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Jason Voorhees. Unstoppable killing machine. Plows through victims like some kind of human thresher. Yet, even Jason had to start from somewhere. He wasn’t always the badass that we all know and love. Think back to Friday the 13th Part 2, Jason’s first rampage. The guy was kind of clumsy.
Look at his pursuit of Ginny. He rightfully should have pitchforked her when she crawled from under that bed. Instead, he falls on his ass when the old, flimsy chair that he’s standing on breaks. When he advances on her, he is forced to immediately retreat when she turns on him with a chainsaw. The Jason of later films would have just flipped the bed, stabbed her, and that’s that. Being a homicidal maniac takes training. In Jason’s case, he’s had 9 films worth of training.
And then there’s Zipperface. He could have more films than the Witchcraft series and this pathetic bastard still wouldn’t get it right. If there were a football team of horror’s top slashers, he’d be the towel boy.
Somewhere in Palm City, California (or possibly Toronto), police barricade themselves behind their squad cars as a man fires at them from the window of a house in which he has taken a mother and child hostage. 2 detectives roll in, the camera focusing on them to imply importance. As the uniformed officers distract the man, the older of the 2 detectives, Harry, sneaks around the back of the residence and in through an unlocked door. The suspect walks out of the front door, gun aimed at the head of one of his hostages. Harry comes from behind and hits the man over the head with his pistol. The hostages run for cover and the man turns his gun on Harry. In a show of extreme force, both Harry’s partner, Scalia, (Richard Vidan – Scarecrows, Hard Rock Zombies) as well as Ryder (Donna Adams, her only film), a young female uniformed officer, unload their clips into the man. Most of the shots are in the man’s back from close range.
As police wrap up the scene, Harry and Scalia are noticeably upset after receiving a call from the Chief. They’ve both been passed over for a promotion…. in favor of this younger female officer. We then cut to city hall to find the city’s woman mayor, who is coincidentally up for re-election, introducing Ryder to the press. The mayor makes a big spectacle about Ryder being the city’s first female detective, making this promotion seem more like some PR stunt to garner votes.
Meanwhile, 3 “babes” in a newer (for the time), red convertible pull up to the back of a warehouse in a seedy looking part of town. They are all dressed in tight black dresses with varying degrees of fishnet. They all have long hair, high heels, and bright red lipstick. They may look like they are here to audition for the role of “band tramp” in a Warrant video, but in fact, are just prostitutes. This is one of the trio’s first “trick”, so the other 2 have her wait in a separate room while they go to meet their “John”.
A man dressed in full-body black leather and mask (aka “gimp suit”) enters the room. He tells the 2 seasoned hookers that they “need to be punished”. He follows this with a few cracks of his whip, which the new girl can hear from the other room. She freaks out and enters their room, crying that she wants to leave. Gimpy grabs her and tells her that she won’t be going anywhere. She knees him in the balls and turns to run, but Gimpy snaps her neck with a crack of his whip.
Instead of the screaming and panic that normally follows some guy kills one of your friends, the other 2 women seem, at most, mildly annoyed by their associate’s murder. It isn’t until the man produces a machete that they consider getting the hell out of there. And they do get out of there, without much resistance from Zipperface. This is just the first of his many upcoming failings.
One of the surviving prostitutes, Natalie, seeks safety at the apartment of her friend and former lover, Lizzie. Lizzie is an incredibly sexy redhead, and when we first meet her, she’s lying on her couch in only a thin, white nightgown. I was quite pleased to see the amount she wore gradually decreasing for each of her following scenes. (Not pleased enough, but more on that later) Natalie asks to crash on Lizzie’s couch for a few days, to which Lizzie reluctantly concedes.
Ryder is assigned to the case by the police chief and partnered with Harry. While Scalia continues to butt heads with Ryder through the remainder of the film, there is never much animosity between Harry and Ryder. Harry can be kind of a dick, but at least he does so in a humorous way.
The first person they question is Michael, a local photographer known for some of his S&M-themed photo shoots. Michael is a fairly clean-cut guy and appears to be visibly shocked by the crime scene photos that he’s shown. He should have been more shocked by the boom mic that drops into the shot and almost beans him in the forehead. Michael is more concerned with flirting with Ryder than he is the photos, to which Ryder seems to have zero objection. She gives Michael her number to call in case he remembers anything later. After the detectives leave, Michael pulls out a photo of himself hugging the victim. I guess he knew her after all.
It is soon revealed the Lizzie is also a prostitute specializing in clients into S&M and role-play. She is dressing (undressing?) in preparation to meet a client and invites Natalie to join her. After some persuasion, Natalie accepts her offer. Within moments of their arriving at another warehouse, Zipperface appears.
Back at the police station, Ryder receives a call from Michael. He has no new info for her, but instead asks her to come by his studio to take some photos for a “Women of Valor” exhibit that he is presenting. Ryder does indeed go to his studio. When she arrives, he has planned a candlelight dinner for her. She declines that offer, saying that she is just here for the photo shoot. After a whole 5 seconds of her hesitation, he unbuttons her top and exposes some “correctional cleavage” for the shoot. Despite the fact that he is still very much a suspect, she is ready to jump in the sack with him after only knowing him for a whole 10 minutes. Maybe I should have dated cops when I was single?
From here, the film plays out like one of those films that you’d catch on Showtime at 3am after stumbling in from a lonely night of drinking, the smell of beer sweat only marginally stronger than the smell of desperation. (Just me?) And who knows? It very well may have been one of those movies, only I don’t recall those movies having as many decapitations.
Is Ryder sleeping with a murderer or is it one of the film’s many other red herrings? Do Natalie and Lizzie escape from the deranged gimp? And why did all of these early 90’s hookers like Kelly Bundy’s friends?
The first thing some viewers might notice is that the film has the look of most lower-budget syndicated television shows of that era. Quite a few of those shows were filmed in Toronto due to it being a cheaper place to film, as well as the city’s ability to be passed off as other cities. My reference to the city earlier in this review makes a little more sense now.
The acting and dialogue presented here is on par with those same late-night movies that I also mentioned earlier. While it’s not surprising that the acting of the women playing the prostitutes is equivalent to the aforementioned rock video “babes”, it’s the main actors that inspired the most groans. Ryder, in particular, delivers one memorable line in which she basically summarizes the “feeling” of being a woman as not much more than gettin’ yo hair and nails did.
Zipperface is in no way a “good” movie. In fact, it’s horrendously bad. That said, I never once felt an urge to turn it off. This may be due to the vast quantity of time that I spent watching those same late-night skin flicks, all those years ago on those nights where I stumbled home after drinking enough that I found myself pretty. What made the movie even marginally entertaining for me was the ineptitude with which Zipperface went about his killing spree. In other words: I’ve eaten grilled cheese sandwiches that were intimidating than this guy.
Besides the fact that the gimp suit just isn’t all that scary, Zipperface just isn’t very good at killing people. He lets 2 of the women from the first killing escape. He gets stabbed. He takes more shots to the nuts than Mr. Peanut. The only thing more pitiful than him are the police themselves. I mean, if this guy does all his killing at warehouses, then why not stake out warehouses? Had they done this, the movie would be over in 20 minutes and more people would have lived.
The DVD used for this review came in a thin cardboard sleeve. I’ve heard from multiple people that this disc used to sell for around $1 in gas stations and truck stops. I do not doubt this. It’s worth noting that this DVD has all of the nudity and most of the (few) gore scenes removed. These scenes are included in the uncut version of the VHS release, as well as on the French release of the DVD.
Could not find an actual trailer for the film, so here is the scene featuring the first killing.