Slayground (1983)

R   |    |  Crime, Drama

Slayground (1983) Poster

Thieves run over a child while escaping after a robbery. A deadly hitman who likes to taunt his targets is hired to track them down. Stone moves to England, but the assassin follows. Loosely based on Donald Westlake's cult crime novel.


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1 July 2019 | Coventry
| Bleak > bleaker > bleakest > "Slayground".
"Slayground" is truly one of the bleakest, most distant and coldest thrillers I've ever seen, which is probably why I found it so intriguing and compelling. The grim and nihilistic atmosphere is definitely the film's strongest asset, because the pacing is wildly uneven and the screenplay - adapted from a novel by Richard "Point Blank" Stark - is quite implausible most of the time. Still, any film that starts to the tunes of George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" is worth my full and unbiased attention! With this great and legendary song playing over the opening credits, we first follow a man who picks up a juicy street flower by the name of Jolene, but he gets robbed and killed by her. The man was supposed to be the getaway driver during a carefully planned heist of money-transporting truck, and thus Stone and his associate Sheer are forced to hire a young, inexperienced and reckless driver instead. The escape goes wrong and results in a nasty road accident and the death of an innocent 9-year-old ballet girl. Her grieving father, an implacable businessman, hires the enigmatic but deadly efficient contract killer Shadow Man to trace down his daughter's killers and settle the score. "Depressing" is definitely the keyword to describe this film. The story is already bleak, but so are the characters and the filming locations. Peter Coyote has an almost natural aura of melancholia over him, and Mel Smith is exceptionally well cast in a rare serious role. Fleeing from his mysterious hired killer, Stone travels from the most downbeat suburbs of New York to the utmost depressing Blackpool in England, where the climax takes place in an abandoned funfair. There is nothing more petrifying than a forsaken carnival, I assure you! None of the brutal executions are shown on camera, but "Slayground" is the rare type of film where this works more effectively, and has a far more shocking impact. The "Shadow Man" killer is an incredibly fascinating supportive character that is seldomly shown or mentioned, but he's omnipresent and nightmarish. Of course, it's highly implausible - and even slightly preposterous - that he has all the knowledge and resources to trace his targets so quick and easily, but you'll gladly accept this for the sake of entertainment. Recommended, if you have the stomach for it.

Critic Reviews

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$108,128 29 January 1984

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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