Originally titled Sweet Savior and later given the more appropriately sensationalistic moniker The Love Thrill Murders, this tacky drama/thriller essentially retells a version of the Charles Manson story as softcore porn, with the added insult of implying that Manson’s victims were asking for trouble by embracing a swinger lifestyle. Former 1950s heartthrob Troy Donahue stars as Moon, leader of a small cult mostly comprising nubile young women. After several innocuous adventures, Moon leads his gang to a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, where the cultists have a sex party with rich people. Then Moon orders his followers to murder the rich people, and the killers escape justice. Suffice to say, The Love Thrill Murders is neither shocking nor suspenseful, given the parallels to familiar real-life events. Instead of tension, the movie offers an abundance of bad taste. The opening scene features Moon initiating a new member via some pagan ritual that climaxes with Moon mounting the young woman in front of his congregation. Moon does a number on his followers’ minds by claiming that we’re all one person, so having sex with anyone is like having sex with Moon—hence the “comic” scene of a shapely cultist servicing a small-time dealer so he’ll give Moon a discount on dope. Upon the arrival of Moon’s group at the party house, one of the rich folks exclaims, “Oh, the freaks are here!” (The movie’s best line.) During the party scene, an over-the-top gay character cross-dresses in order to seduce a male cultist, leading to an extended conversation about sexual-reassignment surgery. Huh? In the film’s trashy nadir, the same compliant cultist who serviced the dealer gives an epic dance performance complete with fully nude cartwheels and handstands—all of which complements such other party-scene vignettes as the endless lesbian sex scene and the strange bit of a cultist licking a statue of a cobra. If The Love Thrill Murders was supposed to be about anything besides titillation, themes got lost in the shuffle of amateurish acting, bargain-basement filmmaking, gratuitous nudity, and silly Manson allusions. As for leading man Donahue, he cuts an interesting figure with his Jesus-trip beard and long hair, but he comes across more like the egotistical leader of a second-rate rock band than a messianic sociopath.
The Love Thrill Murders: LAME