Eighteen months after a riot shuts a prison down, a low-budget film crew arrives to make some movie magic only to be terrorized by a serial killer who was supposedly put to death in the prison.
Judging a Book by its Cover
-Maybe the movie is about a pissed off road worker tired of assholes nicking him with their side mirrors?
-Honestly, both covers (see top) are pretty much the same, just one looks like a horror flick and one looks like hardcore gay porn. I can see why the skull version was released.
-Sounds like another movie where a killer survives the electric chair, like Shocker and The Horror Show (House 3.) That’s not good news.
“3000 volts couldn’t kill him. It just gave him a buzz!”
Directed by Robert Kirk
Starring Deborah Foreman, Clayton Rohner, Lyle Alzado and Anthony Perkins
As the film begins, Ivan Moser (Alzado) is on death row for the murder, rape and torture of two dozen people and tonight is the night he goes out with a bang. Unlike most people in his situation, Moser is so nuts that he’d rather watch a campy version of Wheel of Fortune instead of eating his final meal or even pay attention to getting electrocuted. However, lightning strikes the prison while Moser is getting cooked but it doesn’t finish the job…at least in an opening nightmare scene.
Moser was apparently killed that night but the lightning strike screwed up the electrical locks and caused a riot which closed the prison down. Fast forward several months later and a film crew arrives to shoot their low-budget, women’s prison film. Joining her writer/boyfriend is Malone (Foreman) who was a former prison guard until the riots and has had nightmares of Moser since his electrocution.
After the former warden shows up to stir up trouble and cover his ass, the movie really gets going as Moser makes his presence felt in spectacular fashion via a flamethrower kill in the bathroom. Once Moser realizes that he’s in the middle of a movie shoot, he introduces himself to the cast and crew and then murders them behind the scenes until it comes down to him and Malone one last time.
Lyle Alzado is fun to watch as the jacked up psychopath who gets a little charge on electricity. He certainly fills the role nicely and he seems to have fun with it. I’m not usually a fan of wise-cracking killers in these types of movies but Alzado’s charisma shines, he really enjoys his work! The film isn’t a gorefest but there’s quite a nice bit of variety which is always appreciated.
After a hot opening, the movie cools until the movie-within-a-movie starts up which brings the killer out of the woodwork. The movie follows a lot of standard genre cliches that were very common by 1988 though the story is thankfully nowhere near as stupid as I had feared. I certainly didn’t have high expectations for Destroyer, but by the end I was pleasantly surprised by what I had watched.
Story: 6 – A film crew arrives at a shut down prison to film an exploitation flick only to be attacked by a nutbar who was supposedly electrocuted there.
Blood: 5 – A smorgasbord of kills from hanging to decapitation to flamethrower (not in that order.)
Nudity: 6 – There’s a short scene with several nude women shooting the movie-within-a-movie.
Overall: 6 – A surprisingly decent effort in comparison to what was out at the time.
-Anthony Perkins replaced Roddy McDowall on short notice.
-The film is also known as Shadow of Death.
-Lyle Alzado was a Super Bowl-winning defensive end for the LA Raiders who later became well known as a user of anabolic steroids. Alzado died of brain cancer in 1992 at the age of 43.