Living in a sleazy rental home with two of my mates in the early '90s, I experienced my first instance of dual VCRs. What necessarily must happen occurred, and soon we were duplicating rental tapes - but perhaps due to some poor choices this illegal habit ended almost as soon as it began. Our first three choices were a horrible comedy about teens romancing in Greece, a truncated cut of The Devil in Miss Jones and Killing Spree. Young, irresponsible louts that we were, we watched the latter two into the ground. More fools, we.
Killing Spree is a late entry into the DTV market. Lensed in 1987 by Tim Ritter - a pioneer of the independent horror genre - the Spree foundered, searching for distribution up until right about when we rented and copied it. Sorry Tim! Now it's getting a second life as a release in the Camp Motion Pictures Retro '80s Horror Collection, and it's just as horrific, stupid and shaggily lovable as it was back then. This is no masterpiece, not intended to scare or wow you with things like acting or production values - Killing Spree invites you to a silly gore party populated by kids left behind in the wake of the Disney-fication of Hollywood horror circa 1984.
Tom Russo (Asbestos Felt) is quickly going mad as a mechanic in a bland featureless suburb of sweltering Florida. Convinced that every Tom, Dick and Harry is having his way with his hot wife, Tom adopts the titular plan, dispatching handymen, lawn-boys and delivery drivers in spectacularly (if cheaply executed) gory fashion. Lawnmower haircuts, ceiling fan machete munchers, claw-hammer jaw surgery and intestinal tug-of-war, it's all here for you bucky! Can Russo's rampage be stopped? Before you hit the stop button in ashamed disgust? Buy the ticket, take the ride, I say!
Killing Spree's faults are its virtues, because with movies of this ilk, there are no conventional virtues. Amateur actors are hampered by slap-dash script, short shooting schedule and lack of film stock that meant no more than three takes per scene. Special effects are splattery on pocket change, and visually the film is as bland as the stark white, empty tract home, (totally bare as it belonged to the producer who had just moved in and had barely unpacked) which acts as its principal location. A typical shot features a vast expanse of textured sheet-rock and a tiny disembodied head in one corner. But enough for the glass-half-empty mindset!
If you're an old-school gore lover, Killing Spree has likely been on your list since 1991. Asbestos Felt's ludicrous performance is a delight of wild hair, menacing mustache and the most awful wild-eyed stare ever put to film. How he managed to summon so much maniacal laughter while slicing and dicing is anyone's guess. As far as realistic grue, most gore-hounds love it, but everyone knows seeing an old lady's jaw ripped off in fine detail can be a bit much, sometimes the cheap stuff is far more appropriate. And production wise, there's something quite effective about the bland daylight horror of Killing Spree. The remorseless sun beating down, the cookie cutter houses with their empty patches of grass marching into the distance, the grim white interiors and crappy furniture - it's no wonder Russo wants to splash a little color around. Blood red! Mwahahahahahaha. Seriously, Killing Spree is far from the best DTV horror of the '80s, but it's not like it was ever trying.