Possession: Until Death Do You Part

POSSESSION: UNTIL DEATH DO YOU PART is a 1987 low budget slasher movie that’s not, as far as I can tell, a sequel to Andrzej Zulawski’s POSSESSION. That’s too bad, because there’s plenty of room for DTV type followups to that one. It could just be in the rehash style of WILD THINGS 2 or CRUEL INTENTIONS 2 – some other couple breaking up with one of them fucking a weird blob of tentacles. You could gender swap or you could have it be the two blobs are breaking up and one is fucking a human, there are many ways to mix it up. Or of course if it was me I would try to get Sam Neill to come back (or recast with Billy Zane) and lean heavily into his character’s background as a spy. More of a shitty cloak and dagger thing but with relationships and slime and what not. This movie has none of that.

It opens with a dude dragging a dead woman by one arm from the yard of his big house to a spot just inside the surrounding woods, where he digs her a grave. At first they’re not showing his face, but then they do, and he’s babbling animatedly about having thought she was different or some bullshit like that. His name is Frankie (John Robert Johnston, who became an executive producer of reality shows including Rampage, When Vacations Attack, Pranked and Bad Dog!), and he’s got a bunch of other dead women in his closet, plus he kidnaps a live one named Madeline (Sharlene Martin from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN) from a parking garage. He brings her home, says weird things to her, forces her to put on his mom’s dress, yells at her when she pulls down her top for a second because what if Mother saw her do that!?

We’ve seen this sort of thing before, the twist-free PSYCHO riffs about psychotic misogynists with delusional mother fixations caused by childhood trauma. MANIAC and DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE are two really good versions of this sort of thing. Related, there’s ANGST, which doesn’t have as much mother business but does force you to follow the killer the whole time, the movie’s incredibly artistry the only safety rope to help you survive its overwhelming queasiness. POSSESSION definitely doesn’t have that – it’s shoddy and amateurish in the Slasher Search tradition. But I thought it was at least refreshing that his mom (Monica Marko, KNIGHT MOVES) is alive and doesn’t seem obviously crazy. It’s kind of creepy being unsure how much she knows about what’s going on or how much she’s willing to overlook. My only fear was that she would turn out to be imaginary, but what I really needed to fear was that he would blame her for his victim escaping and kill her very early in the movie. (Because that’s what happens. Spoiler.)

Ha ha – dig that unattributed quote

Madeline gets away and calls the cops. I need to single out the officer who talks to her. Probly less than an hour after managing to survive an abduction and attempted murder by a prolific serial killer at his own house she asks, “He’s still out there. Isn’t there anything you can do?” and the officer says matter-of-factly, “Afraid not. Not at this point.”

There’s no indication that he’s put any effort into helping her retrace her steps to the house, or that he’s checked the scene of the abduction for witnesses or evidence or surveillance video, or that he’s had her sit with a sketch artist. It seems he just filled out a report. I wrote down your name lady, I don’t know what else you expect. I’m sure it was just a one-off thing, probly.

Madeline doesn’t take it too hard, but then her and some friends drive around looking for the killer, and they quickly find him! He tries to get away in a row boat, which blows up when the cops shoot it.

I have to admit, I assumed we’d be stuck in that house for the whole movie, so it’s a relief and a surprise that it opens up to other locations, forms of transportation, etc. There’s a bunch of blazing guitars and synth jams as police cars zoom around with their lights on. Then there’s a long, uneventful section of the ladies having a night out watching male strippers. I guess that balances out all the underwear, shower and bath scenes. One false scare involves a woman taking a bath and the pizza delivery man inappropriately letting himself into the house and walking right into the bathroom. She angrily tells him to leave but then is weirdly comfortable just assuming he’s gone and going back to enjoying her bath. (While the pizza gets cold.)

There’s a road trip to a cabin, where Frankie hunts them/somebody/whoever. Meanwhile, a lady gets out of the shower, puts on white lingerie, stockings and high heels and lays down on the bed, and Frankie comes in in black clothes and camouflage face paint and stabs her in the back. This is kind of how the movie will continue: there are various women in various places, Frankie is also there sneaking around trying to kill them. I read that they’re sorority sisters, but I couldn’t follow who was who and wasn’t sure if the people knew each other. And it seemed to me to cut freely between day and night.

Frankie has that pro wrestling style of mugging, selling every expression four times too hard, making sure everybody knows he’s crazy at all times whether he has a line or not. But not in a fun SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT 2 kind of way. At home he seemed like an uptight dork, well dressed, Norman Bates meets Ted Bundy, then for the rest of the movie he’s cosplaying John Matrix, seems like a different guy. His dialogue is mainly themed around his supposed attempts to find the right woman and blaming them for allegedly not living up to his standards. In one part he seems to think his mom is still alive.

I noticed a grip named “Dave Goyer” on the end credits. I was hoping that was BLADE writer David S. Goyer, but he would’ve been studying screenwriting at USC at the time, and this was filmed in Vancouver, so it’s probly the David G. Goyer I found on IMDb.

