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Psychic Killer


Title: Psychic Killer
Year Of Release: 1975
Running Time: 89 minutes
DVD Released By: Elite Entertainment
Directed By: Ray Danton
Writing Credits: Greydon Clark, Mikel Angel, Ray Danton

Starring: Paul Burke, Jim Hutton, Julie Adams
Taglines:
1. Meet Arnold Masters. He Can Think Of 1000 Ways To Kill You.
2. "First it drives you mad, then it kills and kills and kills!"
3. He freed his mind and body to commit the most sensual and shocking acts imaginable.
4. The psychic force generates the full power of the mind to penetrate and destroy by thought.
Alternate Titles:
The Kirlian Effect
The Kirlian Force
Killer Force

Review Date: 2.1.16

Shadow's Title: "Revenge of the Mama's Boy"

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DVD
Psychic Killer

Characters
Arnold Masters – Poor Arnold. He’s committed to a mental institution for a crime he did not commit. The system completely fails to help his mother, who dies while he’s incarcerated. While imprisoned, a fellow inmate gives him an amulet that allows him to project his psychic energy across space. Upon being released, Arnold uses this new ability to seek revenge on all who he feels has wronged him.
Emilio – This guy is deemed criminally insane because he freely admits to killing his own daughter as, in his own words, “she had become a whore.” He has a magic amulet that allows the person wearing it to engage in a form of astral projection. This he uses to murder the pimp that ruined his daughter before bequeathing it to Arnold so he can seek his own revenge. Emilio then throws himself from the roof and kills himself.
Dr. Laura Scott – She is the doctor that tried to help Arnold when he was behind bars. After he is released and later becomes the center of a police investigation, she is called in by the cops to help in the case. She and Lt. Morgan end up in the sack, which annoys Arnold, who seems to have developed some sort of feelings for her. She’s the first to realize how Arnold is murdering people while never leaving his house.
Lt. Jeff Morgan – A former FBI agent who decided to become a small town cop. Now he has a series of strange deaths to investigate. As the bodies pile up he gets more and more agitated at the lack of physical evidence. He finally connects all the dead people to Arnold Masters, but is unsure how Arnold may be killing these people. When the truth is finally revealed, he has a unique way of ending the threat once and for all.
Lt. Dave Anderson – This big guy was Jeff Morgan’s partner on the police force. Yeah, that about sums up his part in the movie. He didn’t do anything heroic, but neither did he do anything colossally stupid. He was just there, looking up information, compiling lists and making reports. Kind of like a secretary. A big, burly, sweaty secretary. Oh, I'm sorry...executive assistant.
Sgt. Marv Sowash – The police officer who wrongly arrested Arnold Masters. That’s enough to end up on Arnold’s shit list. Wearing hideous clothes is no doubt another. Truly, those things were beyond fugly. Sowash is also something of a man-slut and is called out more than once because he’s too busy screwing someone every night to get enough sleep for police work. Gets SPLATTED.
Nurse Martha Burnson – She was supposed to care for Arnold’s dying mother but failed to do so. She went four days without even attending to the old woman before her death. When we see her, she is “caring” for an old guy dying of cancer, which involves teasing the guy with glimpses of her boobs and oiling up her legs in front of him. Her careless attitude gets her burned and then sliced and diced.
Dr. Paul Taylor – The court appointed psychiatrist who testified at Arnold’s trial. His testimony contributed to Arnold being deemed insane and packed off to the funny farm. The Doctor here likes to take female patients to his cabin and seduce them, which indicates just how professional he really is. He is on one of these trips with Anne Turner when Arnold’s psychic force comes looking to snap his neck.
Anne Turner – This woman is a real dingdong. She decides to cheat on her husband, who we learn is away from home a lot. Okay, I can see why she’d cheat if she’s feeling neglected, but why do it with your psychiatrist? Especially if he’s at least twenty years older than you? Will she not feel as guilty about screwing another guy if the guy in question is damn near ready to join the American Association of Retired Persons?
Harvey B. Sanders – Arnold’s shyster lawyer who sold him out during his trial. I’m surprised he wasn’t at the very top of Arnold’s shit list. To further prove what a douchebag he is, we see him constantly on the phone or dictating messages, continually threatening people with legal action. He’s having an office building constructed and is already counting all the money he’s going to make from renting out the units. Gets squished.
Lemonowski – This testy fellow is the local butcher. He had nothing to do with what happened to Arnold or his mother. No, his only crime is being a raging asshole and attempting to cheat his customers. Apparently, once you start seeking revenge, even little things are worthy of death, as Arnold decides this guy needs to have some up close and personal time with all the moving blades in his butcher shop. Dr. Gubner – A university professor that Dr. Scott consults after she theorizes how Arnold is committing the murders. He has all sorts of insights into psychic phenomenon and helps explain to Lt. Morgan what Arnold is doing. He then gets pulled into the investigation, which is too bad for him, as he ends up with a razor blade smile.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Psychic Killer. Qu'est-ce que c'est. Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better. Run run run run run run run away.This movie starts off with a quote from physicist Sir James Jean. There’s even a voiceover that reads it aloud for the illiterate in the audience:

“Why should any phenomenon be assumed impossible? The universe begins to look more and more like a great thought, than a great machine.”

