Director – Tom Hanson (A Ton of Grass Goes to Pot)
Starring – Hal Reed (The Doberman Gang, 43: The Richard Petty Story), Bob Jones (Enter the Ninja, American Playhouse), and Ray Lynch (M*A*S*H*)
Release Date – 1971
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 3/5
Most horror fans have interests that most find too sinister or macabre. With horror and metal aside, most of my other hobbies are fairly normal in comparison. I enjoy comics, reading, board games (especially monopoly), video games, and watching YouTube internetainers like Rhett & Link and Vanoss. With that being said, I’ve had an interest in serial killers for as long as I could remember.
I became fascinated with them around the same time I discovered cryptozoology. There was a few that I found realy fascinating like John Wayne Gacy, Albert Fish, and Ed Gein. Then there was others that I found no interest in like The Zodiac Killer. That all changed last year with the Ted Cruz meme. I somewhat became fascinated with the meme which lead to me researching him some. Recently, American Genre Film Archive and MVD partnered for a blu release of the 1971 film The Zodiac Killer. I had heard of this film but never seen it so this was the perfect time to check it out. I want to thank MVD for sending this one my way.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows the San Francisco police department as they frantically search for the one responsible for a series of murders around the city. After some time the killer taunts the police with puzzles about when he will strike next. Unbeknownst to them, the killer is actually a mail man who believes that those he kills will come back as his slave in the next life. While the police think they finally found the killer (the real killers friend) the actual murderer is killing at will to fulfill his master plan. **Spoiler Alert**
I had no idea what to expect from this film. I had heard about it for sometime but never had the drive to see it which was mostly due to the fact that I didn’t care about the killer. Now I do have an interest and went into the film with a very open mind. Honestly, I really enjoyed it and the story it brought forth. However, I am not blind and could tell that the film was far from perfect.
The acting in this one is pretty one sided. A majority of the cast delivers a flat performance with little to no dedication to their role. They spit out dialogue with no emotion or conviction creating characters that could easily be made out of cardboard. With that being said, I really enjoyed Hal Reed’s performance as the mild mannered mailman who greenlights as the zodiac. His demeanor changes so much from the mailman to the killer which was great to watch unfold. He was easily my favorite part.
The story for this one is oddly set up like a slow moving biopic with moments of death tossed throughout. I actually really enjoyed the story and background they created for the zodiac. His slave army may be something he actually believed in and communicated to the police but I don’t know. As I stated I don’t really know anything about the Zodiac Killer or their murders. I like how it followed a potential killer and the real killer before revealing who it was. It gave the viewer moments of uncertainty.
Finally, the film does have a few on screen kills with some laughable effects. The kills are very basic and straight forward with minimal practical effects. Each and every kill was not handled with care resulting in something you would expect in an Ed Wood film which I actually liked. Overall, The Zodiac Killer has so many problems but god damn I can’t help but love it. Fans of early 70s exploitation flicks and serial killers should really check this one out. I recommend it.