Jennifer is a young girl who was the only survivor of a massacre from a killer known as The Reaper. Now Jennifer spends her days stuck in her own head trying to make sense of the whole thing and also believing that some day, The Reaper is going to come back and finish what he started. What poor Jennifer doesn't realize is that the maniac has escaped from the mental hospital and plans on doing just that.
Speaking of Tim Ritter and his early Super-8 movies! …In case you're reading this from our archives and not when it was originally posted to the site, I mentioned Tim Ritter and his Super-8 movies in a review of "Ogroff: Mad Mutilator", which I posted first, and then this. So that is why I started off the review with the joke "Speaking of Tim Ritter…" because, you know, that's like, clever and stuff.
Anyway, I have to admit I have never seen a Tim Ritter movie up until I watched "Day of the Reaper" and there is a reason for that. When I first got into obscure and underground movies so many years ago, Tim Ritter was a regular name that came up. Something that would cause most normal, rational people to seek out his movies and watch them. But because he was so known and his movies were so talked about, I felt like I knew the movies already and what I would be getting out of them. So I set out to watch the movies people weren't talking about and saved Tim Ritter for another time. Which turns out would be now.
"Day of the Reaper" is a movie Tim made for $1,000 over the summer when he was 16. That one simple fact leads to many guarantees of what you'll be getting in the movie: there will be no story, the dialogue will be hilarious and terrible, along with the acting, all of the actors will be Tim's peers (i.e. teenagers who are not actors), no nudty and tons of schlocky and awful gore. And wouldn't you know it -- it all came true!
Unlike "Ogroff" there is a plot, or rather, an idea, behind "Day of the Reaper" and it's actually not bad even if the execution and final product is less than great. The movie is about a cannibalistic serial killer only known as The Reaper slaughters a group of high school girls but is stopped in time to leave one survivor -- Jennifer. Now Jennifer lives in a constant state of fear thinking that The Reaper is going to come back for her to finish the job. Sure enough, he does, and to stop the madman Jennifer is going to have to learn the dark secrets of the killer.
It is a basic slasher formula, and again, being a first time feature for someone who was still in High School, it doesn't play out the best. Lots of random scenes, more than a few are pointless or illogical, most of the actors don't know what to do, it doesn't really flow and is sort of senseless. You know, the problems you would expect. The circumstances of how "Day of the Reaper" was made makes most of those faults forgivable. Not to mention the fact that only reason the movie isn't a total failure is because the idea is so basic and Tim had some understanding of what was need to make a slasher: lots and lots of terrible gore.
However there is one problem that I could not over look and one that I could not forgive with "Day of the Reaper". I was prepared for most of things that I encountered but this was something that left me astonished. In fact, I kind of lost track of what was going on with the movie because I had become fixated on the issue. The problem is that The Reaper looks like he's wearing a goddamn CAPE.
I know, right?!
In the opening scene we are introduced to The Reaper character being taken to a car from an insane asylum and he is dawning knee-high rubber boots, long rubber gloves, a sleeveless plaid shirt and a black sheet tied around his head with a rope. He looks like a white trash meth-head that was getting ready to make his own drugs but since he didn't have a respirator, he settles for tying a bed sheet around his head.
At this point, any time I saw the hooded version of The Reaper in the movie, I became lost in my own thoughts of trying to figure out the reasoning. Of anything. "Am I the only who thinks it looks like he's wearing a cape? Certainly somebody had to have thought it looked like he was wearing a cape. Why does it look like a cape? What is he even wearing? It's too big to be a pillow case but too small to be a bed sheet. What is it and why does it make him look like he's wearing a cape? WHY?!"
Here's a dramatic recreation of my viewing experience:
3 minutes into the movie...
- What the fuck is he wearing and why?
19 minutes into the movie…
- Well, he still has those awful rubber boots and gloves but at least the black sheet is gone.
34 minutes into the movie…
- Jumping Jesus Christ! He's wearing the cape again!
I'll spare you the rest since any time I saw the killer it was just more over-the-top reactions and more swearing during the course of the movie. You, the readers, back me up here. Take a look at the second image, back at the top of this page, and tell me what it looks like the character is wearing. You cannot tell me that it doesn't look like the killer is wearing a goddamn cape. And don't lie! I'll know if you are. I am not saying this in an attempt to be funny. All the other bad parts or faulty elements I could look past. But this? This was an actual problem I had with the movie because I knew the killer wasn't wearing a cape yet any time he was on screen, it sure as hell looked like he was. With The Reaper being portrayed by a skinny teenager, all I could think of was that the character was some magic obsessed nerd who was in the wrong movie.
Now, and forever, all I will ever think about is that damnable cape even if it wasn't an actual cape. It will remain as an enigma for me while everyone else will think I am an idiot. But the jokes on them since I am an idiot! Wait, what? Never mind. I wasn't as amazed with how bad "Day of the Reaper" was in comparison to "Ogroff: Mad Mutilator" and that's mostly because I expected nothing less than what I got from Tim Ritter's first movie. One that he made when he was a kid. And honestly, "Ogroff" was nothing but an insane, shitty mess of a movie but "Day of the Reaper" showed a glimmer of hope. It was made by someone who had an idea and the heart to make a movie but not necessarily the knowledge, skills and means to do so. And the more I read about the history of the production of the movie, the more respect I have for Tim Ritter and his effort in getting it made.