Huh? Is this the producers’ way of saying that we should not assume psychic phenomenon isn’t real? So any phenomenon shouldn’t be arbitrarily disregarded? How about the phenomenon of giant radioactive lizards ambulating through far eastern cities? That could totally happen! Or what about the phenomenon of socks that go missing somewhere between the hamper, the washing machine and the dryer? Where do they go? Who or what takes them? Why? That is some one hundred percent true and freaky shit right there! Oh, I know! How about…the phenomenon of competent politicians? No, wait…never mind. That one is total fantasy.

We immediately dive into the opening credits, which appear over images that seem to be taken via Kirlian photography. What’s that you ask? According to Wikipedia, which everyone knows is [sarcasm] always reliable and never wrong [/sarcasm], Kirlian photography is a collection of photographic techniques used to capture the phenomenon of electrical coronal discharges. So now you know. Anyway, these images appear for every name associated with this movie, except for the film’s title. That appears in funky red text over a black background. This makes me think that the title of the movie was changed at the last minute and a new title card substituted over the old one.

So the movie begins and what is the very first thing we see? A man screaming in terror! No, it wasn’t me looking into the mirror, dreading another craptacular film, but Arnold James Masters, who is awakening from a nightmare. He jumps up from the cot where he is sleeping and starts throwing a hissy fit. It is then that we see that poor Arnold is a patient in a mental ward of some kind. The other patients also start screaming and hollering (and laughing and probably crapping their pants and playing with it) and when an orderly tries to calm him, Arnold just pushes him to the ground. A security guard comes and unlocks the metal gate that leads out of the mental ward. Arnold pushes him aside as well and then runs through the doorway, screaming the whole time something about his mother.

After running loose a wee bit, he is eventually restrained by half a dozen orderlies, who gag him and strap him to a gurney. We learn that this is not the first time he has tried to escape. A Doctor Laura Scott appears and administers a sedative. He is then quickly ushered into a padded cell (where I may wind up, if the movies I choose to review for this site don’t end up getting better).

A few days later we see Arnold being released from the mental ward and transferred back into the general population of the institution in which he resides. An institution for the criminally insane, it seems. This fenced-in outdoor common area is located on the facility’s roof. Dr. Scott feels that he will be returning to her care at some point quite soon, but he insists that he is not insane and he will not confess to a crime that he did not commit.

Arnold makes his way through the inmates to a man standing by the fence. This is Emilio, who freely admits to murdering his own daughter, as she had “become a whore.” I know some men tend to look down on free spirited women who are comfortable with their own sexuality and who won’t let society burden them with guilt for their sexual practices, but just because a young woman has a healthy libido and enjoys the company of men is no reason to kill her! Sheesh, talk about an overreaction.

It is during their conversation that we learn Arnold’s tragic story. His mother was sick and he spent all his time caring for her. She needed an expensive operation to remove a tumor but he did not have the money to pay for it and she refused to sell her house. Her doctor refused to perform the operation and he and Arnold argued quite loudly and bitterly. Later, when Arnold returned to beg him for his help, he found that the man had been murdered and accidentally got some of his blood on him. Circumstantial evidence, along with a lawyer that sold him out and a sham of trial where his own testimony was twisted by others, led to him being found not guilty of murder…by reason of insanity, so he was packed off to the funny farm. While there, a nurse was supposed to look after his mother, but did not. His mother died and the authorities did not even tell Arnold about her death for six more months. Needless to say, Arnold is not a happy man.

Emilio says that he believes Arnold’s story and adds that he can help him. He adds that the day before he is to die, he will kill the pimp that turned his daughter into a whore. The day after he dies, he will help Arnold find justice. Wait…so Emilio’s daughter really was a whore? Not just a loose woman, but an actual pay-me-and-I’ll-let-you-put-it-in-the-bad-place whore? Well, no wonder he was ashamed of her.

Facing down, bent over.Facing up, stretched out. That’s quite the spin he performed in the space of  .0001 seconds.That night in his cell, Emilio enters a trance while Arnold watches from his own cell. The next day on the roof, Emilio explains to Arnold that he found the man he was looking for and carved his name in his chest and then slit his throat. He also says that the resident priest at the institution refused his last rites. Without missing a beat, Emilio then runs to the fence, climbs it, makes his way over the barbed wire - getting cut in the process – and then throws himself to the ground far below. Well, a cheap dummy was dropped from the roof, but it didn’t really look that convincing. Oddly enough, when Emilio launches himself from the fence, he is bent over and facing the ground. When we see the dummy falling, it is stretched out straight and facing directly up!

We see a bird’s eye view of his body on the ground as a guard rushes up to examine it. The problem with this shot is that Emilio’s body is about a hundred feet away from the base of the building. So not only did he throw himself from the roof, perform some truly amazing acrobatics while in freefall, but was also able to catapult his body a hundred feet away from the building! That guy should have been a track and field star!

“It says, ‘dear Arnie, I have decided to marry your brother as I cannot wait for you any longer…besides, the baby is his anyway, so why not?’”Sometime later, Arnold is presented with Emilio’s belongings. It seemed the deceased man had left a letter with his attorney saying that it was to go to Arnold. Amongst Emilio’s possessions is a letter that came for him that very morning. There was no return address, but it includes a newspaper clipping that details how the body of a man was found with his throat slit and his chest sliced up worse than a pound of pork loin at your local deli. Arnold realizes that the dead man is the same man that Emilio vowed to kill before he died. Not only that, but the man died in the exact manner Emilio planned for him. How did he do that when he was in prison the entire time?

