Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: DEADLINE (1984)

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Directed by Mario Azzopardi
90 mins.  Color.
Paragon Video Production VHS  (seemingly a bootleg copy...)

Steven Lessey is a horror writer who is very concerned with not looking like an ass.  He's entirely physically and emotionally absent.  His semi-adorable daughter is concerned that he works too much.  His wife hates his guts.  His son wears a bow tie.

Steven is a pseudo-creep, as presumably all people fascinated with the macabre are...  He's a stand-in Stephen King or Clive Barker.  While talking with his daughter, he imagines a woman showering and then being flooded with blood from the faucet.  And, his most recent film is about an evil goat that psychically uses a giant farm machine to tear a man to pieces.  And, it is even cooler than it sounds.

When Steven goes to discuss his book in a college class he's questioned about the socially degenerative nature of creating horror novels and images.  The idea of being socially responsible and using horror as commentary plagues him.  While this conversation happens, images of Lessey's horror flash in and out: a young brother and sister strap their grandmother to a bed and start her on fire and a nun pulls a severed arm out of the ground.

Steven is suffocating in horror schlock.  He's wrapped up in conversations about art against gore and smut against real inspiration.  The problem is that he's deeply tied to the money and the contracts.

Nazi punks, cocaine, hangings and madness continue.

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evil goat.

Deadline is truly one of the more cerebral and interesting horror films I've seen in a long time.  My original expectations of the film were of a very easy, schlocky mess.  I am so pleasantly surprised to see that instead it is an insightful, difficult film.  The closest thing I can compare it to is perhaps the first forty-five minutes of John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness.

As is so often the case, the marketing for the whole film is absolutely off-base.  The cover is a bloody hand on a type-writer, hoping to bring in the gore crowd.  But, that gets it all wrong.  This is a slow-paced pseudo-intellectual piece.  Likewise, the description makes the assumption that Steven's descent into madness is about his writing.  It is all just so misleading.

As things fall apart and get incredibly dark near the end of the film, the themes and characters become more and more complex.  In the end, its up to the audience to bring it together and make sense of it, leaving this particular audience member extremely satisfied.


  • If you can, watch this one in a big old drafty house
  • Set expectations at: SERIOUS
-J. Moret

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