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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Zodiac Killer
Zodiac Killer
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // July 19, 2005
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted July 14, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Based on a series of true-life murders that terrorized the San Francisco community in the late 1960's, Ulli Lommel's Zodiac Killer is an unbelievably awful movie. You'd think that a guy who made a movie all the way back in 1980 (The Boogeyman) would, by now, have the skills to deliver a movie better than this ... but oh how wrong you'd be.

Comprised almost entirely of footage that looks and sounds like lost Handycam footage from 1989, Zodiac Killer is as low-rent and chintzy as movies come. (And I know that there's a big difference between "low-budget" and "low-rent.") Frankly you'll be amazed that something this amateurish was even picked up for distribution. This one could have skipped direct-to-video and gone direct-to-landfill.

The plot, and here's where I muffle a giggle, takes place in modern day; a new Zodiac Killer has hit the scene, and it will take all the investigational skills of one addled septuagenarian author to thwart the murderer's plans. Or maybe the old coot's trying to supply the killer with extra victims, thereby making for a juicier exposé.

But honestly, between the point, plant & shoot directorial style, the inept editing, the laughable acting performances, and a story that never once graduates past terminally dull -- I had a pretty tough time following the plot. Also, it's tough to watch a movie while you're slamming your head into walls on purpose.

You think I'm exaggerating. Tell you what; head on over to Best Buy and pick up the cheapest digital camera they have. While driving home, write a screenplay about fact-based crimes that you hope to ghoulishly exploit, and then beg all your neighbors to read their lines in the driest and most wood-like way possible. Ask the local paperboy to hold the camera while the words spill out, and then head home to splice some old news footage into the mix. Voila. You've just directed a better movie than Zodiac Killer.

Frankly I'm stunned to see such a barrel-bottom terrible title to spring from the folks at Lions Gate. My guess is that movies like Zodiac Killer were bequeathed to Lions Gate after their acquisition of the Artisan library. But that doesn't explain why they bothered to release such a childishly inept piece of garbage. It's not even "so bad it's good" -- it flies right by that designation and lands firmly on "so irritatingly bad it's likely to make you smash your head against a wall."

The DVD

Video: Looking for all the world like a Spanish soap opera, Zodiac Killer is presented in a non-anamorphic letterbox transfer. Picture quality is equal to that really cool video you took of last summer's beach picnic.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish. Audio quality sounds like an on-location weatherman during a very windy day.

Extras: There's an audio commentary with director Ulli Lommel and producer P'Yvonne Woods, but frankly folks, I'd rather inject a pound of frozen acid directly into my eardrums. I wouldn't be surprised if this track ends up as the universe's least listened-to audio commentary. Of all time. Also included is a block of trailers for Zodiac Killer, Rottweiler, Man-Thing, Zombiez, They Are Among Us, Alien 3000, Gacy, Undead, and The Devil's Rejects.

Final Thoughts

Since the real Zodiac Killer was never brought to justice, it only stands to reason that a filmmaker would come along and "sequelize" such a tragic turn of actual events. Even more unsavory is the fact that the movie would turn out this woefully unwatchable. It's not scary, it's not engaging, hell, it's hardly even an actual movie.

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