When Arnold examines Emilio’s things, he finds a strange amulet. Holding it, he lays down to sleep. Almost instantly he falls into a coma-like trance and falls off his cot and into the floor. An orderly sees him and the next thing you know, Arnold is laid out naked on an examination table. It seems the authorities believe he is dead, so deep is his trance and non-existent his vital signs. Just as the medical examiner is making the first incision as part of a standard autopsy, Arnold awakens and scares the shit out of the poor man.

Soon after this, Dr. Scott and a couple other bigwigs that run the institution are discussing Arnold’s case, relieved to avoid the PR nightmare that would have resulted from his accidental death during a mistaken autopsy. Arnold is brought in and told that another man has come forward and confessed to the crimes for which Arnold has been wrongly accused of perpetrating. He is going to be released. The next thing we see is him being escorted out of the institution some time later, ready to start his life again. BTW, the movie never reveals exactly how long Arnold was incarcerated, but from dialog and other clues, I’d venture to say it was a few years.

Arnold returns to his mother’s house, which is now his. The place needs a good cleaning and a few windows replaced, but overall, it is much like the last time he saw it. Of course there are reminders of his mother everywhere he looks, which can’t help his general mood of sadness and anger. Even worse, he finds letters he had written to his mother while he was away, heavily censored by the authorities. The poor man collapses in tears.

Later he is sitting in a chair and looking through a scrapbook of newspaper clippings regarding his case that his mother no doubt had collected before she died. One headline reads Psychiatrist Testifies and another reads Masters Found Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity which lets us know how he ended up in that prison-like funny farm.

Along about now a cat shows up. I don’t know if this was his mother’s cat and it has somehow managed to eke out an existence without human help all this time, or if this is just some random stray that started squatting in his mother’s house while it was vacant. Either way, the cat begins to paw at the bundle of clothes and items that Arnold brought home with him from the funny farm.

Amongst these things is the crap he inherited from Emilio, so he pulls out the amulet and begins to fall into another trance. As he slips away, he sees images of psychiatrist Paul Taylor stabbing and murdering his mother. Not exactly what happened to be sure, but he must feel that the man contributed to her early demise.

We now cut to the real Dr. Taylor as he enters a secluded cabin, accompanied by a much younger blonde woman who is supposed to be one of his patients. She removes a wedding ring while he fixes them drinks. It is soon apparent that she is cheating on her husband for the first time with this old Lech, and despite his claim to have never brought a woman to this cabin before; his tone and demeanor suggest that he is all too familiar with seducing younger women. There goes his professional credibility right out the window!

“Okay, my dear…it’s time to let the shag carpet live up to its name.”He starts to mouth a bunch of psychobabble about her suppressed feelings for her late father. As he does this, he is slowly removing her blouse and bra. So in other words, this jerk uses the intimate knowledge of his patients which he learns in a professional capacity, to manipulate and coerce them into having sex with him? What an asswipe! Just think about the emotional and mental issues these women will have after he is done with them. They came to him for help of some kind and he screwed them over…literally!

Soon enough she is naked (not that we get to see anything good), on her back and no doubt spreading easier than whipped butter. He is over her, planting kisses on her when he hears a voice. He stops to listen. He hears it again. Why it’s his voice, repeating things that he said earlier. He gets up and starts looking around the cabin in a frenzied rush, trying to determine where the voice is originating. The woman does not seem too pleased that he is ignoring her once she has gotten completely naked for him. She claims to hear nothing, but he wonders if she is in cahoots with someone outside that is taunting him. He rushes outside, armed with a shotgun, to confront whoever may be there.

Alas, he sees nothing and nobody, but continues to hear his own voice repeating his own words. As he wanders into the trees, his words during Arnold Masters’ trial can be heard, where his testimony contributed to Arnold’s confinement in a mental institution. He takes aim at the bushes with his shotgun and fires. The next thing we see is his own dead body on the ground. What killed him?

Next up we see the blonde woman who Dr. Taylor was attempting to seduce. She is hooked up to a polygraph machine and answering questions from the police about Taylor’s death, stating that she saw or heard no one. The cops seemed really determined to get all the pertinent facts, like just how naked she was and what position she had assumed on the floor. How is that going to help? Whether she was on her back or on her knees in anticipation of doing it doggy style would make no difference! I think these cops are just getting off on these questions. They grill her about Taylor’s death, but she doesn’t know anything and is becoming more and more distraught, so the cops let her go, as it is obvious she knows nothing useful.

The cops, including Lt. Jeff Morgan and Lt. Dave Anderson are perplexed by Taylor’s death. The man had fired his shotgun at someone, but there was no trace of anyone else nearby. The blonde woman – Mrs. Turner – is not big enough to have broken his neck like it was. Even her husband, whom she was cheating on, was out of town. The cops may be mystified by events but we aren’t! We know that Arnold has used the amulet inherited from Emilio to induce a trance and then travel via some astral projection technique across space to murder Dr. Taylor.

Back over at Arnold’s place, he’s put himself into another trance and is now having visions of his mother being pushed off a cliff by a maniacal nurse. No doubt she is the one who was supposed to care for his ailing mother and only neglected her. It’s obvious that she did not push his mother over a cliff, but like Dr. Taylor before her, she is blamed by Arnold for contributing to his mother’s death.

