FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 28, 2009

Day 27: "Nothing's going to hurt you now."

Wowee, what to luck to happen upon yet another film that begins with a gang rape! First it was Nail Gun Massacre, and now the 1973 Curtis Harrington film The Killing Kind; boy oh boy, I've practically got a theme week here. While Nail Gun Massacre veered off into sub-sub-sub-par slasher territory, however, The Killing Kind veers off into a Psycho-on-steroids kind of squidginess that's bound to leave you in need of a shower when all is said and done.

Terry (John Savage) was forced by his friends to partake in the gang rape of young Tina (Sue Bernard) under the boardwalk on that fateful day. It's questionable whether he could actually "perform", but regardless he ended up doing a 2-year term in the clink. Once he's out, he heads to the boarding house run by his mother Thelma (Ann Sothern) where he's treated to gallons of chocolate milk and sexually-tinged oppression.

Thelma's constant deriding of anyone else on the planet with a vagina (they're not good enough for Terry, they're all whores, blah blah blah) coupled with "affection" that's a bit too...affectionate for a mother and son have clearly rendered Terry with a muddled idea of sexuality.

He's plagued by visions of Tina under the boardwalk, and anytime he's confronted by a woman- whether a magazine photo staring back at him as he tries to masturbate or a repressed, older neighbor coming on to him, Terry flips out and loses control. Before too long, he takes revenge on those who put him behind bars, including his defense lawyer as well as Tina herself.

Terry's homicidal ways begin to worm their way into his home life once Lori (Cindy Williams) moves into mom's boarding house. Events escalate until there's a dead Shirley Feeney-to-be in the bathtub, and Thelma must finally face up to the fact that her beloved son is a certifiable cuckoo nutso.

The Killing Kind features the most inappropriate familial relationship I've had the "pleasure" of watching since I popped in Night Warning some time back. While the Terry - Thelma dynamic is going to send you running for your toothbrush the moment the credits start rolling, it's thanks to veterans Savage and Sothern that their relationship isn't just a sideshow. Each actor gives a performance hinting at the pain and loneliness that are part and parcel of what results in such antisocial behavior. It's almost impossible to like either one of them, but they're also hard to hate.

All in all, it's an expectedly solid effort from the underappreciated Curtis Harrington. The Killing Kind has the feel of an especially lurid TV movie- and that's certainly not a bad thing.


Verdant Earl said...

I remember seeing this on one of the early cable channels back in the 70's but I barely remember it. Beyond the gang rape and Shirley Feeney, of course. Those kind of things stick with you.

Burgundy LaRue said...

The Killing Kind is a nasty little film, but much better than I had expected it to be. I was creeped out more by the repressed neighbor than by Terry/Thelma's relationship--and that's pretty squicky.

Between this movie and What's the Matter with Helen?, Curtis Harrington had some seemingly unique concepts regarding relationships. He was quite talented.

Stacie Ponder said...

Cindy Williams was adorable in this, but there's something about her voice...I always preferred Laverne. Even though her voice is annoying as well, she was the funnier/less irritating one, I thought.

The neighbor was very weird. How repressed do you have to be to see someone kill a cat and STILL hit on them?

The relationship between her and her father reminded me of The Attic. That could practically be a spin-off of this.

Stacie Ponder said...

HOLY CRAP I think it IS a spin off! I just checked imdb- The Attic was written by the same guys and the character names are the same. WOW! That's really friggin' cool.

Charlie said...

Have this one on a four pack budget collection. Creepy little effort for sure, but it was neat to see later performances from Ann Sothern and Luana Anders, and an obscure one from good ol' Shirley The cat killing scene stays with you..not cool at all.

badgerdaddy said...

Squicky??? Great word!!!