Cards of Death has a very interesting existence and story. Written by, directed by, and starring Will MacMillan (The Crazies, Christmas Evil), the film was released in 1986 via a limited edition VHS run in Japan. After this, the film was considered lost for 28 years until Bleeding Skull Video got their hands on a copy and decided to re-release the film in America, again via a limited edition VHS run.
The plot for Cards of Death is actually pretty interesting and very unique. The film itself centers around a cop and two brothers, hot on the trail of a murderous card game in which masked participants must murder the loser or be killed themselves. It’s very interesting and different for a film from 1986, when the norm was Friday the 13th clones in the US. Unfortunately, in this case, that’s as interesting as it gets. Thanks IMDB.
Cards of Death is very gritty and dated with sub-par acting, ridiculous dialog, and horrible editing. The director seems to also think that tits make a film better since we see at least five sets of them throughout the film. The effects are good in some scenes, but terrible in others and we really don’t see any violent deaths in the film on-screen, just the aftermath (barely). Our major problem in this film, however, is the pacing. It starts off fast, but then goes into ridiculously slow and changes it up once in a while; It’s very inconsistent and can get kind of annoying at times. The honest truth is that I went into this film with high hopes and to see some of that lost 80’s slasher goodness, but I walked away horribly disappointed. As a fan of art, I believe that no film should go lost, but let’s just say there was a good reason this one was lost for so long.
In the end, I must disagree with Bleeding Skulls words that this film is “the holy grail of slashers,” as I could have spent that hour and 35 minutes watching something else from the time period that would have been much greater. Great watch, if you are looking for a terrible film for a party. Not so great, if you are looking for something serious. Of course, be prepared to look for a while as Bleeding Skull sold out of the Cards of Death VHS in 2014 and it does not seem that there is any interest in reprinting them or distributing it elsewhere. On the other hand, it is on Shudder right now for a limited time, I am guessing, as that is where I saw it. So, if you really REALLY wanna see this film, try there but don’t say I didn’t warn you…