Scalps is a 1983 supernatural Slasher Movie directed by Fred Olen Ray.
A sextet of archaeology students on an expedition in a California desert are menaced by the spirit of Black Claw, a Native American warrior, who possesses one of their number and goes on a gruesome killing spree. And...that's pretty much it, really.
Notably gory, to the point where Ray claimed it was one of the most censored slasher films ever made.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Big Bad: Black Claw, The Savage Indian ghost killing everybody.
- Boom, Headshot!: How Randy is killed.
- The Cassandra: Gas station employee Billy Ironwing, and then DJ, warn the group of danger. Nobody listens.
- Demonic Possession: Randy and ultimately DJ are possessed by Black Claw.
- Developing Doomed Characters: A sizable chunk of the run time is devoted to the students' journey to Native lands.
- Downer Ending: Most of the cast is killed, except for the one woman who tried to stop the desecration of Black Claw's grave. Black Claw instead possesses her, and haunts the burial ground, plotting to kill again.
- Eye Scream: Machen is stabbed in the eye with an arrow.
- Flaying Alive: Well, the movie is called Scalps...
- Genius Loci: Murdered Native Americans have become "part of the land".
- Human Pincushion: Alice dies after getting shot with several arrows.
- Indian Burial Ground: Primary location.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: DJ.
- Off with His Head!: Kershaw is decapitated by a possessed DJ.
- One-Word Title
- The Savage Indian: Black Claw.
- Sequel Hook: DJ is still alive and possessed at the end. The end credits tag even says to watch for the sequel "next summer".
- Slashed Throat: Happens to multiple victims.
- The Sociopath: Black Claw, an undead Native American soldier who believes rape and murder are justified punishments for grave robbery.
- Transformation of the Possessed: Those possessed by Black Claw become deformed.