The trials for the Olympics take a dangerous turn in this 80’s slasher film that is not too much on the gory side (and that’s okay) and provides one hell of an ending (which helps), but somehow drags from time to time (which can bore the viewer).
At a training facility, seven young men and women have qualified to compete in the Nationals in which should they succeed, will make their dream to the Olympics. They are gymnasts Annie, Nancy, Frank, and Sue Ellen; swimmer Lynn; and track and field qualifiers Joe and Phil. As they prepare for the Nationals, their training increases with constant pressure from medical trainer Dr. Jordine and Coaches Webber and Drew. Only physical therapist/nurse assistant Diane has any sympathy for these hopefuls.
However, the pressures of training are nothing compared to what’s about to happen. A mysterious person in a black tracksuit arrives and begins to slowly kill each one of the young hopefuls using a javelin. As each one begins to go missing, those who have survived so far as well as the medical staff and coaches begin to worry. Who is the mysterious killer who is impaling their victims, ruining their dreams of possible Olympic fame?
Shot in 1983, one can only guess that the film was released on the fact that the Los Angeles Olympics games were about to be held the following year. While the concept is similar to an earlier slasher film, Graduation Day (1981), the fact that the Olympics are somehow involved with this film (even in a brief mention) makes it a bit novel. The filmmaking team of director Michael Elliot (in what would be his only film) and producer Charles Mankiewicz crafted what could have been a possibly underrated 80’s slasher. However, there does bode one small issue.
The script, in which Elliot and Mankiewicz co-wrote with Rafael Bunuel, tends to drag in certain pieces perhaps due to the fact that we have seven potential victims all set in mind. In addition, it seemed like there is an unnecessary scene involving the swimming coach and a female lover. Instead of just a typical slasher, many of the filler scenes are either some sort of talk between couples (Lynn and Frank; Annie and Phil); or the doctor (played by director Elliot) just yelling at the coaching staff and physical therapist to do their job as if he is the flipping head coach.
Unlike inventive death scenes seen in most slasher films, our killer resorts to using one thing: a javelin. From the getgo, one could suspect one of the young hopefuls as they are a javelin thrower themselves (Spoiler Alert: thirty-five minutes into it, you’ll think otherwise). Some of the impaling scenes look like something more akin to an action film, especially the very first death scene as it just comes out of nowhere and the victim is impaled to the wall during a weight-lifting session and it is not as gory as one might imagine. In terms of comparing to other films during the golden age of slasher films, the bloodletting here is a more “close to the middle” road rather than off-screen killings or say, a Tom Savini gorefest.
Fatal Games had potential and didn’t rely on over the top buckets of blood, but too much filler made this film drag along to the point of boredom at times. However, the death scenes are quite nicely done and the big reveal does provide quite a bit of redemption for an overall ho-hum effort.
WFG RATING: C
An Impact Films Production. Director: Michael Elliot. Producer: Charles Mankiewicz. Writers: Rafael Bunuel, Michael Elliot, and Charles Mankiewicz. Cinematography: Alfred Taylor. Editing: Jonathon Braun.
Cast: Sally Kirkland, Lynn Banashek, Sean Masterson, Michael O’Leary, Teal Roberts, Spice Williams-Crosby, Melissa Prophet, Angela Bennett, Nicholas Love, Michael Elliot, Charles Mankiewicz, Lauretta Murphy