Movies from the Black Lagoon

A group of late fall campers (?) wind up summoning the titular menace whose name is not supposed to be spoken above a whisper because he’ll hear it .

In the early 80’s you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting the latest teen slasher flick. This one is a cut above the rest as it features a heap of atmosphere, better than average night photography, and a killer who creeps in a big way.

We open on a camp for gifted children, which may explain the ration of 6 staff for five campers. They are enjoying some campfire stories and the first is actually told in verse. Next up is the Camp director who tells the tale of a local killer, Madman Marz. He was a farmer and mean as a snake. He liked to beat his wife and kids before hitting the bar and beating on whoever he found there. One night he up and killed his family, as the legend goes, and was then set upon by the locals.

They hauled him into the woods and hanged him from a tree. The next day they returned to find his body, and the corpses of his family, missing. Now they say he is out there and can hear you say his name. Cue Ritchie, whose gift appears to be that he is a complete and utter moron, who stands up and shouts “Madman Marz,” at the top of his lungs. Next door is the Marz house and wouldn’t you know a certain hulking somebody heard his name called.

Before you know it everyone is being stalked and killed. First to go is the whiskey soaked handy man, Dippy. Meanwhile the director goes to town for shutters. His staff promptly loads up on beer and begin using the hot tub inappropriately. Apparently gifted campers can be left alone for longer periods of time than regular ones.

This all makes Marz’s work a lot easier. Before you know it he whittles the cast down to almost nothing. It finally dawns on the final female that everyone is dead. She is up for the challenge and buses the campers to safety before turning back to beard Marz in his lair.

The 80’s saw a lot of movies like this one. Most were hasty knock-offs but this effort is well rendered. The suspense is never dragged out so you only get a few bits where people stumble around in the dark calling out each other’s names. Marz is a keeper and should have returned for more films. He is a hulking zombie with a ton of white hair, gray skin, and a fondness for axes.

If you are in the mood for a “Friday the 13th” sort of schlock fest then you could do a lot worse.

Best Line: “It was horrible. He was big and huge and dark. I don’t know.”

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