David DeCoteau’s shape-shifting supernatural “Shrieker” is killing college student squatters

By on January 18, 2018

In Shrieker, a half-dozen college students — who’ve collectively decided that living on campus is just too damn expensive — begin squatting in an abandoned hospital, where they’re killed off, one by one, by a shape-shifting supernatural demon.

This extremely low-budget film — one of the many Full Moon horror features directed by veteran horror & fantasy filmmaker David DeCoteau, here using the alias “Victoria Sloan” — was shot in 35mm anamorphic video for just $150,000.

Watch it now on Night Flight Plus!

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The plot follows Clark (Tanya Dempsey), an attractive Math major, who first meets fellow student Zak (Jamie Gannon), and he offers her free housing at an abandoned hospital where he and a number of their fellow college students are secretly squatting, rent-free.

They’ll let her into their little tightly-knit community provided she follows their rules: she can’t have any guests, can’t use a cell phone, can’t get her mail delivered there, and there’s no smoking allowed.

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Of course, Clark soon learns that, sometime in the 1940s, seven people were killed there by a multi-dimensional shape-shifting demon that was never captured.

This demonic force, the “Shrieker,” is then brought back to life by one of the students fooling around with black magick.

Since Clark is the new girl, she becomes their prime suspect after strange “occult”-style circles and shapes are discovered.

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She also learns “five must die” first before the occult summoner can control the demon, becoming its “master.”

Clark isn’t going to wait around and become the next victim, setting off to explore the hospital’s shadowy hallways and creepy basement to find out how to stop the killing before it’s too late.

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DeCoteau rarely gives us a glimpse of the “Shrieker,” choosing instead to keep the suspense going for most of the movie by just letting us hear its weird monstrous shrieks.

He only occasionally gives us a flash of gnashing teeth until we finally get to see the full-bodied scary demon in the flesh (courtesy of FX artist Mark Williams).

Read more about David DeCoteau below.

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David DeCoteau wearing his Full Moon t-shirt

After first working in a variety of production positions with filmmakers Roger Corman (who hired him in 1980 as a production assistant), James Cameron (an art director at the time), and German auteur Wim Wenders, Canadian-born and raised David DeCoteau’s first work as a director actually came in the adult film business (that’s also when he first began using aliases too).

By age 24, he’d already directed nearly forty hardcore X-rated films, but what he really wanted to do was direct horror and fantasy genre films, knowing that horror films in particular were “the most commercially viable worldwide.”

In 1986, legendary horror producer Charles Band agreed to put up some of the financial backing for DeCoteau’s first “legit” feature, Dreamaniac, in exchange for the film’s distribution rights.

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Creepozoids (1987)

The very next year, Band produced DeCoteau’s Creepozoids, which starred actress and future scream queen Linnea Quigley, who appears in a sexy shower scene before battling a giant mutant rat.

DeCoteau had first met Quigley in 1981, and they’d kept in touch, and by ’86, she had already memorably appeared as “Trash” in Return of the Living Dead.

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Scream Queen Linnea Quigley

Band and DeCoteau produced numerous low-budget/high-profit features for Band’s ’80s genre film studio Empire Pictures, who churning out as many as fifteen to twenty films a year, many of them with words like “psycho,” “bimbo” or “slut” in the title.

Band’s productions, critic Lewis Beale’s once wrote, have “their own distinctive look and feel, consisting of self-parodic humor, comic-strip vitality, narrative simplicity, and a colorfully imaginative style.”

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Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987)

DeCoteau directed 1987’s Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity and other low-budget horror films during the late ’80s/early ’90s, often financing and producing these independent features with his own money.

He also began distributing exploitation films made by other low-budget indie fimmakers through his homegrown videocassette company, Cinema Home Video.

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At the end of 1988, DeCoteau was in the midst of directing his film Dr. Alien when Band sold his Empire Pictures company and formed Full Moon Entertainment.

DeCoteau and Band enjoyed a long, fruitful production partnership with Full Moon, with DeCoteau producing and sometimes directing more than thirty films total, including Crash and Burn (1991), Puppermaster II (1991), Trancers II: The Faces of Death (1992) and Puppetmaster III (1992).

Many of DeCoteau’s adult-oriented fantasy films were distributed under Full Moon’s “Torchlight” banner.

DeCoteau has described these films — like Virgin Hunters (1994), which starred Morgan Fairchild, and Beach Babes from Beyond (1994), with Linnea Quigley — as having a “real erotic or hyper-sensual tone to them — not erotic thrillers, but sci-fi and Beauty and the Beast-type stuff — with lots of T&A…”

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Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1987)

Linnea Quigley also starred in Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1987), which was described by DeCoteau as having “the Bride of Frankenstein, motorcycle chicks, zombie babes and hot nerds, spanking and bowling… a gay man’s camp fantasy!”

Nightmare Sisters (1987) — which united Quigley with her fellow scream queens Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens — and Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout (1990) both helped propel her career beyond B-movies.

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Nightmare Sisters (1987)

DeCoteau’s budgets for the more erotic thriller fare were nearly always in the $300,000-$350,000 range, and often required shooting outside the U.S., in exotic foreign countries like Romania.

To date, DeCoteau has directed more than one hundred feature films, and since 1999 he’s been directing and producing PG-13 rated films for his own Rapid Heart Pictures.

These films are, in his words, “non-exploitive, provocative supernatural thrillers that appeal to women, couples and gay men” and have few four-letter words, no nudity, no handguns, very little gore and no smoking.

Watch Shrieker and other Full Moon horror features on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.