The Killing Kind – USA, 1973

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‘Did you ever want to strangle your mother?’

The Killing Kind is a 1973 American psychological horror thriller feature film directed by Curtis Harrington (Night TideWhoever Slew Auntie Roo?; Ruby) based on a screenplay by Tony Crechales (Point of Terror; House of Terror; The Attic), that was revised by producer George Edwards, a frequent Harrington collaborator.

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Harrington extensively researched studies of serial murderers and said he had been complimented on the film’s accuracy. The film features music by Andrew Belling (Crash!; End of the WorldZoltan… Hound of Dracula) and cinematography by Italian cinematographer Mario Tosi (Frogs; Carrie). The movie stars Ann Sothern, John Savage, Ruth Roman and Luana Anders.

The Killing Kind will be released by Vinegar Syndrome as a Blu-ray/DVD combo with reversible artwork on October 30, 2018. The movie has been restored in 2K from the 35mm original camera negative. Special features:

  • Audio commentary by David Decoteau of RapidHeart and David Del Valle of SinisterImage
  • Archival interview with director Curtis Harrington
  • Harrington on Harrington – Career-spanning interview with Curtis Harrington, directed by Jeffrey Schwarz and Tyler Hubby

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Terry (John Savage) is a man whose mind is destroyed after being sent to prison for two years for a brutal assault in which he too was a victim, when the victim, Tina Moore (Susan Bernard), lied about the exact nature of the incident.

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Terry’s mother, Thelma (Ann Sothern), runs a boarding house primarily for elderly ladies. Terry and Thelma have a relationship of unusual intimacy.

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Terry returns home after the prison stay and moves back in with his mother, spying on their new attractive young tenant.

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When his mother wishes that Tina were dead, Terry borrows the car and runs her off the road.

He then kills Rhea Benson (Ruth Roman), the attorney who failed to get him a reduced sentence. He is heavily influenced by the power of suggestion in his vengeance…

Reviews:

“Immersive horror film cum character study is a lost gem among dozens of 70s style ferociousness on film. While Harrington’s movie is occasionally shocking, the performances of its two leads are the pictures life blood. Highly recommended for those who appreciate a carefully constructed horror thriller with mounting suspense and occasional shocks.” Cool Ass Cinema

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“But when the focus is on Savage and his mother, I had no issues at all, as these scenes work great (again, as more of a drama than a horror film). She actually unknowingly sets him on his murderous path, as both of them seemingly live to please the other. Yes, it gets a bit icky at times (many a kiss goodnight is on the lips), and will of course invite some comparisons to Psycho, but it actually provides the film with most of its suspense.” Horror Movie a Day

“Terry’s rage and confusion begins to spiral deeper and faster with each female encounter. While Curtis Harrington’s pacing may seem a little slow for some, it is nonetheless an effective psychological study of a murderer. Although compared to similar fare, such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Killing Kind can feel quite quaint.” Jason McElreath, DVD Drive-In

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“So, even with some colorful kills, such as Terry forcing a woman to drink a paralyzing amount of liquor before setting her on fire, The Killing Kind is really just another crude Hitchcock rip-off, right down to the Rear Window­­-style shots of a neighbor spying on Terry with binoculars.” Peter Hanson, Every ’70s Movie

Release:

In the US, the film was handled by Media Trend Productions, a distributor about whom Harrington said in interview “They knew about as much about distribution as my grandmother”.

In the US, Paragon Video released it on VHS in 1987 (a British VHS release was retitled The Psychopath). It was later released as the second half a double-bill with James Landis’s The Sadist (1963) on a DVD from Diamond Entertainment Corporation in 2003.

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Buy DVD: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Dark Sky Films released the film on Region 1 DVD in 2007. The release features an interview with Harrington made shortly before his death.

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The Killing Kind Strangle Your Mother Ann Sothern John Savage

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Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

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Choice dialogue:

Thelma Lambert: “That lousy lawyer. I could have done a better job myself.”

Terry Lambert: “How can a lady judge be tough? I mean, women are supposed to be soft and cuddly, and they smell so sweet and pretty.”

Terry Lambert: “I like the rain. It shuts everything out.”

Image credits: VHS Collector

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