What are Lost Slashers? Some might consider them to be any of the hundreds of titles in the slasher genre that aren’t Halloween or Friday the 13th. Others might consider them to be VHS obscurities that so far haven’t made it to DVD. But to those who dig deeper down the rabbit hole, Lost Slashers never even came out on any format.
We live in a lucky age where there are very few completed movies have not found some official release via video or digital. Night of the Dribbler was a comedic slasher from the early 90′s no one even knew existed until Code Red picked it up for DVD release. That’s one of the few exceptions to the norm. The prime domain of lost slashers then, are uncompleted movies. They might have only shot some footage before fizzling out, or made it all the way to the end but were never edited together. The Basement, a horror anthology is a good exampler, being produced on super 8 in the 80′s but post-production only being carried out in recent years, resulting in its first ever release via Camp Motion Pictures’ lavish Big Box DVD/VHS collection. That’s one happy ending that surely took a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie only shot enough scenes to comprise a promo reel for distributors, and star Joe Spinell died, thus ensuring the project never make it to fruition. But the footage has turned up on enough home releases, from Maniac to Last Horror Film and Combat Shock that it doesn’t really need to be completed – the footage works as a self-contained story and its short runtime stands as a permanent reminder that Spinell’s life was cut too short. Spinell also acted in another unfinished slasher, The Undertaker, which had enough footage to fill a mostly coherent “official bootleg” sold by one of the film’s producers on the convention circuit before recently when Code Red again swung in to save the day, appropriating the never before seen final cut featuring tighter editing and additional footage shot by Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor‘s Jim Markovic.
Speaking of Sleepaway Camp IV, we worked on that for several years to take a loose cut from the 90’s and improve the story and editing to contextual perfection – meaning, as perfect as anyone could do with a movie that hardly shot any footage at all. Many may not like that it’s full of archive footage ala Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, but every old Sleepaway Camp series scene was carefully selected or reedited for a story reason and we bled every last drop out of the 1992 footage. As we weren’t able to shoot new footage, we had to tell the story with visuals, subtext, and even sound and computer FX. Many are picking up on the deliberate clues and easter eggs we planted. It has been released on DVD, VOD, and had a one-night-only theatrical screening. Finally closure was attained.
Drilling deeper, there’s a sea of slashers that were never even started up, never getting past the script stage. Two Pieces would have been the early 90′s sequel to the 80′s shocker. The Honeymoon Killer would have been late comedian Sam Kinison’s lampoonish reversal of He Knows You’re Alone. Beyond Last House On The Left would have continued Krug’s bloody rampage. The list goes on and on. They’re all stories that never got to be told, but do exist in some form, locked away and not being enjoyed.
There is the notion that for many, the fantasy is always better. When Night of the Dribber finally made it off the shelf, dozens cried “put it back!” It often seems many would prefer the lost stay lost so the mental construction of some “lost gem” cruelly hidden away can retain its power. The real thing will never live up to that, so the key is in how you approach these finds. The real value is in the chase. The real value is appreciating seeing something that events conspired to hide. It’s easy to slam them with “I can see why that wasn’t finished” but when you consider how many dodgy movies did get finished and released, quality is sort of a moot point. For those that care about the slasher genre itself, movies like Pitchfork Massacre are important historically, no matter what their ultimate truth and quality turn out to be.
This article is by no means a complete summary of Lost Slashers. We are undergoing several investigations on titles at the moment, and you can keep track of past finds via our Lost Slashers Index.