Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Majorettes, by John Russo

(pb; 1979)

From the back cover:

"They are young.  They are beautiful.  And they are terrified.

"Already two of the girls have been raped and murdered, victims of a brutal knife and a psychotic mind that kills with no apparent pattern and no apparent provocation.

"At least, that's what the police say.

"But, behind the veil of a murderous psychosis, there works a cold, cruel, calculating logic, with an ultimate goal so obvious the police should have seen it all coming.

"Long before it got this far.

"But they didn't, and they missed him - and he's still out there."


Fans of Jack Ketchum's novels may especially enjoy this word-lean, plot-taut slasher on the loose work from the co-screenwriter of the 1968 seminal zombie flick Night of the Living Dead.

In Majorettes, a slow-build book in its opening chapters, Russo takes an obvious set-up and genre-blends it with other elements (action, noir) and creates a clever, hard-to-set-down horror offering that sports some wow-that's-sick-sh*t scenes that are all the more unsettling because they read like real life.

This isn't a flashy book, but it is gut-wrenching (in a few parts) and smart, a quiet, assured stand-out read, in a genre that's glutted with gratuitous sex and violence, stupid characters, sloppy plotting and other flaws.

Worth owning, this, with an ending that made me hope that Russo would pen a follow-up story.


The film version was released in England, on video, in March 1987.  It was released in stateside video stores on August 17, 1988.

Kevin Kindlin played Jeff Halloway.  Terrie Godfrey played Vicky McAllister.  Mark V. Jevicky played Sheriff Braden.  Carl Hetrick played Roland Martell.  Mary Jo Limpert played Marie Morgan.

Jacqueline Bowman played Nicole Hendricks.  Colin Martin played Tommy Harvack.  Sueanne Seamens played Judy Marino.  Tom E. Desrocher played Mace Jackson.  William R. Mott played Bart.  Tammy Petruska played Margaret.  Gina Cotton played Angel.

Denise Huot played Helga Schuler.  Harold K. Keller played Harry Schuler.  Tom Madden played Teela (who, in the source novel, is the same character as Harry Schuler). 

Edna Kleitz played Elvira.   M. Therian played Hank.  Bonnie Hinzman, real-life wife of the film's director, played a "Teacher".

John Russo scripted the film from his novel; he also played Dr. Gibson (aka "Coroner").  S. William Hinzman, who directed the film, played Sergeant Sanders.  (He also played a "Zombie" in the original Night of the Living Dead.)

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