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Case Number 12877

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Killing Spree

Camp Motion Pictures // 1987 // 120 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge John Floyd (Retired) // February 1st, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge John Floyd is still bummed that the stage name "Asbestos Felt" is already taken!

The Charge

"You screw my wife, I screwdrive your head!"

Opening Statement

Tim Ritter proves once again that the best revenge against a cheating woman is bad filmmaking.

Facts of the Case

In Killing Spree, an airplane mechanic becomes so convinced that his wife is as unfaithful to him that he launches an inventive and elaborate campaign to dispatch her numerous lovers, in the most violent, gory ways imaginable. What he lacks in reason and communication skills, he makes up for in skill with sharp-edged tools.

The Evidence

Fans of terrible movies all know Tim Ritter. He's the ambitious Florida auteur who helped pioneer the direct-to-video movie market in the 1980s by creating a $200,000 horror film entitled Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness, a property too shamelessly derivative for exploiters to pass up at the height of the slasher craze, but too hopelessly inept to actually charge audiences to see it in theaters. So hilariously awful was this bargain basement epic that it quickly developed a cult following among those ahead of the nostalgia curve in their appreciation of celluloid trash. This ground swell of interest resulted in two baffling phenomena: Ritter came to believe that he could actually make movies; and a freakish bit player by the name of Asbestos Felt (who blows his own head off with a grenade in Truth or Dare's most memorable scene) became a very minor cult hero to oddball cinema lovers around the country. Armed with his new star and newfound self-confidence, the determined filmmaker set out to create a follow-up worthy of his first effort. That sophomore endeavor is Killing Spree.

The plot of this bloody tale is essentially the same as that of Ritter's previous movie, except that this time around the marital indiscretions may or may not be real, and the victims inexplicably come back from the dead in the last act for some E.C. Comics-style justice. In fact, a perfunctory glance over Ritter's body of work reveals that the theme of adulterous women runs throughout his entire filmography. It wouldn't be appropriate to speculate on his personal life, so let's just assume that this recurring narrative element stems from stunted creative ability rather than real-life experience. In any event, the shaggy Felt plays a typical Ritter lead here, a hopeless sap who seemingly can't keep his shapely wife from bedding any reasonably able-bodied male within a ten mile radius and therefore decides to become a homicidal maniac.

As with the later direct sequels to Truth or Dare (Wicked Games and Screaming for Sanity), Killing Spree is just as inept as Ritter's first picture, but lacks that seminal work's incompetent charm. There is nothing in the film that could reasonably be called "acting" in any objective sense of the word, despite all of the local press coverage of the filmmakers' extensive casting search included in the DVD's bonus materials. The gore effects, though admirably ambitious, range from okay (a claw hammer through a victim's chin) to laughably bad (a severed head which not only looks ridiculous, but is actually used to beat another victim to death!). The entire plot hinges on the unlikely contrivance that the wife initially leaves her explicit diary (which she later makes a point to say her husband can never see) on the coffee table in the living room. Though hardly a knockout, female lead Courtney Lercara is attractive enough to pull off the promiscuous housewife role in a cheap exploitation movie. Why, then, does Ritter not take advantage of her curves with the kind of gratuitous nude scenes fans of '80s slasher films expect in their entertainment? All of this incompetence might have made Killing Spree an enjoyable exercise in how not to make movies, but the film's pacing is so leaden that one can't help but wonder if editor Robert Williams simply didn't know how to operate his own equipment, and the bizarre ending will leave even the Ritter faithful scratching their fevered heads.

The DVD release does offer some decent extras, including test footage of the claw hammer killing (which is, oddly enough, more effective than the actual scene used in the film), a "Making of" documentary narrated by Ritter himself, and two commentary tracks. As is often the case with these kinds of films, this behind-the-scenes material is more interesting than the movie it chronicles. It's always fun to listen to hack filmmakers obliviously singing their own praises.

This transfer of Killing Spree appears to come from a tape with a couple of clearly visible glitches, and none of the film's inherent audio or video deficiencies can be masked by the digital presentation.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

There are some things here for the garbage cinema lover to enjoy, most notably Felt's wild hair and maniacal mugging. A couple of the kills are hilariously ludicrous, and the scene in which the wife "gives head" to her husband's best friend is unlike any horror film moment you've ever seen. Plus, Felt raps during the closing title theme!

Closing Statement

Despite some memorable elements, Killing Spree ultimately fails the test of a truly great bad movie. There simply aren't enough unintentional laugh-out-loud moments to overcome the complete ineptitude of the production and its misguided maestro.

The Verdict

Would it be ironic to sentence the writer-director of a movie called Killing Spree to death, or just fitting? Guilty!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 65
Audio: 65
Extras: 75
Acting: 25
Story: 30
Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Camp Motion Pictures
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Genres:
• Bad
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentary with Tim Ritter
• Audio Commentary with Asbestos Felt, Joel Wynkoop, and R.M. Hoopes
• "Blinded By The Blood" Documentary
• Investor Reel
• Video Test Footage

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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