Lisa Marie’s Grindhouse Trailers: 6 Trailers For The 3rd Thursday in October

Well, here we are! It’s the third Thursday in October and that means that it’s time for another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!

Since today is Boris Karloff’s birthday, I thought I would devote this edition to everyone’s favorite reanimated corpse, Frankenstein’s Monster! Over the years, there’s been a lot of movies about the Monster. Here are the trailers for six of them!

  1. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Believe it or not, there was a time when it was felt that the story of Frankenstein and his Monster has been played out. With the Universal films bringing in less and less money, many felt that the Monster’s days were behind it. Then, Hammer, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee came along and said, “No! This is what Frankenstein is all about!”

At least, I assume that’s what they said. I hope they did.

2. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1965)

You can’t keep a good Frankenstein down as Jesse James discovered in this 1965 western.

3. Lady Frankenstein (1971)

In this Italian film, the Baron’s daughter continues her father’s scientific experiments! I guess Jesse James wasn’t the only one to meet Frankenstein’s Daughter!

4. Flesh for Frankenstein (a.k.a. Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein) (1973)

Udo Kier is the Baron and Andy Warhol may have been the producer of this film. Or he may have just lended his name out for the money. It depends on who you ask.

5. Blackenstein (1973)

Of course, following the success of Blacula, there was a blaxploitation take on Frankenstein.

6. Frankenhooker (1990)

And, of course, who can forget Frankenhooker?

I hope that your Halloween is full of the type of creativity and scientific curiosity that made the Frankenstein family legendary!

The TSL’s Grindhouse: John Carpenter’s Vampires (dir by John Carpenter)

Wow, there certainly are a lot of vampires in New Mexico!

Well, I guess I can understand the logic behind it.  My family used to visit New Mexico frequently.  We even lived there for a few months when I was a kid.  If you’re looking for a place to hide out, New Mexico is a good place to do it.  You can drive for hours without seeing another car or another person.  Add to that, New Mexico is state where people respect your privacy.  No one’s going to show up at your house demanding to know why you only come out at night.

Of course, if I was a vampire, I might avoid New Mexico because of the bright sunlight.  Seriously, if you’re trying to escape being touched by the sun, the New Mexico desert might not be the ideal place to hide out.  I don’t know, though.  I’ve never been a vampire.

In John Carpenter’s 1998 film, Vampires (actually, John Carpenter’s Vampires because everyone know the power that the Carpenter name holds for horror fans), Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) is the world’s oldest vampire and he’s looking to perform a ceremony that will take care of that whole sunlight issue.  If he can perform the ceremony, he’ll be the most powerful creature in the world.

Fortunately, the Vatican has put together a team of ruthless vampire exterminators.  Led by Jack Crow (James Woods), these guys have no problem tracking down vampires and riddling their undead bodies with bullets that have probably been dipped in holy water.  Unfortunately, with the exception of Jack and his second-in-command, Tony (Daniel Baldwin), the vampires hunters aren’t too smart because Valek gets the drop on them while they’re partying at a hotel with a bunch of prostitutes.  The only survivors are Tony, Jack, and Katrina (Sheryl Lee), a prostitute who was previously bitten by Valek.

After teaming up with an enthusiastic but inexperienced priest named Father Guiteau (Tim Guinee), Jack tries to find a way to stop Valek. Meanwhile, Tony finds himself falling for Katrina despite the fact that Katrina will soon be transforming into a vampire and he and Jack have pledged to destroy every vampire that they come across.  It leads to several chases, several bloody shootouts, and a lot of panoramic shots of the New Mexico desert.

The first time I ever watched Vampires, I thought it had its moments of demented fun and I thought that James Woods gave a wonderfully frantic performance as Jack Crow but overall, I got a little bit bored with the film’s constant violence.  There’s only so many times that you can watch people die in slow motion before you get tired of it.  The second time I watched the movie, I was able to better appreciate the film’s self-awareness.  As directed by John Carpenter, it’s intentionally over-the-top in just about every regard and it’s definitely not meat to be taken seriously.  It’s a mix of a western and a vampire film and Carpenter is basically saying, “If we’re going to do this, let’s go crazy with it.”  The film still has its flaws, of course.  Daniel Baldwin seems lost in the role of Tony and the film is oddly paced,  It ends awkwardly, with the promise of a direct sequel that was never made.  (There were sequels, don’t get me wrong.  But Jon Bon Jovi is no substitute for James Woods at his most nervy.)  But the important thing is that, on a second viewing, those flaws were overshadowed by John Carpenter’s kinetic direction and the performances of James Woods, Sheryl Lee, and Thomas Ian Griffith.  

