Killing Spree - Killing Spree(Blu Ray & DVD) [SRS Cinema - 2019]From SRS Cinema here we have the definitive release of Killing Spree- the third classic underground horror film from Tim Ritter. Originally released in 1987 itís an amusing, at times deranged shot of lo-fi 16 mm fun, with creative killings and effective moments of low budget splatter goodness.
This new edition of the film is offered up in a duel Blu Ray & DVD reissue of the picture- and we get a good selection of extras, first off thereís a new longer cut of the film, a new commentary track on the longer cut by Ritter, the original cut, and hour & half early doc about Ritter, interviews, etc. This new edition is fittingly ltd to just 666 copies- so youíll need to act fast if you want to hook a copy.
Killing Spree appeared just a year after Ritters break-out film, the decidedly creative and unhinged Truth Or Dare: Critical Madness. And while it still has the low-budget creativity & charm of Truth Or Dare, itís a lot more fun and campy focused in its intent, and presentation- so much of whatís here itís particularly unsettling, or stomach-churning.
The film follows skinny & big bearded airplane engineer Tom Russo- played by the wonderful named Asbestos Felt (surely not his real name!). Tom and his wife Leeza have just got married and moved into their new house- fairly soon Tom starts getting jealous that is wife is cheating on him. This paranoia is enhanced by when he reads what he think is her diary, but turns out to be rough notes for stories she writing for a racy romance magazine. Fairly soon Tom Flips and starts knocking off first his best friend-battering him to death with his new punk girlfriends severed head. Then he moves onto various workmen & neighbors. He takes out each in a fairly creative way- so, for example, the electrician gets the top of his head sliced off by a kitchen knife strapped ceiling fan, or he throws a screwdriver in the head of a delivery man before setting fire to him. Unfortunately after heís buried the bodies they start coming back to life, in a decidedly amusingly manner ala Re-Animator/ Return of the Living Dead Fashion.
Considering the film has a title like Killing Spree, and the film's poster shows Russo surrounded by severed & reanimated pieces of human copse- it does take a little time to drop into the gore & killing- so things stay fairly blood-less for the first forty or so minutes. When things do kick in Ritter attacks us with first one effect after another, and these get more deranged & extreme as the film progresses. But donít let that make you think the beginning of the film is a plod, itís far from it as we get amusing enough dialogue, Russo rolling his eyes & getting more upset, and the chuckle-worthy imagined encounters between his wife & the workmen. As follow-up films go Killing Spree is pretty damn good, itís just not quite as extreme or deranged as his breakout film.
I've only watched the new extended cut on the Blu Ray- and this looks pretty damn good for 16mm film from 1987, and really it doesnít seem that dated at all- though thankfully, for this type of low-budget gore film, it hasnít been over cleared up or polished- so it still has a slightly grimy 1980ís edge.
Moving onto the extras on the Blu Ray- and we get a fair bit- first off we get a new commentary from Ritter for this longer cut of the film- here he starts off discussing the reasons for the new cut, going onto talk about the film's location, itís cast, and crew. Then he moves onto discuss his influences and says that he wanted ĎKilling Spree to be a mix of Manic, and Return Of The Living Dead, with a John Waters toneí which I think is a great description of the film. On the whole, the track is packed with facts, observations, and background info- with Ritter coming across very approachable and down-to-earth. Next, we get the original cut of the film- this takes in two older commentary tracks. We get the Blinded By Blood documentary- this Iím guessing was recorded year or so after the release of Killing Spree- and it starts by discussing/ showing behind the clips from his films before Killing Spree, then moves onto behind the scene footage and effects making from Killing Spree- cast and crew interviews, and more, with the whole doc been topped off by the short effects scene Ritter did to get investors. We get the whole isolated soundtrack, a filmed 1994 local radio interview between Ritter & gore godfather H.G. Lewis- where Lewis is very unkind & cruel about Killing Spree. The Blu rays finished off three alternative scenes, and a blooper reel. On the DVD we just the new longer cut, the new commentary track, and one of the original Commentary track. I believe both discs are region free- so you should be able to watch them anywhere in the world.Roger Batty
All in all itís great to see this underground US 1980ís horror classic back in print again- and the new cut & new commentary track will make collectors want to pick this up again, and for those who have never seen it before this is an ideal time to pick it up- though I wouldnít hang around too long- because as I mentioned there where only 666 copies made of this two-disc set.