We turn our attention to the woman in question, a nurse Burnson. She is administering a shot of some kind to an old guy in a bed. She is obviously some sort of in-home health care professional and this place belongs to him. The old guy’s eyes are about to bug out of his head at the sight of her cleavage dangling before his eyes. She teases him by talking about how tight her uniform is and exposing her bra. Then she oils up her legs in front of him, complaining about her duties the entire time. All the old guy manages to do is gasp and moan (which I admit, is my own response when confronted by a woman doing something similar). Since he isn’t due for another enema for a while, she announces that she is going to take a shower.

She leaves the old guy and picking up a small transistor radio and turning it on, begins to dance her way down the hallway to the bathroom, divesting herself of more clothing items as she goes. I’ve got to say, her dancing is terrible. She isn’t gyrating around that fast, but her moves are so uncoordinated, it’s like watching a sloth endure a seizure. She strips down to her bra and panties and checks herself in the mirror, like all vain broads are wont to do. She then removes her bra (with her back to the camera, boo!) and enters the shower, her panties having magically vanished. Through the glass shower door, we get a full, if somewhat blurry, view of her naked body from behind as she continues to twist and sway to the music.

Proving that showers are not all that crowded, the cameraman now gets in the shower as well, and we get close ups of her arms, her legs, her back and even a fair glimpse at her butt as she passes the soap over herself. Suddenly she shrieks and jumps out of the path of the water. She adjusts the heat and then resumes her efforts. Ominous music now starts to build and we know that Arnold’s psychic/astral form has entered the room.

The water again turns super-duper hot on her, but this time the shower head follows her as she tries to dodge the water spray. She tries to turn the heat down, but the dial will not turn. Neither can she open the door to get out. Lots of screaming and thrashing about ensues as she is horribly burned and scalded. She eventually crashes through the glass door (which has somehow completely changed in appearance – before it was slightly blurry, now it has a checkered pattern on it) and falls to the floor, burned, scalded and now sliced to ribbons from all that broken glass. There is a brief shot of some bloody boobs as she collapses.

“Wait, I can’t let you take the body away unless you’re eating a sandwich.”The next scene shows her body being taken away by the coroner while Lieutenants Morgan and Anderson and Sgt. Marv Sowash go over the scene. They are puzzled by the circumstances around another strange death. The shower door was jammed and severe burns obviously contributed to the woman’s death…yet the evidence shows that the water heater was not malfunctioning. The old guy that she was caring for was in no position to harm her and the bathroom was locked from the inside. So it had to have been an accident, right? Morgan has a gut feeling and wants Sowash to review the facts over the death of Dr. Taylor, in case they missed something and these two cases are related.

We see Sowash driving down the road on his way back to the woods to check out the scene of the previous death. There is some light “comedy” when he uses his police radio to speak to a woman in dispatch who he is apparently screwing on the side, before the police chief’s voice can be heard, chastising him for using police equipment to “sort out” his sex life. D’oh! Let me note right now that Sowash is played by Greydon Clark, the man that will go on to direct such classics as Satan’s Cheerleaders, Without Warning, Joysticks, Uninvited (the monster cat movie) and Dark Future among many others. Thanks for the good cinematic times, Mr. Clark!

As he drives, he passes Arnold’s mother’s house. At the window stands Arnold himself. Now he is having another vision. This time it appears to be a memory of when Sowash – as a beat cop – arrested Arnold. Why blame Sowash? The man was just doing his job! He didn’t neglect Arnold’s mother or testify against him in court like Taylor did. This poor schmuck doesn’t deserve to die. Maybe he is due for a severe ass-beating due to the truly godawful, horrendous and vomit-inducing apparel he is wearing, but die? Nope. Seriously, the suit he has on is something I would not want to be caught dead in. I think it was in fashion for about five minutes in the mid 70’s. It truly is hideous.

So as Sowash races down the street, a motorcycle cop clocks him going over the speed limit and lights him up. Sowash drives on a bit, but with the cycle in pursuit, he decides it is best if he slows down and lets the other cop know who he is. Alas, the car won’t slow down! He jams down on the brake but the car only increases in speed! He tries to call out to the cycle cop for help, explaining that he cannot control the car, but the cycle cop just keeps waving at him to pull over! Ha!

By now he is on the twisting roads in the hills and the motorcycle cop crashes when he is unable to navigate a turn at such high speed. Sowash continues on and as his car careens down the road, he sees the image of Arnold in his rear view mirror, sitting in the back seat. He turns his head, but the back seat is empty. He looks in the mirror again and there is Arnold! The car continues to race around and unable to get the door open and jump out, Sowash accompanies it over a cliff. KAPOW.

Later Morgan is debriefing the motorcycle cop, who explains what he saw. He wasn’t able to make out what Sowash was saying, but he felt that the other man had been screaming for help. He adds that it did not look like Sowash had his hands on the wheel of the car when he sideswiped him. The cycle cop leaves and Lt. Anderson comes in, saying that the car showed no sign of mechanical failure. Anderson has Sowash’s personal file and Morgan decides to look it over, in hopes of finding a connection between Dr. Taylor, Nurse Burnson and the late Sgt. Sowash.

Looking things over, he sees that Sowash was the arresting officer in the Arnold Masters case. Additionally, the late Dr. Taylor was the court appointed psychiatrist at Arnold Masters’ trial. That only leaves nurse Burnson to link to Arnold, who Morgan notes was just released from prison the day before. What? It’s only the next day after he got out of the clink and Arnold has already offed three people with his new astral projection abilities? He isn’t wasting any time, is he?

