Fatal Images (1989)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

Fatal Images introduced the concepts of wearing one’s pajamas under one’s clothes (“It saves time at night!”) and decorating police stations with spice racks and Lethal Weapon posters. That explains why sweat is pouring from my brow. This thing is all kinds of hot.

Serial killer Mr. Cosgrove is an aesthete. You see, “His murders are like works of art!”, so we know his V-DELUX camera that takes-your-picture-and-then-you-die schtick is no put-on. Ten years after Cosgrove commits suicide via snapshot, the camera appears in “Lucky Eric’s Pawnshop” aka director Dennis Devine’s garage. Amy, a photographer who struggles between “making a living” and “making art,” buys it. She takes photos of people. They die, yet her prints seem to telegraph each death AFTER it happens. The plot thickens! Cosgrove’s satanic ghost. Arms ripped off. Guts pulled out. Jen, Amy’s roommate and her pajama tips. A bikini model who says “pitcher” instead of “picture.” Father Dana, purveyor of the splatter-paint dress shirt. From out of nowhere, the band Teaser blesses us with arena metal played on a VFW playing field. And then the guy in the bar with those giant sunglasses does an impression of Dan Aykroyd.

Director Dennis Devine (Dead Girls) spread out $10,000, obsessed over extreme close-ups, and had faith in way-too-loud sound effects. The resulting film introduces a new level of SOV eminence. Art? Satan? Teaser? I want it all. Fatal Images is ingrained with the living room production values of The Hackers, the violent spittle of Spine, and the hysterical datedness of Woodchipper Massacre. It’s a triumphant funnel of SOV charm that doesn’t degrade. The film pounces upon its initial bashfulness, building to a confused crescendo that offers irrational behavior, a few scares, and luscious late 80s hilarity. Smoke machines! Computer programming! A cop who commits suicide! I can offer no criticism.

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