Wednesday, May 27

Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness (1986)

"This isn't Halloween, ya know?"

Directed by Yale Wilson (Tim Ritter)
88 Minutes / Odeon Entertainment DVD (U.K./PAL/R2) / 1.33:1 Full Frame

After discovering his wife cheating, Mike (John Brace) suffers a severe break in his psychological state and reverts back to a traumatic experience as a child with a game of truth or dare. Ending up institutionalized with psychotic hallucinations, he gets well enough to be granted a release after just one year, but is he truly rehabilitated?

Wow, Ritter's third feature is a gigantic leap in quality on all fronts from Day of the Reaper. The Halloween influence is still obvious, but I kept thinking this actually bears more resemblance towards Zombie's remake. The buried childhood trauma for Mike's deeply troubled psyche is quietly ingenious in its simplicity and is the type of nuance sorely missing from Zombie's film. The truth or dare game convincingly dictates Mike's bloodlust and the character even dawns a crude copper mask during his stint in the quiet room. Brace does an excellent job of conveying the lead's murderous confusion and it's surprising to note one episode spot on Cheers is the actor's only other credit. In short, Ritter's breakthrough film goes a long way to prove Zombie squandered millions on what this micro-budgeted '80s indie "accidentally" accomplished over twenty years prior.

There are a few problems, but nothing too damaging to the end result. Primarily some shots lingering for too long, Mike obtaining a convenient arsenal for the final stretch, and some needless keystone cop-type filler. Otherwise, Ritter proves he certainly did have something to bring to made-for-video slasherdom, and this is wholeheartedly one to track down.

Odeon's now out of print DVD hailing from Britain looks terrible being a direct rip from the original U.S. Peerless Films VHS with rabid block artifacting from awful DVD compression. Basically, the VHS would look better. Find the tape or the sought-after (and valuable) Sub Rosa Special Edition DVD.

Film: 6.5/10
DVD Picture: 1/10
DVD Sound: 4/10


J. Astro said...

I am intrigued. Thanks for the tip on this one.

Jayson Kennedy said...

No problem! Always glad to help.

dethmetldon said...

i loved this movie...haven't seen it in so long....mad creepy you dare tread upon the staircase?

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