Based on the true story of '60s thrill-killer Charles Schmidt ("The Pied Piper of Tucson"), Skipper Todd (Robert F. Lyons) is a charismatic 23-year old who charms his way into the lives of ...
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Based on the true story of '60s thrill-killer Charles Schmidt ("The Pied Piper of Tucson"), Skipper Todd (Robert F. Lyons) is a charismatic 23-year old who charms his way into the lives of high school kids in a small California town. Girls find him attractive and are only too willing to accompany him to a nearby desert area to be his "girl for the night." Not all of them return, however. Featuring Richard Thomas as his loyal hanger-on and a colorful assortment of familiar actors in vivid character roles including Barbara Bel Geddes, Gloria Grahame, Edward Asner, Fay Spain, James Broderick and Michael Conrad. Written by
You actually came to see me without any of your baby-pimps? Wow. How do I rate that honor?
I just loved your performance at the pool.
So, you're the one who rides the dune buggy and "services" the little girls huh?
Oh yes... and speaking of little girls, how old are you?
16. Just about your speed too, isn't it?
Ha-ha! It's a good age. It's a little over the hill these days, but it will do.
How old are you?
Why don't you do something besides hang around the pool.
I'm a songwriter. I'm gonna ...
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Director Barry Shear here delivers a truly unique and mesmerizing but also sadly unknown and unloved character study about one of the US' most unfathomable serial killers. The film revolves on the mid-60's Arizonian killer Charles Schmid Jr; nicknamed The Pied Piper of Tucson. Schmid was more or less like a crossbreed between Ted Bundy and Charles Manson. Similar to Ted Bundy because he was a good looking, charismatic and eloquent local boy who didn't have the slightest problem luring naive young girls (hence the nickname) and similar to Charles Manson because of the boundary-free hippie setting and because Schmid also had a great influence on his docile friends and involved them in his murderous schemes. Maybe I'm slightly biased, because I'm a big sucker for horror/thriller movies that are based on real-life serial killer cases, but "The Todd Killings" is a genuinely astounding film from many versatile viewpoints. Although the names of the characters were changed to protect the victims (and the guilty!), the script remains very true to the facts as they occurred. It's also a brutally honest film in terms of period setting and atmosphere. "The Todd Killings" shockingly illustrates that the mid-60's weren't all about peace and free love. The clichéd American Dream image of handsome teenagers with all the required capacities to succeed in life gets totally shattered here, because they merely just think about taking LSD and having sex. Robert F. Lyons gives a stunning performance as the unhinged killer protagonist Skipper Todd. He hates and mocks elderly folks, toys around with all the local high school girls that pitiably twirl around him and spends most of his days parading around in shorts at the swimming pool. Skipper eventually falls in love with a sincere girl (the stunningly ravishing Belinda Montgomery) but can't deal with the fact that she disapproves his derailed life-style. "The Todd Killings" is very raw and depressing, with sober cinematography and downbeat set pieces. The film is extremely low budget and doesn't contain a single moment of bloody violence, but the nihilistic ambiance is nevertheless horrifying and the (admittedly gratuitous) sequences of underage nudity form unpleasant confrontations with the wayward world of the 60's. One year after this, Barry Shear directed his most famous film; the stupendous Blaxploitation themed cop-thriller "Across 110th Street". They are two completely different movies proving Shear was a very gifted but sadly underrated filmmaker.
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