Fatal Games – USA, 1983

”The second prize is death’

Fatal Games – aka Olympic Nightmare  is a 1983 American slasher horror film directed by Michael Elliott (co-writer of To Kill a Stranger) from a screenplay co-written with co-producers Rafael Buñuel and Christopher Mankiewicz. Sally Kirkland, Lynn Banashek, and Sean Masterson star.

Filmed as The Killing Touch in 1983 and released direct-to-video in 1984. 

A seven member gymnastics team at the Falcon Academy of Athletics is up for the “Nationals”. However, before they can reach the competition, a killer dressed in a black tracksuit and wielding a javelin shows up to stalk and kill each member of the team…

Reviews [contain spoilers]:

“For much of its running time it has the production values, editing and acting of bad p*rno- complete with farting synth score […] The last 20 minutes are fun, in a strictly campy way and the implausible identity of the killer goes way off the ‘cheese-o-meter’.” Luisito Joaquin Gonzalez, Hysteria Lives

“It’s a perfect example of why a genre becomes tired and uninspiring due to the lack of originality exhibited by its filmmakers, along with people presuming that to make a successful movie all that’s needed is to pinch a few ideas from some successful entries and hope for the best. That said, it is a blast for lovers of all things cheese-tastic…” Dave Wain, UK Horror Scene

” …a whole bunch of the expected nudity (pretty sure the entire female cast gets naked here), some obvious red herrings – including the temperamental Joe (Nicholas Love) – and lots of poorly acted drama mixed with dopey kills and some very touchy feely coaches. Also on hand is Sally Kirkland as Nurse Diane who is the only cast member I actually recognized and gets to lustily massage one girl as well as over-emote throughout.” Chris Hartley, The Video Graveyard

“Elliot’s direction is pedestrian but adequate, shooting some action from about three miles away from where it’s happening […] Likeable characters, some funny humour and a general feeling of unrewarded effort don’t mean the film is as fatal as it’s largely made out to be. Yeah, it’s crap, but it’s lovable crap.” Vegan Vorhees

“The darkened halls of the school are just plain creepy and nearly the whole movie is like this […] Fatal Games is one of the better school slasher films from the 80s, but has sadly been highly forgotten by time […] It has a certain unique quality to it that really sets it apart from many of the similar films of the era.” Ronnie Angel, Slashed Dreams

Buy Slashed DreamsAmazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

“An awful slasher flick in the hands of total incompetents […] The most ridiculous scene has the javelin jerkola lurking underwater while a beautiful swimmer passes above him – an obvious homage to the Black Lagoon Creature. The incoherent script was speared to death…” John Stanley, Creature Features

“The only thing that this can really be remembered for is the extremely high levels of nudity on display. All the bunnies (and most of the guys too) are naked at one point throughout the runtime and there’s a hilarious sequence where a girl flees the killer in her skin suit, which goes on for about three minutes.” A Slash Above

“There are a few highlights, and by that I mean shower scenes. The single best stalking sequence involves the killer decked out in scuba gear and standing at the bottom of the pool, javelin at the ready as he watches a girl swim laps. It’s an unusual idea, tense and shot very well. The finale is fun…” Outpost Zeta

” …there is a mystery to unravel here but it is executed so incompetently thanks to a thin script that keeps contradicting itself, which is then made worse when the sports gimmick wears itself out in the first reel, making the infernal padding-out of the run-time between kills both interminable and excruciating.” Micro-Brewed Reviews

“The acting is terrible and the editing is clumsy and amateurish. Fans of Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens will probably appreciate their brief shower scenes but that’s about it. The ending is laughable.” Jim Harper, Legacy of Blood

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

“The acting by the young cast isn’t as bad as the adult actors who speak like people under a trance. The film’s director Michael Elliot who plays a doctor who secretly gives them team members some ‘retardation shots’ (no joke that’s what they call it) and the movie’s screenwriter Christopher Mankiewicz who plays the coach give the two worst performances in the movie.” Richard Winters, Scopophilia

“The real laughs come soon after when the killer’s true voice comes out and it sounds like some secret informer in the witness relocation program. They could have gone with an actual guy’s voice, but no. Then her tragic death is the final gut busting laugh of the whole ordeal…” Horror’s Not Dead

Verdict:

Despite an overly-familiar plot, shoddy production values, poor acting, and a lack of the gore that slasher fans normally expect, Fatal Games compensates somewhat with extensive nudity and a certain quirkiness that makes it mildly endearing. The ridiculous killer’s reveal also adds to its cheesy entertainment value. It is certainly more watchable than some of the other slasher fare that arrived late in the first wave of 80s slashers.

Adrian J Smith, Horrorpedia

Cast and characters:

  • Sally Kirkland as Diane Paine – Gnaw; Trash Fire; Jack the Reaper; The Haunted (1991)
  • Lynn Banashek as Annie
  • Sean Masterson as Phil Dandridge
  • Michael O’Leary as Frank Agee
  • Teal Roberts as Lynn Fox
  • Spice Williams-Crosby as Coach Drew – Death Valley (TV series); The Dead Undead; Revamped
  • Melissa Prophet as Nancy Wilson
  • Angela Bennett as Sue Allen Baines
  • Nicholas Love as Joe Ward
  • Lauretta Murphy as Shelly
  • Michael Elliot as Dr. Jordine
  • Christopher Mankiewicz as Coach Jack Webber
  • Ed Call as Mr. Burger
  • Mel Klein as Annie’s Father
  • Linnea Quigley as Athlete
  • Brinke Stevens as Shower Girl [uncredited]

Filming locations:

University High School – West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

Release:

The film was released in America in 1984 by Impact Films, and was subsequently released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment as both its original title and the alternate title, Olympic Nightmare.

Trivia:

  • The film shares many of its plot points with 1981 slasher film, Graduation Day. Actress Linnea Quigley appears in both films as a replacement for an actress who refused to appear nude on screen.
  • The synth score was provided by Suki Levy (Dawn of the Mummy) who has gone on to provide soundtracks for 130 TV shows and sell 14 million albums worldwide.
  • Co-producer and co-scripter Raphael Bunuel is the son of Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel.
  • Co-producer and co-scripter Christopher Mankiewicz is the son of celebrated filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Buy VHS: Amazon.com

Wikipedia | IMDb

Image credits: Cult CinemaHorror’s Not DeadMicro-Brewed Reviews

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Categories: 1980s, slasher

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