(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.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Burt 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 night.
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