Slayground (1983)

Peter Coyote, Mel Smith, Billie Whitelaw, Philip Sayer,
Slayground is a movie starring Peter Coyote, Mel Smith, and Billie Whitelaw. Thieves run over a child while escaping after a robbery. A deadly hitman who likes to taunt his targets is hired to track them down. Stone moves to...
  • 4.9 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Trevor Preston, Donald E. Westlake, Writer:
  • Terry Bedford, Director:
  • John Dark, Gower Frost, Producer:
7 / 10


Starting in New York and ending in Blackpool, SLAYGROUND is an unusual crime thriller which was quite a flop when first released (it was one of the few films Thorn EMI not only distributed but produced also) and was never seen by that many people. Based on one of the "Parker" novels written by Richard Stark (POINT BLANK and PAYBACK were also based on this series), SLAYGROUND stars Peter Coyote, British comedian Mel Smith (from Smith and Jones), in a rare dramatic role, and Billie Whitelaw. If you like tough crime thrillers, track it down.

1 / 10

This movie stinks

The movie is based on Donald Westlake's (Writing under the Pseudonym Richard Stark) classic crime suspense novel SLAYGROUND, featuring the sociopath profession criminal, Parker, from a series of books with that same character. The director of the movie apparently decided he didn't like the books or their main character. In this stupid and clichéd thriller, he uses neither. More or less, the director or producer, whoever made this inept decision, simply took the title of the novel and cooked up a script bearing no relation to the book or any in the series, in order to suite what they believed would be something better. If you're looking for the Parker from the Richard Stark PARKER novels, forget about it. He's been replaced by a small time hood who spews out lines like, "I'm a thief, not a killer." "I'm afraid." "I've never killed anybody." I'm sure if you're a fan of those novels you don't need to hear anymore. I've saved you from wasting your money on this abysmal take on SLAYGROUND. It's a shame, too, because the book would have made a classic movie, but they chose to film something else.

3 / 10

Throwing Stones @ Parker!

I've read a few of Donald Westlake's Parker series, but not the one that this movie of the same name is based upon. I'm quite sure however it bears little relationship to this weird movie, with the Parker character having a name change to Stone for some reason.

Slayground was strangely marketed more as a slasher film, rather than crime genre. But upon release it tanked spectacularly even given the fact that it was never likely to be splash release material. There is simply no disguising the poor production standards of the film, especially the sound and ordinary lighting. But the worst sins occur with the "story", though calling it that, is almost giving it too much of a compliment.

Stone is part of a gang who rob an armoured car in the most unlikely of places. In escaping, their driver hits another car killing it's occupants, a mother and her ice skater child. The vengeful husband and father contracts a relentless hit man only identified as Shadowman to take revenge on the gang members. And the story carries on from there, climaxing naturally enough with Stone facing off against Shadowman in the Slayground, which is bizarrely in England, after a switch in continental locations , half way through the movie. (I'd just about bet my house on this not occurring in the original novel.)

Here's the thing. There is never any explanation given whatsoever as to how Shadowman tracks down, let alone knows who the gang members are. This just happens and it's on with more important things besides logic. The action, by the way is poorly filmed and choreographed, with many of the murders occurring off screen. We are just privy to the less than shocking results. Characters just exist primarily as cannon fodder, with few given much in the way of back story, including Stone. Oh Yeah! He has an ex-wife.

Peter Coyote better known for his supporting characters, rather than lead roles plays Stone unexceptionally. British comedian Mel Smith pops up as a past Stone associate who was thought to be dead (Don't ask!) by all and sundry, except Shadowman (of course) and actually does a pretty convincing job as an ex-crim trying to go straight. But this is real bottom shelf stuff. The best Parker adaptions I've seen are the 3 starring respectively Lee Marvin (Point Blank). Mel Gibson (Payback) and Jason Statham (Parker). I wouldn't really bother getting involved with this stinker.

10 / 10

Slayground gets my positive vote!!

I am one of the few,proud and lucky folks that was able to see this great film on opening weekend.Sadly that theater in Cedar Knolls,NJ is no longer standing.This is a film that I read both negative and positive comments on but mine are all of a complimenting nature.First off,the cast is perfect and I would not have made any changes.peter Coyote was a very sympathetic character as Stone.One problem this film had to overcome is people most likely thought this was going to be a horror movie rather than a most interesting crime thriller and my favorite in this genre.I also was thrilled to see familiar locations from when my father,brother and I used to travel Route 9W through West Haverstraw on the way to New Jersey.A few of these places are the Hi-Tor bowling alley,Shop with the Bix Furniture Stripping and some various highway locales.I only wish that I knew where more of the scenes were filmed and would be able to stand where scenes were filmed.To me this is the holy grail film and never get tired of watching it.Sadly,this seldom is on cable or regular TV,only indie channels may show it from time to time.If you are a fan of crime drama/thrillers,do yourself a favor and give this one a chance and see what you think.They are fairly inexpensive on DVD on merchant websites.In closing,I wish every one who had anything to do with this film the very best of wishes and thank you for giving the world such a superb film.

7 / 10

Bleak > bleaker > bleakest > "Slayground".

"Slayground" is truly one of the bleakest, most distant and coldest thrillers I've ever seen, which is probably why I found it so intriguing and compelling. The grim and nihilistic atmosphere is definitely the film's strongest asset, because the pacing is wildly uneven and the screenplay - adapted from a novel by Richard "Point Blank" Stark - is quite implausible most of the time. Still, any film that starts to the tunes of George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" is worth my full and unbiased attention! With this great and legendary song playing over the opening credits, we first follow a man who picks up a juicy street flower by the name of Jolene, but he gets robbed and killed by her. The man was supposed to be the getaway driver during a carefully planned heist of money-transporting truck, and thus Stone and his associate Sheer are forced to hire a young, inexperienced and reckless driver instead. The escape goes wrong and results in a nasty road accident and the death of an innocent 9-year-old ballet girl. Her grieving father, an implacable businessman, hires the enigmatic but deadly efficient contract killer Shadow Man to trace down his daughter's killers and settle the score. "Depressing" is definitely the keyword to describe this film. The story is already bleak, but so are the characters and the filming locations. Peter Coyote has an almost natural aura of melancholia over him, and Mel Smith is exceptionally well cast in a rare serious role. Fleeing from his mysterious hired killer, Stone travels from the most downbeat suburbs of New York to the utmost depressing Blackpool in England, where the climax takes place in an abandoned funfair. There is nothing more petrifying than a forsaken carnival, I assure you! None of the brutal executions are shown on camera, but "Slayground" is the rare type of film where this works more effectively, and has a far more shocking impact. The "Shadow Man" killer is an incredibly fascinating supportive character that is seldomly shown or mentioned, but he's omnipresent and nightmarish. Of course, it's highly implausible - and even slightly preposterous - that he has all the knowledge and resources to trace his targets so quick and easily, but you'll gladly accept this for the sake of entertainment. Recommended, if you have the stomach for it.