Saturday, September 17, 2016

#2,196. The Majorettes (1987)

Directed By: Bill Hinzman

Starring: Kevin Kindlin, Terrie Godfrey, Mark V. Jevicky

Tag line: "Sis, Boom, Blood. You're Dead!"

Trivia: This film was also released under the title One By One

Best known as Zombie #1 in George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, Bill Hinzman also tried his hand at directing on two separate occasions. Though far from a classic, his 1988 zombie movie FleshEater had its charms, but his first experience as director came one year earlier with The Majorettes, an admittedly late entry in the ‘80s slasher craze that could have been better.

A killer is loose in a small suburb of Pittsburgh, and has set his sights on the local high school’s Majorette squad. As the bodies continue to pile up, private eye Roland Martell (Carl Hetrick), who also happens to be dating Majorette coach Marie Morgan (Mary Jo Limpert), is called in to assist Sheriff Braden (Mark V. Jevisky) in his investigation. 

Their first potential break in the case comes when the school’s star quarterback Jeff (Kevin KIndlin) admits that, a day or two before she was murdered, he overheard the first victim Nicole (Jacqueline Bowman) arguing with known drug dealer Mace Jackson (Tom E. Desrocher). Brought in for questioning, Mace is released soon after when his alibi checks out. Now, along with worrying about the safety of his girlfriend Judy (Sueanne Seamens) and close friend Vicki (Terrie Godfrey), both of whom are Majorettes, Jeff has to keep an eye out for Mace, who has vowed to take revenge against the talented football player for fingering him to the cops as a possible killer.

All the elements are in place for The Majorettes to be an effective slasher film, including a masked psychopath, teenagers in peril, and a few twists and turns that keep us guessing as to who the killer might be. We even get the obligatory kill scenes, but while the violence is on-par with what you’d expect from a low-budget ‘80s slasher, the kills themselves lack tension, making it difficult to care about what’s happening to these poor girls; the initial murder, where Vicki and school photographer Tommy (Colin Martin), have their throats cut in the middle of the woods, never manages to draw us in, and what should have been an unnerving sequence is instead flat and even a little dull, a problem that plagues the movie through much of its run time.

Oddly enough, The Majorettes did grab my attention with some of its subplots, including a few you wouldn’t normally find in a slasher film. Along with a side story in which an evil nurse (Denise Huot) and her mentally challenged son (Harold K. Keller) conspire to steal Vicki’s inheritance, there’s a late showdown between Jeff and Mace Jackson that’s chock full of thrills (turning the film, albeit briefly, into a shoot-‘em-up action extravaganza). While their inclusion is, without a doubt, unusual, they do bring the movie to life.

But as a straight-up horror flick, The Majorettes leaves plenty to be desired.

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