Director – Skip Schoolnik
Cast – Bunky Jones, Brittain Frye, Annette Sinclair, George Thomas, Donna Baltron, Scott Fults, Ria Pavia, Sean Kanan
Release Year – 1988
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I am currently on a slasher binge, trying my best to watch the remaining 70s/80s slasher flicks on my queue. There are some I will probably never come across, but thanks to Shudder I was able to finally cross out Hide and Go Shriek. This slasher comes with a unique setting that sucks in the viewer, with its biggest negative being that there isn’t enough of the goods. I liked this piece, and I can see why it it is not a household name among such films – it lacks punch.
Four young couples celebrate their high school graduation by planning an overnight stay at a furniture store owned by one of their fathers. What starts off as a night of boozing and fornication turns into a night of terror and survival when they find themselves locked in with a transsexual murderer.
I cannot say that a film like this would pass in our modern day. It does use a transsexual as a killer, which I think is cool, but it was used in a way that paints a negative picture of trans folks. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this element and it wound up providing some good horror. This setting really sucked me in as I used to participate in lock-ins when I was a kid. These didn’t involve trespassing or boozing, unfortunately. This setting had me excited and I was able to envelop myself into the film.
The story kicks off by giving us a look at the killer – a man donning a three piece suit while applying woman’s makeup. Then we are shot towards our protagonists, who are prepping for the big day. John’s father owns a furniture store, and the plan is to sneak in, eat, drink, and have sex on the display beds. Sounds fun, right? They kick things off in enjoyable fashion, and we learn right away that they are not alone. Writer Michael Kelly plays on the idea that there could either be two killers, or that the killer could be one of two persons. This won’t really fool the viewer, but it does up the ante a bit and (pseudo spoiler approaching) will have a significant impact with the film’s climax. Kelly writes up enjoyable characters for the protagonists, and with this being an 80s flick you can expect the usual character cliches. I found these cliches enjoyable, but not everything was cliche. I was very impressed with his character play regarding who lived and died. There are characters that assume will live, and then they are killed off early into the experience. This happens on several occasions and I found myself consistently searching for who would take over as the lead. These story tactics are enjoyable for me as they keep things fresh in a sub-genre known for being convoluted with the same ideas.
While I liked the characters being killed off, I took issue with the execution of the kills. Director Skip Schoolnik does a fair job with the film overall, but his kills are what holds him back. We see too many kills that either occur off screen or shy away from the goods. The kills written into the film are great and include a mannequin’s leg impaling someone. Sadly, we only see the after effect of that, and that doesn’t even include the leg protruding from the person’s chest. Simply put, the kills are weakest link for this film, and that should never be the case for a slasher film. Nonetheless, Schoolnik provides decent tension outside of the kill sequences. I loved the quick shots of the killer – a tall man wearing a woman’s wig. The look would surely freak me out if I were staying overnight in a dark building, fully aware that outsiders should not be there. The killer’s looks and mannerisms were positive. Hearing him giggle in a woman’s voice was genuinely creepy, and the setting allowed for many shadowy areas for him to hide in. Schoolnik really does get everything right aside from the kills.
Overall, Hide and Go Shriek is a borderline-positive film held back by the execution of the kill sequences. Those with a forgiving attitude should mostly enjoy this flick as it has other positives that make this a slasher film that could be worth your time.