Blu-Ray Review – Pandemonium

Pandemonium is a film by Alfred Sole, who made his name with the famous slasher film, Alice, Sweet Alice, which is regarded as being one of the most artistic films in that genre. However, this is not really a slasher movie—in fact, I’m not sure you can quite call it a movie at all. It has some similarities to a parody film like Airplane!, as it’s a sort of send-up of slasher movies. Made in ’81, it came out in 1982 and is fucking batshit.

It’s one of the most scattershot, hard-to-follow, oddball movies I’ve ever seen. Set vaguely in the early ‘60s, the basic premise is that a group of cheerleading college students have been bumped off by a killer. None of it really holds together in any kind of narrative sense—even Amazon Women on the Moon has more of a coherent theme. It’s not quite skit after skit, like Kentucky Fried Movie, but it’s gag after gag. It’s so bizarre that it’s usually not even that funny, however. There’s a Godzilla parody on a plane, for instance, and a spoof of generic food that predates Repo Man involving a young woman having a bath in generic milk and cookies.

The main cheerleader is Carole Kane, and Tom Smothers plays a brave Mountie. Judge Reinhold appears as a male cheerleader—this is what he did in between Stripes and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There are loads of other actors you’ve seen before, including some really wacky choices: Phil Hartman as a reporter, Paul Rubens playing a cop, but playing him basically as Pee-wee. And there’s Tab Hunter, too, and Eileen Brennan…

Sole had been offered Lust in the Dust after John Waters turned it down, on the “strength” of this movie. However, Pandemonium is pretty much unclassifiable: it’s an uneven movie that is really quite out there. It feels like a string of weird outtakes from SCTV. There is some funny stuff, of course, and it’s so offbeat that it has a certain charm.

As you would expect from Vinegar Syndrome, it has a new 2K transfer from the 35mm interpositive, and a stills gallery. Depending on the version you choose, you may have a limited edition slipcover.

Ian Schultz

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