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Review: Grotesque (1987)

Writer: Thomas Ellison


Lisa (Linda Blair) and Kathy (Donna Wilkes) travel into the mountains to attend the Krueger family reunion. During the witching hour the Krueger house is invaded by a vicious gang of punks searching for drugs, jewels, and cash. After torturing and killing the Kruegers the gang discovers the terrible family secret locked away in a hidden room. Predators become prey when deformed cousin Patrick escapes captivity and seeks bloody vengeance.

The plot of Grotesque is told in three different sections. We have a family stalked by killers opening, crazy freak killing everybody in sight middle, and a Tales from the Crypt style ending. With such sudden shifts in story lines, it's easy for the viewer to feel lost. The only constant during the three different plots is the gang leaders, Scratch and Shelley (a severely over acting Brad Wilson and Michelle Bensoussan). As soon as the viewer feels a connection with one set of character, those characters die off and a new set is introduced.

Grotesque's strongest attribute is its cast of slasher alumni. Besides Blair and Wilkes, the cast also features Robert (Maniac Cop) Z'Dar and Charles (Silent Night, Deadly Night) Dierkop. Sadly, none of these actors have enough screen time to rank their presence much higher than cameo status. And the viewer really loses interest when the beautiful Blair and Wilkes depart. Both actresses bring a great deal of energy to Grotesque and the film really stumbles without them.

Slasher fans should look for special appearances from Halloween III's Jack-o-Lantern and Skull mask. Skull mask even has a love scene, which is a bit odd. Guy Stockwell plays the "special fx genius" head of the Krueger family and dresses like Madman Marz for a false scare. Stockwell's cheap effects are good for unintentional laughs. One doubts this guy could find work in Hollywood with anyone other than AIP or Roger Corman. Good old Buck Flower is listed in the closing credits as pre-production coordinator. One wishes he had a role in front of the camera as well.

Grotesque is a flawed yet still entertaining film. It's really hard not to laugh out loud while Brad Wilson shrieks his lines like a rabid banshee. Somebody should have shown him the definition of subtle before filming started. In a surprising bit of good taste, Blair and Wilkes keep their clothes on for the film. Flesh fans will be disappointed but it's nice to see these normally exploited actresses shown some respect. There's also a "beauty is skin deep" moral at the end, which makes this a good slasher to show little brothers and sisters. Sure, the violent bits might give the brats nightmares but at least they learn something.



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