Murderlust (1986)


Intervision Picture Corp. is an interesting company. Somehow tagentially related to the well regarded Severin Films, Intervision picks up all the obscure detritus hiding under rocks. They’ve released such films as the low-fi Canadian head scratcher Things, the equally lo-fi Canadian gem Phobe,  the early German gorefest Burning Moon, final film from Bruno Mattel Zombies: The Beginning, as well as a handful of sexploitation flicks. They tend to pick up strange and low budget flicks that no one else is going to release and I applaud them for that. Murderlust is one such flick that I highly doubt anyone else would want to release (except maybe Vinegar Syndrome).

Shot on 16mm and released in 1986 originally, Murderlust is about a middle aged guy with a crappy job, a small apartment, and a desire to kill women. We don’t know how he got started, why he’s compelled to kill, or if the first woman slain in the movie was his first. All we know is that he has a dad mustache, a sweet van, and a lust to kill. He’s portrayed as an arrogant, self-centered jerk who pisses everyone he knows off. Somehow despite this, he’s in charge of teenagers at a local church and has ambitions to gain a paid position at the church as a counselor. Obviously his desires have little to do with helping anyone but himself but his transformation in church is startling. While at work he does as little as possible and fights with his co-workers. At home, his neighbor his also his cousin whom he constantly bickers with. But at church he’s the model of piety and respectability. This shows that although he has the capacity to be responsible, he chooses to be a lazy slob elsewhere. We follow him throughout the whole film as he continually abuses those that know him and kill women who dare to share a ride with him. There are no police looking for him, he is free to do as he wants to.

In short, Murderlust is a nasty flick about a creep who enjoys strangling women. Obviously a riff on Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer but without the depth, and thankfully without the graphic content, Murderlust is a surprisingly well written (if simply written) film, that has higher production values than I suspected. It’s certainly a very small independent film but it was shot on film and even features some aerial shots, likely filmed from a small helicopter. It’s a simple story that is unsettling and grim. For those that like their slasher flicks realistic and morbid, this one is for you. If the idea of spending 90 minutes with an unrepentant serial killer doesn’t float your boat (like me), then this one probably isn’t your thing. I can appreciate the film for being a solid independently produced horror flick but beyond that I doubt i’ll watch it again. It’s just not my bag. I did, however, really like the second feature film included on the dvd.

Added on as a bonus feature, Project Nightmare (1979), is the director’s first feature and of the two is far more interesting. Two guys out on a camping trip start to experience strange vibes and odd occurrences. They decide to seek refuge at a nearby home where the weirdness doesn’t stop. Bizarre lights and fantasies become reality and the three (including the woman who lived in the house) decide to get out of dodge. On their way more strange things happen that prohibit them from leaving the immediate area. They begin to suspect they are stuck in some sort of nightmare as their efforts to escape are thwarted by some unknown source. Things get more interesting from there and i’d rather not spoil it but I will tell you that the film has a unique third act involving strange technology, an animated face, and more dream logic sequences.

For my money, I think Intervision should have marketed Project Nightmare as the main release and Murderlust as the bonus. It’s a far more compelling story and much more unique then the ugly Murderlust. I understand that Murderlust will likely sell because of the sensationalist title and subject matter but Project Nightmare is a much more interesting film. It feels like a blend of Equinox (sans monsters) and Italian cinema like Suspiria (because of the strange logic of the film). It’s a great hybrid of science fiction and horror and despite it’s small budget, stays interesting with a sprinkling of interesting effects, lighting, and makeup work. It also sports a short run time at about 75 minutes so it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome either. The dvd is worth picking up for this film alone and shouldn’t be disregarded by anyone that buys the set. It’s worth more than a tack on bonus feature.

Both movies were shot on film and were transferred from the prints, not vhs rips, so the quality of the image on both films is great. The prints used were in good condition and it’s likely that these films have never looked so good. I would have loved an interview with the director about both films but we do get commentary which is a nice bonus. Otherwise the disc is bare bones. Given the obscurity of each film, I’m fine with that. Intervision saved both of these films from absolute obscurity and can be proud of preserving them.