Thursday, August 22, 2019

NIGHT KILLER (1990) Blu-ray Review

Night Killer (1990) d. Claudio Fragasso (as Clyde Anderson) (Italy) (93 min)

A rubber-masked serial killer starts working his way through the unsuspecting inhabitants of Virginia Beach, VA – and I do mean THROUGH, as in he punches holes through their torsos using a Freddy Krueger-type taloned glove – until he comes to beautiful, frustrated, and recently separated mother Melanie Beck (Tara Buckman) who he subjects to an hours-long ordeal from which she escapes alive but traumatized to the point of amnesia. Suicidal and emotionally distraught, she is subsequently stalked by a stranger (Peter Hooten) who stops her from killing herself on the beach, but then kidnaps her and forces to play kinky sexual games in a secluded hotel room. Meanwhile the murders continue unabated – are they being committed by the same person holding Melanie captive and will she recover her memory in time to identify the killer?

Somewhere between Zombie 4 and Troll 2, writer/director Claudio Fragasso set out to direct a suspense thriller about a suicidal beauty, an unstable sleazebag, and an unknown killer, but apparently when the producers received Fragasso’s cut, they hired his former partner Bruno Mattei (The Other Hell) to shoot additional scenes of graphic gore, eventually releasing it in Italy as Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3!

Buckman (young Billy’s unfortunate mom in Silent Night, Deadly Night) commits fully to her performance as the psychologically scarred Melanie, a gig that requires her to spend a fair amount of time in a minimal amount of clothing, usually hyperventilating or shrieking or both. Hooten (Orca) tears into his role with gusto, conjuring a rougher, meaner version of Craig Wasson (Ghost Story, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Body Double), and I wish he would have landed all of Wasson's roles I just listed.

The gratuitous nudity and ridiculous violence (did I mention the killer’s “forearm as battering ram” attack M.O.?) make for an already frothy brew atop the primary Stockholm Syndrome narrative, but when the twist ending comes around, viewers' jaws will drop, bounce, and roll under the couch. Whatever you thought you were watching suddenly takes an inordinately and freakishly twisted turn into the “Nooooo noooo nooooooo” realm. Credit to Fragasso and co-writer Rossella Drudi (Robowar) for delivering something truly unique if utterly mind-melting – and don’t feel bad if you don’t figure it all out at first or if you need to hit the rewind button. In fact, I encourage you to do just that. Because your brain probably is probably deliberately refusing to accept what Fragasso and Drudi are selling… because it cares about you.

Severin Films makes this insane little offering available to you, mastered from the original negative for the FIRST TIME EVER on DVD & Blu-Ray.


“The Virginia Claw Massacre” with director Claudio Fragasso (25 min)

“Mindfuck” with screenwriter Rossella Drudi (15 min)


Night Killer is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Severin Films and can be ordered HERE:


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