What's In A Number? 555 (1988) Review

Oh boy, SOV “goodness.” I will say 555 had some balls concerning its marketing campaign. The title, while bland, is somewhat intriguing just because it may be the only horror movie title consisting only of numbers. Then there’s the decision to put the tape in a pink VHS box, which has to be one of the bravest (or stupidest) decisions in all of marketing. Also, that great tagline: ‘Viewing may cause damage to your brain cells!” And, the main draw of the movie, that fantastic decapitation they slapped right on the cover. How could anyone resist?

555 (1988) Review

In a coastal town, someone dressed like a sixties hippie is killing off anyone he finds having sex. A hard-nosed detective and his partner are put on the case, but consistently find dead-ends no matter where they turn and keep running into a tough female reporter who wants to help them figure out who’s killing everyone. They eventually find out that every five years, during the fifth month, for five days, this wacko comes out in different cities and continues his murderous rampage. Can they catch him before he goes into hiding for another five years?

Like most SOV movies, 555 isn’t very good. But, it’s better than most of its kind. And, once again, the movie’s biggest weakness and greatest strength is really just its incompetence. Yet again, it seems like everybody put their all into the making the film despite the obvious limitations, and it’s really not too painful to watch unlike others from the same year (Cannibal Campout). In fact, there are some really good things to be said for 555, as well as the typical amount if negative things, but when all is said and done, this really isn’t that memorable.

While this is pretty much your average police procedural/slasher movie, 555 contains some interesting ideas that distinguishes it from similar fare. The look of the killer is original, despite looking incredibly cheap (dig the fake hair and shirt), and his habit of engaging in a little necrophilia after a murder isn’t something commonly found in slashers from this time. The body count for this one isn’t too high either (9, I believe), but I felt the spacing between them was good and it wasn’t just 45-minutes of dead air followed by seven murders in five minutes. There’s definitely a good amount of blood, and the effects are alright considering the movie’s budget. And, I might add, the decapitation does not disappoint. In fact, it’s probably my favorite death from any SOV slasher so far.

Sadly, 555 falls prey to many of the bad things plaguing others of its kind. There is a good amount of bloody bodies, but a lot of the movies is focused on the police investigating the murders. Thankfully, these parts aren’t too boring thanks to the lead detective who’s impossible to take seriously. He acts like he’s the toughest cop in the city and has a really short temper, and goes off for no reason a lot. It’s a lot like watching David Campbell’s character from Killer Workout, only with less entertaining insults. He also looks like what would happen if Paul Scheer and Michael Ironside got stuck in a teleportation pod together. The tough-as-nails female reporter was also fun, but I wouldn’t say she was “easy on the eyes,” which makes the scene where she seduces a red herring really uncomfortable! Some typical so-bad-it’s-funny moments occur when the killer pulls a knife out of a victim followed by the squeak of Styrofoam, a reverse-motion neck slice, the detective’s office that’s obviously a set, and a killer whose identity I managed to guess in the first four minutes of the movie (a new record for me!).

555 really isn’t that good; thankfully, it’s not really that bad either. I would say this is definitely one of the best SOV horrors floating around (really think about that before watching). There really isn’t a whole lot to say about it because this is pretty standard stuff. It starts the way you expect it to, and ends the way you expect it to. Indie releasing company Massacre Video put out what looks to be a really good DVD of the movie containing liner notes, interviews, an image gallery, trailers, and reversible art. It can be purchased on the Massacre Video website (www.massacrevideo.com). If SOV horror is your game, this is one you should definitely pick up. It’s a crappy movie, but it’s a crappy movie with a cool killer, over-the-top characters, terrible acting, a lot of heart (count how many times the last name “Koz” is seen in the credits), and a nifty decapitation.
While it can be a tedious affair, 555 sits near the top of the SOV horror mountain, so that’s got to count for something.
“555” (1988)
Starring: Ricardo Alverez, Mara Lynn Bastian, and Christine Cabana
Director: Wally Koz
Writer: Roy Koz

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