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A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
A deeply disturbed photographer and Vietnam veteran, named Kirk Smith, terrorizes Los Angeles by going around strangling lingerie-clad young women in their homes while taunting Lindsay Gale, a young psychologist, by calling her on a radio call-in show to describe his sexual hang-ups and misogynistic ways, while a local police detective, Lt. McCable, is always two steps behind in trying to catch the psycho. Written by
When you watch an exploitation horror movie you sit down with a certain expectation of what you're going to get. To put it bluntly, sex and violence. It's what you watch films like this for. And yet, why did I come away from this film with such a nasty taste in my mouth ?
Well, to start with, this film was made by a misogynist. Okay, it's a film about a rapist-murderer so there's obviously going to be violence towards women but every female character in this film is either damaged:- drug addict, victim of abuse, potential suicide or completely ineffectual (more of that later).
There is also here a screenwriter who has a serious problem with psychiatrists. The police psychiatrist is shoved out of the way during a briefing ("we don't need any of this psycho mumbo jumbo") and the main protagonist is not only a psychiatrist but also - whisper it quietly - a woman!
There's a scene that highlights this misogyny and hatred of psychiatrists. In fact, it is otherwise irrelevant to the plot.
A woman is on the top of a tall building threatening to jump when the police arrive. The woman psychiatrist, Dr. Gail., is trying to talk her down. "How long's she been there ?" asks the cop. "Two hours" says the patrolman. "How long's Dr. Gail been talking to her ?" "15 minutes" "Is she doing any good ?" "No."
So the cop pushes Dr. Gail aside and basically says "Stop it. Behave yourself. Get down." At which the woman rushes into his arms. He then, of course, ends up in bed with Dr. Gail.
Even the killer, who has severe mental problems, ridicules the psychiatrist when she tries to reach him. Oh, he happens to be tying her to a chair at this point.
Which brings me to the policemen. There are two main cops, Lt. McCabe and Sgt. Hatcher, and they are complete idiots. I couldn't work out whether they were supposed to be taken seriously or not. I'm still not sure. They seem to ignore anyone who has any insight or actual information on the case, saying they're just doing their job. And when they 'do their job' - well...
They arrive at a suspect's house. Hatcher wants to break in but McCabe says they haven't got a warrant (why not ?) and if they break in anything they find would be inadmissible as evidence. Hatcher: "I wanna do it anyway" McCabe: "okay". Eh ?
So does this film have any redeeming qualities ? Well, maybe. Bizarrely it's The Killer or The Strangler. He's billed as both though his character has a name and more of a personality than anyone else in the film. Nicholas Worth in this part gives something close to a performance which sets him head and shoulders above anybody else in this film although his is a totally repellent character.
Having said all that, this film is not particularly graphic. Though that may just be the print I saw as there seemed to be some very abrupt edit points. However, I have absolutely no desire to see an uncut version.
Let me be clear. I'm a fan of the genre. I enjoy Friday 13th movies (even the duff ones), the Halloween series, and a lot of other stalk 'n' slash stuff so I'm no horror prude. But this is a film that hits you over the head with a sledgehammer to make it clear that women have no place in the world and are only good for sex. Avoid.
PS: Don't think this film sounds so bad it must be good. It's not. It's so bad it's bad.
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