Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Sundays, I will be reviewing the made-for-television movies that used to be a primetime mainstay. Today’s film is 1984’s City Killer. It can be viewed on YouTube!
Leo Kalb (Terrence Knox) has come to Chicago. In many ways, Leo would appear to have a lot going for him. He’s intelligent. He’s reasonably good looking. He served honorably in the military. Despite his intelligence, he comes across as being a bit of an innocent in the big city. He’s got a good job, working as an electrician. It might not be glamorous work but there’s always something appealing about a man who knows how to work with his hands.
Unfortunately, all of those appealing qualities are negated by the fact that Leo’s a loon. The main reason he’s come to Chicago is to stalk Andrea McKnight (Heather Locklear). The main reason that Andrea moved to Chicago was to get away from Leo. Like Leo, Andrea has found some success in Chicago but that’s all turned upside down when Leo calls her and says that he wants to get back together. Andrea doesn’t want anything to do with Leo so Leo starts blowing up buildings.
That’s right, he starts blowing up buildings. He also announces that he wants the city of Chicago to pay him an exorbitant amount of money. He wants a helicopter to fly him to the airport. He wants to take an airplane to South America, where his bomb-building skills will presumably be put to good use by the The Shining Path. And he wants Andrea to come with him. As become clear, the money and the plane are really just red herrings. Mostly, he just wants Andrea. The press calls him the Love Bomber.
Lt. Eckford (Gerald McRaney) is assigned to try to negotiate with Leo and also to keep an eye on Andrea. Needless to say, Andrea takes one look at Lt. Eckford’s powerful mustache and she starts to fall in love with him. Eckford, meanwhile, starts to fall Andrea, even though he’s a bit older than her and there’s a paternal element to the way that he talks to her that just makes the whole thing feel kind of icky. (That said, if a mad bomber is blowing up the city just because you won’t date him, it’s perhaps understandable that you would fall for the first person who could not only provide protection but who also didn’t try to make you feel guilty about what was going on.) Leo senses that Andrea and Eckford are falling in love and he becomes determined to blow up even more stuff.
City Killer is a bit of ridiculous film. The main problem is that the viewer is asked to believe that, even though Leo is the most wanted man in Chicago and is dominating all the headlines, he could still safely wander around the city and wire building to explode without anyone noticing. The film presents itself as being a police procedural but one gets the feeling that police must be incredibly incompetent for Leo to successfully blow up so many buildings. That said, Gerald McRaney is a properly sturdy hero and Terrence Knox is convincingly unhinged as Leo, begging Andrea to love him even while threatening to blow up the very building on which she’s standing. Heather Locklear doesn’t got to do much, other than answer the phone and look upset whenever a building explodes, but she does it well. As a veteran TV actress, she knew how to embrace the melodrama and, when you’re appearing in a film like City Killer, that’s the best thing you can do.