EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|THE STRANGLER (director: Burt Topper; screenwriter: Bill S. Ballinger; cinematographer: Jacques Marquette; editor: Robert S. Eisen; music: Marlin Skiles; cast: Victor Buono (Leo Kroll), Ellen Corby (Leo's Mom), Jeanne Bates (Clara Thomas), David McLean (Lt. Frank Benson), Wally Campo (Eggerton), Russ Bender (Dr. Sanford), James Sikking (Artist), Michael Ryan (Detective Mel Posner), Baynes Barron (Sergeant Clyde), Davey Davison (Tally Raymond), Selette Cole (Helen Lawson), Diane Sayer (Barbara Wells), Mimi Dillard (Thelma); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Samuel Bischoff/David Diamond; Allied Artists; 1964)|
|"It's a modest lurid pic,
that gets off on young attractive women strangled to
death in their undies by a madman."
by Dennis Schwartz
Topper ("Tank Commandos"/"War is
Hell"/"The Hard Ride") adeptly directs a procedural
crime drama about a paranoid schizophrenic serial
killer strangler, with mommy issues and a doll-fetish,
who kills ten women in Boston before the police kill
him while in the act of killing another. The
screenplay by Bill S. Ballinger is
adequate and no more, as there are many
inconsistencies in the story line. The performance by
Victor Buono as the psychopathic killer is
chilling, and is what makes the pic rock.
Creepy Leo Kroll (Victor Buono) is a
30-year-old misfit bachelor, whose domineering mother
(Ellen Corby) has raised him alone and through her
humiliating insults has given him a bad case of low
self-esteem and an abnormal hatred for women. Leo is
happy mom's been in a private sanitarium the last two
years for heart trouble, as he hates her. In the
meantime the overweight lab technician has strangled to
death seven female nurses, without raping any of them,
as the pic opens with him strangling to death vic number
8, Helen (Selette Cole), another nurse, with her
own stockings while she undresses to go to sleep late at
Leo strangles to death vic number 9,
Clara Thomas (Jeanne
Bates), his mom's dedicated sanitarium nurse,
when mom tells him how much she likes Clara, and in his
rage leaves behind in her apartment a smashed doll.
Learning of Clara's death, gives Kroll's mom her final
heart attack. This
clue has a team of detectives led by Lt. Frank Benson (David
McLean) searching for where the killer gets the
dolls, and Detective Posner (Michael Ryan) discovers the
killer wins them as prizes at a Toss-A-Ring booth in the
Odeon Fun Palace. But it's too late to save vic number
10, a flirty booth worker named Barabara Wells (Diane
Sayer), but in time to save Barbara's more serious
co-worker Tally Raymond (Davey Davison), who was
startled when customer Leo, someone she hardly knows,
makes an awkward marriage proposal she immediately
rejects and then is threatened.
It's a modest lurid pic, that gets
off on young attractive women strangled to death in
their undies by a madman. The pic was filmed at the time
the "Boston Strangler"
killings of young nurses in Boston remained unsolved,
which made it even more tense.
REVIEWED ON 5/12/2013 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