The first time I watched the film, I thought it was just another movie about modern-day vampires killing people while being hunted by unconventional extrerminators.  However, the second time that I watched it, I found myself considering that Vampires is actually a movie about Catholics kicking ass!  Yay!  The lesson here is to always do a second viewing.  Flaws and all, Vampires was far better than I remembered.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Slumber Party Massacre (dir by Danishka Esterhazy)

This weekend, SyFy premiered Slumber Party Massacre, which was billed as being a re-imagining of the original film of the same name. The original film featured a creepy loser with a drill and the latest version features a creepy loser with a drill. The original film featured a group of friends being menaced at a slumber party and the latest version features not just one group of friends but three groups of friends, all being stalked. The original film was a sneakily subversive satire of the genre while this new version is a satire that’s neither sneaky nor particularly subversive.

This new version takes place at a lakehouse. Years ago, the drill killer attacked a slumber party and was apparently killed by the party’s sole survivor. Now, the location has become a hot spot for people who are obsessed with true crime podcasts. The daughter of the sole survivor of the last slumber party massacre goes to the house with a group of her friends, all of whom are looking forward to possibly being attacked by the drill killer so that they can kill him. Meanwhile, there’s a group of boys who are also at the lake because they love visiting murder houses. The boys are constantly screaming and having pillow fights. The girls are fully armed and they frequently comment on the absurdity of the film’s plot while pointing out all of the slasher movie clichés.

There are a few things that I liked about this new version of Slumber Party Massacre but, in the end, it’s hard not to feel that the movie just tries too hard. The film’s approach is a bit too heavy handed to really be effective. Perhaps if I had never seen a horror film that specifically poked fun at the conventions of the genre, I would have been more impressed with Slumber Party Massacre‘s attempt at humor. But the thing is …. I’ve seen Cabin In The Wood. I’ve seen Scream. I’ve seen Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. I’ve seen countless Asylum mockbusters. Like most horror fans, I am beyond the point where I can simply be impressed by characters in a movie pointing out the conventions of the genre. The first Slumber Party Massacre was a satire that worked specifically because it played out its absurdity with a mock seriousness. The new version, though, is constantly pointing out its own cleverness. At times, the entire production feels a bit needy. Instead of trusting the audience to figure out what it’s saying, this new version continually tells us. This new version doesn’t trust its audience.

That’s not to say that the film itself doesn’t have a few good moments. For instance, I liked the character of Alix (Mila Ranye) and there is a nice bit where the group debates whether or not killers always come back to life. The murders are gruesome without being sadistic and, just as in the first movie, that drill leaves us with no doubt as to just what exactly the killer’s main issue is. (Slumber Party II also gets a shout out, as one potential victim, when told to get a weapon, grabs guitar.) Towards the end of the movie, there’s an effectively tense scene involving a nail gun and, for a few minutes, the film’s danger actually feels real.

The film has its moments but, for the most part, this re-imagining of the original Slumber Party Massacre was just to heavy handed to work for me.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Dead in Tombstone (dir by Roel Reine)

In the 2013 film, Dead in Tombstone, Danny Trejo plays Guerrero De La Cruz, an old west outlaw who is loyal to his family, who has no problem robbing banks, but who also is not a fan of unnecessary bloodshed. Even though the film opens with Guerrero and his gang gunning down a posse of men, that’s just because they were saving the life of Red (Anthony Michael Hall), who just happens to be Guerrero’s half-brother. No sooner than you can say, “In what world could Danny Trejo and Anthony Michael Hall possibly be related?,” Red is asking Guerrero to help him pull off a daring robbery.

Guerrero helps Red because Guerrero is all about family. Unfortunately, Red is all about money and, not wanting to share the loot after the robbery, he promptly guns Guerrero down. Not only does Red shoot Guerrero but he insists that each member of the gang shoot him as well, implicating all of them in the crime.

Guerrero dies and promptly goes to Hell, where he’s met by Lucifer (Mickey Rourke). Guerrero doesn’t want to go to to Hell. He wants to get revenge. He offers to send a lot more souls down to Hell if Lucifer gives him a chance to return to the world of the living so that he can kill Red and the former members of his gang. Amused, Lucifer agrees but with a condition: Guerrero only has 24 hours to kill all six of his killers and Guerrero has to do all of the killing himself. He can’t hire someone else to do it or ask anyone for help. Guerrero agrees.

