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Being an adult is ok, I guess.  I wish there were more organized group games. I know I can join a basketball team at the rec center (or in my case, one of the thousand identical churches), but that's not the same thing. That shit is too serious and involved. Everyone there looks like a sweaty, angry tomato when they go at it. No shade if that's your thing and or--you are the slimy red-faced guy at the YMCA, but I want to frolic and giggle--not lunge as if my life depended on it while making angry guttural noises. I'm talking about something light-hearted like tag, or fucking red light/green light, where all you need is a patch of grass and winning doesn't matter. Maybe some red rover, although if I'm remembering things correctly, it could end in injury at a full-grown level. Why do those games stop being an option after a certain age?  Who drew this line in the playground of life separating activities by maturity level, and on what authority? It's only really a problem because it takes other participants. Likewise, I don't understand why a grown person can't watch cartoons or laugh at a fart, but that kind of taboo comes with a simple one-person solution. If I want to watch FernGully at thirty-one, I can just go ahead and do it. Same goes for when someone plays a solo on the cheek-tuba, fuck other adults, I'm going to chuckle. However, when it comes to something like hide and go seek, I can't just slap a peer on the back, yell "you're it" and prance off to jump in closet. Presumably, no one would join in, and there is a good chance I would end up with a court date. Looking back now, I am at least partially to blame, as I remember thinking I was "too old" to partake during some dense phase in my development. What a fool. High off puberty, I fell right into society's plan. I could have learned a thing or two from the similarly motivated team of fodder in Hide and Go Shriek (1988).
Somewhere in a rundown brick living quarters, a mysterious man gets ready for his hooker date by adorning snappy 50s gangster style digs and applying rosy blush to his cheeks. Without revealing his face, the sharp Romeo is then seen picking up a woman on the side of the road for some heavy petting and a literal stabbing. Following the display of street romance, the film introduces a gang of eight coupled-off teens freshly graduated from high school. To celebrate the occasion, the crew decides to spend the night, without permission, in a furniture store owned by one kid's father. Although the original plan was to eat pizza and find beds to cuddle in, out of the blue, one of the girls suggests a game of hide and go seek. They all agree excitedly, subsequently team up with sweethearts, and split up to take their shirts off. It starts to look like everyone from the C. Thomas Howell looking-kid, who wears sunglasses indoors, to the nervous virgin duo is getting lucky; unfortunately, the kids are are not alone in the building. Since they never called the game, it's hardly noticed when half dressed participants start disappearing, or giggles can be heard from the shadows. Thinking their friends have just had their playground spirit renewed, everyone just goes back to riding the creepy elevator, and each other. Soon, however, sexy time gets put on hold permanently when dead bodies start popping up in their underwear, and the remaining teens find themselves unable to escape. A night of hiding, seeking, and death follows as the killer picks them off one by one and steals their clothes. Who will survive the night, and what will they be wearing?
Without involving a holiday, Hide and Go Shriek's plot epitomizes the ready-made structure of the 80s slasher flick. It runs through the set-up like there is manual, with minimal deviation from the well-used concepts involved. At a brisk pace, the story portions out a small dish of tasty subgenre schlock without garnish. There isn't much definition to the doomed kids, aside from their hyperfocus on getting laid. Little bits of personality are sprinkled into the youthful banter but only serve to fill genre requisites on a surface level. For balance, an extra cocky, loud couple, and a pair of cliche virgins are included in what seems to be a cast of default characters. Mostly, they converse about their rainbow of Hollywood style sexual frustrations or find the same solution to releasing them between a pile of sheets. In fact, sitting in bed is a recurring theme, along with rides in a very ominous elevator. I can't help but think of Chopping Mall when the location is first brought up in the film, but the bulk of later activities could have taken place while at summer camp, or possibly a lingerie warehouse. Streamlined and without subtlety, the movie has much in common with Jim Wynorski's Sorority House Massacre entries, sans the chronically comical/bubbly nature. Similarly, it flaunts derivative fan service but leaves out the parody finish for some brutal kills and attempt to shock. As his main superpower, our mysterious killer can pull off anyone's wardrobe like magic. Honestly, the showcased range of on the spot impressions is striking. I have also seen worse bad-guy gimmicks than his signature process of killing somebody, switching clothes, and pretending to be them in the dark.
The film wraps up with a twist that manages to be ahead of its time and simultaneously dated. This reveal is the film's most praised aspect, and probably most memorable, although I personally don't find it as noteworthy.  So as not to spoil anything (you haven't found out in other genre outings), I will only say-- everything in slasherland has to do with sex, including (or especially) murder.  Altogether, it's pretty much a demented, high stakes Scooby-Doo mystery knock-off where the bad guy turns out to be a mix of Davey Slausen from Tourist Trap (1979) and Robert England's killer-gimp from The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990). For my money, its a solid late entry to some of horror's most celebrated trends and gift to a particular set of fans (myself included).
