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Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Killing Kind (1973)

Released from prison after two years for rape, an unbalanced psychopath (John Savage) returns home to live with his mother (Ann Sothern) who has turned her home into a boarding house to support herself. It isn't long before his unhinged mind seeks revenge against those he holds responsible for his incarceration including the rape victim (Sue Bernard, FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL) and his lawyer (Ruth Roman). This little seen effort from Curtis Harrington (WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?) is quite disturbing, especially in its images. While it never quite rises above its low budget exploitation status, clearly there's some artistic intent going into the effort. The relationship between Sothern and Savage emphasizes the Oedipal aspects: they call each other by their first names, he walks around in his underwear in front of her, they kiss on the lips etc. But the film's portrayal of its female characters borders on misogyny. The young boarder (Cindy Williams, who deserves a prize for the things done to her here) sexually teases him constantly as if asking him to attack her, the sexually repressed spinster (the underrated Luana Anders) next door wants him to rape her and, of course, Sothern acts more like a lover than a mother. If there's a reason to see the movie, it's for Sothern's all out blowsy cat loving mother ("Girls today are tacky whores"). Monster that she is, she's the only character in the film one can have empathy for. The cinematography is by Mario Tosi (CARRIE) with a decent score by Andrew Belling.

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