Memorial Valley Massacre (1989)

A Forgotten Evil That Will Never Die!

Cover image to 1989's Memorial Valley Massacre

The untapped wilderness of Memorial Valley has long been untrod by human feet, but in the final days of a decade fueled by hairspray, arena rock and Wall Street, land developer Allen Sangster (Cameron Mitchell) has turned it into a summer destination. A series of “accidents” have already plagued the development, and they only worsen when the place opens for business. Someone has been living in this area alone for a long time, and he’s none too pleased with the interlopers.

This mostly-generic slasher film may have intended to have some sort of ecological message behind it, but the power of that statement is lost amongst the wooden acting, dull plotting, and ultimately uninspired shenanigans.

The wild man from 1989's Memorial Valley Massacre

The mysterious accidents that plague this area are never very mysterious at all, at least not for the viewer. We are clued into the fact almost immediately that they are the handiwork of some cromagnon-looking wild-man (John Caso) who doesn’t appreciate civilization invading his turf and is willing to kill to reclaim it. There’s never any mystery about whether or not one of the campers may be responsible. In fact, the only conundrum here is who or what this wild-man is, and even that is pretty easily solved before the final body hits the floor.

There’s such a plethora of characters here that it’s nearly impossible to keep them straight, but it scarcely matters. They’re nothing but cardboard cut-outs whose primary job in life is to be killed off, or at the very least be put in peril. There’s project manager George Webster (John Kerry), the caretaker Deke (the fabulously named Jimmy Justice), and his son David Sangster (Mark Mears). Then there’s a group of bikers lead by Eddie (played by Eddie D., nonetheless); a trio of obnoxious teens; a middle-aged couple and their spoiled son; a retired and reclusive military general and his wife (William Smith and Linda Honeyman); Cheryl (Lesa Lee), David’s potential love interest. And a number of others who are even less-defined than the ones listed here.

Aside from the fact that the killer comes across as a caveman, this is your typical—one might even call it generic—slasher fare from the era. Slap a mask on the wildman, and he could pass for any number of other serial slashers that can now only be found in the deepest reaches of the VHS bargain bin. For the slasher fan, it may be a fun watch the first time, but it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be sitting down for a second viewing.

MEMORIAL VALLEY MASSACRE was written by Robert C. Hughes and George Frances Skrow, who didn’t exactly go on to great heights in show business. Skrow’s only other credit is the “modern day western” BACK TO BACK (1989), while Hughes had previously written some short documentary about roller coasters hosted by Matt Dillon called WILD RIDES (1982). Hughes was also the director here, though, for what that’s worth. In this capacity, he also worked on the DELIVERANCE-derivative HUNTER’S BLOOD (1986), a couple of Playboy TV features, and caper comedy DOWN THE DRAIN (1990).

William Smith in 1989's Memorial Valley Massacre

The vast majority of the cast didn’t appear in any other films, with only a few exceptions. Most notable is William Smith, who can be found in nearly 275 roles, including the lead in biker flicks like RUN, ANGEL, RUN (1969), THE LOSERS (1970), and CHROME AND HOT LEATHER (1971); sci-fi and horror outings like THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972), INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973), THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (1975), and MANIAC COP (1988); and appearances on TV shows ranging from BATMAN (1968) to KNIGHT RIDER (1983). He’s still active today, tacking on the occasional credit to his already impressive filmography.

Trailing close behind him is Cameron Mitchell, who can be found in BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964), NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1969), SLAUGHTER (1972), HAUNTS (1977), THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978), THE SILENT SCREAM (1979), and well over 200 more.

Beyond them, John Kerry has played a cop an inordinate amount of times; and according to the IMDb, Eddie D. has made a name for himself as a “video artist”—however I have contacted Eddie D. the “video artist” (or, as he prefers it, ‘eddie d’), and he assures me that he and the actor are not the same person. Finding real information about Jimmy Justice has proven difficult—and no, he’s not the British pop star of the same name, though discovering him was a happy accident. According to the IMDb, our Jimmy Justice was more well known for his roles on the Broadway stage, and died in Barcelona in 2007…while performing.

If everyone involved had that kind of dedication to the craft, MEMORIAL VALLEY MASSACRE would have been a much better film.


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