Night comes and Morgan pays a visit to Arnold’s place. He knocks on the door, but there is no answer. He knocks again and the door eases open. Just when he is about to step in, Arnold appears behind him, startling him. Morgan introduces himself as a police officer and asks to talk with him, so Arnold invites him inside and offers him a drink. Morgan opts for milk.

Morgan quickly gets to why he is there, asking if Arnold has read any recent newspapers and knows of the recent deaths. Arnold says yes. Morgan quickly outlines how the three dead people could be tied to him. Arnold realizes how it looks, but chalks it all up to coincidence, since all the deaths appear to be accidental. He says that the police would not want to wrongly accuse him of a crime, again, adding that perhaps Sowash should not have been driving so fast. Morgan finishes his milk and goes to leave, but reveals that in no news story was speed mentioned as a factor in Sowash’s death. Arnold believes that justice caught up with the three dead folks. When Morgan wonders aloud if justice will be catching up with any others, Arnold just replies with “We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?”

The next day Morgan has his partner Anderson make up a list of anyone connected to Arnold’s trial that may be a potential target. He also authorizes a tap on Arnold’s phone and twenty-four hour surveillance on him. Dr. Scott from the institution joins him as he heads out to tail Arnold. They catch up with Arnold as he enters Lemonowski’s butcher shop to buy some meat. Morgan grills Scott on Arnold’s behavior in prison, but she tells him that he always maintained his innocence and never vowed revenge of any kind.

“You two are supposed to be surveilling the suspect’s place, not spying on the sorority house next door.”Later, in the stakeout house, Morgan, Anderson and Scott watch Arnold through a telescope as he sits in his chair and feeds his cat. Anderson notes that Arnold sat in that chair earlier for three hours and never made a move. As they watch, Arnold seems to fall asleep. They make a phone call to wake him up, but he does not stir. They continue to let the phone ring, but Arnold has lapsed into one of his psychic trances and cannot hear it.

We get a brief look of who Arnold is thinking about now before we see that same man driving down the road, talking to someone on a car phone. Now, don’t think for one moment that the car phone looks anything like the mobile phones we have today. It looks just like the standard phone we had back in the 70’s, only he has one in his car. What it is using to connect with other lines is something I do not know. I think this was before the satellites were put into place that we use now, so either it is connecting via radio or the back end of that car is trialing one really, really, really long phone cord.

Anyway, the guy in the car is Harvey B. Sanders and he seems to be into real estate. He is developing a property where rental units are being constructed and he stops off at the jobsite to see how things are going. Harvey seems to be quite the asshole. He’s constantly talking to someone on his car phone about his deals, complaining about one thing or another. He visits the jobsite solely because he feels that without constant supervision the workers will screw him over. When he gets there, he dictates into a recorder a message to his secretary detailing how annoyed he is with little details and threatening legal action against those who have failed him.

There doesn’t appear to be anyone on the site today and as Harvey walks around, he is constantly talking into his recorder, making notes on changes that need to be made. As he does so, he fails to see a hook hanging from a crane as it slowly swings over and latches onto a huge concrete cornerstone with his name chiseled into the side. The crane lifts the block high in the air and begins to track Harvey as he walks around, now gleefully singing Giuseppe Verdi’s La Donna e Mobile. Just as he builds to a crescendo, the block is released above him and SPLAT. Scratch one asswipe.

A short time later, Arnold wakes from his trance and answers the phone, which has been ringing nonstop for who knows how long. When he answers, Dr. Scott greets him and feeds him a story about how she is in town for one day and would like to drop by to see how he is doing. He agrees and she makes plans to stop by in fifteen minutes.

She arrives at his place and asks how he is doing. He says he is doing well. She sees the amulet around his neck and asks to see it. He refuses. She recognizes it as having once belonged to Emilio. He says that it belongs to him now. He decides to make some tea, despite her not wanting any. About now, Lt. Morgan comes through the front door and says that Dr. Scott needs to go with him. Arnold seems angry she is working with the police, but says that she needs to go with Morgan as the Lieutenant has a “real emergency.” As Morgan and Scott, leave, the former is convinced that Arnold somehow knows what has recently transpired.

Later Morgan and Scott are listening to the recording Harvey Sanders was making when he got flattened by that cornerstone. They wonder how a locked and unattended crane could have dropped it on poor Harvey. Dr. Scott admits to being interested in the case now. They move on to calling each other by their first names and he invites her to dinner at his place.

After dinner, she compliments him on his cooking and they tell each other about their pasts and what led them to the careers they have now. Not one to waste any time, she tells him that they should just go to bed and she’ll meet him there when he has finished his wine. “I’m finished!” he remarks, following her. HA! Let’s hope for her sake that the wine is the only thing he finishes quickly.

Later, after all the kinky monkey sex that no doubt took place, Dr. Scott climbs out of bed to get a glass of water, Morgan still snoozing away in post coital bliss. In the kitchen she sees the image of Arnold a few feet away. He says that he has been watching her and ignores her questions when she asks if he had anything to do with the recent murders. He says that he watched her have sex with Morgan and wished that it had been him in bed with her instead. Long about now Morgan appears to see if she is all right. The image of Arnold has vanished. Dr. Scott says she wants to go to where the cops are watching Arnold’s house and she wants to go right NOW. Well, I hope she plans on putting on her pants first.