Unfortunately, as Guerrero soon discovers, he’s not the only one who wants Red dead. He’s going to have to move quickly if he’s going to kill all the members of the gang before Calathea (Dina Meyer), the wife of a sheriff killed by Red, gets a chance to do it herself!

Dead In Tombstone is one of those films that sounds a lot more interesting than it is. The concept behind the film is actually a pretty neat one and I like the idea of Guerrero actually having competition. This isn’t one of those westerns where everyone patiently waits their turn to go after the bad guys. The entire world wants these guys dead! Plus, who wouldn’t be excited about the idea of watching Danny Trejo and Mickey Rouke act opposite each other? With his weathered features and stoic demeanor, Danny Trejo is the perfect choice to play an outlaw and, for that matter, Rourke’s gravelly whisper and permanent smirk are put to good use in the role of the Devil. And while Anthony Michael Hall might seem like an odd choice to play Danny Trejo’s half-brother, he’s still properly villainous and loathsome in the role of Red.

And yet, the overall film itself is a bit uneven. The film looks good (especially for a straight-to-video project) but it never really seems to develop any sort of narrative momentum and there’s more than a few slow spots. At times, the film seems to be unsure of just how seiously it wants to take itself and, as a result, the story exists in a kind of limbo between being a straight western with supernatural elements and send-up of the whole genre. The end result is pretty uneven but the dream combination of Rourke and Trejo still makes it worth watching.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Nightstalker (dir by Ulli Lommel)

The 2009 film, Nightstalker, opens with a drifter named Richard Ramirez (Adolph Cortez) lying on his back in what appears to be an alley.  He’s obviously been beaten.  He appears to be only half-conscious.  As he lays there in that filthy alley, we’re treated to several negative-filtered flashbacks of Ramirez shooting people.  This is followed by a series of blurry shot that were apparently filmed by someone driving down a street in Los Angeles.  Discordant music plays on the soundtrack.  If you listen carefully, you can hear someone mumbling in the background but good luck figuring out what they’re actually saying.  This is a low-budge film and sound quality was not a concern.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the unique aesthetic of director Ulli Lommel.  As I wrote in my review of Son of Sam, Lommel started his career as an association of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s before he eventually came to America, got involved in the New York art scene, and made a handful of decent films.  Unfortunately, after he divorced the heiress who was responsible for funding the majority of his early films, Lommel spent the rest of his career making zero-budget, direct-to-video films about serial killers, like Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez.  Lommel always claimed that there was a political subtext to his serial killer films and I don’t doubt that he was being honest.  You have to be sincerely committed to make a film as inept as Nightstalker.  At the same time, it’s not easy to figure out just what exactly it was that Lommel thought he was trying to say.

Nightstalker is undoubtedly one of the worst of Lommel’s serial killer films.  Usually, I try to make sure that all of my reviews include at least 500 words but it’s really difficult to think of much to say about Nightstalker.  The film is frequently out-of-focus.  The sound quality is atrocious.  The actor who plays the Nightstalker comes across more like a male model than a homeless serial killer who was known for having bad teeth and disagreeable odor.  Because there’s already been multiple films and documentaries made about Richard Ramirez, the Lommel version fails to add anything new to the story.  Instead, the film is a collection of scenes of Ramirez aimlessly wandering around Los Angeles, sucking on a lollipop and occasionally flashing back to his abusive El Paso childhood.  The film moves slowly and Ramirez’s inner monologue is vacuous.  The real Ramirez’s thoughts were probably pretty vacuous as well so give Lommel some credit for not trying make the the guy more interesting than he actually was.

Watching the film, you do get the feeling that Lommel was sincrely trying to say something about being on the fringes of society in America.  Lommel’s true crime films often implied that American serial killers were the direct result of American culture and its obsession with violence and wealth.  As I said, I think Lommel did think that he was making an artistic and political statement with these films, in much the same way that Lucio Fulci insisted that The New York Ripper was actually a critique of capitalism.  (Oh, if only Lommel had possessed just an ounce of Fulci’s talent….)  Son of Sam, for instance, actually does have a few moments where Lommel’s hallucinatory approach is somewhat effective.  But Nightstalker shows the limits of Lommel’s zero budget, semi-improvised approach.  It’s a chore to sit through and it’s a shame that, due to the continuing infamy of the mercifully late Richard Ramirez (Netflix aired a documentary about him earlier this year that had him trending on twitter), this is probably one of Lommel’s most-viewed films.  Hell, I watched it.  But I think this is going to be my last Lommel true crime film for a while.

