“Hide and Go Shriek” (“Close Your Eyes and Pray”)
A Campy Slasher Film
Released in 1988, “Hide and Go Shriek” is a campy slasher movie in which a group of teenagers spends the night in a furniture store for a graduation while a psychotic killer with a taste for cross-dressing starts to hunt them down and kill them off.
This is director Skip Schoolnik’s only film and it is outrageously tacky and ugly. In the prologue, a man wearing makeup attacks a prostitute and we then meet eight teenagers bound for an overnight graduation party at a big furniture store. The father of one of the kids owns the business, which makes it a prime location for some illicit boozing and making out with a little game of hide and seek. They do not know that there is a maniac on the premises who decides to bump them off one by one with the added gimmick of dressing up in each victim’s clothing after each kill. Then is not a lot of gore but there are some really nasty moments.
The opening shots of graffiti-covered back streets in a gloomy American city set a very grim tone for what is to follow. The killer spends most of the time in the shadows and the only real development of his persona is his mad cackling after each murder. He then steals the clothes of each victim after they’re dead (both male and female) and cons his next target in to the false sense of security that he’s actually their friend. He then leads them to secluded corners and brutally murders them using various creative methods. The slaughter scenes are gruesome, if not graphically outstanding and we get a great decapitation. of all time late on in the feature. There are moments at the end where things get quite tense and Schoolnik does keep the pace very high.
When the teenagers realize that they’re trapped inside with a maniac, they run to the storefront to scream for help and are relieved to see a Police car parked directly outside the front door. They bang on the double-glazed glass to try and get the attention of their only chance of safety, but look on in horror as their cries go unheard and the patrolman drives off in to the night. This was a great way to their desperation, isolation and sense of impeding doom and this is what really keeps the momentum running.
The teens have just graduated from high school and talk about what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives. Some talk about career paths, others talk about possibly getting married and some are more concerned with having a little fun before having to face the realities of the real world. We get to see a little bit into the characters and who they are but this is a slasher film and naturally we want to see some slashings.
Since the film takes place in a large furniture store, with multiple floors, there are plenty of places for the killer to hide. The killer also wears the clothes of not only the various mannequins placed throughout the store, but his victims in order to heighten the confusion. The setting also allows the killer to murder characters without other characters knowing and just the idea of the killer hiding in plain sight is an interesting idea as well. However, there is a bit of a problem in that the film doesn’t generate much tension or suspense from any of its good ideas.
Eventually, things fall apart when the characters discover that a killer is in their midst. Not even half of the cast has been disposed of and with a number of the main characters still alive the killer is simply outmatched. What’s left is to watch as a group of characters running around and screaming as they try to figure a way out and this quickly becomes repetitive. Yet there are two aspects of this film that are unique— the selection of who lives and who doesn’t and the identity of the killer. It’s too bad that more thought was not taken in how to handle this. Unfortunately, the killer’s dialogue and motive come across as unintentionally funny. The film seems to continue working really well up until the climax and then…
We can see what the filmmakers were trying to do, but instead of being scandalous, the conclusion is distasteful, thoughtlessly delivered and very peculiar. Somehow the film is in its ambition somewhat. The cast seems to have been picked as eye candy and we get silly late-eighties carryings-on and campy fun before the terror starts.
A poorly handled conclusion doesn’t subtract too much from the rest of the feature and we are entertained. So why is this listed as an LGBT film? There is a bizarre gay twist— the killer is a gay cross-dresser who is obsessed with his former prison lover. Also, the film pays as much attention to the guys as the girls and there are a few hunky young dudes in their underwear as they are done away with.
The “kills” are cheesy and fun. One of the teens is impaled with a spare set of mannequin arms and another is decapitated by elevator doors.