Pow. Just like that we’re over at the surveillance site, where the cops on duty tell Dr. Scott that Arnold has been asleep in his chair the entire night and has not moved until about fifteen minutes ago. Dr. Scott is upset, as she knows she saw Arnold in Morgan’s house despite him being in his chair all night. She has a colleague that she wants to consult, so she and Morgan head out.

We now jump to a university class room where that colleague, a Dr. Gubner, is showing the pair of them a series of slides and talking about how everything has an energy aura. He goes on to explain that many in the parapsychology field believe that the energy forces within a person can be controlled and even projected across great distances. There is a lot of talk about psychic phenomenon and it ends up with Gubner accompanying Morgan and Scott to the surveillance site to watch Arnold as he sits in his chair, deep within a trance.

“No breath and no heartbeat. He’s a Republican all right.”They decide to have a closer look, so the three of them head over to Arnold’s house and barge in, under the pretense that when he did not answer their calls, they became concerned for him and entered. They find Arnold in his chair, unresponsive to any external stimuli. They examine him and determine that he has no pulse and is not breathing. He’s in the same state he was in when they almost performed an autopsy on him at the institution. Medically, he can be considered to be dead. Gubner even sticks a pin in his hand which elicits no response. Scott calls attention again to the amulet that Arnold inherited from Emilio. Gubner says that all they can do is wait for Arnold to return to his body.

Speaking of Arnold, deep within his mind (wherever it may be) he is having a vision of Lemonowski the butcher murdering his mother with a cleaver. The butcher! What the hell did that poor guy do, sell his mom some bad lamb chops? Why murder this guy? Hell, I still don’t know why he murdered that last guy, Harvey B. Sanders. The movie has never shown any connection between them. EDIT: It turns out Sanders was his shyster lawyer, so he was totally deserving of that cornerstone landing on him…just for being a lawyer, mind you.

Over at his shop, the butcher is selling some meat to a customer, played by a pre Touched by an Angel (and somewhat smaller) Della Reese. The two snap at each other as the transaction takes place, with the butcher trying to cheat her by secretly placing his hand on the scale when weighing the very fatty looking meat. Maybe that is why Arnold dislikes the guy: he cheats his customers. Still, I don’t see why that is any reason to murder the poor slob. Ass whoop? Sure. Kill? Nope. Or maybe it’s cuz the guy is raging asshole. He comes unglued when she pays with food stamps. I’m not sure why, as there is a big sign right on the display case window that clearly reads, “We accept food stamps.” She threatens to report him to the "food and welfare people" for his business practices as well as the NAACP for his racist comments. After much yelling and screaming on both their parts, she leaves and he closes the shop for the night, though he doesn’t lock the door (convenient for later on).

He heads into the back where there are large sides of beef and pork hanging from hooked chains. He pulls one along the track in which the chain is set and takes it over to a station where it can be further cut up to make chops, steaks, whatever. He turns to get another, but the next side of meat on the track is moving in his direction by itself. It comes swinging his way and as he tries to dodge out of the way, his leg hits the switch on one of the machines. The slab of beef bumps into him and he is pushed hard, his hand going straight into the now active meat grinder. Ouch, I hate it when then happens.

So he screams in agony as his hand is turned into hamburger. A large press comes down and squishes his arm flat and then we see a band saw start up. Now either it is part of a machine where it is moving towards him, or he is on some type of moving table and is approaching the saw blade. Either way, his immediate future looks to be very, very bad.

Back at Arnold’s place, he wakes up to find Morgan, Scott and Gubner in his room. The three confront him and tell him that they know he is using some sort of psychic phenomenon to kill people. He doesn’t outright deny it, perhaps because he knows there is no physical proof linking him to any of the deaths. Gubner warns him that he might not be able to control this ability, but Arnold asks them all to leave. As they head out, Arnold tells Morgan that there are good deals to be had at Lemonowski’s butcher shop, with “fresh cuts” available.

Morgan and Lt. Anderson race to the butcher shop and run inside. Funny, I thought Lemonowski was closed. Good thing he left the door unlocked. Anyway, after calling out to the butcher they head into the back. What should come swinging their way, dangling from a chain? Why it’s Lemonowski’s mutilated and headless body.

At the police station, Morgan, Scott and Gubner discuss their options on what to do with Arnold. Morgan then remembers that when in his trances, Arnold can be deemed medically dead. Morgan then says he doesn’t need the others’ help anymore and runs out. Scott and Gubner think he intends to kill Arnold, so they wish to try and convince Arnold to accept their protection. Of course now that Arnold knows that everyone is on to him, who is gonna get killed first?

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

At Arnold’s place he is entering another trance, this time fantasizing about having sex with Dr. Scott. While he is out of his body cavorting around in psychic form, Morgan brings the medical examiner to Arnold’s place and has him declared dead, even having the man sign the death certificate right then and there. Arnold’s body is taken away by the coroner, in a station wagon of all things. Scott and Gubner arrive too late to stop it. After Morgan leaves with Arnold’s body, Gubner realizes that Arnold was not wearing his amulet and races into Arnold’s house.

Now, one would think that if Arnold’s body was no longer in physical contact or proximity to his magic amulet, that he’d wake right up from his trance, but nope. I guess once you’re in a trance, you’re in until you decide to wake up.