Halloween, after all, is meant to be a joyous time.

Lisa Marie’s Grindhouse Trailers: 6 Trailers For The Second Thursday In October

We are rapidly reaching the halfway mark of our October horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens. By the time we reach the end of the first half at midnight on Saturday, we will have published over 200 posts. During the second half, we’ll publish …. well, let’s not speculate. You never know. The world could end tomorrow and, as a result, we might never post again. What’s important is that I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and I look forward to seeing what we accomplish during the rest of the month!

(That said, I’m hoping for another 250 to 300 or so posts. 500 FOR OCTOBER! It seems like a reasonable go. We’ll see!)

Anyway, today seems like a good time for another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse Trailers! And, since today is Jack Arnold’s birthday, it only seems appropriate that today’s edition deals with giant creature features!

  1. Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

From director Larry Cohen, it’s Q The Winged Serpent! I’ve seen this movie and it’s undeniably entertaining. On the one hand, you’ve got the serpent flying around and looking all dangerous. Then you’ve got David Carradine and Richard Roundtree kind of sleepwalking through their roles. And then, suddenly, Michael Moriarty shows up and gives this brilliant, method-influenced performance. It’s an odd film but it’s hard not to like that Claymation flying serpent.

2. The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)

From Wisconsin’s own Bill Rebane, here’s the trailer for The Giant Spider Invasion! This is probably Rebane’s best film. If you’re trying to frighten your audience, you can’t go wrong with a giant spider.

3. Empire of the Ants (1977)

What’s the only thing scarier than a giant spider? A giant ant, of course! This film is from Bert I. Gordon, a director so obsessed with films about giant monsters that he was actually nicknamed Mr. BIG. (Of course, it also helped that those were his initials.)

4. Food of the Gods (1976)

Speaking of Bert I. Gordon, he was also responsible for this film, Food of the Gods. Like Empire of the Ants, it was based (however loosely) on a novel by H.G. Wells. Two old farmers feed the food of the Gods to the local animals and things do not go well. For some reason, a football player played by Marjoe Gortner decides to investigate. Shouldn’t he be practicing for the big game? Gordon missed an opportunity here by not having a giant-sized Marjoe Gortner.

5. Night of the Lepus (1972)

As frightening as those previous trailers were, can anything prepare you for the terror of killer rabbits!? This movie is proof positive that rabbits look cute no matter who they’re killing.

6. Village of the Giants (1965)

In the end, though, the greatest monster will always be man. By the way, this is another Bert I. Gordon film. Beau Bridges turns into a giant and plots to conquer the world. Only a young Ron Howard can stop him.

I hope you’re having a wonderful October! Never stop watching the shadows!

The TSL’s Grindhouse: The Last Laugh (dir by Jeremy Berg)

Myles (Steve Vanderzee) is a once-hot comedian whose career has been going downhill ever since 1) his wife died in a car accident and 2) he started taking medication to control his moods. Myles has now gone from playing packed comedy clubs to appearing in sleazy dives where he’s regularly cheated out of getting paid.

However, it appears that Myles finally has a chance to get back up on top! He’s been booked as the opening act for an egotistical comedy superstar! All Myles has to do is deliver one good set and his life will no longer be a joke. The only problem is that there’s a dead body in Myles’s dressing room and the staff of the theater is disappearing one-by-one. There’s a murderer stalking the theater and, at times, it seems like only Myles can see him. Is Myles — who hasn’t taken his pills — losing it or is there really a killer in the wings?

That’s the question asked by 2020’s The Last Laugh. It’s an intriguing question and the premise has a lot of promise but, unfortunately, the execution leaves even more to be desired. Not only are the victims rather generic but you also never really feel as if you know Myles. The film doesn’t show us much of his act so you really don’t know if the guy’s even all that funny. Since a lot of the movie hinges on whether or not Myles is willing to blow his shot at stardom in order to expose the murderer, it would be helpful to actually care about whether or not Myles becomes a star or not. Unfortunately, Myles isn’t really that likable or interesting of a character so who cares?

I did like the fact that the people behind The Last Laugh paid homage to some classic Italian horror films. Several of the shots of the killer creeping through the theater appeared to pay homage to Michele Soavi’s StageFright and there’s also a clever shout out to the Short Night Of The Glass Dolls at the end of the film. Unfortunately, there’s not really enough to the plot of The Last Laugh to make it memorable and the ambiguous ending will probably leave most viewers angry rather than intrigued. (Personally, I usually like ambiguous endings but, in this case, it just felt a little lazy.)

