Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Sadist (1963)

Director: James Landis

Writer: James Landis

Composers: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter

Starring: Arch Hall Jr., Richard Alden, Marilyn Manning, Don Russell, Helen Hovey, Arch Hall Sr. Joan Howard

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Never before a motion picture Rampacked with... Suspense... Terror... Sudden Shock, as The SADIST

Plot: Three people driving into Los Angeles for a Dodgers game have car trouble and pull off into an old wrecking yard where they are held at bay by a bloodthirsty psycho and his crazy girlfriend.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I've been putting off seeing this for years until I got my hands on a proper widescreen copy and now I have.  Holy shit!  This is off the charts.  For a movie made in '63 I'm shocked that it's as brutal and in your face as it is.  People die and it's fucked up.  Charlie (as the titular character) certainly lives up to his title.  He's totally channeling Michael J. Pollard hopped up on happy grass or something and he's usually way over the top.  I was disappointed in his performance in that it's just too much.  Had he scaled it back a few notches and played it more grounded this picture would have benefited tremendously.  Richard Alden as Ed, one of the victims, was laying it on a bit much at times, too, but not nearly to the degree of Hall.  Everyone else was great.  The star of the show, really, is the cinematography and camera work by Vilmos Zsigmond, the guy behind the camera on DELIVERANCE (1972), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) and THE DEER HUNTER (1978) among others.  Normally in low budget pictures like this the camera is static and boring, but here it's all over the place.  Not only is the placement a sign of quality but the movement contributes a lot to the tension.  The ending is great. A lot of people die before it's all over which is surprising for a film at this time.  And 95% of the film takes place outside at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.  What the film makers were able to do with that one location and some B-level actors is nothing short of remarkable.

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