Disconnected (1984)

Disconnected – A Slash Gem 40 Years Later

By the time 1984 arrived, Horror had become one of the hottest subgenres of film out there. A time when the Slasher dominated the scene, 1978’s Halloween is probably the most responsible for the movement’s popularization. An independent classic by John Carpenter, it led the way for others like 1980’s Friday the 13th and 1981’s My Bloody Valentine, but also a slew of lower budget slice em’ and dice em’ flicks. A period where you could find any number of Slasher films either in the theaters or occupying space at your local video rental store, like with anything, the quality varied.

Retrospectively, hundreds of Slashers were emerging, and it was next to impossible to check every title; because the supply to the demand was so overwhelming. All this in mind, thankfully older films still have a place to be rediscovered, like a lesser-known Horror film called Disconnected. Shot in the fall of 1983 on a very modest budget, and released in 1984, Disconnected might easily be lost in the sands of time, but 40 years later still deserves attention.

Disconnected 1984 movie
Disconnected (1984)

The debut feature film by Gorman Bechard (who would go on to build a very respectful career as a filmmaker and writer with a list of features and documentaries to his credit), it also included a cast of recognizable faces. First, you had the lead, Frances Raines, doing double duty as twin sisters Alicia Michaels/Barbara Ann Michaels. Taking on a leading role in Disconnected, Raines would also star in known Horror films such as The Mutilator, also from earlier 1984, and 1986’s Breeders. This is while the film also stars Mark Walker as the less than normal Franklin; and Walker would go on to a prolific acting career (including a role on the well-known series Hemlocks Grove).

Beyond this, Disconnected adopts a George A. Romero Pittsburgh family-like school of filmmaking approach in the respect that Bechard employed locals from his hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut to work on the film. Shot in and around the city of Waterbury, the film utilizes the backdrop heavily to its advantage. With what it lacks in budget, it makes up for in style. Very much utilizing some troupes of Slashers of the time, where Disconnected stands out is the carefully selected camera angles, placement of music, and very artistic approach. Interestingly, much of the film feels darkly atmospheric and takes on an almost early MTV music video vibe; much like Michael Mann’s Miami Vice. Furthermore, the film also does not shy away from some disturbing insinuations surrounding the more deranged characters involved.

All of these attributes going for it, the plot of Disconnected is simple, yet effective. You have our lead character Alicia, who works at a local video rental store, and is consistently harassed by unwanted calls during her off hours. Unsettling, even more frightening is the fact that a serial killer is on the loose taking advantage of young women around the city. At the same time, a peculiar guy named Franklin pops up into her life… almost seeming determined to earn her attention. Think you have it figured out? Think again, because there are a couple of interesting plot twists that keep you guessing.

Disconnected 1984 movie poster
Disconnected (1984)

As mentioned, filmed in late 1983, and initially released in 1984, it is easy to see why Disconnected could have easily been overlooked by a larger audience outside the Northeast region of the USA with the exorbitant amount of Horror films being released at the time. Making its way to VHS in 1986 through the Los Angeles-based Action Home Video, it was also re-released by the distributor on VHS again in 1989. A long time ago, thankfully in 2017 the Connecticut-based Vinegar Syndrome (responsible for the preservation of countless other obscure films) restored Disconnected in 2K for a Blu-ray release in 2017. A 2,000-copy limited edition slipcover pressing, which has since sold out, fortunately they also released a standard Blu-ray; and that is also highly recommended picking up since the transfer is restored and pristine. Beyond this, if you are someone who streams, you can also currently find Disconnected free on Tubi.

In all, while Disconnected may seem like a standard ‘80s Slasher, it really has something different about it. As alluded to, perhaps it is the ominous mood, Bechard’s eye for getting a unique shot, the distinctive New Wave soundtrack (including songs from XTC, Hunters & Collectors, and The Excerpts), or just maybe it is a combination of a list of elements. Whatever it might be,  is one of those films you may have never heard of, but if you enjoy a well-crafted low budget Slasher film, even 40 years later, it is a must see. 

Disconnected 1984 poster
Disconnected (1984)

Purchase Disconnected on Blu-ray here 

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