IMDb lists directors Michael Mazo (EMPIRE OF ASH, TIME RUNNER, CRACKERJACK) and Lloyd A. Simandl (LETHAL TARGET, CHAINED HEAT 2001: SLAVE LOVERS, CALIGULA’S SPAWN) and screenwriters Lyne J. Grantham (production accountant on EMPIRE OF ASH) and Simandl. Although the two directors did work together more than once, I really wonder if this was cut together from two or more unfinished movies. If they did intend for these scenes to be cut together, it’s hard to imagine they had any sort of a script or plan. Another possibility I kept considering was that the reels were put together in the wrong order.

I can’t say I got much out of this one.


Slasher Search DNF report: MOON IN SCORPIO

Based on the box I thought I might have a real discovery on my hands with this 1987 film from TRICK OR TREATS director Gary Graver. John Phillip Law and William Smith are among a group of Vietnam vets who go on a yacht trip together, and one of them may be the person we saw escape from an insane asylum who is harpooning the people on the boat one-by-one. It has an annoying wraparound/voiceover narration format, Smith plays a belligerent drunk and the production values are shitty. It did at least make me write down the line, “This incident is of such a nature that it could shake the very foundations on which this hospital stands.” But I was struggling to get through it on VHS and then I found out somebody recently put it out on Blu-Ray and I wasn’t about to go fishing for the better version so I decided to throw this one back.

get it, because of fishing

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2019 at 12:39 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

13 Responses to “Possession: Until Death Do You Part”

  1. Sorry you’re having such a hard time with the Slasher Search these past couple years, Vern. I know that pain. Might I recommend second-wave slasher also-ran THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD a.k.a. DEATH DORM? It’s nothing special but it is more or less coherent, boasts a pretty solid slasher locale, some decent gore, prime early 80s atmosphere, and even a twist or two. It’s not gonna change your world but I think it’s closer to the minor gem you’re looking for than these poor deformed leftovers you’ve been stuck with.

  2. i know it stands out because its in a movie, but the cops’ lackluster response to a woman reporting an assault is probably the most realistic event in this narrative…

  3. Majestyk – I think I will do that. It’s one that I only recently realized I haven’t seen, having confused it with two or three other dorm related ones.

  4. I feel you on that. I have it under the DEATH DORM title and I can never remember if that means it’s the same movie as THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD or if it’s an alternate title for like FINAL EXAM or something.

  5. “Afraid not”, ha.
    I may have one to recommend for Slasher Search. It’s called HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY FIVE and it’s from the mid 80s. I can’t recommend it to most people beacuse it’s cheap and ugly and nonsensical and poorly acted and has Nazi rocket scientists or something, but it was kind of hypnotizing to watch…kinda funny too. It’s like Nathin Rabin said of Manos: The Hands of Fate, that it’s so cheap and inept that it reaches a feverish sort of outsider art quality. I was suprised I liked it.
    Also HORROR HOSPITAL is a slasher made by Golan-Globus in 1981. It’s knid of slick actually and has a ton of funny extras (sick and injured folk mostly).
    Happy Hunting!

  6. I second the recommendation of HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY FIVE.

  7. Actually shocked you never did dorm that dropped blood . Especially since it’s rather well thought of by slasher fans and has had a good blu ray release I believe . I was thinking 555 would be a good one for you to do it’s awful but has some good effects and an iconic box cover .

  8. grimgrinningchris

    October 21st, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Did you ever review APRIL FOOL’S DAY, Vern? I have to imagine (and want to remember) that you did, but I can’t find it.

    If not, that would at least be a break from all this awful stuff. It is a fun one that is sadly, not as remembered as it should be.

  9. I have seen that but really only remember the ending.

  10. grimgrinningchris

    October 22nd, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    The ending can make or break the whole for some. I like it. But either way, the journey getting there is certainly more fun, more clever and better acted than most slashers at the time. Deborah Foreman, Amy Steel (F13 Part 2’s Final Girl) and Biff from BTTF are al particularly good in it. Very meta, before that became a thing, but not a spoof at all and although it is very funny at times, it doesn’t undercut the legit slasher aspects… it just makes you like the characters more.

  11. grimgrinningchris

    October 22nd, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Wow, I don’t think I had ever seen this trailer before. I’m frankly stunned that this is the theatrical trailer for a mid-budget slasher.

    Good job, marketing people.


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  12. If you’re taking requests for Slasher Search 2020, keep an eye out for HOUSEBOAT HORROR (1989). I think you can pick it up on DVD for relatively cheap (also on YouTube). Was touted as the “worst Australian film ever made” (it’s not) and had brief revival as a so-bad-it’s-good cult classic. I think that’s overstating it a bit, but it’s kinda enjoyable for the parade of B-list Australian celebs of the era, and how it botches every single slasher film cliche in the book.

  13. Confirming what I said in the RUSH WEEK review about college slashers blending together in my mind, I read the back of THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD and realized I have seen it. I could’ve sworn I reviewed it, maybe at Christmas time, but I don’t seem to have. Weird.

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