An overlooked masterpiece in the "mind of a killer" genre
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 12/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Killing Kind is a powerful and disturbing portrait of a killer, an entry in the genre that has never received anything close to the attention it deserves. This is a film that you will not soon forget. Curtis Harrington's direction is almost mesmerizing in its intensity and poignancy, and standout performances by John Savage and Ann Sothern are more than award-worthy in my opinion. This isn't your typical "look inside the mind of a serial killer" movie; you won't find any visceral gore or killing for the sake of killing. The Killing Kind is instead a psychological masterpiece that may send shivers up the spine of viewers uncomfortable with this particular genre. There is plenty of psychosis to spare in this neighborhood, but the focus of this black hole of doom and gloom is the special relationship between a mother and her only son.Be ready to watch this movie as soon as you put it in because the opening shots will reach right out and grab you. The first thing you will see is a young lady being thrown beneath a pier, stripped of her clothes, and raped by a gang of hooligans. One young man just stands there, only to be forcibly thrown on top of the girl by his buddies. We see him scream, but we are not really shown what the scream really indicates (although it becomes much clearer later on). This scene sets the stage for the entire movie. Two years have passed since the "incident," and young Terry has suddenly been released from prison, coming home to the boarding house his mother runs. Thelma, his fawning mother, is overjoyed to have her little boy back; she knows her Terry would never have touched that girl - Terry is a good boy. It quickly becomes apparent that the relationship between Terry and his mother just isn't normal; there's no sign of a sexual relationship between them, but one can't help but wonder what lies beneath. Thelma is definitely overly fond of her son, and she refuses to see anything wrong with him. When a new lodger moves into the boarding house, she warns her to stay away from Terry, wrongly accusing her of misconduct even after witnessing a troubling encounter between the two in the pool. A young Cindy Williams give a memorable performance as young Lori; it's not the type of role you associate with Shirley of Laverne & Shirley, and that only makes it all the more powerful. Naturally, things only get worse as the days go by, especially when the people "responsible" for Terry's incarceration begin to die mysteriously. A spinsterish neighbor casts a further pall of dementia on the plot, and one could argue that she is even more mentally unbalanced than Terry and Thelma. I can't say the suspense really builds as the movie progresses because the suspense is there in spades from the very start; one simultaneously awaits and dreads the culmination of all this psychological horror, and director Curtis Harrington does not disappoint, delivering a powerful and truly fitting end to a film I found to be utterly amazing.The Killing Kind deserves attention; it is a tour de force look at the very roots of a murderer's creation. I have to admit I hesitated to watch it, knowing that there was some violence to animals featured in the plot. Cruelty to animals is of course a dire warning sign of a killer in the making, but I can hardly bear to watch animals being made to suffer, even in the unreality of a film. For all the animal lovers out there, let me say that the scenes in question, while disturbing, are not overly graphic. Don't let this facet of the production deter you from seeing this outstanding film."
Macabre, terrifying journey into world of a pyschopath....
MattW | Seattle, WA USA | 11/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shocking, mesmorizing, & riveting pyschothriller destined for "classic" status, this terrifing and intense movie finally gets the treatment it deserves with what may be it's first ever US dvd release. A wonderful glimpse into the wonderful, wacky, and raw 70's, the "golden age" of horror, the movie dares to take itself seriously, and takes on the daunting task of telling an unattracitve story that revolves around almost entirely unlikeable characters, including a protagonist who's a serial killer. Though there's little graphic violence, some of the scenes which would be considered quite mild by today's standards, resonate in a major way and be forewarned, there are some heavy moments of awkwardness and intense suspense. After years of seeing this collecting dust on the VHS shelves in obscure video stores around the globe, this truly is a hugely welcomed surprise and discovery for a veteran horror cinaphile who's seen every horror film ever made. Great tone, palpable atmosphere, and a really unforgettable performance by the late great Anne Southern, this movie is simply a chilling and disturbing ride and I'm happy to say that my nerves were widly reawakened. Strongly recommended."