Theme Song: Some decent funky synth work by veteran British composer Colin Towns:
Interesting Dated References: The shameless licensing of George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone” to any movie, commercial, or private event that would have it; An omnipresent killer who doesn’t have to follow any rules of logic or gravity, despite being a normal human with no superpowers.
Best Line: A reminder that the timbre of Peter Coyote’s voice is awesome.
Social Context: The endless adaptation of Richard Stark/Donald Westlake’s series of novels featuring a character named Parker.
Summary: Peter Coyote (Heartbreakers) stars as Stone (the Parker character, renamed here to sound more tough), a moral criminal living heist to heist. During the opening caper, an innocent child is killed, which throws Stone into an overacting tailspin. The father of the child dispatches a shadowy, fedora-clad assassin to kill all those involved in the heist. How does he know who was involved? Not important. They just know.
So the killer quickly takes care of the hotshot getaway driver and the other thief, but then makes repeatedly botched attempts on Stone’s life, which include lobbing a grenade at him from a moving car, and endlessly firing a gun into a gas station from super far away. How does the assassin know where to find Stone without the aid of modern technology? Not important. So Stone is injured in that gas station attempt and ends up in the hospital.
Realizing his life’s in danger, Stone decides to escape the hospital and go to Europe. Once there, he realizes his injuries were severe enough that he needs surgery or he’ll become a cripple, so being totally broke, he must return to pulling heists to raise the needed surgery money. What happened to the money from the heist at the beginning of the movie? Not important. After trying to talk his old friend Terry (Mel Smith) into robbing a casino, he decides to do it himself using an old Range Rover as his getaway vehicle. How does he expect a Range Rover that’s more than 6 months old to be an operable vehicle? Not important.
Then suddenly the fedora-clad killer is back and chases Stone around an amusement park for like 45 minutes, utilizing all audio, lighting, and technical equipment to terrorize him. How does the killer know the entire layout, lighting system, sound system, and operational controls of the amusement park? Not important.
Then Stone kills the assassin. Something is wrong with this movie. There’s no exposition with anything. Scenes happen and then move right into the next event with little clarification. In fact, watching Slayground feels like watching a film that’s been heavily edited for television broadcast. The entire thing feels like two separate episodes (the US scenes being first, the European scenes second) of a television show that was cut down from a movie that was six hours long.
The settings in this movie are dreary as fuck. I assume it was intentional. The US scenes appear to have been filmed in upstate New York.
Amusement park scenes were filmed at Pleasureland Southport in Southport, England.
Poster and Box Art: Slayground has a reasonably good type treatment and poster.
In fact, it looks much more interesting than the actual movie turns out to be, which is the job of an effective poster.
Availability: Weird public domain-ish DVDs, or currently free on HBO GO.