Aided by the simple theme, the low budget production works within its means comparably well when stacked against its peers. The story, flavor, and details seem to be formed around the scant resources with manageable results as well as a few high points. It's not a masterwork of stabby cinema but can hold its own in a crowded corner of the subgenre. There is a lot of back and forth between similar settings, held to pace with some generic cuts and spirited framing. Papa Phil's furniture store has several of a certain model bed in stock, as it can be found in a few different conveniently lit spots around the showroom floor. He also has more mannequins than actual merchandise despite not selling clothes. This odd detail gets a single line dedicated to its reasoning, but the inanimate models come into play often. I'm not complaining; they end up being one of the effectively creepy parts. Plus, I forgot they were not in a clothing store after about thirty minutes. It's almost as if the "furniture" store was chosen so they could include fluffier sleeping (that's the wrong word) arrangements. I also assume a single bed (that can be moved around) and some chairs are cheaper than a whole store full of clothes, so that makes sense. Either way, it works out. Characteristically dingy and dim, the frugal lighting can go from amateurishly underexposed to providing a spooky atmosphere in the same scene. The most consistent example is the use of shadows to conceal the antagonist's identity and help him pull off his grim impressions. It's a surprisingly effective use of an old gimmick, hitting a note between classic noir and charades as it puts the typically shitty illumination to good use. The same effect is used on the crowds of (aforementioned) dummies in subtle tufts of inspired background flare. It's hard to tell early on, but the handful of blatant repetitive aspects (like the elevator) all get a payout of some sort. It could have easily been a way to save some dough on sets, and the monotony becomes noticeable, but the extra mile to make it all count is appreciated. The soundtrack helps the mood immensely, building tension and surrounding the silliness with grave tones. While it's like the rest, borrowed, it's just as true to the material and avoids adding unnecessary comedic tones. There isn't a ton of gore, but a grimy surprise realism gives valuable weight to the demise of a few otherwise cardboard characters. Everybody gets topless, and the film meets its archetype's nudity quotient. Though probably not as much as you would imagine when so many scenes involve horny people under the same comforter.
The film's director Skip Schoolnik has worked on an eclectic range of projects predominantly as an editor or producer. He was one of two editors on John Carpenter's original Halloween sequel, which comes through on the smaller scale production. The classic series is an influence (openly) on the entire project, but if you squint, some technical cross-pollination can also be found in this film's pacing, use of shadows, and spatial awareness. Along with Halloween II (1981), Schoolnik laid hands on everything from Kung Fu: The Movie (1986) to The Walking Dead.  Although, outside of some television episodes (the Buffyverse's Angel series and Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction), Hide and Go Shriek is his only feature in the director’s chair. The legendary Screaming Mad George supplied the effects, having been brought on to the intended cash-grab by producer Dimitri Villard. A credit to any film, the practical wizard of gore makes himself known here with crunchy decapitation, among other things. The script was written by Michael Kelly, whose only additional credit is the TV movie Hijack! (1973). Here, he seems to have taken on the scripting by himself and also makes an on-screen cameo as a drunk. The cast of "kids" is perfectly annoying, and I mean that in the best way. They fill out the paper-thin cliches with era-appropriate ham, and I didn't mind hanging out with them for the duration. None of those bonuses kept me from laughing at any barely written character's demise, however, which is an excellent middle ground (like I said it's not a deep film). Among them, Brittain Frye in her third role after an episode of Highway to Heaven and showing up as Teenager #2 in 1987's angsty favorite Less Than Zero. Working into the 90s, she would continue to a handful of parts before circling back to the niche to play “Brittain” in the Slumber Party Massacre III in 1990.  My favorite of the squad, Bonnie, is played by the late scream queen Bunky Jones. During her two years as an actor, Jones (aka Bunki Z) appeared in a string of b-horror films, which also includes The Kindred (1987) and Grotesque (1988). This is one of her more involved roles, but she packed some awesome entertainment into a brief career.  Also among the squad is Donna Baltron, who plays Judy and would later serve as a body-double for Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her (1992). Scott Kubay is our quick changing murderer. I can't be sure he performed all the impressions, but the giggling, random chatter and prancing was some creepy shit.
In the supermarket aisle of 80s slasher flicks, Hide and Go Shriek (1988) is the bag of cereal with shapeless marshmallows that tastes just as good but doesn't have games on the back.  Come for a generic, stabby fun, and you will leave satisfied; if you need some thinking material, read a good book afterward. I have a lot of fun with it, and even though I sometimes forget the film exists, it satisfies a specific craving I often find myself having. Now, if only I could find a group to quench my thirst for the actual game of hide and go seek. I would ask my friends, but I only have one and I'm afraid to scare him off. Plus, if he did say yes-- that would just be two grown men looking suspicious in a park.
1h 30min | 1988
Director: Skip Schoolnik
Writer: Michael Kelly


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