Shadows Run Black (1984)

Kevin Costner is in this movie as a main character, but he wasn’t even listed in the credits. Seriously, he’s completely left out. They remembered Ambulance Driver #1 but not him.

Shadows Run Black is a “crime thriller” which is really just a slasher film that doesn’t want to admit it’s a slasher film. It’s also not a good slasher film, but we’ll get to that. Basically, the premise is a masked man all in black murders women and makes harassing phone calls to one lady about how he’s her father or some such nonsense. Meanwhile our chosen final girl is a woman in an interracial relationship but whose racist brother is totally trying to stop because he’s trying to be “both her father and her mother.” That’s an exact line. Yes, it sounds gross when he says it.

Look, I’m just gonna go ahead and ruin the twist: the lead detective is the psycho killer. If you have any trouble figuring it out, you weren’t paying attention, because you can literally see him when he’s calling the final girl. Also, he makes a beeline to take out Kevin Costner and declares the killer to be someone who thinks he’s morally right. The rookie cop in the office even notices that he’s behaving erratically, so yeah, you should totally have figured it out before the big reveal. The movie tries to throw a few things in the way to make you think it’s gonna be somebody else, but no, it isn’t. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this film is capable.

Meanwhile, we get a lot of exploitation. There’s a ton of naked women getting killed in this movie. A couple of guys die, yes, but none of them get totally naked, walk around showing off the goods for long single shots, and then take a knife straight into the chest. And then the killer definitely rationalizes it as taking out the moral garbage, so yep, we’ve got our typical slasher morality tale! Also, there’s a magic act from a guy who is literally nicknamed ‘Magic’. No, it isn’t Magic Johnson, but that would have been pretty sweet and made this a better movie.

There is also some atrocious acting. The black guy gets shot, and his girlfriend declares “You killed the wrong person” in a deadpan voice after having been rescued by her racist, dumb ass brother. There’s also a throwaway subplot about the brother’s wife sleeping with his business partner that happens and then gets mentioned once as a last ditch effort to throw off the audience which completely fails. They should have gone with Communism. Because Communism is just a red herring. That’s a reference to a much better movie.

Is there a reason to watch this film? Well, if you love Kevin Costner, or if you want to watch even the worse dregs from Troma. Yes, this is Troma produced, though not directed. Considering the amount of naked women getting murdered, yeah, it makes sense, but typically their film plots are more interesting…and better acted…and better filmed. That’s saying something.

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