The Last Laugh has promise but it doesn’t really live up to it.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Amityville: The Awakening (dir by Franck Khalfoun)

You have to feel bad for the DeFeo family.

Not only where they murdered in their sleep by a junkie loser who also happened to be a member of the family but, for the past five decades, their names have been slandered in a countless number of Amityville books and films.  The house’s subsequent owner, George Lutz, realized that he could make a fortune by claiming that the murder house was haunted by a demon and, working with an author named Jay Anson, he did just that.  Anson’s book, The Amityville Horror, was published in 1977.  The first film version was released in 1979.  Since then, there have been over 20 Amityville films, the majority of which feature reenactments of the DeFeo murders and all of which let Ronald DeFeo, Jr. off the hook by suggesting that it was the supernatural that led to the murders as opposed to a raging heroin habit.

With so many different films having been made by so many different directors and companies, it’s next to impossible to maintain any sort of consistent continuity from film to film.  2017’s Amityville: The Awakening acknowledges this in the most meta way possible by having the film’s lead character, Belle (played by Bella Thorne), watch the original film with two of her friends while discussing all of the sequels.  In the world of Amityville: The Awakening, the films exist and the house is both famous and infamous.  And yet, people still voluntarily live there.

The latest inhabitants are Joan (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her three children, Belle, Juliet (McKenna Grace), and James (Cameron Monaghan).  James is on life support after having been paralyzed in an accident and Joan is fanatically devoted to him.  Though Dr. Milton (Kurtwood Smith) says that there’s no chance of James ever recovering and that he’s probably brain dead, Joan remains convinced that James will someday come back again.  As she explains at one point, she’s abandoned her faith in God but she still has faith that there will be a way for James to recover.

No sooner has the family moved in then all of the typical Amityville stuff starts happening.  Flies start buzzing around.  The dog doesn’t want to be in the house. Juliet starts talking to people who aren’t there.  One night, James flatlines but, after being dead for several minutes, his heart suddenly starts to beat again.  Suddenly, James is showing indications that, though paralyzed and unable to speak, he is aware of his surroundings.  Joan is convinced that James is recovering but is it possible that something else is happening?

If I may take the risk of damning with faint praise, Amityville: The Awakening is not bad for an Amityville film.  Yes, you do have to wonder why the house has never been torn down and yes, I’m as bored with the big Amityville flies as anyone else.  And the scenes where the characters discuss the DeFeo murders are icky and unethical as Hell.  But, with all that in mind, this is actually one of the better-made Amityville films.  Director Franck Khalfoun was also responsible for the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be remake of Maniac and he brings a lot of energy to his direction here.  He’s smart enough to realize that the audience is going to automatically roll their eyes at yet another Amityville film and he often rolls his eyes with them.  As a result, we get some deserved digs at the shoddiness of the other films.  Khalfoun is also smart enough to understand that Bella Thorne is more effective as a personality than an actress and, as such, the character of Belle is carefully developed to fit with Thorne’s public image.  Jennifer Jason Leigh, on the other hand, is such a good actress that she actually brings some unexpected depth to the role of Joan and the film as a whole.

Amityville: The Awakening is one of the better Amityville films.  You still have to wonder why that house is still standing, though.  Seriously, tear it down already.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: The Final Terror (dir by Andrew Davis)







If you watch the 1983’s The Final Terror, be prepared to frequently hear the names of the film’s characters.  For a slasher film about a bunch of campers wandering through the forest, The Final Terror has a surprisingly large cast and they all spend a good deal of time walking around and yelling out each other’s names.  Somehow, people keep getting lost even though they know that there’s a killer out there and they all really should be sticking together.

Interestingly enough, for a slasher film, there aren’t that many deaths.  The majority of the cast survives.  Even the most obnoxious of the campers, the one who seems like an obvious victim, manages to make it through to the finale.  I guess we should be happy that most of them survived and this was apparently their final terror.  The majority of the campers were teenagers and if you’re having your surviving your final terror when you’re not even old enough to drink yet …. well, consider yourself lucky.

