Friday, January 04, 2019

THE ZODIAC KILLER (1971) Directed by Tom Hanson | Review by Louis Fowler

The sheer balls these 70s filmmakers had, to exploit a serial killer while the bodies were still warm, all under the guise of "helping" to catch the bloodthirsty deviant.

Still, with no disrespect to the actual victims, 1971's THE ZODIAC KILLER (now available on Blu-Ray from AGFA and Something Weird) is an enjoyable piece of trash, for all the wrong reasons. Starting off with a title card practically saying this film was not made for awards and, instead, in the public interest, well, you mostly succeeded.

In a particle-board California community where every single man is apparently a misogynistic pig with a "bitch" ex-wife, a woman gets stabbed in the broad daylight as young children watch. I'm not really sure if this is the startling opening of the movie or a California tourism advertisement, but it's pretty effective on both counts.

As the supposed murderer reads off a generically psychopathic litany of stereotyped weirdness, the audience is meant to perpetually guess who the killer is; running through the large list of red herrings, is it the bitter postman put upon by harridans, the divorced daddy with a shrewish ex-wife or the one seemingly normal dude with a need to rant on about his future zombie slaves from the lost continent of Atlantis or some such junk.

Like a MGTOW spank-bank come to life, David Fincher it's not.

Still, when the Zodiac does appear on-screen, clad in his remarkably clean uniform with crosshairs on the front, it's darkly chilling to know that the acclaimed killer was probably in the theater, pleasuring himself to the clumsy filmmaking on bad film stock, languishing in the fictionalized outings of his silver screen alter-ego. That's gotta be a bigger rush than a double-murder on Lover's Lane, I'd suppose.

In addition to THE ZODIAC KILLER, included as a bonus feature is ANOTHER SON OF SAM (1977, written and directed by Dave Adams), which I know sounds like a wacky summer comedy about an inept serial killer and his dog pal going on a dingy New York murder spree, but instead is an equally garbage flick about a mental patient who knows some sweet speedboat stunts.

But, for the price of admission, it also features the public domain ramblings of lounge-singer extraordinaire Johnny Charro, whose concert footage is a might scarier than both films combined. – Louis Fowler

Louis Fowler is a longtime contributor to ER and The Hungover Gourmet as well as The Lost Ogle, Bookgasm and The Impulsive Buy

THE ZODIAC KILLER is available from Amazon and Diabolik DVD

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