Morgan has Arnold’s body taken straight to the crematorium and immediately loaded into an oven. Meanwhile, Scott and Gubner search Arnold’s house. She finds his old boyhood room, covered in dust and cobwebs. Gubner calls to her from another room, but when she races to see what he has found, she finds him dead, his throat slashed. Nearby is the astral form of Arnold, which I must say, looks a little haggard. He looks like he hasn’t slept in 20 years. His skin is wrinkled, his hair has strands of gray and looks much poofier and he has what looks like blood running from his eyes. Not what I’d call a good look.

What’s the matter? Cat got your magical, astral projection amulet?Arnold’s astral form picks up and dons the amulet and then begins talking about what happened to his mother. Just about when it seems like he might visit some harm on Dr. Scott, the cheap wood coffin containing his body is pushed into the furnace at the crematorium. He senses what is happening and begins to stumble around and gasp. Finally he lets out a horrible scream. Over in that burning coffin, he awakes in his body to find himself being burned alive and proceeds to scream some more. A lot. Eventually he is reduced to ash.

At his home, his astral form has vanished, leaving the amulet, which has fallen out the window and retrieved by his pet cat. We freeze frame on the cat as it approaches the amulet. What, is the cat going to seek revenge on those who killed his owner? Are there going to be psychic manifestations of cat auras running around town trying to trip people or claw them up? I hope not, cuz that sequel would suck.

Roll credits.

The End.


Shadow's Thoughts

This film is surprisingly watchable. At first glance, it may seem like a potential bore, as having the killer projecting his psychic force doesn’t exactly scream frightening or action packed, but the end result is actually somewhat entertaining. In fact, every time I watch the movie, I am surprised at how fast it moves and how quickly it is over.

To really help the pace move along, the film seems to be comprised of several set pieces with brief moments of plot mixed in between. After introducing us to the main character of Arnold and setting up the premise of the film, things get underway immediately with the first murder scene. This is followed relatively fast by the next one and the next one and so on. Each murder is carried out in a different way and though not as creative as other films, there is enough individuality to each death to make it seem like things are not just being repeated.

The investigation into the deaths and the eventual scrutiny placed on Arnold happens between these death scenes, but they are concise and move things along quite fast. In fact, the jump from “what is going on?” to full on “psychic projection is at work here!” happens awfully fast and nobody seems to really question it too much. One minute Dr. Scott thinks little of Arnold’s involvement in the murders and the next she is convinced of what is going on. That is one aspect I found a little hard to swallow, as Lt Morgan, with little persuasion, buys right into the psychic projection angle and is instantly off and running dangerously close to vigilante land. I would have found it slightly more realistic if they had at least wrestled with the idea of psychic projection at first, before grudgingly coming to realize that there was no other option to explain things.

Speaking of Morgan, I found him to be both real and somewhat unreal. Yes, I suspect a real police detective will be frustrated by the lack of clues and eager to find something – anything – on which to build a case, but Morgan’s stubborn refusal to let anything go almost borders on cliché- the dedicated cop who will do anything to see that the guilty party is brought to justice. He almost seems to take it personally that these murders are being committed in his jurisdiction and at times his anger is palpable.

Likewise, Arnold is another study in contrasts. At first, it is almost impossible to not sympathize with the poor man when you hear his sad story. The injustice of it all is infuriating and one could easily imagine how they would feel in similar circumstances. Yet, somewhere along the line, Arnold crosses from a sympathetic, broken man to a mad killer that engenders nothing but loathing. Sure, everyone fantasizes about getting back at those who have wronged us, and we can understand his desire to hurt those that he feels contributed to his mother’s demise, but he doesn’t just stop once that is done. The power he now possesses has become to alluring to him, too easy to use in order to lash out at anyone who has annoyed him, such as the poor butcher. Yes, that guy was an asshole, but did he really deserve to die in such a horrible manner? Of course not, and it is at that point that the audience realizes that Arnold can longer be sympathized with, but detested and pitied. He becomes a monster in his quest for vengeance, very much reflecting the quote from Nietzsche, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

The lack of any fancy special FX may seem like a negative, but in truth, one may not even notice this. While there is a bit of blood, there is no gore that would require any sort of makeup effects. The music is comprised of your standard 70’s spooky themes and possibly because I was a small child during the time and much more impressionable when initially exposed to it, but I find the music to be effective in conveying a sense of doom and dread. However, the number of times I watched this movie for this review was upwards of seven or eight – and by the end the music that played during Nurse Burnson’s little dance and subsequent shower is now firmly lodge in my brain and won’t let go.

Overall, Psychic Killer is not a fantastic movie, but it is certainly better than one might expect. It moves quickly and keeps the viewer engaged throughout its running time. You can’t ask too much more than that, right?

