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Scalps tells the gory and grim tale of a group of students on an archeological dig in the middle of the desert, who are warned by local Native American, Billy Ironwing (George Randall) to stay away from the area known as the Black Trees. The group ignore the old man and that’s exactly where they start to excavate. An unearthed medallion releases the spirit of long dead Native American sorcerer Black Claw and now he possesses one of their number and begins to kill the other members of the party, taking their scalps as gruesome trophies.
This is an awful movie written and directed by schlockmeister Fred Olen Ray, who made a career out of amateurish flicks like this. Not to say that there isn’t some entertainment in it’s badness, but it is a borderline incompetent flick at times. The acting by it’s main cast of relative unknowns is awful and the tone starts out almost comic in early scenes with an archeology professor (first Superman actor Kirk Alyn) and then shifts to more serious once we get to the desert…then back to comic again for the finale. The make-up effects are delightfully awful with a muppet-like lion creature laughably appearing at times and the rubbery transformation of possessed student Randy (Richard Hench) into Black Claw. The abundant gore however is not as bad, so at least we get some fairly effect gory deaths and scalpings to keep our interest when we are not laughing at the terrible dialog and performances.
For the most part this is a terrible movie, but as we know there can be some entertainment to be had out of terrible. There was some decent and prolific gore and certainly has heavy doses of 80s nostalgia, especially with it’s heavy electronic score by Drew Neuman and Eric Rasmussen. It has cameos from the first man to play Superman, Kirk Alyn and even the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman, who created the equally legendary Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine. Oh, well…what kind of movie do you expect produced by someone credited as The Eel?
2 rubbery, vengeful Native American spirits.