Friday, March 22, 2013

Killing Spree VHS (Sub Rosa)

My copy of Tim Ritter's 1987 spatter flick, Killing Spree, came in the mail today. It's a VHS/DVD combo in an oversized clamshell case, released by Sub Rosa Studios on May 1, 2013 and limited to 50 numbered copies, signed by the director. Also comes with a 4"x6" replica of the original poster art. It sold out in under an hour. My copy is #49 of 50...whew, that was a close one! There was also an option for a Lego figure of main character, Tom Russo, for an extra $10.

Killing Spree Review
by Brainsmoke

             This was a movie I had been wanting to see ever since I read about it in the pages of Chas Balun’s Deep Red magazine (Issue #4, I think) back in the late ‘80s. Unfortunately, writer/director/producer Tim Ritter couldn’t find a US distributor upon completion of the film in 1987, and he was forced to self-distribute it under his production company name, Twisted Illusions in 1990. This, of course, limited its release, and none of the “mom and pop” video stores in my small town ever got a copy. Finally, Magnum Entertainment picked up the distribution of the video in 1992 and it got a wider release. It still never showed up at any of my local video stores (this is probably due to the fact that by 1992, corporate, I mean entities like Blockbuster Video had driven nearly all the "mom and pop" video stores out of business). The first time I was actually able to see it was on the Camp Motion Pictures DVD release.  Now onto the film…

The first thing you notice, after the pleasing ‘80s dark-synth soundtrack, is that Killing Spree was shot on film (16mm to be precise), rather than video. The majority of micro-budget movies from this era that went straight-to-video were actually shot on video – Cannibal Campout and Video Violence, for example (which, by the way, I happen to love - I have a fondness for shot-on-video movies). Asbestos Felt (who had his head blown off by a grenade in Tim Ritter’s previous film, Truth or Dare?-A Critical Madness) plays the lead character Tom Russo, who suspects his stay-at-home wife Leeza is cheating on him with various people like his best friend, the electrician, the TV repairman, the UPS guy, pretty much everybody she comes into contact with. This drives our “anti-hero” mad with jealousy and he embarks on said killing spree – much goriness and hilarity ensues (with some fairly inventive splatter gags). That’s the premise for the movie, pretty much. There is somewhat of a twist in the film’s final act, but I won’t give away what that is here. Asbestos Felt’s over-the-top performance is great fun to watch and there’s plenty of dark humor running through the whole film. For example, Felt buries one of his victims (the lawn maintenance guy, no less) up to his neck in the ground, after knocking him out with a shovel. The guy comes to and starts screaming for help, and Felt proceeds to take off his shoe, then he peels off his filthy sock and shoves it into the guy’s mouth. This may not sound very funny, but in the context of the film it’s absolutely hilarious (and it’s helped out by some inventive POV camera shots). Asbestos Felt’s wife in the movie, Leeza, is played by Courtney Lercara, who had previously been in another ‘80s low budget splatter flick called Slaughterhouse. She was brought to the production by fellow independent filmmaker Donald Farmer (Demon Queen, Cannibal Hookers, etc). The special make-up FX were handled by Joel Harlow, and this was his first film. He would later go on to do FX for Toxic Avenger 2 and 3, Basket Case 2, Francis Ford Copola’s Dracula, and The Stand mini-series to name a few. He’s still working today and his most recent credits include The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, all three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Star Trek.

 Make no bones about it. Killing Spree is nothing more than an ultra-low budget ‘80s splatter film, with all the faults (and charms) that come with it. However, the splatter FX, dark humor, and some inventive camera work make it a bit more ambitious than most of the straight-to-video movies that came out during the ‘80s video boom. And if you grew up with these types of films like I did, and your favorite magazines were Fangoria (which gets quite a few plugs in the film), Gorezone, Deep Red, or Samhain, then you’ll probably enjoy it. Also, if you’re into low budget German splatter by directors like Andreas Schnass, Olaf Ittenbach, Andreas Bethmann, or Timo Rose, then you need to see this – you’ll love it (and you want even have to read subtitles).

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