Okay, so as far as this New World retrospective goes, including this movie is a bit of a cheat. I know a lot of people think that only New Star Entertainment distributed VHS copies of Hide & Go Shriek, but this is untrue. New World Video also distributed some copies of this little-seen title in Canada (I think), and those VHS tapes are now somewhat rare (it will have both the New Star and New World logos on the bottom, and the banner on the top right corner of the box will be black instead of white). Either way, I’ve still got it on a technicality, so let’s just go ahead and play a little game of…
HIDE & GO SHRIEK (1988) Review
Eight teenagers who just graduated from high school decide to celebrate by spending the night in a furniture store owned by one of their fathers. The night consists of lots of beer, sex, hide-and-go-seek games…and an unexpected visitor. Someone begins killing them off one by one, then sporting the clothes of the recently slain (no matter what gender) in order to fool the other members of the party into thinking the killer is that person. With no chance of escape and their numbers dwindling, they are forced to fight back against this psychotic madman. Will anyone survive, or will they all be victims of this terrifying game of hide-and-go-shriek?
I love Hide & Go Shriek. It’s essentially a wonderful melting pot of eighties hilarity, suspense, creepiness, likable characters, and homoerotic undertones that explodes across the VCR like a Technicolor dream-movie. There are some faults, but as a whole, this rounds nearly all the bases as far as an entertaining slasher movie goes. The body count isn’t exactly astronomical (the death toll reaches 7), but the deaths themselves are very memorable. The death sequences were done by renowned FX-man Screaming Mad George, and they include impalement on a random spike, one guy getting stabbed with a mannequin arm, and the best decapitation I have EVER seen, where a girl gets her melon lopped off by a lift!
The characters are surprisingly likable and entertaining, especially considering this was during a time where most people who made slashers stopped putting any effort into the characters. They’re your stereotypical bunch of teenagers (the boys all have mullets, with the exception of the “jokester” character, who constantly gets teased for his “buzz cut”), but they were all fun and had some really fun lines, such as, “Fear? Fear is not in my vocabulary…squid!” and, “You’re stupid, jerk-face!” It's all very corny, and that's for the better. Heck, there’s even a brief montage in the beginning where they head off to the store in their red van (at one point they stop at a red light and proceed to do a Chinese fire drill. Genius!) that is set to the beat of “Walk this Way!”
The killer here is easily one of the most interesting villains out there, and certainly one of the most unsettling. While the whole idea of the killer donning the clothes of his victims does sound a bit silly (did I forget to mention he also dons lingerie at one point?), it’s actually pulled off, very, very nicely! Most of the scenes in which the killer darts past another character while obscured by shadows are creepy, and the guy’s voice just makes things even creepier. However, the reveal of the killer’s motive is laugh-out-loud absurd and is one that certainly won’t be forgotten any time soon.
If you couldn’t tell by now, Hide & Go Shriek has some gay undertones that would make Elm Street 2 blush and the owners of Chik-Fil-A puke. There is, of course, the aforementioned cross-dressing killer, as well as some other stuff that may or may not have been intentional. First of all, there’s a scene that occurs immediately after the credits in which two of the teens are shown lifting weights together. One tells the other to meet him in the showers, and then takes a seductive bite of his banana. Was this intentional, or did director Skip Schoolnik not mean for the dialogue to be taken this way? Then there’s the reveal of the killer which I can’t spoil, but it’s taking all my will-power not to because it’s so funny!
But even though it’s pretty funny, don’t get fooled into thinking the movie isn’t suspenseful. There’s one great scene (which was used for the cover art) where one girl hides under a bed to surprise her boyfriend, yet discovers the person in the room isn’t her partner! Another girl is bound and gagged on top of the lift, which her unsuspecting friends riding it don’t realize! The furniture store filled with mannequins makes for a great, atmospheric setting, filled with lots of shadows, several nooks and crannies, and dozens of creepy mannequins! Despite being relatively straightforward, there were a few little touches dabbled here and there that I did appreciate a lot. For one, when the teens find the doors locked, they actually try to smash the windows to escape (If I had a nickel for every time most teens in slasher movies just run away without even trying the windows…), and when that doesn’t work, they try turning on all the lights in the store to attract attention. Also, when they find themselves being confronted by the red herring, they actually rush him and manage to take him down. I won’t spoil what happens after that, but these little scenes did feel very refreshing.
I really love Hide & Go Shriek. Even though New World didn’t have any part in the production of the movie, this is still one of my favorite movies that they released. It’s filled to the brim with hilarious dated fashions (slouch socks!), likable characters, gory deaths, a creepy murderer, and genuine suspense! It is only stopped from being perfect by some brief moments of boredom when the gang plays a lengthy game of hide-and-go-seek. But oh well. Unfortunately, this has only been released on DVD in Australia and is in desperate need of a R1 special edition Blu-Ray with commentary, featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage, etc., because this is one for the books.
The Verdict: Able to please on nearly all levels, Hide & Go Shriek is one of those lost eighties gems that is a must-see for anyone who calls themselves a horror fan, or just a fan of eighties cinema in general.