Director – Ken Barbet, Screenplay – Bruce Cameron & Christopher Stone, Producer – Tony Didio, Photography – Richard Ashbury, Music – Tim Jones, Special Effects Supervisor – No Joke (Jeffrey A. Cox), Makeup Effects – Pamela Cozen, Production Design – Norm Dodge. Production Company – A Plus Entertainment/D&S Screen.
Corbin Bernsen (Jennings ‘J.W.’ Wilhite), Dee Wallace Stone (Sarah Fairchild), Jeanine Meyers (Liz), Paige Ross (Wendy), Caprice Serafine (Leigh Hackett), Andrea Langi (Tina), Bridgitte Brooks (Susan), Brian Wilson Ronan (Jeff), Joakin Alvarez (Rico), Tim Carr (Paul), Larry Bevan (DJ), Brian Wilson (Carl)
In Perrytown, a group of young friends accept a dare to spend the night in the old abandoned Braxton Asylum. They play a game where they hide their underwear throughout the building and then have to find it. However, someone has rigged the building with traps and starts killing them. At the same time, Sarah Fairchild is attempting a corporate takeover of the town’s meat packing plant but is encountering opposition from the townspeople who consider it a local operation. As she digs deeper, Sarah discovers that the townspeople had the original owner of the land the plant is built on declared insane and then claimed his land by eminent domain. The children of those responsible are now trapped inside the asylum and are being killed by someone connected to that past.
Killer Instinct is a modestly effective B-budget slasher entry. In fact, while most 1990s slasher films on an A-budget – Scream (1996) et al – were being conducted with chaste rectitude, this is one that happily looks back to the heyday of Friday the 13th (1980) and its ilk in both spirit and style.
Killer Instinct is not a bad entry either. The line-up of teen victims are much better characterised than the usual slasher movie complement. There are some uncommonly good set-pieces – one victim climbing up an airshaft to bash down a door only to find a machete rigged to behead him on the other side and his severed head then rolling all the way down the shaft to bounce out before the others in the living room; or one victim held down in a bath of boiling water, struggling against a plastic sheet over the top of the bath.
The backstory of the asylum stalkings is interesting, soon coming to muddy and reverse what we originally assumed to be the traditional characterisations of ordinary smalltown businesspeople as good guys and ruthless corporate raiders as bad guys. There is also an effective revelation as to the killer’s identity that one would never have guessed.
The only recognisable names on the cast list are Dee Wallace Stone, a regular in genre movies, and former L.A. Law (1986-94) regular Corbin Bernsen, who started developing an entertaining career in B movies subsequent to the cancellation of the series.
Director Ken Barbet has only made one other directorial outing with the human-hunting action film The Eliminator (2004).