Director: Antony J. Christopher
Year of release: 1988
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 90 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Never officially released on DVD though you can sometimes find unofficial versions.
Tagline: "First there were ten little sorority girls...then there was one".
Also known as: Killer's Run
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Things begin with local hunk and teaching assistant Jeff running out on a scantily clad young woman named Stephanie having spurned her sexual advances. It seems Jeff still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend Lisa, a coed whom he would like to get back together with. Immediately following Jeff’s departure Stephanie is strangled to death by a black glove wearing maniac. Said maniac then begins to target the women of the sorority house in which Lisa currently lives. Whilst trying to rekindle things with Lisa Jeff fusses over her safety as more and more of her fellow housemates meet their demise. After being spotted leaving the original murder scene by a rival for Lisa’s affections Jeff soon becomes the number one suspect in the case. Evading the police Jeff teams up with his dim witted stoner buddy Brad to try and apprehend the killer to both clear his own name and prevent anything happening to Lisa.
Good points: There is a lot of variety in the way that the victims are murdered with a different method being used each time. There is a drowning, suffocation by plaster and what is probably the most well known and notorious which is a throat slice carried out with the use of a music record. They definitely deserve points for originality with this last one. Though there isn’t a lot of blood and a pretty low body count as well the deaths are still pretty satisfying due to the creativity involved. At one stage there was a strange death involving some one either being electrocuted or burned to death inside a contraption of some sort for which I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. That aside though the deaths were one of the high points.
The motive behind the kills once revealed towards the end proves to be a bit different and more novel and original than what we typically see. It actually seemed as if a bit more thought had gone into writing this part of the film than had the rest of it.
Possible minor spoiler: There is a bit of mystery surrounding the killers identity or at least an attempt made at giving us a few possibilities though in truth it is very easy to guess who the villain is. It’s one of those scenarios where there wouldn’t be any point in us seeing the character in question unless they were going to turn out to have a much more significant role later. They at least try to keep us guessing with a few options though such as the house owner and decidedly odd Ernie, a teacher and possibly a few of the male teens. The police suspect Jeff of course though he is never really a suspect so much for us forming a kind of joint main character along with Lisa. On a side note regarding Ernie it was quite unusual that there is no house mother running the show at the sorority house but instead a male figure In the role though he seemed more of a handyman than owner.
I’m scraping the barrel with this last one but all of the coeds are attractive and seem to fall into at least a partial state of undress at one time or another either naturally or through their respective attack scenes with the killer. If you like a level of sleaze then this one provides.
Bad Points: At the very beginning in the scenes with Jeff running out on Stephanie the music plays over the dialogue and is too loud and a bit of a distraction. Other than this little issue the music is alright though to be fair and being a definite slice of late eighties cheese it can raise a smile.
I thought the Brad character was awful and was just way too over the top and annoying. He was seen as a real clown and carried a bong around with him much of the time. Even more ridiculous was that his presence would sometimes be accompanied by an atrocious boing type sound effect. This reminded me a bit of similar sound effects briefly used for the two cops in Halloween 5. This Brad character however is much worse than those two. He was pretty gross as well shovelling food into his mouth at one point and then talking with his mouth open. To top it all off the scene where he helps out Jeff who is being beaten up by a bunch of vigilantes is just beyond belief. Absolutely crazy awful stuff.
Fatal Pulse is a very unrealistic film as despite a murder taking place in the sorority house both Ernie and the surviving girls continue to stay there without so much as even a police guard to watch over them. I was slightly unclear on whether or not the first murder of Stephanie actually took place at the sorority house or if it was at a different location but even if the latter the bath murder was definitely on site. As such you would think the police would be crawling all over the place seeing that it was a crime scene with either the whole house evacuated or at least a portion of it out of bounds but this didn’t seem to be the case. In a similar way it was also silly that Jeff and his moronic friend were able to visit the record kill crime scene to poke around. There still looked to be blood on the floor which would have been cleaned up should the police have finished and if they hadn’t yet finished the boys surely wouldn’t have been able to gain access in the first place.
I thought it was lazy that they didn’t properly explain that Ernie was supposed to be a Vietnam veteran perhaps addled by his wartime experiences. We could guess he was a former soldier from the scene where he is hearing voices and it also says so on the back of the case for the unofficial DVD. It surely should have been something that was highlighted in dialogue though if only briefly. One such opportunity to do so would have been where Jeff persuades Lisa to set Ernie up with the story about the heat in her room. She could have been reluctant to do so initially saying something like “Don’t be silly it can’t be Ernie behind all this. The guys a hero, he fought in Vietnam”. That’s all it would have taken to solidify the point.
Another silly and perhaps unrealistic aspect to the film is how the female victims act when trying to escape from the killer. They don’t seem to make much effort or put up much of a fight and as such they all come across as a bit stupid and pathetic in their final moments.
Verdict: There is not a great deal to recommend here with Fatal Pulse probably only really being something that would appeal to die hard completist fans of eighties slashers. Having said that I didn’t find it to be quite as bad as I expecting as at least the deaths were mostly fun and the killers motivation was something a bit different. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I enjoyed it but I didn’t hate it either (well aside from those parts involving Brad). I’ve seen a lot worse lets put it that way so as long as you don’t expect too much you might get something out of it.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Stephanie: Strangled with one of her stockings.
2)Girl: Throat cut with record disc.
3)Ann?: Drowned in the bathtub.
4)Cassie: This is the death I mentioned in the review that I was unsure about. Electrocuted or burned somehow.
5)Girl on skateboard: Thrown out of a high window.
6)Girl: Suffocated by having her face covered in plaster.