Thursday, September 30, 2010

DVD Short Take: THE KILLING KIND (1973)

Low-budget psycho thrillers in the 1970s were like buses: if you missed one, you only had to wait 20 minutes before another would roll through town. Chances are good that unless you stumbled upon the big box VHS from Unicorn Video a decade later, Curtis Harrington’s THE KILLING KIND (Dark Sky) is one of those rides you missed. Creepy, closeted mama’s boy Terry (John Savage) gets released from prison after serving a two-year stretch for a gang rape he kinda sorta didn’t participate in and drifts back to the boarding house run by his overbearing mother (Ann Sothern). Predictably, it takes all of five minutes for him to begin to unravel, and the screenplay -- by Tony Crechales and frequent Harrington producer-collaborator George Edwards -- pretty much blames mom along with half the women in California for the ensuing carnage. Still, there’s plenty to recommend here, from Harrington’s sharp direction and the haunting score by Andrew Belling to a strong, predominantly female cast (including downward-spiraling Ruth Roman, a pre-LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY Cindy Williams, and Sue Bernard from FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!) and the intriguing parallel plotline involving the frustrated librarian next door (Luana Anders) and her cantankerous wheelchair-bound father (Peter Brocco) -- characters Crechales and Edwards would bring back seven years later in THE ATTIC, with Carrie Snodgress and Ray Milland taking over the roles. That semi-sequel isn’t even mentioned in the DVD’s sole extra, an otherwise informative 22-minute career-spanning interview with a haggard-looking Harrington, who passed away in May of 2007 (six months before this DVD was released). A nice widescreen transfer does justice to Mario (CARRIE) Tosi’s effective cinematography, and English subtitles round out this overall decent presentation.


The Dead Next Door said...

Crechales, who also acted under the name Tony Kent, wrote a number of pornographic novels (using the name Tony Trelos) in the 1960s with titles like Lesbian Starlet, The Lesbian Happening, and The Twisted Drives of Victoria McCall, mostly for Brandon House.

He was also involved in Gary Graver's 3 AM (1976), DISTORTIONS (1987), and something called THE LAST RESORT with Eartha Kitt, based on Darwin Porter's BUTTERFLIES IN HEAT.

venoms5 said...

This is a really good psychological horror movie and a shame it went virtually unnoticed back then in light of the trouble Harrington went through to get it out there in the public eye. Even in the interview on the DVD he seems heartbroken talking about the film all these later. A shame, really, considering how good the performances are.