The Final Terror is set up like an entry in the Friday the 13th franchise but it’s never anywhere close to being as sleazy as those films.  Whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on what you, as a viewer, want in terms of a wilderness slasher film.  If you want lots of sex, blood, and people making stupid decisions, The Final Terror will probably bore you to death, despite the fact that it includes all three.  If you want a relatively realistic film about being lost in the wilderness while being stalked by an unseen killer, you’ll probably appreciate The Final Terror.  This film was directed Andrew Davis, who went on to direct several big budget Hollywood action films.  Before he became an action director, though, he worked as an assistant to cinematographer Haskell Wexler on the semi-documentary Medium Cool.  Davis brings that realistic style to The Final Terror.  Even though the film does feature some familiar faces, it’s easy to believe that you’re just watching a bunch of campers trying to survive for the weekend.

As for the cast, Rachel Ward plays one of the leaders of the campers.  Joe Pantoliano makes an early appearance as the creepy Eggar.  Daryl Hannah plays Windy.  Mark Metcalf plays another camper named Mike.  The entire ensemble actually does a pretty good job.  As I said, you really do believe that the majority of the cast are delinquent teenagers who have been sent on a camping trip.  When they work together to keep someone from bleeding to death, it almost feels like an educational film.  “Because the campers worked together,” you can imagine a narrator saying, “they might survive The Final Terror.”

The Final Terror is not bad, though I have to admit that I like my 80s slashers to be a little bit more sordid.  But for what it is — an attempt to take a realistic approach to a genre that is regularly held in dismissive disdain — The Final Terror works surprisingly well.  As captured by Andrew Davis, the wilderness is both beautiful and terrifying.  You’ll never catch me camping!

The TSL’s Grindhouse: The Disturbance (dir by Cliff Guest)

One of my pet peeves, as someone who has watched her share of movies about disturbed men driven by madness to kill, is that serial killers are often presented as being far more interesting than they actually are.  Whereas the typical serial killer is someone who has never been able to maintain a relationship and who can’t hold down a job and who, in many cases, barely even graduated high school, movie serial killers always tend to be portrayed as being handsome, charming, witty, and diabolically clever.  Blame it on Ted Bundy.  Blame it on the popularity of Hannibal Lecter.  Blame it on the film industry’s embrace of clichés.  Blame it on whoever. or whatever  It’s annoying and it encourages the tendency of the media to focus more on the killers than on their victims.

One good thing that you can say about the 1990 film The Disturbance is that it’s killer is no winner.  Clay Moyer (Timothy Greeson) is a schizophrenic who has just been released from a mental hospital and seems to be destined to soon return.  He’s someone who is haunted by hallucinations and violent fantasies.  At the same time, he’s also learned how to project enough superficial charm that he can actually interact with people.  When he meets Susan (Lisa Geoffrion) on the beach, he’s able to get a date and later, he’s even able to get a relationship.  But, as the film graphically shows, even when he’s making love to Susan, he’s fantasizing about killing her.  Even during the best moments of their relationship, he’s fantasizing about doing terrible things to the neighbor.  Because he’s extremely possessive while obviously hiding a huge part of his life from her, Susan eventually starts to pull away from him.  When he gets too pushy in his efforts to keep her around, she breaks it off.  Since the relationship was the only positive thing that Clay had in his life, he sinks further into madness and he eventually does some very bad things.  But, seeing as how Clay was having violent fantasies even while he was still dating Susan, it’s totally probable that his collapse was predestined.  If he hadn’t been triggered by the end of the relationship, he would have been triggered by something else.  There’s no hope for Clay, who was pretty much doomed from the minute he was born.

The budget of this Florida-shot indie is low and it’s obvious that most of the actors weren’t professionals.  And yet, the fact that the actors are occasionally stiff and awkward actually adds to the film’s authenticity.  If the film had been too slick, it wouldn’t have been as effective.  It would have felt like another overproduced Hollywood serial killer film.  Instead, The Disturbance feels like a journey into the mind of someone who actually is a ticking time bomb, reaching the end of his countdown.  It’s not a fun journey but then again, it shouldn’t be fun.  The mind of a sexual sadist is not going to be a pleasant place to visit.

The film works largely due to the lead performance of Timothy Greeson, who plays Clay as someone who desperately wants to be normal but who is very much aware that he never will be.  He’s a prisoner to his fantasies and, as much as he tries, he knows that he’s never going to escape his demons.  As an actor, Greeson is appealing enough that you can buy that Susan might go on a date with him while he also believably portrays the instability that leads to her dumping him.

It’s a well-done film, though a bit too disturbing to really be an entertaining viewing experience.  (On a personal level, there were several scenes involving a cat that I simply could not handle.)  I appreciated the film’s integrity far more than I enjoyed actually watching it but at least the movie refused to idealize its killer.