Shallow Grave *** USA 1987 Dir: Richard Styles. 90 mins
A forgotten genre-straddling 80’s flick with a DePalma-ish, voyeuristic opening that suggests a different movie to the one you end up with. This sequence, all PSYCHO-homaging shower menace and lingering close-ups of soapy boobs, is an elaborate Spring Break prank staged by Catholic sorority girls who subsequently meet a pair of hunks enroute to their Fort Lauderdale beach sojourn.
Sue Ellen (Lisa Stahl) goes for a tinkle in the woods and is unfortunate enough to witness the town’s murderous Sheriff screwing and murdering his bit on the side, and he (Tony March) spends the rest of the movie stalking the girls. Sometimes mistaken for a standard slasher movie, this is a reasonably effective yokel-town suspense thriller with some good stalking scenes but an unconvincing, repetitive need for the secondary characters to disbelieve the girls’ claims that the Sheriff is a potential murderer. For fans of hot 80’s chicks, Stahl is a pretty, appealing heroine, and the film has a stand-out climactic sequence in which the topless Sheriff throttles a major character (also topless, for balance) to death against an audio backdrop of a hellfire & brimstone sermon. It’s the most unpleasant moment in a largely bloodless flick. Too bad the ambiguous open ending veers on the “cop-out” / “ran out of ideas” side of the word “ambiguous”.