several guards and inmates. The circumstances surrounding the chaotic ruction remain a mystery. However, the screenwriter behind the movie-within-a-movie (dubbed Death House Dolls...fuck, that's a great title) believes that the calamitous snarl was prompted by the scheduled electrocution of serial killer Ivan Moser. Did the homicidal maniac die in the chair? If not, is he still prowling the prison grounds? Isn't this just another variation on Shocker or The Horror Show?
Seriously, how many fucking horror pictures milked this motif? The only thing separating Destroyer from The Horror Show (or The Chair or The Stay Awake) is the fact that our villain is a mortal man. He doesn't spook teenagers from beyond the grave. In any event, Alzado makes for a fantastic baddie. Imagine Kane Hodder squared. That's a whole lot of badass. On a sour note, I didn't quite disentangle his motive(s). It's never explained why he fixates on the heroine, an unflinching Deborah Foreman. I couldn't figure out the significance of the game show hostess either. Maybe there are deleted scenes that clear up the confusion. Maybe not. It doesn't really matter, as Destroyer managed to entertain the soft pretzels out of me. Mmm, soft pretzels...
For the most part, the characters are written reasonably well. I actually dug the comic relief, and that's extraordinarily rare. Rewire should have had his own spin-off series. If you've seen Destroyer, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Three cheers for Rewire! But I digress. The pace is lickety-split quick, the violence is over the top and the climax is somewhat tense. The kills could have been bloodier, but to be fair, that's how I feel about the majority of slashers. It's a shame that Lyle Alzado passed away at such a young age. I mean, he was no Robert Z'Dar, but he was built for cinematic dreck. Recommended to fans of the Maniac Cop saga.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:48 PM