Hide and Go Shriek (1988)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2017-06-13 06:17

Hide and Go Shriek (1988)
Studio: Code Red
Release date: December 13th, 2016

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman (@brettgallman)

The movie:

Locations are a critical, perhaps underrated element of slashers. Even a cursory glance at the genreóparticularly the 80s effortsóreveals that studios and filmmakers everywhere were cycling through an assortment of different venues to keep this human demolition derby going. Everything from rural camps to urban establishments became stages for the chopping block, with some proving to be more obvious than others. Department store set Hide and Go Shriek qualifies as one of the less obvious ones, I suppose: while stores and malls hosted slasher carnage a handful of times throughout the decade, itís hardly the first setting that springs to mind when you think about this genre. Itís somewhat ironic, given the decadeís reputation for excess and consumerismóyouíd think more films might have explored it, maybe even for satirical purposes.

And besides that, Hide and Go Shriek is a solid reminder that department stores can be a killer setting, at least when itís properly minded for all its creepy and gory potential. Sure, it leans on a pretty flimsy premise to move its action there, but itís not like thatís ever been a deal-breaker for this genre. Plus, itís sort of hoot: in short, a group of friends have decided to stay overnight in a department store thatís owned by one of their dads. Theyíre not doing so for just any reason, either: naturally, most of them are looking for a place to bone, but theyíve also decided itís a perfect place to play hide and seek. Unbeknownst to them, however, a stranger harboring homicidal intentions also lurks in the store, eager to ruin their fun evening.

Seriously, thatís the story hereóit turns out the title Hide and Go Shriek isnít just some random pun but rather a pretty apt description of the plot. If Iím being honest, Iím disappointed my days as a twentysomething (I assume these kids are supposed to be at least that old considering two of them are talking about marriage) didnít feature more games of hide-and-seek in department stores. I have to assume playing it would be much more thrilling than watching it, anyway, and, man, does Hide and Go Shriek subject you to watching these kids piddle around the store a lot. An obligatory prologue featuring a mysterious, seemingly androgynous killer butchering a prostitute signals that this is, in fact, a slasher movie.

However, the next 40 minutes or so are exclusively dedicated to observing this lame bunch, which mostly involves listening to them crack jokes about one of the guysí bad haircuts and obsess over sex. This has to be among the horniest 80s slashers, as everybody is worried about fucking, even the awkward couple on their first ďdate.Ē By my count, at least three do the deed on screenóor at least talk about how they just did it (in less than ten seconds in one caseópoor guy got a little too excited). Other than this, youíll hear about the midnight chicken dinner theyíve planned after their big game of hide and seek (which, as it turns out, turns into a game of hide and screw, naturally). Eventually, they begin to separate and get lost and disappear amongst this cavernous 3-story store, meaning one person wanders off to search for another---rinse and repeat.

Of course, itís at this point that the slashing actually kicks in, and itís of a familiar, solid sort. Thereís definitely a meanness to it, though, as the killer actually victimizes the two nice, virginal kids first, just to dispense the notion that this oneís going to play out exactly like any routine slasher. In fact, thatís one of the few distinguishing points about Hide and Go Shriek, as thereís some mild unpredictability about who might actually survive. Only those two nice kids emerge as obvious candidates, so itís a bit jarring when theyíre the first to go, and the film continues to play against expectations by (spoiler) not whittling the group down to a final survivor.

Other than that, a large chunk of the slasher proceedings is pretty routine. Itís more or less like most slashers, only it just happens to unfold in a department store, so the killer resorts to drowning victims in sinks and stabbing them with mannequin appendages. Speaking of the mannequins: the store is cluttered with them, so thereís naturally a half-dozen fake-outs involving the kids bumping into them accompanied by a shrieking stinger. The store itself is nicely utilized, as thereís something inherently spooky about a dark, abandoned space thatís usually bustling with energy. Thereís a genuine sense of claustrophobia, as the dim lighting and tight confines heighten the sense of entrapment. Michael Kellyís screenplay also covers its ass with an early conversation involving the store owner who brags about the bullet and sound proof windows that eventually results in a nice, tense scene where the kids helplessly pound away, trying to gain the attention of oblivious cops and street bums.

The script also attempts some cleverness regarding the killerís identity, though a seasoned slasher aficionado will see through it. One of the storeís newest employees is an ex-con sporting freakish tattoos, making him an obvious suspect; however, viewers see his face immediately, so itís a bit suspicious when the killer is kept off-screen or bathed in shadows for the bulk of the movie. Some sort of twist is obviously inbound, though I will admit itís not the most obvious turn of events. With about ten minutes left, Hide and Go Shriek really comes alive and starts to go for it: a gruesome scene involving an elevator takes full advantage of the settingís potential, while the killerís identity is an out of left field reveal depicting the usual unseemly portrayals of psychosexuality preying on 80s gay panic. While it feels especially queasy given todayís more woke sensibilities, itís nothing if not memorable, and his ďdemiseĒ (of course thereís a ďthe killerís not really deadĒ stinger) is even more so.

Iíll dare not spoil it, if only because itís among the few elements lurking in the climax that rescues this one from being mostly forgettable. When youíre sifting through this sort of mid-level tier of slashers, thatís about as much as you can hope for, I think, whether itís a noteworthy kill or a memorable story twist. Anything to keep it from receding straight to the back of my brain alongside several other anonymous slashers is welcome, especially in a title thatís been on my to-do list for years now. In that respect, Hide and Go Shriek does not disappoint, which is no small feat now that Iím scraping around the edges of the barrel for these last few 80s slasher scraps.

The disc:

Previously only available on a shady, unauthorized bootleg DVD, Hide and Go Shriek has been a long-clamored for by slasher aficionados for years. Code Red has finally obliged with a Blu-ray release that has brought it all the way back from VHS-era obscurity, and with a pretty decent presentation to boot. The transfer is naturally dark as a result of the source material (most of the movie unfolds in darkness), but itís fine otherwise. About 40 minutes of supplements are also tucked into the disc, most of them spread across a trio of interviews with director Skip Schoolnik, producer Dimitri Villard, and actor Jeff Levine. Finally, while the main feature is the R-rated cut, Code Red does at least provide a VHS-sourced peek at one of the extended gore scenes. Apparently, this represents the only trim (and it is miniscule at best), so itís not like the main feature has been ripped to shreds. This is basically as definitive as a release can get for Hide and Go Shriek, a movie weíre lucky to have on Blu-ray in any capacity, much less one that goes the extra mile like this one.
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