42nd Street Cinema

Berserker (1987)

I basically ended up spending the weekend with a few friends hunting for; records, DVDs and something I wouldn't usually pick up; VHS. One of the said VHS being Jefferson Richard's late backwoods slasher entry Berserker. A film that holds host to a cast of nobodies who interestingly enough went on to be nobodies, spare George 'Buck' Flower.

A group of teens leave the city and take off on a camping vacation in the woodlands. The trip is suddenly thwarted when the sextuplets cross paths with a berserker, a viking warrior who wears the snout and fur of a bear. Without sparing much time the teens are hunted down one by one.
The way in which the narrative is conveyed we're lead to believe that it is a bear acting out the vicious killings. I began to wonder why it wasn't called "Bear-serker" as at times that title seems much more appropriate, though given this day and age people would probably think it a 'gay interest' picture.

Berserker is an effective entry in to the sub-genre. It has the conventional devices of 80s slashers including a 'campfire legend' segment as well as steady pacing, an interesting killer and above average suspense which are absolute must-haves with any slasher picture. Although with such a great premise I firmly believe that if it had been given a better cast and more bloodshed it could have been one of the top backwoods slashers, even with its cheesy ending.

Each character employs the usual cliché suspects of; the jock, the nerd, the wiseass and the attractive lady friends etc. The banter between characters is often humorous and fairly well scripted. Cinematography is stunning, use of fake fog banks and lush woodland backdrop give an overt sense claustrophobia and entrapment. There is a fantastic scene where the berserker fights hand-to-hand with a bear, the sequence is actually quite astounding as it appears the bear is real though obviously tamed. Unfortunately in contrast to that there are a few stupid sequences involving characters running frantically throughout the forest resulting with them being even more lost. That aside I think this would work well in a double bill with Don't Go in the Woods (1981). So go seek 'em both out, order a pizza, kick back and relax.

2 Stars


Jack Veasey said...

I never heard of this one, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy. I liked "Grizxly," the 70s natural horror flick where an actual bear acts like a slasher -- so liking a movie where the slasher dresses like a bear isn't much of a stretch. And the slasher-vs-bear scene sounds cool (like the shark-vs-zombie scene in "Zombie!")

James said...

ohhh i never thought about the Zombi 2 shark vs zombie scene, yeah it's very similar to that!

Jose Cruz said...

Nice review, James. Certainly seems like one of the more fun camp'n'slash films from the 80's. All I could think of when I was reading this was a bloody muzzled Smokey intoning "Only you can prevent teen slashings."

Te* (Slasher Film Sanctuary) said...

Nice Review. I haven't heard of this one either, so I may have to hunt it down.

viagra online said...

is it just me, or I think there is a Japanese anime with this exact same title, "Berserker", but after reading the synopsis of this film, the anime is totally different!

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