FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 6, 2006

Day 6- pass the peace pipe

Yup. Uh huh. So...I watched Scalps (1983), and I've been sitting here trying to think of something to say about it.

The plot goes something like this...stop me if you've heard this one before. A group of unappealing college students go on an archaeological dig out in the desert despite warnings about the bad mojo that would ensue if they should dig up any sacred Indian artifacts. The students dig up the artifacts and bad mojo ensues. Specifically, one of the students- the jock- becomes possessed by the spirit of the Indian warrior Black Claw and proceeds to kill all of his friends. The end.

It sounds better than it is, really...Scalps isn't good enough to be good and isn't consistently bad enough to be bad. There's this little Indian head that pops up in odd places, though- in bowls, in campfires- that did liven things up a bit.

The largest problem, I think, is the pacing. The movie is short- roughly 80 minutes- but the first 45 or so are incredibly dull. There go the unappealing college students driving in their giant station wagon! There they go walking up a hill! There they are- wow- talking! When the jock finally gets possessed and you think things are gonna actually start happening in the movie, he immediately proceeds to rape his girlfriend in an extended sequence. As the first real bit of violence in the movie, it sort of sets a tone...a scuzzy tone. I can't say I'm exactly a big fan of rape sequences, but that's just me.

After the girlfriend has been raped and killed, the rest of the gang are dispatched rather quickly. The kills alternate between realistically graphic and gory (the raped girlfriend gets scalped) and laughably fake (in one decapitation sequence, the head starts to fall off before the victim is hit).

Eventually the jock is killed off and only the trippy dippy hippy chick DJ is left. She's possessed and ready for action- action promised in the credits: COMING SOON! SCALPS II: THE RETURN OF DJ...a movie that never came to be. Given the bad taste Scalps left in my mouth, that's probably for the best. I give it 3 out of 10 well, I said something about its.


Anonymous said...

I dug SCALPS. I don't have the slightest radar for bad acting/pacing/etc. so I tend to be easily pleased with movies like this. The desert vistas, strange apparitions and the low-tech soundtrack just appealed to me. Fred Olen Ray said the SCALPS 2 card was just for fun, and I say a shame, because I like me my Indian revenge movies. Those damn kids.

John @

Stacie Ponder said...

I wanted to like Scalps...believe me, I'm not usually hard to please. I agree with you about the soundtrack- sometimes that weird, bloopy sort-of synth music coupled with crappy film grain adds a certain ambiance, and I think it did here.

Maybe I was too hard on Scalps, I don't know. The rape scene just felt so gratuitous to me that it bummed me out about the movie. In addition, I thought the characters were all so unappealing that it all just sort of...happened and that was that.

warrenzone said...

but what about the scene where there is a man with a lion head - it was soooo sweet!

Amanda By Night said...

Black Claw!

Anonymous said...

rape sequences leave a bad taste in my mouth.
not a big fan.

Anonymous said...

Is that last picture of one of the California Raisins?

Stacie Ponder said...

Damn you, Slattery. I almost snarfed my hot cocoa.