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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Hide and Go Shriek (1988)

"Close your eyes. Count to 10. And run for your life."

Plot

Four teenage couples decide to have an end-of-school party at a furniture store whilst it's closed overnight. Unfortunately for them, a cross-dressing serial killer gate crashes the party and begins to kill them off one-by-one.

 

By the time Hide and Go Shriek was released in the late 80s, the slasher sub-genre had not only been squeezed of every last drop of originality that it ever had (which is not a lot anyway!) but borrowed extra to try and keep itself on life support. Remember the holiday-themed slasher fad which tried to mine the calendar for rivals to Friday the 13th and Halloween? Producers had exhausted the calendar and then some and so writers were having to resort to twisting around children's games such as hide and seek to keep inventive. Even slasher locations had been done to death - summer camps were off limits now and schools, particularly prom nights or dances, were too clichéd. Hide and Go Shriek very much feels like a product of a "so what's left?" meeting of writers.



Hide and Go Shriek limps along looking like the remnant of a dying breed and devoid of anything new to add to the sub-genre. It's uninspiring material for the first half of its running time, only given some comic relief by the preposterous 80s hairstyles on display. To say that these four teenage couples have plans to drink and get laid in the furniture store, their decision to play the infantile game of hide and seek is perplexing (they could just go off as couples and have sex). But it allows the film to spend a generous amount of time running around the furniture store and generally padding itself out as long as possible before the killing begins. Looking down the cast list, the only notable actor is Sean Kanan who would go on to greater fame the following year as 'Bad Boy' Mike Barnes from The Karate Kid Part III and the more recent Cobra Kai TV show.


The teenagers act with their hair for the most part - and these are pretty impressive 80s quiffs and mullets. You could understand if the entire budget went into hairspray for the cast! No effort was given to developing well-rounded characters by the time the sub-genre was on the wane and so Hide and Go Shriek features a lifeless, stereotypical cast of your usual tropes. But they're set loose inside a great location - the furniture store is one of the creepiest, most unsettling locations I've seen from an 80s slasher. There are plenty of rooms, corridors, stacks of furniture and eerie mannequins to give you the impression that something or someone could be lurking in the shadows at any time. The poster gives away one of the film's only worthwhile atmospheric moments as one would-be victim hides underneath a bed ready to surprise her boyfriend only to find the killer walking into the room instead. It's a good moment and one which the films wrings every last ounce of atmosphere from before pulling the trigger on the resulting event. Given the budget, it's clear that someone pulled a few strings and got to use a real furniture store after hours but it works.


When the killing does get underway, Hide and Go Shriek does pick up a fair bit. It's not afraid to get creative and nasty when it needs to and there are some memorable kills, the decapitation-by-elevator moment being the particular highlight. But even this looks to have butchered pretty badly by either the editor or the censors and loses its gory potential. The version that I am reviewing here is apparently the 'unrated' version with 'footage too shocking to be shown on its theatrical run.' If this is unrated, I'd hate to see the watered-down version. Four couples should equal seven deaths if slasher traditions are to be kept (plus any random non-characters thrown into the film like janitors or cops) but the body count falls way short of that. It ruins the finale to the film when the usual Final Girl conventions are abandoned in favour of a Final Group. The killer has proven himself less than efficient during the rest of the film so squaring off against multiple survivors isn't exactly edge-of-your-seat material. However, I'll at least give writer Michael Kelly credit for making these stereotypes a bit cleverer than the usual fodder because once they realise they're trapped inside with a psychopath, they decide to stick together, grab a weapon and hide in a corner. Wow! Smart people.


The killer isn't given any sort of depth or characterisation except that he is a cross-dresser, stooping the low depths to shamelessly and lazily equate transvestism with serial killing. It's not an uncommon trope for 80s horror films but looks a bit dated now. He has the tendency to dress up in the clothes of his previous victim (shades of Terror Train's costume-swapping killer) which adds a little bit of tension to the scenes in which he interacts with the other characters whilst remaining in the shadows. But this idea always makes me laugh as the killers only ever kill people who are the same body size and shape to be able to fit into their clothes with ease. The final twist on why he's in the furniture store is rather silly and the ending comes off as a bit of a joke as a result. But if you've made it that far, then it's not going to ruin the rest of the film.

 

Final Verdict

Hide and Go Shriek is better than it has any right to be given how late in the day it arrived to the slasher table. You've seen it all before but it handles the bulk of the material with a reasonable amount of skill. There's too much wrong with it to really give it anything higher but slasher fans will find plenty to take home.



 

Hide and Go Shriek


Director(s): Skip Schoolnik


Writer(s): Michael Kelly


Actor(s): Bunky Jones, Brittain Frye, Annette Sinclair, George Thomas, Donna Baltron, Scott Fults, Ria Pavia, Sean Kanan


Duration: 90 mins






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