By the late '80s, just about the only slasher movies being put out by the major studios consisted of the seemingly endless line of big budget Hollywood "Friday the 13th," "Halloween," and "Nightmare on Elm Street" sequels. Yet there was still an entirely separate market for viewers at video rental stores, where for a few bucks you could choose from among a shelf full of mostly no-name, low budget, direct to video titles that mimicked what was being done or had been done in the past by the major studios, just usually, not nearly as effectively. I still recall as a kid in the late '80s staring longingly at the covers of the many slasher movie video titles that our local Mom and Pop store had to offer.
One obscure entry that sprung from this era was Anthony J. Christopher's "Fatal Pulse," filmed in 1987 and released in early '88. Unlike the trend of say your "Sorority House Massacre" (1986) to have some "Elm Street" derived sup-plot involving weird dreams and nightmares, Christopher instead went for yet another facsimile of the archetypal slasher template of the past -- a killer loose in a sorority house, with the young women involved being picked off one by one, and complete with your typical cast of males who are slasher movie stereotypes and always suspects to the crime. In "Fatal Pulse," you have your weird, middle aged Martin Sheen lookalike Ernie who serves as the maintenance man for the sorority. You have your seemingly clean-cut Jeff who is also the possible perpetrator, along with his pot smoking, wisecracking do-nothing burnout roommate, who is supposed to provide comic relief I would assume. In other words, if you're a slasher movie fan like I am, "Fatal Pulse's" script by James Hundhausen is something you've seen done many times before.
That being said, the movie is not however without some interest. All of the girls involved are very attractive, and lead protagonist Michelle McCormick has a certain appeal and is one of the few in the film who seems to have at least some previous acting experience. And, as other reviewers have offered, the film makers made sure that each of these fine women (with the exception of Michelle) bared a bit of skin prior to their untimely and sometimes very brutal and prolonged deaths.
My guess is that "Fatal Pulse" was made by some young film school graduates with not much money to spare but a real desire to emulate slasher movies of the past and be as trashy and explicit as possible. In that sense I kind of enjoyed it but in the end just found it a little too amateurish and lacking in real conviction and originality to really recommend it. But if you want to see lovely half naked girls being drowned, electrocuted, and have their throats slit with 12" vinyl records then "Fatal Pulse" does in that way deliver the goods. Not really a good movie but I'd still love to see a legitimate DVD release of this. Hopefully some underground DVD company will wise up and be willing to give digital rebirth to this long forgotten and rather controversial piece of video exploitation.