Based on Slayground: Slayground (1983)




Depiction of Parker:


Parker’s name in film: Stone

Played by: Peter Coyote

It’s sadly easy to guess how this bastardization of Slayground came to exist. Probably something like this:

STUDIO EMPLOYEE (excited): I’ve just found a book that will make a great movie!

STUDIO BOSS (crankily): Yeah? What?

STUDIO EMPLOYEE: It’s by Richard Stark! It’s called Slayground.

STUDIO BOSS: Slayground, eh? Great name for a slasher flick!

STUDIO EMPLOYEE: It’s not about a slasher! It’s about…

STUDIO BOSS: I don’t care what it’s about! Slasher flicks are hot right now! Buy the rights and tell them to make me a slasher flick!

And they did. Or something very similar to a slasher flick, at the very least.

This is a great shame, because Slayground could have made an excellent movie.

Driver Laufman (David Hayward) is killed in an apparent robbery on his way to meet up with Stone (Peter Coyote). This leaves Stone and his partner scrambling to find a driver for the armored car heist they have planned. An inexperienced kid is brought in last-minute, and  after a rehearsal they decide to go through with the job.

The robbery goes off without a hitch, but the driver freaks out during the getaway, causing an accident that results in the death of a rich man’s young daughter. The rich man hires a mysterious, masked hitman named Costello (Philip Sayer) to hunt down those responsible.

The robbery scene at the beginning is about the only resemblance between Slayground the movie and Slayground the book. Instead of a cornered thief with no seeming means of escape, we get Costello tracking down Stone and lots of other people in both the States and England, dispatching many of them in gruesome ways. We don’t even get any action in the amusement park until the last few minutes of the movie, making the title almost false advertising.

Stone is definitely not Parker. He complains a lot and he’s overemotional for someone in his line of work. This is frustrating because it’s clear the screenwriter has read other Parker novels–there is a scene that appears to be a tip of the hat to Deadly Edge, and there is a character named Joe Sheer listed in the credits (although I don’t think the name is said in the movie).

Slayground is riddled with flaws beyond not staying true to its infinitely superior source material. For one thing, Laufman’s death at the beginning of the film looks like it might launch a subplot, but it doesn’t. For another, there is no explanation of how Costello knows that Stone and his crew are the ones responsible for the death of the little girl. My guess is that the film was cut quite a bit prior to release, but it’s certainly possible that it’s just an extremely poorly written screenplay.

What a letdown.

(The DVD contains the trailer, which I would like to upload to YouTube so I can embed it in this page. If anyone knows an easy, free way for me to transfer it to a format that works with YouTube, I would really appreciate it if you would e-mail me and let me know.)

Image Gallery for Slayground

To Slayground (book)