 

Expect To See:
Action – There are a brief few moments with a runaway car being manipulated by an external force and a motorcycle cop who is chasing after it. It’s not exactly thrilling, but there is enough excitement to warrant this icon. Barely.
Crazed Killers - Arnold starts out killing people as a way to seek revenge. By the end, he is offing people in sadistic, messy ways for just being annoying (anyone named Kardashian had better watch out).
Dancing – In one brief scene, Nurse Burnson starts stripping and doing this funky little dance to the music from a small radio. Her movements made me think that perhaps she had ants crawling over her, but nope.
Extreme Violence - Lots of people killed in violent, gruesome ways. While nothing is ever shown in detail and most everything happens out of view, it’s obvious that several left behind quite the sticky mess.
Nudity - There is some brief nudity when Nurse Burnson strips and then takes a shower. Don’t expect to see very much, and certainly not for very long. Blink and you’ll miss it. In fact, forget I even mentioned it.
Sex - Lt. Morgan and Dr. Scott work together to see how Arnold is connected to the murders. Working together also means dinner, wine and some late night boom-boom. Of course, this happens off screen, so don’t get your hopes up.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 8
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 5
Glasses of milk consumed: 1
Cigarettes smoked: 1
Gunshots fired: 1
Naked blondes: 2
Bare boobs: 2
Bare butts: 1
Vehicle crashes: 2
Trances entered by Arnold: 8
Psychic trips taken by Arnold: 7
Actors who were also in Creature from the Black Lagoon: 2

07 Min – Cue the violin music.
12 Min – Random act of violence against a dummy.
14 Min – That must be a picture of the whore.
21 Min – Did anyone in the 70’s have decent-looking wallpaper?
34 Min – Is she dancing or suffering from a seizure?
35 Min – Suddenly it’s become a commercial for Zest soap.
36 Min – Back in the 70's, my dad had a fugly suit nearly identical to that monstrosity.
41 Min – Somewhere between the road and the cliff’s edge, his car changed make and model.
56 Min – SPLAT.
68 Min – Ask Dr. Stupid!
78 Min – Those are two cops in desperate need of a chuck roast.
86 Min – How many times are they going play that scream?


Shadow's Drinking Game: Everytime Arnold has a vision in black and white, chug a beer.

 

Images Click for larger image

Please donate and help the plight of
these poor actors, who are desperate
to find roles in respectable films.


“But we need the office supply
budget increased. I don’t have
nearly enough pencils.”


“Okay, what’s the secret hand shake?”

 
“Keep down all the noise out here,
I’m trying to get laid!
And keep off my lawn!”


“How come those other guys get
to question Sharon Stone in a
miniskirt with no underwear on, but
we have to deal with this ditz?”


I don't know which is the greater
crime, manufacturing a suit like
that or wearing a suit like that.



 
“Car 27 to dispatch, are you absolutely
certain
there isn’t a crime in progress
at a donut shop or something?”

 
“What? No cookies to go with the milk?”

Hey, this is a hands free state, pal.
Put the phone down!

Tetris can kill.

Damn, someone needs to call
the Maid Brigade.

“The hills are alive, with the
sound of music!”

 

Immortal Dialog

Doctors at the mental hospital discuss recent events.

Dr. Cormmanger: “Patients jumping over walls, autopsies performed on patients while they’re still alive…do you have any idea what would have happened if we’d killed Masters before that paper came out?”
Dr. Scott: “I’m sure Mr. Masters would have been justifiably upset.”

Shadow’s Comment: Yeah, I know I really hate it when I get killed. It tends to ruin the day.

 


Arnold's astral projection talks to Dr. Scott about her late night activities.

Arnold: “I watched you make love to him. I wish it had been me.”

Shadow’s Comment: Wait, I'm confused. He wishes he'd been with her...or with him? He was in prison after all.

 

Keep In Mind
  • Autopsies are best performed in dark rooms with a single light.
  • Abandoned houses come with their own cat.
  • Mind’s eye visions always occur in black and white.
  • The recoil from a single barrel shotgun is enough to snap your neck.
  • Shrinking nurse uniforms are a common phenomenon in cinema.
  • Cola and donuts are cops preferred food while on stakeouts.
  • Every doctor travels with a stethoscope.
  • Dead bodies are taken to the police station first before the morgue.
  • Coroner’s departments transport bodies in plain, unmarked station wagons.
  • One’s astral/psychic form will look thirty years older than one’s true appearance.
  • Astral projections cast shadows and can lift physical objects.

 




This Film & Me

I can actually remember seeing this movie in the theater as a young child. In May of 1975, when this movie had its North American release, I was six years old. I have no memory whatsoever of TV ads for this film, I just remember going to see it with my dad. It must have been something that he wanted to see and since I loved going to movies, I went with him. It was a good thing my mom stayed home, because she would have chewed my dad out for taking me to such a film at that age. I can clearly remember that we arrived late for the film (this happened a lot as my dad was always running late) and came into the movie when Arnold and Emilio are having their first rooftop conversation. I remember that I clearly understood what was going on in the movie, with Arnold using some amulet to send his mind across space to kill people who he thought had contributed to his mother’s death. Though these elements were clear to me, some of the details were lost on a six-year old. I remember thinking that Arnold was mistakenly cremated while in his trance and not that it was purposefully done. I also recall looking over the poster for the film in the lobby afterwards and noticing that the Harvey Sanders character was depicted as wearing pants rather than the shorts he was sporting in the movie. I caught the film on TV a time or two in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but did not have a chance to see it in full again until just a few years ago. In my mind I recalled the movie as being rather crappy, but as an adult, I found it to be halfway entertaining, especially since I could now pick up on subtle nuances to which my childhood mind was oblivious.

Shadow's rating: Five Tombstones



The Good

  • Movie has a good pace
  • Brief nudity!
  • Believable characters

The Bad

  • How quickly everyone jumps on the psychic projection bandwagon
  • Stock footage used for car crash

The Ugly

  • Marv Sowash's hideous suit
  • Hideous 70's wallpaper and carpet
  • Sweater vest = fugly

 

 

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